‘An Elemental Moment’ by B. B. Wright

An old crib dock

The image of this crib dock is courtesy of http://www.lescheneaux.org

 

“That’s where the crib dock used to be,” he said, pointing at the single, well-worn cedar post that reached upwards from a rock cluster on the shore. “Your great-grandfather made it with the help of his neighbours.”

His chair faced the large living-room picture window that overlooked the fresh waters of the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay, two hours north of Toronto. On the arm of his chair sat his 8 year old granddaughter, Emma, whose arm was draped across his shoulders.

When he looked up at her, he could tell by his granddaughter’s expression that she had no idea what he was talking about. “Do you see that photo album on the top shelf of the bookcase, Emma?” he asked, nodding to the right. “The one second from the left? Would you please get it for me? It contains a picture of what used to be there. It will help me explain what a crib dock is.”

Photo albums, tightly squeezed together and sequentially positioned according to year by a homemade insert in each binder’s spine, occupied the entire top shelf of the white, 3-shelf bookcase that ran half the length of the wall.

Emma tugged at the album several times before finally dislodging it. Wrapping her arms around the heavy binder she began to walk back when a number of photos held together by string fell onto the floor. “Ugh!”

Seeing her hesitation and understanding her dilemma, her grandfather stood up and walked over to her and picked up the package of photos. Squinting, his thumb gently brushed across the top photo. “That’s strange.”

“What’s strange, grandpa?” Emma asked, lifting her knee for the umpteenth time to help keep the binder in her grasp.

The tips of his fingers glided across the photo in silence before her question finally registered. “Eh?”

“Are you alright, Grandpa?”

“Uh-huh,” he acknowledged, still preoccupied with the photo. “It’s just that I… thought these were lost. Strange they would have been in there. I wonder…?”

The binder Emma was carrying crashed to the floor startling him.

“What the…Oh!…How thoughtless…I’m sorry, sweetheart…I should have…” Dropping to one knee, he wrapped his arms around her.

In part, he wanted to hide the tears that washed across his eyes but more importantly he needed to hold the single most important gift that encapsulated the daughter he once had.

“Silly old grandpa…silly me,” he whispered and only when he felt her begin to squirm under his hold did he finally let go.

Placing the package of photos on top of the binder, he stood up and returned to his seat.

Regaining her position on the arm of the chair, Emma wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him. “I love you, grandpa.”

“Me, too,” he replied, pressing her arm between his shoulder and face to hug her back, his eyes never leaving the packaged photos atop the binder on his lap.

Emma reached across him and picked up the photos. “Who’s the baby, grandpa? Is it me?”

Retrieving his reading glasses from the side-table he put them on and gently took the photos from her. “No, it’s not you, sweetheart. That’s your mom!”

“My mom?” she asked, incredulously.

Undoing the string, he gave her the photo so that she could scrutinize it more closely.

“Who’s the young man holding her?”

“That’s me, sweetheart,” he chortled.

She gave him an askance look before looking at the photo again. “Where was it taken, grandpa?”

“Here…that is to say, further down the shoreline.”

He put the album and the loose photos along with the string on the coffee table in front of him and invited her to sit on his lap.

“Your mom was almost two years old then and I remember I wasn’t in your grandma’s good books that night.” A smile creased the side of his mouth.

“Why?” she asked, snuggling up to him.

“It was a wild and rainy night and your grandma didn’t want me to take her out,” he chuckled. “I appeased your grandma by wrapping your mom in that blanket over there on the back of the couch.”

“So, who took the picture?”

He looked at her with a big smile and expressive eyes and waited for her answer.

“Grandma?”

Nodding, he said: “Uh-huh. You see, the sheer size and roar of the waves as they thundered ashore that night were the biggest I’d ever seen on Georgian Bay and I wanted your mom to experience it. I guess I must have made a pretty good case for it because your grandma relented and came along.”

He gently tweaked the end of her nose eliciting a giggle from her.

“The truth is that your grandma didn’t need much justification. She saw it as an opportunity to test her photographic skills. As you already know, she was a well known photographer in the area. Some of her work still hangs in the gallery in Meaford City Hall.”

Emma sat straight up on his lap: “Could we go see them tomorrow?”

“I don’t see why not.”

Letting out a satisfied sigh, she snuggled back down with the picture held close to her face. “Tell me more about that night, grandpa.”

“Well…together, the three of us laughed for pure joy when those thundering white capped waves threw great handfuls of froth at us. We could barely hear ourselves speak. I think we all shared the same spine-tingling thrill of the power of nature that night. Many years later, your mom told me that she looked upon that night as her first real adventure in life.”

“Can we do that some time, grandpa?”

“If you’re here and the timing’s right.”

“Phone me. Dad will drive me straight up. Please.” She pleaded.

Hesitating, he remembered her mom as an adult telling him how that night had taught her to accept the world’s elemental things and not to be afraid of the wind, the darkness and the roaring surf.

“That’s a long trip for your dad driving up from Toronto. But, if it’s okay with your dad.” And, he nodded.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a big kiss on his cheek.

For a moment they sat in silence until Emma turned over the photo. On the back was written: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world –R.F.

“Who wrote this grandpa?”

“From the handwriting, it was your mother. The initials R.F. tell me it was probably taken from something Robert Frost wrote, one of her favorite poets.

Subliminally, on that stormy autumn night when she was almost two, her mother had begun a journey to learn the lesson that we all must learn and that she had exhaustively tried to teach others. Namely, that we all play a part in the mysterious partnership within life’s complex cycle of events and knowing that made us responsible as part of its community to protect it. Though she had reached the highest levels within her field, she had found it the most difficult lesson to teach.

It’s funny, he thought, how when you’re dead people start listening.

“I wish I had known her,” Emma replied, sadly.

“Me too sweetheart…me too. Maybe this album and the others on the shelf will go a long way in helping you do just that.”

“I’d like to be a marine biologist just like her some day, grandpa?”

“Well then, we had better get started. Get your coat and boots on and let’s discover what lies along the shoreline.” He noticed her eyeing the binder and loose photos on the coffee table. “I haven’t forgotten. They too will be part of your adventure.”

 

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Seven

index

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow is written by B. B. Wright

Ethan said nothing for a long time. His back pressed against the kitchen counter, he scrutinized the three of them at the table as he crossed one foot over the other. Where the fuck do I begin? He had no idea whether Jeffrey and John had anything to do with that bullet that came through the living-room window earlier; but, he knew he had to establish an answer to that one quickly. As for Louise… well… he knew she knew more than she was letting on. The question was: “How the hell to get it out of her.” Working for two masters is a BITCH! He lamented. He bit his upper lip and let loose a long sigh. How close should I play my cards? Since he and Tom took on this assignment, he had gone from trusting some to trusting none. And now, he was looking at two people-Jeffrey and Louise-who use to be among the some. Too long in the fuckin’ sewers of this world, he thought.

“Ethan?” Jeffrey asked, a smile taking shape from the corner of his mouth. “Do you mind?” He nodded toward the entrance to the dining room. “Maybe I might come up with something,” he suggested with a slight shrug. Receiving only a cold stare and no answer he continued. “I knew Tom was working undercover. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago though that I learned he had also been working for CSIS.”

CSIS is the acronym for Canadian Security Intelligence Service. It was created by an Act of Parliament on June 21, 1984. Its headquarters is located in Ottawa, Ontario. CSIS works closely with the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. Though initially its emphasis was combating the activities of foreign intelligence agencies operating in Canada, it has broadened under the CSIS Act to include the worldwide collection of security intelligence related to threats to the security of Canada.

“Tom?” interjected Louise.

His head tilting slightly downwards, Jeffrey turned to Louise, took in a deep breath and nodded. “It was a big surprise to me too,” he replied softly.

“But…how would you even know that?” she retorted. “I sure didn’t! And, if there was anyone who should have known it would have been me. We never kept secrets from each other. NEVER!” She folded her arms tightly across her chest and looked away.

Biting on his upper lip, Jeffrey watched Ethan’s reaction to this exchange between Louise and him from the corner of his eye. “Louise, how do I answer you?  I…I thought you knew.”

“Hang on there for a moment, Jeffrey,” Ethan interjected, pointing the Glock at him. “How did you find out about his CSIS connection? Only a select few including me knew that. It was a closed group and I don’t recollect your name being on that list.”

“You forget that he reported directly to me,” Jeffrey retorted, thrusting out his lower jaw.

“But, only on matters that related to law enforcement. Not national security! So, again, I ask: “How did you find out about his CSIS connection?””

Louise’s jaw dropped. “National security? My Tom? Ethan…what are you talking about?”

Ethan ignored her query and kept his eyes fixed on Jeffrey.”Well?”

Looking at Louise and then John, Jeffrey shifted forward in his chair, folding his hands together on the table “Let me dig out that bullet in the wall first. If my hunch is right, that bullet should have a lot to tell us.” Seeing Ethan’s askance look he felt compelled to say more but decided to hold off and just wait for his reply.

Ethan rolled his tongue around the inside of the front of his mouth as he thought about Jeffrey’s request. “You and John must have brought cuffs with you. Right?” Jeffrey nodded. “Cuff them to the chair and slide both sets of keys across the table.” Once they were cuffed and he had the keys, he shifted to a better location to keep an eye on all three. “Now, you can go ahead and dig out that bullet.”

A few minutes later, Jeffrey was rolling the bullet back and forth in his palm. “Hmm!” he repeated several times as he continued to examine it. “Notice anything unusual about it, Ethan?” he asked, holding it up for him to see.

“You’ve got to be kidding? I’m suppose to see something from this distance?”

A wide grin formed on Jeffrey’s face: “Aren’t you CSIS boys the crème de la crème, the exceptional of the exceptional, the…”

“I get it smartass! No need to continue. Let’s have a look.”

Jeffrey dropped the bullet into Ethan’s hand and returned to his seat and sat down, stretching out his legs and crossing his arms.

For a few minutes Ethan said nothing as he scrutinized the bullet. “Well it’s definitely a 9 millimeter.

“And, what else do you notice?” Jeffrey asked.

“It’s both longer and heavier than I expected.”

“And?”

Ethan rolled the bullet between his thumb and forefinger as he looked at it more closely. “Well, I’ll be damned! It has a hardened steel penetrator as its core.” Jeffrey nodded his agreement. “Did either you or John hear the shot?” Seeing a blank stare from both Jeffrey and John he knew the answer was no. “Then they used a silencer.”

Jeffrey straightened up in his chair. “Whoever it was meant business. That bullet was designed to pierce military issue body armor.”

Ethan slid the keys to the cuffs across the table to Jeffrey. “Would you and John be up to checking if the sonofabitch who shot this left behind a cartridge.”

Jeffrey looked across to John as he un-cuffed Louise. “No, I don’t think that will be a problem. Do you have any idea within what perimeter we should scour?”

“Considering the weight of this bullet, I’d say no more than a 400 meters radius. When the trajectory is factored in, it will narrow it down to only a few locations. By the way, you still haven’t answered my question.”

“What question?” Jeffrey replied, over his back as he un-cuffed John.

“About how you knew that Tom had been working for CSIS?”

Jeffrey slowly turned to face Ethan. “Why don’t we leave that for later? Eh? Let’s find that cartridge. It may tell us about what kind’a weapon was used. Unless…Huh!…Unless you already know?”

“A Vinovka Snaiperskaja Spetsialnaya,” Ethan replied.

“Russian?” Louise interjected.

Ethan nodded: “VSS Sniper Rifle.”

“But how would you know that?” asked Jeffrey.

“I don’t. It’s just a guess. You know one of those playing the odds sort’a thing.” Ethan held off Jeffrey’s next question. “You’ll understand later. In the meantime, let’s try to find that cartridge.”

“If that’s the way it’s gotta be then that’s the way it’s gotta be. Later it is. Still…” Ethan’s cold stare stopped him dead and he decided to redirect his attention. Rubbing his hands together, he looked around the kitchen. “Is there any coffee? I could sure do with a cup right now. It looks like we’ve got a long night ahead of us.”

“I’ll make a fresh pot,” Louise piped in. She turned to Ethan with a scowling look. “I think you can put away that gun, don’t you think? And, once you’ve done that put the leftovers from supper in the oven to warm up while I get a coupla flashlights.” She saw Jeffrey eyeing the wine rack. “Are you sure you don’t want something stronger, Jeffrey?”

“Maybe once we find that cartridge. You know… to celebrate,” he chortled, winking at them and shaking his head. “In the meantime, your flashlights along with mine plus coffee to go should do the trick.”

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Five

Part Five Brown Envelope

My apologies to those of you who have been following this story. I had hoped to get it out sooner but I am presently undergoing radiation therapy for cancer and as a result my energy and concentration levels have not been up to par. If all goes well Part Six should be up by the end of the weekend. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Now, I introduce for your reading enjoyment  When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Five by me, B. B. Wright.

_______

Louise nibbled on a small piece of garlic bread as she watched Ethan clear the table and load the dishwasher. A pleasant enough dinner, she thought, but… uneventfulDefinitely not what I expected. Putting down her garlic bread, she picked up her half filled wine glass and, sitting back in her chair, she folded her arms across her chest.  “Ethan?”

“Uh-Huh.” Placing the last dish into the dishwasher, he picked up his wine glass from the counter in front of him and turned to face her. “I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far?”

“I have! Very much!  But…Ethan…I think you’re here for more than just feeding me a great meal and talking over old times. Huh?  What’s the real reason for your visit?”

Ethan bit on his lower lip and looked at her long and hard before finishing the wine in his glass. “I kind’a hoped we’d get through dessert before…we discussed that.”

Taking a sip from her glass, she smiled and, raising her eyebrows, replied: “Then, maybe we should have started with dessert.”

He breathed deeply and let it out slowly. “Maybe… we should have.”

Placing his empty wine glass on the table, he disappeared into the living room and returned a few seconds later with a large brown envelope tucked under his arm. Sitting in the chair opposite her, he placed the envelope beside him and offered to refresh her drink from the partially finished wine bottle in front of him.

She waved off the refill and, with haunting undertones, asked: “Is it that bad that I need a drink?”

He poured an ample portion of wine into his glass and slid the envelope toward her and began massaging his chin as he watched her reaction. “In a word…yes, I think it is.  I’m sorry, Louise, for what’s about to happen.”

“What’s ‘about to happen’? What is this?” Her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized his face looking for an easy answer. Seeing none, she abruptly sat back in her chair as if the envelope was a viper about to strike.

“It’s an autopsy report. To be more precise, it’s Tom’s autopsy report.”

Bug eyed, she retorted: “Tom’s?  Why? How? There was no autopsy report. I would have known.  He…died from complications due to his prostate cancer. No! Whatever you’re about to show must be a lie.” Tears swelled up in her eyes as she stood up and walked into the kitchen for a tissue. “Why are you doing this to me, Ethan? Maybe you should go. NOW!”

He wanted to comfort her but at that moment he knew it was best to keep his distance. Too many unpleasant questions had to be asked and if he hoped to crack open his investigation some of them had to be asked tonight.

“Louise…please…Come back. After you’ve read it, you’ll understand why I can’t just pick up and leave.”

Several moments passed in silence before Louise returned to the dining room with a box of tissues and sat down. Dabbing her eyes with a balled up tissue, she eyed the envelope that lay a short distance from her. Her hand crept across the table and her fingers touched its edge tentatively.

“Ethan, how did I not know there was an autopsy report?”

“It was arranged through CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) working with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).”

“What was Tom working on?”

“He had been working on some highly classified stuff before his death. I know that doesn’t answer your question but in time you’ll learn.”

“You’re one sonofabitch, Ethan. You know that, don’t you? Once I’ve read it, I want you out of here. DO YOU HEAR ME? OUT OF HERE!”  She pulled the envelope toward her and spilled its contents onto the table. Picking up the report, she had barely started to read it through her teary eyes when she looked up at Ethan quizzically. “What’s lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome?”

“It means that Tom was murdered,” he replied, dolefully.

“Murdered?” Slack-jawed, her mind agonized over what she had just heard and the questions she knew she had to ask; her eyes feverishly skirted the room looking for readymade answers only Ethan could supply. “Are you telling me he didn’t have cancer?”

“No…Louise, he had cancer. I’m telling you that…someone wanted him dead before he had a chance to talk to me. And, whether you know it or not, you may have the clue to who did it.”

“But…murder?”

“What twigged us into the possibility that Tom was murdered was the Alexander Litvinenko case a few years back. I don’t know if you remember it because it got scant coverage on our news.” She shook her head in the negative. “Well, he escaped persecution in Russia by obtaining asylum in the U.K. It turned out he had been working for British Intelligence, namely for both MI5 and MI6. Litvinenko wrote two highly controversial books accusing the Russian secret service of staging Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in order to set the stage for Vladimir Putin regaining power.

We were aware that Tom had prostate cancer, Louise, but we were also aware that it was not life threatening. Two weeks before he suddenly got sick, he alerted us that he had come across some highly sensitive material. Based on the symptoms exhibited in your doctor’s report and comparing it to Litvinenko’s death, the clandestine autopsy was ordered.” Feeling the tension gathering in his neck and shoulders, he stood up and stretched.

“Did you ever find out what the sensitive material was that Tom had discovered?”

“We went to his usual drop-off location with the hope of finding it there but came up empty. So, either someone else got to it or else Tom hid the information in a different location.”

“But Ethan, how would I have the clue to who killed Tom? Or to anything else? How?” Standing up, she began to pace back and forth. “I don’t understand. How could I possibly know such a thing?” She stopped and glared at him.

“Louise, no matter how I looked at it, unraveling this puzzle always came back to you.”

“Ethan, what are you saying?” She rounded the table and headed toward him.

“I’m saying…”

A bullet shattered the ceiling fan light in the living room on its way to its mark and within seconds the frame splintered at the bolt of the outside door to the kitchen sending the door smashing against the wall.

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Four

Country Home B

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow by B. B. Wright
Chapter Four

It was 3:20 in the morning when Louise switched on her night-table light and sat up in bed. Placing her pillow and the one beside her at her back, she picked up the novel “The Light Between Oceans” by M. L. Stedman from the table, leaned back and tried to read.

Disturbed by her movement, Pepper stood up, circled a couple of times before plopping down hard against her and resuming his sleep.

She struggled to finish the chapter she was reading but her mind kept drifting back to her conversation with Ethan the previous day. Inserting the bookmark, she closed the book and placed it on the table. Pepper was now snoring beside her. The running shoe he had retrieved from the rocks at the beach lay beside his head.

Though she and Ethan had spent three hours over lunch catching up on old times, she had been unable to elicit any information about what he knew about the case Tom had continued to work on shortly after he and Ethan had gone their separate ways.

Or did they go their separate ways? I never thought about that possibility until now, she mused.  “Hmm.” Tom became so distant then. Why?

Uncharacteristically, Tom never discussed anything related to his new position in 33 Division even when he returned home one day with a badly bruised cheek. Often, he would disappear for weeks at a time. “It’s police business,” he’d say. “So don’t fret, dear, it’s not another woman. But, I can tell you this. When this case breaks wide open there’s going to be a few high level heads rolling.” It was the only time she remembered him breaking his silence.

Louise recalled how thankful she had been that Sheila, Ethan’s wife, had continued to be friends. Sheila’s friendship had been a boon during Tom’s long absences. Not a day went by that the two of them hadn’t been out on some kind of an excursion whether to buy new clothes, attend live theatre in Toronto or Thursday morning breakfast at the nearby Tim Horton’s. Then, one day—a year later—it had all ended with a call from Sheila. The conversation on the phone had barely lasted twenty seconds. No explanation! Caput! Finished! Nothing!

Consternation and remorse still easily bubbled up in Louise whenever she thought about that day. Friends, she thought, don’t just pick up and disappear like that…unless… she really wasn’t a friend.

Begrudgingly, she had come to accept that for all of the time she and Tom had spent with Ethan and Sheila she had really never known them. A conclusion easily reached when she learned that Sheila had run off to Vancouver with Ethan’s new partner who became the head of the newly formed Drug Investigative Unit there.

She reflected: How does that John Lennon quote go? Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Her conversation with Ethan the other day about that time troubled her because he had treated the whole thing so nonchalantly. He had been unwilling to divulge so much as a modicum of information that might have shed some light on what had happened. When she had pressed him on it, his demeanor changed dramatically and he became quite defensive. So much so she had to quickly back off. Their conversation had remained strained for a time afterwards but by the time they parted any hint of it had clearly subsided. His reaction, though, continued to confuse her and—to her way of thinking—there was something that just didn’t add up. But, what it was, for the moment, eluded her.

She glanced over at Stedman’s novel on her side-table and let out a long, forlorn sigh. Tom was the name of one of the main characters in her book and she couldn’t help but feel that her life, similar to that of Isabel’s, Tom’s wife in that novel, was about to unravel. She wished she hadn’t agreed to have supper with Ethan this evening. But, curiosity had got the better of her. Unfortunately, she remembered what curiosity had done to the cat. What bothered her the most occurred when Ethan had admitted their meeting in the park had not been an accident. She wondered what was up his sleeve. Would he drop it on me during the main course or during dessert? She mused. She guessed dessert. Life’s short, eat dessert first, she thought with a smirk. For me, it’s the time of greatest flavour.

Easing herself out of bed so as not to disturb Pepper, she headed downstairs for a glass of milk and the last slice of chocolate cake from a bridge party she had hosted the previous week.

As she sat at the kitchen table looking at her reflection in the window, she wondered what it was that Ethan needed to show her and why he felt it was so important that it be shown in privacy. Picking up her fork she cut through the triple layered wedge of chocolate cake and savored the morceau in her mouth before downing it with a drink of milk.

She glanced at the wall clock. It was 4:30. Getting up, she walked over to the cordless phone and brought it back to the table along with her address book and sat down. After she finished the remainder of the cake and milk, she opened the address book, found the phone number she wanted, punched in the numbers on her phone and waited for the pickup at the other end. She didn’t have to wait long.

“This had better be good Louise,” said the gruff, groggy voice of Jeffrey Deaver, the recently retired Captain of 33 Division, who picked up on the first ring. “You know what time it is?”

Louise smiled: “Of course I know what time it is.” She quickly discerned she was talking to empty air.

“Good! You didn’t wake up Meredith! Now what’s up?”

“I bet you were snacking in the kitchen like me. Old habits don’t die easily even in retirement,” she sniggered. “How’s that wife of yours handling you being underfoot?”

“Meredith’s doing just fine. But, why don’t you just cut to the chase and tell me why you called.”

“Do you remember Ethan Cranston?” She shifted the telephone to her other ear and stood up and walked into the living room. “Your silence is deafening Jeff.”

“Yeah… I remember him. So?”

“He’s in Meaford and it’s no accident.”

“Fuck!” He mumbled under his breath. “He’s always been a lose cannon. And Tom knew that especially…”

“My sentiments too, but you have such a poetic way of saying it.” She opened the candy dish and popped a chocolate in her mouth and sat down on the couch. “What were you about to say?”

“Nothing, nothing important. Did he tell you why he’s there?”

“He says he’s investigating a murder, if that’s what you’re asking?”  She turned on the table lamp when Pepper came down the stairs and jumped onto the couch and settled in the corner opposite her.

“Hmm… Did he say what murder?”

“I guess I’ll find out this evening.” Patting her side, she looked over at Pepper to invite him to snuggle against her which he readily acceded to.

“This evening?” Jeffrey queried with more than a hint of astonishment in his tone.

“Uh-Huh. He’s coming here for supper. Even bringing it,” she replied smugly as she ran her hand softly along the top of Pepper’s head and down his back. “By the way, how’s retirement?”

“Okay…I guess.”

“Just okay? What the hell does that mean?”

“I’m going to bed,” he retorted.

“Wait! Help me out here. Ethan hanging out here has opened old wounds. Whatever happened between him and Tom?” Silence greeted her ears. “Nothing? You’re saying nothing?”

“Are you okay with inviting me to supper?”

“It depends.”

“Just say yes or no.”

“Yes,” she replied, unable to hide a tinge of reluctance.

“What time?

“Six.”

“You’d better tell him to bring lots because I’m bringing Meredith, too.”

 

 

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Three

Tudor PubWhen Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow by B. B. Wright

Chapter Three

Louise strained her eyes to identify the man who was trying to help Pepper but came up empty handed.

    _____

Gregarious people, Louise and her late husband, Tom, were easily assimilated into the community and, as a result, quickly became either fast friends or familiar with most whom quite rightly so called themselves permanent residents.

Staunch in their cohesiveness as a community, they learned to endure the onslaughts from the city as nothing more than pesky insects defining a season.

 _____

“Hey Pepper! What are you doing? Get over here,” she commanded, pointing down to her side. That’s not like him not to come, she thought, as she marched toward him.

The man who had been helping Pepper began to walk toward her. His toque was pulled down tightly over his ears and his high-back collar partly obscured his face. He smiled at her as he approached and slowed down, tipping his head in her direction as he passed. “Cute dog you’ve got there.”

She smiled and nodded back. He seems familiar, she thought.  “If you think disobedience is cute,” she chuckled, pointing in the direction of Pepper who stayed his distance while playing with the running shoe he had retrieved from between the rocks.

“What can I say?” he replied, laughing. “He’s got the curiosity of a perpetual two year old. But, he’s still cute.” And, he began to pick up his pace.

“Ethan? Is that you?”

Stopping, he turned and slowly walked back toward her with a wide grin on his face.

Pepper dropped a soaked and muddied running shoe at her feet and attempted to get her attention.

“Shss.”  And, she kicked the shoe away. “My god, Ethan! Is it really you? This is the last place on the face of the earth I’d expect to meet you. Take off that silly toque and let me have a good look at you.”

About to remove it, he hesitated. “Why don’t I keep it on until we find warmer surroundings?”

“Then I’d recommend the Boar Inn.”

When Pepper returned with the shoe in his mouth she bent down and grabbed him by the collar and hooked on the leash. Unable to dislodge the shoe from between his teeth she gave up and, placing her arm under Ethan’s, the  two of them toddled off toward the Inn with Pepper leading the way.

“You know, you look pretty good for an old fart,” she said teasingly.

“Thanks,” he chortled, patting his stomach. “I’ve put on a few pounds there

since the old beat.”

“Tell me something. Would you have just kept on going if I hadn’t called out?”

“Louise…I know you’re still grieving over Tom. Timing…well…I didn’t want to intrude until…”

“Oh, Ethan! “  Why would you even think that?” She gave his arm a squeeze. “You and Tom were so close.”

“Yes…at one time we were. But, if you remember, he and I didn’t part under the greatest of circumstances.”

They crossed the street in silence and stopped outside the pub’s entrance.

“Ethan, all I knew back then was that you two were no longer partners. He never spoke about it…at least not to me. I’ve never held any rancor toward you.”

“Louise, I know that.” He sighed deeply. “Look, he was sworn to secrecy. Just like me. Few people knew. That’s the way the department wanted it played out.”

“Wanted what played out?”

“Let’s get in out of the cold,” he replied, opening the door. “Should we tie him outside?”

A smirk formed at the side of her mouth. “No…Pepper’s a regular like me. Anyway, he’s got a special in with the owner.”

A few minutes later they were sitting in a booth with hot coffees between them. Lying on the floor beside the table was Pepper with the running shoe tucked between his paws.

“It’s as plain as the nose on your face that you don’t want to talk about what went on back then between you and Tom. I’ll buy that for the moment.  But, can you at least tell me why you showed up here after all these years?”

Ethan blew across his coffee and took a sip before answering.  “I’m here investigating a murder.”

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter Two

Meaford Shorline AWhen Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow by B. B. Wright

Chapter Two

As the morning dragged on, the rain finally stopped and the sky began to clear up.

Placing Pepper on the floor she said: “Well little friend, if we’re going for a walk I’d better wash up and put on warmer clothes.”

Pepper playfully zigzagged in and out around Louise, occasionally leaping up at her, while she pretended to try to catch him. This continued for several minutes until he bounded up the stairs barking and, at the top, he  turned and looked down at her panting.  She could have sworn he was smiling at her but before she could blink twice Pepper’s wagging tail disappeared around the corner, heading toward her bedroom.

As she ascended the stairs, the sun burst through the clouds transforming the bathroom at the top from a solemn grey to a blinding glow of hopeful possibilities. And, she smiled.

Louise was glad she wore her ankle-length black Spanish Merino coat as she walked along the pebbly beach at Macleod Park, roughly ten minutes from where she lived. The sporadic sunshine had brought a handful of people to the park but most, she surmised, were discouraged by the cold north wind blowing off Georgian Bay.

She pulled the long hair Tuscany collar, that doubled as a hood, over her head and watched Pepper running up ahead, sniffing this and that as he went along.  Normally, she would have had Pepper on a leash but, with so few people in the park today, she thought it would be alright to let him run free. Anyway, he never ran too far ahead and often scurried back with some prize he had gathered to lay at her feet. Occasionally, she’d gather up this newfound toy and play fetch and retrieve with him though, more often than not, she deflected his attention elsewhere while she discarded it.

She was glad that she had decided to wear her woolen mittens as the cold wind nipped at her cheeks. Picking up a flat stone from the beach she tried to skip it in the rough water but was unsuccessful. Undeterred, she tried several more times until one stone completed a triple skip and she giggled like a young girl. Looking around for Pepper, she found him further along the shoreline than usual, pulling at something between two large rocks at the water’s edge.

_____

The Town of Meaford began to change about ten years ago. Whether it had changed for the better or worse was open to debate. The local bakery coexisted with Tim Horton’s—contrary to what was expected—and the local tax base was sizably increased from the influx of people from the Greater Toronto Area hungry for lands on which to build their dream homes. Many who came, came only for a chance of respite and an opportunity to play in at least one of the four seasons. This would have been all fine and nice if these outsiders had been willing to leave well enough alone. But, when the smell of money to be had reeked across the landscape, the tenor of country living—though kicking and screaming—was corralled in and redesigned to give a contrastingly new meaning to what was meant by country living. It was now defined along more narrow lines that emphasized the self-centered blindness of entitlement. This philosophical shift irked the locals as they resented to their core these city dwellers who bullied their way into their lifescape. Real-estate once enjoyed by all—especially along the shoreline—became prime real-estate and was gobbled up overnight, only to be traded the next day for a hefty price-tag. Three new high-rise condominiums had been completed along the shore-line last spring so that there were now five: two at one end of the park and three at the other. The number of upscale shops along Sykes Street running parallel to the park had tripled. Closed between seasons, these shops mainly catered to seasonal dwellers and tourists while the locals stayed with the familiar to support their friends, their family and their way of life. They were begrudgingly coming round to tolerate that that unwelcomed change was part of life’s twists and turns that entailed familiar faces disappearing and strangers arriving in their place.

At the corner of Sykes and Lombard was a century old Tudor-style building, the Boar Inn and Pub where the  locals—mainly the fifty plus group—came for a few pints, a game of darts, a good chin-wag and sing-along, and plain good food, usually British fare. The younger group on Friday and Saturday nights wouldn’t be caught dead there and willingly drove the forty minutes along the coast to the joie de vivre atmosphere of the town of Collingwood to celebrate the weekend at the Admiral’s Post Pub, Lounge 26 and the Copper Blues.

_____

“Where is that dog?” she grumbled under her breath as she looked around for him. “Pepper!”

At the far end of the shoreline, Pepper was busily trying to pull some sort of object out from between the rocks with the help of a man.

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow: Chapter One

Georgian Bay One

When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow by B. B. Wright.
Chapter One

Heavy rain, common to November, had pelted the Meaford area for the previous twenty-four hours and, now, was nothing more than a drizzle. Located two hours north of Toronto on the shores of the fresh waters of Georgian Bay, the area awaited the arrival of winter and the influx of skiers and winter enthusiasts.

Louise Kedry’s long, reddish hair cascaded over the comforter as she pulled it up around her shoulders and under her chin. She wore soft brushed polyester blue pajamas bought for her by her late husband, Tom. Snuggling down to keep out the damp morning chill, she chided herself for not programming the thermostat to come on earlier.

On weekends, Tom had always brought her breakfast in bed: a tray of hot tea and warm buttered toast with strawberry jam, her favorite. He would sit on the side of the bed drinking his coffee while they rehashed the week and planned that day’s activities.

Her eyes welled up with tears that coursed a path across her flushed cheeks. She missed his playfulness and how he’d blame their dog Pepper for stealing a slice of toast from her plate.

An impish smile creased her girlish face as she pulled a couple of tissues from the box beside her and dried her tears.

A black terripoo, pressing against her, stirred restlessly as it jockeyed about for a comfortable spot. Finally, giving up, he jumped off the bed and ran to the bedroom door and scratched frantically at it.

“Ok! Ok! I’m getting up Pepper,” she said, disgruntled by the thought of leaving her warm bed.

By the time Louise’s feet hit the cold wooden floors searching for her Haflinger wool slippers, Pepper had nosed open the door and headed downstairs.

She watched Pepper through the window in the kitchen door rooting about to find the best place to do his business. He seemed so undeterred by the inclement weather and she envied him.  Forcing her hands into the side-seamed pockets of her blue, full snap-front robe, her shoulders crunched inwards to a sudden chill.  A burst of warm air from the vent she stood beside travelled up her leg and she moved closer to it.

By the time the whistle on the kettle heralded, Pepper was back in the house shaking off the rain drops and looking for something to eat.

Gently, she blew across the surface of her tea to cool it down while watching Pepper chow down. She welcomed the warm, moist steam on her face and the heat of the cup that she cradled in her hands and hoped Pepper wouldn’t pester her too much for his ritual walk. The radio in the background informed her that the rain would stop late morning and that it would be a cold but partly sunny day. Winds off Georgian Bay, biting this time of year, made her shudder even more when she thought of the possibility of a walk before the warming effect of the sun had managed to burst free from its prison behind the clouds.

She missed the company of her two sons and their families but she had come to accept that their busy lives pressed them back to their world. Though they had only left yesterday, it seemed an eternity ago.

Unnoticed by her, Pepper had finished his meal, slurped down some water, and made his way over to her, leaving a trail of water droplets behind him from his soggy beard. Still ignored, he pawed roughly at her leg.

Placing her cup on the table, Louise patted her lap to encourage him to jump up onto it. At first, she regretted her invitation because his wet face, licking tongue, and affectionate energy were overpowering, and she tried to push him away. But, once he settled down on her lap, she patted him, and her mood became warm and loving and she could accept his gestures of affection.

She remembered when Tom had first brought her to meet the litter of puppies and the only black terripoo among them he had already named Pepper. It had been obvious to her right from the start that Pepper and he had chosen each other and how much that relationship had brought out the little kid in Tom again. Pepper was his first dog. Her eyes bubbled up again with tears and she dabbed them with a well used tissue, retrieved from her pocket.

When Tom was dying of cancer, Pepper never left his side. They were inseparable. Pepper, a quiet dog except for the usual warning barks when strangers came onto the property, had become unusually restless during Tom’s final hours. When he died, Pepper’s prolonged forlorn howling sent a soul chilling dagger through the night.

Louise cradled Pepper closer, hugging and kissing his head. She knew she was silly to think it—it was just her imagination—but, she could have sworn that she felt Tom’s presence. And, she held Pepper even closer.

To be continued