Picture Perfect 65
“What do you make of Father Phineas.” Dan asked Jennifer as he merged the car into the traffic flow.
“You mean, do I think he’s a suspect?”
“Yes. We’d thought of the various people who would move around the province into the rural areas.”
“A priest is someone the children would probably trust. If they were Catholic.” She said.
“They always gave me the … willies. The cassocks I suppose. I had nightmares when we’d have to go to Antigonish.”
“Were any of the other families Catholic?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Should be easy enough to check on though. Stephanie will be thrilled to add new suspects to the list. Mackillop? Is that a common last name?”
“Not as common as McDonald or Tremblay.” Jennifer said.
“I see. A Mackillop is heading the task force.”
“It’s so sad, isn’t it.” she said. “The way we both made that leap. Man of the cloth, missing children.”
“I suppose it wasn’t that obvious then. Families still trusted the clergy.”
“I take it you weren’t Catholic.” Jennifer said.
“No. Not really anything. I knew enough about religion to know that my kind was not acceptable.”
“Same with my kind. The church doesn’t deal with gifted children well. We’re either healing saints or instruments of Satan. Witches.”
“Speaking of which, I’ll be dropping you off at the motel and going directly on to Halifax to catch my flight.”
“I didn’t think you were leaving until morning.”
“That’s what I told Baxter. I didn’t want him screwing around with my reservations to keep me here.”
She glanced in the back seat. “You didn’t bring a suitcase.”
“I’m going home to clothes.” Dan laughed. “This interview attire been supplied by Quintex looks good on camera. I have all the important stuff right here.” He tapped his shoulder bag. “And all of it is backed up somewhere in the worldwide web.”
“I should think of some sort of a back up but there’s too much up here,” She tapped her forehead, “to download. Sometimes I can’t even process it myself even with a word processor.”
He pulled into the Comfort Motor Inn parking lot.
“Thanks. That’s my car over there.”
“Oh! Not staying with the cast & crew?”
“Why, when I live ten minutes away? Thanks for the lift though. It gave me a chance …”
“To get a better read on me? I know.”
He left the Motor Inn he turned onto the Trans-Canada and drove directly to Halifax. He arrived at the airport, turned the car over to the rental agency there and had just enough time to go to the washroom before boarding his flight.
As the plane taxied he close this eyes. After being on camera nearly every waking hour he felt a sense of freedom knowing he wasn’t being recorded for some future editing session for the next three days. He woke as the plane was landing.
Exiting to the arrivals area he scanned the lobby until he saw Peter. Peter was wearing a chauffeur’s cap and holding a sign that said “Limo for Mr. James.”
He walked directly to him and kissed him. Peter responded and the sign slipped from his hands as he reached around to pull Dan tighter to him.
“That that I call chauffeur service.” Someone said as they unclenched.”
“No luggage, sir?” Peter asked.
“Disappointed?” Dan asked as they went to the parking garage.
“I hope I know what level we’re on.” he said. “That kiss fucked up my short term memory.”
“The memory is just a start.” When Peter kissed him he realized how much he had been repressing. He’d known to get this job done it was vital to put aside distractions. Kissing Peter was him finally responding to Larry Clarke after that bumpy ride over the Moose Trail.
Peter negotiated the maze of the airport parking garage. “So, is it true about absence making the heart grow fonder?” He reached over to stroke Dan’s groin.
“That’s not my heart.”
“I know but it sure is growing, sir.” He tried to pull down the zipper.
“Keep your mind on the road.” Dan slapped his hand away.
As they drove into the city he filled Peter in on some of what had happened.
“Larry sounds like a hottie. How did you keep your hands off him.”
“Six-three, least. Size 12 and probably e e e e e wide but a smoker. ”
“Paul Bunyan smoked a pipe.” Peter parked in the garage. “It’s good to have you back home, sir.”
“I wish I could say it good to be back but there’s so much to do. It feels like I’ve been gone for a month not less than ten days.”
He looked around the living room. It was bare without Sanjay’s wall hangings and sculptures.
“I rearranged the furniture as you asked me to.”
“So I see.” The couch was now against the wall instead of creating a separation between the living-room and the dining room. “I’d forgotten how large this space was.” He sat on the couch and stretched his legs out as far as he could. “Feels good. Too much time in cars and airplane seats.”
Peter knelt and took Dan’s shoes and socks off. He bit then sucked Dan’s big toe.
“Freak.” Dan sighed. “How did one so young as you learn so fast.”
“It’s called the Internet, sir.” He bit along the arch of Dan’s foot.
“Ahh … that’s feels weird. Don’t stop.”
“I won’t, sir.”
“That was some load, sir.” Peter wiped come off Dan’s stomach and chest with one of Dan’s socks.
“This is the right spot for the couch.” Dan leaned to kiss Peter.
Peter stopped him. “There’s …” he dabbed Dan’s chin with his own underwear. “Some of me on your face, sir.”
“A shower should clear that up.” Dan yawned. “I’ll sleep well tonight.”
His first appointment was with Dr. Grey. The ophthalmologist studied the retinal scans of Dan’s eyes.
“Have you been experiencing any headaches.” he asked.
“Let me go through the list and if there is a “yes” stop me. Dizziness. double vision. trouble focusing. squinting. nausea. eye lid twitch. excess tearing. excess Ocular smegma. eye lash itch”
“No to all.” Dan said. “Though I have been using these more than usual.” He took his loupe case out his bag. “Some of the photos we’ve come across have needed closer examination.”
“Could you have done without it?”
“If I weren’t in the field I would have relied on digital enhancement to confirm what I saw with the … naked eye. But these did show me more than my naked eye was picking up. It also looks good on camera.”
“You haven’t been using the drops I prescribed have you?”
“I did a few times but not as regularly as prescribed. There often wasn’t time. The hour wait after they went in. I wasn’t to use them before bedtime.”
“Excuses won’t heal the damage to your eye, Mr. James.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“It is. There hasn’t been further degeneration around the damaged area since you were last here but there has been no regeneration either. Without regeneration scar tissue will form and that will lead to loss of vision.”
“Loss?” Dan said. “How quickly? How much?”
“It can differ from case to case. The fact that you don’t smoke is in our favour. You are fit, active. But those things will only slow it down. It can be avoided. The drops are a part of that.”
“How long would I have to take them. A month? A year? Forever?”
“Start taking them regularly and we can see how rapidly it works. Six months at least. An hour a day with your eyes covered.”
“I suppose I could meditate then.” Dan tried to imagine himself on motel bed doing nothing for an hour with the shooting schedule app flashing on his phone blinking on the side table.
“As long as you remain awake.” The doctor jotted something a prescription pad & handed it to Dan.
“More salve?” Dan sighed.
“No.” The doctor laughed. “A sleep mask.”