Picture Perfect 3


3

Dan open the door to the archives. The smell brought back so many memories. His first real camera. The first time he developed one of his own pictures. He went directly to the furthest end where the pictures his father had taken while there were on the east coast were kept. Most them at any rate. 

They had transferred the backlog of money makers to digital. There was no need to keep all the prints or negatives of those school class pictures, expect for classes that included him or his sister. He ran his finger along the backs of the storage bins looking for 1984. Yes, there it was. He blew the dust off it before he remembered there would be no dust. The room was built and insulated to protect the negative and photos from any damage. 

He took the bin to a small table half-way along the wall. The dim light once there had been replaced with a set of LEDs that would cause no light damage. He opened the bin and flipped through the envelops of negative and pictures till he found the one marked Stellerton Summer.

He slid the content out onto the table. Several of the negatives had been developed. There was the one he had seen on the TV show. Him and Timmy. This one was in colour. He’d forgotten they were in colour. Why was his memory in black and white he wondered?

He took the strips of negatives and fed them into digital developer. It would create a set of contact sheets he could check on his computer. HighDef had made his job a lot easier in some ways. He’d also set it to print out 8 by 10’s of each of the two dozen pictures, including the ones that hadn’t been printed already.

As he scrolled through the the set he saw that some were in colour others in black and white. His Dad must have been using two cameras that day or did he finish one roll then pop in another? No, it was two different cameras. he could tell by the image quality. His trained eye could tell the difference. Cameras had a finger print.

There were some of him and Timmy in the rocky yard behind the boarding house his Dad usually stayed in when they were in Stellerton. Dan had on his cowboy costume. Chaps, vest, cowboy hat, cap guns and holsters. Man he loved that outfit. Timmy only had a cowboy hat, cap guns and holster but was wearing the sheriff’s badge that Dan had given him.

In a couple of the pictures they were looking for injuns. Some were of him and Timmy on the front steps of the house. It was one of these that had been on the TV show. Both with their cowboy hats pushed back, grinning at the camera, arms around each other’s shoulders.

Dan could see his Dad taking the pictures. There were washed out colour pictures of the nearly the same poses. Too much sun. Someone didn’t know how to shoot in the sun.

Right that was his sister Linda learning to use her new camera. The one he wanted so bad but because he wasn’t old enough she got it. It had been a bribe to reward her for breaking off with that guy his mother didn’t like. Too old for her his mother said.

What was that guy’s name? Cyril something.

So here were the pictures. His Dad must have given copies to Timmy’s family before they left for Toronto. No, the pictures wouldn’t have been ready that fast. Between the packing to move so suddenly and saying goodbyes, there was no time for his Dad to develop any pictures. He must have sent this to them later. By then his Dad must have known Timmy had disappeared. Was this the picture the police used in looking for him?

His cell buzzed.

“Dan, the good sergeant is here to see you?” It was Ushio.

“I’ll be right down.” He glanced at the time on his cell. He wasn’t expecting Warszawa until after lunch. Something must have come up.

When he left the RCMP they retained him as a consultant. He’d been called in on several cases where documents were concerned. Software he had developed enabled him to quickly ascertain if a photo had been doctored. In a couple of instances he had been able to remove the the alteration to reveal what was there before. He’d refined that to do the work on the child porn case.

He went down the back stairs to his office. Robert Warszawa was already sitting in front of his desk.

“Could you explain to Ushio I am not a good sergeant but a dogged Inspector.” He reached out to shake Dan’s hand.

“I’ve tried. He once asked why you don’t wear red.”

“That is what I’d call racial profiling.” Robert laughed. “I know our appointment wasn’t till this afternoon but …”

“You had to know what I’d found?”

Dan took a folder from side file drawer in his desk.

“Tech talk first. These are repros.” He put on a pair of cotton gloves and spread the photographs on the desk.

“You mean others made from the same negative?” Robert rubbed the scruff of beard along his chin line.

“No. These are copies of photographs. Clearly someone didn’t have the negative but wanted copies of them for some reason.”

“Copies of copies?”

“Not unusual. We used to do that fairly frequently here. Someone wanting to share family photos from an old album. These copies go back ten or more generations ago. From the quality of the image. Each such retake affects the image quality.”

“They weren’t scanned?”

“I doubt it. It was like taking a picture of a picture. Only we’d do it under very controlled conditions to get best possible quality. These are okay but not best possible, I’d say. Now I could venture as guess as to what camera was used to make the copies but I can’t tell what took the originals.”

“Anything else?”

“From the content? They’re just a bunch of vacation snaps. The sort a Dad would take. Beach. Amusement park. Probably Florida from the hotels in the background.”

“I figured that much.”

“But …” Dan pushed one of them from the others. “This one is of the crime scene.”

“Yes.”

“Where you found them on this coffee table at the crime scene.”

“That’s right.”

“Why aren’t there any blood spatters on any of them.’

“What do you mean?”

“Look for yourself. Here …”

Robert came over the desk and leaned over Dan to see what Dan was pointing out.

“There’s spatter on the napkins, glasses. If these were there at the time of the shooting there would be spatters on one at least. Nothing.”

“Fuck me! So they were put there after the murder.”

“Or the top ones were removed. There’s no spatter on any of them. You dusted them for prints?”

“No! We assumed they were there all along.”

“Which brings me to my next question? Did you find any other photos like these at the crime scene. An album of family photos?”

“Nope. Just these.”

“Hmm. Okay, then this will seem even odder to you. These are random. They’ve been made to look like a set but they aren’t.”

“What?”

“For one thing there are different families in each of them.”

“Different? How?”

“As in not the same people. Sure at first glance they all look like the same mom, pop and the three kids at the beach, at the amusement park, on the McDonald’s terrace. They are in fact three different sets of people.”

Warszawa took the photos and studied each of them carefully.

“Here’s a comparison I work up for you.”

Dan opened a file on his desk top computer that had isolated the faces of the families and placed them side by side.

“Holy fuck!” Warszawa said. “What the … ”

“I’d say these probably aren’t the victim’s at all but left there by the killer.”

“Interesting.” Warszawa got up to leave. “You have anything more surprises for me?”

“Not yet. But take them, as I have my back-ups to look at. I might do some location search to find out where they were taken.”

“You can do that?”

“Experimental at this point. A program I’ve been working on like Face Finder only for places. If these spots have been photographed before and uploaded, my spiders will find them.”

“Keep me posted. You’ll do a written to go with these.”

“Yeah, I’ll get something to you later today. Before you go …” Dan put the pictures of him and Timmy on the desk. “What do you know about Canada Cold?”

“The TV show? That’s always handled by the PR branch.” He gave little laugh. “Not all of us are pretty enough for them. They contact you about these?”

“No. But this one showed up on their show the other night. Children on the east coast who vanished. That’s one of them in the pictures with me.”

“You the cowboy?”

“Yeah.” Dan reddened.

“You were a cute kid. Not that that’s changed much.”

“For a straight guy you sure know to flatter.”

Warszawa was silent for a moment. “What do you want to know about Canada Cold? For my money they’re a tax gambit by the channel. They get tax credits for the number of Canadian produced shows they do. This is just another one. All edited for effect not reality.”

“I’m thinking of contacting them but wanted to know if they actually passed information on when they got it. There’s that ‘call with tips’ number they have.”

“Automated. That much I know. You leave a number and they may get back to you. I’m sure they get inundated with the same crackpots as we do.”

“I suppose.” Dan put the pictures into his file drawer.

“I’ve never seen a tip passed on to us from them. I’ll ask PR though if you want.”

“Thanks.”

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