Rameshi's House of the Experience

A mysterious shop ...
A poster promising curious things...
An experience never dreamt of...

Finding the shop changed Tom's life but was it an addiction too far ?

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4. The First Time (Part Two)

 

"Does sir want to see the exhibition" a voice said suddenly making me jump. 

 

I turned and at the counter was a young Indian girl. I have no idea how she had got to the counter, I could swear she wasn't there a minute ago and I was sure she hadn't sneaked past me. Maybe she'd been sat behind the counter and I hadn't noticed. This place was beginning to make me doubt my mind, the intoxicating potency of the air mixed with all these strange exhibits made me feel very light headed. 

 

 I'd noticed that the painting appeared to be moving. Not in some Harry Potter magical kind of way but somehow shimmering in their frames. I'm pretty sure that one of the pictures I'd looked at before had changed from a seascape to a urban scene, or maybe I was mistaken.  

 

"Where did you come from …" I asked  

"I have always been here, sir", the girl said, "you just didn't need to see me before" 

I shook my head at her statement, the words struggling to get a foothold in my befuddled brain. 

"Is it still on", I asked 

"The exhibition is always available to those who wish to really see it" a voice behind me said. 

 

Startled I turned around to see an small thin old Indian man standing in front of me. He wore a long white linen gown, had thin round silver framed glasses. He was almost bald with a few wisps of grey hair still clinging to his wrinkled head. I immediately thought Gandhi, the likeness to him was remarkable. He bowed his head slightly to me and I couldn't stop myself doing the same to him. 

 

"The exhibition has always been running, it never shuts to those with an inquisitive mind." He said slowly, "I am Shri Rameshi and this is my humble emporium. It's been a life's work to collect these unusual and highly irregular pieces. We have other rooms that are open to the more discerning individual" 

 

He looked me up and down as if trying to judge if I was one of those. 

 

"You sir seem to have an open mind. Would you like to see the exhibit of Curious Photography?" 

 

hesitated unsure if I should venture out of this main room. Glancing at the half open front door I contemplated running for it but the syrupiness of my mind stopped me. 

 

"It is completely safe, you will not come to any harm" he said as if anticipating my anxiety. 

"As long as you do not deviate from the path prepared for you..." He added opening the door that led further into the building. 

 

I walked down an impossibly long corridor to the end. As I reached the far door, it opened and Shri Rameshi was stood there. Somehow he must have got past me although I don't know how it did it.  

 

entered the dark room. There was a mustiness to the air which was mostly kept at bay by the strong smell of incense that fogged the air. The room was darker than the first, no windows allowed light in. Candles dripped wax from their wall mounts. The walls were covered in a dark crimson red wallpaper and a curtain of the same colour hung on a far wall. Black and white photographs were hung in plain black frames on the walls. There were many different types from portraits to landscape to street scenes. Each felt as though there was more to the photo than a flat image. As if somehow the photograph was itching to tell me a story.  

 

I stopped in front of a photograph of a trench during World War One. It appeared to be calling out to me. In my minds eye I was there with them.  

 

"Do you like these photographs" the man said 

"They're really unusual" I said and then added, "it's almost as if they're real" 

"Ah well they were taken with a special camera, one which captures more than just a flat image." The man replied producing an old twin lens camera from somewhere. I looked at the camera. It looked almost steampunk in style. I wanted to touch it, own it but that first time he held it out of my reach. 

"It's been in my family for many years, invented by my Pardada. It's very old and delicate." 

It must have been years ago as this man looked well into his eighties.  

"If you go through to the alcove you will appreciate the photo better" he said.  

 

Looking up I saw the curtain had opened and the photo I'd been looking at was on a frame in front of a seat. Once again I have no idea how it got there. This place was spooking me out, yet I felt compelled to carry on. Walking towards the chair, I sat down on it's plush velvet cushion. The curtain slid closed and I was on my own with the photo in front of me. The candles to the side flickered casting the light differently on the photos. The photo shimmered and rippled  the images becoming indistinct. I leant forward to try and focus. The inebriating smell of the incense suddenly was gone replaced by the smell of mud and outdoors. I could smell cordite, the smell of recently discharged guns.  

 

"Have you finished taking the photo yet?" A voice said, "I'm getting stiff posing" 

 

I looked around as if to see who was saying it but the room had disappeared and now all I could see was the scene in the photo. It was as though I was suddenly in the photograph

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