Picture Perfect 63

Picture Perfect 63

“Okay.” Baxter said. “Now that we are on the subject of the contract, it was agreed that you would freely share any relevant information you discovered in photo or document examination, or in your interrogations, I mean, interviews of the subjects as we arranged them.” He was reading directly from the contract as it appeared on everyone’s monitor screens.

“You have all the footage. I haven’t held anything back.”

“What about this.” It was a clip from his interview with Teresa. The point were camera was trying to get a close up of the photograph she had given Dan

“This is me not wanting to get sued for libel. I am to do reasonable diligence with any evidence I find. I’ll be doing more research on this Monday. You heard the conversation leading up to it didn’t you?”

“Of course that’s why we needed to get that photo on camera. It could be … a person of interest …”

“Baxter you watch too many of your own TV shows.” Dan said. “You know as well as I do, that if this is truly crucial you’ll be told and if it isn’t I can’t let you spin it to implicate someone with rumours from decades ago.”

“He’s right.” Stephanie said. “If this is of importance someone alive now may be harmed greatly if it isn’t handled correctly.”

“What do …” Baxter stopped. “This is what you .. see.”

“Yes.” Jennifer replied. “Mr. Baxter I realize I am just a … nod for your ratings. But you don’t need to believe in me for my abilities to work.” She left the war room.

“I guess I’ve been told.” Baxter said. “Inspector Warszawa perhaps you have some … warmer news from your end of things.”

“Warmer?” War said. “I don’t know about that. I do have to concur with Dan though about ascertaining the relevance of evidence. If you want what you’re doing to be taken seriously by the local law enforcement branches do what they would do as much as possible.”

“If we did what they did we’d have nothing to report on.”

“Point taken but trust Dan on his experience in the field. It’ll make your series that much more believable and powerful. Now that the cases have been officially reopened a task force has been put together to examine the information we already have. They expect Quintex’s full& open cooperation.”

“Even if what we discover doesn’t show them in a positive light.”

“Let’s face it.” Dan said. “They can’t afford to look any worse in the public eye. It’s the best way for them to rebuild public trust. I know investigative abilities  have changed greatly over the past decades.”

“Being called a faggot by an angry cop is still the same.” Baxter said. “And that happened to you less than a week ago.”

“He called me an asshole. But he did refer to you as a queer.”

“Captain MacKillop will be heading the task force. I’ve met with him and he’s on the ball.”

“We’ll get access to the RCMP files?” Stephanie asked.

“When they unearth them” Warszawa said. “MacKillop was surprised to find out how well they had been buried. Cases involving children are handled with greater attention these days. He’s also looking into that.”

“Once again the RCMP investigates itself.” Stephanie said.

“You can keep statements like that to yourself if you expect them to be at all cooperative.” Warszawa said. “Agreed?”

“Whatever.” Stephanie replied.

“I think we’re done here for today?” She looked to Baxter.

“Yes.”

Jennifer Devereaux was waiting beside Dan’s car. Cameron walked over the car. “I’ll be with you again today. Not that we have many others to choose from.” He joked. 

“Remote unit has gone ahead to Truro. This’ll be Helen Davis.” He glanced at his phone. “David McPherson’s aunt. Coordinated have been programmed into your cell already Captain Kirk.”

“Okay. Pile in.” Dan got behind the wheel. 

Jennifer sat in the front beside him. Cameron in the back seat.

“You knew Glaucia?” Dan asked.

“Yes. She had come to my mother many years ago.”

“Your mother?” Dan said.

“Jane Poitier.”

“From the Wickham?” Dan asked. “I though you looked familiar. Sarah must be your sister.”

“Yes, she the ordinary one. There’s a history of second sight in our family that goes back generations in various forms. It has never been the same in subsequent generations but it has always been. With each generation the need to hide has decreased. My mother was called to help others with their talents.”

“Glaucia came to your mother?’

“Yes, to be guided.”

“Like Hogwarts?” Cameron said.

“Nothing that spectacular.” Jennifer laughed. “My mother was more like a guidance councillor than a teacher. Which was what Glaucia was to me.”

“Why not your mother?”

“No, that would never work. Doctors don’t treat their own children, or least they shouldn’t. It is the same with sensitives. It is best when someone who isn’t blood encourages you. They prove be less … invested.”

“How much control do you have over your abilities?”

“It can vary. There are times when an … energy will hit me. There are times when I need to close my eyes and focus on what is around me. I know that if I see nothing it is because there is nothing to see, not that I am not trying hard enough.”

“I hate these set interviews.” Dan said.

“Set?” Jennifer asked. “Aren’t we talking to her in her home?”

“Yes and no. Baxter Bit stylists set the stage for us. Furniture gets moved around. Back grounds become crucial for ambience. When possible they like to help the guests look good too. Hair gets done.”

“What?”

“Oh yes. That’s why my interview with Teresa Dunlop was so good, for me. She called Stephanie in the morning to say where and there was no time to fix things beyond warning the diner we’d be there.”

“That explains the idiotic fringe purse!” Jennifer said.

“You watched it?”

“Some of it. Mr. Baxter said I should observe your style. Didn’t seem to be much style on your part. More like old friends meeting after years.”

“Which in a way it was.”

“What are you going to do about your sister and Kevin?”

“That’s not relevant, is it? Or did you sense something I didn’t.”

“Tread carefully. By the way I have to admire the way you totally ignored her calling you Danny Boy.”

“You picked up on that? She used to do that when I was a kid. Drove me crazy angry.”

“The MacPherson’s came across as fairly ordinary folk.” She tapped the folder of notes on her lap. “So does the Aunt.”

“So far they all have. The abductions were the major crisis in their lives. The fact that they went unconnected is the what makes them unique in an … entertaining way.”

“You’re not doing this for the entertainment value.”

“Oh no, the pay check isn’t bad.”

“There’s more to than that. More like seeking Dad’s approval.”

“You not seeking your Mom’s approval?”

“Excellent reversal. I didn’t see that coming.”

“That’ll put you in the frame of mind of the people we’ll be seeing. None of them saw what happened to them coming.”

They drove in silence for several miles.

When they got to the location Cameron got out first to follow them as they walked up to the house.

“Jennifer.” He stopped her at the bottom of front steps. “Stay focused on these people, on these cases. Our private lives are just that.”

“Sorry. It’s hard for me to block out everyone. If your father had anything to do with these cases I can’t help it.”

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Picture Perfect 49

Picture Perfect 49

Miss McKay slid a door open at the far end of her mobile home. Dan caught a glimpse of a bed with a lighthouse print coverlet before she slid the door shut again.

“She can’t get many visitors.” Glaucia said. “To go on like that.”

“Gift of the gab is more like it. My Aunt Sissy is just like that.” Dan said. “Great scone though.”

“Too healthy for me.” Glaucia nibbled another corner of hers. 

Dan was tempted to tease her about the vibe she was getting from the scone but was still not sure to make of her. On the drive to Miss McKay’s Glaucia had refused to talk about the meeting lest his preconceived notions interfered with her getting clear images when they arrived. She didn’t even want the radio on for the same reason. She sat beside him in the car with her headphones on listening to ‘white beats.’ He’d have to look those up when he got a chance.

Miss McKay put an oversized accordion file folder on the coffee table.

“I set these aside when school started that year. I mean, I don’t have files on all my students. Only the ones that were promising.”


“They were promising students?” Dan asked.

“Oh, no. Not a bit. They were average. Ordinary. If they hadn’t disappeared I would have shredded this stuff five years after they’d left the school. Sooner perhaps. I was expecting to be contacted at some point, you know, as the investigation went on. But no one ever asked me if I knew anything that might help.”

“Did you?” Glaucia asked.

“I don’t really know dear. Their mother did have a bit of a reputation.” she dropped her voice. “Loose. The bother and sister didn’t look that much alike. You’ve seen the pictures so I’m sure you noticed that.”

Dan closed his eyes to visualize the the school photos and compare them. He could see enough resemblance to make them bother and sister.

“Some of us thought … well anyway when we heard about that other boy in Pictou county going missing it was clear that, well … the Forestier’s had nothing to do with it.”

She took out some large manilla envelopes. “I’ve kept these safe and dry all these years. I hadn’t looked at them until I saw that show and heard on the radio that you were looking for information about what happened. I kept all the clippings from the papers. Even the ones from the Halifax Herald. My, but that reporter was harsh on our lads. They were doing all they could but didn’t seem to be enough for some.”

Dan glanced over the various clippings. Some he had seen before from the Quintex research files.

“You said you had some personal material of the children’s?” Glaucia said.

“Oh yes. These.” From one of the other envelopes she spread out two groups of crayoned drawings and paintings held together with paper clips. Under one clip was a school photo of Madeline, under the other a school photo of Gerrard. 

Glaucia took the group of Madeline’s and slid out one of the middle pictures and placed it face up on her lap. “I need one that hasn’t been handled too much by others.” she explained. “The ones on the top and bottom have been exposed the most and hence have dissipated more of their ethereal information.”

“How thrilling.” Miss McKay squeezed her arms to her sides in delight.

“Shhh.” Glaucia commanded.

They sat in silence as Glaucia held her hands about four inches over the water colour painting. It was of a boat with a trawling net trailing from the side into the ocean with the sun setting behind its mast. The water was choppy brush strokes and the clouds look like they had been sponged on.

“Interesting” Glaucia said before turning the picture over.

The other side had a pencil sketch of the waves and part of the boat on it. Madeline’s name was printed neatly in the lower right corner along with a date.

“Madeline signed that herself.” Miss McKay whispered.

Glaucia ran her fingers over the printed signature. “She was a happy girl when she did this drawing.” Glaucia said. “She wasn’t happy with the way the net turned out though.”

“I have a their class photos from that last year too.” Miss McKay said taking pictures out of the other manilla envelope and handing them to Dan.

They were the standard shots of rows of children talks ones in the back. Neither child stood out in the pictures.

“These were taken outside?” Dan said.

“Oh, yes. The school at that time didn’t have a gymnasium or even an auditorium.”

“Warm day too. None of them are wearing coats.”

“I don’t recall the exact day.” She took one of the pictures and turned it over. “My! My! I didn’t even write the date on the back. 

“It was early in October.” Dan said.

“How can you tell?” Glaucia asked.

“Drawing of smiling Halloween pumpkins in the class room windows behind them.”

“Oh, how clever,” Miss McKay said. “You must have driven your teachers crazy.”

“Maybe.” Dan didn’t recall much of his school days on the east coast other than the pictures his Dad had taken of him on the first day of every school year, then on the last day of every school year.

They next looked at some drawings and letter work that Gerrard had done when he was one of Miss McKay’s students. The pictures were in crayon. The letter work was Gerrard practicing his printing and struggling to stay between the lines.

“So many of them found that hard to learn, you know.” Miss McKay said. “It was always so rewarding to see them gain the … manual dexterity to print on the lines. Gerrard learned how to do that pretty quickly.”

Glaucia looked through the drawings and picked one  of a scribbled streams with similarly sketched in pine trees on one side to scan with her hands.

“Well?” Dan asked.

“He was a happy child.” Glaucia said. “This is on their property. The stream and the trees.”

“Now, here’s one other thing for you. I know it wasn’t right of me to keep this but it just seemed right to have it with this other stuff.” she handed a small envelop to Glaucia.

Glaucia opened it. Quickly looked over the letter it contained then read it aloud. “Dear Mrs. Hollerhan … ”

“Gloria Hollerhan was the principal at the time. She retired a few years later.”

“Dear Mrs. Hollerhan ..” Glaucia began again. “Please excuse Madeline Forestier from Miss McKay’s class and Gerrard Forestier from Mrs. Simpson’s class this Thursday and Friday as we are taking them with us to my sister’s wedding in Halifax. 

Thank You

Mrs. Forestier”

“The two of them were so excited. Madeline even had new shoes and wore them to school that day along with the prettiest dress. It was one her mother had made for her. In fact she rarely had store bought clothes you know. That Mrs. Forestier was an accomplished seamstress.”

“This is everything to have about them?” Dan asked. None of what she offered them added anything new to what they already knew. Rumours about the parents were interesting but weren’t helpful

“Yes Mr. James. I didn’t know the other little boy and we didn’t even know about all the others until that show. It came as quite a shock. Made me scared for the children. I can imagine how threatening it would have been for parents at that time, not knowing if your child might be next.”
“What do you think happened to Madeline and Gerrard?” he asked her.

“Oh …” she shook her head. “It’s impossible not to speculate, is it? It’s not the sort of thing that happens in a place like this, you know. I found it awfully suspicious that it took those parents so long to report them missing. Others did too. If I was a mother I would have been out all night calling for them to come home.

“That inspector didn’t tell us much. No news conferences the way there is these days. He was from the mainland too and acted as if we were too backward to be told anything. As I said, the fact there were other children involved was news to me.”

“You don’t mind if we take these drawings with us?” Dan asked. “I’ll see to it that they get returned once we’ve made copies of them.” He was sure Baxter would want to work them into the show somehow. “We have to get back to our headquarters.”

“Certainly. You take care.” Miss McKay stopped Glaucia. “A good mother wouldn’t just wait, would she.”

“I believe you,” Glaucia said patting Miss McKay’s forearm as she opened the door for them. 

Outside Dan took a deep breath as they waved goodbye to Miss Glaucia. He hadn’t noticed how stuffy her home was. In the car he turned to ask Glaucia what she thought of the interview but she already had on her headphones protecting herself with white beats.

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Picture Perfect 48

Picture Perfect 48

Back in his motel room Dan logged on for a video call with Peter

“How is it going sir.” Peter asked.

“Good. Great. Now I nave a cohost though.” Dan typed Glaucia Vidro into search. Peter was able to see the results too. 

“A psychic!” Peter said. “At least she doesn’t have a 1-800 number for instant tarot readings. What did she tell you about the case?”

“Nothing much but we’ve only just started. She seems … grounded enough though. Didn’t take any bs from Baxter.”

He told Peter about the war room and the list of suspects.

“Alien abduction? You have to be kidding. I … miss you, sir.”

“Good.” Dan found it hard to be so curt with someone else’s emotions. Sanjay was expressive at any opportunity. Love wasn’t about asking permission. Peter was the opposite. Asking him to housesit had been a no brainer. 

“How are things there?”

“Nothing I can’t deal with sir. Mr. Kumar has come to the house twice to pick up his mail. I denied him entry as you instructed. I didn’t have to use the court order either. Just mentioned the name of your lawyer.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be. I don’t think he was prepared for me to be so … truculent, as he called me. He did threaten to kill me if we ever got married though.”

“No worry on that count Peter. It’s proving hard enough to rid myself of a man I wasn’t married to. Makes me grateful that I never tied that knot.”

“I understand. There is nothing to report from the Depot either. I stopped in at lunch and again before I came to ther house. Sandy says things are running smoothly but not as smooth a they would if you were there. “

“Sounds like Sandy.”

“Are you still planning to come back at the end of next week?”

“Yes. We’ll be moving the centre of operations, as Baxter calls it, to Stellerton after the first ten days. It’s more central to the other incidents. I’m sticking to my role as air personality as much as possible. If I’m not around there’ll no chance for them to get me to lug anything.”

“Heard anything more from Corporal Tyler?” Peter said. He pulled off his tee shirt. “Is it getting hot in here? Or is it just your eyes?”

“Nothing further from them. Warszawa has talked to the regional Staff Sergeant. I know enough about the politic of divisions that they’ll be more circumspect in future. He said they aren’t divulging anything about the tip that brought them to my door though. He’s not sure if there was a tip. They would have gone from cabin to cabin until they found the Daniel James they were looking for.”

“What!” Peter slid off his belt. “Why would something like that?”

“Probably pissed about the original Cold show that found connections they hadn’t realized where there. The studio didn’t alert them to it either.”

“So they found out the same way you did. When the show first aired?”

“Nope. When it was rerun a week later. Qunitex was forced turn over everything they had on the cases. Which wasn’t much as it turned out.”

Peter slowly unzipped his fly.

“Not yet.”

“Yes sir.” he pulled his fly back up. 

“It’s nearly time for me to check in with my sister.”

“She hasn’t been to the Depot since you left.”

“Perhaps not in the flesh. Put your tee shirt back on.”

“Yes, sir.” 

“I’ll call later if I get a chance.”

“Yes, sir.”

The screen went blank. Dan tapped the icon for his sister. He had made sure he would have electronic access to all transactions at both shops. Severing the contractual connections between the two branches wasn’t going to be as simple or as inexpensive as expected. 

Looking over the figures he found himself nodding off. 

…….

Dan stood to the left and just behind Glaucia as she rang the door bell to the trailer. It took him a moment to realize that the foghorn sound was coming from inside. He could hear a radio or TV being turned down. The lace curtain in the door widow was pulled aside and a face peered out at them. The face smiled and the door opened sightly.

“You’ll have to step back for the door to open.” 

He and Glaucia stepped down two steps to let the door open. 

“Sorry about that.” The woman said. “Who ever designed this model didn’t think it through. Come in.” She held the door open for them. “Sometimes the wind will catch it and whack it against the trailer. That’s why there’s so many dents there. If I had known, about the wind, I mean, I never would have settled in here.”

Followed by Francie and Mike they squeezed past her and into the trailer.

At the front end there was a living room area with a couch, an armchair and a TV. The TV was on the weather channel but muted. 

“I get all the news I need from the weather channel.” The woman sang. “Paul Simon – before your time I guess.”

“Yes.” Dan said sitting in the armchair. The couch was just large enough for two people. He didn’t want to be that close to Glaucia.

Clearly Stephanie hadn’t checked Mrs. McKay’s trailer for filming. 

“Mrs. McKay, we’re from …” Glaucia began to explain.

“It’s Miss and I know, from the cameras, you’re from that TV show. I was told you were coming. My that’s a lovely shawl you have there Glaucia. I can call you Glaucia can’t I. I’ve read some of your articles in the Mystic Gazette. Is it from Richter’s. They make such lovely things there.”

“Yes, it is.” Glaucia answered.

“You must be Daniel James? You don’t look much like your father though. Then again, second-borns usually don’t. The first often do though. He’s passed away I gather.”

‘Yes but …” Dan began.

“Here, I’ve made us all some tea.” She stepped past Mike to the kitchen area of the trailer. “I baked scones. I do prefer the savoury ones, so I hope you don’t mind. It make them feel less like desserts. These are spinach and rosemary.” She put a tray on the coffee table.

Dan bit into one of the scones. It was still warm.

“You knew my Dad?”

“Not too well but he did come to McDonald Secondary for many years taking those student portraits. I only remember because the company that he sold out to sent such an idiot the next year. That man was a drunk. You know, he would show up smelling of alcohol at that time in the morning. He’d snap at the kids to behave when all they were doing was being kids. He only lasted that one year. So many of the schools complained. I don’t remember his name though. Your dad was so professional. Knew how to treat the children. I guess that came from being a father. It took us ages to get the pictures from the new company, too. They must that been sending them away to Scotland to be developed. Your Dad did his own work, most of the time, though maybe he sent stuff off too because there would have been thousands of him to look after so he wouldn’t have time, right.”

“Right.” 

“You certainly like lighthouses.” Glaucia admired the lighthouse sun-catchers in the window.

“Oh, yes, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to live in one.”

There were various lighthouses around the trailer. Paintings, throw cushions embroidered with them, door handles on the kitchen cabinets, woven into the rug, even the table lamp in the corner.

“I know, it’s such a Maritime cliche but so am I, really. The spinster school teacher who never went further than a hundred miles from where she was born. It’s not that I didn’t want to travel mind you but once I graduated with my license I thought this is where I needed to be. I had parents to look after anyway. Plus I really did like the children. I couldn’t imagine moving away to leave these families behind. I mean, I did get to know the families. Often taught the mother, the father then the children, then the children’s children. Goodness me I knew some of them better than their own relatives.”

“How do remember them all?” Glaucia nibbled at her scone.

“Oh Glaucia I don’t. I only remember these because of what happened to them. It was terrible. When school started again that year the other children were so … scared … I tried to get them to talk about it but, well, we didn’t have any way to offer them emotional support. Things have changed, haven’t they, with all those school shootings in the States. Why one of the girls in my class started crying one day. Turns out her family was moving to Arizona and she was afraid she’d get shot in school. Imagine.” She got up, brushing crumbs off her lap onto the floor. “Don’t worry making a mess. Cleaning up will give something to do later.” 

She went toward the back of the trailer. “I’ll get my file for you.”

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Picture Perfect 47

Picture Perfect 47

“Glaucia Vidro.” she said with a slight accent. “You should believe him, Curtis. There is nothing in those photographs.” Keeping Dan’s hand in her’s she sat next to him. “You do have more than good vision though, my friend. Not what you called e.s.p though perhaps b.s.p.”

“Glaucia, I asked you to call me …”

“Curtis, I will only use your real name. The other means nothing to anyone but annoyances. I am glad to see that you have also stepped outside of those other annoyances. The ones you wear to prepare people to be annoyed.” She released Dan’s hand.

“Okay, okay, enough about me.” Baxter sat opposite them at the table. 

Dan resisted the temptation to wipe his hand on his pants & looked his desk screen. There was a split shot of the three of them looking a little lost. “Is this our first conference?” Dan asked.

“In a way.” Roberto answered. “Everything in the war room is recorded automatically. Right Harold?” 

A fourth face appeared on their screens. “That’s right. Oops one more little fix.” 

Instantly under each head appeared their names and locations. Harold Carmichael was in Toronto. 

“As you can see we can use this for face-to-face conference calls just like CNN.” Harold explained. “Perhaps I should introduce myself. Harold Carmichael. Stephanie’s assistant researcher. I was almost a criminal lawyer but research suited me better.”

“Who’s paying for all this?” Dan asked. He knew at a glance this was not the standard issue equipment in their remote studio.

“Our … Asian sponsors …” Baxter said. “We are going to be a demonstration of their latest technology.”

“I see,” said Dan.

“Glaucia, what can you tell us from your meeting with Mr. Forestier, before we look at the footage of it.”

“Much like Mr. James, I found him to be direct and clear with his emotional feelings. He had no objects that belonged to the children, so I was unable to gather any vibrational information. The school photos did have a residual of their energy but not enough to form an image. 

“It was clear to me that they are, in fact, no longer with us. If they were still alive somewhere I would have sensed that energy.”

“So, you sensed nothing.” Baxter said. “The editors we have their work cut out for them.”

“I did tell him that they hadn’t suffered. It was as if they went to sleep. There was none of the energy turbulence that comes from violent ends. I walked the path they took to the nearby farm and the one it was presumed they walked home.”

“Interesting.” Dan said.

“How so?” Baxter asked him.

“If … don’t take offence … what she says is true about no violence, they might have known their abductor. Someone they trusted enough to go along with willingly.”

“Like a parent?” Harold said.

“Yes, but not in this case.” Glaucia answered. “That energy was not there.”

“Or perhaps someone they had met a fews time before?” Harold asked. “Like … say … a tourist who had stopped to buy apples from their roadside stand a few times.”

“Yes.” Dan said. “That’s possible but not probable. Did they have a roadside stand?”

“Sounds like we have more questions to ask of Forestier before you move on to the next family.” Roberto said.

“See?” Baxter was beaming. “This is how the war room works. We share information and new ideas are produced.”

“New to us, perhaps,” Dan said. “But I’m sure the division looked into things like passing tourists.”

“We won’t know that unless we can see their original  investigation notes.” Harold said.

“Fat chance.” Dan said.

“We’re working on it.” Roberto said. “It’s more a matter of finding where those notes might be. Dan you should know how much record keeping has changed since the 80’s. Things get misplaced, lost, even disposed of, that’s how they become lost cases not merely cold cases.”

“True. Small subdivisions only have limited storage space for old files or backups even. Non-active files more than five years old get shipped out to the regional centre, then those get subsequently shipped to the national depot where they are archived and often never seen again.”

“So the chances of finding them doesn’t depend on Staff Sergeant McKillop in any way?”

“Probably not. Digging up files that old presents its own challenges. But McKillop probably won’t be one of them. We’d have to pay the RCMP to have thos records searched. Unless …” 

“Unless what?” Baxter asked.

“They decide to reopen the cases themselves. So Baxter what did you learn from your tipsters?”

“How little people really remember after thirty years. Stephanie and Roberto met with Dave Jeans. His family owned one of the orchards near the Forestier’s. He was a teen at the time and went on about how all the guys were so eager to fu … meet Mrs. Forestier. She was much younger than her husband. He was a part of one of the search teams that went through the orchards. They were all sure the father had something to do with it. He had a reputation for being hard on his pickers and they figured he was equally as hard on his family. 

“You can watch the interview if you want. We may get a few thing out of it. The idea is to misdirect the viewers a little before reminding them that these weren’t the only children who went missing.”

“So the idea is to cast suspicion at every turn, at everyone, regardless of lack of substantial evidence.” Dan said.

“We present what evidence we may find not cast suspicion, as you put it. As far as any of us know now, any of these parents could be involved.”

“Or Martians?” Dan suggested. “Has any of your researchers checked out that angle? Strange lights in the sky on the days of the disappearances?”

Glaucia began to laugh. “He has you there Curtis. You could market the show to one of UFO markets as well. A simple re-edit for different ‘experts.’ I know of at least one couple in Digby who have been kidnapped by aliens and returned to their beds.”

“Okay.” Roberto went over to the area on the wall with ‘Suspects’ at the head of an empty space. He wrote UFO on it with a grease pencil. “While we’re at it let’s see if we can brainstorm any other sort of suspects. People who the children might trust.”

“School bus drivers.” Dan said.

“Whoah!” said Harold. “That is a good one. There’s a slant we had never considered.”

“Teachers. Priests.” Glaucia said.

“Ice-cream trucks.” Baxter said.

“Get serious.” Dan said. “We’re talking fairly rural areas. I can’t recall ever seeing an ice cream truck anywhere.”

“Doctors. Veterinarians.” Glaucia said.

“Vets!” Harold shouted. “I bet they travelled from farm to farm when called for, right. Did the Forestier’s have any animals? Cows. Horses?”

“None in the photos.” Dan said. “A couple of dogs.”
“Roberto you working on those leads right away. I’ll bet the local constabulary didn’t look for these sort of leads.” Baxter said.

“They were too busy looking for the children.” Dan said. “That was enough work for them.”

“Fuck, Dan give it a rest. We know how limited their resources were then. Maybe we can make up for those limitations now. Anything else?”

Both Dan & Glaucia shook their heads no.

“We’ll try to meet like this every night for a wrap up. Tomorrow we arraigned for the two of you to do an interview together.” He handed them each a folder. “It’s a Mrs. Laura McKay, a grade school teacher who taught both of these children, in different years of course. She says she has her records from the time. Put them aside when she heard news of the disappearances.”

“Records?” asked Glaucia.

“I don’t know exactly what. That’s up to you find out. Maybe she has essays, test papers. Stuff like that. Things the children handled for you Glaucia. Also more class pictures for you Dan.”

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Picture Perfect 44

Picture Perfect 44

“You’re doing great Dan.” Baxter came out from behind Cliff. “I dropped by to see how things were going.”

“Thanks.” Dan said. He wasn’t going to let Baxter know how difficult it was to stick to the ‘script.’ “I feel for this guy.”

“If you care then the viewers will too.” 

“We were just getting to these.” Dan gestured to the photo album. “After all, this what you’re really paying me for.”

“Thats’ right the photo whisperer.” Baxter snapped his fingers. “Fuck that’s a great title of the show. What do you think? Better than East Coast Cold.”

“I think we can take the interview outside.” Stephane said. “The back porch has a postcard view onto the orchard. The sun is amazing. It’ll give the viewers a real feel for the location. Kitchens are fine but this is even better.”

“Too bad we can’t have apple pickers in the back ground.” Dan joked. “Or cows. It is still a dairy farm isn’t it?”

The back porch floor boards creaked underfoot. 

“Not too noisy?” Dan asked.


“You’re going to sit out here.” Stephane said. “Not do a hoedown. These chairs’ll be perfect.”

There were two rocking chairs on either side of a small round table.

“I’ll see if I can find a couple of pillows for them, something for the backs too, so they won’t look too rural. Come with me.” she said to one of  the crew. They went back into the house.

“Where did our Dad go?” Baxter asked.

“Last I saw, Cameron was on his trail.” Dan put the photo album on the table.

“Anything in there?” Baxter asked.

“Haven’t looked yet. Or have you planted something?”

“Us? No! We might set the scene a little to make it easier for our audience to get a feel for the location. But that’s it.”

“This is part of setting the scene, right.” Dan pulled at his shirt collar. “Did you supply his shirt as well?”

“Just yours. Looks good on you.” Baxter reached out to help.

“Not going to happen.” Dan swatted his hand aside.

“Okay! Okay!” Baxter stepped back.

Mark came around the corner of the house with Cameron walking beside him. 

“I’m ready. Like I was saying it’s been ages since I really thought about those days, this month’s when all this happened.”

“It can’t be easy,” Baxter put his arm around Mark’s shoulder. “You’ll never forget.” He guided Mark to one of the rocking chairs. “But maybe this can help put some of those … ghosts … to rest.”

“That’s what I’m hopin’.”

“We all set to continue?” Baxter called into the house.

It took another twenty minutes to get the camera to rest on the porch, to get the furniture staged to Brenda’s satisfaction. Lace doily for the table. The redistributed weight of cameras and crew kept the floor boards from creaking as much.

“I’ll leave you to it.” Baxter said. “I’m heading on to the next location.”

“You have some more photos of your children you’d like me to see?” Dan asked.

“Yes.” Mark opened the album. “They were taken just a few days before, you know.” He handed an envelope of photos to Dan. “We didn’t have them developed for months later. We forgot we even had them, you know.”

Dan turned the pictures over one at a time.

“They were taken at Ma G’s birthday picnic. There’s a mess of people there I hardly remembered. Over a hundred. All her other nieces and nephews.” He leaned over to pause Dan at one picture. “That’s me and Marie.”

“She’s very pretty.” Dan peered the photograph. “Too bad it has that matte finish though. I never really understood why people liked this grainy quality.” Mark was smiling at the camera with Marie leaning on his chest in front of him, her head on his shoulder. She was holding her hand out so the two of them could see something on one of her fingers. 

“I’d won some sterling silver ring with a real opal at the circus the day before. Some spin and win game.” Mark laughed. “The ring turned her finger black and the opal fell out when she was doing the dishes.”

“You both look happy.” Dan said. “That’s Madeline reaching up?”

“Oh yeah. She was always one for attention. This is one of the few pictures without the kids all over us.”

Dan looked at the pictures. There was nothing in them beyond being photos of a fun family time. He reached for the album “What else do we have in here?”

“Not much really. We weren’t picture takers. Might hav been if we had a camera an’ time to use it. Ones you just saw were taken by someone else at the party. Some wedding pictures. Baby pictures of Madeline and Gerrard.” He handed the album to Dan.

Dan opened to the middle where there was some loose prints. He recognized them from the back as ones his Dad had taken.

“Hey! School picture days.” He said turning them over.

“What a day that was.” Mark said. “Marie spent the morning trying things on. She settled on that daisy dress Marie made for her.”

Dan hadn’t seen any of his Dad’s school pictures since they had moved from the east coast. There was no mistaking the backdrop his Dad carted from town to town. 

“It’s the same one she was wearing when she … left us.” Mark said. 

There was a large version of the picture as well as a page with four wallet-size pictures. Gerrard’s had the same standard set. The pictures were crisp. Gerrard had a lopsided grin, dark curly hair and scar on the cheek under his left eye. They didn’t tell Dan anything though, nothing new that might lead to more. They were relics not clues. 

“Were these taken that summer.” Mark said.

“After school was finished for the year?”

“Nope. It was the last week of classes. There are a couple of the whole class too.”

“What about the scar on Gerrard?”

“Happened when he was about three. Fell. Climbing trees. He was a climber. Love ladders.”

So, his Dad had had some contact with these children. Like Timmy Dunlop. But he wasn’t in this area when they disappeared. Was he? 

Dan tired to remember the dates in his Dad’s travel notes.

“The worse of it was later though.” Mark went on. “When things quieted down after the searching didn’t find anything. When we stopped being suspects. We hadn’t heard about them other kids either. If we’d known maybe they wouldn’t have thought was us. The neighbours I mean. They acted as if we’d done it for years. That’s what did Marie in.”

“Let’s take a break,” Stephane said. “There’s fresh coffee from Tim’s for you Mr. Forestier. Not as strong as what I made.” 

Mark went into the house.

She took Dan aside. “What was with those school pics?”

“Nothing.” Dan said.

“You changed when you looked at them.”

“I did? My … There were taken by my father’s company. James Scholastic School Photos.” He didn’t want to say that they were taken by his Dad personally. 

“Really!”

“They did that all over the Maritimes in small places like this. Class pictures, weddings, funerals, banquets. That sort of thing.”

“He surely wasn’t the only one doing that, was he?”

“No. I recognized the paper. The pose was one of his favourites as well. Not quite staring into the lens so they’d look less like mug shots and more like kids who just didn’t want their pictures taken in the first place.”

“So you recognized those kids?”

“No! He took thousands of these. Used to send them away to get developed, then, to save money, began to process them himself. I’d help out in the dark room.”

“Can we get back on with this.” Mark Forestier said. “I do have things to do around here.”

They sat back on the porch.

“When was Ma G’s birthday?” Dan asked to get the interview going again.

“About a month before they …”

“Was there anything else going on around at the time.”

“There was the Agricultural Fair in St. John. I went on my own. We used to take the kids but they were at an age where they took too much attention when I was wanting to see about dairy stuff, they’d want to be doing something else.”

“What do you think happened to them?”

“They was took and …” he began to sob. “I never wanted to think about what happened. I wanted to think about them being brought back to me. I’d dream Ma G was at the door with Gerrard wrapped in a blanket to keep him warm, with his face covered and Mad hiding behind her because she felt bad about letting them get lost. I’d try to move the blanket so I could see his face. But it was too wet for me hold. It would slip between my fingers. I had that dream for months.”

“Did your cousin keep you informed of what the Mounties were doing?”

“He said he wasn’t supposed to talk much to me to keep from influencing things. Conflicts of something.”

“Conflict of interest.”

“Yeah. He didn’t help us much. Like no one ever said to us they were sorry about what happened. Just to be hopeful. Hope didn’t keep Marie alive, you know.”

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