Picture Perfect 38

Dan waited ten minutes for FairVista shuttle that dropped him off at the nearest subway station. One change, a streetcar ride and he was back at the Depot in less than an hour.

Maybe it was time to make the store completely independent of each other. The corporation originally only included the building and the Depot business. He’d have to check into that before the end of the business year so each could start a fresh in the new. 

The Depot was busy when he got there. They were having a night of quick sales. Fifty percent of certain items for only an hour. Different items every hour. Much like the trade-in sale, when customers felt they were saving big, they were willing to spend more than they intended. It was always rewarding to see the shelves empty and sometimes even to sell out on an item. The sort of sale that could never happen at FairVista. This sort of sale was considered déclassé at the high-end mall. The lease allowed for a Boxing Day sale with discounts of no more than 10%. Rather than give a discount his sister opted for a ‘we pay the tax’ special. Evading tax was in their millionaire clientele’s DNA.

An electronic bell sounded the time to change items. Some items had deliberately limited qualities that the display board would tick off as each was sold. 

Dan enjoyed the retail end of the business. Talking to people, slyly getting them to commit to more than they intended. He didn’t sell them extended service contacts, that he left to Ushio. Dan knew most people ever used them so he felt bad palming them off on them. If there was any repair work to be done it would fall to Ushio anyway.

The last sale bell went off at 10 p.m. This was the extra hour of savings where floor samples or slow products that had proved to be hard to sell ,but kept off the floor till now would be brought out. All offered at sixty per cent off. They’d lose a bit of money on some but that was always made up for by accessories like the perfect camera bag, or spare computer cable in case you lost the one that came with the camera.

His eyes began to ache by then and he was happy when the ten minute bell rang. If you hadn’t paid for your item by eleven you’d have to hope it showed up next year. They allowed an extra five minutes grace period.

Dan was setting the back security for The Depot by eleven-thirty. Bushed by the long day he wasn’t all that eager to go home to Sanjay. The rift in their relationship showed no sign of being healed over the past week. He half-hoped Sanjay wouldn’t be home.

“In a hurry?” A voice came from the nook behind him.

Dan spun around in a fighting stance. There had been more than one assault in that back lane.

“Who is it?”

A figure stepped into the light. It was Peter.

“Fuck, you trying to give me a heart attack?” Dan said.

“Sorry, sir.” Peter kept his eyes down. “I haven’t seen you at the Carafe the last couple of days.”

“I’ve been pretty busy. How is your Dad?”

“He’s well. I was afraid you were displeased with me, sir.”

“Save sir for the bedroom” Dan looked at the shadow on the nook. Was this a good time for catching some real action on the security camera. He glanced up at the camera. His eyes ached, his feet were tired from standing. No they’d do that another night.

“The Depot was super busy tonight.” Peter said.

“Too busy.” Dan rubbed around his eyebrows.

“I was afraid you were avoiding me at the Carafe. You’re usually in a couple of times a day.”

“Things got hectic.” He didn’t want to admit to Peter that he was right.

“Yes, Mr. James.” Peter stepped further into the light. “I … can I give you a lift, sailor?”

“Got room for this?” He lifted his bike briefly.

“We can find out.” Peter’s grin almost made Dan change his mind about getting nook footage. He had never posted himself on the V-Files.

With a little wrestle the bike fit into the back seat of the car. He was about to get in when a nearby parked car started and its headlight came on. Dan recognized it as it pulled up behind them and the passenger window wound down. The driver leaned out. It was Sanjay.

“I thought I’d come for you.” Sanjay said. “It looks like you are already been well taken care of.” Sanjay stopped the car and got out. “How are you tonight, Peter. It is Peter isn’t it?”

“Uh … yes.” Peter glanced from Dan to Sanjay. “But now that you are here you’ve saved me a trip.”

“Right.” Sanjay began to pull the bike out of Peter’s back seat. “My car is a better fit for this. We bought it with bikes in mind. Didn’t we, dear.”

“Cool,” Peter said.

Dan could see how bewildered Peter was. He was just as unsure of how to handle the situation.

“Thanks for the offer Peter.” Dan said.

“Any time Mr. James. At least any time I have my Dad’s car.” He got into his car and drove off.

“His Dad’s car.” Sanjay sniggered as he got back behind the wheel. “Sounds like a line out of some high school movie.”

“I suppose it does.” Dan got in the car. “But waiting outside in the dark to spy on what’s going on is out of an equally bad movie.”

“I was not spying. I had just pulled up and was waiting for you to come from the laneway with your bike when I saw Peter go back there. Is this were you usually meet your tricks?”

“I do not meet tricks period. Any where.”

“Yeah sure. With all the surveillance equipment ready for your next V-Files home movie. You do have quite a collection there. Mostly hetero though. That is a bit disappointing. I never suspected you might be bi. You aren’t bi are you?”

“Does it matter?”

“Not really. Here we are.” Sanjay pulled into their drive. “Home, not so sweet, home.”

They went into the house.

“I’m going to turn in.” Dan said.

“Any developments on the Quintex project?” Sanjay rubbed Dan’s shoulders.

“The proposal gets presented Monday morning to the Quintex people. If they like it, which is possible, then it’ll be a go.”

“Much of a time commitment?”

“You want to turn house into an air b’n’b while I’m out of town?” Dan joked.

“No. I’ve been so caught up in the restaurants I’ve lost track of what is going on in your half of our life.”

Dan moved away from Sanjay and sat on the couch to take off his shoes. He reached for the remote but changed his mind. He was too tired to relax in front of the TV. He pushed himself up front he couch and started up stairs.

“How long are we going to go on like this?” Sanjay stopped him at the bottom of the stairs. “We can’t live like miffed room mates like this for much longer. Avoiding each other in the morning.”

“If you aren’t here when I get up I can’t be avoiding you.”

“You know what I mean.”

“You not working up country this weekend?”

“I decided not to, not while we have things that have to be worked out.”

“Things like your buy in?”

“No!” Sanjay pulled Dan towards him.

“I’m tired. Really.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t have said that to your … what is he?”

“Your competition.” Dan laughed, as he shrugged out of Sanjay’s grip.

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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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