The Perfect Life

By: Erin Noelle

For those who think it’s greener on the other side . . . it’s really just a field full of pretty weeds growing out of cow shit.

THE YOUNG MAN instructed the taxi driver to pull over at the curb near the intersection of Beacon and Charles, a popular tourist area that encompassed Boston Common, Public Garden, the bar where Cheers had been filmed, and a handful of other attractions all within a fifteen minute walk of each other. After paying for the ride, he exited the yellow four-door sedan into the frigid New England night, pulling his dark hoodie over his head to block the wind and any possible lingering glances from passersby.

Slinking away from the busy street and into the shadows of the sidewalk, he hoisted the strap of a small charcoal bag up high onto his shoulder while moving swiftly, north on Charles St. and away from the crowds of sightseers. Despite the fact it was almost midnight on a Sunday, people were still out and about at the pubs and bars celebrating the New England Patriots’ win in the AFC Championship game that evening. The man, however, had no interest in post-game festivities. Completely focused on his mission, if he proved successful and the opportunity turned out to be what was promised, he’d not only be collecting a substantial sum of cash, but, most likely, it’d be the opening he needed to do bigger and better things in his career. And for that reason alone, he vowed not to fail.

With long strides in his faded black jeans that matched the rest of his night-camouflaged outfit, he quickly approached Chestnut St., where his assignment was located. Again falling back out of sight, he scanned the area a full three-hundred-and-sixty degrees—twice—before silently declaring the perimeter safe. He made a sharp right turn behind the eight-foot hedges that followed along the back property line of the row of upscale townhomes and then crouched down, advancing with ninja-like stealth against the hard, icy branches and foliage.

Approximately eighty yards deep, he slowed his movements and began searching for the cut-out he was ensured would be there by the anonymous tip he’d received. Fortunately, within a matter of seconds, he found the small, round hole in the bushes that was specifically positioned low to the ground, where most people would never notice it. He pulled a camera body and a Nikon midrange lens out of the bag and fused them together with lightning-fast speed, an action so natural to him he could do it with his eyes closed.

He dropped to his stomach and army-crawled forward through the wet snow as he brought the viewfinder up to his eye. Pointing the expensive lens through the opening in the shrubbery, he twisted the focusing ring back and forth until he could see clearly through the glass French patio doors and into the softly-lit living room of the house.

Timing was always key when he worked; encapsulating transient moments into a single frame in a way that told a thousand-word story was a true art. But this time, it was even more imperative than normal. Not only could he not get caught, but there was no guarantee the subjects would be engaging in the manner that he needed. The old adage ‘You can lead a horse to water, but can’t make them drink’ had never been truer, and it was by sheer luck the image that greeted him was exactly what he’d hoped for. The money shot.

A wicked smile spread across his face as he pressed and held the shutter button, capturing a multitude of photographs one right after another. A familiar, beautiful blonde woman. A rugged, dark-haired man with a grizzly beard. Kissing passionately. Touching sensually. Losing their clothes. Tangling in each other. The scene played out in front of the camera like one of those flip-books coming to life. This one published by Penthouse. Even with his unwavering concentration on the job at hand, the man found the carnal acts between the woman he photographed on a regular basis and her unknown partner highly arousing, and he planned to save the pictures for his personal use later.