Picture Perfect 39

Picture Part 2

Picture Perfect 39

Balancing his luggage Dan held his point and click camera to his eye and took a couple of pictures of the cabin door. The door opened slowly to the electronic key with an audible creak. Inside Dan put his suitcase down to shut it. The door wasn’t cooperating. He slung off his shoulder bag and put it on the bed and went back to the door. He had to lift it slightly by the knob to fit it into the door frame.

Just what he needed, another sign that things weren’t going to go so smooth. At least he was here in New Brunswick as the Waterside Motel. He opened his shoulder bag and took out the production schedule for the five weeks of the shoot. Places, distances, dates, times, drivers, motels, b’n’b’s, with no time-out between each. He was glad he’d had his breaks included in the contract.

Baxter talked big money but spent small. At least Dan wasn’t saddled with booking his own motels. If he was, they would have been half-a-star better. He was only here for two nights so he didn’t even bother unpacking more than his interview drag. Those sport coats couldn’t show a wrinkle for the HD camera. The pale blue shirt would need to ironed. That wasn’t in his contract.

He put his camera on the bedside table. He got his laptop out of his shoulder bag. Swallowed the last gulp of orange juice in his travel mug. At least this place had wifi. He turned on the laptop and while it was starting, found the outlet to to plug it in. He had to choose: did he want the TV or the laptop plugged in? At least there was a desk to put it on, too bad it faced the wall, while the TV merely blocked half the window.

The motel splash page came up first. There was free wifi but if he wanted higher speeds he would have to pay more for it. It would be charged to his room. As Quintex was paying for that, he opted for the highest speed.

There was a knock at his door. “You decent?”

It was Baxter himself. Dan pulled the door open. “Come in. I was just getting started.” He gestured to his laptop.

“Utilitarian,” Baxter glanced around the room. He breathed deeply. “Stuffy. Damp.”

“Lives up its name – Waterside Motel.”

“There’s a difference between being water side and being in the water.” Baxter brushed the quilt before sitting on the bed. “You ready for tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Interview is with the Forestier’s. I’ve read the background stuff. They have some photos I’ve never seen before. I’ll look at them to see what I might see in them. I have the set of questions your researcher has provided. Plus a few of my own. It’ll take more than a hour to get through them all you know.”

“No problem as long as you stick to them. We have to …”

He was interrupted by a loud knocking at the door.

“You order a pizza?” Baxter asked.

Dan stepped to the door when it was shoved open.

Two RCMP officers strode in.

“Daniel James?” A thick set, tall female glared at him. 

“Yes. What can I do for you Corporal?” Dan recognized her rank patch.

The other officer reached for the laptop. “Couldn’t wait for the filth, eh.” He muttered squinting at Dan then Baxter.

“John!” She silenced him. “I’ll do the talking.”

“What’s this about?” Baxter stood.

With all of them standing there wasn’t much space left for them to move in the tiny room. She handed Baxter a piece of paper. “I’m Corporal Coster. This is Sergeant Tyler. From the local RCMP detachment. We have a warrant to search the premises and to seize all electronic devices on a charge of attempting to purvey child pornography.”

“What!” Dan said.

“You heard her, asshole.” The male office nudged Dan out of his way as he left the cabin with the laptop. “I’ll take this out to Sergeant Palmer.”

“Then you’ll be impounding the truck, too?” Baxter asked.

“Truck?” she asked.

“Yeah the remote studio we brought with us.”

“Studio.” The male officer exploded. “You ….”

“There must be some confusion,” Dan said. He took out his wallet and flipped it open to his RCMP consultant badge.

Coster looked at the badge carefully. 

“We have a report that members of a child pornography ring were setting up shop here.” She said.

“Where did you get this report from?” Dan asked.

“I’m not at liberty to divulge that.” She handed him back his wallet. “We’ll be taking that.” She nodded to his cell phone. “What?” Baxter said. “We start filming tomorrow.”

“Not our problem.” The male officer said. “We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“You can’t …”

“Read the warrant,” Coster cut Baxter off. “We can and we will and we have.”

“There must be some misunderstanding.” Baxter said reaching to stop her.

“Don’t.” Dan pulled him back. “Corporal … ”

“Listen,” she turned to face Dan. “I don’t care who you know or what you think will impress me.” She gave him back his wallet.

Dan’s cellphone rang.

“Hello,” The male officer answered it. “I’m sorry he can’t speak to you right now. … No! I won’t take a message …” He turned the phone off. It rang again. A different ring. Dan recognized it as Sanjay’s ring.

“Popular man.” The male officer said. “I guess your buyers network knew when you’d be getting here.”

“Of course people knew when we’d be getting here.” Baxter said. “I can give you a list starting with my pre-production manager who will be calling to confirm locations for tomorrow. We’re from Quintex Studios.” He attempted to hand his business card to the Sergeant. “Surely you’ve heard of us?”

“Look,” Coster glared at him. “Your cover story has been blown already. Just because we’re small town doesn’t mean we are stupid.”

“There’s a difference between being stupid and being wrong.” Dan said. “But finding out how wrong you are is up to you.”

The room phone began to ring.  Dan automatically reached to answer it. The male officer grabbed it up before Dan could get to it.

“Hello. Hello. They hung up.”

Dan read through the warrant. “You only have access to my laptop not my cellphone. And certainly not Mr. Baxter’s. The truck is also off limits. Not mentioned here.”

“It’s good for all electronic recording devices.” She said.

“That’s not what it says.” He read aloud the section that set out the perimeters of the warrant. “That’s pretty clear. Only the laptop in this cabin is liable for seizure. I’ll have my cellphone back, please.”

Reluctantly she gave it back to him. 

“Sergeant check the bathroom.” She said to Tyler. “That is listed is it not?” she said to Dan.

“Right. The premises is your. The laptop is yours to search. The warrant doesn’t even extend to my luggage.”

“Okay. So you know about search warrants.” She said.

“Who is the division captain?” Dan asked.

“Brian McKillop.” Coster said.

“Look, you can’t do this,” Baxter said. “We’ve been planning this for months now. I have all the permits, waivers from the families, you know, real documentation, not some trumped up goose chase …”

While Baxter was talking, Dan sent a text to Warszawa with McKillop’s name a question mark and a 411, a code for ‘contact this guy’.

“It was there.” Sergeant Tyler came out of the bathroom with a spindle of dvd’s. “They were in the ceiling where we were informed they’d be.”

“Shouldn’t you be wearing gloves Sergeant Tyler,” Dan said. “You’ve already contaminated the evidence.”

“I’ll contaminate you, you fucking perv.” Tyler pushed his face close to Dan’s. “You make me sick.”

“How did that get there!” Baxter exclaimed looking at Dan.

“Don’t ask me. I had barely opened the door when you came in, then these guys were right on your heels. Right?”

“You bet.” Tyler said.

“The tip told us your accomplices were here earlier in the week to leave this for you for pick up.”

“So, I guess you’ve checked to see who has rented this room recently?” Dan asked.

“Not yet.”

“Get back to me when you’ve done all your homework then.”

“Let’s check out this guy’s cabin.” Tyler said.

“Better get a warrant for that,” Dan said. “Yours only covers my laptop. It said nothing about other rooms. But we’ll let that pass, for now.”

Another officer came into the cabin with Dan’s laptop. 

“It’s clean.” He put the laptop back on the desk.

“Clean? Are you sure Palmer?” Tyler said. “He must have a flash drive somewhere.”

“You can search where you want Corporal.” Dan dumped the contents of his shoulder bag on the bed.

“They cannot,” Baxter exploded. “They …”

“Listen Baxter,” Dan said. “Why don’t you go back to your cabin and let me deal with this. There’s nothing …”

“You call these nothing?” Tyler shook the dvd’s at him.

“I’ll take those.” Sergeant Palmer took the container out of Tyler’s hand. “His laptop doesn’t have a dvd drive.”

Baxter laughed nervously. “What the fuck. I guess you’re right Dan, I’ll let you handle this.” He started to leave the cabin.

“Hold on.” Tyler followed him. “What’s this truck you were talking about.”

“In the parking lot.” Baxter said. “You can’t miss it.”

Tyler pushed past him and left the cabin. Baxter went after him. “Call me later.”

“Do you have any idea of what’s going on here?” Corporal asked.

“I don’t know.” Dan said. “I got off an airplane less than two hours ago.”

“Who knew you were coming here?”

“According to Baxter, millions of people.”

“Millions?”

“The reality show we’re making has been promoted on the History network for at least a month. Plus cross promo.”

“The one about the missing children?” she rubbed the back of her neck.

“Yep. I am that Daniel James.” He reached out to shake her hand.

“Christ, I never put that together. I’ll ask that again. Who knew you’d be here? Here at the Waterside?”

“Good question.” Dan had been too caught up in what was going on to wonder why it was going on. “I didn’t know what motel we’d be using until I got the plane in Toronto this afternoon. I didn’t even have time to tell my office manager or even Sanjay.”

“Sanjay.”

“My … lover.”

“Right. So only the production people would have known.” She asked. “Why would someone want to do something like this?”

“Someone who doesn’t want the show to go on.”

Sergeant Palmer came back into the room. “I did a quick look at random dvd’s and there is adult material on some of them – but as far as I saw no children were involved.”

“That fucking queer made a pass at me!” Sergeant Tyler stormed back into the room. 

“What?” Sergeant Palmer said.

“Yeah! He said I look good in a uniform and he was sure I would look better out of it.” 

The Corporal covered her mouth as she began to laugh. “Tyler! Tyler! What am I going to do with you.”

“What are we going to do with these pervs?” Tyler made a fist. 

“Nothing for now. It seems we have been misled. But …” she became serious. “Mr. James we will be keeping an eye on all this. I can tell when something isn’t right.”

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