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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Exhausted August 2020

Over the month my TOpoet.ca following is steady at 380! The August WP map shows that my hits have come from around the world. India still tops the list with 3 times as many hits than Canada at number 2. Good to see Japan & Portugal making the top 10. China! Nepal! My Tumblr (topoet) is up by 3 to 290. Twitter (@TorPoet) up to 226 followers. My most popular post in August: Fab Forty 1965 https://topoet.ca/2020/08/02/fab-forty-1965/ 

I’ve posted 33 chapters of Picture Perfect so far, nearly 49,000 words, with 137,000 words yet to be edited. I had forgotten how much attention I had paid to world-building for my hero. Making cuts has been easy & expanding some when needed has been fun. I also love making the fresh weekly graphic & will include them in an appendix to the eBook. 

I’ve been really enjoying the challenge of writing about my Distant Music pieces. Nearing the end that. Doing one week has made the work more steady. Two pieces a week was rushed. Once done I may compel it all into an eBook. I found I am following in famous footsteps: Alan Ginsburg did a similar explanation of Howl for its 50th anniversary. I’m not as self-indulgent as I thought 😦

Amongst the movies I watched in August was the oddly fascinating Paris Belongs To Us – early 60’s underground theatre in Paris – each scene deepens the mystery with layers of information that leads to ? It was as if Kafka met Beckett to write a screenplay. Was stunned by Edge Of The Knife (SG̲aawaay Ḵ’uuna) a Canadian film in Haida. Visually amazing, brilliant performances & a work of art.

Another month of living with the pandemic. Will Americans accept a covid vaccine made in Russia? Since their last presidential election was (made in Russia) I don’t see why not 🙂 More  deflection where entertainment value is more important than progress – where anger over racism is the issue not the racism itself.

Life in Toronto slowly opens up with patios, schools, community centres adapting to covid protocols. Classroom of a certain size allow for 20 or is it 30 students – LCBO spaces of similar size are restricted to 10 people, at a time. The province has made it its priorities clear. I have no children, I don’t consume alcohol so I have no standing in such issues.

Light At the End of the Closet

<>

some days I check my email

every hour I’m awake

in case there’s one from him

but he’s a fucking crappy communicator

and I like it

I like the frustration

<>

I know he isn’t stringing me along

I don’t check my voicemail 

he can’t leave messages

if he calls he has to use pay-phones

he has one of those sensitive jobs

can’t be out

can’t be caught out

I understand this

and I like it

I like the hidden secret

the old-time quality of his closet

of me being totally out of mine

I can slip into his

and not feel the need to force him out

he knows this

he is always apologizing

sorry about an unending work load

that lets him hide

that makes him hide

I like this hiding   sometimes

when he says I’m ray of light

more like a shaft 

I joke

<>

I like this frustration

knowing I can feel it

not need to judge force refuse

be present 

be in my own open life

sort of free

sort of   because

if  I see a crying child

in the street or a mall

I have to back away

gay men are automatically suspect

and can never be proven innocent

<>

so I back away into that closet

I don’t like that frustration

till I check my email

and there’s one from him

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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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Picture Perfect 31

Daniel was falling asleep on the couch when Sanjay called just after 8 p.m.

“Hi Sanj. I didn’t expect to hear from you. How are things for the grand opening?”

“The expected state of confusions and miscommunications. I needed to talk to someone who wasn’t asking me to make a decision that they could ignore.”

“It’s like that is it?”

“Oh, yes. Even Sylvan wants my input.”

“Oh?”

“He’s invited me to become a partner.”

“Great!” 

“I think he’s afraid of me leaving with all his secrets.”

“Sylvan has secrets?”

“Every business has them, Dan. Don’t tell me you don’t have some of your own?” 

Dan thought of his Dad’s saucy pictures.

“Maybe a couple.” Dan said.

“We have to talk when I’m in Toronto Monday.”

“You are coming home for sure?”


“Yes. I told Sylvan I couldn’t make any financial commitments without discussing them with you.”

“Financial?”


“Dan, you didn’t think I could be come a partner for free. It’s not like a firm of lawyers where you work your way up. It’ll cost about five hundred grand.”

“What? That’s a lot of jalebi.”

“Very funny.” Sanjay laughed. “That’s what I’ll want to talk to you about.”

Dan remained silent. 

“Sylvan says with your stores doing so well it would be easy for us to swing a loan.”

“Sylvan isn’t my accountant. We are covering expenses but any further capital outlay will take a few more years.”

“Oh. The house worth at least that much. You’ve paid off the mortgage.”

“Like you said we’ll talk Monday.”

“I should be in town around noon.”

“I’ll book off another couple of days so we can discuss this. I’ll meet you at the Depot. Bye.”

In the years he and Sanjay had been together money had never been an issue. They kept separate bank accounts for personal expenses and pooled their resources for major purchases like the car or for trips. Their accountant didn’t think filing as a common-law couple would provide any tax benefits either so they had never done that. The accountant had also suggest having the house in one name would make property taxes simpler. So it was Dan’s name on the deed.

On paper he was an employee of James Family Photos Inc. even though he was part owner. As Daniel James he was a freelancer who leased space from James Family Photos. As Dan James he was glad to have an accountant who knew how to balance the books for the various enterprises involved and keep everything legal. He would need the accountant’s okay before he would venture into restaurants.

But if Sanjay was talking about partnerships did it mean he’d let go of the notion of moving back to India? That was a good thing. Perhaps they would have more than finances to talk about on Monday.

Monday he was to get that proposal from Baxter. Which of his corporate entities would Quintex be hiring? Something else he’d need legal input on – did he need an entertainment lawyer. Yet another tax-deduction, as if he didn’t already have enough of them. 

<>

Sunday afternoon he had to go further than the back patio. He started out on his bike but peddling with one eye was too much of a logistic challenge for him and his neck, so he walked it back to the house and locked it in the garage.

He made sure the patch over his eye was secure before heading out again. The day was bright. Or maybe just seemed bright after being indoors for so long. He walked over to nearest grocery store and picked up salad fixing. His sister had been generous with meats but even KFC needs a salad to be digested properly.

What he really craved though was the Carafe’s onion bagel. That meant about a forty minute walk in bright sunshine. Twenty minutes if he caught the right combination of bus and street car. He took his groceries back the house, got one of the James Family Photos baseball caps from the hall closet and began the walk to the Carafe.

After about twenty minutes he’d wished he’d worn shorts and put on some sunblock. At least the brim of the cap kept the direct light away from his eyes. A bit of color wouldn’t hurt him.

He was sweating when he reached the cafe. Shorts definitely would have been in order for a day like this. It took his eye a few minutes to adjust to the dark of the cafe.

“Looks like you caught us boss man.”

He recognized Sandy’s voice from behind him. He turned to see her and Ushio sitting at a window table.

“Who’s minding the store?” Dan asked.

“We are.” Sandy and Ushio said in unison. Ushio gestured to the laptop on the table. It showed the front doors of the Depot from the point of view of the main display area.

“Someone touches the door and motion sensor will ring in here and we see them right away.” Ushio explained. 

“I go though here.” Sandy went out the rear entrance of the Carafe and moments later was on the laptop screen. “Can I help you?”

Dan laughed. “I have to give it to you two.”

Ushio shut the laptop. “Our break time is over anyway.”

Dan sat at the vacated table and took his hat, glasses and patch off. He was flushed from the walk.

“You need more exercise.” Jill said putting an iced latte in front of him.

“Tell me about it.” He scooped an ice cube out of the latte and rubbed it around his eyes. “That’s better.”

“Hurts much?” Peter asked.

“Only when I stare at the sun.” Dan said. “What I really wanted was a couple of those onion bagels. I hope there are some left.”

“Lots.” Jill said. “First really warm day and people want ice cream not bagels. I’ll have to get patio ready by the end of the week.”

“You know you’re always welcome to the roof. The solar panels offer great shade in the summer.”

“Climbing three stories is more work than most people want to do even for a great view.” Jill said. “That Baxter guy was here a couple of times looking for you.”

“We talked yesterday.”

“I could see why you were avoiding him. Weirdly pushy. It was almost as if you had told him to get me to tell him where you were.”

“Sounds like him.” The latte ice cube was making his face sticky. “Crap.” 

“How old are you?” Jill snickered. “Never play with your food.” 

He tried to wipe his face off. 

“Here.” Peter took his hand away. “Close both your eyes.”

Dan felt a face cloth gently wipe his face. He instantly got a hard on. He hoped the table covered him.

“Thanks.” He leaned forward to sip his latte. 

“No problem.”

Once he’d finished his bagel and he no longer had an erection to worry about he got up to leave.

“Thanks Jill.”

“Take care. When are you back to work?”

“Probably Wednesday. Sanjay is back from Bobcayjeon tomorrow. We have things to discuss.”

“I can give you a lift home, if you’d like Mr. James.” Peter said.

“I thought you walked to work.”

“Mostly, but I have my Dad’s car this week. He’s getting back from Calgary in the morning and I have to pick him up at the airport.”

“Sure. I have to check in next door though. Make sure the mice aren’t playing too much.”

“You know here to find me.” Peter cleared the table.

It took Dan about twenty minutes to let Sandy know the store was hers till Wednesday. Up in his office he sent an email to his accountants at Dell and Strong Financial Services to see if he could book an appointment Monday. He also got the missing children’s files.

“That was quick.” Peter said as Dan sat back at his table.

“Suvi and I can handle things here Peter.” Jill said.

Once he got directions from Dan, Peter nattered on about The Walking Dead all for most of the drive. He parked in front of the house.

“Thanks Peter. I really appreciate this.”

“No problem, Mr James, really.” He patted Dan’s leg then let his hand linger. “I could do with a cold drink, though.”

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Picture Perfect 30

Sunlight streaming on his face woke Dan. He groped for his wrap-around sunglasses and slipped them on without opening his eyes. For the sun to come in the window like that meant it must be midmorning. 

He went to the bathroom, came back to the bedroom, turned on the cd of yoga meditation music and went through the routine he had learned from Sanjay. The music was more a hum with gentle tabala counting the time.

The door bell rang. Well, he’d have to face up to it sooner or later. He pulled on sweatpants and went down to answer the door.

“Hamid?” He’d expected it to be either Curtis or one of his minions. 

“Good morning Mr. James, or should I say good afternoon.” Hamid was holding a cardboard box in front of him

“Come in.” Dan stepped on to the porch to see if anyone was lurking in their car on street. “My God! Is it that late in the day?”

“It most certainly is.” Hamid took the box into the kitchen. “You sister has sent some food for you. Without your cook to look after your meals she felt you might need some help. Has your cook left you?”

“She was referring to my partner Sanjay. He has not left me but is merely working out of town for a short time.” Was Linda sending Hamid to me as a temptation?

Hamid started to take containers out of the box.

“Thank you but that won’t be necessary.”

“Yes sir. She particularly wanted you to know there was some KFC, original recipe in there. What does it mean, Original Recipe?”

“As a marketing ploy they changed to a supposedly more healthy … coating. I’m not sure what to call it, they dip the chicken in spices before they deep fry the nutrition value out of it. It may have been better for people but didn’t prove better for their profits.” Daniel was amused by the way Hamid stood there smiling and watching as he spoke. “But I suppose you don’t have much of a cultural context for my childhood memories. Let’s just say KFC was a favorite of my Dad’s and ours when we were growing up.

“Thank her for me.” Dan went toward the front door to see Hamid out.

“It is no problem.” Hamid followed him. “I volunteered.”

“Thank you too, then.” He stuck his hand out for Hamid to shake. Dan didn’t want to appear to be cold nor overly -friendly. With men he didn’t know that well it was hard to tell what they might read into a simple conversation.

“Yes.” Hamid stepped into the living room. “I like to see how people live in Canada. In Toronto. In some ways it is so very different. In others very much the same.”

He stopped in front of a large silk panel painted with an image of Ganesha. “This is very good. Sanjay is the artist.”

“No. We picked that up some years ago in India.”

“He is very traditional sort of man. I can tell.”

“In some ways.”

“I must be going back to FairVista. Thank you for letting me see some of your home. I hope to see more of it sometime.”

“Yes.”

“I do not mean to seem out of place, I mean, out of line, but I have no family here. It is very hard to make friends.”

“You have family in India?”

“Most were massacred in the uprisings when I was a boy. I lived in an orphanage and then on the streets for a time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you again.” Hamid opened the front door. “If you wish help with anything please let me know.”

“I will. When Sanjay gets back we’ll have you over to dinner.”

“Thank you. I would like very much.”

Which uprising was Hamid talking about? He’d have to ask Sanjay about that. That is if Sanjay returned.

After he’d put away the takeout food that Linda had sent he relaxed on one of the chaises on the shady end of the back patio. He set his phone timer for twenty minutes. He wrapped a towel he had put in the freezer around his eyes. It was cool without being cold. He could get used to this. Doing nothing while looking at nothing. When was the last time he hadn’t gone into the Depot on a Saturday? Being his own boss he’d always found it hard to give himself time off.

The alarm went off. He took the towel away from his eyes. Put a folded bandana over them and then the sunglasses over that. He stood up and the bandana remained in place. 

He spent the afternoon with his vision blocked. It was an adventure groping around his house. He stubbed his toes a few times but as long as he moved slowly he was fine.

He felt accomplished once he’d done a load of laundry and hung it. He’d wait till later to see how well he’d hung it though. He listened to some TV, some cd’s, heated up something Linda had sent. From the feel of it in the container he knew it was rice. Probably from some Chinese place.

His injured eye didn’t ache as much. When his cell announced 4 p.m. he removed the bandana. The world revealed was not shiny and new or all sharp glints and irritating. He’d have to not see it for longer than a couple of hours

It was time to deal with Curtis now that his anger had faded. He changed the ‘unavailable to this caller’ setting on his phone. No more hiding from that beast.

Sure enough the cell beeped after ten minutes.

“Hello, Mr. Baxter.”

“Oh, Daniel! Thank God you are alright.” Curtis gushed. “When you didn’t answer my calls I was so worried. Almost frantic. Did you get the flowers I sent?”

“It’s Mr. James to you.” Dan said. To get control of this situation he’d have to be firm with boundaries.

“Don’t be like that.”

“If you want a business relationship with me that’s how it’s going to be.”

“I see. I can’t blame you after the way I’ve behaved but I when I get so enthused about a project I won’t let anything stand in the way of getting it off the ground.”

Dan remained silent. 

“You do understand that I never expected Kilpatrick to fly off the handle that way.”

Dan remained silent.

“When I told him about the possibility of a new series he … assumed he’d be involved and when I told him otherwise he … well, you know the rest.”

Dan remained silent. He knew given the chance Baxter would spin doctor himself into a corner.

“This is where we stand now. Quintex will probably approve the new project once we have the whole package ready for them. I want you to be a part of that package.”

“Probably?” Dan said. “The last time we spoke you presented it as done deal. If you want me to be part of a package I want to see the particulars in writing.”

“Why don’t you draft something? I can present it as your idea.”

Dan remained silent.

“After all that’s what Kilpatrick already believes. I had to present it to him that way so he wouldn’t think I was trying to sever ties with him. He’s become more unprofessional this past season, you see. Drinking, being sexually inappropriate with some of the female make-up technicians.”

Dan remained silent.

“When do you want a written proposal Mr. James?”

“By Monday morning. But, Mr. Baxter, if you spin it to look like it was my idea then count me out.”

“But it was.”

Dan remained silent.

“Alright. But you inspired it.”

“That I can’t deny.”

“There’ll be good money in it for you.”

Dan remained silent.

“More as co-producer?”

“Mr. Baxter, I have money enough now. I don’t need the exposure. What is in it for me?”
Curtis’s tone of voice changed. “You were in love with Timmy Dunlop. You want to find out what happened to him!”

Dan felt a sudden stab of pain around his eyes.

“I’m not lacking in sensitivity, Mr. James. I could tell from the way you talked about Timmy, you may have been childhood pals but you had feelings for him. Didn’t you? I bet his was the first dick you diddled. Just be grateful he was only year older than you and not ten years older.”

Dan remained silent. This kind of honesty was not the spin he was expecting.

“You know, Mr. Baxter, now that you’ve cut out the b.s. I think we might be able to work together.”

“Good. You better be worth it.”

“Keep in mind my hourly rate when you send me the proposal and I’ll let you know. Bye.”

Eyes closed he went to the fridge for an ice cube to rub around them. His Dad would have been proud of him sticking to guns like that.

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July 2020 ReCap Pro

Over the month my TOpoet.ca following grew to 381! The July WP map shows that my hits have come from around the world. That India still tops the list is interesting  but that Romania has jumped to 4th spot is a surprise (Bună ziua cititorilor mei români). One day alone I got 60 hits from there. But Kenya has dropped out of sight 😦 My Tumblr (topoet) is at 287. Twitter (@TorPoet) up to 227 followers.

I’ve posted 29 chapters of Picture Perfect so far, nearly 45,000 words, with 143,000 words yet to be edited. I’ve been enjoying the challenge of writing about my Distant Music pieces. Sifting though that archive has let me see how much & how little my philosophy of writing has changed. I also sense how trapped I felt by cultural sexual norms. With so many pieces about hanging I’m surprised I survived.

Other July news: bought a new airmac Pro. My present airmac heats considerably after 30 minutes or so of certain use – zoom for one thing. It’s several years old & the drive can no longer be upgraded – I guess it has been archived. It was cheaper to buy the latest than get it repaired. 

There will a change in the frequency of my blog starting in August. I find I am putting so much energy into generating new posts that I am, in fact, writing less! I have an idea for a new novel – based on the flash fiction series I’ve been posting on Fridays with the music blog. But where’s the time? So the new routine will be Sunday – photos; Monday: – whatever; Tuesday – Picture Perfect; Wednesday – poetry talk – currently working through Distant Music; Thursday – my music collection. No posts on Friday & Saturday. 

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