The Last Shot (a short story in three parts)

Saturday, January 29, 2011
Authors note: I started writing this passed on the first three paragraphs. I was just sitting & doodling around as I like to do when I have nothing in particular to write about. The first two sentences just popped up on my legal pad:
He knew it was the wrong thing to say. He said it anyway.
I wrote another six paragraphs before I realized I was writing a story. I didn't have an ending, or even and idea of where it was going, but the intrigue has kept me going. I do have a plot now. I hope you enjoy. Any comments or criticism will be gratefully accepted -
J.R. White AKA madpoet_one
The Last Shot - Part One
by J.R. White
January 2011 - All Rights Reserved

He knew it was the wrong thing to say. He said it anyway. Not to raise the ire of his antagonists. Rather, it was to see how far he could push them. Apparently that was far enough.

After their thug completed a thorough workout on his abdomen, he was cast back into his cell. He had told to her that he would not say anything and he hadn't. Yet. Of course, he knew very little. She had shown up in his life two months ago. His captors had grabbed him six weeks later.

They had been holed up in a little B&B in Virginia for little over a week. She woke him up on Monday morning as he heard cars screeching up outside. She pulled a handgun from her bag and looked over at him.

"Honey," she smiled, "I really need to run, but promise me you won't say anything,"
Not being able to parse what, exactly, was going on, he replied "Uh… okay?"

She grabbed her backpack and jumped out the window. Three minutes later, some large men in black suits with big guns burst into the room. Still dazed and confused from her abrupt departure, when they barked out "Where is she?", he just stared back at them blankly. Out came a hood, a sharp blow to his head, and the next thing he knew, he was in a cell.

He rose to his feet, and started pacing the cell. The same questions he had been asking himself for the last two weeks came flooding to his mind. Who are these guys? Who is she, really? Why am I here? Why are they after her? Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? What if it's her?

It was April first. He was sitting in a Starbucks drinking a cup of coffee. He smirked to himself as he drank the coffee. He enjoyed the idea of coming into a place like this and just ordering a cup of coffee. He was a simple guy with a weird sense of humor.

He perused Craig's List on his laptop, looking for antique cameras for sale. He purchased and restored vintage cameras, with a special love for 8x10 field cameras from the twenties and thirties. He also collected used and unused photographic plates.

He kept a storefront near Pikes Place Market, but he had an "open whenever" policy. Which suited him fine as the majority of his business happened online. So, it was bit of a surprise to him that someone was waiting for him when he reached the store that morning.

Usually his customers made appointments, and he said as much to her. She smiled as he unlocked the door and apologized.

"What can I do for you?", he asked as he flipped ti lights on.
"I am looking for a camera"
"Well, you came to right place", he smiled, "What kind?"
"I am looking for a Russian FED 8X10 camera," she casually replied .

It was an oddly specific request, but he didn't really think much of it, since many of his customers requests were pretty damn specific. His mind immediately went to the fact that FED wasn't an exact 8x10 plate camera, with the plates being nearly a half-inch smaller than a typical plate.

"You do know you need to either modify the camera or find the specific film plates for this camera?" he asked her.
She laughed. He wasn't sure if was a laugh at him or through him, but he was left feeling oddly foolish.
"I know", she said, "I actually have plates that fit this camera."

He looked at her, dumbstruck. He had been dealing with old Russian 8x10 cameras for nearly twenty years and he had never found plates for them in the US.
"Really? You have plates for an FED?"
"I also have a set of Industar lens’s from the world war",
"Let me just say that I'm impressed. The cameras alone are hard enough to find, but to actually have original plates. Wow… just wow." he replied, "My name is Allen Roberts," he added, holding out his hand to shake hers.
"I'm Ilyana Ravanko", she said as she shook his hand.
"It's very nice to meet you, Ilyana.", he answered.

That exchange was all it took. It might not have been love at first sight, but it was pretty close to it.

Later that week, they were sharing a cup of tea at her apartment.
"Usually asking a guy if he wants to see my plates results in something a bit more lascivious, Allen", Ilyana chuckled as she sat down at the table. Allen, absorbed with the images on the plates, barely heard her.
"These are amazing. You say your grandfather took them?"

"Yes, most of the plates are from the twenties, though there are some from just before the war.", she answered while she looked at the spring drizzle falling outside, "He died in Stalingrad. My grandmother, never loved another man again", Allen looked up from the plates at Ilyana, who continued, " I asked her before she died why she never found another man and she said, Illy my sweet, once you have had true love, you realize that it only happens once for someone, if ever.", she looked over at Allen, who was suddenly was caught in her hazel eyes. Ilyana continued, "She smiled at me and finished with this, I did not need to find someone else."

"You loved her very much, didn't you?"
"I did Allen, I did," she sighed and Allen could spy a tear in her eye. He went over and held her. She didn't resist.

The next morning the sun actually came out, one of those beautiful spring Seattle days where Mount Rainier dominates the horizon, the sun glinting off the mountains white glaciers. When the air is clean, everything smells of pine and there are more shades of green then you ever imagined. Allen looked out the window and turned back to admire Ilyana, still asleep in the bed. He slipped on his jeans and went to the kitchenette to make her some tea. She woke up and joined him when the kettle started to whistle.

"Good morning, lovely." he said spritely
"Good morning," she smiled back, "Do you want stay in for breakfast?"
"I don't know. It might be a nice day to go out shooting," he replied.
"Cameras or…?" she asked. He was a bit taken back her reply.
"Cameras!" he said with raised eyebrows and maybe a bit too much emphasis
"Let me take to you to my aunts diner. We can have some fruit, smoked salmon and some blinis. It will be a good Russian breakfast."
"And then, I can take you up to Mount Rainier, Illy", he replied, "with our cameras", he added.

They had been nearly inseparable since that day. Allen mused on how perfect everything had been. He had fallen deeply, madly in love with her. She snuggled closer to him. They were watching a documentary about Ansel Adams, Allen's favorite photographer. Ilyana looked up at him and said, "I love you, Allen". He practically melted. That amazing feeling of being in love, that feels like million little hot water bottles in your stomach, overwhelmed him. He pulled her closer and kissed her forehead. She said dreamily, "Let's take a road trip. Just me and you and our cameras"

"Who's going to watch my cat? And your dog? And the shop?"
"Allen, my aunt can watch your cat and my dog. I have been the first real customer at your shop in several months, I am sure it can stand to be closed for a few weeks,"
"And where do you want to go my little Russian doll?"
"Everywhere… and no where in particular, my love," she replied
Allen couldn't argue with her, smitten as he was, "Okay, let's do it."
"I will need to get some personal affairs in order, so I need a couple of days before I can leave," Ilyana, sat up, "I will have my aunt pick up your cat tomorrow, and then you can pick me up on Friday at my place."
"It almost sounds like you have had this on your mind for awhile, Ilyana"
"I have Allen. So is it a plan?"
"It is, dearest, but right now I have another plan."

Ilyana giggled, "And that is?" Allen pulled her toward him and kissed her deeply, while he reached over and turned off the light. "That's a good plan, too, Allen.", she whispered

Two days later, everything was set. Allen had loaded up his Subaru with some clothes and way too much camera equipment. He arrived at Ilyana’s apartment in the best mood of his life.

He dashed up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. About half way up the stairs a big guy in a suit walked passed him, and at the top of the stairs, Ilyana’s door was open.

She looked shaken as he came through the door. Looking at her face, which was flushed, he asked, “Is everything okay, Ilyana?”

She nodded yes, “Let’s just get out of here.” She picked up her bags and walked to the door. Allen took them from her while she locked her door with shaking hands.

“Who was that guy?” Allen asked.
“Just a business associate. It’s really not important, Allen. Please don’t ask me any more questions about it right now. Okay?”
“I won’t”, he said against his better judgment.

As he pulled on to I-5, she was still quiet, staring out the window at the passing city. Allen said nothing. Once Tacoma was in the rear view mirror, she let out a noticeable sigh and reached over to hold his hand.

They headed south, stopping in Portland for lunch. Allen was tempted to ask again about the strange man in her apartment, but thought better of it. Precious little was discussed over sandwiches and beer. She didn’t seem upset with him, just preoccupied.

They drove on to Woodburn to shoot pictures of the Tulip Festival and spend the night there. That night they made love and Ilyana was passionate nearly to the point of anger, sharing her love for Allen with purpose.

This continued for the next week as they made their way south. Over to Bend, down through Crater Lake National Park and on to Shasta in California. They did talk about simple things, like dreams and childhoods. They traveled the back roads of the spine of the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Maybe the conversation wasn’t as important as being with her, thought Allen. In the week since they had left, they had only made it as far as Yosemite. They would wake each morning and plan where to go next. Then off they would go stopping to take photos along the way.

After they had spent a long day in the park, they decided to order pizza when they got back to their hotel Mariposa. The pizza had arrived by the time Allen was out of the shower. Illy was sitting with her legs crossed on the bed, editing some of her photos and uploading them to Flickr. Allen grabbed his laptop, camera bag and piece of pizza and joined her.

Before he could say anything, Ilyana spoke up, “You have been quite respectful in not asking me about what happened right before I left Seattle. I do appreciate it,” she flashed those eyes at him, “You are a good man Allen.”
“Does that mean you still don’t want to me ask about it?” he queried
“Oh, my love. This is a case of the less you know, the safer you will be.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better, Ilyana,” he said, “If you are in some kind of trouble, maybe I can help you?”
“Here is what I can tell you. I am not in any danger. I am just in… “ She paused, “ a bit of a tight spot.”
“Do you need money?”
“No, dearest, I just need what you have been giving me already,” she replied as she took his hand and squeezed it.
“And that is?”
“Time to sort it all out. I need someone to be with me, because I do not want to be alone. I need some time with you.”
“Do you need anything else?” he asked.
“No. I do not need anything else, or anyone else Allen”

They did not make love that night, but held each other until dawn. Neither could sleep, though both pretended to do so. They did not let go. Almost as if they felt that the world would soon tear them apart.

The Last Shot - Part One of Three, by J.R. White, January 2011 - All Rights Reserved


  1. Loved it! Really hope there is a part 2 & 3 also!

  2. Much enjoyed thus far - only one 'problem' that I see: "way too much camera equipment". Dude - how is that possible?

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  4. I really Like It Its really amazing. Thanks For Sharing These Amazing Shot Short story with us. Hope there is a part 2 also. best Best wishes for your 2nd part.

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