Continued from 88/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 1)
Over the last month, Annette had frequently thought of her encounter with Mr. Kennison. The odd way he had changed from a grumpy old man to a sweet, kindhearted grandfather-type figure had left her feeling a bit confused about him. The day had come to celebrate Samuel’s eighteenth birthday and she had arranged everything the way he had wanted it.
“Happy birthday, Samuel,” Annette said, as she kissed him on the forehead. He grimaced and pulled away. “I know you don’t do the kisses anymore, but I still see you as my baby.”
“I know, Mom,” Samuel replied, taking a bite of his cereal.
“So, what’s on your agenda today?” Annette asked.
“I was thinking of going to Kezar Falls and taking some pictures with Jane and Dylan today,” Samuel replied. “The weather is supposed to be perfect, so the lighting will be amazing.”
“What time were you thinking? Maybe I could give you a ride,” she said.
“I was thinking of getting there around six. That way, we have time to get some good pictures and catch the sunset. It’ll be great. Jane’s a great subject, and Dylan does a lot of the set up for me,” Samuel said.
Annette nodded and pulled her purse towards her. She pulled her wallet from it and produced the card that had been stashed safely inside for a month.
“I know you didn’t want a party today, so I figured I would give you this now, and if you wanted to go to Mr. Kennison’s today, we could leave early,” Annette said.
“Mr. Kennison’s?” Samuel asked. “18th birthday camera? What’s this?”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Annette admitted, “I stopped in there to see about getting you an older camera, and he was kind of-I don’t know, weird.”
“Weird how?” Samuel asked.
“Frank at work told me that Mr. Kennison’s is the place to go for old cameras. So I went there, and he was kind of rude to me until he saw some of your pictures. He refused to sell me a camera for you, and gave me that card instead,” Annette said.
“That is pretty weird,” Samuel said, turning the card over. “He liked my pictures?”
“I don’t actually know. He just looked at them for a few minutes and then gave me the card to give you,” Annette said, “Do you want to go check it out?”
“Sounds like it could be interesting,” Samuel said.
“Just let me know when you’re ready, and we’ll head for the shop,” Annette said, as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
“After breakfast?” Samuel asked.
“Sounds like fun,” she replied.
Once they finished breakfast, they got in the car and took the trip out to Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium. They mostly listened to music and chatted about the things they passed as Samuel took pictures out of the window. When they pulled into the parking lot, the sign on the door read closed.
“That’s odd,” Annette said as they walked up to the door to see the hours. “He is normally open by now.”
“Do you think something happened to him?” Samuel asked. “You did say he was old.”
“I hope not. He may have been weird, but I didn’t want anything bad to happen to him,” she replied.
There was a click at the door, and it parted slightly. A younger girl peeked through at them.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“Yes, we, uh, we’re looking for Mr. Kennison. He gave us a card to come back today,” Annette said.
The girl opened the door wider, revealing the inside of the shop. Where there was once stacks of shelving with an odd assortment of cameras, film, and accessories, there were only boxes stacked up as far as they could see inside the shop.
“I’m Gabby Kennison. My grandfather passed away two weeks ago,” she said. “We’re closing his shop at the end of today for good.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Annette said.
“Why at the end of today?” Samuel asked.
“He left us a note in his will. He wanted to make sure that the shop stayed open until today. Would you mind if I see your card?” she asked. Samuel held out the card. Gabby took it from him and stepped to the side after looking at it for a second. “Please, come in.”
“We don’t have to-” Annette started as Samuel stepped through the doorway. “Samuel!”
“It’s fine, Miss,” Gabby said, holding up the card. “This is the reason we were staying open.”
“Really?” Annette asked.
“I know, it was weird for us too,” Gabby said as Annette walked into the store. “Grandpa was an odd man.”
“I can see that,” Annette agreed before she could stop herself.
“Give me just a second,” Gabby said, walking around the counter. “I’ll be right back.”
Gabby walked through the curtain in the back, closing it behind her.
“This is so weird,” Samuel said, looking around at all the boxes.
“Samuel, show some respect. The man died,” Annette whispered.
“Why would he keep the shop open until my birthday, though?” Samuel asked.
“I don’t know,” Annette replied.
A moment later, Gabby appeared holding a leather case. She set it on the counter in front of her gingerly as though it might explode.
“This was the last camera my grandfather had. He had finished fixing it just a few days before he died, and in his will, this is the camera you get for the card he gave you,” Gabby said, sliding it toward Samuel.
“You don’t have to do this. This looks like it would be a family heirloom,” Annette said.
“I do have to do this,” Gabby said. “It was part of his will that if the card came here today, the camera would be yours.”
“Samuel, you don’t have to take it,” Annette said as Samuel popped the latch on the case and opened it.
Samuel pulled the camera from the case as though he were lifting a newborn baby. Annette had never seen him handle anything with such care. She thought he was looking at it like someone who had just found god, but it was the subtle movement of Gabby that caught her attention. As Samuel moved the camera around, the girl seemed to avoid having it point directly at her. She looked uncomfortable.
“Is everything okay?” Annette asked.
“Yes,” Gabby said quickly, “I just don’t care for having my picture taken, and old cameras freak me out a little. Grandpa always said weird things about them. Anyway, Samuel, my grandfather included enough film for a hundred pictures with the camera, and there is a note in the bottom that we weren’t allowed to read, as per his wishes.”
“Thank you,” Samuel said.
“How much is the camera?” Annette asked. “Your grandfather never gave me a price.”
“There wasn’t a mention of a price for the camera in his will. The card is good for one camera on an eighteenth birthday, apparently. We are fine now. If you could go so I could lock up, I’d appreciate it,” Gabby said.
“Of course,” Samuel said, shaking his head slightly and refocusing on the girl. He placed the camera back in its case and closed the latches. “Sorry.”
Annette and Samuel got in the car and watched the girl lock the store before walking away from the building.
“That was weird,” Annette said. “I don’t know if I want you to have a camera like that.”
“I want it, Mom, and he did leave it for me,” Samuel argued. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a cool camera.”
Annette took a deep breath, “Well, it looks like there isn’t any way to return it now anyways. You should use your phone to look up film for it. Be prepared. It might be expensive, as old as it is.”
“I’ll look it up later,” he said, leaning his seat back. “I feel pretty tired right now. I think getting this camera was too much excitement for me. I’m going to nap on the way home so I can be ready to go later with Jane and Dylan.”
“Okay, honey,” she said, starting the car.
Annette backed out, and before they reached the first stoplight, Samuel was snoring lightly like he had when he was a newborn. She felt a small pang of longing for him to be that little again. She missed holding him and the way his eyes lit up when he looked at her like they did today when he looked at the camera for the first time.
It’ll be fine. She told herself. Everything will be fine.