Picture Perfect 8

His father had died before Daniel had come out to his family. He’d kept the gay part of his life a secret from them. He’d hid it when he joined the RCMP but it was there that he knew he’d have to be honest with himself. The family didn’t know until he showed up at the funeral with Trevor, his lover at the time.

His Dad’s will split the business three-ways with Dan getting sixty per cent, his sister thirty-five and, as long as she lived, his mother held the remaining five per cent. Daniel held the controlling interest so that the business would retain the family name. There was an in trust bequest for Daniel’s first born. 

At the time Linda was sure his Dad would never have split the business in such a way if he’d known Daniel was gay. After all she was married and already children why should he get the bigger share.

“Jesus, Daniel when will you trust that I know what I’m doing! I am older than you. I was running the business with Daddy when you were running around playing detective at Quantico. Or maybe you were playing with detectives.” She got out of the car and slammed the door shouting at him. “Who do you think was running things while you are off fucking up in Alberta with the RCMP.”

Daniel got out of the car.

“Sorry.” She touched his shoulder. “I didn’t mean to go off on you like that but you always fucking block me at every move even when you do give in. But this is important.”

“It was Dad’s idea I go to Quantico. Done is done. Sis. ”

She glared at him. She hated to be called ‘sis.’ 

They walked thorough the mall entrance to the store. Linda had convinced him that being here with these high-end, exclusive shops was the best thing for James Family Photographers. Thanks to Daniel they had exclusive North American distribution for Lifend, one of the top manufacturer of cameras and lenses in the world. The camera bodies were hand-crafted and one of a kind. Of course neither of them realized that shoppers at FairVista were more interested in brand names they could wear without needing to know more than how to do up a zipper.

She stopped at a window display that took up half of one of the store’ two front windows. All black except for a lighted box that held one of the hand-crafted Lifend’s. A simple card beside it said ‘The Vista – $250,000.00.”

“Time to give Cartier’s a run for their money.” Linda grinned. “We can’t have people think we only sell inexpensive digital key chain cameras.”

“I gave you the best part of the business. You know that. Mom knows that. So what more is there?”

They went into the store and up to Linda’s office on the second story loft that overlooked the main floor. 

“It’s called due diligence Daniel. I’m looking out for our investment while you are frittering your time with stuff like this.” She shoved the newspaper article that mentioned his involvement in busting the porn ring. “This is good work, but associating a family business with child porn is not a good PR move.”

“Linda, it doesn’t directly mention the business.”

“You always try to wriggle out of things.” She smirked. “The folks always gave into you. More than they did to me. The golden boy, right. Name one time when you didn’t ultimately get your way. While you were gone I was holding things together. Remember that.”

“Right. Dad wasn’t working himself to death. Mom wasn’t behind the counter every day, either. It was all you.”

“At least I wasn’t the one bitching about losing all my friends when we moved here. So sad.”She pretend to rub her eyes crying. “Boo fucking hoo.”

“Friends like Timmy Dunlop.” He took the porch photos out and put them on the desk in front of her. “Do you remember him. Stellerton.”

She stared at the pictures then back at him.

“Maybe these will help?” He added a couple of the colour pictures of him and Timmy leap-frogging in the back yard. “The Wickham Arms. Summer of 84.”

She pushed the pictures back toward him. “What of it.”

“The summer we moved to Toronto. What really happened?”

“N … nothing.” she paled a little.

“You know Timmy was one of the children who were abducted that summer. Along with …” he named off the other children.

“Yes, I remember that. Dad was so scared. He didn’t feel either of us were safe.”

“I understand that but to take off just like that. I didn’t know about Timmy until this past week.”

“There’s nothing to tell. What did you expect. A quiet chat about your buddy disappearing. Try telling that to a spoiled brat. That’s the past. Let go of it Daniel. You were a child. I was not that much older than you. I know little more than you do. It was Peggy that was pushing him, you know. Since Christmas, we had planned to move that summer. It was decided already that this was to be Dad’s last year on the road.

“He loved that circuit. It paid pretty well and he felt like it was … a sort of adventure for us all. Mom didn’t. They fought.”

“It didn’t have anything to do with …”

“Joey Martel! Yeah. Mom thought he was too old for me. I guess she was fucking right. What was I, sixteen he was twenty-six. I thought he was such a looker. I found out a few years later he’d been playing around with a couple of other girls. Girls younger than me. He was another sick creep.”

“You are right about him being a looker.” He took another of the old pictures out. It was one she had taken of Joey. He was aiming a gun at a carnival shooting range.

“You took this after we left. I thought you were staying with Aunt Tansy.”

She glanced at the photo, then at him. “Look, I have nothing more to tell you. The past is the fucking past. I’m more concerned about the future. Our future. Even if you aren’t.” She pushed all the photos closer to him and walked away from her desk. “Come here. Look down there.”

He walked over to the railing. There was at least a dozen customers in the store. Some browsing. Others being shown cameras or video equipment by her staff.

“Business is good. This is a Wednesday afternoon. Demographically Wednesday not a hot time for sales of any sort. Yet we draw them in.”

“And you think Cuppa’s will drawn even more in?”
“There isn’t a food court here. Just a couple of overpriced spots that make Zephyrs look like a soup kitchen. So why not an overpriced coffee shop.”

“I’ll think about it.” He took out his cell to check the time. He saw that he had several text messages from the other store. “I have to be going. I do have to show some due diligence to the mother ship.”

“I’ll get Hamid to drive you. To make up for me abducting you?”


“New staff. I think you’ll like him.”

“I am taking you to your home or office?” Hamid asked as he started the car.

“Office. You know where that is.”

“Oh, yes, Mr. James you are … I mean your office is on Queen Street.”

Linda was right in her estimation that he’d like Hamid. He was a Sanjay clone. A little shorter though but with the same solid body type and at 11 a.m. already needed to shave again.

“You’ve been in Canada long?”

“Oh yes sir. Three years and counting. I will be a citizen soon. I have degrees in electronics, computer analysis and cosmetology.”

Hamid had as diverse an educational background as Sanjay.

“Mrs. T is telling me you have a friend from Mumbai.”

“Yes. Sanjay’s family is from there. He was born here and educated there.”

“It is said that every person on the planet has relatives in Mumbai.” Hamid laughed.

“I suppose.”

“You have children as well?”

“No. The two shops are children enough for me. Besides I’m not the marrying type. Sanjay on the other hand is.”


“I’m gay. Didn’t Linda tell you that when she told you about my Mumbai friend. He’s my lover. We’ve been together for several years.”

“I see. I see.” Hamid smiled widely. “But so many same-sex couple are adopting children, are they not?”

“Not this couple.” He resisted haranguing Hamid with his tirade about heteronormative assimilation by gays. “You can pull over here.”

Hamid pulled over.

“Thanks, Hamid. You made good time.”

“Thank you, sir. I trained in Mumbai. You must ask your Sanjay about driving there. Then I did my tour of duty in Toronto driving taxi for a year before I got the job at your most wonderful store.”

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Picture Perfect 7

It was after six pm when Dan stored his bike in the side garage. The Mazda was gone so he knew that Sanjay wasn’t home. He couldn’t recall if Sanjay had said he was working that night or not. After the unusually busy day he’d had Dan was okay with a quiet night on his own at home.

One side door in the garage led directly to a short flight of stairs into kitchen, the other side door opened onto the backyard patio. 

“I’m home!” Dan called out as he put his shoulder bag on the kitchen table.

There was no answer. The TV was on in the living-room. He turned it off. A timer would have turned it off at 7:30 and then again at 8:30 if there was no one home. There was a message by the remote.

“Forgot I had a night shift at Pa’Pappa’s. I’ll be home at the usual time. Sanj.”

Pa’Pappa’s was one of the restaurants Sanjay worked for. The other was Zephyr. Both owned by Sylvan Papoulias. Zephyr was the fine dining establishment that regularly made the Michelin’s list of top North American dining experiences. 

Pa’Pappa’s was at the family-oriented end of the spectrum. The difference, according to Sanjay, was in price and paper quality for the menus. Desserts for the family spot would be served at the the other but instead of grated dark chocolate they’d have shaved white chocolate. Both paid him the same but at Zephyr’s he got his name on the dessert menu there.

Dan went to the fridge and took out the remains of the pizza they had ordered on the weekend. A squirt of hot sauce and thirty seconds in the microwave and it was ready to eat.

He took it out to the back patio and ate while watching the sun setting. The various solar lights began to glow as it got darker. 

This was a good life. 

He was washing the plate he had used for the pizza when his cell rang.

“Good news Dan.” It was Cyrtys. “I just spoke to the big wigs and they are truly excited by your proposal.”

“My proposal?”

“Why yes, to do a special on this missing children from an almost-abductee’s point of view. You’ll have to tell them how you evaded his grasp and all that. It’ll be so dramatic.”

“I was not almost abducted.” Or was I? Maybe that’s what my mother was holding back. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember that week. What do they call it – post traumatic shock? 

“I don’t mean literally. Can we take a meeting tomorrow. We have so much to discuss. So much.”

“I’ll have to check my schedule. I do have a business to run.”

“But Daniel this is your business, isn’t it. Seeing what others don’t see in a simple set of photographs.”

Dan woke in the morning with the naked Sanjay spooning him. He reluctantly disengaged himself careful so as not to wake his lover. Sanjay smelled of vanilla and chocolate. Dan sat at the edge of the bed. Did he want to start something this early in the day? If he didn’t there might not be another opportunity. 

He scratched his balls, head and then stretched his arms to work out the sleep kinks. Bladder pressure pulled him off the bed and to the toilet. As he was relieving himself he heard music in the bedroom. That meant Sanjay was awake and had turned on his mp3 player. 

The music was a gentle sitar with tabula and distant vocalizing. Soothing for morning. 

Dan rinsed his mouth with water and went back to the bedroom. Sanjay was on the floor doing yoga. Dan sat on the floor and began copying what Sanjay was doing. He knew the routine of movements and closed this eyes to flow more consciously into his subconscious. As the exercises moved to a finish the music built up in speed and complexity. Then there was silence.

He opened his eyes and leaned back on his elbows watching Sanjay’s hair stomach as his breathing became more regular. Dan was never able to slow his down as well or as much as Sanjay did.

Over breakfast he was telling Sanjay about the ‘offer’, as he called with with air quotation marks, from Quintex, when his phone rang. He unplugged it from the charger to answer.

“Linda.” Call display told him who was calling.

“Daniel we have to talk.”

“You mean you talk and I listen.” He replied holding the receiver away from his ear.

“I’m not in the mood for your wise cracks this early in the day.” Her voice seemed to echo off the kitchen ceiling. “I’ll expect you at the FairVista store by ten.”

He brought the phone to talking distance. “Not unless I teleport. I’ll be there when I get there. Eleven at the earliest.”

“Get your houseboy to drop you off.”

Dan rolled his eyes to Sanjay’s frown. “She’ll never forgive you, will she.”

“I can hear you.” His sister said.

“Well, Sanjay can hear you, too. Trying using your inside voice. Oh I forgot, you don’t have one.”

Linda had never learned to modulate, as his mother called not shouting. Even quiet conversations ramped up to her shouting. He often wondered if she has some sort of hearing problem but the one time he had suggested she get her hearing checked she went even more ballistic than usual.

“I’ll be expecting you.”

The line went dead.

“Fuck, you’d think she’d learn to say hello and goodbye.” Dan shook his head.

“Family is like that. I don’t think my mother ever asked me how I was doing before she launched into how my sisters were doing.”

“I’d better get going if I expect to be at the big shop by eleven.” Even if he caught the right transit connections travel time was nearly forty minutes. A trip he would make no more than twice a week. Despite her brusqueness his sister did run the business well. She enjoyed the interaction with customers much more than he did.

“Not going to bike out there?” Sanjay asked.

“No thanks. The war on cyclists is as bad the city’s supposed war on cars.”

The door bell rang.

“Who could it be at this time of the morning?” Sanjay asked as he went to answer it.

“Is my brother decent?”

“Good morning to you too, Linda.” Sanjay said as she brushed past him.

“I was outside already Daniel. I knew you’d dawdle.”

She took a mug out of the sink, rinsed it and poured herself a cup of coffee. 

“I don’t suppose you don’t have real cream in here do you?” She pulled the fridge open. “I guess this’ll do. Not two percent I hope.” She took two swallows. “Not half-bad. You ready yet. I don’t have all day.”

Daniel put his loafers on, checked his shoulder bag to make sure he had the photos he’d printed off the TV of all the missing children. As expected the quality wasn’t great but would do for now. He followed her out to the car.

“New?” He ran his hand along the hood.

“Don’t give me that look.” she opened her door. “Yearly lease means I can upgrade the Lexus every year. Why own anyway? You should try it. Tax deductible.”

He got in. “Bike styles don’t change that rapidly.”

“Tell me about it.”

She turned at the end of the street and headed to the Expressway.

“What is going on Linda?”

“Those pricks at FairVista say we aren’t making a large enough profit for them. Look, you know we are breaking even at least. It takes a few years for a business to really get established. I’ve explained all that to them. Even their accountants say we have a sound business plan but to them sound means bigger profits.”

“Uh huh. Tell me something you haven’t told me before. I warned you that the profit clause might bite us in the ass one day.”

“Who expected it to bite us so soon. That’s what I’m saying. But I have an opportunity that may increase profits for a minimal outlay.”

“Linda we’ve spent enough getting the new shop set up. I’ve already split off the best selling stuff to you. Or is this another attempting to pressure me into setting up shop with you?”

“No, nothing like that little brother. The people from Cuppa’s has approached me.”

“What? You want to start a coffee shop somewhere?”

“In the store. It’ll be like Starbucks and Indigo. Timmie’s and Shoppers.”

“How much of an outlay?”

“For the two locations a couple of hundred grand.” she said quickly.

“Two locations?”

“FairVista and Queen.”

“What about the Classic?”

“That lease is coming up soon. Daddy always said follow the money. Cuppa’s is the money.”

“Classic is doing fine. Better than ever in fact with the new condo complex.”

“Why do you always fight me Daniel?”

“I didn’t fight you on the new shop did I?”

“I’d call refusing  to move all the business to it, putting up a fight.”

“If I remember correctly you thought having too locations would reflect what a success the business was. The big expansion. Right? Once FairVista was established then there’d be franchise opportunities to sell.”

“Daddy said you have to dream big to get big. Besides Peggy thinks it’s a great idea. She’s already signed the agreement.”

She pulled into the mall lot and parked behind the shop.

“Mom would sign anything you asked.” Dan wanted to get angry but he admired the way his sister often went ahead and did the ground work. “But …”

“I know you have the final say. If Daddy knew …” she trailed off. 

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Picture Perfect 6

Dan walked down to the shop. Sandy and Ushio were busy with customers. Since opening the new mega-store at the FairVista Mall two years ago, business at this original location had changed considerably. Most of the advertising they were doing was now directing shoppers to the mega. This old location was now specializing in equipment repair and flash sales of soon to be discontinued camera equipment.

Dan went to the service counter to see if there were any new photo restorations for him to look over. It was the work he had done on photo restorations that lead him back to his RCMP life. The RCMP had brought in some security camera footage that needed ‘clarification.’ Pixel by pixel he had painstakingly crafted a more precise image for them. That lead him and Sandy developing a program to do just that – sharpen or delete till the image was clear.

Usually the restorations were of old wedding photos, pictures that had gotten tossed in the wash, bleached on purpose in revenge, or merely faded by time. He enjoyed the focus the work took to do successfully.

“Mr. James?” a woman in her mid-forties came up to the counter.

“Yes. Can I help you?”

“I certainly hope so.” She leaned forward and dropped her voice. “I need someone followed.”

“Your husband?” he asked.

“Yes,” she hissed back. Her hand darted from her beaded chocker to her bracelets as she talked.

“I’m sorry, we don’t don’t handle that sort of case.”

This wasn’t the first time someone had come in looking for a detective agency. James did specialize in various surveillance equipment but they didn’t do the actual surveillance themselves.

“I see.” She glared, twisting her left bracelet sharply. “Not enough money in it for you.”

“No, that’s not it not all. We only provide equipment not manpower.”

“You don’t think I’m worth the manpower or are you one of those men who think it’s okay for a husband to fool around, to lie and take advantage of women.”

“That’s not the point Ma’am.” He looked to Sandy or Ushio for some sort of backup.

“Not to you, but it is to me. So you refuse to help me. I’ll report you to the human rights commission. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same quality of service you’d gave a man.” She put her purse on the counter and began rooting through it.

“It has nothing to do with rights. It is not the kind of work we do. We deal with equipment, with photographic equipment.” He wasn’t sure how to make himself any clearer.

“That’s what I want.” She pulled her phone out of her purse, turned it on and turned it for Dan to see. “You take pictures of him, catch him at his little game, get me the proof.”

“We can provide cameras, even install them for you.”

“Install them! If I knew where he was meeting this women I wouldn’t need you to follow him to take pictures. He’s found out how to confused GPS you know.”

“Ma’am we don’t follow people.”

“Isn’t that what surveillance means?” She demanded. “It says in your advertising. Surveillance specialists.”

Was she deliberately not understanding him?

“No. It says surveillance equipment specialists. We sell, repair, maintain, but we don’t operate or even monitor the equipment.”

“I didn’t think you personally did, it but you must have employees who work your cases.”

“That’s not what we do. I can recommend a couple agencies that do what you are looking for.”

“You are like all men.” She snapped. “Offer one thing and then refuse to deliver. I’m going to report you for false advertising.”

She shut her purse and yanked it off the counter sending a display of photo albums to the floor. If the shop doors could have slammed she would have slammed them.

“So got your number bossman,” Sandy laughed. “You are like all men, promise one thing and never deliver.”

“Since when?” he asked her as he helped her straighten the photo albums.

“For one thing you said these albums would sell like hot cakes.”

“Give them time.” He muttered weakly. “Give them time.”

“I don’t know why we still carry things like this anyway?” Ushio asked. “Or even why we open up. Since the new place opened last year we’ve been getting less and less street business. I can’t remember the last time I sold something that wasn’t corporate.”

“You been talking Linda?” Closing the shop was something she was keen on. “You think she’ll hire you?”

“Ushio,” Sandy said, “she may have married your brother but trust me Itchy doesn’t want you round either.”

“It is Ichirou,” Ushio laughed. “But I always give older bother an itch. He never likes it when I do better than him. And I always do.”

“The Depot will remain opened as long as I can keep it open. Linda isn’t going to push me into closing it or selling the building either.”

“Understood.” Sandy saluted. “Time for me to see what online orders we have.” She went to the order desk and sat at her computer.

“I have that security set up to design.” Ushio bowed and backed away to his work space. “Now Dan-sai you vanish so we can get some real work done.”

Back in his third floor workshop, Dan took the east coast pictures out and spread them on the light table. His mother had picked out the location in one of them quickly. He hadn’t seen what she saw.

He swivelled the lighted magnifier over the picture of him and Timmy arm over shoulder. They were on the top steps of the porch. The bottom of the letters of the sign over the door was visible over them. So that was how his mother knew where they were. He knew the name Wickham Arms but it hadn’t occurred to him till his mother said it. 

Just hearing the name brought back a sense of the times. He didn’t have any clear memories of the days they spent packing to move, other than wishing he’d had a chance to say goodbye to Timmy. Once they had put their stuff into the car they had driven directly from Stellerton to their house in New Waterford in Cape Breton. 

His Aunt Tansy was so tearful when they told her they were moving. She’d been their housekeeper and house minder since he’d been born. She didn’t really seem to understand the great urgency, as she called it, the great urgency in their moving so far, far away. 

What was his mother not telling him? He felt she was holding something back about the move. About why they had moved.

That week they spent packing their house. Did his Dad sell it right away? He must have, because he had money for the down-payment on the shop in Toronto. He could see their furniture being carted into the moving van.

He could barely recall the drive to Toronto. Motels where they spoke French, his being car sick. He did even fight much with Linda. Wait. Linda had stayed behind, That’s right. She got to say goodbye to her friends while he wasn’t given the chance to do the same. Not that he’d had that many friends and the only one his missed was Timmy.

They stayed at some cheap motel in Mississauga for the first few weeks till his father found a sublet. It wasn’t till they had been in Toronto for two months that they moved into the third floor of the Queen Street E. building. Linda didn’t show up until then. Until she had a room of her own.

The Wickham Arms. What really happened there? Besides Timmy Dunlop going missing and no one telling me about it, ever. He did a quick online search and the Wickham Arms was still operating.

He’d never considered family as having secrets worth hiding. Maybe he was wrong. He’d have to talk to Linda next. Maybe she’d have more to tell him.

He shook off his memories and refocused on the pictures in front of him. Timmy’s wide-open eyes and sneaky grin made it hard for him to see anything else in the picture. 

He grabbed a notepad and began jotting down the details. This was what he would do if this were a crime scene photo. porch. stairs worn from use. can’t see the bottom step. wooden railing with evenly spaced slats. needs painting. to the left some wicker furniture – two chairs, a table under the window, a rocking chair in the corner. set for a view of the street. lace curtains in the window. no hanging plants.

As he made notes of the facts he drew some conclusions as to what the pictures were telling him. The Wickham Arms, even for the times, was old fashioned. The curtains were of a more conservative decade. The furniture was mismatched and also harkened back to the forties.

The boys’ clothing was dusty but not dirty. Timmy was wearing cut-off jeans that were too large for him, something from an older sibling probably and would be used for one summer only. The sheriff’s badge Tim wore was shiny and had the same moulding detail as the buttons on the vest of the other child, himself. Tim’s tee shirt was torn on the shoulder. 

In one of the other pictures the boys were horsing around the a backyard and that was probably where the tee shirt got torn. It had a cross-eyed Yoda on it with ‘care me what’ printed underneath. A Mad magazine reference?

Tim’s straw cowboy hat was pushed back on his head. There is a folded flyer tucked into the hat band. 

Dan was wearing cut-off shorts as well, his bare-legs are clear from the knees down behind the cowboy chaps he was wearing. The chaps had a cow skin pattern, fringe and metal medallions along the other edge with more fringe tied though them. A matching vest over a plain black tee-shirt. His felt cowboy hat was pushed right of his head and held around his neck by the string.

What would the other photos from the TV show tell him? He had kept the episode he’d recorded. Abstracting images from the TV wasn’t that difficult. He’d done is several times to see how it would work out. The image quality depended on the original  sources. HD broadcasts were pretty good. Black and white movies not so good. None as good as a still camera.

He made memo on his cell to check the show when he had a chance. As he entered the memo he noticed the time. He’d spent the last three hours on those photos and wasn’t even getting paid for it. 

He double checked all the Depot’s rear security on the top two floors and went down to the shop where Ushio was doing the same for the front doors. It wouldn’t do to advertise as surveillance specialists to be broken into, so the stores had state-of-the protection.

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Picture Perfect 5

Once Inspector Warszawa left Dan called the Canada Cold number and after a menu of numbers for other shows the channel produced, left his contact information as well as a brief message, as requested. He skipped his usual Classic Carafe lunch and biked down to the Esplanade to visit his mother.

After his father had died and the estate had been settled she had purchased a small condo in one of the complexes there. Compact and easy to maintain.

“Daniel, this is such a pleasant surprise.” She poured him a cup of tea. “If I had known you were coming I wouldn’t have let you catch me in these rags.” She brushed imaginary dust off the shoulders of her pale blue smock.

They sat a table in front of the window that overlooked the inner courtyard.

“This isn’t Sunday is it?” She joked. “I’m not getting that senile that fast am I.”

“No. I found something in the archives that I had to ask you about.” Dan took the file with the photos out of his shoulder bag. “Do you remember these?”

He had brought the pictures of him and Timmy.

“Why, no dear I don’t.” She put on her glasses to look closer at them. “Is that the … why, yes it is, it’s the Wickham, isn’t it? In Stellarton. Of all the places we stayed summers that was my favorite. Maybe because it was where your Dad and I went for our honeymoon. Romanic Stellerton.”

“Right. We stayed there when he did his summer work.”

“You liked it there. Was this one of your little friends?”

“Yes. That’s Timmy Dunlop.”

“Whatever be … came of him.” she stopped. “Oh God!” she covered her mouth with her hand.

“You remember him. Timmy was one of the children that disappeared. That was about the time we left, wasn’t it?”

“I don’t know. It was so long ago. So long. Why bring that up again?”

“I didn’t know about this, till I found out this weekend. It was on TV. Timmy was my best friend. Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“I know how you missed him when we moved. But it couldn’t be helped.”

“What couldn’t be helped? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“Dad tried but there seemed no logical way to explain it. No one understood what had happened. We didn’t want to alarm you. And by the time you were old enough to maybe understand, it seemed pointless to say anything anyway. Life went on. Right?”

“This was why we moved so abruptly?” Dan tried not to sound accusatory. He found it hard to contain his anger at having this held back from him.

“We had been planning the move since Christmas. The missing children changed the timeline. When Timmy was … whatever happened, it was too close to us. With everything else that was happening I put my foot down and decided it was time to go.”

“I understand all that Mom but why never tell me.” He teared up. “Timmy was … a friend … now I have to … bury him somehow.”


Dan arrived back the store a little after two. His mother didn’t have a lot to tell him and what she did tell him only made things murkier. It was clear that something beside the missing children had sparked their move to Toronto. But she claimed not to remember exactly what.

“Someone was by to see you, bossman.” Sandy handed him an embossed business card.

It said. ‘Cyrtys Baxter – Quintex Canada – Executive Producer’ with a phone number, fax number, email address and web site printed on the back. As the light played on it, a man’s face appeared momentarily.

“It’s pronounced Curtis.” Sandy explained. “He says he’s from Canada Cold.”

“W.T.F?” Dan tried to steady the reflection on the card to see the face more clearly.

“Amazing.” Ushio took the card from him. “It’s that new Laser 3-D printing I have been reading about. I have never seen anything like it.”

“Did he say what he wanted?” Dan asked taking the card back. 

“Nope. Just that he was returning your call in person.”

“Right. I called them about the show I saw last night.” He quickly told them about the missing children and the photo of him and Timmy Dunlop.

“You sure it wasn’t you that disappeared.” Ushio joked. “You do vanish from here often enough.”

Ushio was ribbing about the hours he and Sandy often spent in the top floor lab developing software. It was with her help that he had worked out the bugs in the program that helps with the image work for the porn case.

“Did he say he’d be back?” He looked at the card as if it would tell him. It was a little thicker than the usual card and as he squeezed the image sort of hovered over it. “Wild.”

“He asked you call the number on the card when …”

Dan’s cell phone rang.

“Cyrtys here.”

Dan was a bit stunned. He stared at the card and then his phone.

“Hello Dan? I’m at Carafe. I’ll be right there.” The line went dead. A few minutes later Cyrtys came into the store.

Dan wasn’t sure what to expect when the tall, heavy set black man came over to shake his hand.

“Cyrtys Baxter.”

His voice was deep, slow and slightly insinuating.

“Daniel Jameson.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

“How did you know I was back? Some chip in your card?”

“Yes – it is set off by your fillings.” He laughed. “Just kidding. I saw you drive your bike into the back lane. Gave you a few minutes to get in. No magic, really.” 

“Crap.” Ushio said. “I was hoping your biz card has some sort of GPS built into it.”

“Good idea.”

“Canada Cold got your call and I figured I’d answer it in person.”

“We can go up to my office.” Dan lead him to the stairs to the second floor. “I didn’t expect such a prompt response.”

“You weren’t too far from our offices.” Cyrtys follow him up the stairs. “I also knew who you were and figured why not follow up directly.”

“Who I was?” Dan sat behind his desk.

“You work with the RCMP sometimes. You got mentioned in that article about busting the child porn syndicate.”

“Syndicate might be pushing it some. Network is more like it. The cells are everywhere, we just pulled out a few strands of the web, as it were.”

“Don’t be so modest.” Cyrtys sat in the chair in front of the desk. “Nice set up you’ve got here.”


He found himself staring at Cyrtys’s face. There was something familiar about him.

“DJ Mix-a-Mud.”


“You had that look. I haven’t seen it for a while. That look of ‘who are you?’ That’s what you were wondering, right?”

“Yeah. Mix-a-Mud? From The Slime Ball Bunch?”

“Got on the first try. That was me. I was a lot younger and … thinner then.”

The Slime Ball Bunch was a kids after school show where contestants would get slimed with various colors of goo if they got a wrong answer.

“I always wanted to be on that show.”

“I’m not surprised. But it was a fucking horror show to produce. Can you imagine what it took to keep the studio clean. Young boys and girls in shower rooms with chaperons. The sexual tension was as slimy as the slime.”

“Wow. I never thought of that. But I remember you now. Man, I wanted to be a DJ and spin records the way you did.”

“Pre-recorded you know. I just twiddled.” Cyrtys mimed fiddling with records on two turntables. “But you can’t imagine the number of girls who thought I was totally hot. It was as if they hadn’t seen a cute black boy before.”

“Not only girls.” Dan said.

“You thought I was totally hot?” Cyrtys laughed. “It was usually much older guys who made that known to me. That’s one of the reasons I stepped from in front of the camera and to behind the scenes.”

“A natural enough progression.”

“What more can you tell me?” Cyrtys asked. “About the tip you called in.”

Dan took the folder of photos out from his file drawer. He put a couple of them on the desk. 

“As I said in my message I’m the other boy in the picture you used on the show. My Dad took these. It must have been taken shortly before Timmy Dunlop was taken.”

“This episode has generated more interest than any other in the series. Lost children are like cute kitten pictures. The public can’t seem to get enough of them. There have been more calls in the first forty-eight hours than any of the other cases.” He didn’t take his eyes off Daniel as he spoke.

“I don’t know if I’d equate missing children with cute kittens.”

“Sorry. I guess that did sound a little … cold.” Cyrtys grinned. “I’m a business person after all.”

“People’s misery isn’t a business proposition, Mr. Baxter. I don’t think I have anything more to say to you.”

Dan got up and went to his office door.

“Please.” Cyrtys stood. “I didn’t mean to seem unfeeling.”

In the close space of the office Dan found it hard to breath with Cyrtys cologne wrapping itself around everything. He noticed it when Cyrtys first came in but in the store it wasn’t as pervasive. 

“I do have things to do.”

“I realize that. You have another RCMP case, don’t you?”

“I’m never at liberty to discuss such matters. But I do have a business to run here.”

Cyrtys stepped back a few feet.

“What are you looking at?” Dan asked.


“You’ve been studying me since we met.”

“Yes. You have an appealing quality about you. Sort of sexy but serious.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Sorry. We’re looking to replace John Kilpatrick. Actually he wants to leave the show. Not enough money.”

“Me as the host of Canada Cold?”

“Yeah. He only got the gig because he played that crusading coroner for a couple seasons. You have real credentials. You’re not some actor. The real deal.”

“I’m confused. You aren’t looking for more on that case?”

“No. Not my department. I passed that information on to Vicki. She’s our researcher. She’ll be calling you later in the week. Like I said we got so many calls from this one show, nearly as many as all the other episodes combined. Good thing, as the studio wasn’t happy with the numbers.. They’re the ones who don’t care about the victims, not me.” Cyrtys sighed deeply.

“I glanced over the list of callers and saw your name there. It rang a bell. I guess from that article in the paper. I did a quick google on you to confirm you were who I thought you were. Not many pictures of you online though.”


“Would you be interested in testing for the studio?”

“I … Look this isn’t what I was expecting. I called about this case not to get an audition.”

“At least say you’ll think about it. You single?” He picked up a photo on the desk of Dan and Sanjay by the pool in Palm Springs.

“Not that it’s relevant, but no I’m not single. Yes, that is my partner in the picture. Which means I am gay.” Dan realized he was talking louder than usual.

“Yes, I picked that up when you admitted to finding me totally hot. It’s all good Dan. All good. I’m not bothered, if I was, it would be like the pot calling the kettle girlfriend.”

Dan was caught off guard as Cyrtys slipped into a totally diva delivery by the end of what he was saying. He laughed.

“That’s more like it.” Cyrtys smiled. “Think about the offer. We’ll be shooting the next season soon. From the response to this episode I think we’ll do a follow up to these missing children. Having someone in one of the photos as host would make it an easy sell to Quintet. The full package.”

He shook Dan’s hand and bounded down the stairs.

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Picture Perfect 4

I’m sorry I forgot your names. I’m sorry I forgot your faces but I have never forgotten you. I’ll never forget you. Never. I know it was bad of me to forget so much when I took so much from you but you understood I did that to protect you. To keep you from being spoiled, like I had been spoiled, by a world you couldn’t be safe from. There was no one to protect any of you or I wouldn’t have found you each so easily it was like you were coming to me.

I know you understood. See I have still something to remember each of you. I never forgot where I kept these parts of you. Now I have your names. Perhaps I never knew your names. That wasn’t a part of the bargain we made, was it. I wanted only to protect you. To preserve your purity. Without names you would be even safer.

Seeing your faces again on that show brought back so much. I could almost hear your voices, feel your skin. Now all I have are those socks, these buttons. You didn’t mind that while I stole your lives I also stole these mementos of you. I left your faces and names unrecalled, till now.

I wish I knew which of you owned these little socks, these red buttons, this sheriff star. Maybe it was you Timmy. You were the biggest of them all. Such a rough boy, too. You struggled but couldn’t resist the potion. None of you could, but he fought the hardest till it overtook him. In the last moment he knew what was happening but by then it was too late. Too late.

None of you could resist the lure I set out for you. The promise of internal life. Well, that’s not what I told you but that was what I was really offering. A life everlasting and free of any stain.

What stopped me was the commotion. Press. Police.  I’d found it too easy. No not easy. It was never easy to watch the life flicker out of your eyes, the breath leave your bodies. That part was never easy.

Believe me I’m sorry I had to do what I did. I know you understand. That you forgive me for forgetting your names, your faces. I didn’t forget you. But I didn’t remember you clearly until that show. The missing children. Dorothy with your braids; Madeline and your sweet little brother. You couldn’t understand how he fell so silent in my arms. Your grandmother must have thought you were a big girl to leave you to tend him like that. I watched till she had gone into the house. Waited five minutes then you came so eagerly to me with him. So eagerly it was a joy to bring you to everlasting purity.

See I do remember you. You are will always be sweet young children. Wrapped forever in my arms.

Paula were these your barrettes? You had so many questions. Now you don’t need to know anything. How much sweeter it is not to need to know anything. I wish I didn’t know so much, you know, Paula. Being an adult isn’t fun. It isn’t. You have be responsible. Pay the bills. Clean the house. It isn’t always playing house. I wish I could have joined you somehow.

And Timothy. Yes, you were the boy with the sheriff’s badge. The cap guns. It was as if I had found Tom Sawyer, or was it Huckleberry Finn – all red hair and freckles. The perfect picture of a boy. 

Finally you David. The dreamer. Yes I think you were a dreamer. Afraid to leave your comic books behind. I let you bring this Spiderman. 

Yes I know there are more of you. I often wonder why no one missed those others. I spared you that indifference. You never felt it once I had rescued you. I hope not. Not a deeply as I did. No one will look for you.

I was scared, at first, when I realized someone was looking for any of you. As the show progressed I saw that I had done my work well. They had no idea. Not a clue. Wasn’t I clever. No, I didn’t have anyone to help me either. I didn’t realize I could be so clever. Fool all those people. Men. Women. All looking for what I saved. They never knew where to look. 

Maybe I should call them? Give them a clue about the others. How can I? There’s no way to be anonymous anymore. I see enough TV to know that. What with electric surveillance anything can be traced. Anything. All they need is one word. Is that enough for them to follow it back to me.

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Picture Perfect 3


Dan open the door to the archives. The smell brought back so many memories. His first real camera. The first time he developed one of his own pictures. He went directly to the furthest end where the pictures his father had taken while there were on the east coast were kept. Most them at any rate. 

They had transferred the backlog of money makers to digital. There was no need to keep all the prints or negatives of those school class pictures, expect for classes that included him or his sister. He ran his finger along the backs of the storage bins looking for 1984. Yes, there it was. He blew the dust off it before he remembered there would be no dust. The room was built and insulated to protect the negative and photos from any damage. 

He took the bin to a small table half-way along the wall. The dim light once there had been replaced with a set of LEDs that would cause no light damage. He opened the bin and flipped through the envelops of negative and pictures till he found the one marked Stellerton Summer.

He slid the content out onto the table. Several of the negatives had been developed. There was the one he had seen on the TV show. Him and Timmy. This one was in colour. He’d forgotten they were in colour. Why was his memory in black and white he wondered?

He took the strips of negatives and fed them into digital developer. It would create a set of contact sheets he could check on his computer. HighDef had made his job a lot easier in some ways. He’d also set it to print out 8 by 10’s of each of the two dozen pictures, including the ones that hadn’t been printed already.

As he scrolled through the the set he saw that some were in colour others in black and white. His Dad must have been using two cameras that day or did he finish one roll then pop in another? No, it was two different cameras. he could tell by the image quality. His trained eye could tell the difference. Cameras had a finger print.

There were some of him and Timmy in the rocky yard behind the boarding house his Dad usually stayed in when they were in Stellerton. Dan had on his cowboy costume. Chaps, vest, cowboy hat, cap guns and holsters. Man he loved that outfit. Timmy only had a cowboy hat, cap guns and holster but was wearing the sheriff’s badge that Dan had given him.

In a couple of the pictures they were looking for injuns. Some were of him and Timmy on the front steps of the house. It was one of these that had been on the TV show. Both with their cowboy hats pushed back, grinning at the camera, arms around each other’s shoulders.

Dan could see his Dad taking the pictures. There were washed out colour pictures of the nearly the same poses. Too much sun. Someone didn’t know how to shoot in the sun.

Right that was his sister Linda learning to use her new camera. The one he wanted so bad but because he wasn’t old enough she got it. It had been a bribe to reward her for breaking off with that guy his mother didn’t like. Too old for her his mother said.

What was that guy’s name? Cyril something.

So here were the pictures. His Dad must have given copies to Timmy’s family before they left for Toronto. No, the pictures wouldn’t have been ready that fast. Between the packing to move so suddenly and saying goodbyes, there was no time for his Dad to develop any pictures. He must have sent this to them later. By then his Dad must have known Timmy had disappeared. Was this the picture the police used in looking for him?

His cell buzzed.

“Dan, the good sergeant is here to see you?” It was Ushio.

“I’ll be right down.” He glanced at the time on his cell. He wasn’t expecting Warszawa until after lunch. Something must have come up.

When he left the RCMP they retained him as a consultant. He’d been called in on several cases where documents were concerned. Software he had developed enabled him to quickly ascertain if a photo had been doctored. In a couple of instances he had been able to remove the the alteration to reveal what was there before. He’d refined that to do the work on the child porn case.

He went down the back stairs to his office. Robert Warszawa was already sitting in front of his desk.

“Could you explain to Ushio I am not a good sergeant but a dogged Inspector.” He reached out to shake Dan’s hand.

“I’ve tried. He once asked why you don’t wear red.”

“That is what I’d call racial profiling.” Robert laughed. “I know our appointment wasn’t till this afternoon but …”

“You had to know what I’d found?”

Dan took a folder from side file drawer in his desk.

“Tech talk first. These are repros.” He put on a pair of cotton gloves and spread the photographs on the desk.

“You mean others made from the same negative?” Robert rubbed the scruff of beard along his chin line.

“No. These are copies of photographs. Clearly someone didn’t have the negative but wanted copies of them for some reason.”

“Copies of copies?”

“Not unusual. We used to do that fairly frequently here. Someone wanting to share family photos from an old album. These copies go back ten or more generations ago. From the quality of the image. Each such retake affects the image quality.”

“They weren’t scanned?”

“I doubt it. It was like taking a picture of a picture. Only we’d do it under very controlled conditions to get best possible quality. These are okay but not best possible, I’d say. Now I could venture as guess as to what camera was used to make the copies but I can’t tell what took the originals.”

“Anything else?”

“From the content? They’re just a bunch of vacation snaps. The sort a Dad would take. Beach. Amusement park. Probably Florida from the hotels in the background.”

“I figured that much.”

“But …” Dan pushed one of them from the others. “This one is of the crime scene.”


“Where you found them on this coffee table at the crime scene.”

“That’s right.”

“Why aren’t there any blood spatters on any of them.’

“What do you mean?”

“Look for yourself. Here …”

Robert came over the desk and leaned over Dan to see what Dan was pointing out.

“There’s spatter on the napkins, glasses. If these were there at the time of the shooting there would be spatters on one at least. Nothing.”

“Fuck me! So they were put there after the murder.”

“Or the top ones were removed. There’s no spatter on any of them. You dusted them for prints?”

“No! We assumed they were there all along.”

“Which brings me to my next question? Did you find any other photos like these at the crime scene. An album of family photos?”

“Nope. Just these.”

“Hmm. Okay, then this will seem even odder to you. These are random. They’ve been made to look like a set but they aren’t.”


“For one thing there are different families in each of them.”

“Different? How?”

“As in not the same people. Sure at first glance they all look like the same mom, pop and the three kids at the beach, at the amusement park, on the McDonald’s terrace. They are in fact three different sets of people.”

Warszawa took the photos and studied each of them carefully.

“Here’s a comparison I work up for you.”

Dan opened a file on his desk top computer that had isolated the faces of the families and placed them side by side.

“Holy fuck!” Warszawa said. “What the … ”

“I’d say these probably aren’t the victim’s at all but left there by the killer.”

“Interesting.” Warszawa got up to leave. “You have anything more surprises for me?”

“Not yet. But take them, as I have my back-ups to look at. I might do some location search to find out where they were taken.”

“You can do that?”

“Experimental at this point. A program I’ve been working on like Face Finder only for places. If these spots have been photographed before and uploaded, my spiders will find them.”

“Keep me posted. You’ll do a written to go with these.”

“Yeah, I’ll get something to you later today. Before you go …” Dan put the pictures of him and Timmy on the desk. “What do you know about Canada Cold?”

“The TV show? That’s always handled by the PR branch.” He gave little laugh. “Not all of us are pretty enough for them. They contact you about these?”

“No. But this one showed up on their show the other night. Children on the east coast who vanished. That’s one of them in the pictures with me.”

“You the cowboy?”

“Yeah.” Dan reddened.

“You were a cute kid. Not that that’s changed much.”

“For a straight guy you sure know to flatter.”

Warszawa was silent for a moment. “What do you want to know about Canada Cold? For my money they’re a tax gambit by the channel. They get tax credits for the number of Canadian produced shows they do. This is just another one. All edited for effect not reality.”

“I’m thinking of contacting them but wanted to know if they actually passed information on when they got it. There’s that ‘call with tips’ number they have.”

“Automated. That much I know. You leave a number and they may get back to you. I’m sure they get inundated with the same crackpots as we do.”

“I suppose.” Dan put the pictures into his file drawer.

“I’ve never seen a tip passed on to us from them. I’ll ask PR though if you want.”


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Picture Perfect 2


Dan got off his bike to wheel it up the laneway behind the row of shops that included James Family Photo. No drunks back there this morning, he was glad to see. His Dad had bought the three-story corner building lot of stores shortly after their move to Toronto. They’d lived in one of the second-story apartments until his sister got married and moved out.

In the mid-80’s the Queen and River area wasn’t considered prime but over the years it had become very prime. So prime, his sister felt it was time to sell. Dan was unwilling to let go of the real-estate. 

He unlocked the rear security gate, pushed it open, locked it behind him again, double checked to make sure it was in fact locked. Some mornings he had forgotten to make it secure and would come out to find a drunk or two sprawled in the back space behind the store.

He then unlocked the actual back door to their part of the building, chained his bike to the railing of the back stairway that lead up to the second and third floors. Stairs only used by himself and sometimes Sandy, his shop assistant. Both floors could be accessed by the public entrance. Double checking his bike he unlocked the rear door to his downstairs shop. 

Over the years the amount of security needed had increased. What took his Dad a few minutes, now took nearly twenty. He turned off the security alarm but made sure it was still set to go off if anyone came to the back via the laneway. Surveillance cameras covered the front, the back, and even the roof. The roof cams were good for keeping an eye on racoons.

He turned master switch on for the lights in the shop. It took a few moments for them to illuminate the various display stands, racks and street front. He always enjoyed the flicker to life of the business. No, as long as he could afford it, James Family Photography would be centred here and not at the FairVista Mall.

He unlocked the front door from the inside and stepped out to Queen Street. The Classic Carafe Cafe in the corner spot of the building had been opened for a couple of hours. He was still a bit amazed that selling coffee and cookies was a viable business. 

“Morning, landlord. Blueberry, coconut, fresh out of the oven. ” Jill Haverly, owner of the Classic stepped out of the cafe with a coffee and muffin for him. Her apron was already dusty with flour.

“Do you stand at your window waiting for me to show up?” Dan asked.

“Don’t have to watch. Your vibration is felt when you are five minutes from here.” She laughed as he took the mug from her. 

“French vanilla?” He held it to his nose.

“Just for you. Was reading about you in the Globe the other day.” Jill said.

“Yeah. Hope it’s good for business.” Dan sipped his coffee. Since leasing the corner spot to her five years ago Jill had made sure Dan had a fresh morning coffee. If he didn’t step out, she’d send a couple of mugs over for him and his shop clerks.

“I didn’t realize you were so i.technically inclined. I took you for just another wedding photographer.” Jill said.

“Weddings were always my sister’s end of things. The end that brings in the money. Weddings, babies and now pets. My restoration work … ”

“What you did in that child porn case was more than restoration.” Jill took his empty cup and dashed the last drops onto the sidewalk.

“Morning boss.”

A short, heavy-set woman stopped to talk with them. Jill slipped into the Classic.

“Late night Sandy?”

“No later than usual, bossman.”

Sandy Reynolds had worked for James Family Photography for several years. What she didn’t know about cameras wasn’t worth knowing.

“You kick start the shop?” she asked.

“For the most part. You can fire up the net.”

“This’ll help.” Jill came back out with an espresso for Sandy. “Extra slow.”

Sandy tossed it back in one gulp. “Thanks I needed that. See you inside.”

“I’ll be in in a few minutes,” Dan saw Cliff Silver arriving to open up the Oil On Silver Gallery that occupied the retail space on the other side of the building.

“Thanks Jill. See you for lunch.”

“The usual will be ready. Tell Cliff I’ll send Peter over with his morning booster, if he promises not to offer him a job.” 

“You still sore about losing Steve to him?” Dan handed his empty mug back to her. Steve was baker apprentice to Jill for a year when Cliff offered him a job at the gallery. Peter was his replacement.

“Just joking. Better commissions on art than gluten free muffins.”

“Morning, Cliff.”

“That it is.” Cliff gave Dan a quick kiss on the cheek. “DeVida?”

Cliff prided himself on not only having a nose for art but one for scent. 

“Yes. You like?” 

“I like a man who smells good.” Cliff laughed. “Good enough to eat.”

“Maybe later. How did the Ocean opening go on the weekend?” He followed Cliff into the gallery.

“Tsunami, baby, tsunami. Sold nearly everything within the first hour.”

One wall of the gallery was hung with four different sized paintings of waves; each a different season and diffusing different light patterns. All by the same artist.

“I wasn’t sure about these; the sea seasons, but they went first, in fact.”

“Not sure?” Dan asked.

“Yeah, Halakia insisted, and rightly so, they go as a set. One hundred and eighty grand seemed likes a lot of money, even to me, but fuck they were gone so fast I could have had an auction for them and gotten twice that easily. Live and learn.”

“I didn’t think there was much left for you to learn?”

Silver’s Gallery was the one original shop in the building. It had been there for ten years already when his father bought the space. Like Dan, Cliff had inherited the family business. Cliff had the second floor removed to make the two interior walls large enough for such enormous paintings. The other two were ceiling to floor windows.

“Now to see if I can firm up the offers for this now.” He gestured to a large canvas that took up most of the other side wall. “Most apartments aren’t big enough for something this size.”

“How do you even paint something that large?”

“One brush stroke at a time.”

Peter, from Classic came in with a coffee and bagel. He stood expectantly in the centre of the space.

“I’ll leave you to it then Cliff. Oh by the way, Peter is off limits. That is if you value your caffeine.”

Dan went into his shop. Sandy was, as always dusting the shelves. She claimed it looked good to be busy when a customer enters. 

“The James domaine in shape?” she asked.

“As always.”

“Globe was good to you?”

“Yeah, well, I’d rather keep a lower profile about that sort of thing.”

“Helping to bust up a child porn network isn’t a bad sort of thing.”

“Not the sort of business I want to develop.” Dan had worked on a case of a man who was posting sexually explicit pictures of a child, he claimed to be his daughter, from various hotels in the States. The sex acts were clear but backgrounds had been photoshopped into blurs. Dan was able to reverse that blur and traced the photos to an actual hotel and from there to the man.

When Ushio, his other clerk, arrived, Dan went up to his office on the second floor. He took the compact lift he’d had installed two years ago to accommodate handicapped access by-law. Usually he took the stairs but he used it at least once a day to make sure it was in running order. Access to his third floor workshop was only by the stairs.

His office took up the middle of the block of the building. His workshop covered the entire top floor. It was one of the reasons he wasn’t going to let his sister talk him into selling the building. 

The workshop has originally been his Dad’s idea.  for research and development. One part of it was a dark room for developing film and experimenting with various ways of of printing negatives. All of which was now pretty much passé thanks to the digital age. Another part was devoted to state of the art digital image manipulation and photo restoration. 

Running the length of the back walls on both floors was the company archives. Negatives of nearly every photograph he or his dad had taken. His sister removed what she considered her portfolio when the FairVista location had opened. Dan didn’t really care what she wanted. But he knew what she couldn’t have.

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Picture Perfect 1


“You’re not listening to me.” Sanjay took the remote from Dan and muted the TV.

“I was.” Dan grabbed the remote. “You said my sister had a good point.”

“But you are going to ignore her?” Sanjay tried to get the remote back before Dan could turn the sound back on.

“Some thing don’t change.” Dan  blocked Sanjay’s hand looked him in the eyes and kissed him. “If I had listened to her, we would not be together. You know she thought that you weren’t a point in my favour.”

“So you keep telling me.” Sanjay pushed Dan away from him, got up from the couch and stood in front of the TV.

“Sanj, If you want to distract me you’ll have to drop your drawers.”

“We’re talking a lot of money, Dan. A lot of money.”

“I’m not paying for you to drop them. Now, step away from the TV. I was watching something.”

“You’re always watching something when I want to talk to you. You’ve recorded this anyway, so you can go back to it.”

“You asked me to clear things off the pvr, remember. Now that I’m trying to, you want to talk me.” Dan hit pause. “You’re the reason I don’t think we need a cat.”


“Cats ignore you until you are trying to do something and they are all over you and whatever you are trying to do.”

“You wish.”

“This is nearly over anyway. Ten minutes.” he unpaused. “Step aside?”

He pressed the back button to rewatch what he’d missed talking to Sanjay.

“What’s it about anyway?” Sanjay sat beside him.

“Missing kids on the east coast.”

“I should have known.”

“Yeah, everything is homework for … hey! That’s me!” Dan hit the pause button.

It was a photo of two boys on the front steps of a house. Arms over each other shoulders, grinning at the camera.

“You sure aren’t missing.” Sanjay said.

“Yeah yeah I know. It’s the other boy Timmy Dunlop. I guess.”

“Guess? I thought you were watching this.”

“You mean, trying to watch. My Dad took this picture. I remember it. It’s been years since I’ve seen it though.”

“Yeah, right. How many photographs have you seen?”

“Enough, but some you remember. I sort of had a crush on Timmy. We played doctor a couple of times. When we moved I kept hoping to hear from him but nothing.”

“I guess you know why now.” Sanjay stretched his arms over his head. “I’m heading for bed. I will leave you to your homework.”

Any reality show dealing with crime was considered Dan’s homework. He saw things in photographs that most didn’t see. His eyes had been trained to discover and recognized what might appear ordinary to the untrained eye.

He went back to the beginning of the program ‘Canada Cold’ that looked at cold cases across Canada. He’d worked such cases when he was with the RCMP and that had solidified his interested in them. This episode was about the disappearance of several children in the Maritimes in the mid-80’s. Dan had no recollection of this case at all. His family had moved when he was eleven, the same summer of these disappearances.

As he watched he jotted down the names and locations of the children. None struck a chord with him expect Timmy’s. The place name were familiar, Stellerton, Digby, Wolfville in Nova Scotia; Small Town & Port Something in New Brunswick. His Dad had been an itinerant photographer, “Photos By James”, who travelled from school to school, taking class pictures and individual portraits. For summer’s he would take the family with him, spending a day or two, or up to a week in various small towns. 

Dan pulled himself out his reflective daze. Replayed the ending of the show again and wrote down the number one was to call if they had any information. He’d call once he had found those photos. Stellerton had been one of the longer stays and one of the last as he recalled. 

They’d been there long enough for him to renew his friendship with some of the boys he’d palled around with the previous summer. His family left pretty quickly. He remembered being pretty pissed because the Happy Hippo Carnival had just set up and he wanted so badly to go it. 

Moving to Toronto wasn’t as important to him then as seeing the sideshows. Even his sister was nosily disappointed, but that was because she was seeing some guy their mother didn’t approve of. He figured that was why they were really moving and for years blamed her for ruining his childhood.

“You coming up or am I coming by myself?” Sanjay called from the top the stairs.

In the morning Dan ate without noticing what he was eating. His folks must have known about Timmy disappearing. Why hadn’t they told him. He’d written Timmy letters from Toronto but never got a reply. Did those ever get mailed? 

“He must have been something special?” Sanjay nudged Dan’s shoulder as he offered to refill his coffee cup.

“Who?” Dan waved the coffee away. “I’ve had enough.”

“The lad in the picture. You are thinking about him, aren’t you?”

“Some, but more about why I didn’t know what happened until now. I was so heartsick about him but I let my folks think I was homesick for Cape Breton.”

“How old were you?”

“Only eleven.”

“Still carrying that flame?”

“No! I haven’t really thought about Timmy or those days until last night. I’m surprised I recognized his face.”

“It was yours that you recognized first.”

“Yeah, well, there were so few pictures of me, I mean just of me, without Linda lurking in the background. She invented photo bombing because they was no way Dad could take a picture if she was around without her getting in on it. Nearly all my baby pictures show either her or my mother holding me.”

“So, that’s when the rivalry started.”

“Oh yeah, I wasn’t out of the womb before she was making sure she got as much attention as she could. I better get going. Time to open shop. I’m seeing Warszawa this afternoon. I’ll ask him what he thinks I should do.”

“The RCMP do come in handy sometimes.”

“You working today?”

Sanjay was a pastry chef at two different restaurants and Dan was never sure which one he was working at on which day. Neither was Sanjay somedays.

“If I was I’d been gone by now, right?”

“No. You work evenings more and more.”

“Miss me?”

“You know I do.” He pulled Sanjay tight for a long kiss.

“Today’s the day the animal people are coming. Raccoon in the eaves.”

“Right. What’s that going to cost us I wonder.”

“At least a week of night shifts for me.”

“And two high-end digitals for me.”

“I thought your sister had that commission market cornered.”

“So she does but you know what I mean.”

Dan finished his coffee.

“I’ll be biking today so you can use the car.”

He leaned over Sanjay, kissed him while sliding one hand down his chest to squeeze his partner’s balls.

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FairVista Enters the Picture 

Nibbling away at the edits for Perfect. Reading my own comments from 2014 is proving valuable too. Naming things, people, places is a fun thing but one has to do research to make sure they don’t exist. FairVista is one of those names I ‘created’ for the deluxe mall where the 2nd James Photos is located. 

I used info I already had about corporate leasing in some shopping malls – breaking even isn’t good enough which is why, sometimes, your favorite coffee shop closes. How high end is FairVista? Cup of coffee starts at $10.50, but it is good china 🙂

Stumbling Around and #NaNoWriMo sample.04


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Alter Picture Later

In going over the 2014 samples & discover I fall prey to spellcheck typos – the ones where ‘later’ has morphed into ‘alter’ – ‘definitely’ becomes ‘defiantly.’ Copy edits will be my downfall 🙂 

I haven’t read these ‘samples’ in over 5 years so I’m a  happy to see how quickly I’ve been drawn back into the world of Dan Jamison. I also see that I’ll have my edit work cut out for me 🙂 Cyrtys is a character I loved creating & writing for – partly for his personality & also for the way he represents the unreal business of reality of TV.

Introducing Cyrtys


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