Picture Perfect 85
“Paula Morrison. 12 years old. The oldest of the girls to disappear. Father: David, step-mother: Rosemoon. One word.”
“Rosemoon?” Cameron asked.
“Hippy days.” She shook her head.
Dan nodded as Stephanie read the file to him. He’d gone over it several times already. He kept his eye on the road as they approached the Canso Causeway.
“How much more of this do you want to hear?” She asked.
“I’ll let you know when I’ve heard enough.”
“She’d been a runaway since the dad remarried two years earlier. Birth mother, Madeline, died of breast cancer. Father an American draft-dodger, birth mother from Whycoak …”
“You say that like a native.” Cameron repeated the name.
“One of those place names that stuck with me. It’s a Mi’kmaq word means Head of the Waters.’” Dan repeated the name. “Feels good to say it too.”
“I suppose. Anyway she died and he remarried several years later. Paula was an only child until Rosemoon had twins.”
“Which was when the runaway business started?”
“Yes. Rosemoon has since passed away. Breast cancer again. Must be something in the water.”
“That’s a different investigation, Stephanie. I’m sure there’s some report buried somewhere that shows an alarming coincidences of cancer and the water in the area.”
“Un-huh. Her twin half-brothers, Seal and Wolf no longer live in the area.”
“Seal! Wolf!” Cameron giggled. “More of that hippy draft-dodger stuff?”
“Probably. Wolf is in BC and the other …” she read the file. “Is in Hollywood! Seal Morrison. The director! He’s from around here!”
“Yep. I’m not the only famous person from the backwaters of Nova Scotia.” Dan said.
As they drove under Welcome to Cape Breton sign on the Causeway, Dan half-expected to hear his mother say “Turn down the radio so we can listen to the waves.”
“Will you look at that!” Dan was tempted to roll down the car window & stick out his head.” I haven’t seen the Causeway since we left here. It was always a mini-adventure to drive across it. One year a storm blew waves over our car. Mom was terrified but Dad kept on going. All he said was roll up the windows.” Dan rolled down the windows to hear the waves.
“You sure that’s wise?” Cameron took a deep breath. “Don’t want to get lung cancer.”
Cameron followed the curve of the Causeway to the other side.
“Pull off at the Souvenir Shop. Your first act here has to be one of shopping.”
“Dan this is not my first time at this .… cèilidh. You know we’ve already pre-interviewed people before you got here. Right?”
“Yes, yes, but did you drive across the causeway or fly into Sydney on the Quintex private jet?”
“As if a producer that insists ‘no four star accommodations’ could afford a jet.” Stephanie said.
Dan got out of the car. “What a view.”
“Yes.” Cameron said. “Just like a post card.”
Memories of Dan’s last summer there became clearer as he watched the waves breaking against the rocks that lined the roadway. Men fishing dotted the piers.
“I wonder what they’re catching?” Stephanie asked.
“Squid. Sometimes mackerel.” Dan said.
“You’re kidding?” Cameron laughed. “These are the squid jiggers like in the song? I gotta try that myself.”
The gift shop was a clutter of tartan objects. Coffee mugs made in China, tee-shirts from Bangladesh. One wall was devoted to local handicrafts and there was shelf of books about the area.
“Looking for something in particular?” The clerk came over.
“You have something without the Cape Breton tartan or a lighthouse on it?” Stephanie joked.
“Something like this?” The clerk handed her a roll of toilet paper. The wrapper said: ‘Cape Breton ass wipe doesn’t take shit from nobody.’
Dan laughed. “Maybe we should get a dozen for the crew.” He pulled out one of the books titled ‘Cabot Trail Mix Trivia.’ “Collected by David Morrison!”
“Let’s see?” Stephanie took the book from him.
“Is this the David Morrison from St. Peter’s.” Dan asked the clerk.
“Could be.” The clerk replied. “All of the books on that shelf are by locals.”
“It is.” Stephanie said. “According to the bio he’s a life long resident of St. Peter’s who had always been fascinated by local history. He is the proud father of Wolf and Seal.” She flipped to the inside front cover. “And it’s autographed.”
“Nice.” Dan took the book back. “You have many copies of it?”
“Just these three. We don’t tend to stock a lot of that sort of thing. Books, I mean.”
“Maybe if it had a kitten in a kilt on the cover. It would sell better?” Cameron said.
Dan bought all three copies. In the car he read through one of them. It was, as the title said, a collection of anecdotes, jokes, short historical facts about the area. No index and apparently haphazardly arranged.
“Wonder if he’ll sign them again?” Stephanie asked.
Cameron pulled into Amethyst Court, a motel just past the welcome to St.Peter’s sign. The remote truck was parked at the far end of the cabins.
“I never thought I said this but thank God for a normal drive.” Dan got out of the car. “I was beginning to think these highways were jinxed for me.”
“If they were you know it would be part of the show anyway. Baxter expects you at six to go over the next week of shoots. You’ll see Mr. Morrison in the morning. 10 a.m. sharp.”
“Right.” He glanced at his cell for the time. “Give sme time to freshen up. Which cabin is mine?”
“Not sure. I’ll check with Brenda. She’s doing the production coordinating here.” She texted Brenda.
Brenda came out of cabin 3. “Took your time. We’ve been here since morning.”
“Dan took his time,” Cameron said. “A little shy after recent highway to hell events.”
“Highway to heck, is more like it.” Dan said as Brenda gave him a door pass card.
“Cabin 10. Baxter is in 9.”
“Yikes.” Dan winced. “Hope he keeps it down. He must be deaf from all that loud TV.”
“Whatever.” Brenda said. “I’ve done two series with him and I never knew how he could keep track of everything. Must in the volume.”
Dan grabbed his suitcase, shoulder bag and went to his cabin. It smelled so strongly of lavender when he opened the door, he propped the door open with a chair to see if he could air it out. He put his laptop out on the tiny writing desk. He wondered why these desks were always smaller than the TVs. At least the Court offered free wifi. He tried it but the signal wasn’t as strong as his Lifend connection.
He had email from both this lawyers. The one dealing with his sister, the other dealing with Sanjay. He made the Skype connection with the Depot.
“Good afternoon boss. You’ll be pleased to hear that there is nothing major to report. Weekend sales were good. ‘While the boss is away’ made for a great promo.”
“More than good Sandy.” Dan looked over the sales figures. “Maybe I should stay away more often.”
“Please don’t.” she said. “You are our visible shield of protection from that sister of yours.”
“She been sniffing around again?”
“Nope. In fact the silence is ominous.”
“She has her hands full with the new contracts anyway. Thanks for the update.”
“I hope we can hold on until you get back boss. We can manage here without you but things go a lot better when you are on the premises. At least when you are in the city.”
“Go on. You angling for a raise?”
“Any more … rough spots?”
“No. I’m a bit surprised that the families we interviewed were so cooperative. I didn’t think their memories would be so clear about events so long ago. I know mine aren’t. Each day something new comes back to me about growing up here.”
“Fishing. I look back on my childhood and all I recall is tagging around with my Dad, setting up cameras. But when we stopped earlier today I saw people fishing off the piers near the Causeway.”
“Fishing! Safe to eat?”
“It was back then. My Dad would sometime stop for a day there just to fish. He called it his summer vacation. Mackerel and sometimes squid. My mother hated the squid.”
He got a beep that someone else wanted to talk to him on Skype.
“Keep me posted. I’ll get in touch again in a couple of days.”
“Let us know when you’ll be back so we can have a ‘The Boss Is Back’ sale.”