The Frozen frame

January 12, 2018

The dark evergreen trees were painted with the freshly fallen white snow. The sound of rock music and crowd roars brought life to the once quiet forest. The evergreens sat and watched. Bright red and green lights filled the stage as the three band members played into the night.
A tall young man with blue diamonds for eyes and blonde hair that made the sun jealous came from out of the backstage shadows and watches the band play on. A jacket that could blend in with the trees and pants to the bark kept him warm from the cold. A camera around his neck, as if it was his weapon of choice going into battle. The man warms himself with the final sip of his hot coco as he aims the camera at the band. The flashes and clicks from his camera take over his mind. The man looks at the frames he has frozen in time, the long black hair from the lead singer waving back into the green lights made the camera screen glow. He takes another picture of the bass player. The sharp silver head at the end of his guitar reflected perfectly with the red shine from the lights on stage.
     “Ben,” another man whispers from further back stage, “Get over here.” Ben pulls his camera away with regret as he leaves his perfect view.  A pale man of the same height with blazing red hair and eyes of a lizard stands in front of him.
     “What’s going on,” Ben replies back.
     “I know you like this band so I’ll be quick, Boss wants you to get some pictures from crowd level, He said, “It be more, enticing to newcomers.”
     “Enticing?” Ben questions.
     “Yeah, he doesn’t want to see people standing there freezing their butts off. He wants to see the camera jumping around and having a good time with the rest of the crowd. Just, get down and do your stuff.”  
     “My stuff, is seventy-five an hour, Zack,” Ben says jokingly as he begins to walk to crowd level.
The sound of the guitar solos and drum smashing cancels out Ben’s footsteps through the cracking snow. Ben finally arrives to ground level and is instantly encompassed by stink of cheap beer and even cheaper perfume. Ben raises his camera over the mass of people and clicks away as the crowd and band fill the frame. The final guitar strum plays and the lead singer in his sweaty ripped black jeans comes to the center of the stage.
   “Hello Michigan! Happy New Year!” He yells.
The bass player walks up and presses against the lead singer and to the microphone and says,  “How we doin?!”
The horde of drunken teens and young adults scream as their reply. Ben smiles and flashes a picture.
    “We, We love, you…” The stuttering lead singer says as he starts to shake. Thick red blood slowly starts to pour out from the sides of his mouth as his once white teeth are now stained burgundy red. The crowds once loud roars have turned to worried silence. The lead singer paces back and forth from the stage. The blood drops falling from his mouth hit the floor as they polka dot the stage in a dark red. His legs quickly give out as he falls into the crowd. Ben flashes one last photo as the impact of lead singer's lifeless body is quieted by the snow. But the screams of terror from the crowd crescendoed.
Police at the event circle the concert and its onlookers, much like a pack of wolves to a lone deer. Officers in large brown wool jackets and out of place cowboy hats soon enter the concert grounds. They begin questioning fans and workers at the event. After they have been questioned they are filed off of the  grounds. Ben, waiting to be questioned is warming himself by drinking another cup of hot coco from one of the small stands. A stout officer approaches him. Ben stands up and gives the officer his full attention.
    “You can sit down boy,” the officer says as he nods back at the seat. Ben sits.
    “What’s your name son?”
    “Ben, Ben Fink.” The officer inspects Ben. His silver aviators reflect Ben's face onto himself.
    “So, you here for the thrills Mr. Fink?
    “No sir, I’m a photographer, I take pictures.” Ben uses his thawing hand and gives the officer a card of his photography business. He holds it up to his face for a moment and inspects it. He then begins to walk away with his card still in hand.
   “Come with, me Mr. Fink.” He mumbles. Ben quickly springs from his seat and follows the officer.
The officer leads Ben to the merchandise area.The once crowded shops have been emptied and abandoned. Sitting together are the two skyscraping band members, with the same long hair and poor fashion sense as the ex-lead singer, a simple minded stout man from the coco shop sits on the snowy floor, his pale face now red from the cold and recent trauma. And finally, sitting alone was Zack, Ben’s co worker from backstage during the show. The officer sits Ben down beside the band members. The officers group up and begin to talk things over. Ben sees one of the band members with his head in his hands, and the other was simply trying to stay warm.
   “Do either of you know what’s going on,” Ben whispers to the two men.
   “He’s gone man, he’s f-ing gone!” The crying band member yells as he hides his head back in grief.
   “Sorry about him, Hansel, the Lead, was his brother,” The other band member says calmly, “I’m Zed,” He reaches for a handshake. Ben shakes back.
   “Zed, right. I know who you guys are, You're the drummer,” Ben replies.
   “Yeah that’s me,” Zed replies stoically.
   “Alright, for those of you who aren’t aware, the lead singer has been pronounced dead at the scene. From what we can gather we think it was a murder, homicide in the worst case.. As of right now, you five are our only suspects. You have all come in contact with or been seen near the singer,” an officer says.
    “His name was Hansel,” The crying band member yells as tears fly off his face and onto the snow.
    “That must make you Gretel.” the officer says disrespectfully.
    “Donald wants to go home!” The coco maker cries.
    “Everyone shut up!” The officer says, “Everyone of you has been seen around or in close proximity to Hans, Can I call him that, Gretel?” The officer looks at the crying brother.
   “His name’s Nik officer?” Zed says definitely.
   “Either way, you five are going to stay here until we figure things out. So just stay put.”
The officers then convene together. Ben sits fidgeting with his camera, turning it on and off and looks at the pictures from throughout the night. Then his eyes widen and he turns to the officers.
    “I think I know how to found who did this.” 
    “Alight Mr. Fink, what do you got?”
    “Look at these pictures, I’ve had the entire night photographed right here. If someone really did kill Hansel, they’ll be somewhere in this camera,” Ben quickly slides through a few pictures, showing the officers. They quietly think it over. The wind picks up and blows against the men now standing like statues.
   “Alight son, you just be careful, we don’t need you running off.”
   “I wish to go home!” the coco maker yells as he tries to roll himself up right.
   “Is he some kind of detective now? Can you pigs not do this on your own?” Nik yells as he rises up from his seat in anger. Some officers try and contain the two men. Ben steps back from the situation and turns on his camera, The camera company’s logo flashes and then a red “Low battery” single pops up. “30%” it reads.
Ben starts with his friend Zack. The pictures show Zack using his own camera on the stage while the band was playing. But to Ben’s surprise, none of his pictures showed Zack standing anywhere near the lead, Hansel. Ben walks back to group and sits near Zack.
    “You find anything Ben? I’m freezing out here.”
    “Where were you  before the concert?” Ben says. Zack looks caught off guard.
    “You don’t think I had anything to do with it, do you Ben,” Zack says.
    “I didn’t say that, I’m asking where you were before the concert got going.”
    “Come on.”  Ben doesn’t budge. Zack finally gives in
    “I was trying to get the band’s autograph, just like everyone else. Why don’t you go ask Humpty Dumpty over there, he gave the whole band something to drink before the show,” Zack replies. Ben stands up from his snowy seat and heads to see Donald.
The snow has slowly stopped falling, the only light at this hour is from the the crystal moon and a few shaded spot lights. Ben sits down next to Donald. He reviews his camera. He sees some photos of the coco stand. He sees Donald handing the band cups, and smiling after they have left. Ben grins confidently.   
    “I’ve got him,” He thinks to himself.
    “So, Donald, why were you smiling after you gave the band drinks?” Ben says accusingly as he shows Donald the picture.
    “Oh the nice singer Hansel gave me his name on a napkin,” Donald says as he pulls out a napkin with Hansel's signature on it. Ben drops his head in disappointment. Ben quickly realizes the simple minded vender was not complicit in this crime.
“Thank you, Donald,” Ben says as he walks away in disappointment. He finally walks to Zed and Nik.
An officer is asking Zed questions. Ben looks to Nik instead. Ben sees he has stopped crying and is now quietly looking at the stage that was once filled with bright lights and piercing sounds. Ben slowly sits down near Nik and turns on his camera. “10%” It reads. Ben looks through the pictures during the concert. Unfortunately, many of Niks pictures are focused on the sharp silver guitar. As he is quickly looking through, one picture looks different. The final picture shows the point of Nik’s once silver guitar covered in a dark, earthy, red. Ben stops, and stands up. He looks at Nik with fear, then turns to the police. “Should I tell them?” He thinks. “No, no. Nik will attack me if I try and talk.  I need the proof first.” Ben quickly tries to  sneak out of the shop area and back onto the stage to find the guitar.  As Ben trickles past the officers,  Nik watches him leave out of the corner of his dead locked eyes. And yet, Nik does nothing.
Ben stomps through the freezing snow as he makes his way up to the stage. The only thing left on the stage is the bronze drum set, and the lone microphone, still echoing static. Ben heads backstage. The dim green lights brighten the area as he searches for the suspected murder weapon. Ben turns a dark corner and sees one color. The red blood stain is decorating the tip of the guitar. he doesn’t dare get any closer. He turns his camera on and prepares to capture the guitar forever into his device. As he lifts it up another red color appear. A small empty battery sign flashes in the middle of the camera. In frustration he lowers the camera and tries to flip it on and off.
As Ben is fighting with the dead device, he eyes a reflection on the screen of a person watching over him.  
    “All I wanted, was to be the lead, just for one night, Be the star.” He hears a faint  whisper say. Ben shivers but not from the cold. He turns and sees Nik towering over him holding his bloody guitar above his head like a spear, pointing right at Ben.
    “I appreciate the pictures though Ben, It will mean a lot at Hansel's funeral.” Nik gives a grin then runs the spear into Ben. In Ben’s last ditch effort, he uses his “weapon” of choice, as a simple shield. The camera drops first, hitting on the ground, followed by his body. His diamond blue eyes, close forever. The snow painted trees have now witnessed two murders tonight.

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