The Big Picture 6

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So Ben does the deed.

He set everything so that the boat would get fire and explode, so he would get rid of Gary’s body and he could start his new life as a new person. For a bit he feared that something would go wrong, but then a couple of days later he reads in the newspaper that Ben Bradford had died in an explosion on a boat. The police are investigating, and then a few days later he reads about the police concluding that there hadn’t been any foul play, and his death was deemed accidental, so Ben can breathe in relief.

For months he drives around the Middle East of the country, not staying in a place for more than a day. Then months later he reaches Montana, and the town Montana Falls, and he decides that this is the kind of place where he won’t run the risk of bumping into someone. He rents an apartment and keeps himself to himself, and he even starts taking photographs. He feels safe. A while ago he had written a letter to Beth as Gary, ending their relationship and making up he had met someone else in Berkeley, California. It is sad that nobody seems to miss Gary at all. Didn’t he have friends who he kept regular contact with? He didn’t have family at all? That’s really sad. If he didn’t have friends who worried about him, I wonder what Beth saw in him when they started their liaison.

Ben’s isolation comes to an end when he goes for a drink to a bar. He starts talking to Rudy Warren, a journalist in the town, but whose drinking habits make him be disliked by almost everybody. They start drinking, and as Rudy is too drunk, Ben reluctantly let him crash on his couch. The following day to his horror he discovers that Rudy has pilfered the pictures he had shown him the night before. Then as he tries to contact the contact, he gets a call from Anne Ames, who is in charge of the local newspaper. Rudy has shown her his photographs and wants to publish them regularly. Ben is torn whether to accept the job offer, but his vanity finally wins him over. Then he is also contacted by a woman who has a gallery, and after much discussing, he also agrees to have an exhibition of his photographs.

Then Ben starts a relationship with Anne. It is clear that Anne is in love with him, and he is also smitten. Yet, we know that this is a fake relationship because Anne doesn’t know who the man she is with really is. Then one weekend Anne takes her to a hut she owns in a forest, and after having a wonderful time, they have to rush out of the place as there is fire. Anne and Ben manage to get out of the forest and are rescued by the fire brigade, and while Anne, who has inhaled a large quantity of smoke, Ben starts shooting his camera, even capturing the image of a fireman engulfed in flames and dying. The pair return to the town when they are forced to leave, but then Ben returns and he and Rudy manage to get a good report. Then Anne informs him that his photographs will be in all the national newspapers. So I imagine this will Ben’s undoing. People will recognize the name, and I wonder if someone will come forward and expose him as a fake. I really hope this happens because even if at some points I feel sympathy for Ben, he shouldn’t live happily ever after at the expense of someone’s life.

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