Picture Perfect 98 

Back at La Promenade, Dan was happy his clothes were back from the laundry. All pressed and smelling fairly smoke free. He wished he’d gotten one of the rooms with a balcony to let them air in the fresh air. At last he could change out of the jeans he’d been wearing the last couple of days. Maybe it was his sweaty pheromones that had set off Stan’s hormones. 

Naked he checked his emails. other than messages from Baxter there was nothing he felt the need to respond to. There was a video post from Peter.

“Hey Dan! You’ve been in the news again, sir – the CBC had an item about the explosion that morphed into a profile of the Morrison twins. You’d think they were the first brothers to ever win an Oscar or have best selling books.” Peter moved away from the camera. “As you can see I’m at the house and everything is running smoothly. Sanjay hasn’t been around again. All I have on is the radio and a trace of Nocturne here.” Peter dabbed at the crook of his elbow. “It smells like you. I hope you don’t mind me using it, sir. I know it belongs to you. As does this.” Peter’s erection dominating the screen. “And this too.” Peter turned around so his ass filled the screen. He bent over and spread his cheeks. “I know you can almost taste it, can’t you, sir.” He turned around and sat so that only his head and shoulders were on screen. “Over and out.” The video ended.

Dan checked the receipts for the James stores and there was nothing of note there. Fairview needed to pull its numbers up though, if his sister expected to keep the space.

In the shower he rinsed out his socks, undies and tee shirt. No point in going back to Toronto with too much dirty laundry. 

In the lobby he went into the gift shop to see if there was some sort of candy he could pick up to bring as a gift for Peter. Beer Fudge? A Capers hoodie? It didn’t have any pockets but his shoulder bag could hold everything he needed, anyway. he could go out with only one camera for a change. He wouldn’t be needing his tablet either.

He bought a Caper’s, which turned out to be the college basketball team, hoodie with the letters in Cape Breton Tartan. Back in his room it only took a few minutes to transfer what he felt he had to have from his jacket to the shoulder bag. One last look in the mirror and he knew he’d made the right decision.

As he headed to the Boardwalk there was text from Baxter. “Channel 3, Global, between 9:30 – 10.”

It was quarter after 7 so he’d be back to the hotel by then. 

He has crab cakes on Boardwalk.

“That’s at 10, isn’t it. Too early for local.”

A sitcom started at 9:30. After the opening then credits commercials came on. The first was a teaser for Cold Case Canada a Maritime Mystery. 

“Holy shit!” Dan exclaimed. “No one told me this was coming soon was coming so soon.”

It showed a series of sepia photos of the missing children fading into each other with the one of him and Tim last. A circle appeared around his face. The name of the show appeared as well and faded at the same time with hosted by Daniel James under his circled face. The voice over said “In 1984 these children vanished and no one connected them until now when forensic specialist Daniel James put the pieces together. Follow his investigation this fall on Cold Canada’s Maritime Mystery.”

It was after midnight when he got back to the hotel.

“There’s an urgent message for you.” the deck clerk gave him note.

“Thanks.” he opened the note and it was from Baxter. ‘Answer my texts, asap.’ 

Dan had turned his phone off while they watched the Cold Canada promo. He checked his texts in the elevator. Baxter wanted to know what he thought of the promo. How urgent could that be?

“They spelt my name right.” he texted back.

The morning was overcast. The dark clouds over the harbour were massive and endless to the horizon. There were a few thinner strata were veiled sunlight seeped through. The air was humid. He took several shots of the sky from the parking lot.

He opted to take the 28 route along the harbour to New Waterford. The road must have been recently repaved as it it was pretty smooth until he passed South Bar where the recent storm had washed away parts of it. He could see some shore side houses had been demolished by that storm’s wind.

The homes on the other side were intact and the wide front yards with the houses set back from the road brought back a sense of his father driving along that same route. The only difference was, in most cases, newer model cars in the driveways. The  houses with aluminum siding hadn’t changed since the last time he drove through here. All that was missing were the few service stations where they might sometimes stop to get a cold Royal Crown Cola because those bottles were the biggest.

Did they still make that? 

Houses got closer, yards smaller as he drove through New Victoria and into New Waterford. He parked on Plummer Avenue. There were few people about but it felt like that moment in movie when you find that the empty street was truly deserted. He walked along looking in the shop windows. The drug store was open. There was even less activity than he had seen in Sydney. It was a ghostless town.

He resisted taking pictures not wanting to add to the growing dying-village porn that was becoming increasingly more popular. Photos of the dusty displays in the unwashed windows of closed stores didn’t appeal to him anymore as a creative statement or even as a meaningful comment on disposable culture.

After a brief tour of both sides of the ‘main’ street he drove by his old school. The building had been replaced with a now standard box designed to hold rather than mold children. Why did schools still look like factories rather than places that invited you in.

Hr turned onto the street where his family’s house was. He parked at the corner and walked on the side opposite his old house. The last time he’d been there  was when he’d left with his Dad, expecting to return at the end of the summer. Instead they’d just kept going. 

The only thing he really missed in the few years after coming to Toronto was his friend Timmy. He knew the names of some of the kids he’d played with, gone to school with, when they were living in New Waterford but there was no nostalgic resonance in them. It wasn’t as if any of them wrote to say how much they missed him or even sent him Christmas cards.

The houses on the street hadn’t changed. Curtains were different and some trees were bigger, some were missing. A few lawns were littered with fallen branches. A dog barked from inside one of the houses.

Scatter? The Fielding’s had a cocker spaniel called Scatter. He couldn’t still be alive. A face appeared in the front door window of the house with the barking dog. Should he wave? What did he have to lose? He waved and the face disappeared. The dog stopped barking.

He stood across from his house. Two stories. Nondescript, almost identical to all the other houses on the street. Each of them had variations in shutters or porch placement. Some had awnings over the front windows. Some did not. All the same or close to the same colour, even those with siding didn’t pop out from the ones that were painted.

“Are you looking for someone in particular?” A woman asked from his left.

He turned and she was walking a brown and white cocker spaniel.

“No.”

“My goodness. It’s Richard’s boy. Am I right? You looks just like yer father.”

“That’s right. It’s Daniel.”

“Cassie McLeod.” She did a little curtsy. “Darrell’s mother!” As she said the name Darrell’s face was clear in his mind. “Tha’s right. I can’t get over it. Yer the image of your father.”

“Thanks. I guess.” He stooped to rub the dog’s ears.

“We was watching about you on the TV t’other day. Making a movie of some kind. Scouting for locations?”

“I don’t think so.” The dog was indifferent to his touch. He stood. “You never know though when some place will be what your looking for even if you aren’t looking for anything.”

“Right you are.”

“I wanted to see the old neighbourhood. I haven’t been back for some thirty years now.”
“By Jesus not really! That sister of yers is down nearly every summer. Guess tha’s why you kept the house. Seems a shame to let go empty so much of the time but then there’s lots around here tha’s been empty fer years anyways. Marge Donaldson in 412 keeps the place nice while no ones there. She has the keys if’un you want to get inside.”

“I was on my way there.” He scanned the street to see how far 412 was along it. “Didn’t they used to live other end?”

“Yes but … tha’s not a happy story, I’m sure you know.” 

“Yep.” He found her speaking to him as if he was still the age when the move happened. “Nice to see you again Mrs. McLeod. How is Darrell?”

“Worse’n his father, if the Lord will forgive me for telling the truth. One drunk gives birth to another. Left shortly after Syd died. Heart gave out playing cards one night. Died drunk and Dar will do the same I’m sure. Lest ways Syd left me enough to keep d’house. That was some ten years ago.”

“Left for where?” He knew he’d have to make some conversation with her or she’d make a beeline for the house once he went into it.

“Here’n’there. I gets cards with some money in’em from BC onct, Florida, Dubai. never know. He’s a good by at heart. Well, don let me keep ya.”

“Good to see you again. Nice to know some of the old families are still here too.” 

“Oh yes. Okay, Rugsy time for yer walkies.” The dog had sprawled on its side in the sun on the grass by the sidewalk. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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