George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

“The Greatest Picture Marilyn Never Took”

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Marilyn Monroe had been famously “missing” for about a month. She had been the focus du jour as the tabs speculated wildly as to where she might be hiding. I was willing to bet she was holed up right here at the Harkness and was now about to emerge. Jack reached into the glove box, extracted a rather bulky camera and handed it to me. “In case you can get a shot of anything interesting,” he said as he disappeared into the building. The camera was a pricey new German SLR that sported all the latest bells and whistles. Forgetting my deep seated technophobia for the moment, I grabbed the beast and headed for the entrance.

There was no room for me on the bleachers. These guys were big and they were knocking each around like a rugby scrum in order to get their best shot across the driveway – one of these elegant curving things leading to and from the entrance – so I crossed to the other side, wandered farther down and stood at the edge of a high curb.

Soon a stretch limo appeared and turned slowly into the driveway and stopped at the entrance. The chauffer got out, walked around the car and stood by the rear door. At that moment, the day that till then had been cool and overcast, suddenly brightened. Had the sun broken through the clouds? I looked up. No. It was coming from the hospital doorway where Marilyn finally appeared, her smile and ultra-blond tresses flooding the area with beams of light and warmth.

By now the paparazzi was going nuts. Yelling, shoving, snapping. In response, Marilyn, smiling and waving sweetly, posed her way slowly across the sidewalk to the car where she paused briefly with an extra wave for the cameras before sinking out of sight, the door thunking shut with “see ya” finality.

Finally remembering the camera in my hands, I thought I might get a shot through the side window as the car passed my spot. My heart thumped and my pulse raced as I brought the camera to my eye and the limo began to move, purring softly down the driveway toward the street. But as the vehicle slid slowly by, tinted windows smugly shielded its precious cargo. Of course! In addition, all I saw through the lens was black. Was the lens cap on? No. Locked! The damn thing was locked!

The high curb of the driveway had elevated me above and closer to the vehicle and as the driver turned left to follow the curve of the driveway, I found myself standing directly behind it, less than three feet from the vehicle’s rear window which was clear. “Schmuck…moron,” I quietly berated my tech stupid self as frantically I pushed this gizmo and pulled that in a desperate effort to free the device from its German bondage.

As I struggled, there suddenly appeared in the limo’s rear window the glowing face of Marilyn Monroe, perfectly framed by a bright chrome border and projecting the stunning face that had long made her a global phenom.

As though caught in a magnetic field, I stared at the vision mere inches before me and for a silent moment there was just me and Marilyn in all the world – the camera hanging sullenly impotent at my side. The deep growl of the engine broke the spell as the limo reached the freedom of the street and with a small white puff, was gone.

Next day, the tabloids showcased shots of the actress smiling and waving as she wriggled her way to the car. But none compared with the image burnished forever in the filmstrip of my mind: that dazzling portrait in the rear window of the limo, the greatest picture Marilyn never took.

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George Duncan is a veteran, award-winning marketing copywriter and consultant in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His book, Streetwise Direct Marketing, was published in January 2001. Democracy Held Hostage, a collection of Letters to the Editor from 2004 to 2008, was published in 2009. George has had numerous articles published in marketing and trade publications and on leading Web sites. In 2008 he retired from a 50-year marketing career and today is finding new joy in writing memoir, creative non-fiction, fiction and poetry.

© Copyright, 2015, George Duncan. All rights reserved.

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