Picture Perfect 55

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

“Any news?” 

“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.” 

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Picture Perfect 54

Picture Perfect 54

In the morning Dan rolled his suitcase out to the back of his rental SUV. Baxter, then Roberto were piling their bags beside the trunk of Baxter’s compact car. Baxter had insisted on the sporty two-seater for himself because he doing a lot of running around.

“You’ll have no trouble finding space for that.” Baxter said looking from his car to Dan’s.

Both he and Roberto had two large suitcases.

“Can’t you load some of that in the remote truck?” Dan said.

“I suppose I could but …” he nodded at Glaucia. “She has another suitcase yet to come.”

Glaucia stood at her cabin door nodding at him with her white beats headphones firm in place.

“I can take a hint.” Dan laughed. “If you wanted to swap cars why not come right out and say so. Oh, I forgot, asking is not your style. Let me just my crap out of the front seat.” He checked to make sure there was nothing of his in the glove compartment or under the seat. “You can have the Hippo Dog sticks.” he said giving the keys to Baxter.

“Thanks.” Baxter said. 

Dan fit his suitcase into the trunk of the smaller car, then put his shoulder bag on the passenger seat.“Pays to travel light.” he said to Baxter.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Baxter said as he heaved the first of the suitcases into the back of the bigger car.

Dan surveyed the dashboard of the car. He’d driven it once already. It had all the latest electronic stuff they could squeeze into a car and keep it affordable. As he pulled out of the parking lot the built in GPS asked:

“Destination please.”

“Stellerton. Nova Scotia.” He said.

“Follow route 2. You will need gas in an hour. Next comfort stop is …”

“Thank you.” He found the control for turning the GPS voice off. He left the map portion turned on so he could see how far along he was on the route he had opted for which he was sure the GPS would argue with him about. Sometimes going ‘the wrong way’ got him to where he was supposed to be.

Then he went into the Waterside diner for breakfast. His was already on table where he usually sat.

“I told George you’d have the usual.” Stephanie said. “Hope you don’t mind? Saves time.”

“Fine,” Dan said sitting at his spot. The toast was still warm. “It’s going to hard leaving these perfect breakfasts behind.” He said to George as George put a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him.

“It’s going to hard not racking up these tips.” George said. “You’ll be back?”

“Maybe.” Stephanie said. “We may want to do some pick up shots, as they say. Never know what information may lead us back here.”

‘There’s always the Circus Museum.” Dan said. “I think it would be an ideal spot for an interview.”

“Or a birthday party.” Baxter said. “Maybe we’ll have the wrap party there once the shoot is done.”

“We best get going,” Roberto said. “That storm looks like it’s going be rolling in soon.”

“So no one’s coming with me.” Dan asked?

“No,” Baxter answered. “She’ll be driving with me and Roberto.”

“Then I’ll be on my own?” Dan said. “Cool. I can turn the radio up as loud as I want.”

He went back to his cabin to use the bathroom one last time. As he had officially checked out he asked George. 

 “Is the old Conner route still being used?”

“Oh yeah. That Trans Canada by passed a passel of places along the shore there. Not as well kept as the Trans but good enough. Make sure got a full tank o’gas before you head along there. No comfort stations.”

“Will do.”

The Conner would take an hour longer so it was avoided by the transfer semi’s that hogged the Trans Canada. His Dad hated those monsters and so did he. The less stress driving was the better. The fewer comfort stops the better too. That would mean more scenery and glimpses of the ocean.

The rain didn’t start until he turned east at Shediac. Seemed fitting that as he got closer to the Strait that the sea should rise up to meet him. When was the last time he’d thought that phrase? It was one his Dad would use in really heavy rain. He stopped to fill the gas tank. This stretch of highway was seeing more use thanks to the Confederation Bridge. He was tempted by the signs pointing the way to the bridge. Maybe if it wasn’t raining so heavily he’d be tempted. Something for after the shoot or next summer. 

At Port Elgin he crossed the Gaspereau River, was spun round on an unexpected highway round about, lost his sense of direction in the rain but managed to head in the right direction to stop at The Proud Tartan Bar and Grill for lunch. The place had wifi. First thing he checked was the weather report.

“Storm’s not going to stop soon.” The waitress said. “I can tell you that. Rather my left knee can tell you that.”

“I was afraid of that, Hazel.” Dan glanced at her name tag then the menu. “What would to recommend.”

“Good time of year for the speckled trout. Can’t go wrong with the burger either. Local beef. Ground fresh here.”

“Dig your own spuds for the fries too I suppose.”

“Yeah,” she laughed. “But no, though they are … hand-crafted by our skilled chefs.”

“Burger appeals. Fries too.”

“Want a Kiefers to go with that. Local micro-brewery.”

“Sure why not.”

He was the only customer in the restaurant. His table give a decent view of the river across the street. The sky darkened even more and a crack of lightening illuminated the other shore. Heavy fall of rain followed. He could hear it on the roof of the bar. Soon he couldn’t see past the parking lot.

“Roof is solid,” Hazel said as she put his beer on table along with a schooner glass.

He tipped the bottle to pour it into the glass and was amazed as the deep red of the brew.

“I love to see that look.” she said. “This is the one beer we always let the customer pour. Gently now, so there’s not too much head.”

Dan did as directed. He took a sip.

“Strawberry?” he said.


“And hay?”

“Right again. This is the end of their summer brews. The other is … ”

“Blueberry Beer?”

Hazel brought his burger. “Hope you don’t mind the onion roll.” she said as she put it on the table. “None of t’other.”

“It’ll be fine.” another one of these too. He tapped the Keifers bottle.

“Two’s the limit you know” she laughed. “Unless to got designated driver.”

“This storm keeps up and …”

There was another flash of lightening followed by a deep rumbled of thunder. The lights in the bar flickered off for a minute then came back on.

“That can’t be good.” Dan said.

“Nope. I’ll check the TV and see what I can find out.”

There were no more electrical problems while Dan ate his burger. He declined a third beer though. 

“If you’re fixing to stay the night you best get your kit from your car. You’ll have your choice of rooms here.”


“B’n’B upstairs. We don’t put the sign out until the season really starts.”

“Thanks.” Dan said. He paid for his lunch and added an equal amount as tip. Quintex would be paying so he could afford to be generous.

“Much appreciated Mr. James. I’ll get Joe to get room … 101 ready for you.” 


“You don’t think I cooked that hamburger for you.”

He went out to the the covered porch of the Proud Tartan. Did he really want to get his suitcase? The rain was so heavy Dan couldn’t see across the street. The wind was shaking the flag poles along the parking lot. 

“Here.” Hazel gave him a heavy rain poncho. “You’ll have get your own luggage.”

He dashed out to the car to get his suitcase. His jeans & shoes were soaked by the time he got back. 

“Don’t remember it raining this hard since I was a boy.” He sat at a table to take off his wet shoes.“Hurricane Francis, I think.”

“You from a round these parts?” Hazel handed him a towel.

“Yes. Grew up on the Cape. New Waterford.”

“Francis was some storm. Waves washed cars off the Causeway that year.”

Dan’s cell rang.

“I better answer this. It could be my crew wondering where I am.”

“Hello.” It was Stephanie. “What … I’m okay … Baxter had Roberto and Glaucia with him. That’s right he took the SUV I had been driving … Right now I am at …” he looked to Hazel “What’s the b’n’b called?”

“Tartan Beds.”

“Tartan Beds at the Proud Tartan. It’s in Port Elgin. It’s as far as I got before the sea rushed up to meet me … okay … I’ll let you know when I’m heading out of here but I don’t expect it will be until morning.”

“Bad news?”

“Yeah.” Dan walked to the front window to look out at the storm. The wind was whipping the various flags around. “The car my boss Baxter was driving lost traction on the highway and flipped. He’s been taken to a hospital in Halifax. He had two other passengers. They aren’t sure if they’ll survive.”

“You were close to these people?” 

“I hardly really knew them. I didn’t know Baxter until a few months ago. I liked them if that’s what you are asking. Close? No.”

His cell rang again. “Sorry.”

This time it was Peter. “I’m alright. … no I wasn’t in the car … you tell Sanjay everything is okay … yeah I’m sure he’s concerned … no I don’t know how this will affect the shoot but trust me Baxter will make the most of it. … yes, I’ll … okay … bye.” He put his phone on the table. “My house sitter. News report was that a TV film crew from Toronto was in traffic accident. He was sure I was dead.”

“Room’s ready.” A grizzled man in an apron tossed a key on the table.

“Thanks Joe.” Hazel said.

“I’m going to up to my room and slip into some dry clothes.” Dan pushed himself up from the table.

Halfway up the stairs there was a loud crash from outside & the power went out.

“First door on your left, Mr. James.” Hazel called up to him. “First door on your left.” 

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