Picture Perfect 101
He turned off the Lifend, got up from the desk to stretch his shoulders and back. He recalled that the other cigar box would be more postcards, pictures and maybe some hockey cards. The cookie tin, from the way it rattled was marbles, toys and maybe those cuff-links his grandpa had given him. He never had a shirt that needed them.
He sat on the armchair to check his email. Messages from Peter, Baxter, but nothing urgent. There was reply with some attachments from his lawyer. The message said.
There’s nothing in your father’s will specifically about the east coast real estate . It does say that, as with all the other assets, it was joint property owned by you, your sister and your mother. I’ve attached a copy of will with pertinent sections high lighted.
“Also included are recent tax records for the properties in New Waterford, Nova Scotia; Cardigan in Prince Edward Island and Montreal, Quebec.
“As I’m sure you know its James Incorporated that owns these properties not any one of you. Unlike, say, your residence which is owned wholly by you Daniel James. The Depot property is owned by the Corporation which leases it to James Family Photographers.
“Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.”
Why did every answer lead to more questions? Cardigan? Montreal?
His cell rang. It was Linda.
“What did you take from the house?” she demanded.
“Why? Did you leave something incriminating behind?”
“That is MY house and the contents are mine as well.”
“Look I didn’t take any of your damned sheets if that’s what you think. Other than them and some sticks of furniture that’s all that’s in OUR house.”
“Daddy said that was my house when we moved to Ontario. It was his way of paying me to leave all my friends so he could give you the life he wanted.”
“Said? Oral contracts are binding only there is a witness. As far as I know it’s the property of the company. Not the private property of any one of us.”
“Mom was there. She’s knows it is mine.”
“Linda you are welcome to it. I thought it had been sold when we moved to help pay for the move. Mrs. Donaldson let me in.”
“I know that. What did you take out of the house?”
“Some things of mine actually.”
“We cleaned that house of everything. There was nothing left behind. Nothing.”
“Did you check the … floor boards.”
“Yeah. In that cupboard under the stairs. I used to hide from you in there.”
“You pulled up those floorboards?”
“When I was kid. I used to stash my comic books there and stuff I didn’t want you prying into.” Which was true. He wasn’t going to tell her about the ultra secret spot in his old bedroom.
“Well, we knew all about that. You weren’t so smart after all. I showed it to Dad and he said just leave it there. There was still some stuff there?”
“Marbles. Fossilized bones of mice. Boy stuff.” He wanted to asker her about the other properties but that could wait until he was back in Toronto. He’s want to see what they were first.
“I thought you were coming back to Toronto now that the show was cancelled.”
“It hasn’t been cancelled merely postponed. I figured while I was here I’d visit my old school. I haven’t been back since we moved you know. Unlike you. Mrs. Donaldson tells me you visit at least once a year.”
“So what if I do?” she said.
She was so defensive he knew there was more to this that just visits to the old homestead to recharge her batteries or renew old acquaintances.
“I didn’t say anything. I did find those pictures we took of each other though. That day when I got my first camera.”
“Oh right. I haven’t seen them ever.”
“The original of us in the dining room mirror.”
“Thank God we stopped using that here. My hair is so bad in it. So bad.”
“I thought we might resurrect it for Christmas this year. The Family that selfies together stays together.”
“Don’t you dare.”
“I’m sure we can Photoshop your hair.” He sent her a copy of the version of the mirror selfie he had found.
“Oh my. I look so …”
“We all do. I love the expression on Dad’s face here too.” Dan said. It had been a long time since he had look at photos of his father other the ones on the walls at their stores. Even those had ceased to be prominent in favour of advertising. Maybe that’s what the Fairview store needed – an appeal to tradition and not this emphasis on the high end today. One of Lifend’s biggest sellers was the retro 30’s newsman’s camera series.
“I’ll be back on Monday but I’m not sure for how long. We have more of segments to shoot down here. Don’t worry, I won’t be staying at the old house. I still like to be close to the action – i.e. downtown Sydney on a Saturday night.”
“Enjoy bingo at the Legion then. Bye.”
He re-read the files the lawyer had sent. There was nothing in them as he understood them that explained why Linda was so concerned about his being in the house. Was the fact that he knew about enough to alarm her? He didn’t trust her.
There was a knock at his door.
He looked through the peep hole. It was Stan.
After his tactful bout with Linda he was ready for anything. He made sure the security hinge was on the door as he opened..
“Dan I didn’t mean to come on so strong the other day. I’d like to explain.” He tried to push the open further.
“I’ll meet you at the lounge downstairs in ten minutes. We’ll talk there.”
“Yes.” Stan stood peering through the crack in the door.
“The sooner you go the sooner I’ll be down to see you.”
Dan cocked an ear to hear the elevator open. He rinsed his face, washed his hands. He dabbed the dust off his pants and shirt with a damp face cloth.
He checked his cell to make sure fifteen minutes has elapsed. He picked up the hotel phone and spoke to the concierge.
“This is Daniel James in 609. Could you call Stan Ferguson to the phone. Thank you.” He waited a moment while Stan was being paged.
“I’ll be right down Stan. I just wanted to make sure you were still there.” Actually I wanted to make sure you were there and not lurking in the hall of stairwell on this floor.
In the lounge The Celtones were playing live. Upright bass, piano and gently brushed snares gave the drinkers privacy without making it necessary for them to shout. The bass player and piano player switched instruments to add fiddle, mandolin even penny whistle to their music.
Stan was at a table by a window that over looked the harbour. He already a drink. Dan ordered a local craft beer.
“I honestly don’t know what got into me at the museum.” Stan started. “It’s been awhile since I’ve, you know …”
He stopped talking as the waiter put Dan’s beer on the table. The waiter poured half a glass of it for Dan to sample. Dan took his time – holding the glass up to the light, swirling it, sniffing it – as if he was a true connoisseur. He could sense Stan getting impatient. He sipped it.
“Very nice. Thank you. No, that’s okay, I’ll pour it myself. You’d like one.” he asked Stan.
“No, thanks.” Stan replied. “Ginger ale is fine for me.”
The waiter left the table.
“I want to make some sort of amend for how I acted. I felt there was some chemistry between us.”
“Chemistry? When we were looking the funeral pictures of the wedding gown rentals?” Dan laughed.
“We don’t know each other well enough to have chemistry.”
“You’re not just an innocent out-of-towner. I felt the way you looked at me at the museum. You don’t find me attractive?”
“You are …”
“Too short? Or am I just some nobody & you’re this big somebody who doesn’t have the time for nobodies like me?”
“Is that what you think?” Dan signalled for another beer. “Is that why you showed up at my room? To prove you’re not a nobody? Or were you attracted to me because I was a somebody?”
“I … I thought if we got more acquainted.”
“This is as acquainted as we’re going to become.”
“Right.” Stan stood abruptly. “I’m sorry I annoyed you.”
Dan finished his beer and watched Stan leave. That went well. Did this happen to every new queer face in town?
Back in his hotel room he glanced into the other two boxes. The larger cigar box had more photos, cards and prize ribbons from school. An envelope with birthday twenties and silver dollars in it. The tin had a couple of marbles, some pogs, loose hockey cards and four or five unopened packages of hockey cards. A little cloth bag with his baby teeth. Baby teeth!