Picture Perfect 54
In the morning Dan rolled his suitcase out to the back of his rental SUV. Baxter, then Roberto were piling their bags beside the trunk of Baxter’s compact car. Baxter had insisted on the sporty two-seater for himself because he doing a lot of running around.
“You’ll have no trouble finding space for that.” Baxter said looking from his car to Dan’s.
Both he and Roberto had two large suitcases.
“Can’t you load some of that in the remote truck?” Dan said.
“I suppose I could but …” he nodded at Glaucia. “She has another suitcase yet to come.”
Glaucia stood at her cabin door nodding at him with her white beats headphones firm in place.
“I can take a hint.” Dan laughed. “If you wanted to swap cars why not come right out and say so. Oh, I forgot, asking is not your style. Let me just my crap out of the front seat.” He checked to make sure there was nothing of his in the glove compartment or under the seat. “You can have the Hippo Dog sticks.” he said giving the keys to Baxter.
“Thanks.” Baxter said.
Dan fit his suitcase into the trunk of the smaller car, then put his shoulder bag on the passenger seat.“Pays to travel light.” he said to Baxter.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Baxter said as he heaved the first of the suitcases into the back of the bigger car.
Dan surveyed the dashboard of the car. He’d driven it once already. It had all the latest electronic stuff they could squeeze into a car and keep it affordable. As he pulled out of the parking lot the built in GPS asked:
“Stellerton. Nova Scotia.” He said.
“Follow route 2. You will need gas in an hour. Next comfort stop is …”
“Thank you.” He found the control for turning the GPS voice off. He left the map portion turned on so he could see how far along he was on the route he had opted for which he was sure the GPS would argue with him about. Sometimes going ‘the wrong way’ got him to where he was supposed to be.
Then he went into the Waterside diner for breakfast. His was already on table where he usually sat.
“I told George you’d have the usual.” Stephanie said. “Hope you don’t mind? Saves time.”
“Fine,” Dan said sitting at his spot. The toast was still warm. “It’s going to hard leaving these perfect breakfasts behind.” He said to George as George put a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him.
“It’s going to hard not racking up these tips.” George said. “You’ll be back?”
“Maybe.” Stephanie said. “We may want to do some pick up shots, as they say. Never know what information may lead us back here.”
‘There’s always the Circus Museum.” Dan said. “I think it would be an ideal spot for an interview.”
“Or a birthday party.” Baxter said. “Maybe we’ll have the wrap party there once the shoot is done.”
“We best get going,” Roberto said. “That storm looks like it’s going be rolling in soon.”
“So no one’s coming with me.” Dan asked?
“No,” Baxter answered. “She’ll be driving with me and Roberto.”
“Then I’ll be on my own?” Dan said. “Cool. I can turn the radio up as loud as I want.”
He went back to his cabin to use the bathroom one last time. As he had officially checked out he asked George.
“Is the old Conner route still being used?”
“Oh yeah. That Trans Canada by passed a passel of places along the shore there. Not as well kept as the Trans but good enough. Make sure got a full tank o’gas before you head along there. No comfort stations.”
The Conner would take an hour longer so it was avoided by the transfer semi’s that hogged the Trans Canada. His Dad hated those monsters and so did he. The less stress driving was the better. The fewer comfort stops the better too. That would mean more scenery and glimpses of the ocean.
The rain didn’t start until he turned east at Shediac. Seemed fitting that as he got closer to the Strait that the sea should rise up to meet him. When was the last time he’d thought that phrase? It was one his Dad would use in really heavy rain. He stopped to fill the gas tank. This stretch of highway was seeing more use thanks to the Confederation Bridge. He was tempted by the signs pointing the way to the bridge. Maybe if it wasn’t raining so heavily he’d be tempted. Something for after the shoot or next summer.
At Port Elgin he crossed the Gaspereau River, was spun round on an unexpected highway round about, lost his sense of direction in the rain but managed to head in the right direction to stop at The Proud Tartan Bar and Grill for lunch. The place had wifi. First thing he checked was the weather report.
“Storm’s not going to stop soon.” The waitress said. “I can tell you that. Rather my left knee can tell you that.”
“I was afraid of that, Hazel.” Dan glanced at her name tag then the menu. “What would to recommend.”
“Good time of year for the speckled trout. Can’t go wrong with the burger either. Local beef. Ground fresh here.”
“Dig your own spuds for the fries too I suppose.”
“Yeah,” she laughed. “But no, though they are … hand-crafted by our skilled chefs.”
“Burger appeals. Fries too.”
“Want a Kiefers to go with that. Local micro-brewery.”
“Sure why not.”
He was the only customer in the restaurant. His table give a decent view of the river across the street. The sky darkened even more and a crack of lightening illuminated the other shore. Heavy fall of rain followed. He could hear it on the roof of the bar. Soon he couldn’t see past the parking lot.
“Roof is solid,” Hazel said as she put his beer on table along with a schooner glass.
He tipped the bottle to pour it into the glass and was amazed as the deep red of the brew.
“I love to see that look.” she said. “This is the one beer we always let the customer pour. Gently now, so there’s not too much head.”
Dan did as directed. He took a sip.
“Strawberry?” he said.
“Right again. This is the end of their summer brews. The other is … ”
Hazel brought his burger. “Hope you don’t mind the onion roll.” she said as she put it on the table. “None of t’other.”
“It’ll be fine.” another one of these too. He tapped the Keifers bottle.
“Two’s the limit you know” she laughed. “Unless to got designated driver.”
“This storm keeps up and …”
There was another flash of lightening followed by a deep rumbled of thunder. The lights in the bar flickered off for a minute then came back on.
“That can’t be good.” Dan said.
“Nope. I’ll check the TV and see what I can find out.”
There were no more electrical problems while Dan ate his burger. He declined a third beer though.
“If you’re fixing to stay the night you best get your kit from your car. You’ll have your choice of rooms here.”
“B’n’B upstairs. We don’t put the sign out until the season really starts.”
“Thanks.” Dan said. He paid for his lunch and added an equal amount as tip. Quintex would be paying so he could afford to be generous.
“Much appreciated Mr. James. I’ll get Joe to get room … 101 ready for you.”
“You don’t think I cooked that hamburger for you.”
He went out to the the covered porch of the Proud Tartan. Did he really want to get his suitcase? The rain was so heavy Dan couldn’t see across the street. The wind was shaking the flag poles along the parking lot.
“Here.” Hazel gave him a heavy rain poncho. “You’ll have get your own luggage.”
He dashed out to the car to get his suitcase. His jeans & shoes were soaked by the time he got back.
“Don’t remember it raining this hard since I was a boy.” He sat at a table to take off his wet shoes.“Hurricane Francis, I think.”
“You from a round these parts?” Hazel handed him a towel.
“Yes. Grew up on the Cape. New Waterford.”
“Francis was some storm. Waves washed cars off the Causeway that year.”
Dan’s cell rang.
“I better answer this. It could be my crew wondering where I am.”
“Hello.” It was Stephanie. “What … I’m okay … Baxter had Roberto and Glaucia with him. That’s right he took the SUV I had been driving … Right now I am at …” he looked to Hazel “What’s the b’n’b called?”
“Tartan Beds at the Proud Tartan. It’s in Port Elgin. It’s as far as I got before the sea rushed up to meet me … okay … I’ll let you know when I’m heading out of here but I don’t expect it will be until morning.”
“Yeah.” Dan walked to the front window to look out at the storm. The wind was whipping the various flags around. “The car my boss Baxter was driving lost traction on the highway and flipped. He’s been taken to a hospital in Halifax. He had two other passengers. They aren’t sure if they’ll survive.”
“You were close to these people?”
“I hardly really knew them. I didn’t know Baxter until a few months ago. I liked them if that’s what you are asking. Close? No.”
His cell rang again. “Sorry.”
This time it was Peter. “I’m alright. … no I wasn’t in the car … you tell Sanjay everything is okay … yeah I’m sure he’s concerned … no I don’t know how this will affect the shoot but trust me Baxter will make the most of it. … yes, I’ll … okay … bye.” He put his phone on the table. “My house sitter. News report was that a TV film crew from Toronto was in traffic accident. He was sure I was dead.”
“Room’s ready.” A grizzled man in an apron tossed a key on the table.
“Thanks Joe.” Hazel said.
“I’m going to up to my room and slip into some dry clothes.” Dan pushed himself up from the table.
Halfway up the stairs there was a loud crash from outside & the power went out.
“First door on your left, Mr. James.” Hazel called up to him. “First door on your left.”