Picture Perfect 55
“Okay.” He called down to Hazel.
“I’ll send Larry up with a lantern for you, once I find them.” Hazel said. “You’ll probably have use the TransCanada in the morning though.”
“Such is life.” Dan unlocked his room. Glad, for once, to have a key that didn’t rely on electronics to open doors.
There was just enough afternoon light for him to find his bed in the dark room. He hoped the rain pounding on the glass wouldn’t break it. Automatically he switched on the bedside lamp, which didn’t go on.
He turned on his laptop on. Now he was glad the Lyfend satellite connection didn’t rely on local wifi service. The highways department latest advisory listed the roads that were usable. Hazel was right he’d have to get back to the TransCanada if he wanted to get to Stellerton in the morning. The only problem was that the road between Port Elgin and the TransCanada had been washed out in the storm and would remain closed to traffic for at least twenty-four hours. The Gaspereau had washed out parts of the highway.
He searched for news about Baxter’s accident but there were no updates on that. He was tempted to vidconference with Peter but didn’t want to drain the laptop’s battery that quickly.
A voice spoke from behind him
“Fuck!” He turned around to see a man who looks like a younger version of Joe. “What happened to knocking?”
“Sorry. The door was open. Hazel found a couple of these.” He put a flickering hurricane lantern on the desk. “There’s enough oil in it for awhile. More downstairs if you need it.”
“Larry Clarke.” He shook Dan’s hand. He smelled of cigarettes & beer. “General maintenance round here.”
“Joe your Dad?” Dan asked.
“Uncle. Though manys seen the resemblance. Need anything else?”
“Nope. But to answer your question the roads are passable in areas. Crews are working on getting the lines back up. A couple of the transformers were struck by lightening and they are replacing those. They expect full power to be restored by noon.”
“A likely story. One year it was a week before we got full power back here. Hazel asks to find out if there’s any news of your friends?”
“Not online. I was about to call the production assistant to find out.”
“Okay. Plumbing’s working if you need. Cold water though. Water heater shut down. You’ll be wanting supper later? Haze can use the gas grill.”
“That would be great. Thanks for everything.”
Once Larry had left Dan called Stephane. He could hear a lot of noise behind her.
“Hi Steph. It’s Dan checking in.”
“Thanks for calling. Baxter is still in emerg. The hospital is like being in a disaster movie. There must have been a dozen or so accidents as a result of the storm. It hit so suddenly no one was ready for how quickly it became severe.”
“Any word on how Baxter is?”
“Only that he’ll live. Broken bones. Luckily not his face.”
“Yeah! I know, that was the last thing he asked me before they wheeled him off. Is my face okay?” She laughed. “Not, are the others okay.”
“What about Glaucia?”
“Serious is all I know. Her family has been contacted. I don’t know if you heard but Roberto died.”
Dan didn’t know how to respond. “Fuck. I hardly knew whim but he was nice enough.”
“Yeah. A good worker. Plus he kept Baxter happy.”
“Oh! I didn’t realize. Anything from Quintex?”
“They have insurance that’ll cover costs due to production delays, if that’s what you are worried about.”
“No. I mean about the future of the project itself.”
“We won’t decide that this soon. Chances are it’ll go on.”
“Okay. Tell Baxter I’m sending him good vibes.”
“I will. Bye.”
Dan wasn’t ready to give up. So far the connections to his Dad hadn’t point to or away from his involvement in the disappearances.
In the morning the sky was still streaked with clouds but the sun was boring through.
Larry brought in a deep saucepan of hot water. “The rainwater is receding and power is restored along most of the shore, except, of course Port Elgin. They were replacing the damaged transformers.”
“My car hasn’t been washed away?”
“Nope. Still in the lot.”
Dan’s cell buzzed. It was a text from Baxter: ‘Cn u gt 2 Stlton 4 2nite. Bones set rdy to wrk.’ “Oh shit!”
“Bad news?” Larry asked.
“Not exactly. They want me in Stellerton tonight.”
“Good luck with roads as they are.”
“You know the side roads around here better than GPS can. Is it possible.”
“Ordinarily yes. But after this storm I not sure.”
“Let’s check my car first.” His cell buzzed again. The text read “?” He texted back “Rds permitting.”
Outside the Tartan parking lot was a lake. The car was like an island in the middle with water up to the bottom of the doors.
“Drainage valves must have been clogged by the storm.” Larry said. “Give the me keys and I drive it over. I came prepared.” He lifted his knees to show Dan the waders he was wearing.
Dan watched as Larry light a cigarette as he walked to the car. He stopped at one point and reached into the water and pulled up a mucky clump of leaves to show Dan. He dropped the clump back and rinsed the dirt off his hands. He got into the car. Dan could hear the engine turn over but it didn’t start.
Larry got out of the car and came back to the porch. He tossed his butt into the water. “By the sound of the motor that car isn’t going anywhere soon.”
“Fuck!” Dan said & went back into the restaurant.
“Day is early.” Larry followed him. “What’s it worth to you to get there?”
“Yeah. I got a powerful Jeep all-terrain. There might be a way, for say …. two hundred bucks? I’m parked back by the kitchen.”
“I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“You’re not asking I’m offering. There’s a difference.”
Hazel came out of the kitchen with a plate of hotcakes & a pot of coffee.
“What’s he offering you?” She asked.
“To get him out of this heck hole.” Larry laughed.
“If you keep him sober he’s the guy that can do it.” Hazel pure Dan a cup of coffee.
“Haze. What the fuck! I haven’t a beer yet this morning.” He went to the kitchen with Hazel.
Dan thought it over while he ate his breakfast. His cell buzzed again. “On yr wy?” He messaged back a thumbs up.
He took his plate back to the kitchen.
“Okay Larry. Let’s do it.”
Larry face lit up. “Okay! Okay! We’ll stop back at my place to pick up a few things first though. No gas stations on this trail, or comfort stations either.”
“I guess I don’t have much choice.”
It was a five minute drive to Larry’s mobile home. It took him about ten minutes to get the ATV loaded for the trip. Ropes, a cooler joined Dan’s suitcase in the back of the car.
“Here. Those sneakers of yours aren’t going to last long if we have … you get out. ” he gave Dan a pair of heavy duty work boots. “I think these will fit you. They are my mother’s but I your feet seem to about the same size. Mine would be too large for you.”
He put his right foot beside Dan’s left foot. It was much wider and longer.
Larry got behind the steering wheel. “So are you ready, my friend?”
Dan took his sneakers off & pulled the boots on.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”