Picture Perfect 39

Picture Part 2

Picture Perfect 39

Balancing his luggage Dan held his point and click camera to his eye and took a couple of pictures of the cabin door. The door opened slowly to the electronic key with an audible creak. Inside Dan put his suitcase down to shut it. The door wasn’t cooperating. He slung off his shoulder bag and put it on the bed and went back to the door. He had to lift it slightly by the knob to fit it into the door frame.

Just what he needed, another sign that things weren’t going to go so smooth. At least he was here in New Brunswick as the Waterside Motel. He opened his shoulder bag and took out the production schedule for the five weeks of the shoot. Places, distances, dates, times, drivers, motels, b’n’b’s, with no time-out between each. He was glad he’d had his breaks included in the contract.

Baxter talked big money but spent small. At least Dan wasn’t saddled with booking his own motels. If he was, they would have been half-a-star better. He was only here for two nights so he didn’t even bother unpacking more than his interview drag. Those sport coats couldn’t show a wrinkle for the HD camera. The pale blue shirt would need to ironed. That wasn’t in his contract.

He put his camera on the bedside table. He got his laptop out of his shoulder bag. Swallowed the last gulp of orange juice in his travel mug. At least this place had wifi. He turned on the laptop and while it was starting, found the outlet to to plug it in. He had to choose: did he want the TV or the laptop plugged in? At least there was a desk to put it on, too bad it faced the wall, while the TV merely blocked half the window.

The motel splash page came up first. There was free wifi but if he wanted higher speeds he would have to pay more for it. It would be charged to his room. As Quintex was paying for that, he opted for the highest speed.

There was a knock at his door. “You decent?”

It was Baxter himself. Dan pulled the door open. “Come in. I was just getting started.” He gestured to his laptop.

“Utilitarian,” Baxter glanced around the room. He breathed deeply. “Stuffy. Damp.”

“Lives up its name – Waterside Motel.”

“There’s a difference between being water side and being in the water.” Baxter brushed the quilt before sitting on the bed. “You ready for tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Interview is with the Forestier’s. I’ve read the background stuff. They have some photos I’ve never seen before. I’ll look at them to see what I might see in them. I have the set of questions your researcher has provided. Plus a few of my own. It’ll take more than a hour to get through them all you know.”

“No problem as long as you stick to them. We have to …”

He was interrupted by a loud knocking at the door.

“You order a pizza?” Baxter asked.

Dan stepped to the door when it was shoved open.

Two RCMP officers strode in.

“Daniel James?” A thick set, tall female glared at him. 

“Yes. What can I do for you Corporal?” Dan recognized her rank patch.

The other officer reached for the laptop. “Couldn’t wait for the filth, eh.” He muttered squinting at Dan then Baxter.

“John!” She silenced him. “I’ll do the talking.”

“What’s this about?” Baxter stood.

With all of them standing there wasn’t much space left for them to move in the tiny room. She handed Baxter a piece of paper. “I’m Corporal Coster. This is Sergeant Tyler. From the local RCMP detachment. We have a warrant to search the premises and to seize all electronic devices on a charge of attempting to purvey child pornography.”

“What!” Dan said.

“You heard her, asshole.” The male office nudged Dan out of his way as he left the cabin with the laptop. “I’ll take this out to Sergeant Palmer.”

“Then you’ll be impounding the truck, too?” Baxter asked.

“Truck?” she asked.

“Yeah the remote studio we brought with us.”

“Studio.” The male officer exploded. “You ….”

“There must be some confusion,” Dan said. He took out his wallet and flipped it open to his RCMP consultant badge.

Coster looked at the badge carefully. 

“We have a report that members of a child pornography ring were setting up shop here.” She said.

“Where did you get this report from?” Dan asked.

“I’m not at liberty to divulge that.” She handed him back his wallet. “We’ll be taking that.” She nodded to his cell phone. “What?” Baxter said. “We start filming tomorrow.”

“Not our problem.” The male officer said. “We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“You can’t …”

“Read the warrant,” Coster cut Baxter off. “We can and we will and we have.”

“There must be some misunderstanding.” Baxter said reaching to stop her.

“Don’t.” Dan pulled him back. “Corporal … ”

“Listen,” she turned to face Dan. “I don’t care who you know or what you think will impress me.” She gave him back his wallet.

Dan’s cellphone rang.

“Hello,” The male officer answered it. “I’m sorry he can’t speak to you right now. … No! I won’t take a message …” He turned the phone off. It rang again. A different ring. Dan recognized it as Sanjay’s ring.

“Popular man.” The male officer said. “I guess your buyers network knew when you’d be getting here.”

“Of course people knew when we’d be getting here.” Baxter said. “I can give you a list starting with my pre-production manager who will be calling to confirm locations for tomorrow. We’re from Quintex Studios.” He attempted to hand his business card to the Sergeant. “Surely you’ve heard of us?”

“Look,” Coster glared at him. “Your cover story has been blown already. Just because we’re small town doesn’t mean we are stupid.”

“There’s a difference between being stupid and being wrong.” Dan said. “But finding out how wrong you are is up to you.”

The room phone began to ring.  Dan automatically reached to answer it. The male officer grabbed it up before Dan could get to it.

“Hello. Hello. They hung up.”

Dan read through the warrant. “You only have access to my laptop not my cellphone. And certainly not Mr. Baxter’s. The truck is also off limits. Not mentioned here.”

“It’s good for all electronic recording devices.” She said.

“That’s not what it says.” He read aloud the section that set out the perimeters of the warrant. “That’s pretty clear. Only the laptop in this cabin is liable for seizure. I’ll have my cellphone back, please.”

Reluctantly she gave it back to him. 

“Sergeant check the bathroom.” She said to Tyler. “That is listed is it not?” she said to Dan.

“Right. The premises is your. The laptop is yours to search. The warrant doesn’t even extend to my luggage.”

“Okay. So you know about search warrants.” She said.

“Who is the division captain?” Dan asked.

“Brian McKillop.” Coster said.

“Look, you can’t do this,” Baxter said. “We’ve been planning this for months now. I have all the permits, waivers from the families, you know, real documentation, not some trumped up goose chase …”

While Baxter was talking, Dan sent a text to Warszawa with McKillop’s name a question mark and a 411, a code for ‘contact this guy’.

“It was there.” Sergeant Tyler came out of the bathroom with a spindle of dvd’s. “They were in the ceiling where we were informed they’d be.”

“Shouldn’t you be wearing gloves Sergeant Tyler,” Dan said. “You’ve already contaminated the evidence.”

“I’ll contaminate you, you fucking perv.” Tyler pushed his face close to Dan’s. “You make me sick.”

“How did that get there!” Baxter exclaimed looking at Dan.

“Don’t ask me. I had barely opened the door when you came in, then these guys were right on your heels. Right?”

“You bet.” Tyler said.

“The tip told us your accomplices were here earlier in the week to leave this for you for pick up.”

“So, I guess you’ve checked to see who has rented this room recently?” Dan asked.

“Not yet.”

“Get back to me when you’ve done all your homework then.”

“Let’s check out this guy’s cabin.” Tyler said.

“Better get a warrant for that,” Dan said. “Yours only covers my laptop. It said nothing about other rooms. But we’ll let that pass, for now.”

Another officer came into the cabin with Dan’s laptop. 

“It’s clean.” He put the laptop back on the desk.

“Clean? Are you sure Palmer?” Tyler said. “He must have a flash drive somewhere.”

“You can search where you want Corporal.” Dan dumped the contents of his shoulder bag on the bed.

“They cannot,” Baxter exploded. “They …”

“Listen Baxter,” Dan said. “Why don’t you go back to your cabin and let me deal with this. There’s nothing …”

“You call these nothing?” Tyler shook the dvd’s at him.

“I’ll take those.” Sergeant Palmer took the container out of Tyler’s hand. “His laptop doesn’t have a dvd drive.”

Baxter laughed nervously. “What the fuck. I guess you’re right Dan, I’ll let you handle this.” He started to leave the cabin.

“Hold on.” Tyler followed him. “What’s this truck you were talking about.”

“In the parking lot.” Baxter said. “You can’t miss it.”

Tyler pushed past him and left the cabin. Baxter went after him. “Call me later.”

“Do you have any idea of what’s going on here?” Corporal asked.

“I don’t know.” Dan said. “I got off an airplane less than two hours ago.”

“Who knew you were coming here?”

“According to Baxter, millions of people.”

“Millions?”

“The reality show we’re making has been promoted on the History network for at least a month. Plus cross promo.”

“The one about the missing children?” she rubbed the back of her neck.

“Yep. I am that Daniel James.” He reached out to shake her hand.

“Christ, I never put that together. I’ll ask that again. Who knew you’d be here? Here at the Waterside?”

“Good question.” Dan had been too caught up in what was going on to wonder why it was going on. “I didn’t know what motel we’d be using until I got the plane in Toronto this afternoon. I didn’t even have time to tell my office manager or even Sanjay.”

“Sanjay.”

“My … lover.”

“Right. So only the production people would have known.” She asked. “Why would someone want to do something like this?”

“Someone who doesn’t want the show to go on.”

Sergeant Palmer came back into the room. “I did a quick look at random dvd’s and there is adult material on some of them – but as far as I saw no children were involved.”

“That fucking queer made a pass at me!” Sergeant Tyler stormed back into the room. 

“What?” Sergeant Palmer said.

“Yeah! He said I look good in a uniform and he was sure I would look better out of it.” 

The Corporal covered her mouth as she began to laugh. “Tyler! Tyler! What am I going to do with you.”

“What are we going to do with these pervs?” Tyler made a fist. 

“Nothing for now. It seems we have been misled. But …” she became serious. “Mr. James we will be keeping an eye on all this. I can tell when something isn’t right.”

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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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The Haunting 

Today horror is equated with gore and photogenic stumps interacting with CGI. If the ‘entity’ isn’t shown readers, viewers are disappointed. This resulted in endless bad creature costumes (how hilarious is Mothra as a creature). All too often the ‘entity’ was more important than the actual story & dialogue. In so many horror films all that changed were the actors & the entity. The story & dialogue were basically the same.

A fact I didn’t realize until I was an adult. Some of those films, books, hold up, others well, haven’t dated so well. The original Frankenstein film hasn’t been improved upon with better effects, better monster make up. None of text have added any real depth to the film. The actual Shelly novel is as much a philosophical treatise as it is a thriller. The creature is more intellectual than allowed in most of the film variations.

I recently watched The Haunting – based on Shirley Jackson novel. I have seen this film several time but each time I see different elements. Also I watched it with a friend who has never seen it before. I also should add that I have read the novel more than once, read other work by Jackson & back in 1991 I directed a stage version – so I am familiar with it.

Horror, the supernatural, & to a degree gore, have been inspirations for me since I was a child. Having a cemetery, managed by my father, as a playground growing up certainly added to that interest. Oddly I never did become a goth. But I certainly loved monsters the Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula – these were the supernatural creatures. Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them, Godzilla – where environmental monsters thanks to toxic chemical, nuclear radiation.

The horror of The Haunting maybe man made: something that manifests from our personal inner turmoil, or from another’s inner turmoil seeking revenge, release, completion or to teach us a lesson as in A Christmas Carol. The Haunting sets the bar high & very few films have succeeded as it has. Jackson’s novel sketches in vague scientific speculation but leaves the rest up to us.

Later versions of movie parapsychology have added more equipment, better fx but no increase in the spook factor. I also find even Jackson relies too much on psychology to semi-explain things. Eleanor arrives already emotionally unbalance. The ambiguity of whether she looses touch with reality or has intact been absorbed by the spirits of the house is the spooky thrust of the story.

Without this film & this novel, we’d wouldn’t have an endless parade of novels about parapsychological investigators suffering for their research, or an endless parade of reality TV shows about parapsychologic investigators with bad hand-held cameras, whispering ‘did you hear that?’ in night vision lighting.
I would highly recommend both seeing the original The Haunting & reading Jackson’s novel ‘The Haunting Of Hill House.’ They complement each other. They also show how eerie chills can be created without monsters, cgi or dismemberment.

Maple Ridge Road

people told us

the abandoned Macintosh mansion

at the end of Maple Ridge Road

was haunted

but we didn’t believe them

so on the last full moon of October

Davey, Martin and me

we snuck into the house

and were never seen again

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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