Welcome to The Miller House
Don Lehman, 2018


Cover Index
Chapter 01
Chapter 02
Chapter 03
Chapter 04
Chapter 05
Chapter 06
Chapter 07
Chapter 08
Chapter 09
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

Chapter Nine

Carl did not tell Francis or Cappy about meeting Ozzie and how they had talked. He didn’t say anything about how he had expected a fight or how he was surprised that he did not stammer. He had so much on his mind and Francis could tell. He was doing his normal work and she left him be. She knew that he was thinking about the things she had told him about his father and she hoped he understood that it was an accident and that he didn’t blame her. She didn’t know how far Carl was going his bike. She did notice he was gone longer and wondered where he was and of course, she didn’t know about Ozzie. Francis had told Cappy in private that she had explained to Carl all about his daddy, Aaron Polone. Cappy said, “It was time he knew.” After that, they just gave him some time.

A few weeks later, Big Frank was back and some guy who introduced himself as Paulie Sutton, traveling photographer, was staying for a few days. The photographer was tall, had silver hair to his shoulders, a long silver beard and mustache. He had a leather jacket and a bolo tie with a turquoise stone. He could have stepped right out of a wild west show! Carl was fascinated. There were two other guests, so it was pretty much average night otherwise. Carl could see that Francis was in a particularly good mood maybe because Big Frank was there. The photographer had a Dodge panel truck outfitted with a darkroom. He had the back doors open and he was showing it to everyone. They were all outside, even Francis. He was explaining how he traveled around talking pictures, mostly of people in the mountains who didn’t get out much. He had the windows blockout and a little red light so that he could see what he was doing. He explained that he had to make it completely dark when he was loading up his film and when he was developing the film but he could use the little red light to see what he was doing when he was making the pictures in the trays of chemicals. He didn’t have much room in the back of that truck and he had to work on his knees. Even when he was on his knees, his head almost touched the ceiling. He had boxes of chem. He told Carl, “You’re a handsome piece of work! I’ll take your picture for free, Then he told Francis he would take some pictures in exchange for a couple night’s stay. She said that she’d think it over. Carl hoped that she would do it. Big Frank said he didn’t have any need for a picture. Francis laughed and said that she wanted a picture of Cappy and she wanted a picture of herself with big Frank. That surprised Carl but he just laughed along with Cappy and everyone. He knew his mother liked Big Frank a lot but Carl was not used to hearing her say something like that!

The next morning at breakfast when Carl was pouring coffee for everyone, she asked Mr. Sutton if there was room in that panel truck for Carl if he wanted to watch him load up the film and make the pictures. Mr. Sutton said, “It’ll be tight in there but if he can sit still and if he isn’t afraid of the dark, I’ll show him the magic.” Then Francis said, “I want one picture of Carl and me and a picture of Big Frank and me if they are both willing. I also want a picture of Cappy if he’ll have it. Carl was glad that he was done pouring the coffee because his hands were probably shaking a little. He had never had his picture taken and he didn’t even know what it was like. He wondered about being closed up in the back of the pitch dark panel truck with Mr. Sutton making pictures appear under the little red light - especially pictures of his mother and Big Frank. After he took the coffee pot back to the kitchen Francis came in and asked him if he wanted to see Mr. Sutton make the pictures. Carl said yes that he did want to see it. She said, “then, we’ll do it. We’ll all get dressed up and have our pictures taken.”

After breakfast, Carl and Francis put the dishes away and Carl changed clothes and went out with Mr. Sutton. Carl waited until Mr. Sutton said, “climb on in here son and close those doors. The red light was on when Carl closed the doors but it was still too dark for Carl to see anything!” Mr Sutton told him that he his eyes would become accustom to the dark but just when he was able to see Mr.Sutton holding a yellow box of film and a stack of holders. The red light was turned off. Mr. Sutton explained that he was opening the yellow box and taking out sheets of film and putting them into the film holders one by one. He said he would put a film holder into the back of the camera just before he took a picture. He was sort of mumbling to himself when he said, “I think I’ll load up about ten sheets of film.” Carl could hear him working. When he said, “That’s it,” he turned the little red light back on and told Carl to open the door if he could find the latch. Carl was relieved to open the door and get fresh air and light. Mr. Sutton unloaded a big wooden tripod and attached one of his three cameras. It was a fancy contraption and it said, Crown Graphic on the front.

When Francis came out, everyone who was standing around stopped talking and look her way. She was wearing a navy blue dress. The plunging v-neck came to a tiny white bow. She was wearing red shoes. Her blond hair, brushed and shining, fell to her shoulders. She didn’t use much makeup and didn’t dress up often but when she did, she looked just like a movie star from a magazine. Big Frank was wearing a necktie and a light jacket with a zipper. He had it zippered about halfway up. Francis was tall but barely came to his shoulder. Mr. Sutton was still fooling around with his camera but he stopped and set his camera up on the front walk. The sun was shining toward the front of the house but a big oak tree provided spring shade. Mr Sutton said he wanted them to stand at the edge of the shade where there would be plenty of light but no direct sun on their faces. He had Francis stand in front of Big Frank, just a little off to his right side. Mr. Sutton suggested that Big Frank place his left hand at her waist and his right hand at her shoulder. Cappy and a few guests stood by the front steps and watched. Carl stayed near the camera. He thought his mother and Big Frank looked amazing, almost like they were married. Mr Sutton focusing the camera and looking at Francis and Big Frank. Mr. Sutton went back over and had Francis turn a little toward Big Frank and had him place his left hand in his pocket. Now they both looked like they were getting a little more comfortable. Mr. Sutton was putting the film holder into the camera and pulling out the dark slide and just that quick, it was over. It was Carl’s turn. He stood next to his mother. He wasn’t so dressed up but he thought he would look ok. He was wearing clean denim pants and a gray with white pinstripe shirt. The shirt had a white, collar that was open. Mr. Sutton just told him to stand to the left of Francis and place his left hand on his hip. He reminded Carl to stand straight with his shoulders back. Then he kind of whispered, “Is it ok if your mother puts her hand on your shoulder? Carl laughed and said, “Yes,” without stammering. He felt her hand on his shoulder as she pulled him close and then relaxed her grip. Francis was still about six inches taller than Carl. She was laughing. Carl felt so happy! Mr. Sutton messed with the camera a little and then he said it was done. It was like everyone had been watching and holding their breath and could now breathe again. They were laughing and all talking at the same time. Mr. Sutton said he would take one more picture of Carl, by himself. Carl asked if he could have his picture taken with his bicycle. Mr. Sutton said, “sure, if it’s ok with your mom.” Francis said she thought it was a good idea. Carl ran to the garage and got the Green Phantom. He was thinking that he would also like Cappy in the picture but he didn’t know what Francis would think. Mr. Sutton was impressed with Carl’s bike! Carl waved his mom over and told her that he wanted Cappy to be in his picture. She said she thought it was a great idea but he would need to ask Cappy and he may not want to do it. Carl parked his bike and walked over to Cappy. First Cappy said no to Carl. “It’s your picture. You go ahead, I’m not dressed and I’ll just look like bum. Carl started to laugh quietly sang, “Hallelujah! I'm a Bum.” A song Cappy used to like to sing to Carl. Then he said, “C-c-come on Cappy. Let’s do it!” Cappy told Carl to go to his room and get his coat hanging in the big wardrobe and his hat on the top shelf. Carl dashed up the front steps and into the house. Mr. Sutton had Carl standing in front of the bike with the wheel turned toward the camera. His right hand on the handlebar and Cappy behind the bike. He asked Carl and Cappy to look at the camera. Cappy looked dignified with his gray fedora. Just after Mr. Sutton took the picture, Carl saw Ozzie watching from across the street. Carl waved and Ozzie waved back.

Everybody went back inside the house including Mr. Sutton, after he put his camera away, and locked up the truck. Carl asked when he would develop the film and make the pictures. He said that he would do it the next day because he may be able to take a few more pictures that same day. Carl could hardly wait to see how the pictures would look! There was a lot of work to do and most of the morning so far had been spent with the pictures. There were rooms to prepare for new guests and beds to change. Big Frank and Mr. Sutton would be spending at least one more night and maybe more but the other two guests had left. Mr. Sutton said he would not be back for dinner and would check back in late in the evening. Carl knew that Ozzie saw Mr. Sutton taking his picture and he hoped that he could get a change to see him soon to tell him about it. He wondered if Ozzie ever had his picture taken by a real photographer.

  Chapter 10