Picture Perfect 96
“You sound a little disappointed.” she said.
“I am. I half-expected the concierge at the hotel to ask me that or ‘did’ja eat yet?’ Whoseyerfadder?” He asked.
The girl laughed. “Your accent is spot on.”
“Yours is close. Not from around here?” He reached out to shake her hand. “Daniel James.”
“Kelly Dunn. I’m studying Museum curating & this is my summer placement. Second year here. So your Dad is Richard James? The name is very familiar. I have seen it on material here. Don’t tell me …”
“Need a hint?” He tapped his camera.
“Mother of God!” Kelly exclaimed. “The photographer! Man he took pictures of nearly every school kid on the island.”
“The one and the same.”
“And those amazing calendars. Someone donated a full set you know. We’d love to get permission to reprint them. Do you know who owns the rights to them?”
“Hold on. I’m here to look around not do business.”
“Oh, right. It’s just that … Stan …” she shouted over her shoulder. “Come out here.”
A muscular man about 5’5 strode out of the office behind the counter. His shirt and jeans were clearly tailored to show him off to his best advantage. But what sort of advantage did he expect to have here?
“It’s … I forgot your name … he’s Richard James’ son … the calendar guy.”
“Cool.” He shook Dan’s hand.
The man’s hand was solid, firm without exerting pressure. He put his other hand over Dan’s as they shook.
“I am pleased to meet you. Don’t mind Kelly. She’s been doing a research project on the changing views of our island as seen via the tourist lens, or something like that.”
“The filtered dialectic of the past as posited by the lens to create a distance between reality and idealization?” Dan teased her.
“Mother of God, you said it better than I ever could.”
“Moshe got you with “Who’s yer fadder?” Stan said.
“Yep.” Kelly said. “Is one of those expressions that had nearly disappeared. I can tell what generation a visitor is from by the way they react to that question.”
“Now days they ask what’s your handle.” Stan said. “Or what are you into.”
“Into?” Dan asked. Was this man flirting with him? “As is top or bottom?”
“Exactly?” Stan said.
“Now you’ve lost me.” Kelly said.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ve been reading about you in the Post.”
“Me? I haven’t looked at any newspapers for weeks.”
“Not exactly you, but the motel explosion outside of St. Peter’s.”
“You were there?” Kelly said.
“That’s right and now I’m here.”
“I think he wants to change the subject Kelly. Are you here at the Museum just to look or to look for something in specific for the case your working on.”
“Case?” Kelly asked.
“Back to you, John.” Stan said nudging her.
“Mother of God, you’re that guy!”
“Owner of the second-hand books store said you had a collection of high-school year books?”
“That we do.” Satan said.
“It’s on the second floor. I’ll take …”
“That’s alright Jeannie. I’ll show Mr. James around. You can hold the fort down here.”
“I won’t be keeping you from anything?” Dan said. “I’m sure I can manage on my own.” Kelly said.
“My fund raising report can wait.” Stan gestured to the entrance. “Stairs are just to the right.”
The top of the stairs was unlit. Stan leaned across Dan to turn on the light.
“We usually don’t light the upstairs unless someone wants to see it. We don’t get too many requests for the year books.”
“Motion sensors would turn on lights when needed.”
“Money would do that job.” Stan strode to the end of the room and pulled open the curtains to let sunlight into the room. “To answer your other question – top but versatile for the right man. You?”
“Easy for the right man.”
“Let’s just say between engagements. Are you east coast guys usually this forward?”
“Not usually. I’ll back off if you aren’t interested.”
“How could tell I was gay?”
“When I saw the first article about Cold Canada coming to the east coast it was pretty simple to check out your background. It certainly isn’t a state secret, is it?”
“I guess not.”
“I recognized you from your ground breaking gay rights work when you were in the RCMP. It made me see that being queer didn’t mean being a queen at the same time. It made a big difference.”
“Thanks Stan. I never thought that legal tangle would have any sort of emotional impact on anyone but myself. Now about those year books.”
“They are loosely organized in these cabinets according to location, school, year. What we really need is someone to catalogue them. I keep begging for someone out of library sciences to do an internship with us. Any place in particular?”
A shout from Kelly came up the stairs. “Mrs. Chargill is here.”
“Board of Directors.” Stan said. “You’d think I was spending their money on myself. Let me know when you are done here.” He left Dan.
Dan opens the file cabinet that held the New Waterford years books. There were none of the years he was looking for. He wanted to see his sister’s entries and maybe see if either of the Kevin’s she was dating were class-mates. He pulled up the two photos on his tablet. Undistinguished handsome boys.
On the back wall were framed photos of sports teams. Baseball, curling, basketball, soccer, even some of boxing clubs. The coast guard college rowing team. Some he recognized as his father’s work from the lighting and his farther’s preference of not arranging by height. He liked the random rather than the deliberate. It made his team pictures seem more relaxed.
In the back row of a Riverview basketball team for 1985 he recognized one of the Kevin’s. He took a photo of it, isolated the face and compared it to the one’s he had. Yes, it was a match. He went back to the filing cabinets and found the Riverview year book for that year and flipped through it.
There was his sister on the inside cover. The cheer leading squad leaping into the air with pompoms over their heads and skirts flaring to reveal a peek of panties. Under the photo it said – “Riverview students jump into a another year of championships and bright futures.” The names of the girls were underneath.
Trust Linda to get front page. He flipped through the pages of graduate head shots. Kevin Epstein – “Most likely to follow in his Dad’s shoes to become a dentist.”
Another head shot on the page caught his eye. ‘Bazyli Reyman” The face was very familiar. Under it said – “Mostly likely to lead Canada to the World Cup.” He photographed it, sent the image to his tablet and fed it into the aging program.
His cell phone beeped. It echoed in the room. The caller was Baxter.
“Where are you?” Baxter demanded.
Dan held his phone away from his ear and turned down the speaker volume.
“Location tells me you are in Sydney, Nova Scotia when you are supposed to be here in Toronto, Ontario. Here in the Q productions board room number three for an important production meeting.”
“Production meeting? What happened to the hiatus?”
“That was from location shoot, only. We’ve held production meetings every Friday. No one said they were suspended. We have important creative issues to discuss.”
“The initial cut of the opening and closing credits. We also have a very rough cut of the first episode as well. You thought all I was doing was hanging around those motel rooms waiting them to blow up? I’ve been working with the editors from the very first week getting things into shape. We have to have something to show Q beside the raw interview footage.” Baxter stopped & Dan heard him take a deep breath
“I get that. I still won’t be back until Monday.”
“Flight number please?” Baxter said.
“Baxter I’m doing research here. I don’t have that in front me.”
“I see. Stephane is booking your flight as we speak. One moment, please …. Flight 519 leaving Sydney airport at 2 pm. Arrive Halifax at 3:05. Fight 998 departing Halifax at 4 pm. Arrive Toronto 6 pm. I’ll have someone meet you at the airport.”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“I’m sure you will. I hope your research has something to do with the show. You are still on our payroll you know.”
“I’ve been looking into the Happy Hippo shows.”
He took a photo of a Happy Hippo poster that was on one of the walls and sent it Baxter.
“You know how kids love circuses. You never wanted to run away and join the circus?”
“I was more interested in selling Mary Kay. If I’m going to deal with clown make up it has to be more refined.”
“Good bye Baxter.”
“Wait! Before you go …”
“You know those Morrison twins are going to be in St. Peter’s for the coming week. There’s going to be a big do for them.”
“Is there any possibility you could pass through and take in some of the festivities?”
“In that case cancel that flight booking. I won’t be back until next Friday.”