Chapter 24 Show time p1
“Wow,” exclaimed Ben when he entered the gallery, Peter Snow by his side.
“Yes it is rather impressive, isn’t it? We thought you might like it,” Peter acknowledged. “We originally had everything in two rooms but found, with, so many people coming to visit the exhibition more than once, it got so overcrowded that we moved it into our largest room.”
Ben stood there and watched the people walking around looking at his work. Ben was amazed to see a man collect all of the postcards and every greeting card on display. Then join the queue at the sales counter to pay.
Observing the surprised look on Ben’s face, Peter remarked, “Everything is literally flying out the door. We have to restock the displays daily and, as you can see at the counter, people are also buying lots of the unframed posters.”
“How is it going at your other gallery in San Francisco?” Ben inquired.
“My father’s well pleased. You’ll see for yourself next week, when you fly down after the unveiling here of your new work.”
“Okay so where have you put the new photo pictures I sent you.” Ben asked looking around.
Peter answered with a very straight-face. “The porn room is through there,” he said and pointed to a pair of double doors set in the wall.
Ben asked, “Can I have a look?” and started walking toward the doors.
Peter put a code into the keypad and opened one of the doors just enough to let them through and immediately shut it behind them. Ben found himself in high ceiling room. It had a nice comfortable bench in the middle for sitting and viewing both walls. He was happy to see his photo pictures had been hung according to his wishes low down on the walls. So the viewer would see the life size people as though they were in the same room and not through a window.
Seeing them altogether like this, Ben had to admit that they were rather pornographic. There were no postcards or unframed copies. Only the original Photos together with the option to buy copies of a limited number.
Peter took Ben out of the room by another door, this time not having to go through the main display room. He suggested Lunch, but Ben declined as he had a prior engagement.
Ben said his goodbyes to Peter and left the building promising to be back for the grand unveiling of the porn room.
Eddy was waiting for Ben by the front reception desk of the hotel when Ben got back from the gallery. Eddy had original contacted Ben by a video link. He had liked Ben’s work having seen it on display in the gallery, and had asked if he was interested in a job working for him taking photos for mail order clothing catalogues.
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you in the flesh at last.” Ben said laughing.
“Yes, seeing someone on a video link can be misleading,” Eddy, agreed.
Ben suggested they move over to the lounge area, where there were lots of unoccupied armchairs, to have their discussion.
Once seated Ben asked right from the start, “I’ve already explained my experience of studio work has been limited, so why do you want me?”
“To be honest my eyesight is not as good as it should be. I have a lot of work coming up and when I saw your photos in the gallery, I thought you’d be the ideal person to help me.”
“Okay. You said you’d show me examples of the photos you take.”
Eddy took from his case a magazine and several catalogues which he handed to Ben.
The top one was the magazine showing young men in swimming costumes. Ben tried to look at the photos with a clinical eye, otherwise he would have embarrassed himself, for the models were very sexually appealing. He especially liked the way they were posing. He put the magazine down on the table as if it was too hot to handle. The catalogues were almost as bad, but slowly the photographer in him kicked in and he had to admit the photos, although suggestively sexual, were not pornographic.
Eddy watched Ben look through the photos and could see that the photographer in the boy was hooked. “Well?” he asked when Ben looked up.
“Yes I’m interested but I have commitments for the next few weeks, and in any case you’ll have to teach me.”
“That’s no problem after meeting you I think we’ll work together just fine.”
“Why don’t you come to the unveiling of my porn photo pictures Saturday at the gallery? Maybe they’ll surprise you.”
Although Eddy suggested lunch, Ben had to take a rain check. He had a plane to catch. He was rushing back to London. He had contacted the VD clinic yesterday from the airport. Although they had his results it was not their policy to give them out over the phone. Ever since then Ben had felt sick with worry. He thought he could cope with not knowing. Instead he kept on thinking, maybe they were fobbing him off with this shit about over the phone business because he was positive. It got so bad he could think of nothing else when he was alone.
Sammy held Ben’s hand stopping him from biting his nails they were sitting in the VD clinic waiting for Ben to be called. He knew Ben was really scared because he kept on worrying about what Matt would say and do when he came home and found he was HIV positive.
When the nurse called Ben’s name he wanted Sammy to go in with him but the nurse wouldn’t allow it.
The doctor looking at Ben’s registration form couldn’t believe the boy sitting in front of him was almost twenty-two more like sixteen or maybe at a stretch seventeen. Still whatever age he was the doctor told him he was lucky this time and after giving him the usual lecture on safe sex and handing him several condoms he let the boy leave.
It seemed to Sammy waiting for Ben to come back out that he was in there with the doctor a long time meaning the news had to be bad.
So when Ben did emerge Sammy was up out of his chair and giving Ben a reassuring cuddle before he realised Ben was smiling.
Peter Snow tried contacting Ben at his hotel only to find he had checked out. Even Ben’s phone was not responding except to voice mail.
The gallery was filling up. A few of the celebrities Peter had asked had already arrived, and he was standing here like an idiot greeting everyone with a smile on his face as if everything was okay. What a disaster it was going to be. He kept wondering where the fuck Ben was. Of course, the gay press was here now, snapping away and wanting an interview with Ben.
At the moment they had James, one of the men depicted in a full nude photo there. Thankfully, he still looked the same or at least facially. One could recognise him, yet he seemed to have put on a bit of weight. He was telling them how Ben had slept with each and every one of his models. A titbit Peter thought would help sell Ben’s work, that’s if he ever turned up.
Peter moved over to the double doors and punched his code into the key pad. He was about to declare that the porn room was open when Ben arrived pulling a suitcase on wheels behind him having apparently by the look of the labels still attached had come directly from the airport.
Peter almost blurted out a few swear words in greeting. Instead, turning to the assembled crowd, he said. “It gives me great pleasure to introduce my good friend, Ben Conway the photographer.
After the clapping had subsided, Ben told everyone how pleased he was that they had come to see his work. Also, that in the next room they would find photo pictures he had created using the Chinese influence of observing things through the door rather than the western style of looking through the window. With that he helped Peter to open both doors to the room, and moved aside allowing people to enter.
Ben told Peter he was sorry about not contacting him, but he’d had urgent business back home. He hadn’t replied to Peter’s text messages for reasons he couldn’t explain, all he could tell him was everything had turned out all right in the end.
Ben the photographer was please when he overheard one guy saying to another as they were leaving the porn room, “I like the photo showing the threesome. It was so real, I felt like asking the guys in the picture if I could join them.”