Picture Perfect 81
Once he got out of the taxi Dan double checked the address for Joviet J. Inc. he had written down. He was on the right street according to the GPS. Avenue Vert. Both sides were lined with three or four-story warehouse spaces, some of which had been converted to lofts, others appeared to be abandoned. Many didn’t have street numbers just names: Place de Hebo; Masion Au Moire.
The area had been part of the Ahuntsic garment district at one time but as imports brought prices down many of the side-street shops closed. There were some printing companies listed on the outside of some of them between the ‘a louer’ signs. He was tempted to ask a passerby but didn’t trust his French enough to approach anyone. His time in the RCMP had sharpened his reading & writing French skills but his conversational was never good enough to even order in a coffee shop.
There were a couple cafes & ground floor shops open – direct to public sales – with clothing, ceramics, paintings, in the windows. None with books or magazines. The door to Marcel’s Photocopie Plus was slightly open so he went in. A bell tingled. He took pictures of the various sized advertising cards printed in different languages, French, English, Cyrillic, Japanese, Hindi that were along the walls.
“Ello?” The clerk came out from a curtained room behind the counter & adjusted his toque. “Nice camera.” The clerk said pointing to Dan’s Lifend.
“Thanks. I was wondering if you could help me.”
“I would be most happy to try.” The clerk’s English was slightly accented.
“I’m looking for this address.” He handed the clerk the page he’s written the address on.
“Ah …” the clerk stepped to the door where the lighting was better. “This is a ‘b’ number. Which means it is not a front building but a back building. The fronts are all ‘a.’”
“It would help if even the facades had numbers.”
“I have often felt that way myself. Come … I will take you. I know where this one is.” He started down the sidewalk.
“You leaving your store open like that.”
“I shut the sign.” He reached around Dan, flipped the Overt sign to Ferme. “If they need copies they will come back. Come … ”
He lead Dan past a couple of the shorter buildings to a laneway between two of them. “It is down this lane & to the left.”
Even in the afternoon sun the laneway was dark. Reflected light gleamed at the far end & he could see there was another building.
“Thank you.” He turned and the man was gone. Dan started down the lane. His eyes adjusted quickly. A blow between his shoulders send him face first to the ground. He put one arm up to protect his face and clutched his shoulder bag to his stomach. A foot between his shoulder blades held him to ground. He felt something pulling at his camera strap. He tried to move.
“Be still stupid man or this knife might slip to do real damage.” The pressure on the camera strap increased.
Dan took a deep breath, flicked the strap’s catch so it came loose. He remained flat on the ground. He wasn’t too concerned about the camera. It was fingerprint protected. Only he could use it. Releasing the catch would send a signal to alert Lifend.
He waited another five minutes after the footsteps had run from the laneway. He pushed himself up slowly, brushed debris from his pants and jacket, got his cell phone and called the police. He gave directions as best he could and waited on the sidewalk by the laneway entrance. He checked the camera’s gps & saw that whomever had it was still a few block away. Probably trying to figure out the Lifend.
When the officers arrived he told them who he was, showed them his special constable card.
“A secret service man!” the older of the two said shaking Dan’s hand. “I am Lucas Fortin and this is my partner Tai Zhang. You are here on a case?”
“No a little pleasure.” He explained his camera’s theft features as they walked back to the print shop.
A man rubbing his head staggered out of the shop.
“Des voleurs. Voleurs. C’est la troisième fois ce fucking mois-ci.”
After the man had been calmed down it was case of break & enter. He had been for a little lunch & was turning off the security system at the door when this ‘fuckin’ voleur’ had pushed him through it, to the counter & bashed him in the head. Dan had walked in before the ‘fuckin’ voleur’ had gotten anything.
Dan checked the camera’s gps & saw that it was no longer in motion.
“He’s abandoned my camera in this area.”
He pointed it out to the store owner.
“A park not too far from here” Lucas Fortin laughed.
“Place de Drogués.” His partner echoed the laugh.
“Come, we will take you to it.”
The camera had been stuffed into one of the park trash barrels. It was covered with rotting orange peels.
Dan took it over the fountain, dunked it under the water & rinsed it off.
“Waterproof?” Zhang was impressed.
“More that that.” Dan smiled. “Pretty much indestructible. He turned the camera on to make sure it had survived. “Take a look. Sudden motion sensitive too.”
He played back the footage the camera had automatically started filming when he had undone the strap buckle: the sidewalk as the thief was running & dodging between parked cars, down a laneway & stopping at the park to shake the camera as he tried to turn it on.
“Shitty shit shit camera.” The thief was saying as he tried to catch is breath. “… buttons do nothin’. Shit why that asshole come in just then.”
Then the camera was shoved into the trash barrel. There were several good quality shots of the thief’s face.
“C’est Clarence.” Zhang said. “Crackhead we know well.”can
By the time his statement had been taken it was too late for Dan to continue his investigations. He told the police he was there taking photographs and someone had suggested the area and building at 641B Jaccent.
“Is gone.” The shop owner explained. “It was in a big fire last summer, or was it the summer before that? Torn down & soon to be condos.”
“Thanks.” His cell chimed. “That’s my reminder to get to the airport. I have a flight to catch.”
“You catch a taxi fast at the next lights.” Zhang said.
“I’ll tag along,” Fortin said. “Just to make sure you don’t get more troubles.”
A few steps along Fortin said. “641 was a hot spot & not because of t’fire. No one would suggest it as a photo op. What are you looking for here?”
Dan took a deep breath. “I was hoping to track down Joviet J. Inc. in connection with a case I’m working on.”
“Sorry that is all I can tell you.”
“Understood. The place had biker connections & no one was sorry to see it go, expect the insurance company.”
“I see.” Dan hoped the officer would tell him more.
“There’s a cab.”
As Dan got in Fortin handed him a card. “Get in touch if you want to know more about Joviet. Unofficially.”