Gabriel Nash stood next to his rental car, parked on the narrow shoulder of the almost-as-narrow country road, and looked thoughtfully at the view. There was a rundown farmhouse perched at the top of a rutted drive and behind it was a craggy hill covered in scrub brush. To the side was the ocean shore, and the whole area had the perfect weather-beaten look he wanted. He'd known Nova Scotia would have exactly the look the producers wanted for this film.
Even in the sunshine it looked a bit desolate, and it was definitely remote in appearance, even though there were more farmhouses less than a mile away. Those houses were in better repair, but this was the one he wanted. The wide, sweeping field built on a rocky slope, the backdrop of the water that was dark and forbidding. It was perfect for the movie, the geography exactly conveying the feeling of hard work and scraping out a meager existence. The house had to be a hundred years old, so that would work for the movie too, set in the late 1960s.
Now all Gabriel had to do was get the owner to cooperate and allow them to film on his or her land.
Gabriel looked at his watch and figured that just past noon was as good a time as any to start the negotiations. Step one was easy enough: just go up and ask, plant the seeds. Leave some information about what the film crew would need and what the landowner could expect if everyone agreed. He'd let the idea sink in a bit and then come back. Gabriel had learned very early in his career as a location scout never to press for an answer right away.
Getting back in his car, Gabriel finished the cold cup of coffee in the Styrofoam cup and started the car. As he drove up the lane he felt the car bottom out twice and made a mental note to rent a truck for the next day, or maybe an SUV. The lane wasn't exactly city driving.
Next to the house, he could see an old pickup truck, just as weather-beaten as the house and the trees. The truck had rust and didn't look like it moved much. He parked beside it and waited a moment, wondering if there was anyone home.
A big dog rounded the corner of the house, loping toward him. It was a golden retriever, coat a washed out strawberry blond, tongue lolling out. The dog stopped next to the driver's side of his car and sat, barking once and watching him.
Gabriel looked at the dog for a long moment. "Well," he said, cautiously opening the door. "I guess you don't want to eat me. Or you're smart enough to know you can't get at me through a car door." He held out a hand slowly for the dog to sniff and waited, knowing that just ignoring the animal was plain stupid.
The dog sniffed his hand and then took off toward the house again, barking a few times. Gabriel figured that had to bring someone out so he waited a bit as the dog disappeared around the back of the house, but the place stayed quiet and still.
"Huh. Okay, then." He got out of the car and started walking to the nearest door, looking around. The view back down to the road was good, too, and the ocean was even better from up at the house. He'd have to get a look from air as well, but he wouldn't do that until he'd at least talked to the owner.
Though he walked quietly, Gabriel couldn't hear anything from inside the house. A screen door hung open on the porch, so he stepped to it and knocked firmly on the wooden inner door, moving back to give a person space. It didn't make a good impression to just walk right in. As he waited, he looked out at the ocean again, marveling at how gray the water looked despite the sun glinting off the surface.
There was no answer, but the dog came back around the front of the house and barked at him again, that lolling tongue making the beast look like he was laughing. The dog barked once more and then lay down on the porch.
"You're no help at all," Gabriel told the dog. "But I do appreciate that you're friendly. What's your name?" He looked at the dog as he knocked again, then bent down to pet the Retriever, his eyes narrowing as the shore wind picked up a bit, bringing the scent of salt water and marine decay. "This place is perfect," he told the dog, scratching one floppy ear.
The dog woofed half-heartedly and rolled, offering him the pale belly. What a sap.
Gabriel laughed softly and rubbed the belly hard. "You're a good boy, aren't you? Yeah, a good boy. Too bad you're alone here; I really wanted to talk with your person. Don't suppose you can tell me where your person is, can you?"
The dog woofed at him again, and then suddenly leapt to his feet, shaking all over and barked once, looking expectantly at the door. The door finally opened, revealing someone Gabriel could only describe as 'a character.' The guy was tall and skinny, had a couple day's growth on his face, and long shaggy brown hair. Hazel eyes blinked at him.
Gabriel couldn't tell how old the guy was but he couldn't be thirty, and he looked really surprised to see Gabriel on his porch.
The dog went right over to him, and one long-fingered hand dropped to the dog's head. The fingers were blotched with yellow and green, as was the white T-shirt. The jeans had multicolored splotches.
"Hi, there," Gabriel said, using his very best friendly smile. "I hope I didn't disturb you. That's a pretty great dog you have." Start with a compliment, then move on to names. It was a plan and it hadn't failed him yet, aside from that one time in Nashville. That had been pretty ugly.
The guy grinned, scratching the dog's head. "Well, he didn't eat you, so you must be okay."