Omaha, NE II

"You shoot pictures for the Miami Herald?" The group of young Sudanese men idle around on the white pedestrian bridge spanning the Missouri river—Miami is a world away. The men are generally tall, skinny, and immaculately dressed in Polo shirts and fashionable jeans. It is night time, but they wear dark sunglasses. Their dress emulates callous high-rollers, a disguise that is betrayed by their infectious cheerfulness and juvenile fear of being caught with a few beer cans in public. But perhaps their squeamishness about the beer is warranted: Omaha has one of the largest Sudanese expat communities in the country and large ethnic communities have a knack for making local police edgy.

The Tall Man is surrounded by friends when he says: "hey, photographer man! Take my photo!" Then, when the great lens points at him, he finds himself standing alone. His friends snicker from behind the camera and one hisses for him to set his beer down because the police will see him on the front cover of the Miami Herald. The Tall Man sets his beer down, not because he is concerned about the police, but because he needs both hands to wrangle two reluctant women into the picture with him. He emulates a music video gangster-pose while the women squirm and grimace. As his friends continue to giggle, the Tall Man recaptures his arm candy and the shutter abruptly clicks. He reviews the picture, contemplating the unhappy expressions of his imaginary harem while, in real life, the women bolt for safety. "Oh man, this is no good! One more! One more!" Amateur photography means nothing to him—he is convinced that he will be famous tomorrow... if he can just get his babes to smile. But they will not smile and have no intention of approaching the camera again. One verbally backpedals while the other escapes to find a bathroom. The Tall Man looks morose, but his friends can no longer restrain themselves and an explosion of laughter rises into the flickering orange and blue sky, their happy voices mingling with the thunderclaps booming overhead.