Picture Perfect 58
The Cold Case war room was parked in the lot at the Comfort Motor Inn. Warszawa was leaning over and talking to Curtis as he came in. Curtis’s left arm was a sling with his neck in a brace.
“Glaucia didn’t survive her injures.” Baxter said. “We were discussing who, if anyone, we could call to replace her.”
“Dead!” Dan sat in his usual chair.
“There’s more.” Baxter said. “You tell him Robert.”
“A preliminary examination of the car indicates that it had been tampered with.”
“T … Tampered? As in someone cut the brake lines?”
“Yes but more sophisticated than that. It means that we are talking double-murder and attempted murder now.”
“Roberto was driving carefully.” Baxter explained. “Everyone was when the rain started. Even the GPS didn’t warn us the storm was going to get that bad so fast. Glaucia and I were discussing a show for her, about her like the Long Island Medium. She had enough for a six-parter I felt. The rain got so bad we decided to pull off into the comfort station we were nearing but nothing was responding. Like nothing. Roberto couldn’t get the steering wheel to turn. The brakes wouldn’t respond. Glaucia said the car has been possessed.” He stopped to catch his breath. “A transfer truck passed us, hit a puddle and the wave … it was like a tidal wave … the wipers stuck to the window by the force of it and the car spun. I couldn’t do anything.” His voice dropped. “I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. Never. Then it flipped. It was all so fast. Glaucia was screaming. Things were tumbling through the air around me. I felt my arm snap and I passed out. I came to when they were lifting me on to the stretcher. It was the pain that woke me. The pain and the wet. For a moment I thought I was drowning in my blood but it was Roberto’s.” He wiped around eyes & his chin with a paper towel. “Look at me sweating like Tina Turner just thinking about it.”
“Awful.” Dan said.
“Yes. Roberto was … sweet.” He dabbed at his eyes again. “But you know me. There’s things to be done. We have a shooting schedule. Investors to satisfy. We’ve lost enough time already thanks to the storm. We have to push on.”
“What about Glaucia?” Dan asked.
“We can dedicate the series to their memory. Harold in Toronto says it gives our investigation a whole new angle. Another layer. This is more than bad luck. Someone is clearly trying to shut us down.”
“Clearly?” Dan asked.
“Yes.” Warszawa replied. He went to the suspects wall of the war room. There was already list titled ‘shut down.’
“First we have the Waterside porn tip. Someone in the know had to have done that. ‘Why’ is as important as who. Next …” he wrote on the list “… car tampering. I don’t think they intended to kill anyone but someone is dead as a result of their actions.”
“You think it’s the same person?” Dan asked.
“Or persons.” Stephanie said.
“Someone who doesn’t want us to find out what happened thirty years ago.” Baxter said.
Dan stood up. “I was supposed to be driving that car, you know. We switched just before we headed out. You needed more room for luggage.”
“Shit! Yes.” Baxter said. “You were named in the search warrant.”
“Someone wants me out of the picture?” Dan was dizzy. “Me?”
“Let’s not jump to that conclusion,” Warszawa said. “It’s still not clear if the car was tampered with. The heavy rain could have affected the electrical system for all we know.”
“I can name at least five people who would benefit from my death.” Dan said.
“Yeah, well, honey I can think of over 100 who would rejoice at mine.” Baxter said.
“Hundreds of thousands,” Stephanie said. “If you think of your viewers. But to get things on schedule.” She continued. “Tomorrow Dan you’ll be interviewing Tracy Dunlop.”
“Timmy’s sister is still around?”
“Oh yeah. She remembers you and your sister. Your sister sounds like she was a piece of work in those days.”
“She had a mind of her own.” Dan said. He’d never thought of how others saw him or his sister in those days. Now he’d find out.
“Where’s your rental?” Stephanie asked.
“The motor was flooded. Literally.” Dan said. “It’s still parked in Port Elgin.”
“I was afraid of that. You can pick up another one in the morning.”
“I’ll drive you back to the Wickham.” Warszawa offered. “I’m staying there myself.”
In the car Warszawa said. “I don’t know how you put up with that Baxter.”
“You forget the years I put in on the Force.” Dan laughed.
“Right. What do make of this … targeting of you.”
“I don’t know what to make of it. These days everything sounds like it came from some movie. You know where the profiler gets stalked by someone out to prove they are smarter than the profiler.”
“You have suspects in mind?” Warszawa asked.
“Not really. I’d never given it a thought until little while ago. Sanjay sure isn’t happy about how we separated. Linda would be thrilled to take over James Photos.”
‘You said you could name five people.”
“Exaggerating. I don’t want anyone to know how empty life really is.”
“There’s always Vickers who charged you with harassment.”
“Vickers? Was that the asshole who did that. But that was years ago.”
“He was none too pleased when you were cleared.”
“He fucking admitted he’d lied.”
“Truth is irrelevant when someone has been made a fool of. Last I heard he was stationed somewhere on the east coast.”
“You thinking he had something to do with the tipster? With Baxter’s accident?”
“Putting another suspect on the board. He had motive and a better opportunity. He could have read about you being here in the papers. Whereas Sanjay or Linda certainly didn’t have opportunity.”
Warszawa parked in the Wickham’s lot.
“This is where my folks would stay when we were in Stellerton.” Dan said as he got out of the car.
“So that’s why you ended up here and not with the rest of the crew. Baxter was hoping it would bring back memories?”
“More like a story line. ‘It’s was on these very steps that our host Daniel James last saw Timothy Dunlop thirty years ago. How does that make you feel Mr. James.’”
As they walked up the porch Dan looked around.
“The place hasn’t changed much but so far no surpressed memories have surfaced.”
In the lobby a younger version of Mrs Poitier was at the reception desk.
“Mr. James? I’m Sarah Sweeny, Mrs. Poitier is my mother.” She reached out to shake his hand & then handed him the key to his room.
As he turned to go up the stairs a wall of photographs caught his eye.
“The history wall my mother calls it.” She explained. “We found a pile of these old pictures in one of the living room hutches.”
One of the pictures caught his eye. There on the side porch of the Wickham was his mother and father standing behind him and his sister. Next to them were the Greens.
“Hey,” He turned to Sarah. “That’s me and my folks. And that’s the Greens who owned the Arms at the time.”
“Oh?” She peered at the picture. “We never met them.”
“How did you come to own the Wickham?”
“It’s sort of funny. My Dad saw a headline in the Halifax paper that said ‘Empty Arms In Stellerton.’ The hotel had been empty for about five years & was due to be torn down. He loved the look of the building & bought it as a surprise for my mother. Let me tell you she was surprised but well, we both love it.”
“And your Dad?”
“He passed away a few years ago.”
“I’m sorry.” Dan was looking at his Dad in the picture.
“You sister is pretty. I mean you are cute too. But your sister. Those are great pants she has on.”
‘Peddle pushers.” Dan said.
“Yeah, that colour is wild. She must have liked the attention.”
“Yeah. I suppose she did. She still does too now that I think of it.”