Picture Perfect 127
Dan was stunned to see Timothy Dunlop standing in the reception area of the QTel studios. He was wearing the too large cut-off jeans & torn tee-shirt with the cross-eyed Yoda on it with a shiny sheriff’s badge pinned on it. He dangled straw cowboy hat in his left hand.
“Timmy!” Dan exclaimed before he remembered QTel was filming re-enactments of some of the abductions.
The boy pulled his hat on & reached out to shake Dan’s hand.
“Kevin Stone.” The boy said. “I know who you are. You’re Daniel James, right?”
“Ah … yes.” Dan stepped back. The face wasn’t quite Timmy’s.
“Must be a good to fool you.” Kevin giggled.
“You almost did.” He was tempted of apologize to this duplicate of Timmy for being so angry with him all these years for not writing him not knowing that the real Timmy was dead. He turned away before he started to cry.
“Weren’t you scared by all those snakes?” Kevin asked.
“Yes, but so much was happening at once I didn’t really have time to know how scared I was.”
“Yeah. I get that. Like when I audition I get so scared I don’t know I’ve done it till it’s over.”
“Kevin!” A woman came out of Baxter’s office. “I told you to stay put.”
“Mom! I was talking to Dan. The real Dan not someone pretending to be him.”
“Oh! Hello Mr. James. Lilly Stone.” She shook his hand. “Kevin’s mom. Come on now. Studio D is upstairs?” She asked Dan.
“Yes.” He was glad that he hadn’t run into his younger self.
“Mr. James, Mr. Baxter will see you now.” The reception said to him.
“Dan.” Baxter came from behind his desk to welcome him into the room. “Seems like ages since I’ve seen you in person. You look rested.”
“Easy for you to say. You’re on the safe side of the camera.”
“You’re not the one facing that Inspector Warszawa of yours. The recording on your confrontation with … the snake princess is off-limits to us. How can we wrap up the series without that? Could you have a word with him?”
“I have. Your agreement with the task force was to give them access to everything we discovered.”
“It also says that anything of material interest would be subject to rules of evidence. In other words you can’t reveal that evidence until it is used in court.”
“As far I know the snake princess has confessed to everything.”
“Until a judge has heard the case nothing will be released. They don’t want her to get a lawyer to contest everything & force a retrial because we rushed the system.”
“That’s unfair. We got that confession.”
“We! You mean me. I wasn’t on your pay check when I got that call or when I …”
“Okay! Okay! Legal has briefed me on those details. It wasn’t our equipment. It wasn’t time included in our shooting schedule.”
“Thank of it as a Christmas Special next year once the series has been shown. The criminal proceedings will be over by then.”
“Christmas Special. Don’t be an idiot. A Halloween Special. Midnight in a creepy circus. I can see it now. Snakes wrapped around merry-go-round horses. Dan you are a genius.”
“Is that why you wanted to see me?”
“Well, no. You just met Kevin Stone.”
“Yes. Almost gave me a heart attack.”
“We’d like to shoot a promo bumper with the two of you. After all it was that picture of the two of you that started this for you.”
“Here’s my brainwave. You won’t have to do much anyway.”
“We start with that photo & morph into the real two of you sitting on steps, you’ll age & he’ll stay the same age. You with me so far?”
“Yes. You get up off the steps & walk to the camera & as you do he disappears. We can use some of your previous voice-overs.”
“Sounds almost tasteful, Baxter. How long’ll this take?”
“An hour at most. We’re all set in …”
“Studio D.” Dan shook his head. “You knewI wouldn’t say no after seeing Timmy again. Right?”
“It was a chance I was willing to take. If you’d said no I was ready to sweeten the offer with this.” He handed Dan a cheque.
“Sold the show to another market?” Dan said.
“More than one.” Baxter grinned. “More than one.”
In Studio D they had built a mock up of the front steps of the Wickham Arms in front of a green screen. The background would be a blow up the actual photograph.
The simple set up was done in three takes. He was given a black felt cowboy hat similar to the one in the photo. As he stood we was to remove the hat & drop it on the steps before he walked to the camera. Each time there was a different voice over from one of Dan’s previous work.
The final one started with him saying “For years I dreamed of getting a letter from Timmy. I never forgot him.” He started to tear up hearing himself admit that. After a brief silence the crew applauded.
“Brilliant work Dan.” The unit director said.
“Wow Mr. Daniels.” Kevin came over to him. “How did you find that? I mean I can laugh on cue easy enough but crying is a bitch.”
“I guess you had to be there.” Dan wiped his eyes. “You forget I was there.” He ruffled Kevin’s hair the way Tommy used to do to him. “You were great too.”
Dan opted to walk from the QTel studios to the Photo Depot he was a bit dismayed to see the number of storefronts papered over, some with ‘For Lease’ signs, others with nothing but a clumsy ‘closed’ scrawled on the front window. A couple had been replaced by what Jill from the Carafe called ‘pot holes’ – weed dispensaries.
As he reached the Oil on Silver Gallery Cliff stepped out to greet him.
“Daniel James! is that actually you?” He joked. “Seems like years since I’ve last seen you.”
“I have been busy.” Daniel laughed.
“Yes I know. I’m so sorry about Peter. He was a … bright young man.”
“Thanks Cliff. I …” He wasn’t sure what to say. He was feeling the loss of two loves him life Timmy & Peter. “He’ll be missed. I hear business has been good for you.”
“Ah, yes. The photo exhibition I did for Patrice Yazdi sold out. I was amazed at how many people had wall space for photographs that large. I was almost shocked that people wanted the interiors of abandoned buildings taking up a wall too.”
“You hanging a new show soon.”
“Yes but not for a month or so. Until then I’ve brought some choice pieces out of storage to see if they’ll finally find better homes. Drop by soon.”
“I’d say ‘once things settle down’ but who knows when that’ll be. Take care.”
Dan started up the steps to the Depot when his cell rang. He glance at it & it was from an unknown caller but the number was familiar to him so he answered.
“Daniel James here.”
“Sylvan Papoulias here.”
What could Sanjay’s boss, or where they finally business partners now. He hadn’t thought about Sanjay since he dropped his palimony suit.
“What can I do for you Mr. Papoulias?”
“It was urgent to speak to you. Sanjay would have but there remains a restraining order & didn’t want to go through a lawyer.”
Timmy. Peter. Now Sanjay?