Dan hopped into the cab & directed the cabbie to the Mirabel. He sat back tor relax a bit & decided to double check his flight departure & saw to his dismay that his flight to Halifax was out the Trudeau in Dorval.
“Merde. Arret. Arrêt.” He swore.
“Pardon?” the cabbie said looking for somewhere to stop.
“Wrong way,” Dan’s French failed him. “I have to go to the Pierre Trudeau in Dorval!”
“Ah!” The cabbie raised his hands in frustration & slowed the car looking for an exit ramp.
Dan wondered how many idiots made the same mistake & missed their flights? Did they have as much swirling around on their minds as he did?
He gave his driver a tip equal to the fare when he got out of the cab at the airport with five minutes to spare. Breathless he gave his flight printout to the steward at the boarding desk.
“Ah, sir! You are Daniel James?”
“Yes! Yes.” He pulled out his driver’s licence. “I headed to the wrong airport.”
“It happens. I haven’t missed my flight have I?”
The clerk scanned Dan’s ticket & typed into the computer.
“Non, monsieur. Your flight to Moncton leave in an hour.”
“Moncton! My ticket is for Halifax!” He took the ticket from the steward.
“It appear there has been a change in your plans.”
“Telephone for Monsieur Daniel James.” Came over the public address system. “Telephone for Monsieur Daniel James.”
“Maybe that will be the news you are expecting. You can take your call in the Salon Or privé.”
“Uh … thank you.”
As he followed the signs to the lounge he pulled out his Quintex phone & turned it on & saw that there were dozens of voice mails & an equal number of texts.
He walked into the lounge.
“Over here Mr. James. We were expecting you.” A young Asian steward waved him over to the phone.
“How did you know who I was!”
“Back to you, John.” She laughed lightly.
He took the phone. It was Baxter.
“Where the fuck have you been! We’ve been trying to get ahold of you all day. All fucking day. That house boy of yours was no help & your sister is a piece of work. Even Lifend wouldn’t take my calls.”
“You’ve met your match. What do you want!”
“You’re going back to Moncton to follow up on Snake Man. Stephane has sent you the information. I’ve texted you the information. We took the liberty of changing your flights.”
“So I discovered.”
“When we couldn’t a hold of you we what I thought was necessary. If you had bothered to check your messages you would have known. This is hot & we have to act on the wave.”
“I see without consulting me.”
“Dan we tried. Cameron is already on his way to meet up with you in Moncton.”
He hung up.
“Back to you, Tiffany.” He read the name on the woman’s tag.
She laughed & took the receiver.
“This way Mr. James.” Another steward took his carry on & lead him to a semiprivate spot. “Mr. Moxham has sent instructions for us to make you are comfortable as possible. He also apologizes for this last minute change in your plans.”
There was a pot of coffee, muffins & a smoked meat on rye sandwich at the table.
“Anything else sir?” The attendant asked.
“No. This will be fine. Leave my carry on.”
“Of course sir.”
Alone in the quiet nook Dan took a deep breath. He poured a cup of coffee, had a bite of the sandwich & scrolled through the messages on both his phones.
On his private cell his sister didn’t appreciate being pestered by Baxter; Sandy didn’t appreciate being annoyed by that arrogant git Baxter; Jeremy apologized but for some reason Baxter thought he had more influence over Dan than he did; Peter sent lol Baxter says get in touch.
On the Quintex cell it was the series of increasingly urgent calls starting in the morning at eleven from Baxter, Stephanie, even Harold from the Toronto office. A for moment he regretted leaving the phone off then was thankful he hadn’t been caught up in the distractions.
He read through his updated travel itinerary & once again a reservation for him has been made at the Waterside. A car would be ready for him to pick up at the Moncton airport. Cameron would meet him in the morning & they would follow up a lead to Nova Convergent Centre near Maccan in Nova Scotia.
Cameron turned off the road into the dirt lot in front of a store so Dan could consult the google map.
“I think we took a wrong turn somewhere outside of Amherst.”
“That I know already. Where the fuck are we?”
“Single isn’t that strong wherever we are. Let’s not be men for a minute & actually ask for direction.”
He got out of the car and went to the store.
It was like stepping into a vintage photo, all that was missing were a couple of gas pumps out front.
Cameron hoisted his camera to his shoulder to get footage of the rusted sign swinging above the door said “Welcome to Flannery’s” over an advert for ‘Nutsy Nougat’ a chocolate bar. A dingy card board sign dangling midway behind the glass said “Open” in fancy script.
Dan cupped his eyes and peered through the dusty door to see if the sign was right. He tried the handle, it wasn’t locked and bells clanged as he pushed the door open. The clang was a toneless metal like a cow bell. Cameron on his heels.
Inside was dim until lights were turned on. A young man came from behind a curtain at the back of the store.
“Don’t turn lights on unless we got a customer.” The man wore an unbuttoned white shirt with a plain grey tee-shirt under it “Ma won’t let us use that motion sensitive stuff. Hope it didn’t scare you too much. Them coming on like that.”
In the man’s arms was a nearly matching grey cat that leapt to the floor and came over to sniff that Dan’s, then Cameron’s shoes then hopped to the window sill.
“Cod doesn’t take to strangers.” The man stepped behind the counter, brushed cat hair off his shirt sleeves.
The store was larger than it appeared from the outside. It could have been a 7/11 from the layout, right down to a coffee island in the middle of the floor near the front window. Only this one had a couple of comfy chairs like a coffee shop.
“Bottled water at the back. That’s usually what people’re looking for when they stop here. But we’re prepared. Coffee fresh this morning. Columbian we roast and decaf, none of the flavoured nonsense. Coffee only. We’re not Tim’s.” The man laughed. “Ma bakes the cookies and scones. Fresh. Daily.”
“You’re certainly fixed for any tourists.” Cameron picked up a cookie with his free hand.
“Locals like us. We’re the closest thing to a coffee shop that isn’t Tim’s in these parts. Self-serve for the coffee.”
Dan had stopped for directions only but he couldn’t resist the man’s invitation. “Smells good.” He said as he filled a large take-out cup.
The man went one to one of the coolers. “Whole milk or cream? Can’t help you if you’re intolerant.”
“Cream’ll be fine.” Dan stirred the cream into the coffee and put on a lid. “I’ll take one of those scones.”
“We got cranberry lemon or broccoli cheddar.”
“Really?” Cameron said putting a lid on his coffee.
“Oh yeah, just because we’re not city doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s selling.” The man held Dan’s gaze. “It’s pretty clear you’re with that TV film crew that’s been talking to people around here?”
“I’d rather you didn’t film me, you understand.”
“No problem.” Cameron turned his rig off & slid it to the floor.
“Dan James.” Dan reached out to shake the man’s hand. “Cameron Carter cameraman extraordinaire.”
“Not Flannery?” Cameron asked.
“Nah. That was the sign when we bought the place years ago. They weren’t Flannery’s either. Didn’t aim to rewrite history. We figured it would better to fit in some. We call ourselves Flannery’s General Store and Cafe.”
“So you’re not from here?” Dan sipped his coffee.
“Ma was. I’s born in the States. Price was right and so far we’ve managed to break even.”
“You know the area well?”
“Lost are you?”
“Sort. As long my g.p.s works I’m safe but the single is weak out here. We were looking for the Nova Convergent Centre.”
“You mean The Slythies.” Trey laughed. “Oh man those people are strange.”
“That’s what some around here call it. The snakes and all. From Harry Potter?”
“I see. It may be part of the show we’re doing. Thought I’d check it out. Research you might say.”
“Then you already know about them and the snakes.”
“Not much that’s why we’re here.”
“Yours is that TV show about the missing children, right? Weird about that psychic that got killed. I’m surprised it’s still going forward with it.”
“Nothing stops the news.” Cameron chuckled.
“You think it might be connected?”
“I mean her accident. The guys responsible for those kids might not want to be caught all these years later. Maybe she was in psychic contact with the killer.”
“Anything is possible.” Dan opened the door to leave. “Good coffee.”
“You didn’t let me tell you how to find the Slythies place. Isn’t far.”
“Right. The coffee was so good I forgot.”
“You just follow this road and turn left when you get back to Maccan. It’s on the left about ten minutes down the other road.”