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The long celluloid strip unwinds from its wheel
in jerks and starts. Images flash across the screen:
mother, father, a nursemaid, some playmates skipping
with ropes; a shaggy brown mongrel called William.
With his other hand he shakily works the subtitles
which don’t always keep up with the main plot.
Black and white changes to color – a series of women
appear: a laughing blonde in a one-piece swimsuit who
perishes suddenly in an aircraft disaster, soon replaced
by a chic brunette in a business suit, a ballerina, then a tennis
player in a short white skirt.
Later, infants in cribs and strollers, school children, teenagers,
soldiers in uniform carrying kitbags and rifles. Faster spins
the wheel, images blurring one into the next.
And then the gaps begin: long sections of gray and poor
lighting. A few buildings perhaps libraries or hospitals
appear momentarily – more gaps – the subtitles come to an end
with a rattle of whirling film. He tries to rewind the spool
backwards – start again from the section where the gaps started
to appear but the handle of the projector slips from his hand and
falls to the floor.
The door opens and a large bosomed nurse pushing a wagon
walks in. She picks a notebook off the floor and puts it on a
table top next to the bed, the projector is nowhere to be seen.
“What would you like today?” she sings out, “chicken or fish?”
© Johnmichael Simon
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