When I reached the end of the block I stopped the vehicle and sat for a minute or two. I purposely wiped thought from my mind, and blocked the ever present sounds of town around me.  I closed my eyes and just felt, sensed. A wolf sniffing the wind. I pulled a sharp U turn and parked aggressively, deliberately placing the truck facing the wrong direction in front of the three men who had now risen to their feet. There was definite defensive menace in their posture. I marched up the broken sidewalk to them.  There was no salutation or hello.

I caught and held their eyes, “I want that camera back.  And the case.  And the film.  And every single lens”.  The men stirred uneasily.  They said nothing.

“You will have it back on my front steps by 5pm tonight.”  My voice was level but deadly cold.

It was as if I was a spectator suspended, hovering over the scene, detached and floating above the drama and danger of it all.  They glanced at one another.

“If I have it back, that will be the end of it as long as I never see you on our block again. If you don’t return it, I will be back here with some friends. When we are done with you we will turn you over to the sheriff.”

I turned abruptly and without a backward glance returned to the bronco.  I went and did some errands.  My mind began to rationalize the surety of my senses.  I wondered if I had handled the situation correctly or if they were even culpable.

I returned to Magnolia Street a few minutes after five.  The camera case and all of its contents were sitting by the front door completely intact.

I developed the photos the next morning. They were every bit as spectacular as I thought that they would be.  My professor even began to call me by my first name rather than the usual sarcastic, “Miiiiistuuur Rooosenthal”.  The Leica never left my side after that day, and was returned to my dad in perfect condition several months later when I bought my very own first equipment, a Canon AE1.

There is a smile on my face as I write this.  My father visits my website once in a while.  Undoubtedly he will read this blog.  It will be the first he learns of the life long gift he indirectly gave me through his loan to me of the Leica, and the saga of loss and recovery of that special camera he still uses.

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