Picture Perfect 30

Sunlight streaming on his face woke Dan. He groped for his wrap-around sunglasses and slipped them on without opening his eyes. For the sun to come in the window like that meant it must be midmorning. 

He went to the bathroom, came back to the bedroom, turned on the cd of yoga meditation music and went through the routine he had learned from Sanjay. The music was more a hum with gentle tabala counting the time.

The door bell rang. Well, he’d have to face up to it sooner or later. He pulled on sweatpants and went down to answer the door.

“Hamid?” He’d expected it to be either Curtis or one of his minions. 

“Good morning Mr. James, or should I say good afternoon.” Hamid was holding a cardboard box in front of him

“Come in.” Dan stepped on to the porch to see if anyone was lurking in their car on street. “My God! Is it that late in the day?”

“It most certainly is.” Hamid took the box into the kitchen. “You sister has sent some food for you. Without your cook to look after your meals she felt you might need some help. Has your cook left you?”

“She was referring to my partner Sanjay. He has not left me but is merely working out of town for a short time.” Was Linda sending Hamid to me as a temptation?

Hamid started to take containers out of the box.

“Thank you but that won’t be necessary.”

“Yes sir. She particularly wanted you to know there was some KFC, original recipe in there. What does it mean, Original Recipe?”

“As a marketing ploy they changed to a supposedly more healthy … coating. I’m not sure what to call it, they dip the chicken in spices before they deep fry the nutrition value out of it. It may have been better for people but didn’t prove better for their profits.” Daniel was amused by the way Hamid stood there smiling and watching as he spoke. “But I suppose you don’t have much of a cultural context for my childhood memories. Let’s just say KFC was a favorite of my Dad’s and ours when we were growing up.

“Thank her for me.” Dan went toward the front door to see Hamid out.

“It is no problem.” Hamid followed him. “I volunteered.”

“Thank you too, then.” He stuck his hand out for Hamid to shake. Dan didn’t want to appear to be cold nor overly -friendly. With men he didn’t know that well it was hard to tell what they might read into a simple conversation.

“Yes.” Hamid stepped into the living room. “I like to see how people live in Canada. In Toronto. In some ways it is so very different. In others very much the same.”

He stopped in front of a large silk panel painted with an image of Ganesha. “This is very good. Sanjay is the artist.”

“No. We picked that up some years ago in India.”

“He is very traditional sort of man. I can tell.”

“In some ways.”

“I must be going back to FairVista. Thank you for letting me see some of your home. I hope to see more of it sometime.”

“Yes.”

“I do not mean to seem out of place, I mean, out of line, but I have no family here. It is very hard to make friends.”

“You have family in India?”

“Most were massacred in the uprisings when I was a boy. I lived in an orphanage and then on the streets for a time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you again.” Hamid opened the front door. “If you wish help with anything please let me know.”

“I will. When Sanjay gets back we’ll have you over to dinner.”

“Thank you. I would like very much.”

Which uprising was Hamid talking about? He’d have to ask Sanjay about that. That is if Sanjay returned.

After he’d put away the takeout food that Linda had sent he relaxed on one of the chaises on the shady end of the back patio. He set his phone timer for twenty minutes. He wrapped a towel he had put in the freezer around his eyes. It was cool without being cold. He could get used to this. Doing nothing while looking at nothing. When was the last time he hadn’t gone into the Depot on a Saturday? Being his own boss he’d always found it hard to give himself time off.

The alarm went off. He took the towel away from his eyes. Put a folded bandana over them and then the sunglasses over that. He stood up and the bandana remained in place. 

He spent the afternoon with his vision blocked. It was an adventure groping around his house. He stubbed his toes a few times but as long as he moved slowly he was fine.

He felt accomplished once he’d done a load of laundry and hung it. He’d wait till later to see how well he’d hung it though. He listened to some TV, some cd’s, heated up something Linda had sent. From the feel of it in the container he knew it was rice. Probably from some Chinese place.

His injured eye didn’t ache as much. When his cell announced 4 p.m. he removed the bandana. The world revealed was not shiny and new or all sharp glints and irritating. He’d have to not see it for longer than a couple of hours

It was time to deal with Curtis now that his anger had faded. He changed the ‘unavailable to this caller’ setting on his phone. No more hiding from that beast.

Sure enough the cell beeped after ten minutes.

“Hello, Mr. Baxter.”

“Oh, Daniel! Thank God you are alright.” Curtis gushed. “When you didn’t answer my calls I was so worried. Almost frantic. Did you get the flowers I sent?”

“It’s Mr. James to you.” Dan said. To get control of this situation he’d have to be firm with boundaries.

“Don’t be like that.”

“If you want a business relationship with me that’s how it’s going to be.”

“I see. I can’t blame you after the way I’ve behaved but I when I get so enthused about a project I won’t let anything stand in the way of getting it off the ground.”

Dan remained silent. 

“You do understand that I never expected Kilpatrick to fly off the handle that way.”

Dan remained silent.

“When I told him about the possibility of a new series he … assumed he’d be involved and when I told him otherwise he … well, you know the rest.”

Dan remained silent. He knew given the chance Baxter would spin doctor himself into a corner.

“This is where we stand now. Quintex will probably approve the new project once we have the whole package ready for them. I want you to be a part of that package.”

“Probably?” Dan said. “The last time we spoke you presented it as done deal. If you want me to be part of a package I want to see the particulars in writing.”

“Why don’t you draft something? I can present it as your idea.”

Dan remained silent.

“After all that’s what Kilpatrick already believes. I had to present it to him that way so he wouldn’t think I was trying to sever ties with him. He’s become more unprofessional this past season, you see. Drinking, being sexually inappropriate with some of the female make-up technicians.”

Dan remained silent.

“When do you want a written proposal Mr. James?”

“By Monday morning. But, Mr. Baxter, if you spin it to look like it was my idea then count me out.”

“But it was.”

Dan remained silent.

“Alright. But you inspired it.”

“That I can’t deny.”

“There’ll be good money in it for you.”

Dan remained silent.

“More as co-producer?”

“Mr. Baxter, I have money enough now. I don’t need the exposure. What is in it for me?”
Curtis’s tone of voice changed. “You were in love with Timmy Dunlop. You want to find out what happened to him!”

Dan felt a sudden stab of pain around his eyes.

“I’m not lacking in sensitivity, Mr. James. I could tell from the way you talked about Timmy, you may have been childhood pals but you had feelings for him. Didn’t you? I bet his was the first dick you diddled. Just be grateful he was only year older than you and not ten years older.”

Dan remained silent. This kind of honesty was not the spin he was expecting.

“You know, Mr. Baxter, now that you’ve cut out the b.s. I think we might be able to work together.”

“Good. You better be worth it.”

“Keep in mind my hourly rate when you send me the proposal and I’ll let you know. Bye.”

Eyes closed he went to the fridge for an ice cube to rub around them. His Dad would have been proud of him sticking to guns like that.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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