Picture Perfect 115 

Picture Perfect 115

Where is my memory? I’m not that old or am I? No matter how many times I look at those children’s faces I can’t remember them all. The ones I know, it could have been a week since I saw them last. How eager there were to follow me. I knew by their eagerness they had something to escape. I was the one who could lead them back to safety. Back to purity.

Now these men. Men, it’s always the men, who want to find these children. Men who I saved them from. Men who think they are smart enough to follow tracks, to follow traces that don’t exist. Looking for clues in photographs. Ha. 

I had to laugh when I saw him looking at those pictures that showed him nothing. He didn’t know I was watching. They probably thought I was dead too, that I was too old to have read the newspapers, to see them on television. To see them walking down the street. 

I wanted to stop them that day. Tell them they were wrong, but let them be wrong. My memory isn’t that bad. I saw children’s faces that I didn’t recall. I looked. I stopped the flow of pictures with the pause button but the image was blurred. Maybe that was why I couldn’t remember. If I pause my memory those faces blur.

What good would it do to tell them they are wrong. I don’t want to distract them from the wrong or they might get it right. No, they will never find me. They don’t know where to look because there is no where to look. Even when they were looking right it all those years ago no one saw what was there. Stupid men who only saw what they wanted to not what I had hidden.

All this fuss about the damn carnival has pushed that past out of sight for now. Happy Hippo! What a cesspool of abuse it was but now it’s some sort of temple for happy childhood memories. Children lured in to take their money, to strip them of their purity. No one will dare reveal it was mire of depravity that preyed on the innocence of children. That’s not entertainment.

As Dan found a spot to stand with his sign that said “Limo for Mr. Peter Eastgate” he thought it would a fun way to welcome Peter & perhaps get his picture taken by the press in the airport lobby taking shots of the famous arrivals. There was a mini-red carpet set up with a special backdrop for celebrities still arriving for the event.

From out of the crowd Robert Warszawa came over to him. 

“Robert, what are you doing here?”

“Extra security. You know the Prime Minster is arriving this morning. He worked at the Hippo one summer.”

“Oh! That never came up in our research.”

“So you’re covering the pre-circus circus.” Robert asked.

“I’m meeting Peter.” Dan said. “I happy just to observe.”

“Security’ll cost the tax-payers more than they will raise with their gala.”

“Mr. Eastgate! Over here Mr. Eastgate.” Dan shouted when he saw Peter come through the arrivals gate. 

Peter’s puzzled face lit up when he saw that it was Dan calling to him.

Peter was made to stop for pictures that were taken before anyone asked who he was. 

“Wow!” Peter came over to them. “That was something.”

“Peter, you’ve met Robert Warszawa. My Forces boss.”

Robert reached out & shook Peter’s hand. “I don’t think we’ve properly introduced. You were able to get out of the Carafe?”

“Uh, yes?” Peter said looking to Dan.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on Mr. Daniels since the bomb attack.”

“You mean I’ve been under surveillance?”

“Think of it as protection. Speaking of which the Prime Minster is debarking.”

Robert stepped away and blended back into the crowd.

“Surveillance?” Peter asked. “You don’t tell me you were also a secret agent man.”

“Let’s just say parts of my work life are classified confidential. You car is this way.”

The lot at the Waterside already full. Dan drove around twice looking for a spot.

“Porsche. Porsche. Lexus. Lexus LX.” Peter practically shouted that last one. “My fuck! You sure you’re allowed to even be here? Is that a Silver Cloud? Am I going to need a tux for this event? All I brought was a change of clothes and that black harness you like.” He pulled up his tee shirt to show Dan that he was wearing it. “Set off the alarm at Pearson. Told them I was performing at the gala. The black jeans?”

A flower delivery van pulled out and Dan took the spot.

“We will be skipping the formal dinner.” Dan quickly told Peter about the most recent run in with John Kilpatrick. “I decided it would best if I wasn’t there. If he spilled a glass of water he would probably accused me of somehow doing.”

“Then jeans will be formal enough.”

“I have check for messages.” He handed Peter the card for the cabin. “I’ll be right back.”

George was dealing with an irate, well-dressed man, in his mid-50’s. Thanks to Jeremy, Dan knew the difference between off the rack; between custom made in New York, Paris, Hong Kong or Milan. This man was wearing condo’s worth of clothing. Maybe more when he caught a glimpse of the man’s watch and cufflinks as he slammed his open palm on the front desk.

“We’ve been to every hotel, piss-stained motel and flea-bag b’n’b within a hundred mile radius. You must have something. You fucking jack-off’s hiking prices on top of everything else.”

“Ah, Mr. James.” Clerk said over the man’s shoulder. “There are two messages for you. Plus these flowers, that just arrived.” He put a large floral display in a heavy crystal vase on the counter. “I didn’t have time to get it inot your cabin.”

The man turned and gave Dan a once-over and was clearly about to dismiss him when his eyes stopped at the Lifend camera. He looked at Dan face.

“Can I help you?” Dan asked the man as he read the card. They were from Jeremy.

“Not much anyone can do Mr. James.” George said. “Everything has been booked solid weeks. Good thing QTel had that reservation for the four cabins. I could have let them twice for twice as much, too.”

“What’s taking you so long, sir.” Peter came into the lobby with his tee-shirt off. He sat in one of the lobby arm chairs.

“Here, Peter.” He nodded to the flowers. “Compliments of the Jeremy Moxham.”

Peter picked the vase up carefully. “He must have had this Baccarat flown in for you. I can’t see any local florist carrying them.”

Dan couldn’t stop laughing.

The rich man was confused for a moment. He sat in the other lobby chair and began to text.

“George how many of the cabins is QTel using this weekend.” Dan asked quietly.

George checked. He leaned forward. “Only three. You have one, Baxter has one, Cameron and Stephanie are in the other.”

“Then let the gentleman have that one. It is the one with the crappy a/c,shitty TV reception.”

“If you mean 11b then you’re right.”

“Also the one closest to the highway.” Dan said. He turned to rich guy. “Mr. ?”

“Clarkson.” The man said.

“As it turns out I won’t be using all the cabins I’ve booked. I’ve cancelled my reservation for one of them for the next three nights.”

“That’s most … How can I thank you?”

“Don’t throw the TV in the pool for one thing. Tip clerk well too.”

“Sure.”

“Peter.” Dan commanded.

“Yes, sir.” Peter stood at attention. 

“Flowers to the cabin.”

“Thank you, sir.” Peter picked dup the vase and followed Dan out.

As he left Dan heard Clarkson ask. “Who was that?”

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Picture Perfect 114 

Picture Perfect 114

Dan woke Saturday morning to loud knocking on his cabin door.

“One second.” he said as he shook himself awake. “Who is it?”

“Stephanie Carter.” was the reply. “I wouldn’t bother you but this is urgent.”

He pulled his pants on & opened the door.

“What’s so urgent?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” She was almost in tears. “But Harold Carmichael from QTel has flown in to talk to us.”
“Us?”

“The Cold East crew. He says we’ll be lucky to ever work again after what you did?”

“Did? What did I do?”

“Fuck! I have no fucking idea what this is all about. But he’s seen some video footage & well that’s all he’d say except he’d see us asap at the Regent.”

“Let me … get dressed anyway.”

“He also though you were at the Regent.”

“Whatever.”

A car honked.

“That’s Cameron with the rental. Come on.”

“Okay! Okay! Let me take a piss & get my shoes on at least.”

At the Regent Baxter met them in the lobby & took them one of the conference rooms. Jeremy Maxim & Harold Carmichael were already there with John Kilpatrick. 

“We’re all here.” Baxter said. “Now what is this all about.”

“Show them.” Kilpatrick said with a sneering grin as he nodded to a tech guy who turned on a laptop that had a TV monitor hooked into it.

I was the tail end of the press conference from the day before. It was Dan inviting John stage to talk about Carnival Canada. The camera followed them leave & one of them shouting “Back to you, John.”

“That was me!” Baxter explained. “Not Dan.”

“For once it isn’t about you Baxter.” Harold said. “But about Mr. James. Carnival Canada was strictly top secret. No one was to know about it until QTel made the announcement. No one. Yet here we have Mr James ….”

“Trying to make a fool of me once again. You trumped up nobody. First you steal my show idea, then make a fool of me on national tv & now this. After covering the civil war in Gualanda & getting, in case you don’t know, medal for heroism, I’m not going to step back from a fight with you.”

“I … I didn’t know that it was a top secret show. I’m didn’t even know Cold East episodes were being expanded to two hours each.”

“What!” Cameron said. “Since when!”

“How did you hear about Carnival Canada?” John demanded. 

“I told him.” Jeremy said. “What were you doing at the Cold East press conference John?”

“He was there to  make sure he got compensation for the idea.” Baxter said. “The idea for the series didn’t occur to me, & I repeat ‘me’ until after I had met with Dan for the first time. I checked his credentials & it was clear me he would be perfect to investigate these cases, for us.”

“But …” John began.

“I don’t recall consulting you about it.” Baxter continued. “What I do remember though is you telling me you were looking forward to a break at the wrap of season party.”

“That has nothing to do with this … breach of confidentiality.” John said. “Wasn’t there some sort of nondisclosure clause in the contact?”

“Only for people directly associated with the series.” Harold said. “Dan isn’t associated.”

“It is definitely my fault.” Jeremy said. “I mentioned in passing to Dan when we flew in the other day.”

“What happened after we left?” Jennifer asked. 

“Nothing.” The tech guy said. “I was part of that crew. Mr. Kilpatrick told what media remained that Mr. James was joking.”

 “Has there been anything in the press? On line?”Jennifer asked.

“I’ll find out.” Stephanie spoke to someone on her cell phone. “I’ll know in a minute.”

“Don’t bother!” Kilpatrick pushed the door to the conference room open. “Fucking the executive producer has privileges.” He glared at Dan as he left. “You’ll regret this you asshole.”

They stood in silence as the door shut.

“Breakfast anyone?” Harold said. “That seems to be settled.”

In the dining-room Jeremy steered Dan to a separate table.

“You haven’t returned my messages.” He said once they had ordered.

“In case you’ve forgotten this is weekend is a work assignment.” Dan took his pad out of his shoulder bag. “I have to check what’s scheduled for me today.”

“That’s avoidance. Is my interest in you that … unwelcome?” 

“No but there’s so much going on with there show, with my business. Its like a merry-go-round it only stops long enough for me feel dizzy. I don’t need anything more on it with me.”

The waitress brought their breakfasts.

“I could … oh shit …” Jeremy stared over Dan’s head.

Dan turned around. Della Kincade entered the dining-room & was walking direct to their table.

“Jeremy. The perfect breakfast companion.”

“Sorry Della but this is a business breakfast.” He held up Dan’s pad. “Before you go let me introduce you to Daniel James. Host of QTel’s Cold East.”

Dan stood to shake her hand. 

“Oh yes,” she said. “I have heard of you.” She glance around the room. “Oh there’s David, the PM’s right-hand-man.” She waved & started in the direction. “Nice to meet you. I guess it’s ‘back to Jeremy’ for you.”

“Sorry about that,” Jeremy said.

A teenage boy stopped at their table.

“I is him! I told you it was.”

“More of your fans.” Dan said.

“Can I get a picture with you.” The boy asked.

“I ….” Jeremy started to get up.
“No not you. Him. Back to you Dan we call you.” The boy was beaming at Dan. “My name is, you won’t believe this, but it really is John.” He shook Dan’s hand.

Another teenage boy came over the table. “Here take this Sam.” He handed Sam his cellphone.

“Okay.” Dan stood.

“Here’s the thing,” John said. “I just want you to say it.”

“Say it?” Dan asked.”Smile?”

“No. Back to you John. We’ll post it on my web page. Maybe it’ll go viral, you know.”

Sam held the cell up. “Okay.” he said. “Uh … action.”

Dan waited a moment then said his line.

“Wow.” John exclaimed. “That was amazing. You sound just the first time we heard it.”

“Yeah.” Dan said. “Life is sometimes amazing like that.”

“Thanks again.” The boys ran out of the dining-room.

Jeremy walked Dan out to the parking garage.

“You have any plans for after this?” Jeremy asked.

“I have a real job.” Dan said. “I honesty can’t wait to get back to my routine life. Things like this are fun, I guess, but I don’t feel showbiz is for me.”

“I don’t know about that I’ve seen roughs of the first couple of episodes & you are a natural.”

“No thanks. Once I’ve finished with Cold East that’s it for me & TV. I don’t think I want to be one of those talking heads either. You know those ones that show up in nearly any show being asked what they think about aliens building the pyramids.” Dan stopped to look the rental. “Fuck!”

“What!”

“Cameron drove us in for the meetings. We didn’t park in here.”

“Don’t worry I’ll that you get back.”

“Thanks.” Dan turned back to the stairs when Jeremy pulled him close & kissed him.

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Picture Perfect 113 

Picture Perfect 113

At the car rental Dan hesitated but accepted the car reserved for him. To swap it for another random car would be giving in to his paranoia. He stopped at the Regent to check in long enough to leave a message for Mr. Moxham that he’d see him at the banquet Sunday. 

At his check in at the Waterside he explained to George he was using a pseudonym to stay avoid press. He figured it would a couple of hours before anyone would be looking for him. In his cabin he finally relaxed. When was the last time no one knew where he was? 

On his personal phone he texted Peter. “Landed. Hidden in plain view.”

He turned off his phones. He wet a face cloth, put the drops in his eyes, covered them & fell asleep. He woke once & undressed & went back to sleep. In the morning he stepped out of the cabin & saw that the parking lot was full. At the far end he spotted what he though was the war room remote. Not that he expected QTel to put the crew in the Regent. He got dressed & went over the Waterside breakfast diner. On his way over his show phone rang. It was Jeremy. 

“Hi.”

“Where are you?” Jeremy said.

“I stuck to my original plan to save you the embarrassment.” 

“What?”

“I’m sure you’ll be more comfortable with Della on your arm this weekend. I’m not going to hover in back ground like …. a body guard.”

“I didn’t plan to have that happened. Honestly.”

“I believe that.”

“Come back to the Regent? The suite is paid for.”

“I know. Peter will be joining me here too.”

“Then we won’t be spending any time together at all?”

“You know my shoot schedule. No one will stop the executive producer from dropping by.”

“Look, I’m sorry about Della. Maybe we can have breakfast tomorrow morning.”

“Uh … okay. Bye.” Dan could tell by Jeremy’s tone of voice that he wasn’t used to people saying ‘no.’ 

He went into the diner. He joined Stephanie & Cameron who where already there.

“Dan!” Stephanie said. “I didn’t think they’d stick out out here in the sticks with us lowly crew.”

“They didn’t but I wanted to avoid the celebrity mash in town. I’m not ready for that nor do I ever want to be.” He opened his business phone. “My shooting schedule is pretty vague. What are we expected to do at the Capitol Theatre?”

“Press conference.” Stephanie said. “It’s time for us, or rather you & Jennifer to be the ones questioned. We’ve been flooded with endless requests for more information, in particular from our investigative crew.”

“Endless requests?” Dan gave a little laugh. “Do you know if any press will actually show up?”

To his mild surprise there was about sixty people seated near the front of the stage for the press conference. Curtis introduced Dan & the Cold East crew before showing a new fifteen minute clip that QTel would be using as a promo of the show. Much like the other there were brief looks at the interviews, the cases. It ended with footage of the Amethyst Court explosion. Postcards of the picture of Dan & Timmy were passed out to the audience. under the faces of the boys was printed “Have You Seen These Children” on the back was the date of the first episode.

Curtis passed the microphone to Dan.

“Good morning or is it good afternoon? It’s easy to lose track of time, though thanks to this digital age we have a recording of this to look to if we need it. When these children were abducted there was little or no trace of what happened. No one with cell cameras or security footage. 

“We’ve been painstakingly putting together information, clues, from local press coverage at time, from family recollections while tying them into local events at the time to find connections that were never made.”

“Thank you Dan” Curtis took the microphone back.”Now you were invited to bring photographs or objects for our two investigators to look at. Dan will look at photographs & our psychic Jennifer Devereaux will attempt some on the spot readings.”

After the first couple of audience members had been dealt with Dan scanned the audience for more hands. “This’ll have to be our last one. Ah, Stacy Molefski.” He remembered her from the Amethyst explosion.

She came up on the stage with a photo album, put on the table & opened to to a specific page.

Dan studied for a minute. “You didn’t like wearing your sister’s hand-me-downs, did you?”

“Is that so apparent?”

He motioned for one of the camera operators to get a shot of the photo so the audience could see the picture of two girls leaning against the car.

“The t-shirt you are wearing is, I’d say, three years after JimJim was on the charts. Your sister was a fan & when she was tired of him you ended up with the t-shirt.”

He passed the album to Jennifer. She held it briefly, put it down & held her hands over it.

“Is that the car she died in?” Jennifer asked.

Stacy gasped. “No.” She flipped the pages of the album, “It was this one.”

She went back to her seat.

“Before we wrap up are they are any questions” Curtis asked.

“Do you have any suspects?” Someone asked.

“No, but, as you know, the RCMP has created its own task force to further investigate what we have uncovered. If there are suspects it will be up to them to release that information.” Dan said. “The show follows our search not …”

“Will you show give credit to the person responsible for first bringing these cases to light?” A voice asked from the furthest edge of the audience.

“I’m not sure who you are referring to?” Dan said. “As I explained it was first brought to my attention by the Cold Canada show.” 

“If you mean Jackson Meade.” Stephanie took over. “The journalist who sent the tip to us. There will an interview with him in the series.”

“Howe generous of you but I was referring to person behind getting that episode on the air.”

“You mean me?” Curtis said. “Rest assured Baxter’s Bits will be listed the credits.”

“But of course.” The voice mocked.

Dan recognized the voice.

“Let’s welcome John Kilpatrick to the stage.”

The figure that stepped into the light was John Kilpatrick. 

“That doesn’t answer my question Mr. James.”

“Maybe not but the question on everyone’s lips these days is your new QTel series. Carnival Canada I think it’s called?”

Kilpatrick came onto the stage.

“Ah …yes it is.”

“We have come to the end our presentation so I’ll leave this captive audience in your capable hands Mr. Kilpatrick.”

As he left the stage Dan resisted the temptation to say “Back to you, John.”

But as they were going up the aisle Curtis turned back to say “Back to you, John.”

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Picture Perfect 112 

Picture Perfect 112

The only snag Dan hit for the Hippo Centennial was that Peter wouldn’t be able to join him because of his Carafe duties, until the Sunday morning of the event. QTel had booked his flight to leave on Thursday so they would have a day or so to do their Cold work without interfering with Kilpatrick’s Centennial Special.

He was was waiting at the Depot for the limo QTel had arranged to pick up the crew they were sending for the occasion. 

Peter had come by with the morning coffees & muffins for Sandy & Ushio. A car horn beeped a couple of times at the curb. 

“That’s some car they’ve sent for you.” Sandy said.

The car door opened & Ashley Moxham got out & ran into the store.

“Come on Dan. We’ve got a tight schedule.” She said.

“Ashely?” Dan reached for his suitcase.

“Yep. I’m going too, so to save money I’m going on your ticket. Now that the muffin man isn’t going.”

“What!” Peter said.

“Just kidding but we’re taking the same flight & Dad thought it would fun surprise for you to join us.” She went to the window & waved to the limo. 

Jeremy stepped out of the car to wave back.

“Better get a move on, sir.” Peter said giving Dan a quick kiss. “You master calls.”

<>

“Thanks.” Dan sat in the back seat. “I appreciate the lift.” He squeezed Jeremy’s hand.

“You can kiss him” Ashley said leaning over the front seat.

“Seat belt! Miss Moxham.” Max, the driver, said pulling her to face forward.

“Humph. I have seen people kissing before you know. Even my Dad.”

“What’s with her?” Dan asked.

“She has a crush on you I think.” Jeremey said. “Ever since ‘Back to you, John.’ …”

Ashley said “Back to you, John.” as Jeremy said it.

“She’s been on to me everyday about when would I see you again.” Jeremy shrugged.

“Really?”

“Don’t lie Daddy. You’ve been looking at the Cold footage every day. You wanted to see Dan, too.”

“True.” Jeremy said. “I did.”

“Really” Dan wasn’t sure what to say. 

“In my role as executive producer.”

“Ahh. Then I guess you were really sweating it when we almost got busted for child porn, when the car rolled in the rain, when the motel blew the fuck up.”

“I was in constant contact with Stephanie through everything.”

“Thanks for the flowers.” Dan didn’t understand his anger. 

“Flowers?” Ashley asked. “Did you send Dan flowers without telling me?”

“No. Dan’s making a joke. Ah here we are.”

Max pulled into the airport.

“We can talk about this later.” Jeremy said once Max had stopped the car. 

Ashley got out ahead of them.

“We’re on the same flight. So there’ll time for me to … apologize. I was concerned.”

“Oh yes in your investment.”

“No! About you but I didn’t see any reason to … send flowers.”

Max put Jeremy’s bag on the sidewalk beside Dan’s battered suitcase.

“I wish I wasn’t staying home.” Ashley said. “This is Mom’s weekend.”

“Oh! So, it’s just the two of us & rest of the Cold crew?” Dan said.

“Yes & no. Look we’d better get a move on. We have an earlier departure time than the one you originally had.”

After they went through the security checks Jeremy guided Dan to the private members lounge. A flight attendant greeted them there. 

“Mr. Moxham. Mr. James.” He handed them each their boarding passes. “You can board now.”

“Your private jet?” Dan asked.

“No.” Jeremy laughed. “A charter.”

As they entered the plane Jeremy was glad handing some people who recognized him.

Jeremy insisted Dan have the window seat. “I know you’ll want to take pictures. “Hope that didn’t bother you?”

“I can help you being who you are. As long as they don’t think I’m your p.a. it’ll be fine.”

“As long as they don’t think you my son I’ll be happy. Once Cold East hits the screen you’ll be a household name too.”

The plane had been chartered for the special guests invited to the gala so they could travel away from, what Jeremy called, their hoards of fans. 

As the plane taxied Jeremy said. “Dan, I’ve always been more comfortable staying out of the way. I have more assists than goals.”

“I see.”

“I’ve never been one to be that direct so I’ve been keeping my distance from you while the show was shooting. But in the distance I was …”

“Assisting?”

“Yes. Why do you think John dropped his suit?”

“He dropped his suit! I was wondering why I hadn’t heard anything more.”

“It wasn’t that easy, mind you, especially after the ‘Over to you.’ That’s when I had this idea that I hoped would … assuage his rage.”

“Idea?”

“Yes QTel offered him a new series with a new … sensibility. Reporting on crime is grim, to say the least, so he’ll be spending A Week In The Circus. Did you know there are travelling carnivals across Canada. Each province has at least one plus big expositions like the CNE.”

“Jeremy Moxham! What luck.”

He was interrupted. Dan recognized actress Della Kincaid. She she took Jeremy hand. “I was so hoping I’d have someone interesting to talk to on the flight. All these boring politicians. Every conversation is a policy speech.”

“Yes.” Jeremy said.

Della Kincaid was the first Canadian actress to be nominated for Oscars two years in a row, winning neither time.

“The seat next mine is free. I’m sure they won’t mind if you join me here.” She pulled him to his feet then got into her seat, encouraging him into the seat beside her. “I hate flying. No I love to fly but I hate taking off. It’s like the first day of rehearsal. You’re not sure if things are really to work this time.” 

“As you can see we are safely in the air.”

Jeremy spent the rest of the flight talking to her.

Her hands would touch him when she laughed at his remarks, or when agreeing with him. Jeremy tried to bring Dan into the conversation but she didn’t acknowledge his presence.

“You’re staying the Astoria Regent.” She asked as they exited the plane.

“Yes.” Jeremy said.

“Perfect you can join me in my limo. I’m know we’ll have a great weekend. I wasn’t looking forward to this command performance, as it were, but now the fates have interceded.”

Jeremy took Dan aside in the airport with a pained face. “Look I’m sorry about this. How can I shut the bitch up?”

“Tell her you’re with your boyfriend.” Dan said.

“If she shuts up long enough I just might. Here … ” he reached into his sport coat pocket and gave Dan the car rental printout and the hotel reservations. “I’ll see you in your room there. It’s across the hall from mine.”

“Not on different floors?”

“Don’t be like that. Her room is definitely on another.”

Dan picked up the rental Jeremy had arranged. He was both amused and angry. Clearly Jeremy was protecting his image. But that he didn’t even introduce him to Della he was pissed. But not as pissed he figured Jeremy would be to find that Dan wasn’t staying at the Regent. He’d made his own reservations at the Waterside. No one in the Quintex office knew he was staying there. Warszawa had made it clear it was someone inside the production company that had tipped off the RCMP. No one would tip anyone off this time.

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Picture Perfect 82

Dan hopped into the cab & directed the cabbie to the Mirabel. He sat back tor relax a bit & decided to double check his flight departure & saw to his dismay that his flight to Halifax was out the Trudeau  in Dorval.

“Merde. Arret. Arrêt.” He swore. 

“Pardon?” the cabbie said looking for somewhere to stop.

“Wrong way,” Dan’s French failed him. “I have to go to the Pierre Trudeau in Dorval!” 

“Ah!” The cabbie raised his hands in frustration & slowed the car looking for an exit ramp.

Dan wondered how many idiots made the same mistake & missed their flights? Did they have as much swirling around on their minds as he did? 

He gave his driver a tip equal to the fare when he got out of the cab at the airport with five minutes to spare. Breathless he gave his flight printout to the steward at the boarding desk. 

“Ah, sir! You are Daniel James?”

“Yes! Yes.” He pulled out his driver’s licence. “I headed to the wrong airport.”

“It happens. I haven’t missed my flight have I?”

The clerk scanned Dan’s ticket & typed into the computer.

“Non, monsieur. Your flight to Moncton leave in an hour.”

“Moncton! My ticket is for Halifax!” He took the ticket from the steward. 

“It appear there has been a change in your plans.”

“What!”

“Telephone for Monsieur Daniel James.” Came over the public address system. “Telephone for Monsieur Daniel James.”

“Maybe that will be the news you are expecting. You can take your call in the Salon Or privé.”

“Uh … thank you.”

As he followed the signs to the lounge he pulled out his Quintex phone & turned it on & saw that there were dozens of voice mails & an equal number of texts.

He walked into the lounge.

“Over here Mr. James. We were expecting you.” A young Asian steward waved him over to the phone.

“How did you know who I was!”

“Back to you, John.” She laughed lightly.

He took the phone. It was Baxter.

“Where the fuck have you been! We’ve been trying to get ahold of you all day. All fucking day. That house boy of yours was no help & your sister is a piece of work. Even Lifend wouldn’t take my calls.”

“You’ve met your match. What do you want!”

“You’re going back to Moncton to follow up on Snake Man. Stephane has sent you the information. I’ve texted you the information. We took the liberty of changing your flights.”

“So I discovered.”

“When we couldn’t a hold of you we what I thought was necessary. If you had bothered to check your messages you would have known. This is hot & we have to act on the wave.”

“I see without consulting me.”

“Dan we tried. Cameron is already on his way to meet up with you in Moncton.”

He hung up.

“Back to you, Tiffany.” He read the name on the woman’s tag. 

She laughed & took the receiver.

“This way Mr. James.” Another steward took his carry on & lead him to a semiprivate spot. “Mr. Moxham has sent instructions for us to make you are comfortable as possible. He also apologizes for this last minute change in your plans.”

“Merci.” 

There was a pot of coffee, muffins & a smoked meat on rye sandwich at the table.

“Anything else sir?” The attendant asked.

“No. This will be fine. Leave my carry on.”

“Of course sir.”

Alone in the quiet nook Dan took a deep breath. He poured a cup of coffee, had a bite of the sandwich & scrolled through the messages on both his phones. 

On his private cell his sister didn’t appreciate being pestered by Baxter;  Sandy didn’t appreciate being annoyed by that arrogant git Baxter; Jeremy apologized but for some reason Baxter thought he had more influence over Dan than he did; Peter sent lol Baxter says get in touch.

On the Quintex cell it was the series of increasingly urgent calls starting in the morning at eleven from Baxter, Stephanie, even Harold from the Toronto office. A for moment he regretted leaving the phone off then was thankful he hadn’t been caught up in the distractions.

He read through his updated travel itinerary & once again a reservation for him has been made at the Waterside. A car would be ready for him to pick up at the Moncton airport. Cameron would meet him in the morning & they would follow up a lead to Nova Convergent Centre near Maccan in Nova Scotia.

<>

Cameron turned off the road into the dirt lot in front of a store so Dan could consult the google map.

“I think we took a wrong turn somewhere outside of Amherst.”

“That I know already. Where the fuck are we?”

“Single isn’t that strong wherever we are. Let’s not be men for a minute & actually ask for direction.”

He got out of the car and went to the store. 

It was like stepping into a vintage photo, all that was missing were a couple of gas pumps out front. 

Cameron hoisted his camera to his shoulder to get footage of the rusted sign swinging above the door said “Welcome to Flannery’s” over an advert for ‘Nutsy Nougat’ a chocolate bar. A dingy card board sign dangling midway behind the glass said “Open” in fancy script.

Dan cupped his eyes and peered through the dusty door to see if the sign was right. He tried the handle, it wasn’t locked and bells clanged as he pushed the door open. The clang was a toneless metal like a cow bell. Cameron on his heels. 

Inside was dim until lights were turned on. A young man came from behind a curtain at the back of the store. 

“Don’t turn lights on unless we got a customer.” The man wore an unbuttoned white shirt with a plain grey tee-shirt under it “Ma won’t let us use that motion sensitive stuff. Hope it didn’t scare you too much. Them coming on like that.” 

In the man’s arms was a nearly matching grey cat that leapt to the floor and came over to sniff that Dan’s, then Cameron’s shoes then hopped to the window sill.

“Cod doesn’t take to strangers.” The man stepped behind the counter, brushed cat hair off his shirt sleeves. 

The store was larger than it appeared from the outside. It could have been a 7/11 from the layout, right down to a coffee island in the middle of the floor near the front window. Only this one had a couple of comfy chairs like a coffee shop.

“Bottled water at the back. That’s usually what people’re looking for when they stop here. But we’re prepared. Coffee fresh this morning. Columbian we roast and decaf, none of the flavoured nonsense. Coffee only. We’re not Tim’s.” The man laughed. “Ma bakes the cookies and scones. Fresh. Daily.”

“You’re certainly fixed for any tourists.” Cameron picked up a cookie with his free hand.

“Locals like us. We’re the closest thing to a coffee shop that isn’t Tim’s in these parts. Self-serve for the coffee.”

Dan had stopped for directions only but he couldn’t resist the man’s invitation. “Smells good.” He said as he filled a large take-out cup.

The man went one to one of the coolers. “Whole milk or cream? Can’t help you if you’re intolerant.”  

“Cream’ll be fine.” Dan stirred the cream into the coffee and put on a lid. “I’ll take one of those scones.”

“We got cranberry lemon or broccoli cheddar.”

“Really?” Cameron said putting a lid on his coffee.

“Oh yeah, just because we’re not city doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s selling.” The man held Dan’s gaze. “It’s pretty clear you’re with that TV film crew that’s been talking to people around here?”

“Yes.”

“I’d rather you didn’t film me, you understand.”

“No problem.” Cameron turned his rig off & slid it to the floor.

“Dan James.” Dan reached out to shake the man’s hand. “Cameron Carter cameraman extraordinaire.”

“Trey AuCoin.” 

“Not Flannery?” Cameron asked.

“Nah. That was the sign when we bought the place years ago. They weren’t Flannery’s either. Didn’t aim to rewrite history. We figured it would better to fit in some. We call ourselves Flannery’s General Store and Cafe.”

“So you’re not from here?” Dan sipped his coffee.

“Ma was. I’s born in the States. Price was right and so far we’ve managed to break even.”

“You know the area well?”

“Lost are you?”

“Sort. As long my g.p.s works I’m safe but the single is weak out here. We were looking for the Nova Convergent Centre.”

“You mean The Slythies.” Trey laughed. “Oh man those people are strange.”

“Slythies?”

“That’s what some around here call it. The snakes and all. From Harry Potter?”

“I see. It may be part of the show we’re doing. Thought I’d check it out. Research you might say.”

“Then you already know about them and the snakes.”

“Not much that’s why we’re here.”

“Yours is that TV show about the missing children, right? Weird about that psychic that got killed. I’m surprised it’s still going forward with it.”

“Nothing stops the news.” Cameron chuckled.

“You think it might be connected?”

“With Slythies?”

“I mean her accident. The guys responsible for those kids might not want to be caught all these years later. Maybe she was in psychic contact with the killer.”

“Anything is possible.” Dan opened the door to leave. “Good coffee.”

“You didn’t let me tell you how to find the Slythies place. Isn’t far.”

“Right. The coffee was so good I forgot.”

“You just follow this road and turn left when you get back to Maccan. It’s on the left about ten minutes down the other road.”

“Thanks again.”

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Picture Perfect 73

Picture Perfect 73

A car pulled into the park lot. On the roof was an illuminated taxi sign that had been repainted with a crude rending of a donairs on one side and Dumphy’s on the other.

He paid for it, tipped generously, as it was Quintex money anyway. He sat at one of the picnic tables outside the breakfast diner and ate the meal. It tasted better when he didn’t have to see it. 

Cameron came out of the dark. “I’ll have to speak to Baxter about this place. Those cabins are rough. I don’t what it is about them but I can’t stand being in one for more than an hour before I’m ready to climb the walls.”

“Ditto.”

“Funny what people will do to get in the credits for a TV show.”

“How so?”

“Locations swung a deal with places. In return for discount, or in this case free, they get mentioned in the credits for the show.’

“Like catering by so and so.”

“Exactly but no catering service is stupid enough to give food away for credits that they know full well no one reads. Owners here didn’t know that. Baxter convinced them it would be good for the tourist trade. We have to shoot an interview here in return.

Dan laughed. “You should be filming me now eating out here. I can move so the sign is over my shoulder.”

“Don’t have a night vision camera.”

“One think to be thankful for or we’d be skulking around at night with Jennifer Devereaux looking for the emanations of the departed.”

“Keep that one to yourself or we’ll end up doing just that.” Cameron gave a little laugh. “Seriously, can I ask you something?”

“Uncut. Versatile?” Dan said.

“What!” Cameron laughed. “No. Never mix work with play. What do you think happened to those children? You always ask that question so I was wondering what you think?”

“I think they are dead.”

“Yes but I mean what happened to their bodies? One never being found I can understand but not this many.”

“Bones have been found in the strangest of places decades centuries after the fact.”

“So you think they are in some cave somewhere? Or in a freezer in someone’s basement?”

“That’s a question you should ask Jennifer. When I was in the Force I never dealt with a cold case of this type. Here we’re trying to make connections as we sift though data, not bones.”

“Baxter would crap his pants if we found remains somewhere though wouldn’t he? In some farmer’s field.”

“There are no unplowed fields in this area, trust me.”

‘Yeah, but you know what I mean.”

“Yes I know. Don’t give him any ideas though or some unidentified remains are likely to show up. There enough drama going on now.”

“Unidentified Remains – sound like a great show title.” Cameron got up from the table. “See you in the morning.”

<>

Winston Chamberlain was waiting for them in the Circus Museum parking lot.

“We’re closed on Monday’s” he said. “But Baxter was so insistent I said I’d talk with you today just to shut him up. We’ll go in the side way. Fewer locks to deal with.”

Inside he gave Cameron a quick tour of the various exit halls and the rides.

“Choice stuff. Let’s sit you two here.” Cameron said. “I can get that merry-go-round frmm one side of you, the Hippo Dog stand from the other.”

“This is to be an interview?” Winston asked. “I thought you just want to check this out for locations.”

“It shouldn’t take too long.” Cameron said.”We never know when we’ll get something we can use.”

“Don’t I have to sign some sort of release.” Winston brushed his hair flat. “How do I look.”

“I have release forms here in my equipment bag.” Cameron rummaged in it and pulled out some forms.

Winston read them over.

“Its really standard stuff.” Cameron explained. “We can’t use this in any other context except the show. If you divulge anything relating to illegal activities we have to inform the authorities.”

“Okay.” He signed where Cameron indicated. 

“Your family owned the Happy Hippo Carnivals?” Dan began.

“Yes.” Winston’s expression changed as the camera started. His irritated smile quickly became garrulous & inviting.

“This museum is a way of preserving them.”

“That’s right Dan. All of the exhibits come from my Father’s need to accumulate. He was a sort of circus hoarder. He couldn’t throw anything away.”

“You worked in the carnival as a boy?”

“Yes. I spent a few summers with the tours. I learned all about the Hippo from the ground up because my dad wanted me to take it over eventually. But, well, it went bankrupt before that could happen.”

“Did you enjoying working the midway?”

“Oh, yeah. I loved the games, the rides. The way the rides worked fascinated me. The gears and mechanics.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t become a mechanical engineer.”

“I did consider it but once the circus folded I didn’t see myself wanting to join any of the other carnivals. You know, move to Toronto to work at the CNE.”

“Does this bring back any memories for you?” Dan handed him a copy of the photo of him and Theresa.

“That’s me! Where did you get this! Man I look so young there.”

“You were young. Around fourteen.”

“I must have really dug that girl.”

“You don’t remember her? Stoney.”

He looked up from the picture. “Jesus. That’s right I used to call myself Stoney so no one would know I was the owner’s son.”

“Used to tell them you were nineteen as well.”

“I might have. Easier to get laid when you tell them you are nineteen.”

“There were rumours about you.”

“Such as?”

“You had a … hankering for younger girls. I mean younger than the one in this picture.”

“Fuck where did you dig that up.” 

“I didn’t dig it up. I wasn’t even looking for it when, there it was.”

“What was I thirteen or fourteen year old kid. I might have looked up the skirts of girls my age on the ferris wheel when I was checking their straps. Who didn’t do that. They weren’t that much younger than me.”

“Right.” 

Dan was amused to see how completely Winston’s camera personality disappeared as he become defensive.

“Are you trying to implicate me in this case?” Winston snapped.

“Not at all. Did you hear anything about them at the time?”

“Only that they had happened.” He took a deep breath. “That was after the fact too I might add. Didn’t know there that many either.”

“Apparently only one person did.”

“Who?” Winston asked.

“The abductor.” He looked to Cameron. “I think we’ve got enough here.” He glanced at his cell. “We have to get to the Moncton Municipal Hospital for the O’Connor interview.”

Cameron slung his shoulder mounted camera off and stored it in the equipment bag.

“Sorry I put you on the spot there Winston.”

“Sorry! You fucking accused me of being a child molester. If anyone ever sees that I’ll fucking sue you and Qunitex for everything you’ve got. Now march you asses out of here.” His shouts echoed in the hall. “In fact, if anything about the Hippos is mentioned in your fucking TV show I’ll shut you down so hard you’ll wish you’d never met me.”

<>

In the car Cameron shook his hand. “That was one of the best reveals I have ever witnessed.”

“Reveals?”

“He was so cooperative while the camera was on but the minute he thought it was off he went off.”

“Thought? You mean you got all that?”

“Oh yeah.” He took off his baseball hat. There was a wire from the front and circling the inner brim. “That Qunitex logo isn’t just for looks. The lens remote feeds directly into this baby.” He indicated his equipment bag.

“You’re as bad as me.” Dan turned up the collar of his interview sports coat to show the remote for his camera. 

“That’s not Q issue is it? Where’s the lens.” 

“No, it’s not and the lens is a trade secret. There’s something going on there though. And someone tinkered with my rental car the last time I was here. He wasn’t with me every minute I was here that time.”

“He certainly has something to hide.” Cameron said. “You might want to talk with that Theresa again. She had more to say. I could tell that when we left her at the park.”

“Yeah I’d like to talk with her again too. Now, back to Waterside then on to hospital.”

“Cut or uncut?” Cameron asked. “Winston I mean.”

“Winston? I’d say uncut. Why? Are you interested.” 

“I didn’t get such a good look at that picture of him before. You sure he didn’t have a career in porn.”

“That’s something I never thought to check.”

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Picture Perfect 72

Picture Perfect 72

Dan plugged in his laptop. No urgent emails. He flipped through the pictures he had uploaded to the cloud. He pulled down one of the s/m shots that showed the woman’s face clearly and one that gave a more than partial of her male victim’s face. He ran them though Face Finder, a face recognition site that searched for matches. The ‘time to do’ clock said ‘check back in ten minutes’ as it usually did for black and white pictures.

After brushing his teeth he went back to his laptop to check on Face Finder’s progress. The first one it found was one of the pictures he had selected. The one of her spread legged, facing the camera and holding the whip in her gloved right hand hand.

Had the program doubled back to his cloud? 

Before he clicked on the picture he entered a cloaking code that would hide him so he couldn’t be traced. He clicked on the picture and no, it hadn’t gone to his cloud, it had gone to an online site. 

“Golden Age of Glamour” topped the page with several black and white photos under it. All similar in content to his and one of them was in fact a duplicate of his.

“This site is devoted to the lost art of sexual tease. We offer an archive of photographs from the past decades of erotica going back as far as the late 1800’s.”

He clicked on his agreeing to being over 18 and being willing to see context of a sexually nature some of which would be explicit. 

The next menu offered eras, types, special tastes, gay, lesbian, straight, solo, couples, interracial. There was a pop invitation to join the members club at twenty percent off, where more features were offered including the opportunity to converse with other members. He clicked a tab for Store.

Various sets of reprints were offered for sale and in some cases originals. He clicked the set that included his father’s photographs. There were six in the set and they were all from the same shoot. He was hoping there would be information about the photographer. 

“This stunning set of six black and white photos features Canada’s answer to Betty Page – Peggy Brooks – in a saucy series of pictures taken by ace photographer Pierre LaBouche. Fans of the genre prize his limited output over that of many others.’

a set of six 8×10 – $60.00 – reproduced from the original negatives 

a set of six 8×10 – signed and numbered originals – $600.00.

Mr LaBouche died in 1990 and we have a limited quantity of these signed photographs.”

He clicked the Pierre LaBouche hyperlink and it took him to a page of thumbnails of forty similar photographs. Only members could see them full size. He looked at each of them. Some where the ones he’d already found in his father’s cache. Some he’d never seen. Those he looked at more closely. It was the same model in all of them. Her outfit changed a few times. He did screen capture of thumbnails. There were none of the photos of her drawing blood in the sets offered; none of her with a victim. Perhaps those were behind the paywall?

He went back to the first page for information about who Golden was. It was copyright by JovietJinc.com. He did a search for Joviet J. Inc which led him to a Montreal suite which he suspected, from his time on the force, was a post office box. He went back to his original scans of his father’s pictures and there on the back of one of them was the same post office box number written by his father. Interesting. A trip to Montreal was called for to investigate. He only had Sundays free for the next couple of weeks. He checked flights and it was possible to do a day trip to Montreal.

He googled a map of Montreal, typed in the postal code which put it in a warehouse district. He did a search of the area for businesses. One of them was J. Carter Magazine Publishers and Distributers. He checked through the scanned pages of his dad’s travel logs and sure enough there were notations for JC Mont in each year. Even after they had moved to Toronto. Was JC Carter Magazine?

He shut the laptop, got up and stretched. His head swam with the bits of information he had assembled. They weren’t adding up to something he didn’t already know. His Dad took and sold smutty pictures. Did Linda know about this? Who was Peggy Brooks. He didn’t know any Brooks growing up. But if his father had become Pierre LaBouche, Peggy was probably not a real name either.

His cell alarm went off. Time for his drops. Perfect. He put the comforter on the floor and made a pillow comfortable to support his neck, put the drops in, covered his eyes with a hand towel and let his body come to a stop on the floor. 

The comforter did little to protect him from the damp or cover the smell of the carpet. When was the last time it had been steam cleaned. The real colour would probably shock them and force them to repaint the rooms. At least it didn’t smell of cigarettes. That Theresa sure smoked like a chimney. That’s what his mother would have said. Did she smoke that much when he knew her. Did his sister smoke too. What was Linda hiding about that summer? That story about being pregnant and losing the child. That couldn’t be true, could it? There should be medical records somewhere. A doctor must have known if she was knocked up. A woman can’t miscarry and not seek medical attention. But they can have a baby without even knowing they are pregnant, so what she was told him was possible. Possible but probable? His mother surely would have known. Did Theresa know? He he could ask her.

His alarm went off and his thirty minutes was up. He removed the towel, got up slowly and went to the bathroom and rinsed his eyes. His stomach rumbled. He texted Dumphy’s Donaire for a repeat of his last order. He checked his email once again. Outside in the parking lot he waited for the food to arrive.

The air was cool, the sky was clear. A light wind rusted leaves of the trees that lined the side of the motel. He could hear cars on the highway. Would he trade his Toronto life for a life like this if he had the opportunity? Probably not.

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Picture Perfect 71

Picture Perfect 71

“How is Teresa? I haven’t heard from her for centuries.”

“A bit rough for wear but …”

“We used to caller her Teresa Tear-Off-A-Piece-A. She tell you about that?”

“This wasn’t a … social meeting. I was interviewing her about Timothy Dunlop.”

“Is that why she gave you those pictures?”

“That was the context, yes. We did reminisce some. She had lots of pictures of that summer. Whatever become of the ones you took. I didn’t find any in Dad’s archives.”

“To be honest I never keep them for long. I gave most of them way to whomever was in them. Dad was appalled when I told him I had discarded all the negatives too. I never saw myself a photographer anyway. Least ways not like he was. I didn’t realize that I was going to stay in the business.”

“Oh?” 

“Yeah, there’s a lot you don’t know about me. I really wanted to get into fashion. Don’t laugh because I know what a cliche that is.”

“I wasn’t going to laugh. Teresa didn’t remember the names of the men in the photos. Do you.”

He took his tablet out and pulled up the photos.

“There’s this one of me and Kevin.” She pointed to the one that Dan had added to the group. “He was the older man that Dad was rescuing me from that summer. Mom really disliked him for some reason too. You sort of got along with him, didn’t you.”

“All I remember is his name. Kevin. What was his last name?”

“O’Neill. Big Catholic family. Maybe that’s why Dad didn’t approve. He never could get into the Catholic school system to do class photos. Catholics only were allowed to do that.”

“These others?” He scrolled to the picture of the girls with the circus guys.

“That’s Terry with one of those circus guys she was so crazy about. Rocky, no Stoney! or some such. They usually had forgettable names. I think this the guy with the …”

“Big … reputation?”

“Yeah. Heard some nasty rumours about him too. But you always heard that about the circus people in general.”

“I remember that Kevin was one of those circus people, too. That’s what you always told me after we moved here.”

“Did I now.”

“What about the one of you and this other guy?”

“You mean Kevin? He was some friend of Stoney’s.” She dipped foam out her coffee with her finger. “They ran one of games of chance at the Happy Hippo. Games of fat chance. They practically showed us how they were rigged.”

“Linda you are the most accomplished liar I have ever met. Even when I was on the force no suspect was as convincing as you are when you are evading the truth.”

“What did you mean?”

“This,” He pointed to the picture of her and Hank’s circus buddy, “is not Kevin O’Neill in the other photo. Not unless you dated two guys called Kevin O’Neill.”

He put the photos of the men side by side.

“They don’t even look alike.”

“Then I must be mistaken. I don’t know. That first guy is definitely Kevin.”

“According to Teresa this other guy is.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“This is the back of that picture. I think that’s your handwriting. It says: Me and Kevin O’Neill.”

“I …” she was silent.

“This is the man,” he pointed to the other picture, “you brought home. You told us he was Kevin O’Neill. He was not. And you wonder why I have lost all trust in you.”

“It was all so long ago.” she teared up. “I didn’t know what to do. I was … pregnant. The real Kevin refused to meet the folks, refused to do anything in fact.”

“So you thought bringing a substitute would make things better?”

“No, not better. I was going to say he’d left me. That getting married was too much for him to face. I did’t want to just be pregnant without … I was ashamed. You don’t know what it was like. For girls. Even Terry didn’t know. So I brought this guy over so they wouldn’t think I’d gotten knocked up and the the guy had run out me.”

“Which is what happened? The real Kevin deserted you.”

“No. He hung around but refused to marry me. While I was here and you were traveling to Toronto I lost the baby. Honest. I didn’t do anything to terminate the pregnancy.”

Dan got up. “Linda. I don’t know what to believe.” He glanced this cell phone. “I have a plane to catch.”

He had a taxi drop him off the his house and wait while he got his carry on. On the way to the airport texted Peter a goodbye. Approved the Depot plan to give a 15% discount to anyone with a hundred dollar gift card from the Carafe. Texted a thank you to Jeremy for the pizza. Switched to his Quintex cell & texted Baxter that he was on his way back. By the time got out of the taxi he felt he accomplished something over the past couple of days. When he got to his seat he put both phones to silent & put his sleep mask on & tried to stay awake.

When he exited the plane in Moncton Sergeant Coster met him in the arrivals lounge.

“Leaving the area during a criminal investigation is a chargeable offence Mr. James.” she said to him. “Obstruction of justice.”

“Only if one has been informed of their need to be present for said investigation Sergeant.”

“You’ve been in court too many times for me to put a scare into you.” She shrugged.

“Probably. Why are you here?”

“I wanted to say I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot last week.”

“I know protocol Sergeant. I know it too well to be that upset by what happened at the Waterside, Did you ever find out what was on those DVD’s in the bathroom ceiling.”

“Other than standard porn on the top three all the other’s were blanks.”

“Did you check the bathrooms of any of the other cabins?”

“Only yours.”

“Not the rest of the crew?”

“Yours was the only one specified in the tip.”

“I didn’t know which one was going to mine until I checked in. I hadn’t even opened my bag when you came busting in. So …”

“Whomever it was may have planted something in every empty cabin? That takes this beyond a crank call.”

“What investigation?”

“Huh?”

“The one I skipped out of?”

“The accident that resulted in Roberto Hajla & Glaucia Vidro’s death. It is now a double homicide case.”

“Right.”

“The evidence points to tampering with the electrical system. What happened to the vehicle was not a ‘manufacturers’ malfunction. Not was it caused by the storm.”

“Interesting.” 

“We’ve checked out all the other rentals and this is the only one that has been tampered with.”

“Targeted is more like it.”

“Clearly someone wants to derail this TV show.”

“Killing me wouldn’t derail the show.” Dan said. “Unsolved Cold is already running a promo with footage from the accident. My death would have turned into hype.”

Dan spotted Cameron entering the lounge.

“My drive has arrived.” He nodded to Cameron.

“We need an official disposition from you regarding the cars. How you ended up in the one you were driving.”

“I’ll try to get to the division as soon as I can. Can we do it on line?”

“That’s possible.”

Cameron came over to them. “Baxter was more than a bit ticked at the way you beat it out of Dodge. He sent me to make sure you did’t slip out of his control again. Car’s outside.”

Dan put his carry on in the back seat and got into the front passenger side.

“Is this the same car I left in Halifax?”

“That’s why I’m ticked, having to haul ass there to pick it up and get here for you was a lot of endless driving.”

“Sorry.” Dan said.

“We’re back at the Waterside for tonight. Hope you don’t mind?”

“Any schedule changes?”

“Nope. You’ll be talking with that guy from the Museum in the morning. Then we’ll meet Jennifer Devereaux at the hospital to interview Mrs. O’Connor.”

At the Waterside Dan was glad to be assigned a different cabin that he’d had the last time. He couldn’t resist checking the ceiling tiles in the bathroom. Nothing but dust.

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