A short story inpsired by #ThePrompt linky hosted by the Mum Turned Mom blog. On this occasion the prompt word was ‘focus’. Please click on the badge at the end to see contributions from other bloggers.
Sat at the café table sipping Jupiler beer, Nick looked like any other tourist in Nice. He was staring intently at a tablet computer, occasionally jabbing at an icon. It looked like Nick was reading an ebook. He was, in fact, using the tablet to control a drone flying above the hills overlooking the city.
Nick was a paparazzi photographer. The cat and mouse game the rich and famous played with the paparazzi, meant Nick and his kind had been forced to get more inventive when seeking out lucrative photographs.
Using drones was still quite rare, but Nick had been one of the first to adopt this technology. He had a reputation for using it well.
He was in town to catch honeymoon snaps of Jerald Sanford and Nataliya Battaglia. It had been the celebrity wedding of the year.
Battaglia was a successful businesswoman at the helm of a social media network she had started while studying at the Sorbone in Paris. Her personal wealth stretched to $1billion. Battaglia was not only hyper-intelligent, she was beautiful and frequently turned down modelling contracts on the basis it would cheapen her image as a businesswoman.
At 45 years of age, Sanford was 15 years his wife’s senior but had the physique of a much younger man. He was a decorated US Army Ranger and successful Hollywood actor with two Academy Awards to his name, not to mention a personal fortune of $50 million and homes in Miami, the Bahamas and Tuscany.
The formal union of this couple was big, big news. They were notoriously secretive of their private lives and had sent body doubles to various locations across the world to throw the press off the scent of where they were going on honeymoon.
Their plan failed because the pilot chartered to fly them to France had serious gambling debts. When he realised who was on the jet, he informed Nick, an old contact, in return for a EU500 fee.
Nick had caught the next flight to Nice. Here he was the following day, gently getting the powerful camera lens fitted on the drone to focus on a woman lying on a sun lounger in the garden of a luxury villa. He had a suspicion he was looking at Battaglia. Nick knew the couple was in this particular complex of private villas, he just had to identify the correct property.
It wasn’t long until Nick was proved correct. Battaglia had a distinctive tattoo on her left shoulder blade written in Arabic. The woman in the frame was lying down on her front, sunbathing topless, giving Nick the perfect view.
“Bingo,” he said, slightly too loudly, causing the elderly couple on the neighbouring table to turn round.
A few moments later, Battaglia turned over. This was the moment Nick had been waiting for; the opportunity to get topless photos of one of the most attractive women in the world. Nick commanded the camera to take eight frames a second.
The camera was snapping away for seemed like at enternity but the moment soon passed. Sandford appeared on the scene and the couple embraced, although not before Nick had obtained several hundred sordid images. They went inside, hand in hand, laughing.
“How romantic,” Nick whispered.
He left the drone to hover in position and spent several minutes discreetly reviewing the topless images he’d taken. Knowing these shots were worth tens of thousands of pounds, he was in the mood for celebrating and ordered a bottle of Champagne, even though it was only 1pm.
When the waiter had gone, he reactivated the drone’s lens. The scene he saw immediately struck him as odd.
Battaglia was staggering out of the villa clutching her neck. She stumbled and fell into the pool face down, the water immediately turning dark red. Nick commanded the camera to take more pictures and as he did so Sanford slowly walked out of the building and into view.
He was with another woman.
“No way,” said Nick.
He recognised her. It was Carolina, Battaglia’s sister, the black sheep of the Battaglia family. She had a history of substance abuse and poorly chosen lovers. No one would have known about Carolina if it wasn’t for her incredibly successful sibling.
Nick zoomed in further, well aware that he was looking at a murder scene. He again commanded the drone to take pictures, although this time he wasn’t sure if he was doing it for himself or for the benefit of the police.
He could see that Carolina was holding a hunting knife. She gently placed it down on the sun lounger, turned to Sanford and they threw their arms around each other and kissed passionately. In a state of shock, Nick continued to catch all the events with the drone-mounted camera.
Nick lived in a dirty world. Handed to the police, these images would become part of a court case and enter the public domain without him receiving a penny in payment. Alternatively they could be sold to the press for an absolute fortune if Nick sat on the images until Sanford’s latest blockbuster was released. Or Sanford could be blackmailed.
The waiter appeared, opened the bottle of Champagne and poured Nick a glass. The photographer slumped back in his chair, took a sip and pondered over his predicament.
To be continued. . .