Picture Perfect 73

Picture Perfect 73

A car pulled into the park lot. On the roof was an illuminated taxi sign that had been repainted with a crude rending of a donairs on one side and Dumphy’s on the other.

He paid for it, tipped generously, as it was Quintex money anyway. He sat at one of the picnic tables outside the breakfast diner and ate the meal. It tasted better when he didn’t have to see it. 

Cameron came out of the dark. “I’ll have to speak to Baxter about this place. Those cabins are rough. I don’t what it is about them but I can’t stand being in one for more than an hour before I’m ready to climb the walls.”

“Ditto.”

“Funny what people will do to get in the credits for a TV show.”

“How so?”

“Locations swung a deal with places. In return for discount, or in this case free, they get mentioned in the credits for the show.’

“Like catering by so and so.”

“Exactly but no catering service is stupid enough to give food away for credits that they know full well no one reads. Owners here didn’t know that. Baxter convinced them it would be good for the tourist trade. We have to shoot an interview here in return.

Dan laughed. “You should be filming me now eating out here. I can move so the sign is over my shoulder.”

“Don’t have a night vision camera.”

“One think to be thankful for or we’d be skulking around at night with Jennifer Devereaux looking for the emanations of the departed.”

“Keep that one to yourself or we’ll end up doing just that.” Cameron gave a little laugh. “Seriously, can I ask you something?”

“Uncut. Versatile?” Dan said.

“What!” Cameron laughed. “No. Never mix work with play. What do you think happened to those children? You always ask that question so I was wondering what you think?”

“I think they are dead.”

“Yes but I mean what happened to their bodies? One never being found I can understand but not this many.”

“Bones have been found in the strangest of places decades centuries after the fact.”

“So you think they are in some cave somewhere? Or in a freezer in someone’s basement?”

“That’s a question you should ask Jennifer. When I was in the Force I never dealt with a cold case of this type. Here we’re trying to make connections as we sift though data, not bones.”

“Baxter would crap his pants if we found remains somewhere though wouldn’t he? In some farmer’s field.”

“There are no unplowed fields in this area, trust me.”

‘Yeah, but you know what I mean.”

“Yes I know. Don’t give him any ideas though or some unidentified remains are likely to show up. There enough drama going on now.”

“Unidentified Remains – sound like a great show title.” Cameron got up from the table. “See you in the morning.”

<>

Winston Chamberlain was waiting for them in the Circus Museum parking lot.

“We’re closed on Monday’s” he said. “But Baxter was so insistent I said I’d talk with you today just to shut him up. We’ll go in the side way. Fewer locks to deal with.”

Inside he gave Cameron a quick tour of the various exit halls and the rides.

“Choice stuff. Let’s sit you two here.” Cameron said. “I can get that merry-go-round frmm one side of you, the Hippo Dog stand from the other.”

“This is to be an interview?” Winston asked. “I thought you just want to check this out for locations.”

“It shouldn’t take too long.” Cameron said.”We never know when we’ll get something we can use.”

“Don’t I have to sign some sort of release.” Winston brushed his hair flat. “How do I look.”

“I have release forms here in my equipment bag.” Cameron rummaged in it and pulled out some forms.

Winston read them over.

“Its really standard stuff.” Cameron explained. “We can’t use this in any other context except the show. If you divulge anything relating to illegal activities we have to inform the authorities.”

“Okay.” He signed where Cameron indicated. 

“Your family owned the Happy Hippo Carnivals?” Dan began.

“Yes.” Winston’s expression changed as the camera started. His irritated smile quickly became garrulous & inviting.

“This museum is a way of preserving them.”

“That’s right Dan. All of the exhibits come from my Father’s need to accumulate. He was a sort of circus hoarder. He couldn’t throw anything away.”

“You worked in the carnival as a boy?”

“Yes. I spent a few summers with the tours. I learned all about the Hippo from the ground up because my dad wanted me to take it over eventually. But, well, it went bankrupt before that could happen.”

“Did you enjoying working the midway?”

“Oh, yeah. I loved the games, the rides. The way the rides worked fascinated me. The gears and mechanics.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t become a mechanical engineer.”

“I did consider it but once the circus folded I didn’t see myself wanting to join any of the other carnivals. You know, move to Toronto to work at the CNE.”

“Does this bring back any memories for you?” Dan handed him a copy of the photo of him and Theresa.

“That’s me! Where did you get this! Man I look so young there.”

“You were young. Around fourteen.”

“I must have really dug that girl.”

“You don’t remember her? Stoney.”

He looked up from the picture. “Jesus. That’s right I used to call myself Stoney so no one would know I was the owner’s son.”

“Used to tell them you were nineteen as well.”

“I might have. Easier to get laid when you tell them you are nineteen.”

“There were rumours about you.”

“Such as?”

“You had a … hankering for younger girls. I mean younger than the one in this picture.”

“Fuck where did you dig that up.” 

“I didn’t dig it up. I wasn’t even looking for it when, there it was.”

“What was I thirteen or fourteen year old kid. I might have looked up the skirts of girls my age on the ferris wheel when I was checking their straps. Who didn’t do that. They weren’t that much younger than me.”

“Right.” 

Dan was amused to see how completely Winston’s camera personality disappeared as he become defensive.

“Are you trying to implicate me in this case?” Winston snapped.

“Not at all. Did you hear anything about them at the time?”

“Only that they had happened.” He took a deep breath. “That was after the fact too I might add. Didn’t know there that many either.”

“Apparently only one person did.”

“Who?” Winston asked.

“The abductor.” He looked to Cameron. “I think we’ve got enough here.” He glanced at his cell. “We have to get to the Moncton Municipal Hospital for the O’Connor interview.”

Cameron slung his shoulder mounted camera off and stored it in the equipment bag.

“Sorry I put you on the spot there Winston.”

“Sorry! You fucking accused me of being a child molester. If anyone ever sees that I’ll fucking sue you and Qunitex for everything you’ve got. Now march you asses out of here.” His shouts echoed in the hall. “In fact, if anything about the Hippos is mentioned in your fucking TV show I’ll shut you down so hard you’ll wish you’d never met me.”

<>

In the car Cameron shook his hand. “That was one of the best reveals I have ever witnessed.”

“Reveals?”

“He was so cooperative while the camera was on but the minute he thought it was off he went off.”

“Thought? You mean you got all that?”

“Oh yeah.” He took off his baseball hat. There was a wire from the front and circling the inner brim. “That Qunitex logo isn’t just for looks. The lens remote feeds directly into this baby.” He indicated his equipment bag.

“You’re as bad as me.” Dan turned up the collar of his interview sports coat to show the remote for his camera. 

“That’s not Q issue is it? Where’s the lens.” 

“No, it’s not and the lens is a trade secret. There’s something going on there though. And someone tinkered with my rental car the last time I was here. He wasn’t with me every minute I was here that time.”

“He certainly has something to hide.” Cameron said. “You might want to talk with that Theresa again. She had more to say. I could tell that when we left her at the park.”

“Yeah I’d like to talk with her again too. Now, back to Waterside then on to hospital.”

“Cut or uncut?” Cameron asked. “Winston I mean.”

“Winston? I’d say uncut. Why? Are you interested.” 

“I didn’t get such a good look at that picture of him before. You sure he didn’t have a career in porn.”

“That’s something I never thought to check.”

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Picture Perfect 72

Picture Perfect 72

Dan plugged in his laptop. No urgent emails. He flipped through the pictures he had uploaded to the cloud. He pulled down one of the s/m shots that showed the woman’s face clearly and one that gave a more than partial of her male victim’s face. He ran them though Face Finder, a face recognition site that searched for matches. The ‘time to do’ clock said ‘check back in ten minutes’ as it usually did for black and white pictures.

After brushing his teeth he went back to his laptop to check on Face Finder’s progress. The first one it found was one of the pictures he had selected. The one of her spread legged, facing the camera and holding the whip in her gloved right hand hand.

Had the program doubled back to his cloud? 

Before he clicked on the picture he entered a cloaking code that would hide him so he couldn’t be traced. He clicked on the picture and no, it hadn’t gone to his cloud, it had gone to an online site. 

“Golden Age of Glamour” topped the page with several black and white photos under it. All similar in content to his and one of them was in fact a duplicate of his.

“This site is devoted to the lost art of sexual tease. We offer an archive of photographs from the past decades of erotica going back as far as the late 1800’s.”

He clicked on his agreeing to being over 18 and being willing to see context of a sexually nature some of which would be explicit. 

The next menu offered eras, types, special tastes, gay, lesbian, straight, solo, couples, interracial. There was a pop invitation to join the members club at twenty percent off, where more features were offered including the opportunity to converse with other members. He clicked a tab for Store.

Various sets of reprints were offered for sale and in some cases originals. He clicked the set that included his father’s photographs. There were six in the set and they were all from the same shoot. He was hoping there would be information about the photographer. 

“This stunning set of six black and white photos features Canada’s answer to Betty Page – Peggy Brooks – in a saucy series of pictures taken by ace photographer Pierre LaBouche. Fans of the genre prize his limited output over that of many others.’

a set of six 8×10 – $60.00 – reproduced from the original negatives 

a set of six 8×10 – signed and numbered originals – $600.00.

Mr LaBouche died in 1990 and we have a limited quantity of these signed photographs.”

He clicked the Pierre LaBouche hyperlink and it took him to a page of thumbnails of forty similar photographs. Only members could see them full size. He looked at each of them. Some where the ones he’d already found in his father’s cache. Some he’d never seen. Those he looked at more closely. It was the same model in all of them. Her outfit changed a few times. He did screen capture of thumbnails. There were none of the photos of her drawing blood in the sets offered; none of her with a victim. Perhaps those were behind the paywall?

He went back to the first page for information about who Golden was. It was copyright by JovietJinc.com. He did a search for Joviet J. Inc which led him to a Montreal suite which he suspected, from his time on the force, was a post office box. He went back to his original scans of his father’s pictures and there on the back of one of them was the same post office box number written by his father. Interesting. A trip to Montreal was called for to investigate. He only had Sundays free for the next couple of weeks. He checked flights and it was possible to do a day trip to Montreal.

He googled a map of Montreal, typed in the postal code which put it in a warehouse district. He did a search of the area for businesses. One of them was J. Carter Magazine Publishers and Distributers. He checked through the scanned pages of his dad’s travel logs and sure enough there were notations for JC Mont in each year. Even after they had moved to Toronto. Was JC Carter Magazine?

He shut the laptop, got up and stretched. His head swam with the bits of information he had assembled. They weren’t adding up to something he didn’t already know. His Dad took and sold smutty pictures. Did Linda know about this? Who was Peggy Brooks. He didn’t know any Brooks growing up. But if his father had become Pierre LaBouche, Peggy was probably not a real name either.

His cell alarm went off. Time for his drops. Perfect. He put the comforter on the floor and made a pillow comfortable to support his neck, put the drops in, covered his eyes with a hand towel and let his body come to a stop on the floor. 

The comforter did little to protect him from the damp or cover the smell of the carpet. When was the last time it had been steam cleaned. The real colour would probably shock them and force them to repaint the rooms. At least it didn’t smell of cigarettes. That Theresa sure smoked like a chimney. That’s what his mother would have said. Did she smoke that much when he knew her. Did his sister smoke too. What was Linda hiding about that summer? That story about being pregnant and losing the child. That couldn’t be true, could it? There should be medical records somewhere. A doctor must have known if she was knocked up. A woman can’t miscarry and not seek medical attention. But they can have a baby without even knowing they are pregnant, so what she was told him was possible. Possible but probable? His mother surely would have known. Did Theresa know? He he could ask her.

His alarm went off and his thirty minutes was up. He removed the towel, got up slowly and went to the bathroom and rinsed his eyes. His stomach rumbled. He texted Dumphy’s Donaire for a repeat of his last order. He checked his email once again. Outside in the parking lot he waited for the food to arrive.

The air was cool, the sky was clear. A light wind rusted leaves of the trees that lined the side of the motel. He could hear cars on the highway. Would he trade his Toronto life for a life like this if he had the opportunity? Probably not.

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Picture Perfect 71

Picture Perfect 71

“How is Teresa? I haven’t heard from her for centuries.”

“A bit rough for wear but …”

“We used to caller her Teresa Tear-Off-A-Piece-A. She tell you about that?”

“This wasn’t a … social meeting. I was interviewing her about Timothy Dunlop.”

“Is that why she gave you those pictures?”

“That was the context, yes. We did reminisce some. She had lots of pictures of that summer. Whatever become of the ones you took. I didn’t find any in Dad’s archives.”

“To be honest I never keep them for long. I gave most of them way to whomever was in them. Dad was appalled when I told him I had discarded all the negatives too. I never saw myself a photographer anyway. Least ways not like he was. I didn’t realize that I was going to stay in the business.”

“Oh?” 

“Yeah, there’s a lot you don’t know about me. I really wanted to get into fashion. Don’t laugh because I know what a cliche that is.”

“I wasn’t going to laugh. Teresa didn’t remember the names of the men in the photos. Do you.”

He took his tablet out and pulled up the photos.

“There’s this one of me and Kevin.” She pointed to the one that Dan had added to the group. “He was the older man that Dad was rescuing me from that summer. Mom really disliked him for some reason too. You sort of got along with him, didn’t you.”

“All I remember is his name. Kevin. What was his last name?”

“O’Neill. Big Catholic family. Maybe that’s why Dad didn’t approve. He never could get into the Catholic school system to do class photos. Catholics only were allowed to do that.”

“These others?” He scrolled to the picture of the girls with the circus guys.

“That’s Terry with one of those circus guys she was so crazy about. Rocky, no Stoney! or some such. They usually had forgettable names. I think this the guy with the …”

“Big … reputation?”

“Yeah. Heard some nasty rumours about him too. But you always heard that about the circus people in general.”

“I remember that Kevin was one of those circus people, too. That’s what you always told me after we moved here.”

“Did I now.”

“What about the one of you and this other guy?”

“You mean Kevin? He was some friend of Stoney’s.” She dipped foam out her coffee with her finger. “They ran one of games of chance at the Happy Hippo. Games of fat chance. They practically showed us how they were rigged.”

“Linda you are the most accomplished liar I have ever met. Even when I was on the force no suspect was as convincing as you are when you are evading the truth.”

“What did you mean?”

“This,” He pointed to the picture of her and Hank’s circus buddy, “is not Kevin O’Neill in the other photo. Not unless you dated two guys called Kevin O’Neill.”

He put the photos of the men side by side.

“They don’t even look alike.”

“Then I must be mistaken. I don’t know. That first guy is definitely Kevin.”

“According to Teresa this other guy is.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“This is the back of that picture. I think that’s your handwriting. It says: Me and Kevin O’Neill.”

“I …” she was silent.

“This is the man,” he pointed to the other picture, “you brought home. You told us he was Kevin O’Neill. He was not. And you wonder why I have lost all trust in you.”

“It was all so long ago.” she teared up. “I didn’t know what to do. I was … pregnant. The real Kevin refused to meet the folks, refused to do anything in fact.”

“So you thought bringing a substitute would make things better?”

“No, not better. I was going to say he’d left me. That getting married was too much for him to face. I did’t want to just be pregnant without … I was ashamed. You don’t know what it was like. For girls. Even Terry didn’t know. So I brought this guy over so they wouldn’t think I’d gotten knocked up and the the guy had run out me.”

“Which is what happened? The real Kevin deserted you.”

“No. He hung around but refused to marry me. While I was here and you were traveling to Toronto I lost the baby. Honest. I didn’t do anything to terminate the pregnancy.”

Dan got up. “Linda. I don’t know what to believe.” He glanced this cell phone. “I have a plane to catch.”

He had a taxi drop him off the his house and wait while he got his carry on. On the way to the airport texted Peter a goodbye. Approved the Depot plan to give a 15% discount to anyone with a hundred dollar gift card from the Carafe. Texted a thank you to Jeremy for the pizza. Switched to his Quintex cell & texted Baxter that he was on his way back. By the time got out of the taxi he felt he accomplished something over the past couple of days. When he got to his seat he put both phones to silent & put his sleep mask on & tried to stay awake.

When he exited the plane in Moncton Sergeant Coster met him in the arrivals lounge.

“Leaving the area during a criminal investigation is a chargeable offence Mr. James.” she said to him. “Obstruction of justice.”

“Only if one has been informed of their need to be present for said investigation Sergeant.”

“You’ve been in court too many times for me to put a scare into you.” She shrugged.

“Probably. Why are you here?”

“I wanted to say I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot last week.”

“I know protocol Sergeant. I know it too well to be that upset by what happened at the Waterside, Did you ever find out what was on those DVD’s in the bathroom ceiling.”

“Other than standard porn on the top three all the other’s were blanks.”

“Did you check the bathrooms of any of the other cabins?”

“Only yours.”

“Not the rest of the crew?”

“Yours was the only one specified in the tip.”

“I didn’t know which one was going to mine until I checked in. I hadn’t even opened my bag when you came busting in. So …”

“Whomever it was may have planted something in every empty cabin? That takes this beyond a crank call.”

“What investigation?”

“Huh?”

“The one I skipped out of?”

“The accident that resulted in Roberto Hajla & Glaucia Vidro’s death. It is now a double homicide case.”

“Right.”

“The evidence points to tampering with the electrical system. What happened to the vehicle was not a ‘manufacturers’ malfunction. Not was it caused by the storm.”

“Interesting.” 

“We’ve checked out all the other rentals and this is the only one that has been tampered with.”

“Targeted is more like it.”

“Clearly someone wants to derail this TV show.”

“Killing me wouldn’t derail the show.” Dan said. “Unsolved Cold is already running a promo with footage from the accident. My death would have turned into hype.”

Dan spotted Cameron entering the lounge.

“My drive has arrived.” He nodded to Cameron.

“We need an official disposition from you regarding the cars. How you ended up in the one you were driving.”

“I’ll try to get to the division as soon as I can. Can we do it on line?”

“That’s possible.”

Cameron came over to them. “Baxter was more than a bit ticked at the way you beat it out of Dodge. He sent me to make sure you did’t slip out of his control again. Car’s outside.”

Dan put his carry on in the back seat and got into the front passenger side.

“Is this the same car I left in Halifax?”

“That’s why I’m ticked, having to haul ass there to pick it up and get here for you was a lot of endless driving.”

“Sorry.” Dan said.

“We’re back at the Waterside for tonight. Hope you don’t mind?”

“Any schedule changes?”

“Nope. You’ll be talking with that guy from the Museum in the morning. Then we’ll meet Jennifer Devereaux at the hospital to interview Mrs. O’Connor.”

At the Waterside Dan was glad to be assigned a different cabin that he’d had the last time. He couldn’t resist checking the ceiling tiles in the bathroom. Nothing but dust.

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Picture Perfect 70

Picture Perfect 70

“Pizzas here!” Peter called. “or is that pizzae?”

“You plan on feeding an army?” Dan looked at the stack of pizza boxes on the dining room table. “One each for each of us! I’m lucky to finish two slices in a large. These have to be extra large.”

“Be grateful I didn’t order the Super Bowl party size.” Jeremy said.

Ashley spread the boxes over the table, flipped open the top of each. “Pepperoni classic with extra cheese where are you. Nope this one is – what is it?”

“Looks like shrimp and lobster to me.” Peter said handing Jeremy a plate and a carving knife. “No enough pizza cutters to go around.”

“This one has sausages and bacon.” Ashley said.

“Meat Lovers.” Jeremy explained. “there should be ground beef and salami under the extra cheese.”

“Daddy did you order one for me?” she opened another boxx. “Oh here it is. Give me that pizza slicer. Got bigger plates?”

‘“Nope.” Dan said. “We only have plates for people with normal sized appetites. And this one is,” he opened the last box. “Spinach, egg plant and I’m not sure.”

“Avocado and sun dried tomatoes. That one also has feta for those of us who get tired of mozzarella or cheddar. Crust is gluten free, too.” Jeremey explained. “The vegan deluxe. You’ll never miss the meat.”

“Oh yummy,” Peter said, “There’s nothing more tempting than cardboard with hot spinach.”

“Try it, you’ll like it.” Jeremey said before he pushed the tip of the sea food pizza in his mouth.

They each managed to try, of not fully eat, a slice from each of the pizzas. 

“I hope everyone is stuffed.” Peter said. “If they are thank the man who paid the chef. Those of us about to explode with goods salute you Mr. Moxham.”

“My pleasure.”

“I’m sleepy.” Ashley announced.

“It is getting late.” Jeremey checked his watch. “We’ll head home in half an hour, princess. Need time for the dough to settle.”

“You can nap in my room.” Peter said.

“Your room?” she said. “You don’t live here! Dan does.”

“True. But unlike you I am a guest who stayed for longer than dinner.”

He went upstairs with her.

“So he is really house sitting?” Jeremy said. “I thought that was was a euphemism for sleeping together.”

“No, it isn’t a euphemism. But yes we are sleeping together.” Dan collected the dirty plates.

“Oh!”

“You mean you’ve been celibate all these years?”

“No but …”

“The lobster pizza was pretty good.” Dan began to combine remains of pizzas into two boxes. “I wasn’t sure about it at first. The idea of putting seafood on a pizza struck me as being more inventive than tasty.”

“Like the idea of gay men courting?” Jeremy asked.

“You mean inventive or tasty? Sorry, I didn’t mean that to sound as sarcastic as it did.”

“I’m a little confused.” Jeremy said. “You know I find you attractive.”

Just then Peter came back into the room. “Did I miss something, sir?”

Dan massaged his forehead with the palm of his hand. “I came home to deal with business business not emotional business. I’m not looking to be courted. I’m not looking for a replacement for Sanjay. Not yet anyway. I don’t know where you got it into your head I was I husband hunting.” He went down to his study and shut the door.

His head throbbed. His study smelled of Jeremy’s cologne. All he wanted was to be free of emotional encumbrances for a while. Yet, everywhere he turned there was another opportunity, another someone trying to attach themselves to him. It wasn’t as if what that great looking or even had a big fat thick dick. Ordinary. He was ordinary.

There was knock on his door. “Ice cream?” Peter said.

“I’ll be right out.”

On his way up to the FairVista store in the morning Dan wished he had exercised more restraint when it got to the ice cream and brioche. Neither of which did anything to dispel the awkwardness of acting normal with Ashley in their midst. Once Jeremy left with her Dan went directly to bed. Peter had enough sense to let him sleep alone.

In the morning he was glad he had turned the message alert off before going to bed as there was three texts from Linda. The first sent at midnight, said “wlcm hm thnx 4 pics.” The second sent two hours later said “pics r exclnt.” The third was sent an hour ago said. “Must talk asap.”

As she hadn’t sent Hamid to pick him up he didn’t he didn’t think her asap was that urgent. Peter had already left for work when he got up with an ice cream hangover. His stomach felt bloated from the excess of glutenated products they had eaten. Cold sea food pizza made for a good breakfast though. 

The FairVista hadn’t changed. There were some discreet Halloween decorations here and there but this wasn’t where anyone shopped for costumes, monster makeup or candy to give away. Christmas was the serious season. He could smell the coffee when the doorman opened the mall door for him.

“Lovely morning Mr. James.”

“Yes, it is.”

Linda was at one of the Cuppa tables with a coffee and biscotti in front of her.

“Smell it when you came in?” she asked.

“Couldn’t miss it.” 

“I read how movie theatre would pump the smell of popcorn to the street so people would get the craving for it when they passed. Bakeries do with the fresh bread too. Have one?”

“Water for me.” He took a bottle of water out of his shoulder bag. “I’m here. By the way I had supper last night with Jeremy Moxham.”

“Then you already know what I wanted to talk to you about. Saves me the trouble of having to explain it to you.”

“No explaining to do. It’s your business now.”

“I want your guarantee that you won’t pull Lifend out of here.”

“Why would I do that Linda.”

“You know why.”

“Oh that! Lifend has their own system of checks and balances. You can’t accidentally add their name to anything.”

“I’ve gone over the store’s contractural agreement with them.”

“And?”

“How flexible will they be on some of those stipulations.”

“Not at all. No discounts. No trade-ins. They own the stock until it is sold.”

“FairVista wants me to capitalize even more of their name though.”

“You can use the logo on site as much as you want to & when you advertise my product demonstrations & workshops. They aren’t concerned with getting their name out there beyond that.”

“It makes it hard to sell them. People expect discounts at some point.”

“That’s what exclusivity means.” Dan said. “They sell what they want, at the price they want. There are not seconds, discontinued lines or even knock-offs. They are paying enough for the square footage they are using here. Plus they pay for the amount of window display they get. Those you can expand, at no cost to them, but cannot reduce it, to make room for another Cuppa’s coffee table.”

“FairVista …”

“Fuck FairVista, Linda. They know their contractual obligations to Lifend. Lifend doesn’t want its own store. They want a single North American site where people can buy period. They sell to people who can afford to fly to Toronto to make face-to-face purchases.”

“I get that.”

“Then why bringing Jeremy Moxham into this?”

“I was hoping to bring him in as a business partner. Without the Depot …”

“Partner? Really! Are you serious?”

“It makes sense to me. We need someone with a name value to the public & to FairVista. Something that can do more for us than this rinky-dink cable crime show of yours.”

“Teresa sends her regards.”

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Picture Perfect 69

Picture Perfect 69

Dan checked the security cameras around the house to make sure Sanjay was gone. There was still time for him to take Doctor Grey’s orders. Which resting spot would be the best. The one where he would be least likely to fall asleep. That left out every room in the house. He plopped a cushion the living room floor. Tested it for neck support. Set his cell timer for thirty-five minutes. Put the drops into his eyes. Two in each. He covered his eyes loosely with a folded towel. The floor was hard and as he lay there became harder. Next time he’d get something to buffer his hips and shoulder blades. Not too comfortable but not so hard.

This must be what a jail cell is like. Only without the expensive designer carpeting of course. But with some hairy brute, aka Sanjay, ready to push your face into the cold steel bars, tear your jail orange off and shove his … that’s not relaxing. Pleasant thoughts but not that arousing. How had Linda taken getting those photographs. He wished he could have seen her face as she realized what they were.  Suddenly his alarm went off.

As he dressed after his shower Dan put some clothes aside to take back to the east coast with him. Even with Quintex’s on camera wardrobe he found himself without enough changes for each day. Rinsing kept his socks & undies relatively fresh but he really needed something for hanging around his hotel room. Sweats. Sweats. Several more t-shirts & definitely more socks & undies. None of the hotel rooms were warm enough to dry what he had fast enough.

He heard Peter come in through the garage. He checked his cell and there wasn’t enough time for them to start something they could finish.

“You up here, somewhere.” Peter called up the stairs.

“Yep. I’m back in the closet.” Dan replied.

“Back in the designer closet by the looks of you.” Peter said. “Where were you hiding this.” He felt the fabric of the pin-striped shirt Dan had put on.

“In a garment bag.”

“A shirt of substance for a man of substance? Where are you going to dinner. This is a reservation-only, private dining room type of shirt.”

“You think?” Dan started to unbutton it.

“You’re not going to let him do that.” Peter raised an eyebrow.

“Actually I was saving that for you once they left.”

“Thank you, sir.” Peter pushed Dan’s hands away to redo the buttons.

The doorbell rang.

“It’s them.” Dan said.

“Put your pants on & I’ll get it. Black jeans will work best, sir.”

“Thanks.”

“They slide off you nicely.”

Dan pulled on the jeans, slipped on a pair of loafers & followed Peter down the stairs.

“Oh! Hello.” Ashley said. “We were expected.”

“Hello Peter.” Jeremy ushered her in.

“Ashely.” Dan kissed her. “Father.” he shook hands with Jeremy.

“This is Peter Eastgate. He’s my house sitter.”

“You work at Carafe?” Jeremy asked.

“Yes.”

“Knew I’d seen you somewhere before.”

“Yes … well … I just got in from pouring my last latte. I’ll change & be right down, sir.” He ran up the stairs.

“He’ll be joining us?” Ashley said.


“What was I supposed to do. Give him twenty bucks and send him to the movies?”

“Fifty would be more like it.” Ashely said.

“Nice house.” Jeremy said.

“When I started the structural updates at the Depot I had the same architects do some work here.”

“Taylor Tech?” Jeremy asked.

“You can tell?”

“Not really,” he laughed. “But I know who did the Depot.”

He walked in to the kitchen. “Now this is impressive. Clearly a chef’s domain.” He leaned against the counter and crossed his legs at the ankles.

“Sanjay did have some in put. He developed his special desserts here.” He fucked me there and there too.

“When are we going to eat what?” Ashley said.

Dan nudged Jeremy away from the sink. “I’ll make coffee which you decide.”

“What are you in the mood for?” Jeremy asked.

“No chicken.” she said. “You have flyers?”

“Somewhere. Ask Peter. He’s been looking after the mail all week. Or check the recycle bin. In the garage through there.”

“It’s dark.” she said. “Goody.”

“Clever ruse to get her out of the way for a few minutes.” Jeremy stood closer to Dan. “I hope we weren’t too forward inviting ourselves over here like this.”

“Forward is your style.”

“Not always.”

“You did say you had something to discuss.”

“Yes I do, but it can wait until we’ve eaten. Nice shirt by the way. Luigi Borrelli? We’d better not order anything that might splash it. Some fabrics were meant to be looked at, not worn.”

“Look!” daughter returned with a dozen flyers. “We never get this many at our place. Do we Daddy?”

“If we do, Mitchell gets rid of them before you can see them and tell him what to cook.”

“Have we decided yet?” Peter came into the kitchen. “Gerald’s is good.” He took flyer from the top of the fridge. “After all pizza is the classic family Saturday night meal.”

“Let’s me see.” Ashley gabbed the take out menu from Peter. “Lobster and shrimp!” she read off various combinations. “Pineapple, ham and avocado! Don’t they do ordinary pizzas with pepperoni? Oh they do. We’ll get that one.”

“Lets see.” Jeremy took the menu. “The classic. Any toppings either of you would like to add or avoid?” He tapped into his cell phone. “Don’t you love apps?” He looked at the cell for a few minutes. “They’ll be here in …”

“Forty minutes or it’s free.” Ashley said. “What’ll we until it comes?”

She ran into the living room and turned on the TV.

“Why don’t you give Jeremy a tour of the house.” Peter said. “I’ll set the table and put some cokes on ice.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Jeremy said. “Lead the way.”

“This is my retreat from my retreat.” Dan turned the lights on in his study. “The house is a retreat and here I can hide from the house.”

“Stuffy.” Jeremy pretended to wipe dust off the desk.

“Haven’t been in here much the last few weeks.”

“How can you work in a room with no windows? The Depot is all glass front.”

“A man answers his own question.” Dan said.

“Let me ask you one.” Jeremy sat in the armchair. “Your sister has approached me with an investment opportunity. In the FairVista location.”

“Makes some sense.”

“I’m fully aware she’s trading on your friendship with me or she wouldn’t have the … nerve to ask me. Actually she isn’t asking me she’s asking my Corporation.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know the difference between person and business.”

“My question is would it matter to you what I did?”

“Matter?”

“Would you be … pissed off, for want of a better word, if I said yes or no.”

“I don’t think so. Linda will make a go of things regardless. She’s always been driven to succeed. Over-driven in fact.”

“I can tell.”

“Is that the question? Nothing about the business?”

“This is a social call not a financial consultation.” Jeremy stood and slowly smoothed out his pants.

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Picture Perfect 68

Picture Perfect 68

“Dan,” Sandy said. “For someone who claims to lead a sheltered life you certainly attract men wherever you go. Peter. Silver. Larry. Jeremy.”

“Me! Cliff Silver?”

“Boss, even I have seen how he looks at you.” Ushio said. “I may be straight but I recognize that look.”

“Really?” he asked Sandy. 

“I thought you knew?” She shook her head.

“Not me. I have businesses to run, remember. I better get out of here though. Think about some cross promotion for the Carafe. I’ll be expecting to hear about it tomorrow.”

He stepped into the Carafe.

“Is Peter around?” He asked. 

Jill looked from the customer she was serving at the counter. “He’s around somewhere. Thank you.” she finished with the customer in front of her. “Where is that buzz?” 

“Buzz?”

“Like the ones at Shopper’s. When you get prescription and have to wait, they give you a buzzer to carry that alerts you when your order is ready. I’m sure they wait long enough for you to spend at least fifty dollars before buzzing.”

“You buzz people when their coffee is ready?”

“No! Whomever is on duty here can buzz other staff members for help or to let them know someone is looking for them.” She held up the master buzzer. There were seven lights in the panel. Three were lit up. “This one is Peter. Twice means someone is looking for him.” She pressed the light twice. “Once is ‘need help’. Three times is ‘bring baked goods’.”

“Four get me the fuck out of here.” 

Peter brought a tray of scones to the display case. “Try?” she gave one to Dan. “Espresso infused lemon cake. Lemon curd glaze and vanilla butter cream.”

“Expanding your fat-free line.” Dan took a bite. “You can’t keep food like this from the public Jill. Keeping this place running is really a public service.” He took another bite. 

“Sit for a mo.” He said to Peter & nodded to an empty table in the window.

“I dropped by to let you know I’m expecting Jeremy and his daughter for supper tonight.”

“So you don’t want me around.” Peter snapped. “Sir. To walk in on the two of you?”


“Three – I said daughter. I just didn’t want you to be surprised when you got to the house. That’s all.”

“Okay.” He got up from the table. “I better get back to work.” He went to the display case and rearranged  the cupcakes.

“What’s with him?” he asked Jill.

“He was telling me how much he was looking forward to having you all to himself tonight.”

“You try saying no to the charming Ashley Moxham.”

“I have.” she smiled. “That girl only hears what she wants to hear. I don’t envy the man who marries her. Besides that’s not called charm it’s called money.”

“I don’t envy any man who wants to marry period.” Dan laughed. “I’ll take … six of those lemon muffins.”

“They are not muffins, asshole,” Jill said. “They are handcrafted limited edition Classic Carafe Brioche.”

“I stand corrected.” He got up and went to the counter & paid for the desserts. “The Depot gang are handcrafting a promotion for you. I’ll know more tomorrow.”

He opened the door to leave and Peter stopped him.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to give you attitude, sir. I know this …” he tapped his chest then Dan’s, “between us is temporary. You being on the rebound and me being handy.”

“We’ll talk later Peter but rest assured it isn’t rebound. I want to get back to the house to relax a little.”

He crossed to the corner to wait fro the street car. Sandy was right about him attracting men easily. He’d never felt particularly good looking. Not in that classic porn hunk way, anyway. Even with a beard he felt he lacked standard queer appeal. When he met Sanjay he was amazed that there was such a strong sexual connection between them.

The street car pulled up. Not too full for a change. More construction along Queen East than ever before. Who was moving into those places? Another Starbucks in a corner building. What was replacing the Cool Jerk. He got off a stop before his and walked. Finally he was feeling relaxed. No one to content with. The air was cool. Leaves were beginning to change. He left Queen and was pleased that the street traffic sound dimmed quickly on his street. It was like stepping out of one city and into another.

He’d have to get someone in to look after the garden before fall really set in. He’d be back on the east coast for all that. Did Peter know anything about gardens? Or was it better to set clear limits on that … friendship.

“Daniel.”

He turned around. “Sanjay!” Was the universe going to squeeze everyone into these forty-eight hours. 

“I was hoping we could talk like adults.”

“We can try.” Dan replied. They hadn’t spoken face to face since Sanjay left the house. He put the box of brioche on the porch rail.

“You going to ask me in?”

“No. Our attorneys no meeting privately even in public.

“Your little boy toy …”

“Watch it Sanjay. You wanted to talk like adults. Name calling isn’t a good way to start.”

“That was quite a rain storm on the east coast. It made me think of the monsoons. I was concerned when I heard about the accident. First it was reported that Toronto TV personalities were involved in it. When names were attached I was relieved.”

“Did you look for your copy of the life insurance policy or were you cursing me for changing my will before I left.”

“You changed …”

‘Yes. Did you think I wouldn’t?”

“I guess I’m still hoping you’d change your mind.”

“Sanjay you were the one who couldn’t go on living this way. Living in sin.”

“Peter moved in fast enough.” Sanjay said.

“I needed a house sitter. He was willing.”

“To do more than house sit, I am sure.”

“Sanjay let’s not start in on that again. It’s tired and not productive. How are things with Papoulias?”

“Business is good. You should come up and check it out.”

“I just might. I’m happy to see you are doing well. I have no ill will towards you.”

“Then why not ask me in.” Sanjay caressed Dan’s chin.

“Because I have no interest in you either.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Not my problem. I have company coming in a couple of hours. You haven’t forgotten how long it takes me to put my face on.”

“When are you going back to your show?”

“That’s not relevant to this conversation. Have a good weekend.” He went into the house. Leaned his back against the front door. The emotions he still felt towards Sanjay surprised him. The smell of him, the touch of him. It hurt to be so close and to hold back but that’s what adults out of love did.

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Picture Perfect 67

Picture Perfect 67

Dan went up to the work lab on the third floor. He pulled up Teresa’s photos & focused on two of them. The one of her with Stoney and the one of his sister Linda with Kevin. They had been taken with Teresa’s camera. He could recall that little Kodak of hers. For such a crap camera it took okay pictures. The shots had been taken within a short time of each other around the same location. The post Teresa & Stoney were leaning against was to the left of Linda & Kevin. Shadows made it mid-afternoon.

None of them looked as if they were dressed for a date. Minimal make up on the girls. Sloppy clothes on the guys. Maybe they didn’t dressed up for afternoon dates. Maybe it wasn’t a date. Of course the girls must have dropped by to have lunch with their circus hands.

He cropped each of the pictures so they only showed the couples from the waist up. With Stoney’s denim incased dick out of the picture it was clear to Dan that this was the face of no twenty year old as Teresa was convinced he was. Funny how an ample cock  could add years.

He went into the family photos and found one with Linda and the man she had introduced to the family as Kevin. He was clearly not the man with Linda in Teresa’s picture. 

Once he was satisfied with the cropped pictures he emailed them to Linda with the subject line: “Remember when” The body of the email said: ‘Met up with Teresa Dunlop this past week. She has lots of vivid memories of you and me from when we in Stellerton. Here’s a couple of picture she had of you and her with various boy toys. Let me know what memories they call up for you.”

He’d let her tell him who the the various men were. It was possible he had the years mixed up. But she was wearing the same blouse and pedal pushers in both pics, merely with different men on her arm. 

A few minutes later his cell beeped. It was Linda.

“How long are you in Toronto for?” She asked.

“I leave tomorrow night.”

“I see. It’s hard to proceed with things with you out of town. You aren’t making things any easier for either of us.”

“What’s the hurry Linda? I’ll see you on the morning as arranged.”

“I can’t make any decisions here until the business split in finalized. I should never have let you …”

“You didn’t let me do anything Linda. Even the Lifend was your idea.”

“Yeah, but it was your idea to become their sole agent.”

“They offered that to both of us. I said yes while you weighed your options. Speaking of Lifend has anyone representing them visited your store?”

“Who knows? I’ve been busy enough here. Is there one in town?”

He told her quickly about Jakob Marhene & forwarded the photos of him to her as they spoke.

“Not familiar to me.” She said.

“I hope not but after Cuppa’s you can’t blame me for being suspicious.”

“I …”

“Did those pictures I just sent of you & Teresa spark any memories?” He had to take control of the conversation before she started double-talking.

“Teresa was a … tramp. Anything in pants caught her eye & this guy Rocky …”

“Stoney.” Dan supplied.

“Right, Stoney lasted longer than any of the others. I don’t remember the guy with me at all.”

“Kevin?” Dan suggested.

“No! He was just some pal of Stoney’s. They worked at the Hippo doing odd jobs, I think. Dan it’s all so long ago. What does this have to do with anything, anyway?”

“Tracking down leads for the cold case show. Remember that’s my job now. Just because it’s family doesn’t mean I can over look it.”

A blue light started flash. It was the alarm from the store that someone was looking for him downstairs.

“I gotta go. I’m being paged by the shop. I’ll see you in the morning.”

He called the store.

“There’s someone down here to see you.” Sandy said.

“Customer?”

“You might say that.” another voice answered.

“Jeremy! I’ll right down.”

Jeremy and Ashley were talking with Ushio. He was demonstrating a drone for them. Ashley tried to take a pictures of the drone as it darted around her head.

His daughter, Ashley dashed over and, after moving her Reporter camera to one side, hugged him.

“Time you got a more lady like camera.” Dan said.

“That is a sexist remark.” She said.

“Then let me rephrase it – time you got something with a faster shutter speed.” Dan reached past her to shake hands with Jeremy.

“How’s east coast life?” Jeremy asked.

“Wet and windy.” Dan replied.

“That was quite a storm. I guess you were in the middle of it.”

“I hope you got some good pics!” Ashley said.

“What do you think.” Dan said. 

“Show me. Show me.” She demanded.

“Well? There’s nothing duller than someone’s travel photos.” Dan said.

“Indulge us,”Jeremy touched Dan on the biceps.

“Twist my arm why don’t you. I do have a slide show of my storm pics.” He went over to the store showroom computer and loaded the film from his cloud. The pictures appeared on all the TVs on display and the one in the front window.

“This is the car I was driving. Built for speed.”

“Built for looks.” Jeremy said.

“These are some quick grabs as I stopped to decide which way to go to Stellerton. These are the cloudy horizon … the first drops … the lightening … the nearly total dark before the storm really hit … the windshield wipers losing the battle … a short video of the rain on the roof and on the wind shield …”

‘Weren’t you scared at all?” daughter asked.

“Oh yeah. Here’s where I pulled off at the Proud Tartan in Port Elgin. … my red beer … my excellent burger … the sudden power loss … on the porch ….”

“You can’t see across the street.” Jeremy said.

“Too true.”

“My room at the Tartan b’n’b …. Larry Clarke my rescuer … a little film Larry’s jeep … I love the way it emerges from the rain but never seems to separate from it either … … ”

“How did you get those pictures driving in the rain?” daughter asked. “You can’t drive and aim a camera at the same time. Can you?”

“Nope. I let my Lifend travel mug do most of the work. I edited these when I had time.”

The slide show had progressed to the video him and Larry careening down the slope on Moose Trail.

“That’s flipping amazing.” Sandy said.

“Yeah pretty good picture quality for a travel mug.” Jeremy laughed.

“That one calls for Imax.” daughter said.

“At end of the trail.” Dan said at the last slide show picture of himself standing by the jeep.  

“You don’t look much worse for wear after your downhill surfing.” Jeremy said. 

“Daddy & I were wondering if you might be free for supper.”

“I knew there was a real reason for you two to show up here.” Dan said.

“There’s something I’d like to talk over with anyway.” Jeremy said.

“I don’t like the sound of that.” Dan smiled. “I was looking forward to a night of nothing in my own little house. Busy day tomorrow and then I’m heading back to Moncton on a six o’clock flight.”

“We could send out from your little house. Couldn’t we Daddy.” Ashley said.

Dan hesitated. Peter was moved in for his house sitting duties. Explaining that to the Moxham’s would require more tact than he could muster at short notice.

“Unless you have other plans.” Jeremey said.

“All right. Let’s see …” Dan checked the time on his cell. “Say 6:30. That gives me time to get home first and make sure the cobwebs have been cleared out.”

“Perfect. Okay princess, let’s get out of here.” Jeremy said opening the shop door for her.

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Picture Perfect 66

“I’ve been contacted by Tyson Associates on behalf of John Kilpatrick.” Dr. Grey said.

“Oh!”

“They wanted copies of the X-rays & ultrasounds they did at the emerg of your eyes.”

“I see.” Dan thought a moment. “You can give them your expert opinion but that’s all. No X-rays, or medical reports. I’ll let the prosecutor know & they can get any further information from that office.”

“They hinted that also want their own expert ophthalmologist to examine you.”

“Again up to the prosecutor. Next you’ll tell he wants to to sue for breaking his nose.”

Dan hailed a taxi outside the medical clinic. His father had always maintained that doctors were alarmists more dedicated to their time share condos in Orlando than they were to their patients. To Dan this hour in the dark with an eye mask sounded more like alarmism than cure. Maybe he could manage ten minutes but an hour. His vision hadn’t diminished at all since the fight. So what the issue?

He went into Carafe first to talk with Jill Haverly.

“What’s this hear about you closing shop?” He asked her.

“Don’t I at least an hello or a lobster to cook?” Jill said.

“Hello. Is it me ….” he sang. “Is it true?”

“I’m seriously considering it. Cuppa’s is a determined competitor.”

“If a Tim Ho’s can last in the face of Starbucks, & I mean that literally, because I’ve seen them side by side or on opposite corners. Both busy.”

“You saying I’m the Tim’s to their Starbucks?

“No, they are the Tim’s, and you are beyond any Starbucks.”

“My pockets aren’t that deep. Dan I appreciate what you are trying to say. Words won’t pay the bills.”

“Then charge double!”

“What are you crazy. Cuppa’s is giving free coffee. Last week they were giving free travel mugs. Good travel mugs at that.” She went to the counter and brought him one.

“Genuine Thermos! They’ll be out of business in a month if they keep up.”

“This week they’ve started a Cuppa’s Camera Club. Bring them any receipt for camera equipment over a hundred dollars and you get a twenty dollar gift card.”

“We certainly didn’t authorize anything like that.”

“I know or they’d mention the Depot by name.”

“Fuckers.” he said. “Two can play at that.”

“I can’t afford to give away gift cards.”

“You won’t have to. I’ll talk with Sandy and we’ll get back to you. Now that we’ve done the hello, trashed your competitors, where’s my coffee?”

“Coming right up.”

“I have to confess this was the main reason I came back for the weekend. No decent coffee on the east coast.”

“No indecent redheads either.” Jill said.

The Depot was busy with a ‘boss is away sale’ so Dan went behind the counter and waited on the next customer in line.

“Good to have you back boss.” Ushio said.

“Doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone at all.”

The store was momentarily empty of customers.

“Put the ‘back in 15’ timer in the window.” Dan said.

The staff gathered around him.

“I’m not in TO for long but everything is going fine here. I see the …”

“Yeah, we know,” Ushio said. “You watch us all the time.” He pointed up at the security cameras.

“If I had that much spare time I’d find better things to watch. Sales have gone up a bit.”

‘You aren’t here to scare them away.” Sandy grinned. “They could feel you glowering up in your den.”

“I want you to think of some promo …”

They groaned.

“Hear me out. You know about the Cuppa Camera Club.”

“Some have asked me who bought out who?” Sandy said. “Like Timmie’s and Shoppers.”

“I checked it out.” Ushio said. “They don’t mention us in promotion in any way.”

“I think we need one of our own. Something that involves the Carafe and the Silver Gallery.”

“Silver’s is closed for the month. He’s on an acquisitions tour of Chile.”

“Okay. Anyone have any ideas.”

“We could do the reverse.” Sandy said. “For every hundred someone spends at the Carafe they get a twenty dollar discount here.”

“No one is going to buy fifty coffees at one time.” Ushio said.

“It’s a good idea though. Needs work.”

The fifteen minute timer dinged.

“I have things to do upstairs. I’ll stop back before I head out.”

Sandy stopped him before he went. “Did you hear anything about that Lifend man?”

“Shit! I forgot all about that. No, I haven’t heard back from them. At least I don’t think I did. I haven’t been that alert to my emails. I’ll check that out first thing when I get to my office.

He opened the door and peeked in, he half expected Cameron to be there to record his entering. There were several magazines, flyers and some letters on his desk. He flipped through them quickly. 

In the third floor lab he checked the company computer to see what email had come in for him there. He could have done that while he was away but after checking the daily receipts for both locations, inventory control data, he‘d had enough of business matters. Sandy filled him in on anything important in their video conferences. There as nothing there from Lifend. Maybe Linda had heard something?

He sent the scan file of the family photos to his cloud account. It included the scans of his Dad’s travel notes for all of 1985. This way he could double check dates & locations when he compared them to the abductions. 

He did a search for east coast Catholic diocese. There was too much information for him began to look at. But that information was there. He sent the link to the Quintex research department & mentioned the possible connection to Father Phineas. He also asked them to find out if there was any connection between Father Phineas and Inspector Mackillop.

He did a search for the Maritime Circus Museum then for Winston Chamberlain in particular. He hadn’t expected there to be so many Winston Chamberlains around the world. He narrowed it to Canada and all the ones for the correct Winston were in association with the Museum.

He sat back in the desk chair and let it revolve slowly away from the computer. The get-away from the show wasn’t relaxing at all. It would another three weeks after this that he would be back so he had piled in too much to do in this one visit. 

He went down the back stairs and stopped on the balcony. The laneway needed to be swept. It would be snowed in soon enough. A drunk staggered in. Dan pulled away from the rail. The drunk looked around, leaned against the wall, zipped his fly down and pissed with an audible “Ahh.” Must that been holding that for a while. Dan couldn’t make out the guy’s cock but the puddle of urine flowed between his legs. The drunk made an effort to avoid it as he did up his fly.

His cell beeped. It was Linda. He went inside and sat in the dark of the stairway.

Picture Perfect 66

#Toronto #nanowrimo #forensics #amwriting #gayromance #photography #NovaScotia  #ophthalmologist #Wordpress #Stellerton #RCMP #investigator #lgbtq #novel #serialization #Ontario

“I’ve been contacted by Tyson Associates on behalf of John Kilpatrick.” Dr. Grey said.

“Oh!”

“They wanted copies of the X-rays & ultrasounds they did at the emerg of your eyes.”

“I see.” Dan thought a moment. “You can give them your expert opinion but that’s all. No X-rays, or medical reports. I’ll let the prosecutor know & they can get any further information from that office.”

“They hinted that also want their own expert ophthalmologist to examine you.”

“Again up to the prosecutor. Next you’ll tell he wants to to sue for breaking his nose.”

Dan hailed a taxi outside the medical clinic. His father had always maintained that doctors were alarmists more dedicated to their time share condos in Orlando than they were to their patients. To Dan this hour in the dark with an eye mask sounded more like alarmism than cure. Maybe he could manage ten minutes but an hour. His vision hadn’t diminished at all since the fight. So what the issue?

He went into Carafe first to talk with Jill Haverly.

“What’s this hear about you closing shop?” He asked her.

“Don’t I at least an hello or a lobster to cook?” Jill said.

“Hello. Is it me ….” he sang. “Is it true?”

“I’m seriously considering it. Cuppa’s is a determined competitor.”

“If a Tim Ho’s can last in the face of Starbucks, & I mean that literally, because I’ve seen them side by side or on opposite corners. Both busy.”

“You saying I’m the Tim’s to their Starbucks?

“No, they are the Tim’s, and you are beyond any Starbucks.”

“My pockets aren’t that deep. Dan I appreciate what you are trying to say. Words won’t pay the bills.”

“Then charge double!”

“What are you crazy. Cuppa’s is giving free coffee. Last week they were giving free travel mugs. Good travel mugs at that.” She went to the counter and brought him one.

“Genuine Thermos! They’ll be out of business in a month if they keep up.”

“This week they’ve started a Cuppa’s Camera Club. Bring them any receipt for camera equipment over a hundred dollars and you get a twenty dollar gift card.”

“We certainly didn’t authorize anything like that.”

“I know or they’d mention the Depot by name.”

“Fuckers.” he said. “Two can play at that.”

“I can’t afford to give away gift cards.”

“You won’t have to. I’ll talk with Sandy and we’ll get back to you. Now that we’ve done the hello, trashed your competitors, where’s my coffee?”

“Coming right up.”

“I have to confess this was the main reason I came back for the weekend. No decent coffee on the east coast.”

“No indecent redheads either.” Jill said.

The Depot was busy with a ‘boss is away sale’ so Dan went behind the counter and waited on the next customer in line.

“Good to have you back boss.” Ushio said.

“Doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone at all.”

The store was momentarily empty of customers.

“Put the ‘back in 15’ timer in the window.” Dan said.

The staff gathered around him.

“I’m not in TO for long but everything is going fine here. I see the …”

“Yeah, we know,” Ushio said. “You watch us all the time.” He pointed up at the security cameras.

“If I had that much spare time I’d find better things to watch. Sales have gone up a bit.”

‘You aren’t here to scare them away.” Sandy grinned. “They could feel you glowering up in your den.”

“I want you to think of some promo …”

They groaned.

“Hear me out. You know about the Cuppa Camera Club.”

“Some have asked me who bought out who?” Sandy said. “Like Timmie’s and Shoppers.”

“I checked it out.” Ushio said. “They don’t mention us in promotion in any way.”

“I think we need one of our own. Something that involves the Carafe and the Silver Gallery.”

“Silver’s is closed for the month. He’s on an acquisitions tour of Chile.”

“Okay. Anyone have any ideas.”

“We could do the reverse.” Sandy said. “For every hundred someone spends at the Carafe they get a twenty dollar discount here.”

“No one is going to buy fifty coffees at one time.” Ushio said.

“It’s a good idea though. Needs work.”

The fifteen minute timer dinged.

“I have things to do upstairs. I’ll stop back before I head out.”

Sandy stopped him before he went. “Did you hear anything about that Lifend man?”

“Shit! I forgot all about that. No, I haven’t heard back from them. At least I don’t think I did. I haven’t been that alert to my emails. I’ll check that out first thing when I get to my office.

He opened the door and peeked in, he half expected Cameron to be there to record his entering. There were several magazines, flyers and some letters on his desk. He flipped through them quickly. 

In the third floor lab he checked the company computer to see what email had come in for him there. He could have done that while he was away but after checking the daily receipts for both locations, inventory control data, he‘d had enough of business matters. Sandy filled him in on anything important in their video conferences. There as nothing there from Lifend. Maybe Linda had heard something?

He sent the scan file of the family photos to his cloud account. It included the scans of his Dad’s travel notes for all of 1985. This way he could double check dates & locations when he compared them to the abductions. 

He did a search for east coast Catholic diocese. There was too much information for him began to look at. But that information was there. He sent the link to the Quintex research department & mentioned the possible connection to Father Phineas. He also asked them to find out if there was any connection between Father Phineas and Inspector Mackillop.

He did a search for the Maritime Circus Museum then for Winston Chamberlain in particular. He hadn’t expected there to be so many Winston Chamberlains around the world. He narrowed it to Canada and all the ones for the correct Winston were in association with the Museum.

He sat back in the desk chair and let it revolve slowly away from the computer. The get-away from the show wasn’t relaxing at all. It would another three weeks after this that he would be back so he had piled in too much to do in this one visit. 

He went down the back stairs and stopped on the balcony. The laneway needed to be swept. It would be snowed in soon enough. A drunk staggered in. Dan pulled away from the rail. The drunk looked around, leaned against the wall, zipped his fly down and pissed with an audible “Ahh.” Must that been holding that for a while. Dan couldn’t make out the guy’s cock but the puddle of urine flowed between his legs. The drunk made an effort to avoid it as he did up his fly.

His cell beeped. It was Linda. He went inside and sat in the dark of the stairway.

Picture Perfect 66

#Toronto #nanowrimo #forensics #amwriting #gayromance #photography #NovaScotia  #ophthalmologist #Wordpress #Stellerton #RCMP #investigator #lgbtq #novel #serialization #Ontario

“I’ve been contacted by Tyson Associates on behalf of John Kilpatrick.” Dr. Grey said.

“Oh!”

“They wanted copies of the X-rays & ultrasounds they did at the emerg of your eyes.”

“I see.” Dan thought a moment. “You can give them your expert opinion but that’s all. No X-rays, or medical reports. I’ll let the prosecutor know & they can get any further information from that office.”

“They hinted that also want their own expert ophthalmologist to examine you.”

“Again up to the prosecutor. Next you’ll tell he wants to to sue for breaking his nose.”

Dan hailed a taxi outside the medical clinic. His father had always maintained that doctors were alarmists more dedicated to their time share condos in Orlando than they were to their patients. To Dan this hour in the dark with an eye mask sounded more like alarmism than cure. Maybe he could manage ten minutes but an hour. His vision hadn’t diminished at all since the fight. So what the issue?

He went into Carafe first to talk with Jill Haverly.

“What’s this hear about you closing shop?” He asked her.

“Don’t I at least an hello or a lobster to cook?” Jill said.

“Hello. Is it me ….” he sang. “Is it true?”

“I’m seriously considering it. Cuppa’s is a determined competitor.”

“If a Tim Ho’s can last in the face of Starbucks, & I mean that literally, because I’ve seen them side by side or on opposite corners. Both busy.”

“You saying I’m the Tim’s to their Starbucks?

“No, they are the Tim’s, and you are beyond any Starbucks.”

“My pockets aren’t that deep. Dan I appreciate what you are trying to say. Words won’t pay the bills.”

“Then charge double!”

“What are you crazy. Cuppa’s is giving free coffee. Last week they were giving free travel mugs. Good travel mugs at that.” She went to the counter and brought him one.

“Genuine Thermos! They’ll be out of business in a month if they keep up.”

“This week they’ve started a Cuppa’s Camera Club. Bring them any receipt for camera equipment over a hundred dollars and you get a twenty dollar gift card.”

“We certainly didn’t authorize anything like that.”

“I know or they’d mention the Depot by name.”

“Fuckers.” he said. “Two can play at that.”

“I can’t afford to give away gift cards.”

“You won’t have to. I’ll talk with Sandy and we’ll get back to you. Now that we’ve done the hello, trashed your competitors, where’s my coffee?”

“Coming right up.”

“I have to confess this was the main reason I came back for the weekend. No decent coffee on the east coast.”

“No indecent redheads either.” Jill said.

The Depot was busy with a ‘boss is away sale’ so Dan went behind the counter and waited on the next customer in line.

“Good to have you back boss.” Ushio said.

“Doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone at all.”

The store was momentarily empty of customers.

“Put the ‘back in 15’ timer in the window.” Dan said.

The staff gathered around him.

“I’m not in TO for long but everything is going fine here. I see the …”

“Yeah, we know,” Ushio said. “You watch us all the time.” He pointed up at the security cameras.

“If I had that much spare time I’d find better things to watch. Sales have gone up a bit.”

‘You aren’t here to scare them away.” Sandy grinned. “They could feel you glowering up in your den.”

“I want you to think of some promo …”

They groaned.

“Hear me out. You know about the Cuppa Camera Club.”

“Some have asked me who bought out who?” Sandy said. “Like Timmie’s and Shoppers.”

“I checked it out.” Ushio said. “They don’t mention us in promotion in any way.”

“I think we need one of our own. Something that involves the Carafe and the Silver Gallery.”

“Silver’s is closed for the month. He’s on an acquisitions tour of Chile.”

“Okay. Anyone have any ideas.”

“We could do the reverse.” Sandy said. “For every hundred someone spends at the Carafe they get a twenty dollar discount here.”

“No one is going to buy fifty coffees at one time.” Ushio said.

“It’s a good idea though. Needs work.”

The fifteen minute timer dinged.

“I have things to do upstairs. I’ll stop back before I head out.”

Sandy stopped him before he went. “Did you hear anything about that Lifend man?”

“Shit! I forgot all about that. No, I haven’t heard back from them. At least I don’t think I did. I haven’t been that alert to my emails. I’ll check that out first thing when I get to my office.

He opened the door and peeked in, he half expected Cameron to be there to record his entering. There were several magazines, flyers and some letters on his desk. He flipped through them quickly. 

In the third floor lab he checked the company computer to see what email had come in for him there. He could have done that while he was away but after checking the daily receipts for both locations, inventory control data, he‘d had enough of business matters. Sandy filled him in on anything important in their video conferences. There as nothing there from Lifend. Maybe Linda had heard something?

He sent the scan file of the family photos to his cloud account. It included the scans of his Dad’s travel notes for all of 1985. This way he could double check dates & locations when he compared them to the abductions. 

He did a search for east coast Catholic diocese. There was too much information for him began to look at. But that information was there. He sent the link to the Quintex research department & mentioned the possible connection to Father Phineas. He also asked them to find out if there was any connection between Father Phineas and Inspector Mackillop.

He did a search for the Maritime Circus Museum then for Winston Chamberlain in particular. He hadn’t expected there to be so many Winston Chamberlains around the world. He narrowed it to Canada and all the ones for the correct Winston were in association with the Museum.

He sat back in the desk chair and let it revolve slowly away from the computer. The get-away from the show wasn’t relaxing at all. It would another three weeks after this that he would be back so he had piled in too much to do in this one visit. 

He went down the back stairs and stopped on the balcony. The laneway needed to be swept. It would be snowed in soon enough. A drunk staggered in. Dan pulled away from the rail. The drunk looked around, leaned against the wall, zipped his fly down and pissed with an audible “Ahh.” Must that been holding that for a while. Dan couldn’t make out the guy’s cock but the puddle of urine flowed between his legs. The drunk made an effort to avoid it as he did up his fly.

His cell beeped. It was Linda. He went inside and sat in the dark of the stairway to take the call.

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Picture Perfect 65

Picture Perfect 65

“What do you make of Father Phineas.” Dan asked Jennifer as he merged the car into the traffic flow.

“You mean, do I think he’s a suspect?”

“Yes. We’d thought of the various people who would move around the province into the rural areas.”

“A priest is someone the children would probably trust. If they were Catholic.” She said.

“They always gave me the … willies. The cassocks I suppose. I had nightmares when we’d have to go to Antigonish.”

“Were any of the other families Catholic?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Should be easy enough to check on though. Stephanie will be thrilled to add new suspects to the list. Mackillop? Is that a common last name?”

“Not as common as McDonald or Tremblay.” Jennifer said.

“I see. A Mackillop is heading the task force.”

“It’s so sad, isn’t it.” she said. “The way we both made that leap. Man of the cloth, missing children.”

“I suppose it wasn’t that obvious then. Families still trusted the clergy.”

“I take it you weren’t Catholic.” Jennifer said.

“No. Not really anything. I knew enough about religion to know that my kind was not acceptable.”

“Same with my kind. The church doesn’t deal with gifted children well. We’re either healing saints or instruments of Satan. Witches.”

“Speaking of which, I’ll be dropping you off at the motel and going directly on to Halifax to catch my flight.”

“I didn’t think you were leaving until morning.”

“That’s what I told Baxter. I didn’t want him screwing around with my reservations to keep me here.”

She glanced in the back seat. “You didn’t bring a suitcase.”

“I’m going home to clothes.” Dan laughed. “This interview attire been supplied by Quintex looks good on camera. I have all the important stuff right here.” He tapped his shoulder bag. “And all of it is backed up somewhere in the worldwide web.”

“I should think of some sort of a back up but there’s too much up here,” She tapped her forehead, “to download. Sometimes I can’t even process it myself even with a word processor.”

He pulled into the Comfort Motor Inn parking lot.

“Thanks. That’s my car over there.”

“Oh! Not staying with the cast & crew?”

“Why, when I live ten minutes away? Thanks for the lift though. It gave me a chance …”

“To get a better read on me? I know.”

He left the Motor Inn he turned onto the Trans-Canada and drove directly to Halifax. He arrived at the airport, turned the car over to the rental agency there and had just enough time to go to the washroom before boarding his flight.

As the plane taxied he close this eyes. After being on camera nearly every waking hour he felt a sense of freedom knowing he wasn’t being recorded for some future editing session for the next three days. He woke as the plane was landing.

Exiting to the arrivals area he scanned the lobby until he saw Peter. Peter was wearing a chauffeur’s cap and holding a sign that said “Limo for Mr. James.”

He walked directly to him and kissed him. Peter responded and the sign slipped from his hands as he reached around to pull Dan tighter to him.

“That that I call chauffeur service.” Someone said as they unclenched.”

“No luggage, sir?” Peter asked.

“Disappointed?” Dan asked as they went to the parking garage.

“I hope I know what level we’re on.” he said. “That kiss fucked up my short term memory.”

“The memory is just a start.” When Peter kissed him he realized how much he had been repressing. He’d known to get this job done it was vital to put aside distractions. Kissing Peter was him finally responding to Larry Clarke after that bumpy ride over the Moose Trail.

Peter negotiated the maze of the airport parking garage. “So, is it true about absence making the heart grow fonder?” He reached over to stroke Dan’s groin.

“That’s not my heart.”

“I know but it sure is growing, sir.” He tried to pull down the zipper.

“Keep your mind on the road.” Dan slapped his hand away.

“Yes, sir.”

As they drove into the city he filled Peter in on some of what had happened.

“Larry sounds like a hottie. How did you keep your hands off him.”

“Six-three, least. Size 12 and probably e e e e e wide but a smoker. ”

“Paul Bunyan smoked a pipe.” Peter parked in the garage. “It’s good to have you back home, sir.”

“I wish I could say it good to be back but there’s so much to do. It feels like I’ve been gone for a month not less than ten days.”

He looked around the living room. It was bare without Sanjay’s wall hangings and sculptures.

“I rearranged the furniture as you asked me to.”

“So I see.” The couch was now against the wall instead of creating a separation between the living-room and the dining room. “I’d forgotten how large this space was.” He sat on the couch and stretched his legs out as far as he could. “Feels good. Too much time in cars and airplane seats.”

Peter knelt and took Dan’s shoes and socks off. He bit then sucked Dan’s big toe.

“Freak.” Dan sighed. “How did one so young as you learn so fast.”

“It’s called the Internet, sir.” He bit along the arch of Dan’s foot.

“Ahh … that’s feels weird. Don’t stop.”

“I won’t, sir.”

“That was some load, sir.” Peter wiped come off Dan’s stomach and chest with one of Dan’s socks.

“This is the right spot for the couch.” Dan leaned to kiss Peter.

Peter stopped him. “There’s …” he dabbed Dan’s chin with his own underwear. “Some of me on your face, sir.”

“A shower should clear that up.” Dan yawned. “I’ll sleep well tonight.”

His first appointment was with Dr. Grey. The ophthalmologist studied the retinal scans of Dan’s eyes.

“Have you been experiencing any headaches.” he asked.

“No.”

“Let me go through the list and if there is a “yes” stop me. Dizziness. double vision. trouble focusing. squinting. nausea. eye lid twitch. excess tearing. excess Ocular smegma. eye lash itch”

“No to all.” Dan said. “Though I have been using these more than usual.” He took his loupe case out his bag. “Some of the photos we’ve come across have needed closer examination.”

“Could you have done without it?”

“If I weren’t in the field I would have relied on digital enhancement to confirm what I saw with the … naked eye. But these did show me more than my naked eye was picking up. It also looks good on camera.”

“You haven’t been using the drops I prescribed have you?”

“I did a few times but not as regularly as prescribed. There often wasn’t time. The hour wait after they went in. I wasn’t to use them before bedtime.”

“Excuses won’t heal the damage to your eye, Mr. James.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“It is. There hasn’t been further degeneration around the damaged area since you were last here but there has been no regeneration either. Without regeneration scar tissue will form and that will lead to loss of vision.”

“Loss?” Dan said. “How quickly? How much?”

“It can differ from case to case. The fact that you don’t smoke is in our favour. You are fit, active. But those things will only slow it down. It can be avoided. The drops are a part of that.”

“How long would I have to take them. A month? A year? Forever?”

“Start taking them regularly and we can see how rapidly it works. Six months at least. An hour a day with your eyes covered.”

“I suppose I could meditate then.” Dan tried to imagine himself on motel bed doing nothing for an hour with the shooting schedule app flashing on his phone blinking on the side table. 

“As long as you remain awake.” The doctor jotted something a prescription pad & handed it to Dan.

“More salve?” Dan sighed.

“No.” The doctor laughed. “A sleep mask.”

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Picture Perfect 64

Picture Perfect 64

Jennifer went into the house before he could reply.

The interview was to take place in the living-room of her rather ordinary house. Cameron followed them in. Stephanie did quick introductions in the front hall. Helen’s was as ordinary as the house. Short, heavy set, with just a touch make-up to bring out her eyes. Francie was already set up in the living room with her camera.

It would be a two camera set up to catch as many reactions as possible. Dan did a quick check through Francie’s camera to see how the scene was set. Just over Helen shoulder was vase roses with a pray hands plaque leaning against it. On the wall overhead was a crucifix. 

Helen had been living with her sister Diane at the time & clearly remembered the loss, anger, fear, guilt that lasted several years after the events. Diane was pregnant at the time so Helen was there to help look after the other the five children they at that time. Joseph McPherson, their father, was working in Ontario and he returned as soon as possible when he received the news. 

“She was five months pregnant when David went missing. Joseph was in Sudbury at the time. Working in the nickel smelter. He came back as quickly as he could when we called him. He drove all night.”

“I felt real bad about David but there were her other children to deal with. It was so hard to explain to them that he …” Helen shook her head. “would no be coming back. That was the hardest part. Explaining it to the little ones. They didn’t understand why all these strange men were asking them questions.”

“A few months later Helen had a miscarriage & died as a result. Little Rosie was so broken up. Every time she saw one of he Mounties she would ask if they had found her Mom yet. Losing David & then her mother confused her. It was years before she stopped doing that.

“Broke my heart when she finally said to me ‘Mom is with David isn’t she?’ Joseph took the children & left the province January of the next year.”

“You told Stephanie you have some photographs.”

“They were never a picture taking family,” Helen said. “You know when that producer asked me if I had anything I searched. You know when Joseph moved they didn’t leave much behind. So there’s nothing. A couple of David’s comic books that I eventually threw away. I only have these photos because I asked around at the church.” Helen said.

David was with a group of children returning from a church picnic. There several photographs of the Sunday school group, which one of the other parents had taken. As well as some of the school portraits his father specialized in.

Dan took out his loupe and studied the Sunday school picnic. There was a dozen or so children – some running, some sitting around a blanket.

“That’s Little Rosie holding Father Phineas’s hand. David is there just behind them. The children loved Father Phineas.”

He looked at David. He was unexceptional. Brush cut, freckles, tee-shirt and jeans. As was Little Rosie. The other girls were wearing dresses.

“Rose was a tomboy?” he asked.

“Oh yeah,” Helen answered. “Played softball. She could run like the devil. Sad about Father Phineas. He left us in the fall. Felt it was all his fault. That he should have kept a better eye on the children.”

“The church looks modest.” Jennifer said.

“Oh yes, dear. The diocese would send us a priest for mass twice a week. Father Phineas was one of them, Father Gerrard was the other. There have been others over the years but they was the most regular.”

“They had many other parishes to visit?” Dan asked.

“I suppose they did.” Helen answered. “I never gave it much thought. We missed Father Phineas though, he’d been coming to us the longest. That Father Gerrard wasn’t a bit friendly. Stern.”

“Do you know Phineas’s last name?”

“I’m not sure,” Helen thought a moment, “We got so used to calling him Father P. It was Mackillop.”

“We can double check.” Dan said. “I wonder if he’s still alive?”

“Wouldn’t know.” Helen said. “Like so many priests once they’re gone we rarely ever heard from them again.”

“So the McPherson’s were church goers?” Jennifer asked.

“When their Dad was gone, yes.” Helen crossed herself. “The children loved it too. They were one of the biggest families in the diocese. That was one of the reasons Joseph worked away so much. There was no way he could afford a family that size on any job he could get around here.”

“You didn’t go with them when they moved?” Dan asked.

“We talked about it but I was planning my own family.” Helen asked. 

“You were … in love him weren’t you?” Jennifer asked.

“How …” Helen paled & began to cry. “Yes. How did you know?”

“Something in the tone of your voice when you talked about planning your own family.” Jennifer explained. “I am the one with second-sight. Dan has first sight, I guess.”

“The RCMP were so sure there was something we were hiding. They thought it was that Diane was sleeping around to have so many children without Joseph being here. She had to show them, you know, calendars of when he was here & when the children were born. They were more interested in finding out about us than there were in finding David.”

“What do you think happened to David?” Dan asked.

“I haven’t given it much thought. Not even then. He was a good boy. Reliable, easy to get along with, helped look after his bothers & sisters. Not the brightest in school but not the worst either. He was crazy about Spiderman. Lots of the kids were. Average.” Helen said. “We were so sure he had just wandered off as children often do. I expected the Mounties would find him sleeping in the woods nearby.”

“Then I was so afraid she’d drowned. After a week or so I prayed that they’d find something. Even if was his body just so we would know. God forgive me,” she crossed herself, “for wishing a child dead.”

“Anything else come to you?” Dan asked.

“We never speculated on what became of him. Things were simpler then. Now with all these child predators I shudder to think what could have happened. I pray he’s in a better place.”

“Thank you for your time.” Dan shook hands with her.

The crew began to clear out their equipment.

“It is very difficult to revisit such heartbreak.” Jennifer said. “I’m sure you’re right. David is in a better place.”

“Oh Thank you. Thank you.” Helen embraced Jennifer and sobbed on her shoulder. “That’s what I’ve been wanting to hear all these years.”

Dan moved back from the scene and bumped into Cameron behind him. “Get that?” he asked.

“You bet. That’s a killer moment. Killer.”

They both stepped out of the house leaving Francie to finish the shoot.

“Cameron I’d have some things to discuss with Jennifer off camera. You can go back with the rest of the crew.”

“I don’t know Mr. James. My orders are to …”

“I’ll deal with Baxter.”

“You’re a braver man than most.” Cameron laughed as he turned his camera off. “Besides, my …. uh … battery is nearly dead anyway.”

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