Paul Wilson deleted the memory of seventh grade like a blurred shot from his camera. The “Weird and Weirder Wilsons” taunts were history. He had a different picture in mind for eighth grade with his older sister Abby going to another school. And a summer in Arizona gave him weeks to perfect his new image. Paul knew all about images and the best light for everything. Everything, except himself. Starting today that would change.
“I’m off,” he told his aunt on his way out of the ranch house kitchen. He slung his camera strap over one shoulder and his backpack over the other.
“Take water,” Aunt Penny reminded him.
“Got it.” Paul held up the water bottle she had given him along with a lecture on D&D (dehydration and death). He stashed the water in his pack.
“Be back in two hours, Paul if you want a riding lesson before dinner.”
“Okay, sounds great.”
“Watch out for snakes!”
“Sure, no problem.” That’s exactly what he hoped to find along with tarantulas and a prehistoric-looking Gila monster. Inhaling bone-dry air, Paul headed toward the desert beyond the stables and grinned. Nothing like that in North Carolina.
Something red slithered beneath a tumbleweed. He froze. A snake, two feet long, with a black head and red-and-yellow-banded body rustled the brittle bush. Paul raised his camera, focused, and took three shots before it disappeared.
Perfect. He stashed his backpack under a towering cottonwood tree near the corral.
After a few experimental shots he’d come back for his pack.