Picture Perfect 118
Back at the Waterside Motel Dan stretched out on his stomach on the bed while Peter massaged him. They were both watching the TV news coverage of the discovery of the bones. The segment ended with a shot of teddy bears and flowers by the ‘do not cross’ tape at the Museum.
“Wow, sir!” Peter said. “You are a different person when you really take charge.”
“Yeah. Like you are real policeman not a TV host or …”
“Or someone who is putty in your hands.” Dan rolled over to his back.
“That’s too hard to be putty, sir.” Peter laughed.
“That’s your doing. Now, you know here that putty gets putted.” Dan pushed his hips up.
Just before noon the next day Dan got a call from Corporal Coster confirming that his ‘gut’ was right. There was to be a press conference at the division head quarters with the RCMP task force that afternoon & she hoped he could attend.
When he & Peter arrived the conference had already started. Corporal Coster had just introduced Senior Investigator Robert Warszawa who was heading the task force.
“Thanks to investigative work by Daniel James in connection with the Cold East show the RCMP had reopened these cold cases two weeks ago. We already had a forensic team on hand so we were able to quickly ascertain that some of remains found belong to Madeline & Gerrard Forestier. Dental records confirmed their identity.
“The remains in the other mummies were a mix of several other children. There are also two more pelvis bones than there were children reported missing. At this point cause of death is undetermined. We have no suspects at this time.”
“Inspector Warszawa how will the force treat these cases differently than they did originally?” A reporter asked.
“State-of-the-art analysis equipment for one thing. We have real-time communications as well so that what one detachment discovers can be passed on to to others quickly. There is a national data base of investigative information that can make connections that we as humans may not make.” Warszawa answered.
“I might add,” Constable Coster said. “We already had dental records for most of the missing children & of course access to family dna samples that will make identifying these remains much quicker.”
“The task force has a mobile lab dedicated to the case.” Warszawa explained.
“Is there any physical evidence from the original disappearances?” A reporter asked.
“No.” Coster shrugged. “We do have the reports that were filed but apparently, at the time, the divisions didn’t feel the need for anything beyond recent photographs. There was no suspicion of abductions.”
“So they were considered runaways?” A reported asked.
“That’s an assumption no one is prepared to make.” Coster said.
“Speaking of connections how did Mr. James connect the children to the mummies?”
“I believe he is here. Why don’t you ask him? Dan would you care to join us.” Warszawa nodded to Dan.
Cameras swivelled to follow him as he walked to the microphone.
“Thanks Inspector. As most of you are aware I have been immersed in this case for months now, so my brain was looking for connections. The Tut sideshow was touring that summer in the mid-80’s. I a grid of locations & dates for those shows & the abductions in my head in flash.”
“Can you remember the exact moment of that flash?” A reporter asked.
Dan was silent for a moment.
“It was when the museum guide said something about the servant mummies. No! He called them playmates. It was a leap of logic. Tut was a child only nine when he took the throne. I put the missing children together with playmates. Aha!”
“What comes next in the investigation?” One of the reporters asked.
“It’ll take a few weeks to sort the various bones and mate them properly.” Constable Coster took over. “Families are already asking when they would be released for burial. Thank you all for coming. You’ll be notified when we have more to tell the world.”
Dan stepped away from the TV cameras relieved that the Happy Hippo was the connecting thread for the abductions. His Dad was not implicated after all. He itched for an opportunity to get into the Chamberlain archives to find out who made the mummies.
Warszawa walked with Dan & Peter to their car.
“How well did you know Roberto Hajla?” Warszawa asked.
“Beyond his being Baxter’s assistant nothing.”
“We’ve checked with Quintex Human Resources & they have no record of him. He wasn’t on their payroll. Baxter claims Roberto was assigned to him by Quintex.”
“Hmm? You think Baxter isn’t telling the truth?”
“Or perhaps Roberto wasn’t.” Peter said.
“How is that?” Dan asked.
“Do you know who I am beyond what I’ve told you?”
“No! You holding something back from me?”
“He might have something there.” Warszawa said. “Do you think Baxter checked out Roberto when he arrived saying he was sent by Quintex?”
“I … I really don’t know. Knowing Baxter all he checked out was Roberto’s body not his credentials.”
“Immigration has no information on him either.” Warszawa said.
“An illegal?” Dan said.
“Perhaps. We’re running his information through international data bases. Keep in touch.”
In the car Peter asked. “Boss?”
“I’m part of the task force.” Dan said.
“Did you warn everyone before you interviewed them than anything they said …”
“I wasn’t investigating them as suspects.”
“Yes but …”
“No buts unless we talk about your butt.”
“Sometimes I want to think about something else, to talk about something else. It’s as if my life has become this one thing.”
“Is there a beach around here where we can fuck?” Peter asked.
Dan had to pull the car over to get control of his laugher. While they were stopped there was a call from Baxter.
“Hey Dan you must be super happy to beat the Force to the punch once again. This latest development will make Cold East the top show in North America. No other program that Quintex had produced had received such buzz before it premiered.”
“I wish I could share your enthusiasm. It is now a real case. The remains make it a real murder investigation. Are you sure we’ll even be allowed to run the show?”
“Don’t you worry about that. Legal is already working on that with the task force. This guarantees a second season.”
“Kilpatrick will be trilled to host two hit shows.” Dan said.
“Now Dan don’t be like that. QTel will make you an offer you can’t refuse. Plus your name in the title. Dan James’s Cold East.”
“Thanks but no thanks.”
“You gotten a better offer already! Let me remind you that your contract with us might get in the way of that.”
“Baxter no one has made that sort of offer to me. Though someone did suggest a … Picture of Delight.”
“What the fuck are you taking about.” Baxter said.
“Yeah a show about photographing food.”
When they got back to the Waterside Jeremy was sitting in the bench in front of their cabin.
“I’ve come to take the two of you to dinner.” He said.
“It’s been a long day …” Dan started.
“Yes I’m aware of what’s been going on. Between Baxter & the Quintex back in Toronto it’s been like an ants’ nest flooded with water.”
Dan looked to Peter. “What do you think?”
“It’s bound to better than a donair, sir.”
“Yes.” Jeremy said. “It’ll be better than a donair, sir.”
“Okay. Okay.” Dan said. “Give us time to change.”
“Yes … uh … sirs.” Jeremy said. “I’ll wait right here.”
“Sir?” Peter caught Dan’s eye.
“No need Jeremy. You might as well come in & get out of the public eye.”
“Yes.” Dan opened the door. “Get in here.”