Picture Perfect 3


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.”

“Yes.”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.”

“Thanks.”

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Picture Perfect 1

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.”

“What?”

“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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Commie Pinko Fag

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas – 5  Not to accept a robe from a bhikkhunī who is not a relative.

Commie Pinko Fag

My mother

was sure the RCMP

would take an interest in me

because I had a pen pal

from Czechoslovakia

 

at that time

in Cape Breton

I had pen pals from a round the world

New Zealand Trinidad Uganda

England

but because Czechoslovakia

was a Communist state

my mother was sure

our family would fall under suspicion

that our house would be under surveillance

I thought she was joking

 

I was more interested in the stamps

than I was in the letters

in which my Czech friend talked about

schools music

we exchanged photos

I thought my mother was foolish

the image of a car across the street from our house

with officers watching us

with binoculars

made me laugh

or would they be reading the mail before I got it

I even thought

the non-capitalist nature of communism

made sense

it sounded fair

the red scare

the arms race

struck me then as being

USA protectionism

to preserve their status quo

 

she started a sense of paranoia

that I’ve never fully cast off

her stress on the importance

of not calling attention to one self

to appear bland & non-threatening

in a world in which

calling attention to oneself

was dangerous

it wasn’t as if

my search for worlds outside my own

was designed to call attention to myself

any more than being queer

was a ‘hey look at me’ decision

 

of course my mother grew up in a time

when Communism was a threat

according to the papers

spies where everywhere

and were recruiting

queer teens to undermine

the fabric of civilization

as if being an abomination unto the lord

wasn’t undermining enough

 

I never did adapt to the

cloak of invisibility

there wasn’t one that fit properly

no matter who handed it to me

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#NaNoWriMo Cascade & Sample.02

perfect nano

“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.

Since his first consultation for the RCMP he’d been called in on several cases where documents were concerned. Soft-wear 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 (Dan’s assistant) 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.

(“I hate to tell you but the these are authentic.”)

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

(“Crap I was afraid of that.”)

“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 negatives but waned 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 are third generation versions. 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 to what camera was used to make this copies but I can’t tell what took the originals.”

“Anything else?”

“From the content? They’re just a bunch of holiday snaps. The sort a Dad may 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. “In this  one of the crime scene.”

“Yes.”

“Where you found them on the coffee table.”

“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, shot glasses. If these were there at the time of the shooting there would be spatters on the top one at least. Nothing.”

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

“Or the top couple were taken. But there’s no spatter on any of them. I presume 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. You realize that these are random. They’ve been made to look like a set but they aren’t.”

“What?”

“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 place 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 theory Dan but leave that sort of wild speculation to us professionals.” 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 nearly anywhere my spiders will find them.”

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

pants don’t sweat it

Here we are at day 9 of NaNo 2014 and things are moving along much better than expected. I’ve passed 20,000 easily and have pushed my daily count quickly from 2200 to 2300 as I get into the flow of it (partially by cutting down the flow of other things in my daily life to make for more writing time.)

Pushing the word count has forced me to push my initial scene idea into new directions. I’m pretty good at making people talk and I can let them go off on tangents – sometime that tangent gets a strike through. Some will a write out in revision if they haven’t lead anywhere productive.

pillow have you seen my pillow baby standing in my shadow

At this early stage I never know what I may want to pick up on later and figure the more information I have at this point the more I’ll have to chose from later anyway. Better to lay loose threads now than have to go back an stitch in some new pattern.

This sample is from day 2. As you can tell I’m writing off the top of my head as things take shape. The strike throughs are starts of things that got cut. This scene was to show how Dan would analyze a photo, as well as show his relationship with Warszawa. Friendly but formal and a bit distant.

socks nice socks

While I wrote this, the fact that the pictures were left by the killer, and not the property of the victim came to me in one of those moments of insight. This quickly cascaded from a curious plot thread to what will possibly be a major sub-plot when the RCMP look back at some other cases and find similar photographs have been planted on the scene. A serial killer who leaves other people’s photos at the scene of a crime? I like that. (2019 addendum: This will be plot thread for Picture Two Perfect)

The minimal tech talk reflects my lack of knowledge of this sort of document forensics – I’m having fun making it up as I go along and as long as it seem real to me I’ll be happy, as this point. Write first, research later.

I do know a couple real photographers. One specializes in b/w & still uses film. I’ll tap him for believability when I get to rewrites.


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