Picture Perfect 97
Dan got up from the table, stretched his arms and neck. The window behind him overlooked the back of the museum and some of the former steel plant grounds.
So his sister had gone to Riverview in Coxheath. Did she bus there? That was their first year in Toronto. As he remembered it he and his Dad were in Toronto for a few months before his mother arrived. She and his sister had stayed to close up the house. Their Mother joined them by Thanksgiving. Linda stayed behind to finish her last year of high-school. Did the family still own the house in New Waterford? He didn’t recall any mention of it being sold. It must have been, because it wasn’t in the his father’s estate. Or did his mother own it?
“How are we getting on up here.” Stan said. “You’ve been very quiet.”
“It’s been productive. Turns out my sister went to Riverview.”
“And not Glace Bay. That would have been closer.”
“Do you have much here from the Happy Hippo?”
“A few posters like the one on the walls here. Some of their popcorn boxes, even a few of the prizes. Their new museum in Moncton has the best stuff. It is amazing.”
“Yes. I’ve been there.” He put his tablet into his shoulder bag. “But this has a better feel. Less like a theme park …”
“And more like place people like to park?”
“I don’t think I’d put it that way. A place that invites you to take your time and explore.”
“That’s what I said. Or don’t you take your time when you go parking?”
“Enough Stan. It’s bordering on harassment.”
“Sorry. The mating pool is rather limited here you know. Before you go, I have something you’ll be interested in.”
There were several people in the main part of the museum. One couple was taking pictures of the old kitchen appliances. Another was studying the information on the first African church.
“Actually Kelly thought you’d like to see these.”
Dan recognized the photo albums as ones his Dad sold exclusively. They were sets of wedding or baptismal photos.
The first one was an album of funeral pictures. A black family standing beside the open coffin, of people touching the hand of the deceased, the flowers, the carrying of the coffin to the hearse.
“I’ve never seen anything like this.” Dan flipped the pages slowly.
“It wasn’t that unusual in the black community here.” Stan said. “They would give copies of the pictures to the pall bearers as a way of thanking them.”
“It’s creepy.” Dan reached for the next album. “Not more of the same?”
“Oh, no.” Kelly said. “Though we have inherited a few more like that one. One of a baby’s funeral. Very sad. I’m not sure what to do with them except preserve as best as we can. I can’t see us doing an exhibition of them.”
“Funerary Photography and Other Expressions of Grief.” Dan said. “Do you have any hair wreathes. My grandmother had two. Kept them in the living room.”
“If you ever need job.” Stan said.
The next album was a set of wedding pictures. In one the bride alone beside a painting of a sea storm.
“That can’t be a good omen.” Dan said.
The photo set covered the wedding from the bride getting out of the car, the walk up the aisle, slipping the ring on in extreme close-up. Bride’s hands were typical, the groom’s needed to be washed.
“That’s oil!” Dan took his loupe out to examine the photo closely. “He couldn’t have come to the wedding with dirty hands.”
“Oil!” Kelly said. “I’ve always wondered about why they were so dirty. I never thought of oil.”
“Professional hazard.” Dan quickly looked through the rest of the pictures. “The storm picture must have been an omen, after all as there are no other glimpse of the groom other than his hands.” He didn’t want to add that some of the pictures had been cropped to remove the offending groom then resized to maintain uniformity.
“I’ve never noticed that before either.” Kelly said.“They usually ask about the wedding dress?”
“You have e.s.p?” Kelly said.
“I’m the picture whisperer.” Dan said. “It’s part of my training.”
“No!” she said. “There’s no such thing.”
“I’m a certified forensic document examiner who specializes in photographs. I can tell you, pretty much, what exact cameras took what pictures. These …” he flipped through the wedding album again, “would be easy as I did work with my Dad on weddings. But I could tell you, say, if pictures were taken with a 1950’s Brownie or a Duaflex.”
As he looked at pictures he realized that they were of different brides wearing the same dress. He went back to the inside cover & it was stamped ‘Flora’s Bridal Boutique.’
“That explains it!” he said.
“Explains what?” Kelly asked.
“No grooms because this is about the dress not the brides?”
He showed them the different faces.
“Whoa!” Kelly exclaimed. “I’ve been looking at this album for a couple of years & never noticed that at all.”
“Why same dress different brides?” Stan asked.
“Rental.” Kelly explained. “A dress like that would cost a fortune. Money most families couldn’t afford.”
“Makes sense.” Dan said.
“I can’t believe I missed that all these years. You should have your own TV show like the Antiques Road show.”
“He sort of does.” Stan said. “He’s with the Cold Canada show that’s investigating those missing children cases here in the Nova Scotia.”
Dan continued to study a picture that caught his eye. The bride in this one looked familiar.
“Looking for a wedding dress?” Stan joked. “or a bride?”
Dan took a photo of the photo.
“Thanks for everything.” He shook Stan’s hand.
“If there’s anything else I can help you with …”
“There is one thing,” He pulled his hand out of Stan’s then walked to the front exit. “I’d really like a good feed of cod cakes. Yeah, I know cod is not fished anymore but even decent fish cakes would do.”
Stan opened the door for Dan. “There is one place.” They stepped out into the sunlight. It took Dan’s eyes a moment to adjust to the bright light as they walked to his car.
“Not on the tourist maps.”
Dan opened the driver’s door to let the heat out of the car.
“Yes? Do I have to guess?”
“I’ll write the address down for you.” He took a business card out of his wallet and write on the back of it and handed it to Dan.
“412 Peter’s Avenue?” Dan read it aloud. “Is it a … oh, fuck am I thick or what … you’re asking me for dinner at your place!”
“Is this meeting cute or what?” Stan blushed.
The light caught his face and Dan recognized something in it.
“Your Dad was on the team that won the regional soccer championship in 1986.”
“Uncle. Not Dad. How …”
“I was just looking at that yearbook.”
“That’s amazing. You saw a family resemblance. You must have e.s.p.”
“You’re not the first person who told me that. But I’ll have to decline your offer. My time here is limited, as you said I have a case to investigate.” He got into his car.
“Yeah, sure.” Stan said & went back into the museum.