The Photobooth

“Whatever you do, do not look at the photos on the proof sheet. Only look at the photos to give to the people that come out of the photo booth,” Dimitri tells his new employee Steve.

“Got it, Mr. Karran. I’ll make sure to only look at the four images that are printed on the photo booth. If they need an additional set, I’ll just print the four the computer shows on the print list.” Steve reiterates everything Dimitri has told him during his training for how to run the photo booth.

“Okay, kid! This is all you! I’m counting on you to do a good job, and I’m trusting you to follow all the detailed instructions I have given you.”

“I’ve got this Mr. Karran! Enjoy the fight.”

Dimitri takes a couple of steps away from Steve and then turns around.

“You’ve been training me to six months. I’ve got this. Trust me!” Steve smiles back to Dimitri.

Dimitri turns and heads out the door of the venue and gives one last glance towards Steve before closing the door and heading to the underground boxing match he’d been planning to go to all week.

Steve makes some minor refinements to the lighting in the photo booth and takes pictures of himself to ensure the lighting and output are producing the proper results. Everything looks good except for one spot in each of the photos. Steve examines the camera lens and takes more photos. The spot is still there. As he stares intently at the photo, he’s started by a young woman who comes up behind him.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you jump”, she says.

Steve is smitten by her beauty. He rubs the back of his head nervously as he’s stumbles around for words to say to her.

“How long have you been running the photo booth?”

“Oh, um… I’ve been working with Mr. Karran for the last six months. His photo booth takes the best pictures and has all the coolest features.”

“I’m Leslie, by the way.” Leslie extends her hand and bats her eyes at Steve. “You say this takes the best photos, eh? I always look lousy in photos. I don’t even have an Instagram account because my selfies always make me look like I’m deformed. I can never get the right angle.”

“Oh, that seems hard to believe. I’m Steve, by the way.”

Leslie leans in a bit closer to Steve. Steve gets even more nervous, and his hands begin shaking slightly.

His voice cracks as he says, “If you want, I can take a few photos of you, and you can see how beautiful you… errr, I mean… how good the photos come out.”

Leslie skips into the photo booth, “Alright Ansel Adams! Take your best shot!”

Steve has the photo booth take several photos of Leslie as she poses in a variety of flirtatious and playful poses. Steve is smiling as she’s playing around in the photo booth. Steve senses someone standing behind him. He turns around, and a very large man is standing with his arms folded across his chest staring down at Steve.

Leslie comes out of the photo booth laughing and smiling and pauses as she looks at Steve. “Hi, honey! This is Steve. Let me see the photos, Steve.”

Steve hands the photo booth photos to Leslie and notices Leslie’s boyfriend staring at his every move with a clenched jaw. Leslie is smiling as she’s looking at the photos.

“These are great, Steve!”

“How about I take photos of both of you?” Steve nervously says, trying to get Leslie’s boyfriend to get out of his personal space.

“That’s a great idea, Steve! C’mon Renee! Let’s take some photos together.”

Renee reluctantly goes into the photo booth with Leslie. Leslie begins flirting with the camera again, but Steve knows she’s flirting with him. He just can’t get passed the fact that there’s a 200 lb pile of meat in the photo booth with her who seems perfectly willing to snap his head off without even breaking a sweat.

“Smile, Renee,” Steve enjoys his one moment of power over his arch nemesis giant in the photo booth.

Leslie looks at Renee and notices he’s not smiling. “Ya, Renee, smile!”

#

A few days later, Steve is at lunch at his favorite place with Dimitri.

“I really appreciate you doing such a good job at the wedding the other night, Steve. The wedding organizer said you did a great job, and she put us on her short list of preferred vendors. I have a special gift for you.” Dimitri hands Steve an envelope.

Steve opens the envelope and sees $300 inside. His eyes widen! “Thank you, so much, Mr Karran.”

“Hey, don’t get all mushy on me, kid. My fighter won. If he had lost, you wouldn’t be getting a bonus.”

Steve is looking up at the television in the diner when he sees a picture of Leslie on the screen with the caption: Missing Person.

Dimitri notices that Steve is suddenly disturbed by something. He turns to look at the television, “You know that girl?”

“Uh, no, Mr. Karran. Just sad to see someone so beautiful go missing. I hope they find her. Hey, I need to get going to see my mom in the home.” Steve gets up, leaving his food half eaten.

“Okay, Steve. You do that. I’ll get this. Tell your mom I said hello, and that I’m very proud of your hard work.”

Steve leaves the diner in a hurry, and Dimitri is puzzled by his behavior. The wedding planner from the wedding enters the diner and notices Dimitri sitting by himself. She comes over sits down across from Dimitri, and they begin talking about business. Dimitri notices the woman’s face change from gleefulness to sadness. He again, turns to look at the television.

“You know that girl?”

“She was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding a few days ago. The one Steve was working at. That’s so sad. I hope they find her alive, but in cases like that it almost never ends well.”

#

Dimitri parks his car in front of Steve’s apartment and heads up to his unit. He knocks on the door, but there is no answer. He uses the spare that Steve had given him a month earlier to unlock the door and goes inside. He looks around the apartment and notices the large knife is missing from the knife block in Steve’s kitchen. He finds photo booth images of Leslie sitting on the nightstand next to Steve’s bed. He runs out of the apartment, locks the door, and jumps into his car to head to his office.

Dimitri arrives at his office and pulls up the proof sheet box from the wedding when Steve operated the photo booth. He goes through all the proof sheets, but a couple of them are missing. “Steve must has taken the proof sheets,” Dimiti thinks to himself as he begins to panic.

Just as Dimiri comes to this realization, two police detectives enter his office. They ask Dimitri a few questions about the evening and about his whereabouts. Dimitri tries to dodge their questions and not reveal anything about Steve or the fact that he himself suspects Steve might have been involved. The cops notice he’s acting paranoid and ask him to come in to the station for a few more questions.

“Anything I can do to help, officers.”

The detectives bring him down to the station. Once Dimitri is out of sight of his office, detectives and uniformed officers begin searching his office. They find all the copies of photos from the photo booth sessions he’s done before. They also find the proof sheets and notice that there are several disturbing images on the proof sheets. Images where people are strangling other people, stabbing each other, and performing other violent acts against each other.

One of the detectives recognizes one of the girls in the photos is also a girl who had gone missing about 4 months ago. The detective has the officers collect all the photos and bring them to the station and then she notifies the two main detectives about the findings. She brings in a team of people with missing person cases and photos that they use to search through the pile of images collected from Dimitri’s office to see if there are other missing person cases the findings will shed light on. They find another half dozen missing person matches!

Meanwhile, the two detectives are interrogating Dimitri about his business and his whereabouts on the night of the wedding when Leslie went missing. Fearing what might take place if he let’s the police know that he was at an illegal fighting match, Dimitri is evasive and doesn’t have an alibi that the detectives can confirm. Dimitri becomes increasingly nervous, and the detectives become more convinced that they either have their man or an accomplice.

#

Steve is sitting in his car outside a warehouse in downtown. He’s staring at the proof sheet he took from Dimitri’s office and is fixated on a picture of Renee choking Leslie and the next frame showing her passed out and Renee smiling. Steve recognizes the inside of the warehouse because it’s a location where he has done photo shoots before. He works up the courage to go into the warehouse with the kitchen knife he took from his apartment.

He opens the door slowly and enters the warehouse. There’s a section of the warehouse setup for photos with lighting and furniture. The furniture matches what Steve noticed in the photos on the proof sheet. He hears Leslie’s voice from the photo area and goes running over to find her standing in lace lingerie, talking on the phone. He hides the kitchen knife behind his back.

She notices Steve and smiles. “I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.” She hangs up her phone. “I was hoping you’d find me, Steve.” She walks seductively over to Steve, licking her dark red lips as she places her arms on his shoulders and plants a hot, passionate kiss on Steve’s lips. Steve notices the photography lights flash. His body practically goes limp as Leslie begins to passionately kiss him deeper and deeper.

He feels the knife slip out of his hand but doesn’t hear it hit the ground. Then he feels a sharp pain enter the left side of his back. He tries to pull away from Leslie, but she holds him tight as he feels another sharp pain enter the right side of his back and his body loses control. He notices the photography lights flash again and again. He feels warm liquid running down his lower back and down his legs as his legs begin to buckle under his own weight; all the while, Leslie continues to hold him tight and kiss him passionately, muffling his cries of pain.

He can’t feel his legs as he falls to the ground and Leslie falls with him and straddles him, holding his face as she continues to plant kisses all over his face, smearing his face with bright red lipstick. He feels another sharp pain in the right side of his rib cage and suddenly cannot breathe. He’s gasping for air as he can feel the warmth of his blood running out the right side of his rib cage. He notices the photography lights continue to flash. He spits up blood out of his mouth and it runs down his face as he chokes on the blood running into his lungs.

Leslie licks the blood from the corner of Steve’s mouth as he looks up and sees Renee standing over them both with Steve’s blood soaked kitchen knife in his hand. She kisses Steve passionately again, swirling her tongue around in his mouth filled with blood. She feels Steve’s body go completely limp, and she sits up on top of Steve’s nearly lifeless body and reaches over to grab the knife from Renee’s hand. She reaches high into the air with the knife. Steve notices the photography lights flash one last time.