Second step came to a halt 第二步嘎然而止

(English text below the Chinese one.)

为以防万一,我提前一个小时到华盛顿西北区房子失火处。一到就发现921号房子的门已开。一个男子在房前扫地。他是屋主的弟弟,来自厄瓜多尔。我说明来意,他很热情地让我进屋拍照。

十一点,我从漆黑的地下室出来,准备上楼继续拍,一个男人的硕大剪影直逼过来。我装着若无其事,说,“咳,你好。”

那人带着怒气责问:“你是谁?你怎么在这里?”

我简单重复了我的火灾项目,并告诉他屋主的弟弟允许我在里头拍照。

当我出门向刚到的屋主问候,再次说明来意,他们点头表示认可,并说不介意我在他们家拍照。

既然主人都同意了,我就耐心等着再进去拍。无聊那个硕大的不友好男人发话了:“你不能进取,不能拍照!”

“请问你是谁?”我忍不住问。

“我为他们(屋主)工作,是他们的代理。”

我看看屋主。屋主看看那个硕大的代理,然后说,“既然他说不可以,那就不可以吧。”

……

我向代理要了名片,又给他一张自己的名片,说:“你可以到我的网站看我的作品,包括关于火灾的作品,你会发现,我没有坏的企图。如果你改变主意,请你和联系。”

“我是绝不会改变主意的。”那人冷冷地说。

然后,他回头用对屋主说,“我们要…….这都是很单调的事情,你不必呆在这儿看。当然,如果你想留下来也可以。”

我心想,嗯,这家伙想主宰这房里的一切,不希望主人有任何干涉和建议。我希望屋主不要随便接受人家的摆布。

这时,屋主十六岁的儿子说:“我还是想留下来看看。也许你们可以教教我。”

我希望这年青是精明而警惕的。

…….

离开时,我安慰自己:幸亏早来了一个小时,否则连一张图片都拍不到……

这组图片,除了头几张利用现有的光线——从门进去的光线,其余的图片都靠一个微小的手电筒。这算不算不诚实呢?好好想了想,认为自己还是诚实的,因为地下室里一片漆黑,任何人去那儿都必须靠手电筒,我只是拍了通过手电筒的光看到的东西。

I am quite a nervous person. Each time I do something I care a lot, I will not sleep well and I wake up early. Words like “just in case…”would linger in my mind until I start doing the job and forget everything else.

“Just in case … I should get there earlier,” I simply couldn’t get rid of this thought. I got to the house destroyed by fire in northwest DC an hour earlier before its owner, who was supposed to be there at 11.

When I got there, the door to the house was open and a man in yellow was sweeping the floor in front it. I introduced myself and explained to him what I do and why I wanted to photograph the burnt house.

The man smiled and invited me into the house. As I was photographing the staircase facing the door, he suggested I take a look at the basement, which is pitch dark and … stinky, and where I spent almost an hour with a dim tiny torch.

As I walked back to the first floor, a big shadow of a man came at me. I could feel he was not that friendly, but I greeted him, “Hi, How are you?”

“Who are you?”He grunted.

I explained to him what I do and told me I was granted permission to photograph the house.

He didn’t say anything. And I went out of the house to greet the owner who just arrived with her son and nephew. She gave me her permission after I explained to her one more time what I did and why I did this fire project.

With more permission, I excitedly waited to get inside the house again with my camera, when the man turned to me and said, “YOU – cannot go inside.”

“I have the owner’s permission.” I argued.

“This house has been condemned by the fire department. No one except the owner and her agents can enter.” His tone couldn’t be sterner.

“Who are you?”I asked.

“I worked for them,” he pointed to the owner. He did the restoration work.

I looked at the owner, hoping she would say something in my favor.

But she said, “well, if he says no, then … no.”

The man must have been satisfied. He turned to an agent from an insurance company and talked their business with chuckles. Then he turned to the owner and her son and explained to them what he would do in the house.

“We will measure a lot of things in the house… You are welcome to stay, but it’s boring. You don’t have to be here. It’s really boring. It’s boring, really. You don’t have to be here, though you are welcome to. You don’t have to be here, unless you want to learn something.”

It seemed he didn’t like anyone, including the owner, to watch him work. I hope he is honest and trustworthy, not someone who is trying take advantage of people who know little about house restoration after fire damages. As I was thinking, I was happy to hear the son say,“I’ll stay. Maybe you can teach me something.”

The pictures from the basement were taken with light from the tiny torch. For a moment, I thought, this is not ambient light, should I consider this honest documentation? After some thinking, I decide it is honest, as there is no light there, and anyone who wishes to go down and take a look needs some artificial light. What I photographed is just what I saw with the help of a tiny torch.

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