Picture Perfect 31

Daniel was falling asleep on the couch when Sanjay called just after 8 p.m.

“Hi Sanj. I didn’t expect to hear from you. How are things for the grand opening?”

“The expected state of confusions and miscommunications. I needed to talk to someone who wasn’t asking me to make a decision that they could ignore.”

“It’s like that is it?”

“Oh, yes. Even Sylvan wants my input.”


“He’s invited me to become a partner.”


“I think he’s afraid of me leaving with all his secrets.”

“Sylvan has secrets?”

“Every business has them, Dan. Don’t tell me you don’t have some of your own?” 

Dan thought of his Dad’s saucy pictures.

“Maybe a couple.” Dan said.

“We have to talk when I’m in Toronto Monday.”

“You are coming home for sure?”

“Yes. I told Sylvan I couldn’t make any financial commitments without discussing them with you.”


“Dan, you didn’t think I could be come a partner for free. It’s not like a firm of lawyers where you work your way up. It’ll cost about five hundred grand.”

“What? That’s a lot of jalebi.”

“Very funny.” Sanjay laughed. “That’s what I’ll want to talk to you about.”

Dan remained silent. 

“Sylvan says with your stores doing so well it would be easy for us to swing a loan.”

“Sylvan isn’t my accountant. We are covering expenses but any further capital outlay will take a few more years.”

“Oh. The house worth at least that much. You’ve paid off the mortgage.”

“Like you said we’ll talk Monday.”

“I should be in town around noon.”

“I’ll book off another couple of days so we can discuss this. I’ll meet you at the Depot. Bye.”

In the years he and Sanjay had been together money had never been an issue. They kept separate bank accounts for personal expenses and pooled their resources for major purchases like the car or for trips. Their accountant didn’t think filing as a common-law couple would provide any tax benefits either so they had never done that. The accountant had also suggest having the house in one name would make property taxes simpler. So it was Dan’s name on the deed.

On paper he was an employee of James Family Photos Inc. even though he was part owner. As Daniel James he was a freelancer who leased space from James Family Photos. As Dan James he was glad to have an accountant who knew how to balance the books for the various enterprises involved and keep everything legal. He would need the accountant’s okay before he would venture into restaurants.

But if Sanjay was talking about partnerships did it mean he’d let go of the notion of moving back to India? That was a good thing. Perhaps they would have more than finances to talk about on Monday.

Monday he was to get that proposal from Baxter. Which of his corporate entities would Quintex be hiring? Something else he’d need legal input on – did he need an entertainment lawyer. Yet another tax-deduction, as if he didn’t already have enough of them. 


Sunday afternoon he had to go further than the back patio. He started out on his bike but peddling with one eye was too much of a logistic challenge for him and his neck, so he walked it back to the house and locked it in the garage.

He made sure the patch over his eye was secure before heading out again. The day was bright. Or maybe just seemed bright after being indoors for so long. He walked over to nearest grocery store and picked up salad fixing. His sister had been generous with meats but even KFC needs a salad to be digested properly.

What he really craved though was the Carafe’s onion bagel. That meant about a forty minute walk in bright sunshine. Twenty minutes if he caught the right combination of bus and street car. He took his groceries back the house, got one of the James Family Photos baseball caps from the hall closet and began the walk to the Carafe.

After about twenty minutes he’d wished he’d worn shorts and put on some sunblock. At least the brim of the cap kept the direct light away from his eyes. A bit of color wouldn’t hurt him.

He was sweating when he reached the cafe. Shorts definitely would have been in order for a day like this. It took his eye a few minutes to adjust to the dark of the cafe.

“Looks like you caught us boss man.”

He recognized Sandy’s voice from behind him. He turned to see her and Ushio sitting at a window table.

“Who’s minding the store?” Dan asked.

“We are.” Sandy and Ushio said in unison. Ushio gestured to the laptop on the table. It showed the front doors of the Depot from the point of view of the main display area.

“Someone touches the door and motion sensor will ring in here and we see them right away.” Ushio explained. 

“I go though here.” Sandy went out the rear entrance of the Carafe and moments later was on the laptop screen. “Can I help you?”

Dan laughed. “I have to give it to you two.”

Ushio shut the laptop. “Our break time is over anyway.”

Dan sat at the vacated table and took his hat, glasses and patch off. He was flushed from the walk.

“You need more exercise.” Jill said putting an iced latte in front of him.

“Tell me about it.” He scooped an ice cube out of the latte and rubbed it around his eyes. “That’s better.”

“Hurts much?” Peter asked.

“Only when I stare at the sun.” Dan said. “What I really wanted was a couple of those onion bagels. I hope there are some left.”

“Lots.” Jill said. “First really warm day and people want ice cream not bagels. I’ll have to get patio ready by the end of the week.”

“You know you’re always welcome to the roof. The solar panels offer great shade in the summer.”

“Climbing three stories is more work than most people want to do even for a great view.” Jill said. “That Baxter guy was here a couple of times looking for you.”

“We talked yesterday.”

“I could see why you were avoiding him. Weirdly pushy. It was almost as if you had told him to get me to tell him where you were.”

“Sounds like him.” The latte ice cube was making his face sticky. “Crap.” 

“How old are you?” Jill snickered. “Never play with your food.” 

He tried to wipe his face off. 

“Here.” Peter took his hand away. “Close both your eyes.”

Dan felt a face cloth gently wipe his face. He instantly got a hard on. He hoped the table covered him.

“Thanks.” He leaned forward to sip his latte. 

“No problem.”

Once he’d finished his bagel and he no longer had an erection to worry about he got up to leave.

“Thanks Jill.”

“Take care. When are you back to work?”

“Probably Wednesday. Sanjay is back from Bobcayjeon tomorrow. We have things to discuss.”

“I can give you a lift home, if you’d like Mr. James.” Peter said.

“I thought you walked to work.”

“Mostly, but I have my Dad’s car this week. He’s getting back from Calgary in the morning and I have to pick him up at the airport.”

“Sure. I have to check in next door though. Make sure the mice aren’t playing too much.”

“You know here to find me.” Peter cleared the table.

It took Dan about twenty minutes to let Sandy know the store was hers till Wednesday. Up in his office he sent an email to his accountants at Dell and Strong Financial Services to see if he could book an appointment Monday. He also got the missing children’s files.

“That was quick.” Peter said as Dan sat back at his table.

“Suvi and I can handle things here Peter.” Jill said.

Once he got directions from Dan, Peter nattered on about The Walking Dead all for most of the drive. He parked in front of the house.

“Thanks Peter. I really appreciate this.”

“No problem, Mr James, really.” He patted Dan’s leg then let his hand linger. “I could do with a cold drink, though.”

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