This sample is from November 6. I finally get Dan to my home town, Sydney. I’ve never stayed at hotel there but the view is correct 🙂 I have no name yet for the second hand book store owner. ‘Exiter’ is brand name for Dan’s carry-on. There is a Whitney Pier Museum which does have old high school years but not as organized as I present.
One of the thriller tropes I wanted to play with is the hero that women find irresistible. Is there a female who doesn’t throw themselves at James Bond? So here my hero Dan gets this treatment from Stan. Do they click? Find out in Saturday’s sample 🙂
The next day proved be clear and warm. Dan looked out over the harbour from his hotel room. There were some sail boats moving slowly with sea gulls swooping around their masts. Across the harbour he could make out Coxheath. On the boardwalk beneath his window he watched a pair of joggers dodging people, women pushing baby carriages, tourists taking selfies maneuvering to get the sail boats in the background.
Other than the signed and numbered prints of heather over his bed, the room was corporate hotel. They could have at least tied some tartan ribbon around the lamps. The coffee was passable but the packaged creamer was not. He dumped it down the bathtub drain.
The room service menu did offer cod cakes. Would they be like those fish fingers his mother used to fry up. He could taste the orange crust on them. Did they make those anymore. There had to be a Sobey’s to try.
After a quick shower he bundled his dirty clothes and took them with him down to the lobby. At the front desk he handed them over to be laundered, not dry cleaned. All of them smelled of smoke from the fire. Dry cleaning would not take that scent out. The clothes in his Exiter were tolerable.
As boy he hadn’t spent too much time in Sydney. Usually he accompanied his father to pick up photographic supplies. Then he yearned for it as a big city though. As he walked the downtown core he saw that it more a big town than a big city. The entire population of the Sydney could fit into the Eaton’s Centre at one time, with room to spare. There were probably more people living in Toronto’s St Jamestown than lived on the whole of Cape Breton island.
Not as deliberately quaint as the popular tourist spots like Baddeck, the city seemed caught between a decaying past and what? The new buildings he saw lacked anything beyond functionality.
The owner second hand book store suggested he check out the Whitney Pier Museum while he was in town. It was a short drive that passed through where the steel plant one was. He was shocked to see hardly a trace of the towering chimneys that would spew blast furnace dust over the city. That dust was the prime reason they didn’t live in Sydney.
The Museum was in a converted Synagogue. As he walked in a young woman greeted him.
“Whose yer father?” she asked.
“Richard James.” He answered laughing. “I’ve been on the east coast for over a month and that’s the first time anyone has asked me that.”
“You sound a little disappointed.” she said.
“I guess I am. I half-expected the concierge at the hotel to ask me that or ‘did’ja eat yet?’”
The girl laughed. “You accent is spot on. Richard James? The name is familiar. Don’t tell me …”
“Need a hint?” He tapped his camera.
“Mother of God!” she exclaimed. “The photographer! Man he took pictures of nearly every school kid on the island for years.”
“The one and the same.”
“And those amazing calendars. We have a near full set you know. We’d love to get permission to reprint them. Do you know who owns the rights to them?”
“Hold on I’m just here to look around not do business.”
“Oh right. It’s just that … Stan …” she shouted over her shoulder. “Come out here.”
“I’ll be here for a couple of days.” He said.
A muscular man about 5’5 strode out of the office behind her counter. His shirt and jeans were clearly tailored to show him off to his best advantage. But what sort of advantage did he expect to have here?
“It’s … I forgot to ask your name … he’s Richard James’ son … the calendar guy.”
“Cool.” he shook Dan’s hand.
The man’s hand was solid, firm without exerting pressure. He put his other hand over Dan’s as they shook.
“I am pleased to meet you. Don’t mind Jeannie. She’s been doing a research project on the changing views of our island as seen via the tourist lens, or something like that.”
“The filtered dialectic of the past as posited by the lens to create a distance between reality and idealization?” Dan asked her.
“Mother of God, you said it better than I ever could.”
“You can stop with the localisms Jeannie.” Stan said.
“Hard habit to break. It’s part of the training to give visitors a sense of what has been lost.” Jeannie explained. “Who’s yer fadder” Is one of those expressions that had nearly disappeared. I tell what generation a visitor is from by the way they react to that question.”
“Now days they ask what’s your handle.” Stan said. “Or what are you into.”
“Into?” Dan asked. Was this man flirting with him? “As is top or bottom?”
“Exactly?” Stan said.
“Now you’ve lost me.” Jeannie said.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ve been reading about you in the Post.”
“Me? I haven’t looked at any news for weeks.”
“Not exactly you, but the motel explosion outside of St. Peter’s.”
“You were there?” Jeannie said.
“That’s right and now I’m here.”
“I think he wants to change the subject Jeannie. Are you here at the Museum just to look or to look for something in specific.”
“Owner of book store said you had a collection of high-school year books?”
“That we do.”
“It’s on the second floor. I’ll take …”
“That’s alright Jeannie. I’ll show Mr. James around. You can hold the fort down here.”
“I won’t be keeping you form anything?” Dan said. “I’m sure I can manage on my own.”
“Fund raising report can wait.” Stan gestured to the entrance. “Stairs are just to the right.”
The top of the stairs was unlit. Stan leaned across Dan to turn on the light.
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr