Picture Perfect 25

Dan looked out the front window at Carafe as Jill got their mid-morning order ready.

“That’s fast.” He said to her. “The windows were papered over last week and now it’s a grand pre-opening.”

“Cuppa’s doesn’t waste time. Let’s see how long they last. Speedy opening often leads to speedy closing.” She smiled wry. 

“Free coffee’s today is certainly drawing them in.” Peter said.

“Fine by me,” Jill said. “I’ll give them two good weeks and that’s it. Once the good weather is here, and the Carafe’s magic patio is opened here things will change.”

“You won’t miss the students hungry for something more than higher education?”

“Not that much. I won’t have to unclog the toilets three times a day. Won’t go through as much cream, milk. I’ve never seen a bunch of people who used so much. There’s profit in coffee but it disappears if three of them go through a quart of milk.”

“Three on a cookie isn’t a pretty sight either.” Peter added.

“So Cuppa’s is welcome to them. In fact, I hope it becomes students study hall. A cup of coffee every hour between two girls who share a table, plug into their electric to keep their lap tops, phones, iPods charged while using their wifi. Oh yeah Cuppa’s is welcome to all that. Now maybe some of our regulars will start to come back.”

“That’s right I haven’t notice old Mrs. Greggs for while.” Dans said. “ I was afraid she’d passed away.”

“No.” Jill said. “She stopped coming in because those ‘students’ took over her favourite table. The last straw for her was when they moved her stuff, from her table while she was in the washroom.”

Dan’s cell rang.

“Dan, can you come over the Division?” Warszawa asked.

“I could get away in, say, an hour.”

“Good. I’ll meet you at reception. Bye.”

He only got called to the Division if there was sensitive material they didn’t want to allow off premises. Or they had new case that needed his help.

“Duty calls.” He took the tray of coffees to the Depot, explained to Sandy that Warszawa had called.

True to his word Warszawa as at the reception desk when Dan walked in.

“Here, you’ll need this.” He gave Dan lanyard with a plastic ID card that had Visitor printed on one side. “This way.”

They walked up one flight of stairs, down a hallway to Room 210, which proved to be a medium sized conference room, with windows on one side. Large table with six chairs around it. 

“Have a seat. I’ll be right back with Chief Inspector Bannerman.”

Dan took a middle chair on the far side of the table, back to the windows.

The door opened and Warszawa came in followed by a rather short man. 

“Ah, Mr. James, a pleasure to meet you.” The man came over and shook his hand. The man’s grip was strong. Dan had always thought there was height requirement for the RCMP.

“Chief Inspector David Bannerman.” Warszawa said.

“Oh, sorry forgot to introduce myself. I need a program to remind me to do that. Anyway, I asked Inspector Warszawa to bring you here. Your acumen brought something to light and I want to see where that acumen might lead us. You are familiar with some of these?” From a folder he took out a collection of travel photos. “Can you tell me which ones you’ve seen?”

The Inspector laid the photos out in four rows of six.

Dan scanned the photos out and as he did separated the ones that he recognized.

“That was fast.” Bannerman said. “Are you sure about these?”

“Oh yes. Positive.”

“Excellent memory.” Bannerman said.

“For some things.” Dan said as he looked over the other photos. “My house keys have a GPS chip.”

“You notice anything?”

“Some of them belong together. They are parts of a bigger picture. It’s like one of those slide puzzles where the section of a picture have been printed on small squares, shuffled and you have to get them in the right order.” He moved the pictures leaving some spaces. “These are the ones that form portions of the bigger picture.”

“Right.” Bannerman bushed the pictures to one side and placed three others.

Dan studied them. “These are the complete pictures.”

“Right. What can you tell us about them?”

“They are Argust Devaux panoramas. I mean small copies of the originals.”

“Argust Devaux?” Warszawa asked.

“He took a series of photographs across Canada and the States too. It’s his shots of the Rockies that he’s best known for. The camera alone weighed two hundred pounds. I could never figure out how he got it to where some of his pictures were taken.”

“So you don’t think there’s anything in the contents of these pictures?” Bannerman asked. 

“Not in a direct way. I’ve never seen these particular shots but there are thousands of them. The National Gallery might have the originals or have someone who can tell where these are from.

“I’d say this one here is BC. Sorry, but Canadian scenery is a bit generic for me.”

“I see.” Bannerman nodded to Warszawa. “Check with the National.”

Warszawa left the room.

“Now what do you already know about this case?”

“Oh it’s a case now?”

“Didn’t Warszawa fill you in at all?”

“No. I do know these were found at a crime scene. Planted there for some reason.”

“Yes.”

Warszawa returned.

“Am I officially on this case?” Dan asked. “Or is this merely information gathering?”

“That’s still to be decided.” Warszawa said. “We found other’s similarly planted that we hadn’t realize at the time were planted.”

“Thus these cases have been connected to each other?” Dan was intrigued by the pattern that had unexpectedly emerged.

“Right.” Bannerman nodded.

“Check for connections between where the crimes happened and the places in the planted photos.” Dan’s investigative training took over.

“Hold on.” Warszawa said. “As I said you are here unofficially.”

Daniel couldn’t resist looking at the photos, shifting their order on the table into a less random sequence. Mountains. Wheat fields. Lakeside picnic.

“See something?” Bannerman asked.

“Unofficially no.” Dan looked from Bannerman to Warszawa. Uh … Anything else? You didn’t ask me down here just to look at these.”

“Nothing else.” Bannerman gathered the pictures and put them back in the folder. “Inspector Warszawa will see you out.” Bannerman opened the door for them to leave.

As they got off the elevator Dan asked. “What wa stat all about. It’s bad enough the Quintex people had me doing cold reads of photos.”

“Dan I wish I knew. Bannerman flew in from Ottawa expressly to meet with you. Clearly there is more to this … I mean it has to be something of national interest for him to be involved.”

Dan handed his pass in as he left the restricted area. Warszawa continued out to the street with him.

“You need a lift somewhere?”

“No.” Dan took out his cell phone to check the time. “I have a lot to think about.”

“Such as?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Dan we’re more than … coworkers.”

“Okay. Sanjay and I are splitting up.”

“Whoa!” 

“You asked.” Dan stopped. “Maybe I’ll take that lift after all.”

“Sure thing. The mini is outback.”

They walked to the parking in back and got inot the car.

“How does it make you feel?” Warszawa merged with the traffic.

“That’s the thing of it. I sort of feel … not relieved … not sad but such is life.”

“You two were …”

“Yes, I know the picture of the perfect couple.”

“I don’t know about perfect.” Warszawa laughed. “But a good fit.”

“We’re not going to talk about my sex life.”

“I wasn’t going there.”

“I know. Like I said I know these things happened. That it happened to me, to us, isn’t such a shock.”

“But you wish it wasn’t happening.”

“Yeah. I have enough going on as it is. What with that cold case show after me, my sister getting on to me about the business. She still thinks selling the business would be good for business. And then there’s … ” He almost told Warszawa about the s and m photos he had found.

“What?”

“My house.” Dan said as they stopped.

“What about the house.”

“Nothing I was telling you we were here.”

He got out quickly.

“Thanks Robert. I appreciate your concern. Really. I don’t mean that to sound so … I do think of you as more than a coworker.”

“Okay. Call me if you have to. I know how to get a quick retraining order.”

“Restraining order?”

“I don’t think Sanjay will take splitting up easily.”

 

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