Picture Perfect 41

Picture Perfect 41

Stephane quickly introduced Dan and Cliff, the camera person for this interview, to Mark Forestier the father of Madeline and Gerrard the first children reported missing. 

“I’ll let you two talk a few minutes,” she said. “We won’t really start shooting for about half-an-hour. Brenda is still setting the kitchen for the real interview.”

As she left Cliff stayed behind with his shoulder mount camera aimed at Dan and Mark.

“She said we’d be alone?” Mark asked.

“Yeah, yeah. But this is to get you used to being on camera. After awhile you’ll forget I’m here. Trust me.” Cliff explained.

Dan shrugged apologetically. “They never say what they mean. You’ve lived here all your life?”

“Yep. Place has been in the family since I don’t know when.” Mark began. “Once was more of it though. You know parts got sold off over the years till this is all we have fer now. Was the biggest daily farm in d’region. Now all been took over by the big corporations. You from around these parts?”

They walked around the yard with Cliff following them.

“Born in Cape Breton.” Dan said. “Moved to TO when I just a kid.”

“So yer da’s from here too?”

“Yes. My mother too. She was a McPhee from Dartmouth. Then she met my Dad.”

“Marie was a Beaudroux. Her mom was from Dartmouth.” Cliff sighed. He pulled a small flask out of his coat pocket and took a long swig. “She died a few years back. Never got over the loss of the kids, you know. Even though we had another she was never the same. Left me, you know. Blamed me. Wasn’t my fault, you know.”

“I understand.”

“You understand? What the fuck do you think you understand?” Mark looked away from Dan. “Weren’t your life, was it.”

Cliff camera followed Mark’s head as it turned. He nodded encouragingly at Dan. 

“No. I just meant that it must be hard to lose something, someone like that.”

“We’re ready for you.” Stephane called to them from the back door.

They went into the kitchen.

“This such a great room Mr. Forestier. Big and bright. You must cook up a lot of great meals in here. I hope you don’t mind we moved a couple of things around for better lighting.”

She sat them at a wooden kitchen table with a bowl of apples in the middle of it. There was photo album beside the bowl.

“I made you fresh coffee. Should be better than Tim’s. Hope it isn’t too strong. Now you don’t have to drink it, really, but take a stop every now and then to bring it to your mouth. It’ll make this more casual. How does that look?” She asked Cameron, the other camera man. 

“Good frame.” he replied.

Dan sipped the coffee. He glanced over his shoulder and on the kitchen counter behind them there was a couple of green glass vases placed to catch the sun.

Mark fidgeted in his chair, took another long swig from his flask then settled down.

“Place never look this tidy.” He said. He leaned over to whisper to Dan. “Stopped usin’ it much of late. Only when Stacy comes over.”

“Stacy?” Dan glanced down at his notes. “Right your  other daughter. The one you had after …”

“Yeah, we though it might help us get over things but it didn’t. Nothing helped.”

“Okay,” Stephane said. “We’re all set. Don’t worry about pausing to think we can edit all that out to make it smooth. You don’t even have to make sense.”

Dan took another sip of his coffee and looked to Mark for a sign that he was ready to start. Mark smiled back.

“Thank you for letting us into your home Mr. Forestier.”

“I wish I could say it was a pleasure but no one likes to reach back into the past for unpleasant memories. But if this’ll help solve what happened I’m willing to try.”

“How old were the children that summer?” Dan asked.

“Mad was nine and Gerrard was seven. They got along so sweet, you know, fer bother and sister, that is. She’d help with his school work even though he didn’t want help. We thought she was going to …” he hesitated, “to grow up to … ” he wiped a tear away, “ … to be a school teacher.” He started to get out his flask, stopped and took a sip of his coffee.

“Take your time.” Dan said. He wondered about the nature of memory. How would his Dad have described his relationship with his sister Linda? All he could remember was how distant she was when she wasn’t tormenting him.

“You have some photos of them?” Dan asked. “I’ve only seen these pictures.” He put copies of the Unsolved Cold photos on the table.

“That’s the sundress Marie made for her. Man she loved them flowers. Daisies.” He looked Dan in the eyes. “That was taken just a few days before … whatever happened happen. They had been down at Ma G’s.”

“Ma G?” Dan consulted his notes. 

“My mother’s sister. She owned the farm over by ours. Raised me. More like a grandmother than an aunt. My mother died giving birth to the one after me.”

“They visited Ma G often?” Dan asked.

“They were always going over there when they could. Marie and I had so much to do around here, you know, we really didn’t have that much time to keep on eye on them every minute. Not that we ignored them or neglected them you know but we’ll … we let them run loose. That’s how I was brought up around here too you know. My folks had ten kids so there was always an eye on us anyway. You come from a big family?”

“No. There was just me and my sister. Unlike your Madeline, she hated to mind me. Came a time when she couldn’t even be bribed to baby sit me.” I was so happy when that torment ended.

“Ma G was happy to do that. It wasn’t that far a walk there fer them. Short cut through the orchard took less than five minutes to get there. The road’ll take twenty minutes, at least.”

“They didn’t take the shortcut that day?”

“Nope. If they had it might have been different, you know. But the rain had made the stream into a swamp. Heavy rain always did that. It’s since dried right up. Thanks to … well, that’s a different thing isn’t it. How modernizing hasn’t really improved things much.”

“About that day.” Dan saw that he was going have keep this interview on track. “You didn’t realize they were missing right away?”

“No, they often stopped overnight with Ma G. So often nothing need to said. Ma G didn’t take to the phone. Christ it was the 80’s right. Anyone without a phone was just stubborn. If she had one we might have found out sooner. Different these days with cell phones and such.”

“Right.”

“Once we knew that wasn’t here we got ahold of Dave down in Shediac.”
“Dave?” Dan looked at his notes.

“My cousin Dave Forestier. He was in the RCMP there. They come over right away. Asking us lots of questions. Made me feel like they thought we knew more than we were saying. Making it seem it was our fault, or that we had done it. You know. Did away with our own kids.” He punched the table and coffee mugs bounced into the air. Dan kept his from spilling over. 

“Sorry about that, still gets me steamed up. Dave was no help to us. Said those trained from the mainland felt they knew better than locals. I figure if they had done started a search faster instead of asking us questions and questions they might have found them. Gerrard was so excited about getting back to school you know. I can’t remember me ever being that excited about school. I hated it.”

“They didn’t find anything?”

“Nothing. No one saw them on the road or the highway or anywhere. It was as if those kids never existed. Except they did. I … it wasn’t until those Cold Canada people got in touch with me that I even looked at these.” He flipped open the photo album.

“Not that I forget what happened but after decades life goes on. Marie never did get over it though. She blamed me for trusting Ma G too much. What was I supposed to do? They’re both dead now too. Ma G died of grief I’m sure, before the end of the year. She never forgave herself. Never.” He got up from the table, yanked out his flask and drank. “I need to take a break.” Mark left the house. Cliff followed him.

The camera lights shut off. Ma G’s death was not in Dan’s notes. He knew Marie had died but there was nothing about the family after the disappearance. The part of picture you never get to see – where the people go after the wedding photo shoot.

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Picture Perfect 40

Picture Perfect 40

Dan sat in the lumpy armchair beside the desk. The blue leatherette cooled his back. What should he do first? He pushed his shoes off. That was better. Close the door? Nope, better leave it open in case the Corporal wants back in. Unpack more? They wouldn’t be there that long. In fact the first three interviews allowed for overnight stays and nothing more. No time unpack until they got to Stellerton. A shower seemed in order, but that would have to wait until he was sure the division was finished with him for the night. 

He went into the bathroom. The towels were scattered on the floor and the ceiling tiles Sergeant Tyler removed where in the sink. At least there wasn’t a big black foot print on the toilet seat. The motel sofas were lime-pine by Tarsly. They didn’t smell too bad.

He plugged the powercord back into the laptop. No use running the battery down. The flash screen for the motel wifi came back on. Did he have to re-buy the high speed? Nope. He went to google maps, put in the motel name, searched for food delivery. 

Only 3 places popped up. One that specialized in donairs? Dumphie’s Donairs. What was a donair? According the restaurant’s page it was something done to lamb – an east coast variation on Turkish dish. Why had he never heard of it before? Was it another of things hidden in his past? If he was going to re-immerse in the east coast a donair was as good a way as any. He place his order. 

Corporal Coster came back into the room. “You know who that was, right?” She glared at him. “I don’t appreciate anyone trying to go over my head to make a fool out of me.”

“That wasn’t my intention.”

“Quintex should be more … forthcoming. Contacting  the Force’s Public relations department would have been a smart move.” she said. 

“Agreed. Not my department. I’m just a hireling.”

“With connections.” she said.

“Your tipster didn’t have access to the whole picture.”

“Perhaps. But thanks to your buddy, Inspector Warszawa, we have more of it.”

There was knock at the cabin’s screen door.

“You okay?”

“Sounds like Sergeant Tyler is getting impatient. Newbie?”

“You could tell?”

“Been one myself. Lots to prove in front of the old hands.”

“Try to keep us posted of what’s going on.”

“Here’s the itinerary for the shoot while we’re here.” He handed it to her. “Subject to change.”

She read it over. “Ambitious. You got the sequence wrong though.”

“You mean the dates of the abductions. I know but that too isn’t my department. I go where I’m told. Their editors will make sense of it all. I’ll suggest they make someone a liaison with the local detachments.” 

“There’s a Dumphie’s here.” Tyler annoucned.

“That was fast. Send him in.” Dan said.

“I’ll leave you to your dinner.” She left the cabin as the delivery man came in.

“Hi! Carol busting another grow op?” He asked her as she passed him.

“Not tonight, Jim. If we need to fill our quota I’ll put a tail on you.”

“Yeah, right. You can’t afford the gas the way I run around some nights.”

“See you around Mr. James.” She let the screen door slam shut.

Dan paid for the food. 

“Something goin’ on out here?” the delivery man asked. “They don’t drop in for no reason.”

“Ask the Corporal next time you see her.”

The delivery man frowned. “Be that way.”

Once he was alone Dan levered the door shut and locked it. He untucked the bed and turned it down to air it out. There was nothing in his email to reply to. He went to his Lyfend storage to look over the pictures his camera had taken while he was in transit. 

The Capture/Send feature was one of his favourite features of this model. With that setting he could have it automatically take pictures every five seconds to five minutes and send them directly to his storage dropbox. Hands free photography.

Depending on where he pinned the lens it was as good as any bodycam and less obtrusive. Plus his storage box was bottomless.

The shots at the Pearson were clear but cluttered with people. He sorted them all into the No file. The ‘No’ meant they wouldn’t show up every time he checked his storage. The same with his flight though he did keep a couple of the handsome father and son getting into and out their seats a few rows ahead of his. 

His eyes quickly tired so he stopped looking at things. They were still recovering from the set to he’d had with John Kilpatrick at the Depot. He had used the drops the ophthalmologist had prescribed a few times then stopped. The swelling had done fast enough and his vision was clear. The hour of resting his eyes in the dark was impossible. He’d been lucky to manage ten minutes each time. 

He could never find a place where an hour of silence was possible. The apartment at the Depot would have perfect if no one knew he was there. He refused to shut his cell phone off in case he missed a call for his lawyers who had been dealing with Sanjay’s demands for some sort of palimony when he realized Dan was serious about ending their relationship and pulling the plug any financial support. He had another lawyer handling the split of James Photos so the Depot and the FairVista location were independent of each other in all matters. 

The naming of names was one of the contentious issues. Linda wanted full rights to James Family Photographers and Equipment. Dan was willing to drop the James from the Depot signs and advertising. He’d been calling it simply The Camera Depot’ for last couple of years. But he wasn’t willing to change the name of his personal business -Daniel James Documents and Photograph Restoration. If she had the right to capitalize on the James name for her business so did he.

It was the contractural complexity of the Lyfend relationship which named him as their sole North American agent at the FairVista location. FairVista was focused on exclusivity which Lyfend offered. The FairVista lease was with James Family Photographers not Lyfend. Did he need yet another lawyer?

He could smell something in the room & remembered his Dumphie’s Donair. He took the styrofoam box out of the bag. The pita wrapped sandwich was in silver foil which he unrolled & took a bite. He had to hold it over the box to keep the sauce from dripping on his laptop. 

Not too unpleasant he thought stepping into the shower. He’d have another. Maybe he’d enjoy the shoot more than he expected.

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Picture Perfect 39

Picture Part 2

Picture Perfect 39

Balancing his luggage Dan held his point and click camera to his eye and took a couple of pictures of the cabin door. The door opened slowly to the electronic key with an audible creak. Inside Dan put his suitcase down to shut it. The door wasn’t cooperating. He slung off his shoulder bag and put it on the bed and went back to the door. He had to lift it slightly by the knob to fit it into the door frame.

Just what he needed, another sign that things weren’t going to go so smooth. At least he was here in New Brunswick as the Waterside Motel. He opened his shoulder bag and took out the production schedule for the five weeks of the shoot. Places, distances, dates, times, drivers, motels, b’n’b’s, with no time-out between each. He was glad he’d had his breaks included in the contract.

Baxter talked big money but spent small. At least Dan wasn’t saddled with booking his own motels. If he was, they would have been half-a-star better. He was only here for two nights so he didn’t even bother unpacking more than his interview drag. Those sport coats couldn’t show a wrinkle for the HD camera. The pale blue shirt would need to ironed. That wasn’t in his contract.

He put his camera on the bedside table. He got his laptop out of his shoulder bag. Swallowed the last gulp of orange juice in his travel mug. At least this place had wifi. He turned on the laptop and while it was starting, found the outlet to to plug it in. He had to choose: did he want the TV or the laptop plugged in? At least there was a desk to put it on, too bad it faced the wall, while the TV merely blocked half the window.

The motel splash page came up first. There was free wifi but if he wanted higher speeds he would have to pay more for it. It would be charged to his room. As Quintex was paying for that, he opted for the highest speed.

There was a knock at his door. “You decent?”

It was Baxter himself. Dan pulled the door open. “Come in. I was just getting started.” He gestured to his laptop.

“Utilitarian,” Baxter glanced around the room. He breathed deeply. “Stuffy. Damp.”

“Lives up its name – Waterside Motel.”

“There’s a difference between being water side and being in the water.” Baxter brushed the quilt before sitting on the bed. “You ready for tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Interview is with the Forestier’s. I’ve read the background stuff. They have some photos I’ve never seen before. I’ll look at them to see what I might see in them. I have the set of questions your researcher has provided. Plus a few of my own. It’ll take more than a hour to get through them all you know.”

“No problem as long as you stick to them. We have to …”

He was interrupted by a loud knocking at the door.

“You order a pizza?” Baxter asked.

Dan stepped to the door when it was shoved open.

Two RCMP officers strode in.

“Daniel James?” A thick set, tall female glared at him. 

“Yes. What can I do for you Corporal?” Dan recognized her rank patch.

The other officer reached for the laptop. “Couldn’t wait for the filth, eh.” He muttered squinting at Dan then Baxter.

“John!” She silenced him. “I’ll do the talking.”

“What’s this about?” Baxter stood.

With all of them standing there wasn’t much space left for them to move in the tiny room. She handed Baxter a piece of paper. “I’m Corporal Coster. This is Sergeant Tyler. From the local RCMP detachment. We have a warrant to search the premises and to seize all electronic devices on a charge of attempting to purvey child pornography.”

“What!” Dan said.

“You heard her, asshole.” The male office nudged Dan out of his way as he left the cabin with the laptop. “I’ll take this out to Sergeant Palmer.”

“Then you’ll be impounding the truck, too?” Baxter asked.

“Truck?” she asked.

“Yeah the remote studio we brought with us.”

“Studio.” The male officer exploded. “You ….”

“There must be some confusion,” Dan said. He took out his wallet and flipped it open to his RCMP consultant badge.

Coster looked at the badge carefully. 

“We have a report that members of a child pornography ring were setting up shop here.” She said.

“Where did you get this report from?” Dan asked.

“I’m not at liberty to divulge that.” She handed him back his wallet. “We’ll be taking that.” She nodded to his cell phone. “What?” Baxter said. “We start filming tomorrow.”

“Not our problem.” The male officer said. “We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“You can’t …”

“Read the warrant,” Coster cut Baxter off. “We can and we will and we have.”

“There must be some misunderstanding.” Baxter said reaching to stop her.

“Don’t.” Dan pulled him back. “Corporal … ”

“Listen,” she turned to face Dan. “I don’t care who you know or what you think will impress me.” She gave him back his wallet.

Dan’s cellphone rang.

“Hello,” The male officer answered it. “I’m sorry he can’t speak to you right now. … No! I won’t take a message …” He turned the phone off. It rang again. A different ring. Dan recognized it as Sanjay’s ring.

“Popular man.” The male officer said. “I guess your buyers network knew when you’d be getting here.”

“Of course people knew when we’d be getting here.” Baxter said. “I can give you a list starting with my pre-production manager who will be calling to confirm locations for tomorrow. We’re from Quintex Studios.” He attempted to hand his business card to the Sergeant. “Surely you’ve heard of us?”

“Look,” Coster glared at him. “Your cover story has been blown already. Just because we’re small town doesn’t mean we are stupid.”

“There’s a difference between being stupid and being wrong.” Dan said. “But finding out how wrong you are is up to you.”

The room phone began to ring.  Dan automatically reached to answer it. The male officer grabbed it up before Dan could get to it.

“Hello. Hello. They hung up.”

Dan read through the warrant. “You only have access to my laptop not my cellphone. And certainly not Mr. Baxter’s. The truck is also off limits. Not mentioned here.”

“It’s good for all electronic recording devices.” She said.

“That’s not what it says.” He read aloud the section that set out the perimeters of the warrant. “That’s pretty clear. Only the laptop in this cabin is liable for seizure. I’ll have my cellphone back, please.”

Reluctantly she gave it back to him. 

“Sergeant check the bathroom.” She said to Tyler. “That is listed is it not?” she said to Dan.

“Right. The premises is your. The laptop is yours to search. The warrant doesn’t even extend to my luggage.”

“Okay. So you know about search warrants.” She said.

“Who is the division captain?” Dan asked.

“Brian McKillop.” Coster said.

“Look, you can’t do this,” Baxter said. “We’ve been planning this for months now. I have all the permits, waivers from the families, you know, real documentation, not some trumped up goose chase …”

While Baxter was talking, Dan sent a text to Warszawa with McKillop’s name a question mark and a 411, a code for ‘contact this guy’.

“It was there.” Sergeant Tyler came out of the bathroom with a spindle of dvd’s. “They were in the ceiling where we were informed they’d be.”

“Shouldn’t you be wearing gloves Sergeant Tyler,” Dan said. “You’ve already contaminated the evidence.”

“I’ll contaminate you, you fucking perv.” Tyler pushed his face close to Dan’s. “You make me sick.”

“How did that get there!” Baxter exclaimed looking at Dan.

“Don’t ask me. I had barely opened the door when you came in, then these guys were right on your heels. Right?”

“You bet.” Tyler said.

“The tip told us your accomplices were here earlier in the week to leave this for you for pick up.”

“So, I guess you’ve checked to see who has rented this room recently?” Dan asked.

“Not yet.”

“Get back to me when you’ve done all your homework then.”

“Let’s check out this guy’s cabin.” Tyler said.

“Better get a warrant for that,” Dan said. “Yours only covers my laptop. It said nothing about other rooms. But we’ll let that pass, for now.”

Another officer came into the cabin with Dan’s laptop. 

“It’s clean.” He put the laptop back on the desk.

“Clean? Are you sure Palmer?” Tyler said. “He must have a flash drive somewhere.”

“You can search where you want Corporal.” Dan dumped the contents of his shoulder bag on the bed.

“They cannot,” Baxter exploded. “They …”

“Listen Baxter,” Dan said. “Why don’t you go back to your cabin and let me deal with this. There’s nothing …”

“You call these nothing?” Tyler shook the dvd’s at him.

“I’ll take those.” Sergeant Palmer took the container out of Tyler’s hand. “His laptop doesn’t have a dvd drive.”

Baxter laughed nervously. “What the fuck. I guess you’re right Dan, I’ll let you handle this.” He started to leave the cabin.

“Hold on.” Tyler followed him. “What’s this truck you were talking about.”

“In the parking lot.” Baxter said. “You can’t miss it.”

Tyler pushed past him and left the cabin. Baxter went after him. “Call me later.”

“Do you have any idea of what’s going on here?” Corporal asked.

“I don’t know.” Dan said. “I got off an airplane less than two hours ago.”

“Who knew you were coming here?”

“According to Baxter, millions of people.”

“Millions?”

“The reality show we’re making has been promoted on the History network for at least a month. Plus cross promo.”

“The one about the missing children?” she rubbed the back of her neck.

“Yep. I am that Daniel James.” He reached out to shake her hand.

“Christ, I never put that together. I’ll ask that again. Who knew you’d be here? Here at the Waterside?”

“Good question.” Dan had been too caught up in what was going on to wonder why it was going on. “I didn’t know what motel we’d be using until I got the plane in Toronto this afternoon. I didn’t even have time to tell my office manager or even Sanjay.”

“Sanjay.”

“My … lover.”

“Right. So only the production people would have known.” She asked. “Why would someone want to do something like this?”

“Someone who doesn’t want the show to go on.”

Sergeant Palmer came back into the room. “I did a quick look at random dvd’s and there is adult material on some of them – but as far as I saw no children were involved.”

“That fucking queer made a pass at me!” Sergeant Tyler stormed back into the room. 

“What?” Sergeant Palmer said.

“Yeah! He said I look good in a uniform and he was sure I would look better out of it.” 

The Corporal covered her mouth as she began to laugh. “Tyler! Tyler! What am I going to do with you.”

“What are we going to do with these pervs?” Tyler made a fist. 

“Nothing for now. It seems we have been misled. But …” she became serious. “Mr. James we will be keeping an eye on all this. I can tell when something isn’t right.”

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Picture Perfect 38

Dan waited ten minutes for FairVista shuttle that dropped him off at the nearest subway station. One change, a streetcar ride and he was back at the Depot in less than an hour.

Maybe it was time to make the store completely independent of each other. The corporation originally only included the building and the Depot business. He’d have to check into that before the end of the business year so each could start a fresh in the new. 

The Depot was busy when he got there. They were having a night of quick sales. Fifty percent of certain items for only an hour. Different items every hour. Much like the trade-in sale, when customers felt they were saving big, they were willing to spend more than they intended. It was always rewarding to see the shelves empty and sometimes even to sell out on an item. The sort of sale that could never happen at FairVista. This sort of sale was considered déclassé at the high-end mall. The lease allowed for a Boxing Day sale with discounts of no more than 10%. Rather than give a discount his sister opted for a ‘we pay the tax’ special. Evading tax was in their millionaire clientele’s DNA.

An electronic bell sounded the time to change items. Some items had deliberately limited qualities that the display board would tick off as each was sold. 

Dan enjoyed the retail end of the business. Talking to people, slyly getting them to commit to more than they intended. He didn’t sell them extended service contacts, that he left to Ushio. Dan knew most people ever used them so he felt bad palming them off on them. If there was any repair work to be done it would fall to Ushio anyway.

The last sale bell went off at 10 p.m. This was the extra hour of savings where floor samples or slow products that had proved to be hard to sell ,but kept off the floor till now would be brought out. All offered at sixty per cent off. They’d lose a bit of money on some but that was always made up for by accessories like the perfect camera bag, or spare computer cable in case you lost the one that came with the camera.

His eyes began to ache by then and he was happy when the ten minute bell rang. If you hadn’t paid for your item by eleven you’d have to hope it showed up next year. They allowed an extra five minutes grace period.

Dan was setting the back security for The Depot by eleven-thirty. Bushed by the long day he wasn’t all that eager to go home to Sanjay. The rift in their relationship showed no sign of being healed over the past week. He half-hoped Sanjay wouldn’t be home.

“In a hurry?” A voice came from the nook behind him.

Dan spun around in a fighting stance. There had been more than one assault in that back lane.

“Who is it?”

A figure stepped into the light. It was Peter.

“Fuck, you trying to give me a heart attack?” Dan said.

“Sorry, sir.” Peter kept his eyes down. “I haven’t seen you at the Carafe the last couple of days.”

“I’ve been pretty busy. How is your Dad?”

“He’s well. I was afraid you were displeased with me, sir.”

“Save sir for the bedroom” Dan looked at the shadow on the nook. Was this a good time for catching some real action on the security camera. He glanced up at the camera. His eyes ached, his feet were tired from standing. No they’d do that another night.

“The Depot was super busy tonight.” Peter said.

“Too busy.” Dan rubbed around his eyebrows.

“I was afraid you were avoiding me at the Carafe. You’re usually in a couple of times a day.”

“Things got hectic.” He didn’t want to admit to Peter that he was right.

“Yes, Mr. James.” Peter stepped further into the light. “I … can I give you a lift, sailor?”

“Got room for this?” He lifted his bike briefly.

“We can find out.” Peter’s grin almost made Dan change his mind about getting nook footage. He had never posted himself on the V-Files.

With a little wrestle the bike fit into the back seat of the car. He was about to get in when a nearby parked car started and its headlight came on. Dan recognized it as it pulled up behind them and the passenger window wound down. The driver leaned out. It was Sanjay.

“I thought I’d come for you.” Sanjay said. “It looks like you are already been well taken care of.” Sanjay stopped the car and got out. “How are you tonight, Peter. It is Peter isn’t it?”

“Uh … yes.” Peter glanced from Dan to Sanjay. “But now that you are here you’ve saved me a trip.”

“Right.” Sanjay began to pull the bike out of Peter’s back seat. “My car is a better fit for this. We bought it with bikes in mind. Didn’t we, dear.”

“Cool,” Peter said.

Dan could see how bewildered Peter was. He was just as unsure of how to handle the situation.

“Thanks for the offer Peter.” Dan said.

“Any time Mr. James. At least any time I have my Dad’s car.” He got into his car and drove off.

“His Dad’s car.” Sanjay sniggered as he got back behind the wheel. “Sounds like a line out of some high school movie.”

“I suppose it does.” Dan got in the car. “But waiting outside in the dark to spy on what’s going on is out of an equally bad movie.”

“I was not spying. I had just pulled up and was waiting for you to come from the laneway with your bike when I saw Peter go back there. Is this were you usually meet your tricks?”

“I do not meet tricks period. Any where.”

“Yeah sure. With all the surveillance equipment ready for your next V-Files home movie. You do have quite a collection there. Mostly hetero though. That is a bit disappointing. I never suspected you might be bi. You aren’t bi are you?”

“Does it matter?”

“Not really. Here we are.” Sanjay pulled into their drive. “Home, not so sweet, home.”

They went into the house.

“I’m going to turn in.” Dan said.

“Any developments on the Quintex project?” Sanjay rubbed Dan’s shoulders.

“The proposal gets presented Monday morning to the Quintex people. If they like it, which is possible, then it’ll be a go.”

“Much of a time commitment?”

“You want to turn house into an air b’n’b while I’m out of town?” Dan joked.

“No. I’ve been so caught up in the restaurants I’ve lost track of what is going on in your half of our life.”

Dan moved away from Sanjay and sat on the couch to take off his shoes. He reached for the remote but changed his mind. He was too tired to relax in front of the TV. He pushed himself up front he couch and started up stairs.

“How long are we going to go on like this?” Sanjay stopped him at the bottom of the stairs. “We can’t live like miffed room mates like this for much longer. Avoiding each other in the morning.”

“If you aren’t here when I get up I can’t be avoiding you.”

“You know what I mean.”

“You not working up country this weekend?”

“I decided not to, not while we have things that have to be worked out.”

“Things like your buy in?”

“No!” Sanjay pulled Dan towards him.

“I’m tired. Really.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t have said that to your … what is he?”

“Your competition.” Dan laughed, as he shrugged out of Sanjay’s grip.

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Picture Perfect 37

Something his mother said about the little attic brought to mind the crawl space between the roof and the third floor. When they lived there is was were they kept the Christmas stuff. He couldn’t recall what they did with it during the renovations other that add a layer of insulation. Was there anything up there? What about those corners in the basement that never got used?

He cell rang.

“Daniel?” it was Baxter.

“Yes.” He had expected this call, the one in which Curtis explained why the bonus was not ready yet.

“What is your bank branch?”

Daniel gave him the location.

“Perfect. Meet me there in twenty minutes.”

“I’m walking out the door as we speak.” He shut his phone and turned to Sandy. “Call from the bank. I’ll be back in an hour.”

Curtis was there talking with the manager when he arrived.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Curtis said. “I wanted to things do quickly. Mrs. Herrick has everything ready for the transfer. Once you have signed these.”

The first was a contract with Baxter Bits for the $12,000. The second was a contract for the actual series with Quintex, which would require an additional signature.


“This one won’t get fully signed until they’ve decided they want the show. The 12K is yours regardless.” Curtis explained.

Daniel sorted through his various bank cards deciding which account this would into. It wasn’t Depot money, it wasn’t exactly Restorations money either. Nor was it personal. He opted for personal. He would check with Dell and Strong as to where they thought it should go.

The transfer took a few keystrokes to input pin numbers and it was done.

“That was easy.” Curtis said. “But not painless.”

“When do we meet with Quintex?”

“They were waiting for this to be done.” He waved the first contract. “I’m going there now. They will be in contact with you.”

“What about John Kilpatrick?”

“That’s in the hands of lawyers now.” Curtis shrugged. “Not renewing Unsolved for another season was not my decision. I merely passed that news along to him. Which, as you know, he didn’t take well. Speaking of which how is the eye?”

“Recovering as expected.”

“Good. There isn’t much of a make-up budget for the show. None in fact.” Curtis laughed. “Can I buy you a drink? To celebrate.”

“No, thanks. I have a business to run and you have some paper work to deliver I believe.”

Dan dropped into the Carafe when he got back. He looked around for Peter but didn’t see him.

“Hi Jill. The usual for my crew.”

She began to pour the the various ‘usuals.’

“Short handed today?” he asked. “No Peter?”

“He’s looking after his Dad.”

<>

Dan locked the front doors of the Depot. He leaned against the back counter and looked around the shop. The business that his Dad had built, that his sister had helped built and that he had turned into more than a camera shop. A business that apparently had been built on porn. Just like retail on the internet. Without the need for credit card security there would be no PayPal.

There was a knock at the glass doors. It was Inspector Warszawa. He gestured for Warszawa to come to the back as he didn’t want to go through front security again.

“What brings you here this late at night.”

“I was hoping to catch you before you closed. We had a weird break in the old photos case.”

They went up the back stairs to Dan’s office.

“Weird in what way?”

“All the photos are portions of pictures by Albert Block.”

“The western photographer?” Dan said.

“Right. He did those gigantic panoramic things.”

“I know. It took a pack horse just to carry the camera. I never figured out he got up some of those mountains.”

“Not my problem. But all the scenes were small sections of his pictures made to look like somebody’s travel photos.”

“Simple enough to do. But those pictures were real. I mean the ones that were from the sixties were actually from the sixties.”

“Someone couldn’t be using old film stock, period paper to reproduce them like that today?”

“Possibly but there’s a … patina quality to the finish that is from real aging. No chemical can do that.”

“What we’re dealing with then is someone who has a cache of these pictures that was created sometime in the sixties? I don’t get it.”

“Isn’t there anything else that connects these incidents?”

“They seem random. Victoria, Winnipeg, St. John’s. How much more random can you get.”

“Not so random. They’re all provincial capitols.”

“Fuck! I … no one even noticed that. You sure you don’t want to be reinstated?”

“Too late for that. You couldn’t afford me anyway. Trust me.”

<>

Dan arrived at FairVista five minutes before his Lyphend presentation. 

“Sorry I’m late.” He said to Linda. “They should call it Troubled Transit out of Commission.”

He demonstrated the medium range camera and the new self-framing option that would suggest a better angle for your shot, and the background damper that would allow your main subject to be in better focus. A feature that could be reversed, if one chose. The travel mug got the usual hum of reaction, particularly when he had the Cuppa’s barista fill it.

He was gratified to see that at least four of the cameras were sold. Sales always put Linda in a good frame of mind.

He had been caught off guard to see that Cuppa’s had been installed so quickly. It looked as if it had always been in that corner of the shop. Three small black marble top tables each with two chairs stood between the espresso bar and the front window. Even the floor had been changed with a non-slip slate tile that was flecked with glitter.

It had been fitted out with a Gaggia that looked like it as out of a space station. Beside it was a smaller single cup machine. There were no paper, Styrofoam coffee cups to be seen. Instead there was a range of ceramic mugs in different size and colors, each with Cuppa’s trademark on one side and ‘Linda James Photos’ on the other. 

“The Gaggia is custom made for the location.” Linda said proudly. “Beside it is a Clover. Put’s the Classic to shame.”

“Fast work,” Dan replied. “Considering it was … what less than two months ago you made the agreement.”

“They had their eyes on FairVista for a year or more before they approached us.” She walked to her office.

“By ‘us’ you mean ‘you.’ I knew nothing about this until they happened by the Depot one morning while I just happened to be here.” He followed her.

“I didn’t know they would do that. At that point I thought they were merely making inquiries.”

“Right. Well, speaking of making inquiries, I was in to see Dell and Strong earlier this week.” He sipped from the travel mug and watched to see if she reacted all all.

“Oh?” Her eyes flicked over to Cuppa’s and then back to him. “Another payroll hitch?”

“Why I was there isn’t the point, is it? Very slick. Did Mother know or did you spring it on her as well. No, wait, you made her think I was already on board.”

“You saw the agreement?”

“They showed it to me thinking I already knew about it. Almost put out my other eye. I appeared to have signed it sometime in December of last year.”

“December fifteenth to be exact.” Linda was pinching the skin between her thumb and forefinger. First one hand then the other.

“What … I mean …”

“What I’d like to know is how you got me to sign off on it.”

“Dan, it was laughably easy. You were never one to read every page one it comes to contracts. Top page doesn’t always match the bottom page.”

“Fuck! The projections for next year?”

“Right first time.”

“You realize that makes the contract dubious to say the least. I can imagine what a good lawyer would do with that information.”

“This is between you and me and I’ll never admit this to anyone.”

“You just did.” He sipped his coffee.

Her eyes widened. “You recorded this with the Lyphend!”

“It was laughably easy.” Dan smiled. “If you had come to me to begin with I probably would have been on board. Though when I saw the hasty mess Cuppa’s made on Queen I was shocked to see what they accomplished here.”

“Dan you know how difficult it was to convince you to even open this location.”

“Dad dead. Renovations at the Depot ran over budget and you wonder why.”

“Your workshop ran over budget.”

“A workshop that has since paid for itself. We’re just above the surface here at FairVista.”

“Then you aren’t going to do anything?”

“Dell and Strong are having our accounts gone over by a forensic accounting firm. There better not be any discrepancies.”

“I see.” Linda seemed to sag.

“Is there anything else they might find? The car leasing?”

“No! I didn’t expect you to be so … rational?”

“I’ve had a few days to think. Do I want to damage the James brand over money, deceit and manipulation? The answer is no. But if something more is uncovered I’ll have to rethink. Besides it runs in the family.”

“What runs in the family?”

“Hidden things. Like those sex pics of Dad’s. 

“Don’t tell me you don’t have a stash of porn somewhere.”

“I did once upon a time but the stuff I had wasn’t stuff I’d made myself.” The V-Files didn’t count as porn, did they? “Mom was by to see me earlier this week.”

“What! She left her condo! It must have been important. Health?”

“Nothing like that. You told her about those pictures and she wanted to make sure there were no more. She shredded the copies I showed you. Dad’s secret life may have been why we dashed from the east coast.”

No.”

“The RCMP got wind of it and encouraged him to get out of town as it were.”

“Bullshit. We left bec ….” she stopped herself.

“You do know more about this. Christ! I’m not an eleven year old any more. What could be worse than finding out your Dad was some sort of smut peddler.” He stopped himself from talking about the Montreal connection. If she already knew, he wanted her to talk about it, if not, it didn’t matter if she knew, yet.

“I knew the camera club was more than a camera club, if that’s what you’re fishing for. Sometime Dad would let me and some of the other kids I knew join in but there some nights when it was adults only. Said it was because we teens we so unruly. 

“One time I snuck back to the store to get a glimpse of what they were doing.”

“And.”

“It was some woman in a two piece bathing suit. Skimpy. That’s all I saw. Nothing like what you showed me but well I wasn’t that surprised to see it went further. At the time I freaked out.”

“When was that?”

“About a year before we moved?”

They walked back down to shop level. 

“You sound Daddy when you get serious.” Linda said.

“Then I guess he had reason to distrust you as well.” 

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Picture Perfect 36

Dan was surprised to see his mother come into the Depot. It had been some years since she had visited the site. The last time was the grand reopening of the renovated store. She was wearing a well-tailored, two-piece jacket and skirt in a pale mauve, darker mauve shoes and a small pillbox hat with a bit of veiling. 

She looked around, picked up a few cameras and peered through them. Outside of her apartment she looked smaller.  

“Mom! What brings you here?” Daniel hugged her. “Still sporting the Jackie look I see.” She hadn’t dressed up like this even for the opening of the FairVista location. He glad to see her looking so well. After his Dad’s death she spent a year of not caring about much. It almost took an intervention to get her to go a hairdresser.

“The place is well-organized.” She kissed him on the cheek. “It looks prosperous.”

“So do you.” Sandy said.

“You remember Sandy.” Dan said.

“Of course.” She kissed Sandy on the cheek. “You’ve lost some weight.”

“This is Ushio Tanaka.”

“Yes, we met at Linda’s wedding. The solar man?” 

“Solar?” Dan said. “Oh right! I forgot our foray into solar energy. Panels were too bulky and the profits too low.”

“But we still have some on the roof, right boss. Good to see you Mrs. James.” Ushio nodded to her.

“Care to show me around.” she asked Daniel.

“Sure. We haven’t made many changes here since you were here last. We’ll go up the back way.” Daniel lead her through to the back of the shop.

“Smells good back here.”

“That’s the Carafe.”

“I’m surprised any of you are so thin with such an enticing smell.” She opened the back door. “We used to have a little garden back here.”

“Yeah, but now that’s where we keep the city garbage bins till we put them in the lane way.”

She stepped back into the building. “I can remember you stomping up and down these stairs to go to school. I see you are still locking your bike to that railing.”

She went up the the next landing. “On rainy days I could hang laundry back here. See there’s one of the hooks for the line still here.”

Dan opened the door to his office. “This is where I do my own work. The RCMP stuff.”

She walked in and glanced around. “A man’s office.”

“The workshop is upstairs.”

She followed him up.

“Your bedroom was in the corner.”

“It’s still there. We kept it and the bathroom.”

She looked at the equipment, computer stations and projectors, magnifiers.

“It’s like a space ship, isn’t it.” She walked to the window overlooking the street. “Yes, you’ve done your Dad proud. He was sure he lost you to the law. That’s what he called it ‘the law.’”

“It was more like the Goddamned law if I remember correctly.”

“Right. Linda tells me you found some old photos of Richard’s.”

“The family stuff? Loads of Christmas stuff of us kids, that I barely remembered. A few old super 8’s as well. I’ve had them all digitized and burned to cd. I can get a copy for you. But I must warm you your hair-do’s go through some very drastic changes.”


“I was always trying look up to date.” His mother laughed. “Betty at the salon would say ‘what next’ as if it were a challenge.”

“We always knew when you’d had it done too. The smell of the spray was hard to miss.”

“I needed it to keep the hair hard. I’d love to see those old movies but Linda said you showed her some …. nudies?” She coughed lightly.

“I did.”

“I want them destroyed.”

“Huh?” She had said destroyed so casually Dan wasn’t sure if had heard her correctly.

“I thought I’d found them all. When you father passed I away, I found every one I could and got rid of them. Negatives and all. I was sure he would have wanted it that way.”

“You did what?”

“He thought I didn’t know but I knew from the start. Developing pictures late at night, telling me it was a rush order, but it was easy to find out what was going on.”

“How long had it been going on?” Dan asked.

“I don’t want to discuss it any further Daniel. I just want those photos. I want them all destroyed. I thought I had found them all. I went through everything here, at the house. He had them hidden in the little attic. A big box of them.”

“Were they all Dad’s work.”

“I didn’t care. I put them through the shredder, burned them. Bleached the negatives. It was sick. Taking them was sick. Publishing them was sick.”

“Publishing them?”

“There were magazine he’d sell them to. I’d see the cheques. He said it was his nature pictures for calendars. I believed him but a copy of one came in the mail. I saw it. I knew. He didn’t even try to deny it. He was proud. He said they were art.” She took a deep breath. “They were smut.”

“Calm down Mom.” The more she spoke the more he knew he wasn’t going to let these pictures be destroyed. He didn’t think they were art but now they were a part of his father he never knew.

“You shouldn’t have gone digging into those things.” she said. “It never does any good to dig into the past.”

“I wasn’t digging for anything. I was looking for those pictures of me and Timmy, remember. Because of that TV show. The other pictures had been stuck to the bottom of one of the bins.”

“I guess I sound like some old judgmental biddy.”

“No one is going to see them now anyway.”

“Your sister did.”

“That was to find out if she know anything more than I did about them. She reminded me about Kodak Fun Club.”

“You know about that too?” she sat in one of the arm chairs in front of his desk. “I really hoped all the would disappear once he had died. I never wanted you kids to know about this.”

“It was bit of a surprise. But it’s really no big deal. Not by today’s standards, anyway. It was more unexpected than anything else.”

“Can I see them?”

He took out the few he had shown Linda. She glanced at them, shook her and then tore them in half.

“Mom!” He didn’t move fast enough to stop her.

“Are there any more?”

“No! That was all.” He was glad he hadn’t handed her the originals.

“I hope so. It was hell knowing about it all these years. Kept it a secret. He assured me he never, you know, did more than take the pictures.”

“Yeah.”

“I didn’t know he was selling them to magazines. I was the one mailing them and never knew.. It was to some studio in Montreal. They would somehow get them to the States.”

Daniel remained silent. She knew a lot more about this business than he would have expected.

“He said they were selling copies of his prints. Those pictures of lighthouses, storms. He was good at that. I didn’t know it was …”

“He kept it hidden alright.”

“He assured me he wasn’t … ”

“What?”

“That he wasn’t going to do anymore. When we moved here after him getting caught.”

“What! Caught doing what?”

“Taking those pictures. He wasn’t charged or anything. That’s when we left. He was afraid. No one else, but me, was ever to know.”

“And the models. They know.”

“Right. I don’t think they knew what he was doing with our photos.”

“Our?”

“My God I didn’t mean to …” she began to weep.

“You posed for him?” The image of his mother in stockings, garter, bra and wild a whip left him breathless.

“It was all sort of fun at first. We were just fooling around and he said it would be for his eyes only. They were nothing. Not like this. Bathing suit shots, me drying myself after a bath. But when I found out about Montreal I said no more. No! No! No! I felt like a tramp. I saw the magazine with my photos in it. There. It made me sick.”

“You were in one of those magazines?”

“It wasn’t like you think. I was never … naked … never.”

Dan didn’t know how to calm her. A hug seemed out of place, insufficient.

“He was a good husband. He was good to you children. Always. That’s why I stayed. I loved him. He wanted us to stay together. So when I said move, we moved.”

“I’m beginning to understand.”

“And with those children going missing. It scared him. Sacred me too.”

“It was that weekend in Stellarton that he got found out by someone?”

“Yes. Someone called the RCMP and they went to where they were taking those pictures. You know a lot of his work was with children, school kids, they said they’d ruin that for him if he stayed. I warned him that it would happen. That he’d get caught.”

“Who called?”

“They wouldn’t tell him.”

“It was you, wasn’t it?”

“Me! No.”

Dan believed her. 

“Now you know why these pictures. All of them. Have to be destroyed. I don’t want his memory ruined.”

“Don’t worry, it won’t be.”

She stood and hugged him, her tears wetting his cheek. “I knew you’d understand.”

He didn’t want to tell her how hard he found it to understand. Keeping secrets for so long puzzled him.

“I best be on my way. If you find any more of these please promise you’ll destroy them.”

“I will Mom. I will.”

He walked down the stairs with her and hailed a cab for her to get home. If she hadn’t been so distraught he would have asked her about her signing on the Cuppa’s agreement. Another time.

“She seemed a little upset.” Sandy said as he went back into the Depot.

“The old homestead got to her.”

“That’s right I forget your family lived here at one time. It has changed a lot.”

“Yes. Nothing stays the same. Even the past can get a renovation.”

“Good thing we have pictures. They never change.”

“I don’t know about that. They don’t change but I’ve found what we see in them does.”

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Picture Perfect 35

Picture Perfect 35

The office space that Curtis Baxter occupied for his company was’t what Daniel expected. It was a second floor walkup that shared the front door with a first floor sandwich shop. The wooden stairs needed painting, the faux marble walls needed to have their faux freshened up. The black lacquered door with ‘Baxter Bits’ on it in red glitter letters stood out from the peeling wallpaper of the hall. There was a glittery red mat in front of it.

The suite took up the front half of the floor with a view of the street. A tiny reception area was barely large enough for a desk. Opposite it were two black lacquered wooden chairs. A sparkly red lacquered door with Curtis Baxter on it was dead centre of the wall. On the walls were posters for various TV shows that Dan assumed were Baxter Bit productions.

There was no one at the receptionist’s desk however. He knocked at the door.

“Enter.” Boomed from behind it.

He went into the office

“Daniel James! I never expected to see you here.” Curtis practically leapt over his desk to shake Dan’s hand.

“Nice set up you have here.”

“I’m usually on the go so I didn’t really need anything more elaborate.”

“Here’s your coffee, hun.” A short Asian woman in a very short skirt bumped the door open. “Oops. Sorry!”

“That fine Lin.” Curtis said as he put the coffee on his desk. “This is Daniel James.”

“Pleased to meet you.” She bowed and exited.

“What’s this about ACTRA rates? As I understand it, you are asking me, I’m not asking you. If you want me, and I am certainly interested, what is it worth to have me attached to this project?”

Curtis gulped. “I … uh … until we are sure Quintex wants the show I can’t make a real offer. That’s why I mentioned the union rates. You would get at least that much.”

“Okay. What are you willing to offer right now to get my participation? A signing on bonus, separate from any salary for doing the show.”

“I thought you were such a push over. Man, oh, man, I was wrong.”

“When your old host got shoved into my eye I stopped being a push over.”

“We had no idea that he’d do anything that stupid.”

“I don’t doubt that. When you’re usually on the  go it’s easy miss what’s going on. I looked over your initial proposal. I won’t be available to travel until after July 6.”

“We can accommodate that.”

“I don’t really care if you can or can’t. You have a figure for me?”

“Five thousand signing bonus.”

Daniel remained silent.

“I’ll make it six grand.”

“Try that again and be more precise.”

“I can manage seven, only if you come with me when I make the presentation.”

“Why is it so important that I be there?”

“Jeremy Moxham will be there. I saw the two of you at Kevin McLeod’s circus. He has the final say and I know he likes you.”

“So that’s it.” Dan stood. “My credentials didn’t matter to you at all did they?”

“Yes, they did. That’s what brought you to our attention. I didn’t know you knew Moxham till the party. Honestly. You and I were in contact before that. Right?”

“Yeah. Yeah. We’ll do a bank transfer for the seven or do you want me to wait till the cheque passes before the pitch? Because I’m not in till that cash is in my account.”

“What if I don’t sell the show?”

“Not my problem is it? But I have full confidence that you could sell cameras to the blind.”

“We can do the transfer tomorrow.”

“I think we have a deal.” He shook Curtis’s hand.

  On the street his knees where shaking so badly he went to the nearest cafe ordered a latte and sat there sipping it. Apparently Kilpatrick’s punch had more of an effect than he expected. Seven k! Not a bad day’s work. Now if he can deal with Linda this well he’ll be happy.

<>

He could smell grilling as he went up the sidewalk to his house. That meant Sanjay was on the patio. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Sanjay was not there after their conversation in the morning.

He dropped his shoulder bag on the couch, pushed his shoes off to let his feet breathe and went out to the patio.

Sanjay turned from the grill. “Ah, perfect timing. I hope you are hungry.” All he was wearing was a lungi loosely tied around his waist. No shirt, no shoes, and from the bulge, no underwear either. “Another five minutes and these would have been over-cooked.”

There were two steaks over the coals along with slightly charred red and green peppers. 

“There is a salad in the fridge. Bring it out and we can eat here.”

“Aren’t you afraid of singing your nipples.” Dan said as he put the salad on the patio table.

“Not when I have you to sooth them.”

“What’s come over you?” Dan sat at the table.

“You said you loved me.” Sanjay put the plates on the table and sat. “I know many married people who are not in love.”

“My point exactly.”

They ate and chatted about the weather, about Dan’s eyes, Sanjay’s work, each avoiding more conversation about their relationship.

“There were a couple of calls for you.” Sanjay said as he cleared the table. “You shouldn’t leave your phone turned off all day. People call here.”

“Not many have the house number. So it must have been Warszawa?”

“Yes.”

“And not Linda.”

“Right.”

“Mother.”

“Yes and someone who didn’t leave a name. The number was unknowable according to call display.”

“I have ways of finding out. What call display doesn’t know doesn’t mean I can’t find out.”

The landline rang.

“Maybe I won’t have to resort to drastic measures.” He went into the house to answer the phone. “Hello?”

“Mr. James?”

“Yes.”

“This is Phil Kaplan from City News. I was wondering if you had any comment on John Kilpatrick’s allegations?”

“Allegations?”

“From the press conference he had today.”

“No. Did he mention that he tried to put out one of my eyes.”

“He claimed that he was bounced from Unsolved Cold when he refused to allow Curtis Baxter to sexually harass him and that now Baxter is hiring you, someone who was once charged with sexual harassment.”

“What the fuck!” Dan shouted. “What the fuck!” He wanted to slam the receiver against the wall. “It’s true I’ve been approached by Curtis Baxter for a … project. Not to host Unsolved Cold. As for the rest I have nothing to say.”

“I see. Can I get an exclusive interview you.”

“Not at this time.” He hung up poised for it to ring again. It didn’t.

“What was that all about?” Sanjay asked.

“Publicity for John Kilpatrick.”

“Ah. Let’s just turn all this off for now.” He turned the ringer off.

Sanjay took him by the hand and lead him back out to the patio. “The hot tub should be the right temperature by now.” He undid the knot on his lungi and stepped into the tub. “You need to relax. What are you waiting for?”

Dan quickly undressed and got in, sitting opposite Sanjay.

“It’s hot alright.” he said standing up. “My balls weren’t ready to be boiled.”

“I am sorry.” He leaded forward to kiss Dan’s balls then sucked on his cock.

“That isn’t cooling them down.”

Sanjay leaned back. “I forget you are not as used to the heat as I am. This feels like a humid night on the balcony of my parents’ home.”

Dan lowered himself slowly into the water. 

“Have you had time to give any thoughts to Sylvan’s proposal.” Sanjay asked. “He wants my answer soon.”

“I have to speak with the family.”

“They do not have to sign off on it, do they?”

“No, but they have a right to know before I make such a big decision.”

“What if they disapprove?”

“I’ll deal with that. I have to get the house appraised first anyway. Then I’d have to repay mother too.”

“Repay?”


“She made the downpayment for me. I had just left the force and wasn’t yet reestablished in the family business. Not that I ever really left it but … it’s a long story. That’s one of things Linda hasn’t forgiven me for. She helped Dad with the store while I was in training and fully expected it would be hers one day.

“No one expected me to leave the force so soon and then when Dad died she expected to inherit the larger share.”

“Ah, family. Nothing like it.”

“What if I can’t get the money?”

“There is always India. With what I have saved now and a little help from my family I could open my own resort, an amusement park if I chose.”

“Are you serious.”

“Yes. I am at the age where I want to build more of a life for myself. You own this house, you have a business, two of them. All I have is a job, and a reputation. I own only the clothes on my back and of course my knives.”

“Is that what the let’s get married is all about? So you would own what I own?” Dan asked.


“No, that is not how that works. I know. We would need an agreement before marriage.”

Dan got out of the tub and sat on the edge with his legs in the water.

“Do you think you would be happy living in India again?”

“Perhaps. I now have the vision of how to make my own opportunities there.”

Dan got completely out of the hot tub and wrapped a towel over his shoulder. “That whack in the head may have damage my eyes but I am seeing somethings much clearer than I did before.”

“What to do mean?” Sanjay got out of the hot tub.

“All this … the ‘I’m over you sleeping around’ … the dinner … it’s all to sweet talk me into the loan for you. Isn’t it.”

“No. I am not asking for a loan.”

“A gift? Or if I don’t I’m forcing you to move back to India?”

“That is not my intention.”

“That is what I see.” Dan grabbed his clothes and went into the house.

Sanjay followed him.

“Dan!” He turned Dan around to face him.

“I’m tired. It’s been a long day. I have decisions to make.” He rubbed along his eyebrows. “I have pain to numb.”

“I have no wish to go back to India.” Sanjay said. “I don’t want a life without you. When we first met I didn’t believe men could care as we did, share as we did. But it seemed the longer we were together the harder it was for me to feel we were part of each other’s lives. I hoped you would change about marriage as the laws changed. But you have never changed. I doubt if you ever will. That is my pain. It is one I don’t think I can ever change, even if I leave you.” Sanjay began to weep.

“Then we have a basic philosophic stand-off. I don’t see a solution. I do know one thing, emotional blackmail isn’t going to change my mind.”


“Emotional blackmail.” Sanjay shouted.

“You may not even realize you are doing it. Just like that guy in the force who thought I was harassing him by answering questions about the gay lifestyle. I didn’t realize I was harassing anyone.”

“I’m sorry you see me that way.”

“I am too. I’m going to bed. This conversation is over.”

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Picture Perfect 34

Picture Perfect 34

David Dell was waiting for them at reception when they went into his office.

“Nice to see you, Daniel.” 

“Good to half-see you, David. You remember Sanjay?”

“Oh, yes, of course. Come into my office.”

Dan always liked the comfy client chairs at Dell and Strong. He wished his Depot office was large enough for them.

“What can I do for you?” Dell asked once he was seated.

“I’ll let Sanjay tell you.”

Sanjay explained about the partnership deal, the money needed and what Sylvan brought to the deal as well.

“Half-a-million isn’t an insubstantial amount.” Dell leaned back in his chair. “So, Daniel, were you considering this as a personal loan or as an investment by James Photo.”

“Basically, I want to know if I was in a position to make this sort of capital outlay.”

“Let me check your records.” He pulled up a some files on his computer. “Oh!”

“What is it?” Daniel asked.

“First as a personal … investment. You might swing it with your house as collateral. You’ve done a fair amount work on over the last couple of years and your area is doing exceptionally well on the housing market.”

“Good.”

“But as James Photo, because of the way the corporation is set up, for such a substantial amount you would need all three of the partners to sign off on it. Even then, until the other deal is fulfilled that wouldn’t be possible.”

“Other deal?” Daniel asked.

“The one with Cuppa’s. Your sister obtained a line of credit for twenty hundred for that.”

“Two hundred thousand?” Daniel asked.

“Yes. Surely she told you how much, when you signed off on it?”

“No, she didn’t. Do you have the agreement so I can refresh my memory.”

David went to the door. “Deena can you bring me the James Family Photo file.” He waited at the door until she returned with them. “Thank you.”

He opened the folder, quickly flipped to a document and turned so it faced Dan.

“You see there’s the amount.” He flipped it to the last page. “There’s your signature. Right under your mother’s.”

He looked at Sanjay. “I’ve never seen this document before.”

“That’s a very serious allegation Daniel.” David said. 

Dan’s mind was reeling. He rubbed at the pain around his eyes. “What’s the date on it?” he asked but he didn’t hear the answer.

“I’m sorry. I’m not feeling so well.” He mumbled. “I need some fresh air.”

Sanjay steadied him as he stood.

He took a couple of deep breaths. “I may be mistaken. I do recall co-signing some contracts for Linda at about that time. Let me speak with her. I’ll be back later in the week, with her, if needed.”

“Of course Mr. James. What about the other matter.”

“Now that I know where I stand financially Sanjay and I have some things to discuss.”

“Thank you Mr Dell.” Sanjay shook David’s hand.

They went out to the car. “I will drive.”

“Not yet. I have to walk and breathe. You wait here.”

Linda wouldn’t forge his signature on a document. He must have signed it and forgotten or not realized it when he was signing the FairVista invoices. Surely she didn’t forge his approval. After all he was a documents specialist. He could find out if it was his signature. Then what? Press charges?

He went back to the car and got in.

“Are you alright?” Sanjay put his hand on Dan’s and squeezed it gently.

“I think so. It’s pretty clear though that with the house I might be able swing a mortgage for you. I’m not sure I want to do that though.”

“I understand. I didn’t realize your business was so complex.”

They drove home in silence. 

“I’m going to hit the sack.” Dan said. “My head is throbbing.”

“Should I give you a massage. That will help you sleep. Align your chakras for clearer thinking?”

“Tempting but no thanks. I won’t be up for much longer once I take a couple of pain killers.”

“There is always tomorrow.” He kissed Dan long and hard. “Now you relax for awhile while I get washed up. I’ll be in to tuck you in about ten minutes.”

Dan plodded up the stairs. What sort of scheme was Linda trying to pull anyway. It wasn’t as if he would have not signed on if she had approached him. They both had a talent for getting their way with the other. The thought of even confronting her about this made him sick to his stomach.

He took his clothes off and and sat on the edge of the bed. The air was cool and he shivered. What he wanted was Sanjay’s hands to warm him up. To take all this worry and pain. Mortgage the house?

He stretched out with his hands behind his head.

Sanjay came into the room.

“I was trying to figure out who these belong to?” He flipped a pair of underwear at Dan. 

They slipped off his chest and fell to the floor.

“Must be mine.” Dan groped for them.

“Neither of us owns Aussie Bums.” Sanjay said. “Unless you’ve been shopping while I was gone.”

Fuck they must be Peter’s!

“Maybe someone named Hamid does though.” Sanjay went to the guest bedroom and shut the door.

The next day Dan was getting to leave the house for his appointment at the eye clinic. His pain meds and sleeping pill had overrode the stress of the previous day. His mind was cluttered with various scripts where he said this and did that and Sanjay or Linda or Curtis would nod and back down slightly crestfallen and fully apologetic. He knew that talk often never leads to a solution and that the less he said would give people the rope they needed to hang themselves.

Sanjay was on the phone when he came down to the kitchen. Dan poured himself a cup of coffee.

Sanjay ended his call. “Mother is very excited about the anniversary and my visit. She sends her regards.”

“Fifty years is an achievement.” Dan said.

“Quite right. Sleep well?”

“As well as my meds allowed. You?”

“What do you think?” Sanjay sat at the kitchen table. “I was restless thinking of what has to change, between us.”

“Did you come up with anything other than these mixed signals.”

“How can you be so .. so … placid? I’m disappointed that you turned out to be like so many gay guys. Sleeping around at the drop of a hat.”

“He wasn’t wearing a hat.” Dan wasn’t going to be baited into defending his actions. “I was.”

“It isn’t that funny. To me.”

“It isn’t to me either but I did what I did. I’d probably do it again, whether we were married or not.”

“Don’t start in on your assimilationist bullshit. It’s just an excuse to to act out. It’s pathetic.”

“No more pathetic than your judgmental condescension.”

“Whatever.” Sanjay sighed sadly. “I hope you wore protection.”

“We didn’t go that far. And by the way, it wasn’t Hamid. One Desi at a time is more than enough for me.”

“I know it wasn’t some Desi guy.”

“Oh? Aussie Bum not Punjabi style.”

“Dan, you aren’t the only one who knows how to check the video security logs.”

“You did that?”


“I couldn’t sleep. I had to know who it was. I came down and went through them. A little young for you and rather pale too.”

“Yes to both. We never did discuss the age gap.”

“His face wasn’t on camera long enough for me recognize him.”

“It doesn’t matter who.”

“Must have been someone you knew. Maybe tricked with before.”

“You sound pretty sure of that.”

“You’d never bring a stranger back to the house. You’re too paranoid for that, I know you. So it had to be someone you were familiar with. I’d’ve guessed Silver’s assistant but he isn’t as tall as this guy. ”

“You’ve been watching too much CSI.”

“But,” Sanjay took the underwear out his back pocket and smelled it. “By the aroma of sweat and caffeine I’d guess someone who works in a coffee shop.”

Dan grabbed the undies from Sanjay. “What’s the point of this? You’re trying to turn this into some you-betrayed-me scene and that isn’t going to happen. So I had sex with someone. Here in the house.”

“In our bed?”

“Sanjay get over it. I haven’t ‘tricked’ as you called it, with another man for years, not once you moved in here.”

“Oh, so for the first couple years you were getting your dick wet whenever you could?”

“No more than you were!”

“Me.”

“When did you stop seeing Harold? Before or after you moved in here?”

“Harold was … well, he wasn’t some teenage trick. You knew about him when we met.”

“Not that you were still fucking him”

“It’s that kid at the Carafe.” Sanjay snapped his fingers. “I thought he looked familiar.”

“So it is.” Dan took off his house slippers and put on his runners.

“You are old enough to be his father.”

Dan went to the hall to make sure he had what he’d need for the day in his shoulder bag. “Should I take my iPad?”

“I don’t care. We were …”

“No. You were …. whatever. I have to get a move on. I should be home for supper. You’ll be here?”

“How can you be cold?” Sanjay asked.

“Frankly, Sanjay either you’ll stay or you’ll go. Or do you just want another chance to line up my chakras for a mortgage?”

<>

He caught the Queen streetcar. One down and two to go, Dan thought. Confronting Linda could wait till his regular Friday at FairVista. He texted Dell and Strong that he would drop in to re-read the Cuppa contract. He texted Curtis next to find out what progress there was on the cold case project. Funny how having one eye forces you focus on one thing at a time. Fewer distractions.

He got off at University and walked up to the the clinic. Dr. Grey was pleased with his progress and suggested he could use the eye for short periods of time as long as he kept it away from bight lights or glare.

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Picture Perfect 33

In the morning he called Dell and Strong to follow up on his email. He was able to get an appointment to see one of them at 3. If Sanjay was serious about this partnership Dan wanted to make sure it was feasible.

A courier came to the door with the proposal from Baxter. He flipped through it. Eye See would entail a six episode arc of one hour shows, each devoted a one of the missing children, and one to review all the findings. He was to examine documents and photographs while he interviewed members of each of the families. 

The shoot would start in late June or early July too take advantage of the ‘scenic’ locations and possibly attract some provincial tourism investments.  There was an initial itinerary of dates, locations that they would be following once they secured consent from all the families. They could shoot around lack of consent by reexamining newspaper clippings of the time and local people’s memories.

Dan sorted through the papers looking for a contract of some sort but there was none. What good was a proposal if it didn’t say how much they were offering to pay him? 

He looked in the envelope and there was one last page that got gotten stuck. It was a handwritten letter from Curtis.

“Dan –

Here is the basic package. Financial details to follow. Perhaps you would interested in a co-production and end up with more than just the standard ACTRA fees.

Let me know what you think

Curtis.”

What were standard ACTRA fees? Crap he was going to need a show biz lawyer to guide him through this shit.

His cell rang.

“Hi babe.” It was Sanjay. “I’m should be home in about an hour. Had to stop for a coffee.”

“Great! I’ll be here with eye patches on.”

“Nothing more?”

“You’ll find that out when you get here.”

“Tease. Bye.”

That meant Sanjay would be home by noon. They’d have a couple of hours to discuss the restaurant proposal and even a make out session. No, this wasn’t to be that sort of reunion. The memory of Peter’s glowing butt cheeks got him hard.

He cleared up the food containers that he’d let pile up over the week. He washed the dishes he’d been neglecting. The flowers Curtis had sent were still where he had put them. They could go into the composter. The vase he tossed into the trash. Not worth saving or explaining.

He put his bedding and damp towels into the washing machine. He didn’t want to risk any olfactory evidence of his play with Peter. Clean sheets on to the bed – clean towels in the bathroom. Tidy enough but not too neat either. 

His cell rang. Call display told him it was Curtis.

“Did you read the proposal?” 

“Yes.”

“What do you think of the title Eye See?”

“I hope it’s a working title. You avoided the important issue.”

“You want your name above the credits? Daniel James’s Eye See? That’s co-pro territory.”

“Threatening to make me a household name isn’t going to get you anywhere. Direct answers will.”

“I can’t help it. I get juiced by new ideas and project and get ahead of myself. My brain thinks faster than …”

“Logic? Practicality?”

“Something like that. But what do you think of the concept, the time line.”

“It sounds doable. I’m not sure I want to spend that much time away from my business though.”

“You won’t have to. It’s easy enough to fly in for each of the shoots themselves. They won’t take more than a day each out of your time. The crew will do the other stuff like location shots and prepping the next location.”

“So that means what? Six days of shoots.”

“That’s right plus whatever we need to do here in Toronto. That shouldn’t take more than another day.”

Dan remained silent.

“You’ll to be paid for whatever research you do.”

“Dan remained silent.

“At your usual rate.”

“What is the ACTRA rate?”

“It varies for hosts, but we’ll offer $2000. for each episode. We’ll be paying for flights, hotels that sort of thing.”

“I’ll want all that in writing. With actual figures.”

“Of course. I’m seeing the Quintex people this afternoon. If you came along it would make it a perfect pitch.”

“I can’t. I already have another commitment.”

“How’s the eye? I’m so, so sorry about all that.”

“I’m recovering. I should be able to play the piano again soon.”

“What?”

“A little joke. I’ll be back to work at the Depot tomorrow or Wednesday.” He almost added ‘I only believe about ten percent of what you tell me Mr. Baxter.’ But opted to keep his doubts to himself. 

“Okay. We’ll talk soon. Bye.”

As he shut off his phone he heard Sanjay pulling into the garage.

“You made good time.” He said as Sanjay came into the kitchen.

“To you perhaps, but I thought I would never get here. Not as bad as driving in Kolkata but still not pleasant. How is this?” He gently touched Dan’s cheek.

“Improved. No real pain anymore. Sore. Only hurts when I look.”

“It is nothing to joke about.”

“If it had been worse I might not be joking.”

They clasped each other, kissing and running their hands over each others backs and butts until Dan pushed away.

“No handy busboys for you in Bobcaygeon?”

“Too early in the season for tender college boys. Besides you know I like them well-seasoned and mature.” Sanjay was pulling Dan’s tee shirt up.

“Slow down.” Dan disengaged. “We have important things to discuss.”

“That can wait.” Sanjay grappled with him again.

“You always use sex to divert my attention.” Dan was glad that after his encounter with Peter his need for sex had been dampened. “Beside the pain meds sort of make me … you know.” He glanced down at his crotch. “I want to to be good for both of us.”

“They better wear off before tonight.” Sanjay grinned. “Or I can’t promise to maintain my restraint.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere. We have an appointment with Dell this afternoon. Before making any decisions about your partnership opportunity we should see where we actually stand financially.”

“So you are seriously considering it? I wasn’t sure you would.”

“When did Sylvan spring it on you?”
They went to the living room and sat on the couch.

“He’d hinted at it a few time but when I mentioned to him that I was considering a move back to India be with my family he wanted to know if I was unhappy with my work here. It came around to him asking if I wanted in on the businesses. He plans to continuing expanding and it made sense to him to have his star chef as more than an employee.”

“It’s about time he realized how important you are.”

“I’d rather be that important to you.” Sanjay got up from the couch and went to the kitchen.

Dan followed him. “Look, I’m willing to help if I can afford it.”

“If you want it/ you’ll knot it.” Sanjay sang.

“Not knot it again. Or are you just after me for my money?”

“You’re joking?” 

“Of course.”

“Good.” Sanjay put away the dishes Dan had left to air dry. “You don’t look like you’ve been going hungry.”

“Just because I don’t cook doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use a telephone. Linda sent a care package over to me. Lots of KFC. I know you can’t abide that in the house.”

“I thought I smelled a deep fried rat when I came in.”

“Of course she didn’t deign to deliver it personally so she sent it over with Hamid.”

“Hamid?”

“He works for Linda. I think is last name is Ranj … Randapati?”

“Ranjit?”

“Could be. He says it so fast I don’t want to make him repeat it. A northerner. I could tell by his accent. Not at all like yours.”

“You know a lot about him. Did he serve you more than food?”

“No! I doubt if his jalebi would be as good as yours.”

“What time did you say we were meeting Dell.”

“Three.” Dan looked at his phone. “We better get going. I’ll drive.”

“After that drive home I was hoping you would.”

“So how was the opening?” Dan asked once he got the car into traffic.

“Excellent but tiring. Sylvan asked all the local millionaires to come and rub elbows with some Toronto glitterati. It was like a one of those Tift movie openings. Actors you almost recognize meeting people whose names were once in the news all wanting to be seen with the people whose names and face you knew.”

“You get some autographs?”

“Not from this crowd. Trust me if it weren’t free they wouldn’t have been there. But there were people from Michelin. Sylvan wants another star and will probably get it.”

“Great.”

“Now tell me more about this Hamid.”

“I can’t really tell you much. He lost family in some uprising. He might be from somewhere around … Gurdaspur?”

“Then his name might not be Ranjit.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Some areas aren’t know for their good reputations.”

“All the more reason for him not to want to be there.”

“Those northern guys are notorious lungi lifters.”

“Lungi lifter?”

“Yes. Sleep with anything if the cash is right.”

“He seems genuine enough. Linda trusts him.”

“My point exactly.”

“Are you actually jealous?” Dan parked the car.

“Should I be?” Sanjay said shutting his door.

“Not of Hamid.” Dan kissed him quickly. Maybe of Peter, he thought.

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Picture Perfect 32

“Are you flirting with me?” Dan asked.

“Sort of. It wouldn’t be appropriate at the cafe but we are alone. You can’t blame me for trying. You’re always friendly but distant and I’ve never found a way to … you know to get your attention. Or it was till you … I mean I saw how you … ah … stiffened when I wiped the latte off your face.”

“I was hoping you hadn’t noticed that.” Dan tried to laugh as if it hadn’t meant anything.

“Hard not to notice.” Peter said.

They both laughed.

“Stop!” Dan tried to calm down. “It’s hurting my eyes.”

“Sorry.”

“Not your fault.” Dan opened his door to get out.

When he and Sanjay first met he had been seeing a couple of others guys, fuck buddies, but stopped playing after being with Sanjay for nearly a year. Monogamy was never discussed between them. He’d had a few other encounters more to prove he could than because he wanted to. He was sure Sanjay had done so as well.

Impulsively he leaned into the car. “Peter do you want to wash more than my face? Do you want to have sex with me?”

“Yes.” Peter replied.

“Okay.” Dan pressed the remote on his house keys. “Park it in there. I mean your car.”

The garage door opened.

“Yes, Papi.” Peter said and started the car.

“Papi! What? I’m not your Papi, Papa nor am I your Daddy. Understand.”

“Yes, Sir.” Peter said sternly.

“That’s more like it.” 

Dan went in the front door and through to the garage. While he secured that door he looked at Peter. He had none of the physical attributes Dan found attractive in a man. Peter was too tall, too red, too All-American. Too much like his memory of Timmy.

“Hungry?” Dan asked as they walked through the kitchen?

“No one who works at The Carafe ever goes home hungry, sir.”

“I suppose not, but they do go home smelling like a coffee pot that hasn’t been washed in weeks.”

“You want me to scrub down, sir.” Peter started to undress.

“Yes.” Dan could get used to being called Sir. “Stop.”

“Yes sir.” Peter said with his tee shirt pulled partly over his head.

Dan reached out, pulled up Peter’s tee shirt and caressed his smooth stomach. Peter was so white he seemed to glow.

Dan pulled the tee the rest of the way off. 

Peter stepped back. “You line what you see?”

“Undress.”

“Yes, sir.” He quickly pushed his sneakers off, lowered his jeans and stepped out of them crumpled over his shoes.

Dan stopped him as he was about to take off his underwear. “Go upstairs. Use the bathroom by the back bedroom. I’ll be up shortly.” He tossed the tee back to Peter. “Rinse this out while you’re at it.”

“Yes, sir.” Peter took the stairs two at a time.

Dan put the files he had brought home from the Depot on his desk. What was he getting himself into. More importantly why? Wasn’t being horny reason enough? Was he horny or acting out to get even with Sanjay? Proving something to himself? This isn’t what good queers do. Maybe he was tired of being a good queer.

He undressed as he went up the stairs. Kicked Peter’s underwear and socks out of the way and stepped into the shower with him.

They kissed. Rubbing against Peter’s soapy belly got him hard instantly.

“Thank you, sir. That feels good.”

“You like to wash. Don’t you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Be my face cloth.”

Peter soaped and rubbed Dan with his stomach, his ass, the top of his head. Then he guided Peter hand to his ass, let Peter’s fingers enter his asshole.

“You like that sir.”

“Yes.”

Peter took his fingers out and and pressed his hard cock between the soapy cheeks.

“Thank you sir.” Peter said. “I needed to be cleaned.” With a quick push he entered Dan.

“Oh God.”

Then as quickly he pulled out. “I can’t without protection, sir.”

“Good boy.” Dan said. 

“You aren’t disappointed.”

“No. You aren’t disappointed.”

“No, sir. Definitely not.”

They got out of the shower.

“I’ll dry you.” Dan began to towel down Peter. 

“Thank you, sir.” Perter spread his legs to give Dan access to his cock and balls.

Dan was taken by Peter’s smoothness. Sanjay was a hairball, as were most of the men Dan found attractive. Peter’s cock was cut, not as thick as Sanjay’s but longer. He was tempted to suck it as it got hard but resisted. Tease was control. Peter moaned as Dan nuzzled this ginger pubes.

“Turn around.” Dan dried Peter’s back and worked his way down. “Your ass is so hairless. I hope you don’t wax it.”

“No, I don’t wax it, sir.” 

Dan pushed the cheeks aside and licked Peter’s hole.

“You enjoy that?” he said.

“Yes.”

“Don’t shave anything but your face.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dan stood and slapped Peter ass hard. “You are dry enough. On the bed.”

He pushed Peter flat onto his back and straddled him running his hands along his shoulder and then pinching his nipples.

Peter reached up to do the same.

“Did I give you permission to touch me?” Dan twisted Peter’s nipples harder.

“No, sir.” Peter gasped painfully. “Sorry, sir.” Peter let his arms fall back to the bed.

“That’s better. You like being a good boy, don’t you.”

“Yes.”

Dan leaned forward and kissed Peter, sucking Peter’s tongue into his mouth. He felt their cocks rubbing against each other. When he thought he was gong to come he stopped and rolled onto his back.

Peter shifted Dan so that he was spewing him from behind.

Dan felt the Peter’s hard cock gently pressing his hole.

“You have a condom, sir.” Peter asked.

“Just be still. I want to feel closeness of you on me.”

“I won’t enter you without protection.”

“I know. I don’t want you to. I want to enjoy possibility.”

“You don’t really want me, do you, sir?” Peter asked.

“Look, just because I don’t want to get fucked or fuck you doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying being with you.”

“Then what?”
“I haven’t fooled around much since meeting Sanjay. That’s all.” He didn’t want to go into his RCMP history. “All this stuff about consent has made me leery, you know.”

“Is that why you asked me if I wanted to have sex with you?”

“Yes. Hinting and innuendo isn’t enough. A kiss isn’t permission anymore. An erection isn’t an invitation.”

“I get that. Do you want me to make you come, sir.”

“Yes. Do you want me to make you come?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Straddle me. Perfect.”

With Peter’s knees on either side of his head the Peter’s cock was in Dan’s favourite position for sucking. Taller than Sanjay there was also enough room for him to work at it the way he wanted to. Peter was sucking his cock and playing with his balls and hole.

“I’m going to come. Sit on my face.” He pushed Peter up and jacked himself off with that hole on the tip of his tongue. Two strokes and he came. A moment later he felt Peter’s come splatter his belly. Dan let his head fall back to the bed.

“Can I move, sir?”

“Not yet. I’m enjoying the view.” Dan bit one of Perter’s ass cheeks as hard as he could.

“Ow,” Peter gasped in pain. “Thank you, sir.”

He held Peter’s ass cheeks in his hands and massaged them. A light fell on the crack just enough to illuminate the hole and the hairs on Peter’s balls.

“What time do you have to pick up your father.” Dan asked.

“Eleven, sir.”

“Then you’ll need to be out of here by 8:30 in the morning to make sure you get there on time.”

Peter pushed himself off Dan and sat on the edge of the bed. He grabbed one the damp towels and wiped Dan’s stomach.

“Lake Come-O.” Dan said.

“I … I can’t stay the night. It’s not that I don’t want to but …”

“No explanations. Get dressed.” 

“Are you disappointed, sir.”

“No.” Dan was hoping to avoid opening and closing the garage and resetting the security system to let Peter leave. “Get a move on. You’ll have to work harder to please me properly the next time.”

“Thank you, sir. I’m happy to know there will be a next time.”

Once Peter was gone Dan took another quick shower to wash the come off his stomach.  It was interesting to him to take the dominant role. With Sanjay he was rarely the aggressive one, not that he was passive but Sanjay was the one who initiated sex play with Dan as an eager participant. 

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