“Fresh fruit, that’s what I need,” she thought to herself, “I’ll go to the Farmer’s Market. That’s where I’ll get some good shots. The light will be right and there’s lots of stuff there to take pictures of.” The evening before, she charged her camera batteries and emptied her compact flash card. She planned on getting there right when it started so she would have the whole morning to get good photos.
The vendors were setting up when she arrived. Some of them had shady tents to house their produce. Others just backed their beat-up trucks up to the spot and opened the tailgate. She watched as two policemen gathered the homeless people who slept in that park. She watched one the burly policeman nudge a sleeping man with his foot. The man rose and acquiesced without a word. She aimed her camera and zoomed in as the other policeman worked to rouse a different indigent. She took pictures of the risen walking in a line away from the park and wondered where they were walking to.
She turned back to the Farmer’s Market. The activity had grown and the apples looked bright red in the sunshine. Suddenly her idea of taking pictures of the fresh fruit and vegetables seemed unimportant. She looked at the few snapshots she had taken of the police and the homeless. “Where do they go?” she thought to herself and instinctively started to follow them.
She kept her distance for many reasons. She felt vulnerable. She was alone. She had an expensive camera around her neck. The most important reason, however, was that she knew she was spying. Photography is a vague sort of voyeurism, and people act differently when they know they’re watched. She didn’t want to upset the usual order of things, she just was curious about them.
Most of the men that were shunned out of the park headed toward the St. Joseph’s building. She didn’t know what happened there, but based on the huge cross, she suspected that there was food. A couple of the men headed toward the TRAXX line. She stood at the corner and watched the homeless split off in two directions. She raised her camera and took a couple of pictures of the men lined up at St. Joseph’s. She swiveled and clicked a few of the TRAXX stop.
She smelled him before she heard him. She thought that a strange breeze had taken the wrong turn past a dumpster, but the scent came from the man leaning on a darkened doorway. She recognized him as one of the men that the police was waking. She had a picture of him in her camera. He growled at her, “Why’d ya take a pichur o’ me?” She ran toward the Farmer’s Market. She was suddenly grateful that she had chosen tennis shoes instead of sandals or some other impractical footwear. Her body was so accustomed to running sprints that she reached the Farmer’s Market within seconds. She looked behind herself. The man hadn’t even tried to follow her.
She stood in the middle of the Farmer’s Market, breathing heavily from her run. No one noticed her. She was invisible among them and she looked down at her camera and turned it off. The lens retracted into the camera with a reassuring buzz. The noise of it calmed her down. While her hand instinctively replaced the lens cap, she watched the corner that she had run past to see if the man was following, but he wasn’t.
She looked around. The bright red apples that she saw before were stacked beautifully in their box. The cucumbers had a strange dust on them that made them look dirty. The tomatoes were funny colors and shapes. The vendor noticed that she was looking and spoke to her, “Heirloom.” She crinkled her brow and ambled closer to his beat up truck. He continued, “They’re heirloom tomatoes.” He held up a strangely shaped tomato that was almost purple. She nodded and walked away.
She tried to relax enough to take pictures of the beautiful fresh produce, but her gaze kept heading back to the corner. Distracted, she nearly ran into one of the policemen that had cleared the park earlier. She turned away from him and headed toward her car.
There would be no pictures of fresh fruit that day.