Auggie Wren’s Photos of Brooklyn Cigar Company

AUGGIE and PAUL are sitting at the kitchen table, opened boxes of Chinese food pushed to one side. Most of the surface of the table is covered with large black photograph albums. There are fourteen in all, and the spine of each one is labeled with a year — ranging from 1977 to 1990. One of these albums (1987) is open on PAUL’S lap.

 Close-up of one of the pages in the album. There are six black-and-white photos on the page, each one of an identical scene: the corner of 3rd Street and Seventh Avenue at eight o’clock in the morning. In the upper right-hand corner of each photo, there is a small white label bearing the date: 8-9-87, 8-10-87, 8-11-87, etc. PAUL’S hand turns the page; we see six more similar photographs. He turns the page again: same thing. And again: same thing.

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PAUL (Astonished)

They’re all the same.

AUGGIE (Smiling proudly)

That’s right. More than four thousand pictures of the same place. The corner of 3rd Street and Seventh Avenue at eight o’clock in the morning. Four thousand straight days in all kinds of weather.

(Pause)

That’s why I can never take a vacation. I’ve got to be in my spot every morning. Every morning in the same spot at the same time.

PAUL (At a loss. Turns a page, then another page)

I’ve never seen anything like it.

AUGGIE

It’s my project. What you’d call my life’s work.

PAUL (Puts down the album and picks up another. Flips through the pages and finds more of the same. Shakes his head in bafflement)

Amazing. (Trying to be polite)

I’m not sure I get it, though. I mean, how did you ever come up with the idea to do this …this project?

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AUGGIE

I don’t know, it just came to me. It’s my corner, after all. It’s just one little part of the world, but things happen there, too, just like everywhere else. It’s a record of my little spot.

PAUL (Flipping through the album, still shaking his head)

It’s kind of overwhelming.

AUGGIE (Still smiling)

You’ll never get it if you don’t slow down, my friend.

PAUL

What do you mean?

AUGGIE

I mean, you’re going too fast. You’re hardly even looking at the pictures.

PAUL

But they’re all the same.

AUGGIE

They’re all the same, but each one is different from every other one. You’ve got your bright mornings and your dark mornings. You’ve got your summer light and your autumn light. You’ve got your weekdays and your weekends. You’ve got your people in overcoats and galoshes, and you’ve got your people in shorts and T-shirts. Sometimes the same people, sometimes different ones. And sometimes the different ones become the same, and the same ones disappear. The earth revolves around the sun, and every day the light from the sun hits the earth at a different angle.

PAUL (Looks up from the album at AUGGIE)

Slow down, huh?

AUGGIE

Yeah, that’s what I’d recommend. You know how it is. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, time creeps on its petty pace.

Close-ups of the photo album. One by one, a single picture occupies the entire screen. AUGGIE’S project unfolds before us. One picture follows another: the same place at the same time at different moments of the year. Close-ups of different faces within the close-ups. The same people appear in different pictures, sometimes looking into the camera, sometimes looking away. Dozens of stills. Finally, we come to a

close-up of Ellen, PAUL’S dead wife.

Close-up of PAUL’S face.

PAUL

Jesus, look. It’s Ellen.

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The camera pulls away. AUGGIE leans over PAUL’S shoulder. We see PAUL’S finger pointing to Ellen’s face.

AUGGIE

Yeah. There she is. She’s in quite a few from that year. She must have been on her way to work.

PAUL (Moved, on the point of tears)

It’s Ellen. Look at her. Look at my sweet darling.

Fade out.

 

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