Picture Perfect 126
The mood at Carafe was somber. Dan sat at his usual corner table gazing out the window as cars stopped at the street light. Jill was leaning against the glass display case wiping her eye with a corner of her apron. The last of the memorial service guests had left.
“He was a piece of work,” Jill looked at a photo of Peter on the wall. In it he was holding out a coffee and muffin with a slightly manic yet friendly look on his face. “You captured him perfectly in this. Good at his job but … ”
“A typical twenty-one year old.” Dan said. He got up to look at the photo and put an arm around her shoulder. “You know, under the apron he wasn’t wearing pants in that picture. As I took it I told him I wanted only the freshest of his cream in my coffee.” Tears welled up in Dan’s eyes.
“It was a nice service.” Jill said. “I was glad to have the reception for it here. It gave me something to do.”
“Yes. I didn’t realize his family was that large. All he ever talked about was his Dad. I got the impression he was an only child.”
“His sister was … odd.”
“I don’t think she expected to see so many show up from the lgbt community. Frankly neither was I. The last gay funeral I attended wasn’t so flamboyant.”
“You don’t suppose she didn’t know he was gay, do you?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me. If only …”
“I know. We all have if only’s. If only I had been firmer when he begged for time off. If only …”
“I gave in when he was so eager to be a part of things. I didn’t want to … Fuck I’m not really sure what I was thinking at the time.”
“You certainly weren’t thinking anything like this would happen.” Jill wiped the table.
“I thought it was just for a night. He had such …” Dan let his tears drip onto his shirt. “… dreams. I … was a part of them, I guess. He had practically moved into the house.”
“I know. I got progress reports from him. Things he was doing to your garden. How he hoped this was not a rebound. Have you heard anything from Sanjay?”
“Not about Peter. I don’t think he knew how … involved we’d become.”
“Oh! He knew. He didn’t like it but I saw no reason to keep it from him either. Not that Peter and I were that serious … but I guess we were. It happened in such a casual way and keep happening. I figured he’s so young he’ll grow of it and move on. If I had … ”
“What ended it then? After that first time? Why didn’t you?”
“I liked him. He was sweet. I wasn’t looking and there he was. Now he’s gone.” His cell alarm buzzed.
“I have to get going. I have yet another interview about what happened. Zoom with some Australian news show.”
“You’ll get over this. Not soon but you’ll get over it.” Jill hugged him.
“So they tell me.” But Peter didn’t die in your arms.”See you tomorrow.” He hugged Jill.
He circled around the building & entered through the back stairway to avoid his staff. The wooden stairs always reminded him of when his family had first moved into the building. He was doing the interview from his shop office where the lighting was better & the room had no memories of Peter. He quickly set up his new Lifend for the interview. The camera was better than the one in his desktop..
He logged into the AusTV zoom room.
“Good evening Mr. James. Welcome to our zoom studio.” A man on the screen laughed. “I’m Greg Best the tech for this interview. Wow! That’s an amazing picture we’re getting of you.”
“Ah yes the camera that saved your life.”
“Not the exact camera. My old camera has been impounded as evidence.”
“Stop right there Mr. James, save that for Sara. Here she is now. You’ve need Sara Upshaw already?”
“Only on line.” Dan said.
“Hi Dan,” Sara replaced Greg on his screen. “We’re grateful you could make time to talk with us. I’m sure you’ve been inundated with requests.”
“Yes. So many I would have no time to do anything else twenty-four hours a day.”
All the interviews he had done were arranged by QTel with his strict instructions of no more than two a week.
“I was forced to hire extra security for the store to control the demand.”
His recent Lifend lecture at Fairvista was by reservation only & no press were admitted.
“Before we start I know there are some things to cannot tell us pertaining to the on-going investigation.”
“That’s right. I’ll tell you when I can’t answer.”
“Thank you Mr. James. The we’ll start anytime you are ready.”
“I’m as ready as I’m going to be.” After the second interview he knew what questions to expect & what he could say without compromising the trial. ‘How did you feel’ was the hardest to answer because at the time he wasn’t thinking of how felt.
“Good evening. Today I’m talking with Daniel James, or is that Special Inspector Daniel James?”
“Please, Daniel will do.”
“Right. We’ll all seen the footage of you exiting the Nova Convergence Centre. Something I haven’t been able to find out is why you are naked.”
“Oh! If you looked closely you would see I have on my underwear. My abductors undressed me to make sure I wasn’t wearing any hidden camera or recoding equipment.”
“Yet they let you use your Lifend camera?”
“Actually no. One of them inadvertently turned it on & left it running. They didn’t realize that resulted in the everything being recorded with some visuals & all the sound. All of which had been automatically sent to my Lifend account as well as the QTel studio. It was still running when I was … rescued.”
“What can you tell our viewers about the Convergence Centre?”
“It was the church for a sect that handled snakes. usually poisonous.”
“Isn’t it true that it was found that nearly all the snakes were not longer venomous?”
“That’s possible but the ones that attacked me were not.”
“Now the young man that died. Peter …. was he part of the Cold East investigative team?”
“No. Peter was … my boyfriend. He joined me on this trip on impulse. One which I regret giving in to. He really had nothing to do with this case.”
“I’m sorry for your loss. Uh … how did you become aware of these abductions?”
Dan welcomed the return to the story he had told many times. He didn’t bother correcting Sara when she took it for granted that Peter was the boyfriend he was watching TV with when he first saw the Cold Canada show.
“There is some speculation that Winston Chamberlain, whose body was found at the Convergence Centre, was also one of the original abductors?”
“Sorry Sara, I can’t comment on that.”
“How did you feel about being involved in a crusade investigation?”
“The death of two members of your crew. The destruction of Amethyst Court?”
“That was no curse, they were acts of deliberate sabotage.”
“Any connection to the Conversion Centre?”
“None that has been found. That’s all that I’m liberty to say about that.” In fact the RCMP teams had been unable to find out anything more about the sabotage.
“One last question How does all this media attention affect you?”
“To be honest I hate it. I can’t wait for it to be over & done with. When I was approached to host Cold East that’s all I expected to do, not become this week’s media sensation.”
“Not even when “Back to you, John” became such a meme?”
“That’s was puzzling & amusing. The one you should talk to about that is John Kilpatrick. Back to you, Sara.”
He could hear Greg laughing in the background.
“Thank you for you time Mr. James.”
His monitor screen went black.
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