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The woman in charge never looks me in the eye. Her hair is triangular and her body is pear shaped. Somehow the features match, giving her a two-tier appearance. I make my way up the stranger's porch, ready to grab ancient copies of Dune and King Lear and suddenly realize how photographic the arrangement is. I take out my camera.
"They would really make a great picture."
It was the "Goddamn, I love Irish girls" girl. She was beautiful.
"If you like, I can send you a copy."
Her name was Laura Hayes. I enjoy her watching me take photographs. I perform for her; crouching down low, canting the angle sideways, wasting more film than I need to.
I put away the camera, get close to the most ancient book and pick it up.
It's the Bible. There are hundreds of Bibles. There are books about miracles, Jesus, modern day saints, the Holy Spirit and one English Dictionary.
"Take as many as you like. I can't take them all. I got more in the basement."
An old man in an old sweater comes onto the porch.
"Thank you very much. This is a wonderful thing you're doing."
"Oh, it's nothing really. I used to teach a Bible study. I have Bibles in all sorts of languages—Spanish, Chinese, Italian, even more in the basement."
He leaves and goes down to what I'm guessing is the basement. Where the hell am I? I don't want a Bible. What a creep. What a freak. These are not books; these are Bibles.
There is one Alcoholics Anonymous book. That's interesting.
"Would you mind if I took a portrait of you with all of your books, before you depart from them?"
"Are you a reporter or something?"
His eyes relay his doubt. He's frightened.
"No, no, not at all. I just take photos for myself. I don't have a job; I just graduated from college. Really, I promise. I just feel like there is so much of you here, exposed, I would like to take a photograph of it."
"Let me pray on it."
He looks at me, eyebrows raised and palms outturned, expecting some sort of recognition, a response, proof that I know what he's talking about, where this is going.
I'm perplexed. I'm a good girl. I'm a good person. The photo wouldn't be about him. The photo would be about me.
He talks to Jesus in his basement.
I just want to see what makes him believe.
Emily Anne Epstein is a multimedia journalist who tells stories in whichever medium suits them best. Her clients range from Getty Images to the New York Times. When she's not abroad or reporting, she can be found in a downtown cafe thinking in Spanish and writing in English. Novels, plays and flash fiction fill her free time.