Picture Perfect 84
“Other thing, which in fact was what lead me here.” Dan stepped back from Janis.
“Yes?” she cradled her hands over her stomach.
“We received several tips regarding a snake man.”
“They were about a man who would visit various farms buying baby pigs to feed to snakes.”
“Oh my.” Janis rubbed her hands. “There was always an issuing keeping the snakes fed. The Hippo never suffered from mice or rats while it had the snakes but I suppose they … Wait! Now that you mention it I remember some of the set-up crew would bring fresh …uh … food for the snakes. I never asked where it came from. I supposed it was from local butchers.”
“I see. If you recall anyone in particular us know.”
“Here.” Cameron handed her a business card. “This is a more direct line than that tips line.”
“I’ll do that.” Janis read the card.
“I can drive for awhile.” Dan started to get into the driver’s side.
“Okay.” Cameron strapped his shoulder camera unit in the back seat. “Don’t forget we’re heading back to the Truro.”
“We are? Since when?”
“Got a text from Stephanie to get things back on schedule.”
“We’re not that far behind.” He glanced at the GPS. “It’ll take an hour or so to get there.”
“Don’t hurry on my account.” Cameron gave a little laugh. “What did you make of the good Rev?”
“Interesting lady. I think she was holding something back.”
“Besides that snake on her belly.”
“So that’s what that was.”
“Hard not to see it … rippling under her clothes.” Cameron shuddered. “It’ll fit in nicely though even if it doesn’t lead anywhere.”
“My buddy Timmy was excited about seeing those snakes when the Hippo came to town. All we’d ever seen were glimpses of ring-necks.” Dan thought a moment. “So seeing real live snakes would have been great.”
“Maybe you’ll get your chance if Baxter wants you take in a Nova service.”
“You don’t sound too enthused.”
“I’ll have nightmares tonight. Trust me I almost dropped the camera when that one slithered out from her sleeve. Didn’t it bother you?”
“I found it a bit weird.”
He dropped Cameron off at the crew’s motel & continued on to the Warwick.
In his room he checked his cell phones to see if he had missed any calls or messages while they were talking to Reverend Hadley. The updated shooting list had families to interview in Cape Breton.The Sheldons were new to the list but there was no background information.
He played back the footage of the interview with Hadley. Cora suicide? Who was Cora? Winston Chamberlain hadn’t mentioned any suicides. He didn’t recall seeing more mentions of Cora in the Museum either, just the side-show banner.
In the morning Warszawa was in the Wickham lobby as Dan came down for the breakfast part of the b’n’b.
“I have the the initial report on the cars.” Warszawa said.
“That was fast.” Dan shook his hand.
“Having me here gives them reason to be quick. They aren’t pleased with any internal investigation. You know how that is.”
“Yeah. Anything in the report.”
“Possible but not confirmable tampering.”
“Possible is a code word for probable, ‘not confirmable’ means they know it happened but don’t know how it happened. Not enough to take to court.”
“I know how that is.”
“Part of the problem is the fact that the cars are rentals. No way of knowing if this was an unnoticed malfunction that was triggered by the rain storm.”
“The other cars?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Small consolation for Vidro family.”
“None to speak of. Brother in Calgary. That’s it.”
“So, I’m not a suspect?”
“Suspect! More like target. You switched cars at the last minute, right.”
“Yes. But this isn’t news. What do you actually have to tell me?”
“You turned off?”
Dan double -checked his body camera. “Yep. Let’s go up to my room so I can get this stuff off.”
They went up to his room.
Dan draped the apparatus carefully on the back of a chair. “Feels good to take that off. I forget that I’m wearing it but I feel so much lighter when I take it off.”
“I want do to this off the book until we have something concrete.”
“I know! This isn’t the first case we’ve worked on.”
“Yeah, but the first one where you’ve been so directly involved.”
“The detachment has a file on Winston Chamberlain.”
“Not about the file. More than one person has mentioned his predilections.”
“There wasn’t much they could actually do. He was underage himself. They brought him in after the father of one of the girls insisted. Thought he was an adult. Didn’t believe he was only fifteen.”
“I believe that.” he showed Warszawa the picture Teresa had given him. “That’s him there.”
“Hmm. There was more than one complaint mind you. But no one was willing to press charges. He was an oversexed, underaged kid – no law then against that. His parents said they’d see to it that he got treatment for his problem.”
“Yeah. They sent him to Toronto to see some specialist child psychologist. He was gone less than a month. Two of the disappearances happened while he was away. Visiting an aunt.”
“So he has family in Toronto?”
“At the time.”
“He kept out of trouble when he returned from Toronto.” Warszawa said. “At least as far as the RCMP are concerned.”
“I feel he’s holding something back though.”
“That has to do with the missing children?” Warszawa asked.
“A gut reaction. We’ll have to ask Jennifer Devereaux. She’s the seer, I’m the … actually I’m not sure what I am. A photo reader investigator. Does the local detachment have anything on the Nova Convergent Centre?”
“I did a check when you said you were going there. A few complaints. Every time someone gets scared by a garter snake they point at the Nova cult. But other than that they’re pretty quiet for such an odd bunch. Apparently there are several religious communities through out the Maritimes. Catholic retreats, an Ashram or two, Sisters of Isis.”
“What about importing snakes? Aren’t there laws about exotic animals, that sort of thing.”
“No one’s made that specific complaint. You think it’s worth checking out?”
“No harm. I was just wondering. Where did the original Tut snakes come from? You can’t pick them up like … dogs or parrots.”
“The Hippo had a parrot show at the time.”
“You think they shipped those children off in trade or something?” Warszawa laughed lightly. “You are starting to sound like Baxter.
“All things considered that may not be so far fetched. If you can smuggle snakes into the country, smuggling a child out would be easy enough.” Dan said. “Anything on Janis Hedley?”
“Picked up for grass a couple of times. She pressed charges against some guy who roughed her up when she worked at the Hippo. She didn’t want to charm his snake and he took it personal.”
“I’ve seen some of the snakes she now handles. Not many men would compare.” Dan said. “And if there is one who does, I don’t want to meet him.”
“Not even to take a peek?” Warszawa laughed.
“I’m heading back to Toronto tomorrow. Sergeant Coster is the official show liaison, She’ll will be on hand to help should she have to.”
“We’ve got one more real interview to do over in Cape Breton in St. Peter’s. I’ll be spending a few days in New Waterford. I haven’t been back since my Dad moved us to to Toronto.”
“I wish I had it so easy. The I.S. unit is looking into the travel photo cases.”
“Oh!” Dan had forgotten about the case. There’s been developments?”
“Another one murder, last week. In Edmonton. ”