Long before digital cameras became common gadgets and camera-equipped smartphones flooded societies all over the free world, cameras that capture images with rolls of films are used to immortalize precious moments. One popular fast food chain teamed-up with a very popular photo printing and camera services company to promote their respective products by giving away a free instant camera with built-in flash for every set amount of food purchase ordered. It was a promotional blast. Instant cameras with built-in flash gun were the fad of that time. Of course, one of my friends got one.
The camera was his precious belonging. He took good care of it. So much so that I called it his girlfriend. He cleans it five times a day and at one point I caught him talking to it. He carried it to every outing. One day, we went to a hiking trip to a jungle. It was fun losing the track of the footpath in the middle of thick vegetation and finding our way back. We called ourselves, ‘The Lost Boys Scouts’. As we took pictures my friend noticed that the flash of his camera no longer functioned.
I witnessed my friend’s face turn pale as white as paper. He started scratching his head muttering what went wrong. I explained to him that bulbs on cameras expire. There are limitations to the number of bursts a flash bulb can make and that perhaps it was time to replace it.
We went back to our camp and called it a day.
At three in the morning, my friend woke me up. He never slept. He showed me what looked like the remains of his camera. He manages to open it apart but no matter how many times he open it and assemble it, the flash wouldn’t light up. I told him the flash bulb has worn out. He pointed out that the flash bulb was still functioning.
He switched on the camera and pushed the trigger. The flash gun burst a blinding silver light just as it usually does. Except, when my friend put the camera together as it was, the built-in flash wouldn’t light up.
Frustrated, my friend left me with what was left of his camera on the table.
A few minutes later as I tried to understand the circuits of the camera, and I heard someone sobbing.
My friend is in tears inside the tub of the bathroom like a kid who lost his candy to a bully.
I can’t help myself, I grab a plastic bag, put the parts of my friend’s camera in it, stuff it in my pocket and ran to the beach far from the cottage where no one can see or hear me.
I broke into tears…tears of laughter! I laugh it all out in the open in front of the sea.
My friend and I, at that time, were both 20 years old. He is even 7 months older than I am.
I fell asleep under a very young coconut tree at the beach with an aching stomach
As the Sun started to warm the early morning breeze, a jolt of what feels like a platoon of ice cold rats running up and down my whole body inside my skin that hurts as if I took a hit from a snapping rubber band.
A curious electronic sound caught my attention, the sound of a recharging camera flash gun! As I quickly jump up to stand, I reach inside my pocket and ka-BAM! My wrist caught a pain with the feel of a snapping rubber band but this time the pain can be compared to the prick with a red hot needle. The running-rats-inside-my-skin feeling returns but this time I can’t move my legs.
A few seconds later the numb in my legs gradually subsided with a pain that feels like a thousand needles pricking.
I slowly took off my shorts; tug the protruding plastic with a twig.
The familiar sound of the recharging flash gun just stops. It is ready to sting again.
I switch off the camera and took out the two double A batteries.
Suddenly, it dawned to me that I was just electrocuted twice!
How can 3 volts of batteries do such?
I went back to the cottage with my friend sheepishly gawking at my Instamatic camera. It is the same model as his, except it’s brand new.
Knowing what was going on in his mind, I told him he can have it in exchange for his.
He already prepared a very delicious breakfast.
I took out my now precious possession and started to trace where the electricity from the 3 volts batteries circulates to. A stray wire in the set up cause the malfunction and in no time I was able to fix it.
I attached two extensions of very small soft insulated wire from the base terminal of the flash bulb, and then attached the other ends to the needles of two push pins.
I switch on the camera and again heard the malevolent charging electronic sound of the built-in flash gun.
I place the two needles on a nail. I fire the camera, a loud snapping sound exploded with the blinding flash.
As my sight recovered, I saw the melted push pin needle and the blackened parts of where the needles touched the nail.