The photo album is old and worn. A layer of dust clings to the tops of the pages. It’s been sitting on the book shelf for a very long time. Kelly feels a little silly now, spreading it out on the dining room table.
Benji is thrilled, though. He leans over the weather worn pages and eagerly asks about this picture, about that one.
His finger lands on a black and white shot. The lamination does little to hide the fraying around the image. It shows a man, shaved and tattooed; legs spread and feet braced; muscles bulging as he draws his lasso tight. The rope is looped around the trunk of an elephant, which is only partially in the shot.
“Okay,” says Benji. “I’ve got to know about this one.”
It’s not exactly how Kelly thought their first date would go, but she’s finding it hard to complain. Benji is funny and light hearted, with a joke about everything, with a compliment always on the tip of his tongue.
She laughs, shrugs her shoulders. “Truthfully? I’ve got no idea. This picture’s been passed around my family for ages now, but no one ever has a story behind it.”
Benji asks, “is it an uncle?”
Kelly shrugs again. “I seriously have no idea. This is the original picture, but a bunch of my cousins have copies. We’ve shown it to everyone in the family. You know, the aunt’s, the uncle’s, the home grown historians. No one can give us a name.”
“The nameless elephant wrangler,” muses Benji. “I bet that’s where you get your strength.”
“Oh, certainly. I’m so close with him, you know. The elephant, that is. Not the wrangler.”
Kelly makes to flip the page, but Benji stops her. He runs his fingers over the plastic coating draped across the image. “Could I take this home with me?”
“My father works for the local newspaper, remember?” Benji grins, like he’s just figured out the secrets behind the folk lore treasure. “If anyone in this place can get us a name, it’ll be him.”
Kelly laughs. The sound is loud and rolling. “You’d look into it?”
“Don’t all relationships start with a mystery?” Benji tugs the picture out of its sleeve.
“Oh,” says Kelly, grinning. “We’re in a relationship now. I see how it is.”
“Why yes,” answers Benji, tilting his head back. His lips part into a smile that’s all tooth and gums, showing off the place where he lost a tooth in twelfth grade during a hallway fight gone wrong. “Yes, Kelly. We most certainly are. You just said it yourself, right? And we even have a witness!”
He waves the picture around.
Benji says, “an elephant never forgets!”
Kelly can barely contain her laughter.