Picture Perfect Last Words 

Picture Perfect Last Words 

I’ve some asks about the sex – why so explicit? I guess at this stage of my life I don’t care if queer sex makes people uncomfortable. I’m also always disappointed in lgbtqia writing in which they kiss, maybe fumble with some buttons – then they wake up in the morning with no acknowledgement of the actual sexual interaction. 

In this story I also played with voyeurism but sort of lost that thread as things progressed – perhaps Dan’s life got too busy to for that diversion, or perhaps it was a sign of his dissatisfaction with Sanjay? The light ‘Sir’ role play with Peter was interesting to work with but I chose not to push in deeper in b&d. 

I also had fun with the Lifend products. I did no research beyond owning a camera. Who wouldn’t love a travel mug & cameras with all the abilities that Dan’s had – again another thread that sort of lost. In next draft I may get rid of the devices that I invented but which Dan never used. I had to resist using them as life-savers for Dan as well. He needed to be more active in his adventures.

Other threads that got sort of lost: Whatever became of those little boxes Dan found in his old bedroom? Maybe, in the next book they’ll show up. Then there was that collection of old photos & albums from the rummage sale — another thread that got lost. 

I left lots of ‘seeds’ for the next Dan James adventure – his Dad’s porn career, the tourist photo serial killer, the fate of the Depot, marriage to Jeremy? I wanted to develop something around the effect of coming out on Jeremy’s career as a sports icon. Dan’s charming sister is another plot thread. Why did Dan’s Dad move so abruptly to Toronto? Was there more to it than the disappearing children? So there is more than a few plots to focus on for the next in the series: Daniel James & the Pixels of Peril (just kidding – I have no title for the next one.)

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Picture Perfect Afterwords

Picture Perfect Afterwords

When I started the edit of Picture perfect in January 2020 (https://topoet.ca/2020/01/07/picture-perfect-1/)I didn’t realize it would take over two years to get this second draft blogged. Edits usually make things shorter but this one, even with some major cuts, expanded & introduced elements that weren’t in the original draft. so 150,000 words become 188,000 words by the time I wrote -the end-

Even with that extensive rough draft I found myself getting a lost at times. Notes of names & events weren’t enough to keep names spelt consistently or the sequence of events in the right order. Some of the cuts resulted in having to revise some scenes to add or remove information so there was fair bit of re-writing. I know I have to fix names for the third draft. 

Naming was important with so many characters so that the name itself would help readers remember them.  For some of the internationals I checked out soccer or rugby teams for fun names. I changed the spelling of one character from Cyrtys to Curtis to spare my readers’ eyes. Some I dipped into my past – Moxham comes from my growing up in Sydney. Moxham Castle was local landmark.

New scenes presented themselves as I worked through the 2nd half of the book. I wasn’t fully clear on who the culprit was until Nova Convergence became an actual place – even then I had to simplify so it didn’t feel like a Poirot reveal. Who the saboteur wasn’t fully clear to me either. Once I got to the opening of the circus museum I started to create more & more new material to fill in holes I’d left in the first draft. 

All of the ‘how to’ staging of the interviews is based solely on what I’ve seen on reality TV & not from any research into how it is actually done. The same is true for Dan’s legal entanglements with his sister Linda & the separation of their two business. I night consult a lawyer for draft 3 but no one has read it has written to tell me how off-base I might be. The same is true for the damage to Dan’s vision. 

The first draft had one climax scene – a knock down fight in the circus museum ride park during a thunderstorm in which Janis is revealed to be the murderer & also, with Troy’s help, the saboteur. But as I started the edit I realized I wanted that snake attack scene in the Convergence. Peter’s death was in the cards when was he first introduced. For time I was going to repurpose that circus face-off to reveal John as the saboteur but I couldn’t find a reason to get Dan back there after the Cold east shoot was done. I added fuel to John’s resentment with the invented Gordon Sinclair award (which I loved naming). It also gave readers a lull before ‘solving’ the saboteur plot with that fist fight in Dan’s house. 

As I made cuts, as the plot developed & slightly changed directions I realize I started some threads that really got dropped – i.e. Linda’s marriage to Ushio’s brother was to be developed more but got lost. Dan’s encounters with Larry Clarke & the Moose Trail; Stan Ferguson of the Whitney Pier museum were greatly edited down. Two characters introduced to show there was a gay world on the east coast but then discarded.

I loved creating the weekly graphic for each section. Many of the painting were found on the Craven Rd fence. I also kept my eye open for art discarded & a few were actually part of some porch decor. When doing the edits the first thing I work don was the graphic. There was no attempted to co-ordinate the picture with the contents of the section.

There’ll be at least one more post about Picture Perfect as I’ve been asked about the sex scenes, the fight scenes & what might be coming next for Dan James.

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Picture Perfect 133 

Picture Perfect 133

“You do understand what ‘full disclosure’ means.” His sister’s lawyer was taking papers out of his brief case. “That if you withheld any pertinent financial information the agreement to sever the James Family business would be considered null & void.”

“I withheld nothing.” Dan said.

“Ha!” Linda explained. “As if you didn’t know this block was being rezoned for major redevelopment.”

“Please, Mrs. Tanaka. I can handle this.”

“We signed these agreements, what, almost a year ago now. The development signs didn’t go up until this morning. I am not a … psychic.”

“Dan everyone knows it takes years before those sings go up. They did their research. I know they made an offer to you.”

“Then you know more than I know.” Dan took a deep breath. “How do you know that made an offer?”

“Show him.” Linda said to the lawyer.

He handed Dan a letter from the developers.

“Read it & weep.” She said.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this.” He was folding the letter to put it back in the envelope. “No wonder, it’s address to FairVista, not here. You’re the one who has been withholding.” He took out his loupe & examined it closely. “The postmark is …”

She grabbed it from him. “I don’t give a fuck about the postmark. Serve him the repudiation of the dissolve papers, or whatever they are called.”

“Is that true?” The lawyer asked her. “That you withheld these documents from him?”

“What difference does that make?” She snapped.

“It means,” Dan said, “your claimed won’t stand up in court, sis.”

“He’s right.” The lawyer said. “Clearly you knew about this when you entered the agreement to separate the two business entities.”

“Are you my lawyer or his?” 

Dan took the letter from her. “Linda I’ll look into this now that you’ve brought to my attention.”

Linda glared at him, at her lawyer & stomped out of Dan’s office.

“I …” the lawyer started.

“She’s always been a duplicitous bitch.” Dan said. “I will check into this.”

After the lawyer left Dan faxed the letter to Dell & Strong to follow up on it saying that it had gotten lost in mail that had accumulated while he was out of town. 

He went down to the main floor to see how preparations for the weekend sale were progressing. “Hey boss is it really you?” Ushio joked. “We thought you had gone back to east coast again.”

“Can’t I leave the store for five minutes?” Dan laughed. 

“Abandonment issues.” Len said.

“I wonder what the opposite of that is?” Dan asked. “What if you long to be abandoned?”


He was in the back storeroom double-checking the coded price tags on sale items when Robert Warszawa come into the room.

“Scanner to the grindstone.” He said.

“Yeah. Feels good to finally be back to routines.”

“There’s been another one.”

“Where this time?” 

“Charlottetown. More travel photos, discreetly tucked into a book this time.”

“Name of book?”

“Hmmm … I’ll get them to check on that. Have you heard that Janis Hadley has passed away.”

“Yes. Troy called me with that news. I want to say sad news but well, cancer is as deadly as any snake bite.” Dan said. “Too bad there isn’t one to take a bite of the snake of a lawyer Kilpatrick hired.”

“Tell me about it. Soon the fact that you were there will be deemed as inadmissible evidence.” Warszawa shook his head.

“QTel cancelled his circus show. They shelved the episodes already shot, too. He’s suing me for that loss of income.” Dan wiped the dust off his hands on a rag. “That’s enough for one day.” 

“Buy you a drink?” Warszawa offered.

“So you can fill me on Charlottetown? No thanks. Jeremy is picking me up in a hour.” He checked his phone. “It’ll take me at least that long to be presentable.”

They went into the main part of the Depot. 

“Is there anything I need to know about the Charlottetown killing? Or can it wait until after the weekend?”

“It can wait. Just one thing.”


“If Jeremy Moxham isn’t happy with the way you look right now, he’s a fool.” Warszawa laughed.


Dan dried his legs looking at himself in the full length bathroom mirror. He felt he was looking okay for someone who didn’t have time for working out. He sprayed himself with the smokey coconut cologne Jeremy had sent him & opted to go casual in one of the Cape Breton sweatshirts he had picked up on the east coast. Jeans that the hoped would indicate that he wasn’t interesting a fine dining excursion.

He took the ring out of the safe. Would wearing it be too much of a signal to Jeremy? Whenever he contemplated Jeremy’s proposal the same reservations went though his mind. Was he ready to have his tax level change even more than Cold East had changed it? Did he want to move into any of Jeremy’s many condos. 

Getting back into the Depot work routine was satisfying. He didn’t miss having cameras on him all he time. Being seen in public with Jeremy was to be in the pubic eye. He’d had enough of that already. People still called out to him ‘Back To you John’ when he was shopping for groceries. At first he was amused now he found it embarrassing.

His cell buzzed, It was a text from Jeremy.


“Be right down.” He texted back.

He pulled on his denim jacket & went out by the backstairs so he didn’t have to re-lock the front of the store.

Dan got into the car.

Jeremy took one look him. “Is this a hamburger of a pizza look?”


“I know the perfect spot.”

“The perfect spot is one where nobody recognizes either of us.” Dan joked.

“So it’s like that is it. Then I really do know the perfect spot.” Jeremy spoke into his phone. “Two burgers with the works, fries, for pick up.”

There a pause a ding. “Ready in ten Mr. Moxham.”

“We’ll pick them up & eat right in the car. Or if you want we can go back to my place.”

“Which one?” Dan asked.

“You have a preference?” Jeremy said. “I was thinking the usual. Or we could come back to your place?”

“My place!” Dan pictured the untidy mess of his Depot apartment.

“Just kidding. Frank Place it is. You like the view.”


After they had eaten Jeremy pulled Dan to couch.

“Have you decided yet?” He asked.

“What do you see us doing?” Dan said. “Beside chairing charity functions.”

“Travel. Lots of travel.”

“But I have a business to run Jeremy.”

“You won’t have to worry about work.” 

“What makes you think I’d stop working for you?” Dan pushed Jeremy away from him. “You do realize I have a life that I frankly enjoy.”

“I’m sure we could work something out once we’re married.”

“It’s not simple.” Dan walked to the expansive window. “What do you see us doing in bed? What sex fantasy do you have beyond us kissing. Are we even naked in those fantasies.”

“We’d do what guys do.”

“You have had sex with another man. Haven’t you?”

“Sex, I guess, but …. not what I’d call making love.”

“So you are a top or a bottom? In your fantasy I mean.”

“Dan I don’t know what to tell you. I thought that would be something we’d discover together.”

“Oh you want me to be teacher, the dom, as it were?”

“I … I suppose so. I know you’ve had more experience than me.”

“Have I?So you want me to quit my job, marry you & then take you through intimacy 101?”

“No! I want you in my life.”

“On your terms. What about my terms? We both more more to think about before I can make a decision to take that step. It’s time for me to go. We have a huge sale starting tomorrow. I need a good night’s sleep”


In the morning Dan looked at the noisy lineup outside the store & wished he’d had a good night’s sleep. Sandy was waiting at the front door for his signal to open.

“We’re as ready as we’re going to be.” Dan said as he nodded to her.

He was grateful for the crush of customers that kept his mind off Jeremy.

“Hey boss someone wants you on the land line.” Ushio shouted to him.

“Mr. James, this is Hawthorn Developments. We’re interesting in adding your property to our plan to revitalize that corner. Our representative will be by this afternoon with our offer.”

Whoever it was hung up before Dan could respond. 

The rest of the morning was like a boxing day sale. Shelves & displays were restocked as fast as possible. He longed for lull to sit for a few minutes but as soon as a dozen people were out of the store another dozen were squeezing in. 

At 3 when things were a little less frantic he signalled Sandy that he going up to his office for bathroom break. 

He sat his desk glancing at the readout of the days’ sales, so far, when he was buzzed from the floor.

“Boss.” It was Ushio. “A lady is coming to the office to see you. She says it is most important.”

Fuck! He’d forgotten all about the Hawthorn representative. There a knock at the door.

“Come in.”

The woman who entered looked exactly like the one in his Dad’s smutty pictures. He expected her to open her trench coat to reveal a corset.

“Mr. James. I’m Darla Brooks. I believe you have some photos of my mother Peggy Brooks.”

 – the end –

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Picture Perfect 132

Picture Perfect 132

Dan exited Dr. Grey’s office pleased with results of  the examination. The past two weeks of nightly self-treatment had paid off. The damage was repairing itself & this eyes were no worse from John Kilpatrick’s assault two months ago. 

After his vacation he was eager to get back to work. It felt good to be planning a ‘Boss’s Back Sale’ at the Depot instead of worrying about his lines for yet another Cold East promo. He wanted the show to be history but with each new market there were new calls for interviews. The drama of events subsequent to the end of the show kept him in the public eye in ways he didn’t enjoy.

As he rode his bike into the lane between the Depot & the building block next to it he saw that while he was out it had been fenced off with chainlink hoarding. There was a sign inviting people to a community meeting to discuss proposed redevelopment of the lot. It would be a multi-storied apartment with retail in the bottom floor. He hoped the residents would enjoy the view of the apartment block across the street as well as the roof of the Depot.

Inside he helped Ushio & Len unpack boxes of various camera equipment they had ordered just for the sale. Len had been hired some months ago to take up the slack with Dan away on Cold East. 

“What are these?” Dan pulled out a shoulder bag made of clear, heavy plastic.

“Camera bags?” Ushio glanced at the bag.

“Or portable aquariums.” Len suggested. 

“Right.” Dan gave a short laugh. “Who ordered this? I certainly didn’t.”

“I did, boss.” Ushio said. “You told me to find things we could sell fast & cheap. They were in the Shutter Storehouse catalogue.”

“No serious photograph would use these.” Sandy said. “They keep their ten thousand dollar lenses hidden.” 

“It’ll be a fun give away.” Dan said. “Free with every purchase. That way there we should be rid go them quickly.”

They worked in relative silence for the next couple of hours. The only interruptions were customers that Len attended to.

“Two p.m. Coffee break.” Sandy announced as a chubby, dark-skinned man came into the store with their standing afternoon order from the Carafe.

“Hola,” the man said. “I am Camilo Villas. Jill says you are her best customers.” He smiled broadly. “Now your Columbian will be brought to you by a real Columbian.”

“Thank You. I’m Ushio Tanaka.”

“Sandy Reynolds.”

“Len March.”

“Jajaja. Don’t tell me, you are the maestro?” Camilo turned to Dan. “I am to make sure you get this one.” He gave Dan his coffee first. “Whole milk and a shake of vanilla. Right?”

“Right on both counts, Camilo.” Dan took his coffee and scone.

“Everything is okay?” Camilo said. “I am just learning how to do so many things.”

“You haven’t been in Canada long?” Ushio asked.

“Yes. Four years now. I was in Vancouver, then Calgary. But there weren’t places for me. I am certified registered nurse but do not have degree in your country so cannot practice. Soon I will write tests to practice here. I must get back to Carafe.”

“Thanks Camilo. You can tell Jill I’ll be by before she closes.”

“Yes, maestro.” Camilo made a half bow & left.

As Dan was finishing his coffee Cliff Silver came into the shop.

“I was hoping you’d be here.” Cliff said. “Things always run better when when the Maestro is here.”

“So you’ve met Camilo.” Sandy said. “His accent thick enough for you?”

“Sandy, please, I am a Christian woman.” Cliff adopted a South accent, then dropped back to his normal voice. “Besides he’s too short for me. Married with children, as well. Married I don’t mind. Children, count me out. I dropped in with the picture you had me frame & to give you these.”

He took two calendars out of his portfolio case. “I just got these proofs from the printers. Let me know what you think, Dan.”

The first set was a year of his Cape Breton cloudy day pictures taken at various spots around the island. The second was of his Dad’s Scenic Cape Breton.

“These were a James tradition since my dad started his business. When he died we didn’t keep it up.”

So many people had mentioned the James calendars when Dan was on the east coast he decided to revive them. He was hesitant about using his own pictures though as he never considered himself as good a camera man as his Dad. Cliff had convinced him otherwise after Dan showed him the photographs he had taken.

“Have you seen the zoning notice?” Cliff asked.

“Yeah. Going be a lot of noise when they start that tear down.” Dan shook his head.

“The developers visited me this morning making inquiries about who owns the property.”

“Figures.” Dan said. 

“They … uh … made me an offer.”

“What to but this building?”

“No. To be one of the first to lease space in the new building.”

“Ha! They haven’t even gotten zone permission.”

“Their agent told me that unless there was real objections they would start work by the firs too the month. They’ve also approached Jill at the Carafe.”

“Hey, Boss,” Ushio got his attention. “There’s Jeremy  Moxham on the news.”

Dan turned up the volume. The footage was of Jeremy scoring the decisive goal in the Olympics several years ago. Other footage was of him on red carpets, shaking hands with heads of state.

“Legendary Canadian sport figure Jeremy Moxham shocked his fans today by coming out as a gay man.”

“At least he didn’t come out as a lesbian woman.” Sandy laughed. “Now that would have been shocking.”

“Shush.” Dan said. “What may be old news to us is fresh for most of the world.”

“In a press release Jeremy Moxham says – ‘In order to move on in my life I feel it is time for me to be honest with myself and my public that I am gay. I have known this about myself for several years but have refrained from sharing it publicly or even privately for fear of alienating my fellow athletes and my many loyal fans.”

“I guess he has enough money in the bank it’s safe for him to come out.” Sandy said. “He’s got nothing to lose now.”

“Full contents of the press release can be found on our web site. His ex-wife Elizabeth was unavailable to comment.” Under this there was shot of Elizabeth and Jeremy frolicking in the surf from a Sports Illustrated swim suit issue.

“In other sports news …”

Dan turned the volume down.

“I suppose than comes as no surprise to you.” Sandy said.

“That he was gay?” Dan said. “Or that he was going to come out.”

“I always felt he was bi.” Ushio said. “I think all those guys are anyway. David Beckham. Sidney Crosby. Any man who dates a top model does it to prove he is heterosexual.”

“Interesting theory.” Cliff said. “I’d better get back to the gallery. My back in ‘ten minutes’ is up.

“You can lock up here Sandy.”

“Ok boss. See in the morning. We do have a big sale on.”

Dan up to his office. He took the ring out of the safe, shook it out of the pouch into the palm of his hand. “You are making it hard to say no Jeremy Moxham.” He put it on his finger. He had worn it for about an hour after after that supper with Jeremy. Other than a camera around his neck he didn’t wear jewelry. Chains and bracelets annoyed him. He could’t even tolerate wearing  watch. The ring fit perfectly. It looked at home on his finger, on his hand but after five minutes of working on his desk top it was distracting. He checked the time & went down to the Carafe before it closed.

“Cliff dropped this off today. It’s that picture of Peter him you wanted. Cliff had it framed for me.” 

It was a shot of Peter serving coffee and muffin.

“Thanks.” Jill said with a catch in her throat. 

“Yes.” He found himself turning the ring around and around on his finger. “You heard about Jeremy?”

“You know we don’t abide current affairs in here. No TV, remember. Rats want caffeine to get back into the race they are escaping from.”

“He came out, officially.”

“It’s about time. Does it bother you.”

“I’m not bothered. He …” Dan held up his hand for her to get a good look at the ring. “Popped the question moths ago. I told him I couldn’t deal with hiding this from his adoring public. I’ve been out so long in a city were nearly everyone I know is out.”

“So you think he did it for you?” Jill laughed. “I didn’t think you had that much power over men.”

“It seems I do. Look at my history. Sanjay. Peter. Jeremy. Stan. To name a few. They’ve all …”

“Stan? Who is this Stan?”

“Just some guy on the east coast who practically raped me.”

“So you’ve accepted or you wouldn’t be wearing his ring.” Jill laughed again. “It’s my party and Judy came in wearing his ring.” she sang.

“I’m trying it on. Rings turn to chains. I told him after dealing my non-marriage to Sanjay I wasn’t ready for the real thing.”

“I hear you there.” She said. “I don’t think you feel as strongly for either of them as you did for Peter either.”

“Smart woman.”

“Peter was still young enough not to let expectations get in the way of his emotions.” Jill said. “He wasn’t a jaded.”

“A little silver bird told me the developers have been to see you?”

“Oh them.” She laughed. “You think any brand spanking new condo complex would have the ambiance this creaking old dump has you’re crazy. You’re not thinking of selling out them, are you?”

“They haven’t approached me yet.” His cell rang. “Opps spoke too soon. Hi Sandy … I’ll be right there.”

“They’re waiting for you?”

“Nope, it’s my sister with her lawyer.”

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Picture Perfect 131

Picture Perfect 131

The shower stopped.

Dan gasped. Was he hearing things in the silent house? He stood at the foot of the stairs listening intently. There was no sound other than traffic noise from the street outside. A car starting. 

He went up the stairs slowly lest his footsteps made the steps creak. At the top he peered into the dark. He took a deep breath. There wasn’t the smell of a shower, no humidity in the air. He turned on the hall light. The glare made the empty space even emptier.

He went into the bathroom. The shower was dry. There was no water on the tiles or on the floor around it.

He sagged against the wall. So this is grief, he thought. The house had to be empty before he could feel it.

“What’s keeping you, sir?”

The whisper came from the second bedroom. It wasn’t Peter. It was vaguely familiar though. 

“Who’s there?” Dan said. “I know it isn’t Peter.”

“That’s right, sir.” The voice said in a normal pitch. “That’s fucking right.”

A man rushed out of the dark & pushed Dan off balance & down the stairs. 

“Back to you, Danny boy.”

As he lost his balance Dan grabbed the stair railing to keep himself upright. The force of the shove wrenched his shoulder as he clutched the rail. Punches struck the back of his head, his arm as the man tried to get Dan to let go. Dan’s RCMP training kicked in as he sagged forward slightly then pushed himself upright momentarily distancing himself from his attacker. He took a step down & swung himself over the railing onto the living room floor.

He reached for his shoulder bag by the front door  but his attacker grabbed him from behind. They fell to the floor. Dan tried to elbow the man on his back in the stomach but there wasn’t enough leverage. He took a deep breath & pushed up with his right arm. His attacker slid off his back & Dan quickly rolled so that he was on top of the man. 

“John!” He finally saw the face of his assailant. “What the fuck!” It was John Kilpatrick.

Dan blocked John’s left hand as it swung up at him.

“Don’t act so surprised Mr. James.” John grabbed Dan’s hair with his other hand & yanked hard.

Dan fell back & scrambled to his feet. As John got up Dan hit him in the jaw with the side of his forearm & darted back toward the kitchen.

“You can’t be this sore about the show? Me winning that stupid award? What?” Dan shouted as John backed him to the kitchen counter.

“The two things I loved the most in my life you’ve taken away from me. You didn’t realize that did you?  Not that you cared  anyway. When your …. whatever he was  …. fuck toy was killed I thought that was good. I laughed. That’s right I laughed.”

“What two things?”

“My career & …. Octavio.” John began to cry.

“Octavio? Who the fuck is …. Roberto!”

“That’s right you stupid, self-centred asshole.” He grabbed Dan by the shoulders & banged his head again the cupboard doors.

“If you hadn’t switched cars he’d still be alive.”

“He was …”

“I rescued him while I was covering the revolution in San Costa. The gorillas taught me a lot during the months I was with them. You didn’t know that, did you?” 

“The bomb?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t set the timer right. But that’s all the past. You’ll be the past soon too. Both of us.” He head butted Dan.

Dazed Dan sank to the floor. 

John fumbled with the knobs on the stove, turning the gas on full. Listening for the gas to hiss he pulled a lighter out of his pocket.

Dan shook his head & pulled himself to to his feet. He started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” John said.

“Gas.” Dan took a breath & stepped back away from John & the stove. “I had it turned off yesterday. The law you know, empty house can’t have live gas feed.”

He yanked out one of the drawers & swung it hitting John. 

“Good thing I never had these replaced.” He said as John collapsed to the floor.

He waited a few minutes for John to get up to continue the battle. When he didn’t, Dan stooped to check his pulse. John was still alive.

Dan leaned against the counter to catch his breath. He wiped at the sweat that was dripping into his eyes to discover that it was blood. He was afraid to take his eyes off John lest he come to. He tried to recall if the alarm system had voice activation. Had he set it before he went upstairs? There was a trigger at the kitchen door that opened to the garage.

Keeping John in view he took the few steps to the door & pressed the alert button on the alarm panel. It would send a signal to the security firm. The garage door was still wide open after the moving van had departed. Was that how John was able to get in?   He turned the garage light on to alert the security that would arrive to come that way.

John remained still on the floor. Dan longed to go the front door to grab his shoulder bag with his phone in it but was afraid that if he lost visual contact with John that John would either disappear like the villain in all slasher movies or he would resurrect to attack him again.

He didn’t breath easy until he heard a car pull up & the doors slam as someone got out.

“Stickler Security.” A female called out. “Mr. James? Is there a problem?” She & another guard walked into the garage.


An hour later Dan was sitting on the stairway as an EMS medic wiped the blood off his face. A policeman askied him about the attack. 

“I checked the bathroom & that shower hasn’t been used recently.” The officer said.

“I told you it was dry when I went up to check it. That’s when John, Mr. Kilpatrick jumped out to push me down the stairs.”

“Right. How do you ….”

The officer was interrupted by shouts from outside where another officer was questioning John by the EMS vehicle. 

“I want him arrested.” John was yelling. “He attacked me for no reason at all. No reason. I’m calling my lawyer.”

The officer talking with Dan raised his eyebrows. “You see Mr. James, we have two different stories about what happened.”

The medic applied some disinfectant on Dan’s forehead.

“You’ll need stitches, sir. That’s a nasty cut. There’ll be a scar.”

“Thanks.” More than anything Dan wanted to be alone to gather his thoughts. He went over the sequence of the attack, trying to recall what John had said.

“Ask him about Octavio.” He told the officer. 

“Octavio? Who is Octavio?” 

Just then they both heard the shower go on.

“What the … ” The officer said. “Who is up there?” He stomped up the stairs. He was gone a few minutes & came back down with a small portable speaker dangling at the end of a nylon cord loop. It was still playing the sound of a shower.

“This was hanging on the back of the bathroom door.” He said.

“It’s a wireless puck speaker.” Dan said. “We sell them at the Depot. He must have set it off now when he used his cellphone.”

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Picture Perfect 130 

Picture Perfect 130

“Here’s to Baxter’s Bits doing what the authorities couldn’t do. Solve a cold case.” Baxter lifted his wineglass with a wide grin. “Although I must admit they cooperated with us whole-heartedly with this investigation thanks to the presence of our host Daniel James.”

Dan nodded from his end of the table.

They were gathered the QTel studio to celebrate the awards the show had won at the Canadian Association of Broadcasters dinner the night before. 

“Before we show you this cut of the final episode I must tell you that we worked day and night to work in the latest stunning developments. For the first time in the over 120 episodes Cold Canada we stop serial killer before she could kill again.”

“For the first time in any reality show.” Harold Carmichael said.

Dan shrugged. For him it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time while not knowing that he was at the right place at the right time. 

“Once the trial is over we’ll shoot a two-parter special to broadcast during sweeps week.”

Dan groaned inwardly. The money wasn’t as compelling as the thought of someone else telling his story.

Baxter sat beside Dan. “QTel really wants to developing a whole new series around you.”

The lights dimmed. The theme was a bass and drum mix with fiddles and bagpipes that went into a minor chord then became slightly dissonant. Just enough to create tension but not be grating. The credits faded in and out of a series of photos that also faded in and out. The photos were of the children, the places, of Dan, the Maritime Circus Museum’s Tut exhibit, The Nova Conversion Centre.

Over this Dan was narrating “Join me, Daniel James as I & my team of investigators wrap up the clues in the cases of eight children who vanished without a trace in the summer of 1984.”

“Our trail started in ….” for the first ten minutes Dan gave travelog innocence. Each area was treated as if it was a tourist board promo as he name checked the various points of interest, pieces of historic trivia that the writers had put together. The music remained light almost playful. 

It was the template for all of the previous episodes but he had recorded new voice overs in a five-day session. The key was to keep his voice interested in what he was saying. To keep his remarks about the interviews sounding off the cuff and not scripted.

At points he would chat with Jen to sum up, speculate. The writers worked with him to construct a flow so that not too much was revealed at once. He knew how to interview but didn’t know how to pace a narrative.

Knowing what he did now about what happened to the children he wished he been more focused from the start. More than anything he wanted to go back to those families and restore what they had lost. The death of Peter made their sense of loss real to him.

The voice-overs that he found the most annoying to do were the rehash recapitulation when they returned from commercial breaks. He was sure no one forgot that much while watching ads for mouthwash. At about an hour in the episode he talked with Warszawa & Sergeant Coster to get the RCMP input on the case. 

“It would a decades before …. would stop expecting their children to come down the stairs for breakfast.

“Our next episode takes us to …. Little did we know that this trail would lead us back to … and bring me face-to-face with the confessed perpetrator of these abductions.”

As with the episodes aired it would end with a dedication to the memory of all the children & also Glaucia Vidro & Roberto Hajla who had died during the filming of the series. A separate splash with a photograph of Peter Eastgate ended the dedications. Dan closed his eyes so he didn’t have to see the picture of Peter.

“Baxter I have to admit this whole Cold East has worked out exceptionally well.” Harold said. “Mr. James I confess when things got so … difficult in the first few weeks I wanted QTel to pull the plug. We were getting pressure from the RCMP, along with libel threats from Chamberlain. Not to forget John Kilpatrick demanding you be removed so he could do the show. It was more legal stress than I felt it was worth. I am sorry about your loss, too.”

Not as sorry as I am. Dan want to leave. He didn’t sympathy or praise he wanted to be alone. 

“Thank you. As I said when I accepted the Sinclair  no one knew here this trail was leading when we started out. I was ready to call it quits when we got raided by the RCMP in Moncton.”

“We’re glad determined heads prevailed.” Harold said. 

“I’ve always wondered why Winston Chamberlain was was killed?” Baxter asked. “Was he in on it from the beginning or what?”

“I … “ Dan checked to see if Robert Warszawa was still there. He was. “What can I tell them Robert?”

“Janis Hadley has seen this as an invitation from above to confess to all she knows.”

“Okay.” Baxter said.

“Winston was one of the senior Elders of the Nova Convergents.”

“What!” Jennifer exclaimed. 

“That’s how the church was able to acquire Happy Hippo snakes. He was an easy convert thanks to Cora. That & the fact that his mother was also a … snake handler for God.”

“Wow!” Baxter exclaimed. “Sounds like we’ll need a three parter to really wrap all this up.”

“She had souvenirs from some of the children. The ones that ‘glowed’ she said. All were at their house expect one that a part of her sacred robes. A hair bow from …”

“Dorothy O’Conner.” Jennifer said. “That’s why Dan had the vision of her. It was something from the past that connected her to you & you to her.”

“Interesting theory.” Dan shrugged. He took out his cell to check the time. “I better get going. The movers are taking the last of my stuff to storage.”

“Movers?” Warszawa said.

“Yeah. I’ve put my house on the market. I’ll be living at the Depot while I look to a new place.”


Dan went through the empty rooms of his house. He was both sad to hear the slight echo of his footsteps & happy to leave behind the memories. He checked the closets, the kitchen cupboards to make sure he’d left nothing behind. He had left it to the real estate agency to do a final cleaning & whatever repainting it thought was needed to re-stage the property for fast sale.

He was also glad that the Depot had retained the zoning that permitted mixed residency & that he had painted some of his families original apartment there. 

As he was setting the security alarm he heard the shower running in one of the upstairs bathrooms. Had one of the movers accidentally turned it on? No. They’d left an hour ago & it wasn’t running when he was upstairs ten minutes ago.

He stood at the bottom of the stairs & called up.

“Who is up there?”

“It’s me, sir.” 

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Picture Perfect 129 

Picture Perfect 129

“Is it because I’m not out?” Jeremy put the ring back in its pouch.

“It’s hard to be committed to someone who isn’t honest about themselves. You think it was easy for me to be out in the RCMP, then it going public & international, because some homophobe thought he had the perfect opportunity to ruin me? Did I wish for a moment then I had stayed in the closet? No. If I was going to get my balls busted for who I was I was ready to take it. 

“Funny, on the east coast, I ran into a guy who reminded me of that. He said it gave him courage to be out. My fight showed him that being queer didn’t mean being a queen at the same time & that he didn’t have to be afraid of having his balls busted.” Dan took a deep breath. He had become more emotional than he expected.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this into a lecture. I must sound like some queer activist. I’m usually not, until someone pulls their pants down & backs me into a corner with an engagement ring.”

“Dan, I think this the first time I’ve heard you speak so strongly about yourself. It’s because you trust me. If you didn’t care, you would have kept the ring and then blown me off somehow.”

“I do trust you but trust me I’m not going to marry you. Blow you off, never. Blow you, maybe, but not if you need a wedding to give you permission.”

“Fair enough.” Jeremy laughed. “I’ll call the caterer and tell them the wedding’s off.”


“Just joking.” Jeremy gave Dan the ring in its pouch. “Take this. Keep it, for now. The law says it is mine if you decide not to accept my proposal. But I renege on it then it’s yours to keep.”

“Should I put it in my security deposit box?”

“If you mean, how much is it worth? Yes. But I’d rather you wore it.”

“Now that that’s out of the way.”

‘For now.”

“I thought you were taking me out to dinner?” Dan said.

“Why not order in from our favourite?”

“You mean Ashley’s favorite.” 

“You’ve never complained before.” Jeremy looked for the number on his cell.

“I’d like to get out. I’ve been cooped too long. We can walk to Loola. Or are you afraid of being seen in public with your boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend!” Jeremy grinned. “I had to propose marriage to be elevated to boyfriend? That’s a step in the right direction.”


Loola’s was fairly busy. They had to wait for a table to be cleared for them. Some patrons clearly recognized Jeremy & nudged one another to point him out. 

A few minutes after they were seated Della Kincaid showed up at their table. 

“Jerry!” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you to call me.” She signalled a waiter to bring her a chair. “You don’t mind, do you?” She said to Dan with a brief glance at him.

“As a matter of fact I do.” Dan said. “This is a private conversation.”

“So is this.” Della snapped. “Jeremy and I are good friends. Aren’t we Jeremy.”

“Della!” Jeremy said. “You remember Daniel James.”

‘No!” She said. “When I’m with you, you are all I can remember.”

“Unless there are camera’s.” Dan said. “You always remember to show them your good side.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” She turned to him. “Some suck ass, sucking up him?”

“Listen who’s talking!” Dan resisted saying more.

“Della.” Jeremy said quietly. “I think you should return to your table. This is private.” He waved the waiter over. “Miss Kincaid is returning to her table.”

The waiter pulled her chair out as she stood.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She glared at Dan, then the waiter. “Thank you.”

“The price of fame.” Jeremy shrugged. Before he could say anything more, a man approached the table.

“Can I take a selfie with you Mr. Moxham? The kids will never believe I met you.” Before Jeremy could answer the man crouched beside him and took a cell phone picture.

The maitre d’ came over and shooed the man away. “I’m so, so sorry Mr. Moxham. Perhaps you and your guest would be comfortable is one of our private rooms.”


The private room had seating for about thirty people. Two busboys were set a table. Another was put up folding screen to create a more intimate area.

“One of the perks of fame.” Jeremy said once they had been seated. “I get fed up with the attention at but it’s the price I pay. I prefer spots where there are richer and more famous dick heads than me there. It gives us great pleasure to ignore one another.”

“So that’s why we usually order in. To spare us public scrutiny?”

“Pretty much.”

Appetizers arrived with a bottle of wine.

“We didn’t order any wine.” Dan said. “Did we?”

“It’s from Miss Kincaid.” The waiter said. “There’s a card.”

Jeremy read it. Laughed. Tossed it to Dan. 

It read. “Jer, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize Mr. Daniels was an important client until my agent pointed out who he was. I hope he wins the Sinclair. Do call me so we can pick up where left off in Moncton. Della”

“The Sinclair?” They said in unison.

“The Gordon Sinclair award,” Jeremy read from his cellphone. “Is awarded occasionally by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters for outstanding achievements in investigative reporting to individuals or groups of individuals. The last was awarded several years so it is with great pleasure that this year will be presented to Daniel James for his outstanding work.”

“Outstanding!” Dan shook his head. “This sounds like I’ve already been given the award. First I’ve heard of it.”

Jeremy consulted his phone again. “This was announced today. 2 p.m. at their annual luncheon. The presentation will be … at the annual Awards ceremony in May this year.”

Their entrees arrived. Their cutlery echoed in the empty party room.

“Does this sort of thing happen to you frequently?” Dan asked. “Eating alone in party rooms at restaurants to avoid your adoring public?”

“I avoid eating in public as much as possible. When I travel it’s room service. In town it’s eat at home or order in. Banquets and such I usually eat before I get there and pick at what gets served. But you might have to face this soon enough.”


“The Sinclair only adds to your trend factor. I’ve checked trending algorithms and yours trend more than mine do.”

“I trend!” Dan said. “I haven’t considered that kind of success. Even though the show has been good for business. I don’t want to lose my private life. If I do I doubt if it’ll reach the level yours has. You don’t need to trend for people to recognize you.”

“I’m sorry Miss this is a private dining area.” 

They could hear the maitre d’ at the door of the party room. Someone had partially opened it.

“I know that but you don’t understand …”

Dan recognized Della’s voice.

“Mr. Moxham is expecting me.” She pushed past the maitre d’. “Really!” she strode into the room. “Jeremy, I do hope you accept my apology.”

Dan indicated the uncorked bottle of wine. She glanced at both them.

“Is it a bad year? The wine steward assured it was a good year. That it would compliment your meal. I don’t … Oh how could I be such an idiot.” A look of understanding flashed on her face. “He’s your … ”

“My client, Della.” Jeremy said firmly. “The wine is perfect but I don’t get my clients drunk.”

“Client!” she said. “At least he’s not your nephew.”

“We’re not related.” Jeremy said. 

“Not even by marriage.” Dan said.

“Yet.” Jeremy quickly added.

“You mean …. ” Della begin.

“Yes that’s what I mean. But keep it to yourself, for now, Della & maybe you’ll get to be maid-of-honour when the time comes.”

“Okay.” She turned to leave then turned back. “You better not be hoaxing me Jeremy. I’ll never forgive you.”

She left. 

“That was a step in the right direction, Mr. Moxham. Let me get this.” Dan said taking the bill. “Loola’s was my suggestion. The food was fine but that floor show was sensational. You can leave a tip.”

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Picture Perfect 128 

Picture Perfect 128

Dan shook his head as he looked at the wall calendar in his office at the Depot. It just over a year ago since he had first seen the Cold Canada episode that turned him life upside down. The Cold East success had other networks texting down his door to get him to sign on to do shows for them. He wasn’t interested.

Janis Hadley’s trial was to begin soon. She had refused all legal advice as her actions were the Lord’s intention. She accepted full responsibility for those actions & would accept her Saviour’s judgment as pronounced by the courts. 

In her statement to the investigators she claimed Cora Murchison was responsible for abducting & liberating the spirits of the children. She was an accomplice not a killer. There were no witnesses to to refute that claim. DNA testing established that Troy was not her son but did indicate that the was a Chamberlain but wasn’t definitive as to whether was the father of son that had fathered him.

Troy AuCoin statement was that his mother had killed Winston Chamberlain as he had been blackmailing her about Troy’s parentage & had threatened to go the police with his information about Cora Murchison. He also admitted his was idea to abduct Dan to protect the sacredness of the Convergence conjuration that Janis claimed was threatened.

In the silence of his office Dan ticked off the events in his head. What was he checking his calendar? Oh yes – to make sure this wasn’t his FairVista Lifend demo day. It wasn’t. Part of the business separation deal was that he continue with demos even though there was now a three year waiting list for their custom-made products. The company resisted increasing production to keep up with the demand that resulted from the Cold East exposure.

Dan lounged to himself at the number of knock-off that had surfaced on the market with names like Lifriend, Lifrind, Lifer, even Life End. One of the Lifrind cameras had been brought in to FairVista by an irate man who demanded it be replaced. When it pointed out to him that it wasn’t Lifend he was enraged. At the time Dan resisted telling the man he had paid $11,000 for a knock off probably worth about $11.00.

Before going down to the shop floor he couldn’t resist checking the numbers for Cold East, again. The show had debuted in Japan on the weekend, where it already had the largest share. What more could he ask for? Yet, the more attention the show got, the more attention he got, the more isolated he felt. His life had been subsumed by this unexpected success. No one wanted to talk about anything else. Even at the Lifend demos the questions invariably came to – is the type of camera you were using when those snakes attacked? 

The only relief he had was Jeremy Moxham, who had proved to be a sympathetic ear & diversion. When they met up for dinner they talked about things other than work. The first ‘date’ had been when Dan had called to tell him about Sanjay’s marriage to Sylvan Papoulias. Sylvan had called out of the blue to tell him. From what Dan gathered in that conversation Sanjay began ‘romancing’ hime that first week-end in Bobcaygeon.


Home after work Dan was naked by the time he started up the stairs to take a shower. He looked around the house thinking, once again, perhaps it was time to sell it. The memories had seeped into the walls. IOf he wanted to move on that would be a good step to take. He’d considered remodelling but that wasn’t a fresh enough start. 

 He was half-way up the stairs when the doorbell rang. He stopped his undies off the floor & pulled them back on before answering. It was Jeremy.

“Sorry if I’m a bit early.”

“No problem. I was on my way to the shower.” Dan shut the door once Jeremy was inside.

“Aw, you didn’t have to dress down for me.” Jeremey laughed. “When did you get this done?” Jeremy asked looking at the tattoo on Dan’s arm.

“The Friday that Cold East debuted. I had to do something to honour what I’ve survived & this is what I chose to do.” Dan gently brushed the shoulder to wrist sleeve tattoo on his left arm. It tingled under his fingertips. “I was waiting for it to fully healed before showing it to anyone.”

“A tattoo is forever. At least one that size is. This is all of it I hope.”

“Why? You aren’t the one who has to live with it.” He put his shirt on. “You’re the first one to see it.”

“Let me show you something.” Jeremy undid his pants and pushed them below his knees.

“Whoa!” Dan said. “This is rather sudden.” It was the first time he’d seen Jeremy this close to naked.

“Look here, not there.” He held his bulge back and tugged up the right leg of his boxers.

There was a tattoo of a buxom woman in lacy undergarments. “Ashley’s mother, whose name shall go unmentioned. You think I enjoy … washing her boobs every time I take a shower.”

“I’ve seen swimsuit pics of you but that was never in them.”

“Make up or photo erase. Usually baggy shorts that go to my knees to keep it out of sight.” He pulled his pants back up.

“This isn’t the same. I needed some way to honour all him. Without those children I wouldn’t be here.” He hadn’t told Jeremey everything that happened in the confrontation with Janis. Only the RCMP knew. He hadn’t even given Cold East all the details.

“I get that but …”

“Why the snake?” The outline of Peter’s head & torso were partially filled in. Around him the tail of a snake was coiled across his stomach with the head of the white cobra on his biceps. The white popped off the indigo background. The red eyes were piercing and the tongue was shadowed to create a 3D effect. “It’s Silas. They both saved my life.”

“There’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you for months now.” Jeremy said after doing his pants up. He stood to face Dan. “Since I heard how you almost got killed by that mad woman.”

“I can’t tell you any more about that I have. It’s all Cold property now. Until I write a book about it.”

“I’ve heard all I need to know.”

“I’m listening.” Dan buttoned his shirt. “I’ve been blogging the progress. I’m amazed at the number of new followers I’ve gotten for it. I guess you weren’t one of them.”

“Dan shut up for a minute.”

“I was just thinking ….”

“I was just thinking we should get married!” Jeremy blurted. “I have …” he took a small, red velvet bag out his back pocket, “been carrying this around for too long.” He shook a ring out of it. “The thought you you dying … I love you.” He slipped the ring on Dan’s finger. The red gem sparkled in the light. It was surrounded with smaller white ones that reflected some of red. The band was a twined silver,

“Jeremy!” Dan turned his hand in the light. “I don’t know what to say. It’s just …”

“You don’t like it!”

“It’s not that.”

“What? You don’t love me? Don’t desire me? Dan, I can make you very comfortable.”

“You don’t have to sell yourself to me Jeremy. I’ve been though a lot and …. I’m not the marrying type. You know that. It was difficult enough getting out of my non-marriage with Sanjay.”

“You are afraid of commitment.” Jeremy said. “Plain and simple. That’s because the men you’ve met have disappointed you. I won’t.”

“If by commitment you mean sexual fidelity then you are asking for the unlikely, if not the impossible. I’m the one that disappointed them. If you are asking me to marry you to make your coming out, which you would have to do, legitimate in the eyes of the public then its not love but p.r. ”


“Like … Elton John and David Furnish … the high-power, idealized, married, queer couple. You want another trophy partner like your ex-wife.”

“That’s not true.”

“You cared for Elizabeth, whose name should go unmentioned? Her, the top fashion model and you, sport celebrity of the decade.”

“I did love her, at first. After all she’s the mother of my child.”

“And what happened?”

“She was unfaithful to me.”

“My point exactly. You want an idealized picture to present the world. I’m not knocking that. It works for many but as I said – fidelity isn’t how I want to have my love in a relationship defined.”

“Then how do you want it defined?” Jeremy asked. “I want to know. Trust is crucial, that’s what relationships are built on. Isn’t it? What is it that you want? What would make you happy?”

“Who said I was unhappy as I am. Yes, I’m sad about Peter. I realized how much I cared for him when he died. I didn’t have to be committed to him to feel my heart breaking.”

“That’s exactly how I would have felt if you had died then.”

“So you want to get married to avoid feeling like that?” Dan asked. “I like you a lot Jeremy. For a rich dickhead you’re not such a dickhead. But you have that head buried in the sand.”

“And not up your ass like Peter’s was.”

“Good one but that was no secret. If he hadn’t died, if I said yes to marriage, that would still be no secret. Fuck this is so much like the argument Sanjay and I used to have. Marry me. Marry me. Turns out he wanted a marriage partnership to …. secure his business partnership. Now he’s marrying that business partner.”

“So there are some areas of trust that mean something to you.”

“If he had been sleeping around I wouldn’t have cared as much. But my Dad was always clear about business honesty.” What was he saying? His Dad lead two lives, how much of his own past could he trust. “Turns out he wasn’t so good about emotional honesty.”

“Say you’ll think about it.” Jeremy asked.

“I doubt if I’ll change my mind or mend ways that I don’t think to be mended.” Dan slipped the ring off. “Thank you for asking me though.” He gave it back to Jeremy.

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Picture Perfect 127 

Picture Perfect 127

Dan was stunned to see Timothy Dunlop standing in the reception area of the QTel studios. He was wearing the too large cut-off jeans & torn tee-shirt with the cross-eyed Yoda on it with a shiny sheriff’s badge pinned on it. He dangled straw cowboy hat in his left hand.

“Timmy!” Dan exclaimed before he remembered QTel was filming re-enactments of some of the abductions. 

The boy pulled his hat on & reached out to shake Dan’s hand.

“Kevin Stone.” The boy said. “I know who you are. You’re Daniel James, right?”

“Ah … yes.” Dan stepped back. The face wasn’t quite Timmy’s.

“Must be a good to fool you.” Kevin giggled.

“You almost did.” He was tempted of apologize to this duplicate of Timmy for being so angry with him all these years for not writing him not knowing that the real Timmy was dead. He turned away before he started to cry.

“Weren’t you scared by all those snakes?” Kevin asked.

“Yes, but so much was happening at once I didn’t really have time to know how scared I was.”

“Yeah. I get that. Like when I audition I get so scared I don’t know I’ve done it till it’s over.”

“Kevin!” A woman came out of Baxter’s office. “I told you to stay put.”

“Mom! I was talking to Dan. The real Dan not someone pretending to be him.”

“Oh! Hello Mr. James. Lilly Stone.” She shook his hand. “Kevin’s mom. Come on now. Studio D is upstairs?” She asked Dan.

“Yes.” He was glad that he hadn’t run into his younger self. 

“Mr. James, Mr. Baxter will see you now.” The reception said to him.

“Dan.” Baxter came from behind his desk to welcome him into the room. “Seems like ages since I’ve seen you in person. You look rested.”

“Easy for you to say. You’re on the safe side of the camera.”

“You’re not the one facing that Inspector Warszawa of yours. The recording on your confrontation with … the snake princess is off-limits to us. How can we wrap up the series without that? Could you have a word with him?”

“I have. Your agreement with the task force was to give them access to everything we discovered.”

“We have.”

“It also says that anything of material interest would be subject to rules of evidence. In other words you can’t reveal that evidence until it is used in court.”

“As far I know the snake princess has confessed to everything.”

“Until a judge has heard the case nothing will be released. They don’t want her to get a lawyer to contest everything & force a retrial because we rushed the system.”

“That’s unfair. We got that confession.”

“We! You mean me. I wasn’t on your pay check when I got that call or when I …”

“Okay! Okay! Legal has briefed me on those details. It wasn’t our equipment. It wasn’t time included in our shooting schedule.”

“Thank of it as a Christmas Special next year once the series has been shown. The criminal proceedings will be over by then.”

“Christmas Special. Don’t be an idiot. A Halloween Special. Midnight in a creepy circus. I can see it now. Snakes wrapped around merry-go-round horses. Dan you are a genius.”

“Is that why you wanted to see me?”

“Well, no. You just met Kevin Stone.”

“Yes. Almost gave me a heart attack.”

“We’d like to shoot a promo bumper with the two of you. After all it was that picture of the two of you that started this for you.”


“Here’s my brainwave. You won’t have to do much anyway.”

“I’m listening.”

“We start with that photo & morph into the real two of you sitting on steps, you’ll age & he’ll stay the same age. You with me so far?”

“Yes. You get up off the steps & walk to the camera & as you do he disappears. We can use some of your previous voice-overs.”

“Sounds almost tasteful, Baxter. How long’ll this take?”

“An hour at most. We’re all set in …”

“Studio D.” Dan shook his head. “You knewI wouldn’t say no after seeing Timmy again. Right?”

“It was a chance I was willing to take. If you’d said no I was ready to sweeten the offer with this.” He handed Dan a cheque.

“Sold the show to another market?” Dan said.

“More than one.” Baxter grinned. “More than one.”


In Studio D they had built a mock up of the front steps of the Wickham Arms in front of a green screen. The background would be a blow up the actual photograph. 

The simple set up was done in three takes. He was given a black felt cowboy hat similar to the one in the photo. As he stood we was to remove the hat & drop it on the steps before he walked to the camera. Each time there was a different voice over from one of Dan’s previous work.

The final one started with him saying “For years I dreamed of getting a letter from Timmy. I never forgot him.” He started to tear up hearing himself admit that. After a brief silence the crew applauded.

“Brilliant work Dan.” The unit director said. 


“Wow Mr. Daniels.” Kevin came over to him. “How did you find that? I mean I can laugh on cue easy enough but crying is a bitch.”

“I guess you had to be there.” Dan wiped his eyes. “You forget I was there.” He ruffled Kevin’s hair the way Tommy used to do to him. “You were great too.”


Dan opted to walk from the QTel studios to the Photo Depot he was a bit dismayed to see the number of storefronts papered over, some with ‘For Lease’ signs, others with nothing but a clumsy ‘closed’ scrawled on the front window. A couple had been replaced by what Jill from the Carafe called ‘pot holes’ – weed dispensaries.

As he reached the Oil on Silver Gallery Cliff stepped out to greet him.

“Daniel James! is that actually you?” He joked. “Seems like years since I’ve last seen you.”

“I have been busy.” Daniel laughed.

“Yes I know. I’m so sorry about Peter. He was a … bright young man.”

“Thanks Cliff. I …” He wasn’t sure what to say. He was feeling the loss of two loves him life Timmy & Peter. “He’ll be missed. I hear business has been good for you.”

“Ah, yes. The photo exhibition I did for Patrice Yazdi sold out. I was amazed at how many people had wall space for photographs that large. I was almost shocked that people wanted the interiors of abandoned buildings taking up a wall too.”

“You hanging a new show soon.”

“Yes but not for a month or so. Until then I’ve brought some choice pieces out of storage to see if they’ll finally find better homes. Drop by soon.”

“I’d say ‘once things settle down’ but who knows when that’ll be. Take care.”

Dan started up the steps to the Depot when his cell rang. He glance at it & it was from an unknown caller but the number was familiar to him so he answered.

“Daniel James here.”

“Sylvan Papoulias here.” 

What could Sanjay’s boss, or where they finally business partners now. He hadn’t thought about Sanjay since he dropped his palimony suit.

“What can I do for you Mr. Papoulias?”

“It was urgent to speak to you. Sanjay would have but there remains a restraining order & didn’t want to go through a lawyer.”

Timmy. Peter. Now Sanjay?

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Picture Perfect 126

Picture Perfect 126

The mood at Carafe was somber. Dan sat at his usual corner table gazing out the window as cars stopped at the street light. Jill was leaning against the glass display case wiping her eye with a corner of her apron. The last of the memorial service guests had left.

“He was a piece of work,” Jill looked at a photo of Peter on the wall. In it he was holding out a coffee and muffin with a slightly manic yet friendly look on his face. “You captured him perfectly in this. Good at his job but … ” 

“A typical twenty-one year old.” Dan said. He got up to look at the photo and put an arm around her shoulder. “You know, under the apron he wasn’t wearing pants in that picture. As I took it I told him I wanted only the freshest of his cream in my coffee.” Tears welled up in Dan’s eyes.

“It was a nice service.” Jill said. “I was glad to have the reception for it here. It gave me something to do.”

“Yes. I didn’t realize his family was that large. All he ever talked about was his Dad. I got the impression he was an only child.”

“His sister was … odd.”

“I don’t think she expected to see so many show up from the lgbt community. Frankly neither was I. The last gay funeral I attended wasn’t so flamboyant.”

“You don’t suppose she didn’t know he was gay, do you?”

“It wouldn’t surprise me. If only …”

“I know. We all have if only’s. If only I had been firmer when he begged for time off. If only …”

“I gave in when he was so eager to be a part of things. I didn’t want to … Fuck I’m not really sure what I was thinking at the time.”

“You certainly weren’t thinking anything like this would happen.” Jill wiped the table.

“I thought it was just for a night. He had such …” Dan let his tears drip onto his shirt. “… dreams. I … was a part of them, I guess. He had practically moved into the house.”

“I know. I got progress reports from him. Things he was doing to your garden. How he hoped this was not a rebound. Have you heard anything from Sanjay?”

“Not about Peter. I don’t think he knew how … involved we’d become.”


“Oh! He knew. He didn’t like it but I saw no reason to keep it from him either. Not that Peter and I were that serious … but I guess we were. It happened in such a casual way and keep happening. I figured he’s so young he’ll grow of it and move on. If I had … ”

“What ended it then? After that first time? Why didn’t you?”

“I liked him. He was sweet. I wasn’t looking and there he was. Now he’s gone.” His cell alarm buzzed.

“I have to get going. I have yet another interview about what happened. Zoom with some Australian news show.”

“You’ll get over this. Not soon but you’ll get over it.” Jill hugged him.

“So they tell me.” But Peter didn’t die in your arms.”See you tomorrow.” He hugged Jill.

He circled around the building & entered through the back stairway to avoid his staff. The wooden stairs always reminded him of when his family had first moved into the building. He was doing the interview from his shop office where the lighting was better & the room had no memories of Peter. He quickly set up his new Lifend for the interview. The camera was better than the one in his desktop.. 

He logged into the AusTV zoom room.

“Good evening Mr. James. Welcome to our zoom studio.” A man on the screen laughed. “I’m Greg Best the tech for this interview. Wow! That’s an amazing picture we’re getting of you.”


“Ah yes the camera that saved your life.”

“Not the exact camera. My old camera has been impounded as evidence.”

“Stop right there Mr. James, save that for Sara. Here she is now. You’ve need Sara Upshaw already?”

“Only on line.” Dan said.

“Hi Dan,” Sara replaced Greg on his screen. “We’re grateful you could make time to talk with us. I’m sure you’ve been inundated with requests.”

“Yes. So many I would have no time to do anything else twenty-four hours a day.”

All the interviews he had done were arranged by QTel with his strict instructions of no more than two a week.

“I was forced to hire extra security for the store to control the demand.”

His recent Lifend lecture at Fairvista was by reservation only & no press were admitted.

“Before we start I know there are some things to cannot tell us pertaining to the on-going investigation.”

“That’s right. I’ll tell you when I can’t answer.”

“Thank you Mr. James. The we’ll start anytime you are ready.”

“I’m as ready as I’m going to be.” After the second interview he knew what questions to expect & what he could say without compromising the trial. ‘How did you feel’ was the hardest to answer because at the time he wasn’t thinking of how felt.

“Good evening. Today I’m talking with Daniel James, or is that Special Inspector Daniel James?”

“Please, Daniel will do.”

“Right. We’ll all seen the footage of you exiting the Nova Convergence Centre. Something I haven’t been able to find out is why you are naked.”

“Oh! If you looked closely you would see I have on my underwear. My abductors undressed me to make sure I wasn’t wearing any hidden camera or recoding equipment.”

“Yet they let you use your Lifend camera?”

“Actually no. One of them inadvertently turned it on & left it running. They didn’t realize that resulted in the everything being recorded with some visuals & all the sound. All of which had been automatically sent to my Lifend account as well as the QTel studio. It was still running when I was … rescued.”

“What can you tell our viewers about the Convergence Centre?”

“It was the church for a sect that handled snakes. usually poisonous.”

“Isn’t it true that it was found that nearly all the snakes were not longer venomous?”

“That’s possible but the ones that attacked me were not.”

“Now the young man that died. Peter …. was he part of the Cold East investigative team?”

“No. Peter was … my boyfriend. He joined me on this trip on impulse. One which I regret giving in to. He really had nothing to do with this case.”

“I’m sorry for your loss. Uh … how did you become aware of these abductions?”

Dan welcomed the return to the story he had told many times. He didn’t bother correcting Sara when she took it for granted that Peter was the boyfriend he was watching TV with when he first saw the Cold Canada show.

“There is some speculation that Winston Chamberlain, whose body was found at the Convergence Centre, was also one of the original abductors?”

“Sorry Sara, I can’t comment on that.”

“How did you feel about being involved in a crusade investigation?”


“The death of two members of your crew. The destruction of Amethyst Court?”

“That was no curse, they were acts of deliberate sabotage.”

“Any connection to the Conversion Centre?”

“None that has been found. That’s all that I’m liberty to say about that.” In fact the RCMP teams had been unable to find out anything more about the sabotage.

“One last question How does all this media attention affect you?”

“To be honest I hate it. I can’t wait for it to be over & done with. When I was approached to host Cold East that’s all I expected to do, not become this week’s media sensation.”

“Not even when “Back to you, John” became such a meme?”

“That’s was puzzling & amusing. The one you should talk to about that is John Kilpatrick. Back to you, Sara.”

He could hear Greg laughing in the background.

“Thank you for you time Mr. James.”

His monitor screen went black. 

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