Ross Hamilton filled the position of photographer at the town rag, ‘The Strickland Spectator.’ He was fresh out of a three-month course at the church hall, taken alongside elderly residents keen to escape their houses. His Minolta had a few dings on the edges but was otherwise in fine condition.
‘You look sexy with that thing around your neck,’ purred his girlfriend, Daisy. Ross blushed and fiddled with the winder.
Daisy was wearing a jumper a few sizes too small, emphasizing her large bust. Her posture resembled Jayne Mansfield posing for a headshot.
‘I…I’ve got a meeting with my new boss,’ he stammered and took her hand. He didn’t know what to do with it, so shook it. Daisy raised an eyebrow.
‘See you later then. I’m catching up with Katie.’
Ross rapped on the glass door of the office and was called in by Mr Pemberton. He was a squat man with roaming eyes and the faint odour of spirits.
‘G’day Ross. Hope you’re settling in well. I’ve got just the ticket for this week. Rather than a posed shot of some slapper on page three, I thought we could avoid the expense. How about you drive down to the beach and see if you can catch some chicks topless, eh?’
Ross was struck dumb. His gaze drifted over the stack of disordered papers on his boss’s desk, the overflowing ashtray and the dusty photograph of his family in a plastic frame. It was perched near the ink blotter and showed a rotund pink woman with a forced smile. She held Mr Pemberton in a vice-like grip, their children huddled at the edges of the shot, their faces blank with boredom.
‘Gee, Mr Pemberton. But what if they catch me?’
‘You’ll be right, son. Just say you were doing a landscape shot. They’ll be none the wiser.’
The lanky boy nodded and left the office, his arms hanging by his sides and his chin jutting forward. He knew what his mother would say. Pervert. Peeping Tom.
In an effort to cheer himself up Ross thought of the greats—Avedon, Bailey and Horst. Capturing the exquisite folds of a dress, or the haughty expression of a model. Not lurking around sandbanks trying to steal a glimpse of breast. He shivered with revulsion.
He swung into the car park behind the swathe of sand and turned off the ignition. The ocean met the horizon in a strip of indigo and sunlight flashed white stars on its surface. In the turquoise shallows children frolicked on blow up mattresses.
Ross walked down the wood stairs and onto the sand. He removed his shoes and ambled along the shoreline. Gulls dipped and soared above, their cries raucous. There were a few sunbathers, all clothed in swimsuits. Nearing the end of the beach he spotted a dip in the sandbank—a hidden alcove. A group of jagged rocks concealed it further. His heartbeat quickened and he made his way up the beach and to the long grasses behind the ledge of sand. Two women lay prone in the alcove. Their faces were covered with sunhats, their full breasts exposed to the sun, the nipples dark pink. They wore bikini bottoms in bright colours.
Ross turned on his camera and took as many shots as he dared. He was careful to stay in the grasses and parted them with his free hand. One of the girls sat up and fossicked in her bag. Waves of pale hair escaped from her hat and fell down her back. Her face was disguised with oversized sunglasses. Ross was aroused by the sight of her breasts hanging ripe over the bag as she retrieved her sun cream. He clicked frame after frame before caution urged him to flee.
It was just before dawn when frantic knocking woke him. He stumbled down the stairs and opened the door to Daisy, her face flushed maroon. She shook a rolled-up newspaper at him and he reared back, confused.
‘You bloody perv, Ross! Stalking me and Katie at the beach and taking photos! It’s in the paper!’
Dread filled his stomach and he swallowed. ‘What do you mean?’
Daisy panted with fury as she opened the paper to page three and jabbed at the headline with her forefinger.
‘Strickland Sun Slappers and their Beaut Boobs’
Ross gulped and hung his head. ‘I didn’t know it was you. They are beaut though, Daisy. Truly.’
Daisy rolled up the paper, thwacked him over the head and marched away.