Picture Perfect 130
“Here’s to Baxter’s Bits doing what the authorities couldn’t do. Solve a cold case.” Baxter lifted his wineglass with a wide grin. “Although I must admit they cooperated with us whole-heartedly with this investigation thanks to the presence of our host Daniel James.”
Dan nodded from his end of the table.
They were gathered the QTel studio to celebrate the awards the show had won at the Canadian Association of Broadcasters dinner the night before.
“Before we show you this cut of the final episode I must tell you that we worked day and night to work in the latest stunning developments. For the first time in the over 120 episodes Cold Canada we stop serial killer before she could kill again.”
“For the first time in any reality show.” Harold Carmichael said.
Dan shrugged. For him it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time while not knowing that he was at the right place at the right time.
“Once the trial is over we’ll shoot a two-parter special to broadcast during sweeps week.”
Dan groaned inwardly. The money wasn’t as compelling as the thought of someone else telling his story.
Baxter sat beside Dan. “QTel really wants to developing a whole new series around you.”
The lights dimmed. The theme was a bass and drum mix with fiddles and bagpipes that went into a minor chord then became slightly dissonant. Just enough to create tension but not be grating. The credits faded in and out of a series of photos that also faded in and out. The photos were of the children, the places, of Dan, the Maritime Circus Museum’s Tut exhibit, The Nova Conversion Centre.
Over this Dan was narrating “Join me, Daniel James as I & my team of investigators wrap up the clues in the cases of eight children who vanished without a trace in the summer of 1984.”
“Our trail started in ….” for the first ten minutes Dan gave travelog innocence. Each area was treated as if it was a tourist board promo as he name checked the various points of interest, pieces of historic trivia that the writers had put together. The music remained light almost playful.
It was the template for all of the previous episodes but he had recorded new voice overs in a five-day session. The key was to keep his voice interested in what he was saying. To keep his remarks about the interviews sounding off the cuff and not scripted.
At points he would chat with Jen to sum up, speculate. The writers worked with him to construct a flow so that not too much was revealed at once. He knew how to interview but didn’t know how to pace a narrative.
Knowing what he did now about what happened to the children he wished he been more focused from the start. More than anything he wanted to go back to those families and restore what they had lost. The death of Peter made their sense of loss real to him.
The voice-overs that he found the most annoying to do were the rehash recapitulation when they returned from commercial breaks. He was sure no one forgot that much while watching ads for mouthwash. At about an hour in the episode he talked with Warszawa & Sergeant Coster to get the RCMP input on the case.
“It would a decades before …. would stop expecting their children to come down the stairs for breakfast.
“Our next episode takes us to …. Little did we know that this trail would lead us back to … and bring me face-to-face with the confessed perpetrator of these abductions.”
As with the episodes aired it would end with a dedication to the memory of all the children & also Glaucia Vidro & Roberto Hajla who had died during the filming of the series. A separate splash with a photograph of Peter Eastgate ended the dedications. Dan closed his eyes so he didn’t have to see the picture of Peter.
“Baxter I have to admit this whole Cold East has worked out exceptionally well.” Harold said. “Mr. James I confess when things got so … difficult in the first few weeks I wanted QTel to pull the plug. We were getting pressure from the RCMP, along with libel threats from Chamberlain. Not to forget John Kilpatrick demanding you be removed so he could do the show. It was more legal stress than I felt it was worth. I am sorry about your loss, too.”
Not as sorry as I am. Dan want to leave. He didn’t sympathy or praise he wanted to be alone.
“Thank you. As I said when I accepted the Sinclair no one knew here this trail was leading when we started out. I was ready to call it quits when we got raided by the RCMP in Moncton.”
“We’re glad determined heads prevailed.” Harold said.
“I’ve always wondered why Winston Chamberlain was was killed?” Baxter asked. “Was he in on it from the beginning or what?”
“I … “ Dan checked to see if Robert Warszawa was still there. He was. “What can I tell them Robert?”
“Janis Hadley has seen this as an invitation from above to confess to all she knows.”
“Okay.” Baxter said.
“Winston was one of the senior Elders of the Nova Convergents.”
“What!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“That’s how the church was able to acquire Happy Hippo snakes. He was an easy convert thanks to Cora. That & the fact that his mother was also a … snake handler for God.”
“Wow!” Baxter exclaimed. “Sounds like we’ll need a three parter to really wrap all this up.”
“She had souvenirs from some of the children. The ones that ‘glowed’ she said. All were at their house expect one that a part of her sacred robes. A hair bow from …”
“Dorothy O’Conner.” Jennifer said. “That’s why Dan had the vision of her. It was something from the past that connected her to you & you to her.”
“Interesting theory.” Dan shrugged. He took out his cell to check the time. “I better get going. The movers are taking the last of my stuff to storage.”
“Movers?” Warszawa said.
“Yeah. I’ve put my house on the market. I’ll be living at the Depot while I look to a new place.”
Dan went through the empty rooms of his house. He was both sad to hear the slight echo of his footsteps & happy to leave behind the memories. He checked the closets, the kitchen cupboards to make sure he’d left nothing behind. He had left it to the real estate agency to do a final cleaning & whatever repainting it thought was needed to re-stage the property for fast sale.
He was also glad that the Depot had retained the zoning that permitted mixed residency & that he had painted some of his families original apartment there.
As he was setting the security alarm he heard the shower running in one of the upstairs bathrooms. Had one of the movers accidentally turned it on? No. They’d left an hour ago & it wasn’t running when he was upstairs ten minutes ago.
He stood at the bottom of the stairs & called up.
“Who is up there?”
“It’s me, sir.”