Picture Perfect 61
“It wasn’t something I thought much about, especially after the Mounties stopped coming around. We never understood why they stopped. Or why they never came back when there were others.”
“Have you remembered much?”
“More and more since your show contacted me. Silly stuff. Like what I was wearing. Those cowboy costumes you and Timmy loved to play in. Mama had to sew them back together nearly every other day. We couldn’t make you kids understand they weren’t really clothes. They were as real as the toy guns. You would be climbing trees, jumping off porches in them. Timmy would sometimes sleep in his chaps. He said that how real cowboys slept. I told him real cowboys didn’t hang around with their bare butts where coyotes could get at them in their sleep. He wanted to get a job as a sharp shooter at that circus. The Hippo something.”
“You mean the Happy Hippo?”
“What a crappy circus that was. It used to be so … exciting when I was your age but as I got older, it stayed the same. All that brought me and your sister to it was to see the freaks and the fellas that ran the rides. They wanted us to call them carnies but they weren’t much older than us and working for the summer and planning to go into the army or back to university. I always kept an eye and ear out for those college boys. Here …” She took the photos from him and sorted through to a couple of them. “These are of me and Stoney. He was already studying some sort of engineering at Dalhousie. He kept the rides in good repair. He was a better catch than just the guy who sold you tickets or turned the switch on. Not that he didn’t do those things too but he also knew stuff.”
Dan stopped walking to look closely at the picture.
“Yeah, that’s me he’s got his arm draped around. I looks so cute in that halter-top.”
The young shirtless man in the picture was leaning against a fence, legs crossed at the ankles, one arm around Teresa. She was looking up at him with her hand on his bare stomach. He was gawking at her cleavage. He was enjoying the view as he had an obvious erection barely contained in his faded jeans. The face was familiar to Dan.
“It can’t be.” he said.
“Real? Yeah, he was, as they say, hung like horse.”
“Not that but I think I know him.”
“Stoney?” Teresa asked?
“Or maybe it’s his son.” He did the math in his head. “If this is who I think it is he was probably only about fourteen when this was taken.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me. Turns out he diddled lots of the younger ones too. Wait fourteen! Then all stuff about Dalhousie was a load of bs?” She gabbed the picture back from him. “Nah, he was twenty. That’s what he told us anyways. Who do you think he is?”
“I’d rather not say anything until I know more for sure. Did you tell the RCMP about his diddling young girls?”
“No. Never occurred to me. He couldn’t have anything to do with those kids disappearing. Timmy was a boy. Stoney was sure weren’t no fairy.”
“Who?” Cameron angled in for a close up of the picture.
“I’d rather not say.” Dan said covering the photo with his hand. “No need to implicate someone rashly. Baxter’s Bits doesn’t want to face a defamation law suit.”
“I’m not sure about that.” Cameron laughed. “It would go well with stories of his recent brush with death.”
“This other one.” Teresa brought the attention back to her. “Is of your sister with that Kevin guy your parents was so steamed up about. O’Neill. Kevin O’Neill. I only know because he took me out a few times.”
“The one she blamed for us moving.”
“For years she said that was why we moved. To break them up.” He took the picture. “That’s my sister but that isn’t Kevin. I met him a few times when she was supposed to be minding me. He was a red head. This guy is certainly not a red head.”
“Redhead? You sure? I don’t recall any redheaded fellas in our gang that year.”
They arrived at the park.
She lit another cigarette as they sat on a bench.
“What do you think happened to Timmy?” He asked.
“Like I said we were sure he’d run off, again. Maybe to follow you guys to Ontario. When it turned more kids had gone missing no one knew what to think. Aliens?”
“Aliens?” Dan laughed.
“Look they were gone without a trace, you know. Like not even a shoe left behind. How is that possible? What do you think happened to them?”
Dan looked at Cameron. “You know, I’ve never really thought about that. We’re so focused on who and when. I doubt if any of them are alive now.”
Teresa began to cry. “I just hate thinking about what ever was done to these kids when they were … taken.”
“Teresa, I think we’ve got enough for one day.” Dan said. “What do you think Cameron.”
“Whatever you say. I know Steph will be happy with what we have.”
“You can always call me if you want to do more. I got lots of the super 8’s from then too. Not sure who took them.”
“I’ll take these pictures and go through them. We’ll get them back to you.”
They left her at the park and went back to the rental car. Dan had Cameron drive so he could look through the pictures more carefully, separating the ones he was most interested in. He studied the one of Teresa and Stoney. It had to be Winston Chamberlain. Much younger but there was no mistaking him. It made some sense that the owner’s son would know about the rides and would want to keep his identity a secret.
“Who is it?” Cameron asked. “Your Dad?”
“No! But another suspect. If this is who I think it is, he was practically a child himself at the time.” That is if he was right about Winston’s age.
“How does it feel being back here in Stellerton.”
“Odd. Same streets but different buildings.”
“You ever miss it.”
“Timmy was the only thing I missed. My Dad kept us so busy with his business because it was a good way to teach us values. I never had much of a chance to make friends. We moved around a lot in the summer. This was where we stayed the longest.”
“So what did he say when you moved like that?”
“Enough Cameron. Asking questions is my job. Or are you filming this too.”
“You know it. Baxter said not to waste a moment. That isn’t a GPS you know.” He pointed to the unit on the dash with his elbow. “Dashboard camera.”
“In all the cars?”
“When ever possible.”
“I guess it picked up my panic in the storm.”
“Oh, no. That had been Baxter’s car you were driving. He wasn’t interested in being filmed. We didn’t have a chance to make a switch out for the camera. Good thing too because we have his accident. Can’t fake footage like that.”
“Would it show someone tampering with the car?”
“Only if they were in the car. It wasn’t set to see outside the car. We got nothing that shows that.”
He parked the car. “Steph will send someone to pick me up. This one be your wheels for the rest of the shoot.”
“Where’s the real GPS?”
“It’s an app on your cellphone.”