Douglas Leach - Polaroids

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One man follows a mysterious trail of Polaroids to a treacherous end.

GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR. My name is Glynn Washington, and this is the SNAP strangers episode. Today, we're trying to brush away some of the mystery surrounding the other. And that can be hard because strange things happen - strange things indeed. Our next piece comes from one of the very first SNAP JUDGMENT episodes. Three years ago, it seems like a lifetime ago now, but it begins with this one guy, Douglas Leach. He's a good brother. Lives not too far from SNAP studios in that other city by the bay. Well, one evening, Douglas walked home from work. He arrived at his apartment, opened the door of his apartment building and right there laying in the floor waiting, Douglas saw something that gave him pause.

DOUGLAS LEACH: I walked into the apartment foyer and I looked down, and there was a Polaroid photograph on the ground. So I picked it up. I looked at it, and it actually was a picture of what I was standing there looking at in real life - in other words, it was a picture of the door I was about to go through. A picture of the foyer in which I was standing.

WASHINGTON: Someone had taken a picture and thrown it on the ground?

LEACH: Correct. I walked over to the stairway, and I looked and there was another picture on the ground...

WASHINGTON: Now...

LEACH: ...And it's a picture of the stairway.

WASHINGTON: A picture of the stairway. And you're like - what are you thinking at this point?

LEACH: Now I'm just a little uneasy because the - now from the first picture being maybe an accident. I dropped it on my way in. The second one, it's deliberate.

WASHINGTON: Somebody's up to something.

LEACH: Yes. So at this point, I'm just becoming a little nervous. The hair started going up on my arm for some reason.

WASHINGTON: So you get picture number three, and look at it. And you continue up towards your apartment.

LEACH: So now I go to the hallway door that leads to the apartment wing. So I opened the door, and there on the ground was another photograph. And I can see down the hallway. It looked like a million miles down there. I can see my door, and I can see that there's a spill of light coming from the apartment across from my door. And that door is open. And there's another photograph - one last photograph on the ground down at the end of the hallway. I, at this point, was scared out of my mind because this was the end. I stood there for a moment absolutely quiet.

WASHINGTON: You've got to make a snap judgment right now - either I'm going to go to my apartment...

LEACH: Right.

WASHINGTON: ...Or I want to do something else. What did you do?

LEACH: I practically fled that building.

WASHINGTON: What did you discover?

LEACH: Discovered that after I had left, somebody noticed there was a guy - the apartment tenant of the apartment that had the open door was sitting in his window, and they called the police. They came and he was mentally ill and had been off his medication, and was threatening to jump. So they got him down and saved his life.

WASHINGTON: What did the final picture look like?

LEACH: The final picture was of that window in which he was sitting except that there was nobody in the picture. It was simply the open window.

WASHINGTON: He jumped?

LEACH: I can only surmise that yeah, he would have made that picture true just like the other four. So it would've been a window without him in it, and he would've jumped to kill himself.

WASHINGTON: Trust those premonitions.

LEACH: Yes please do.

WASHINGTON: You trust yourself, Doug?

LEACH: I do.

WASHINGTON: SNAP JUDGMENT.

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Oh yes, it makes me nostalgic just thinking about it. Big thanks to Douglas Leach, who's continued to attract strange goings-on in his world. That piece was produced by a stranger to no one and a friend to all, the uber producer Mr. Mark Ristich.

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