the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Three Stories

A week ago, Actress #1 ( the woman with arm behind her back) mentioned to her friend, Actress #2 that she had an audition at Warner Brothers; Dick Wolf was looking for a actress to play a female rookie cop in some new crime drama. She hadn’t had a decent gig in years. Actress #2, also desperate, called up her agent and set up her own audition, keeping it a secret from he friend. A few days later, Actress #1 is surprised to discover Actress #2 leaving the production office.

“I got the role!” she said.

“What? How…?” a confused Actress #1 wondered. “I thought they were looking for a “stocky woman toughed by the streets?”

“They’re changing the character for me!” she chorted. “They want her more “sexier.” Typical Hollywood, right? No hard feelings, right?”

When Actress #1 heard this inauthentic patter, her face turned white. She could feel her fist tightening. She imagines bashing her friend in her pretty Hollywood face, over and over again, until the bright red backstabbing blood was rushing into the Los Angeles river, turning the water into the color of a Pacific Ocean sunset.


They were eating Sunday brunch at their favorite cafe in Santa Monica. She had ordered the broccoli and swiss cheese omelette. He made a note to himself that she had ordered the exact same breakfast entree for the last fifteen years of marriage. Not once has she ever ordered oatmeal or scrambled eggs.

“You’ve ruined my life,” she suddenly said. “I’ve begun to hate looking at you.”

He closed the calendar section of the LA Times. He was reading about the box-office failure of his movie director friend, and was glad to read about it.

“I ruined your life?” he said, loud enough to reach the other two couples crammed into the cafe tables to the right and to the left of them, like overpriced sardines.

He tried to come up with something that would hurt her feelings.

“I hope you choke on your broccoli and swiss cheese!”

He knew it wasn’t a great retort, but he meant it. She was the writer in the family, not him. Fuck her if she didn’t think his job at Toyota was “creative” enough for her tender Bohemian, hat-wearing friends. He was the one who supported her ridiculous photography seminars.

The husband and wife didn’t speak at all as they walked back to their home, a three bedroom they bought in 2005, that lose most of its value after the real estate bust.


After his MRI, Jason didn’t want to go home and face his roommates. He found the darkest corner of his local Starbucks and looked at photos of young girls, all of them topless and tattooed. It bothered him that he had never fucked a woman with a tattoo. Should he add this to his bucket list?

Jason was still shaking from the experience in the hospital imaging center. “Keep perfectly still” said the lab technician, a young Asian woman with a tattoo. He watched her disappear from view as he slid into the hard white high-tech MRI coffin. Jason was tied down to prevent him from moving, and he wore earplugs to soften the deafening sound of the machine.

One day, he will die for real, and he will be buried in a wood coffin. “And most of my bucket list will remain unchecked,” he thought, as he drank from his cup of coffee.


  1. Jana A (@jana0926)

    These are wonderful stories, Neil. I have to wonder what parts of them come from reality… Keep piecing beautiful words and photos together. It’s inspiring.

  2. Sharron

    I enjoyed them all especially the last two. The second one reminded me a little bit of Raymond Carver.

  3. Stacey

    Fantastic. I love how you can tell a good story in so few words.

  4. Linda

    Love these, love your writing.

  5. Deborah Smith

    great vignettes! even in these snapshot stories, your talent shines through.


  6. Dana

    These vignettes are fantastic, Neil. Don’t stop writing this way, and sharing that writing here.

  7. snozma

    Love all 3. But #3 is the best.

    Please do more.

    One possible editing suggestion: If you bought the house in 1998 would it have lost most of its value? I thought the top of the market was 2005. So you might have fallen back to 1998 prices? Or is that what you meant.

    Sorry, that’s kind of a dumb question.

  8. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    I find the thought of a swiss cheese and broccoli omelette so disturbing…

    • Jack

      Me too, just not the sort of combination I like- but I did enjoy the stories.

  9. Varda (SquashedMom)

    I LOVE when you combine pictures with stories. More more more! (please)

  10. Alex@LateEnough

    I like the photos with little stories. The first one is my favorite. The photos came first?

  11. erin margolin


    I want to write little vignettes like this. I love what you’ve done here with the photos, too. I’m in awe of your talent.

    I may give this a shot on my own blog if I’m brave enough, and if/when I do, will be sure to link to you. But just now I’m too intimidated and too tired. And too afraid of what might come out.

    Like Alex, I’m curious about which came first—the photos or the vignettes?

    Thank you for sharing these with us. Love.

  12. Kim Tracy Prince

    A shout out to Marsha for sharing the link to this super cool post. I third the question about the photos. Also, I’m a little in awe/scared of you.

  13. Stasha

    Love how you turn your photos into stories. Whenever I see them in your feed they are strong tales in their own right.

  14. Alma

    Your pictures usually tell a story as they are and they keep me wondering about what the stories they tell me. Thank you for adding your writing into these, I loved it.

  15. Alexandra

    I do this in my head, too, construct a story from a picture. All day long, I write stories, think of them, while I drive.

    I’m here, dissecting why the stories worked so well. Instantly immersing, wanting to know more, identifying with the characters.

    I think that’s it, Neil–I became all 3 characters.

    Very, very nice. Thank you.

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