Chapter Six, Part Three
To say the day dragged for Billy and Mina would be an understatement. Both were too excited by their date that evening to focus on anything else. Mina spent the day boring her friends, colleagues and anyone who would listen with the story of how her new man surprised her with flowers in the morning,
“Before we’ve even had our first date!” she gushed at the lady in Starbucks.
Billy spent the morning aimlessly driving around London ignoring the calls from his office to pick up passengers. After lunch he was feeling a little more motivated so decided he should take some photographs. If he was completely honest with himself, his main motivation was having some amazing shots to impress Mina, but even without her as the catalyst he thought it was high time he regained his focus in that area.
For many of his younger years, Billy had been a devotee of nature photography. He had loved to capture the world in its rawness and realness and to a teenage Billy, nothing was more magical than capturing the image of a bird in flight or the sun rippling through the leaves of an ancient tree. Since moving to the hustle and bustle of London, Billy had become much more interested in people. His constant aim was to capture people in their natural habitat and living their everyday lives. If he could snatch a photo of someone doing something unexpected or, even better, someone doing something completely mundane in an unexpected place or with a surreal background, he was happy. He found that often the best time to collect these types of images was at night, when people were drunk or less inhibited, but as it was day time he decided to head for his second favourite people watching place: Kings Cross train station.
Sat in his prime people-watching position, a coffee shop that looked over the ticket hall, with a cappuccino in one hand and his Nikon in the other, Billy was on the lookout for something extraordinary. Watching the hordes of people with suitcases and holdalls rush and struggle and amble by, he watched and he waited. As a group of Japanese students trugged past, dressed in Micky Mouse ears and “I ❤ London” tops, he snapped a quick shot of them. “Nothing extraordinary,” he thought to himself as looked back over the picture, “but there are some interesting colours in there.” As the minutes ticked past Billy managed to get a photo of a businessman’s suitcase falling open with papers and mobile phones sliding across the ticket hall, and a toddler in a push chair lifting up the skirt of shocked old lady. Billy loved watching the way strangers interacted with each other, how they avoided all contact even when it might be easier to talk. He loved the contrast between busy men and women in suits and confused tourists with their backpacks across their chests.
Billy kept snapping and photographing unsuspecting passers-by until something at the far corner of the ticket hall caught his eye. He quickly changed lenses and zoomed in to get a closer look. He saw a man, who was probably in his mid-twenties and very conventionally good looking, handing a massive bunch of flowers to a girl. But it was the girl who had caught his eye, from far away Billy thought that she was the running blonde but that was almost impossible. Snap. Billy took a picture just as she took the flowers from the man. Snap. He took another as she studied the flowers for a moment. Snap. He took the third as the flung the flowers to the floor, sending blossoms and stalks skidding across the polished floor. Snap. He took another as she turned to walk away and the man caught hold of her arm. Snap. He took the last as she crouched down on the floor, crying, surrounded by thrown flowers, the young man standing over her but looking away. Billy kept watching the rowing couple but he didn’t take any more pictures. He felt as though he was intruding on something. He watched as the girl tried to gather up the flowers and as the young man eventually bent down beside her and helped. He watched as the girl cried and the young man comforted her. He watched as they eventually walked past him, hand in hand, towards the tube.
Waiting outside of Coven Garden station, Billy was early. He hadn’t wanted to make Mina wait so he had rushed out of his flat at 6.30. Billy wasn’t one to pay much attention to what he was wearing, but this evening was different. After staring into his wardrobe for what seemed like hours and realising he only owned jeans, Billy decided his best option was to keep wearing the ones that had on. But he didn’t want to look too scruffy, he had told Mina to wear something nice, so he pulled out his only expensive shirt. It was Paul Smith and had been a present from his Mum. He had never worn it, but thought today was as good a day as any to try the shirt and jeans thing. When Mina walked around the corner, he knew he’d made the right decision. She looked elegant and sexy at the same time in a bright red, skin tight mini dress, leather jacket and ankle boots.
“You look nice,” Mina said as she gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
Billy felt weak at the knees, “You look, amazing,” he stammered. Quickly regaining his senses he grabbed her by the hand and led her to the restaurant.
“So what was this plan?” Mina asked as the main courses were cleared away.
“Oh,” Billy wasn’t too sure how to say it, “well you know I’m a photographer? I thought I could take some pictures of you.”
Mina rolled her eyes.
“No, oh nothing like that,” Billy blushed, “some nice ones. Just out and about in London.”
“I don’t know,” Mina was flattered, but her mind jumped back to the conversation she’d been having with Becky and Louise a day earlier.
“How about you look at some of the stuff I do, and you can see if you like it? Trust me, it’s nothing dodgy.”
Billy walked around the table and sat next to Mina, bringing his camera with him. As he was flicking through the pictures, she put her hand on his leg. As he got to the pictures he had taken earlier that day, Mina’s grip tightened.
“Wait a minute,” she said as she grabbed the camera from his hands, “I know that girl.”
Billy looked at her in shock.
“That’s Louise and that must be Mark. Did they have a fight in the station? Maybe he found out about Tim.”
“They had a kind of row, but then they made up. I think it was more her than him,” Billy quickly took the camera back and examined the picture himself, “How do you know her?”
“Louise? She works with me.”