Massey Hall 1971 by B. B. Wright

Massey Hall Doors TorontoMassey Hall 1971

A Short Story


B. B. Wright

“It’s not like them,” I said, perturbed by their tardiness. I sank into my jacket like a tortoise into its shell. “It’s so freaking cold my face feels like one huge boil.”

“Huh?” Mark replied, embracing himself and flapping his hands against his shoulders and stamping his feet to keep warm.

I shook my head and turned away. “Ah…forget it.”

“You should have dressed warmer,” he retorted, restlessly surveying the mass of people who filtered through the Massey Hall doors opposite us on Shuter Street. “Anyway, whose smart idea was it not to pick up our tickets when we had a chance?”

My mouth swung open about to propel words I knew I would regret but I thought better of it. Quietly I counted to ten. And, then, took in a few deep breaths. Slowly, I bit off my next words through my snout encrusted moustache. “We did, Mark.”

Somewhat flummoxed by what I had just said, his eyes shifted upwards as he massaged his chin in a thoughtful pose. “Uh-huh! I guess you’re right. Well, kinda right. But, only because you convinced me.”

“I con con-vinced you?” If I could have wiped off his silly smug expression right then and there I would have done it, but I was too damn cold. “Con-vinced you! How?” My enunciation was somewhat hampered by a mouthful of chattering teeth.

“Jeanne,” he blurted out.


“Oooo mysterious benefactor,” he replied, air quoting his remark with his fingers. “If I’m recollecting correctly, it had something or other to do with her dad knowing someone and obtaining free tickets.” His right eyebrow shot up. “So who was it? Someone he knew at The Telegram?” He drew closer and peered down at me. “She does have them? Her father did get them? We’re not standing here on a maybe? Are we?”

“No.” I insisted. “She’s got them.” I could feel the seams in my jacket pockets begin to give way as I forced my hands in further.

He thrust his wrist watch in front of my face. “She’s half an hour late. The concert begins in less than ten minutes.”

“I know. I know. Get your arm out of my face,” I demanded, pushing it away.

I, too, was concerned but more for selfish reasons than for their safety and wellbeing. I should have felt a twinge or even a prick of guilt but I didn’t. The forlorn expression on Mark’s face mirrored how I felt at that moment. Tonight was a big deal. Neil Young was doing a live performance. It was being recorded for his upcoming album. And, here we were. Without tickets. Freezing our buns off.

Our eyes shifted to the doors opposite as another set of patrons entered. Some sort of strange sounding chant began to erupt from Mark’s lips. I surmised he was praying for a miracle. Whatever he hoped to achieve worked. The center doors suddenly swung open, Jeanne holding one, Jill the other. Jeanne waved the tickets high in the air while Jill motioned for us to join them.

Stunned, Mark and I stared at each other in astonishment.

“Well! Are you coming or not?” Jill yelled out.

Heedless to traffic, we quickly joined them.

Still dumbfounded by what had just happened, neither Mark nor I pressed for an explanation or an apology. Our time was at a premium. We followed the girls to our seats in the orchestra section. Middle seats, third row, right in front of the stage. At that point, even if I had wanted to say something, I could not have. Simply put, I was speechless.

We had barely taken our seats when a gentleman in the seat in front of us stood up and turned around with an outstretched hand.

Jeanne introduced both Mark and I as we shook hands.

“Don’t be too hard on the girls,” Scott Young said, addressing both Mark and I. “It was my fault or rather my son, Neil’s fault. We got caught up backstage learning about tonight’s performance; we lost all sense of time. So apologies all round. Jeanne, I still hope you and your friends will be joining Neil and I for supper after the show?”

Jeanne was about to reply, when, in unison, Mark and I rejoined: “We sure will.”

Scott Young smiled and regained his seat as his son, Neil, took to center stage.

I took Jeanne’s hand and we settled in to what we knew would be a great concert and an unforgettable evening.


The Train Ride by B. B. Wright

Portrait of Flirty African-American in the car with mobile phoneThe Train Ride

A Short Story


B. B. Wright

My day begins in darkness and ends in darkness. The bitter damp wind off Lake Ontario makes me want to hibernate till spring. After another lousy day at work, I was looking forward to some respite on the train ride home. In the middle of quarterly reporting, my mind was abuzz with checking and rechecking the numbers spewed out by our computer. Always a hectic time, it was especially so for me because of my recent advancement to the numero one honcho of this section. The constant flurry of activity in my new role was unrelenting. There was just too little time and so much to learn. And, the swirling craziness of the winter storm outside my window did nothing to alleviate my deepening moroseness. The meteorologists said it was the worst snowstorm to hit Toronto in a century. Ugh!

I should have been basking in the unusually warm temperatures of Vancouver. Not here. Six weeks ago, this damn province hadn’t been on my radar. I miss my walks in Stanley Park. No matter the time of day I traversed it to reach my condominium, it was always a pleasant walk. All of that changed when the person who had occupied this position was fired. And, voila! Here I am in the thick of things. As a single person, a Harvard business grad and highly motivated by money, I should love challenges. And I do. But this takes the cake. The good news? Not more than five minutes ago I was assured by my administrative assistant, Lila, that the other three seasons are simply wonderful. Somehow her comment hit a dead spot in my brain as I glanced out the window.

By the time the big hand hit twelve and the little hand seven on the wall clock, I was walking out the revolving door of the TD building. The roads were congested with traffic so hailing a taxi was out of the question. Sharp pellets of snow sand-blasted my face. The swirling wind uplifted my jacket depositing its bone chilling bite. The profuse drippings from my nose froze solid on my mustache. Damn place! I hunkered below the collar of my jacket. Wishing I had snowshoes, I shielded my face with my briefcase and trudged off to the nearest subway.

Three hours later, the GO train slowly left Union Station. I had taken off my shoes and socks to dry at the wall heater. Since I disembarked at the end of the line in Burlington, I hoped this would provide enough time for them to dry. Though the train was full, I found it strange that no one sat beside me.

Often I tried to catch up on some paperwork during the journey but this evening I decided to veg out and snooze. A slight bump against me and the sweet smell of perfume caused me to open my eyes. To say the person sitting beside me was stunning didn’t do her justice. Cellphone glued to her ear, she carried on an animated conversation apparently oblivious to my presence.

“No Keith …of course I love you.” She said. “There is no one else. I had no choice. I had to work late at the office. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to see you tonight. Oh don’t be such an idiot. This snow storm has locked in the city. I’m lucky to be on this train at all. It’s the last one. Why do you have to be this way? There’s no need for you to be jealous. I’ve told you till I’m blue in the face, he means nothing to me. Only you do.”

Like a ping-pong match, the conversation batted back and forth. I began to wonder about the jerk she was talking to. Then it hit me. Because she was beautiful, he was obviously insecure with her beauty. Since I wanted to get to know her and all’s fair in love and war, I decided right then and there to make my move.

Leaning closer to her and in a voice loud enough for whomever she was talking to to hear, I said: “Hang up and come back to bed.”

The end result wasn’t what I expected. The Go train had to make an unscheduled emergency stop for the paramedics to take me to hospital.

The nasty gash on my forehead stitched up, I sat on the gurney trying to figure out where I would stay the night.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You always pick up girls with that line?”

I was taken by surprise. Though I was more than pleased to see her, I thought the likelihood of her being there was less than nil. Mouth agape, eyes wide open, I must have appeared like an idiot.

Her smile reassured me as she hesitantly approached the gurney. Sheepishly, I managed to stutter out a reply. “You must admit it is a unique pickup line.”

“If you say so,” she replied, scanning the emergency ward. “But, honestly, I think you could have chosen a much better introduction.”

I don’t remember what we talked about during the next six hours as we sat in the emergency lounge waiting out the storm. We talked about nothing and everything and we laughed a lot. Before she left, she gave me her phone number.

Something indescribable happened during our time together. There’s no single word to describe it. All I knew was I had to see her again. Maybe living here will be alright after all.

An Unexpected Gift: Part Two of Two

white picket fence one

An Unexpected Gift
A Short Story by B. B. Wright

Two months had passed since Tom’s death and, like a leech, the numbed emptiness Sylvia felt continued to suck out purposefulness from her life; while the humdrum of her daily life had become imprisoned within a brew of forlorn desperation and debilitating remorse. Life’s self-scripted past echoed its hallowed naked emptiness and negative untruths while it subversively gained unheralded success and, unwontedly, supplanted what should have been the bright promise that adheres to a day’s sunshine with the unlit, windowless cellar of a cloud-filled soul that stumbled about looking for its light.

Two days from what would have been their 10th wedding anniversary, she knew this happenstance meeting with Thackeray, their family lawyer, would have profound impact. There were practicalities that had to be addressed surrounding Tom’s will. But with those practicalities came finality; Tom’s finality; their finality. They were practicalities for the moment she felt a need to shun. Now that there was a strong likelihood that those smothering practicalities were about to invade, she steeled her mind to push back. She needed more time. Time to preserve memories of Tom and her and to keep them fresh a little longer before time’s kneading and transformative nature stole them and unceremoniously dropped them into its evolving mystic dream-scape.

Recognizing that it was pointless for her to hide from Thackeray, she took in a deep breath and marched down the beach to where he was helping Pepper dislodge something from between the rocks.

“Pepper! Get over here!” She commanded, pointing down to her side.

Thackeray was a very lean and tall individual who always had a sullen look pasted on his long, hollowed-cheeked face and a sneering smile that easily discouraged open friendliness. Known as a ‘bit of a snore,’ his colleagues nicknamed him ‘Sealy’ because of his ability to put the courtroom to sleep during dissertation.

Thackeray pulled down his toque tightly over his ears and pushed up his high-back collar as he turned to meet Sylvia. “I’m pleased that Pepper had the foresight to finally bring us together,” he called out, reproachfully.

“Your point is taken, Thackeray,” Sylvia said coldly, coming to a full stop a few feet away and snapping her fingers to get Pepper’s attention. “Get over here!”

“Sylvia? You…did get my calls?”

Pursing her lips, she glanced up at him as she attached the leash to Pepper’s harness and straightening up she let out a long exasperated sigh. “Time, Thackeray! I need time! Surely, you of all people understand that. Susan’s been gone—How long?—a year…a year and a half?”

Susan was Thackeray’s late wife.

“Actually, it’s been almost three years,” he quietly replied, looking away.

When his attention finally returned to her, there was earnestness in his expression and in his voice.

“Sylvia, we must talk.”She stared at him in silence.“I don’t mean here…at my office.”

Sylvia shook her head and began to walk away ignoring Pepper’s resistant tugs on the leash.

“Sylvia! At least let us set a time!” he implored, picking up his pace but choosing to remain a short distance behind her.

Stopping, she turned to face him and said: “What can be so urgent about a mundane will? Damn you! Can’t you let me grieve a little longer?”

“His will is by no means mundane, Sylvia,” he retorted. He cleared his throat. “As you know, the month before Tom’s death he added an addendum to his will.”

“I…I…didn’t…” She could feel her shoulders sag from his unexpected revelation.

“Oh…he told me…I thought…hmm… You and Pepper finish your walk. After you’ve taken him home, drop by my office. Say, two o’clock?” He mustered up his best empathetic smile before continuing: “An hour should give you enough time, don’t you think, Sylvia?”

His closely set eyes mounted on either side of his beak-like nose stared intensely at her as might a hawk relishing his prey. “Well?”

Sylvia stared at him in dismay and slowly shook her head. “You haven’t heard a damn word I’ve said…I need more time to…”

“Three, then… There, it’s done,” he insisted, ignoring her entreaty.

No longer a moot point from his perspective, Thackeray tipped his head and said “Goodbye” and abruptly headed off in the direction of his office on Slaughter Circle.

Slaughter Circle was home to a cluster of high-end office towers at the far end of the Park on the other side of Sykes Street and running perpendicular to it. His office was in the tallest of five office towers closest to the main street.

Dumbstruck and transfixed in place, Sylvia watched as Thackeray’s beanpole of a figure quickly diminished to no more than a dot in the distance.

Fifteen minutes before the appointed time for her meeting with Thackeray, Sylvia—as per usual—bypassed the elevator and began to ascend the back stairs to his fifth floor office.

The stairwell was encased in glass on three sides with each section providing a different view that blended seamlessly into the next; one section contained a portion of the Town of Milsburg; the next section highlighted the rough hewn beauty of the surrounding landscape; while the last section contained the awesome expanse of Georgian Bay sandwiched between the carved out rocky shore and distant skyline.

In the past she would have raced to the fifth floor, like she and Tom often did; but, today she found it a tough slog. It wasn’t that she was incapable of a faster pace; it was that her heart wasn’t into it.

Since it was a weekend, the building and stairwell were vacant and, as a result, it afforded her a degree of quietude for reflection before meeting with Thackeray. As she looked out onto the panoramic view from the third floor landing, she began to revisit the possibilities for Tom’s decision to change his will when she was distracted by the intrusion of a metal door slamming shut on one of the landings above her and someone sobbing.


Though the vista beyond the windows redirected her attention like a magnet, it could not dispel the growing discomfort over her meeting with Thackeray and what the changes to Tom’s will would mean. But, as quickly as those concerns arose they just as quickly dissolved because of her trust in Tom and their inviolable love for each other. It was as if he had whispered into her ear: “Everything will be okay, Sylvia. Don’t worry.”

Taking in a deep breath and slowly letting it out, she refocused her attention on the surrounding landscape and felt uplifted by its renewed clarity and freshness; a consciousness that had eluded her since Tom’s death.

The intrusion of the unmistakable echo of high heels quickly descending the steel staircase tarnished this moment for Sylvia. Pursing her lips, she leaned against the rail and, folding her arms across her chest, awaited the unwelcome interloper.

A young woman in black skinny jeans and red pumps and who was not older than twenty came into view. Her dark brown hair was crimped pomp and tightly locked in braids which flared out copper-like feathers on the end. A tattoo on her neck peeked out from her white cowl cold shoulder top. In her arms she carried her coat and a legal sized folder.

Preoccupied and oblivious to Sylvia’s presence, she walked into her almost knocking her down, dropping both folder and jacket in the encounter. “Are you alright? I really didn’t see you there. I’m really sorry,” she said scrambling to pick up her folder and coat and warding off assistance from Sylvia. Her thick black upper eye-liner and dots on the lower lash-line had coalesced to give the appearance of raccoon eyes.

Sylvia had barely said “I’m alright” when the girl preempted further discussion by descending the next flight of stairs.

From the smudged makeup, Sylvia was certain that that was the person she had heard sobbing earlier and, as she watched her disappear below the next landing, she could not help feeling that there was a familiarity about her but, no matter how hard she tried, she was unable to put a finger on it.

Well at least she said she was sorry, Sylvia begrudgingly thought.

When she heard the first floor door open and close, Sylvia shrugged in resignation with the current unlikelihood of recalling the girl’s name or the how, when, where, and why of an earlier meeting—another priority ill-afforded at the moment—and continued on to her meeting with Thackeray.

“Sylvia? Sylvia?! Are you listening?!”

“Huh? Oh…my mind must have drifted elsewhere. I’m sorry Thackeray.”

Her cheeks flushed from embarrassment, Sylvia shifted uncomfortably in the green leather chair opposite him trying to regain her composure. Tilting slightly forward she picked up the gold coin that Thackeray had pushed across his desk to her and began to examine it. Uncertain of what to say next, she returned it to his desk and looked at him quizzically:

“Um…what’s that coin… have to do with Tom’s will?”

“A lot,” he replied. And for a long moment he looked at her long and hard. “You really didn’t hear a thing I said?” He sat back in his chair and folded his hands together. “What if I were to tell you that that coin you were just holding may be worth a million dollars. Ah! Now, I finally have your attention.”

“Surely, you can’t be serious?!”

“I’m very serious.” Sitting forward, he rested his elbows on his desk and planted his chin on the hand over fist platform formed by his hands. “Tom found a whole cache of uncirculated mint condition coins a month before he died. He found them on the trail on your property. You know: the one that leads into the woods and down to the shoreline.”

“I…never knew…”

“That may have been more my fault than his.” He stood up and walked over to the window behind his chair and looked out. “Tom thought that they were probably worthless. Fake. And, quite frankly, so did I.” He turned to face her. “I mean, what are the odds of going for a walk along a path you’ve used for years and finding a can poking out of the ground that’s a treasure trove of gold coins? Come to think of it…I guess pretty good odds,” he chuckled with a shrug. Regaining his seat, he rocked back and forth a couple of times before continuing. “Tom knew his time was short. That’s why he made that change to his will just in case the coins had value. He swore me to secrecy until we heard back from the Canadian Numismatic Association. Unfortunately, I didn’t notify them until a week or two after Tom’s death.”

“So they’ve been appraised?”

He nodded: “They have.”

“Earlier you said that Tom had found ‘a whole cache’ of coins?”

He cleared his throat, coughed and said: “There are exactly 1427 coins with an estimated worth of 10 million dollars.”

Speechless and dumbfounded, Sylvia’s lower jaw dropped leaving a gaping hole normally occupied by her full lips.

“Would you like a glass of water, Sylvia? Or…maybe something stronger?”

“Wa…water will do… just fine, Thackeray.”

He left the room and quickly returned with a glass of water and carefully placed it into her hands before returning to his chair.

Silence reigned between them until Sylvia finished the water and placed the glass on his desk.

“Now, you’re not to worry about your share of those coins. I’ll take care of that.” Adjusting his reading glasses, Thackeray turned to the next page in Tom’s will and perused it before looking up at her over the rim of his glasses. “Sylvia?” He bit on his lower lip before continuing. “Are you okay?” She nodded. “Um…He did include another change that I’m about to read out. It will be disconcerting to say the least.”

“I’m still trying to get my head around those coins,” she chortled. “I doubt that there could possibly be anything more unsettling.” Smiling at him, she said jokingly: “So go ahead, Thackeray, and give it your best shot.”

And give his best shot he did.

An hour later, head slung low, Sylvia walked up the walkway to her house and onto the porch. She was devastated by what Thackeray revealed. She could hear Pepper barking excitedly on the other side of the door as she put her key into the lock.

A girl’s voice called out from the shadows on the porch: “Mrs Canfield?”

Startled, Sylvia spun to confront her. “Who are you?! Step out so I can see you!”

When she stepped into the glow of the porch light, Sylvia immediately recognized her as the person in the stairwell.

Sylvia drew in a deep breath and slowly let it out. “It’s been awhile since you last saw Pepper.”

“It has. I remember the day you first came to visit him.”

“Your… dad… planned that carefully.”

“I didn’t know who he was until today.”

“I know.”

“Come in and get reacquainted with Pepper. We have much to talk about.”

‘An Elemental Moment’ by B. B. Wright

An old crib dock

The image of this crib dock is courtesy of


“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.


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.”


An Unexpected Gift: Part One of Two

white picket fence oneAn Unexpected Gift
A Short Story by B. B. Wright

November’s rain and bone chilling dampness blanketed the Town of Milsburg in the Region of Grey-Bruce. For many inhabitants of this Region which was located two hours north of Toronto on the fresh waters of Georgian Bay, the Grey part of the Region’s name had taken on a life all of its own. Grey days outnumbered sunny days twenty to one and sunny days fell into that apocryphal meteorological category of overcast with some sunny periods. That is, sunny periods seen in the blink of an eye that heavily depended on whose blink you were talking about.

Cozy in her blue, soft brushed polyester pajamas, bought for her by her late husband, Tom, Sylvia Canfield snuggled down in bed and, turning onto her side in a fetal position, she pulled the comforter tightly up around her and chided herself for not programming the thermostat to come on earlier.

Beside her, Pepper, her black terripoo dog, stood up, shook himself out, turned around a couple times before flopping down with a hard thud against her back.

Once assured that Pepper had settled into his cozy spot, Sylvia closed her eyes and began to slowly drift off to sleep.

On the edge of REM sleep, she was jolted awake by Pepper who had become annoyingly restless.

Plying his doggie thing of standing up, turning around and slamming up against her with increased frequency, Sylvia turned intending to throw him off her bed when Pepper jumped off and ran to the bedroom door and began to scratch frantically at it.

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

She pushed her thick blonde hair back from her face and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

In her mind, the intent and urgency of Pepper’s plea left no doubt that time was of the essence.

But, by the time her feet on her five foot-two frame hit the cold wooden floor searching for her Haflinger woolen slippers, Pepper had managed to nose the door open and was on his way downstairs.

“I don’t know where you think you’re going without me,” she grumbled as one hand searched for her slippers which had somehow got kicked under the bed while the other hand fumbled in the darkness for her dressing gown that should have been draped over the chair at the end of the bed but was found instead on the floor.

One sleeve of her dressing gown in place, she rushed through the open bedroom door while unsuccessfully attempting to snag the other sleeve. Switching on the hall light and gathering up her gown so not to trip, she bounded down the stairs to the kitchen after Pepper.

“A dog in need could be an accident indeed and this morning isn’t going to be one of them,” she murmured repeatedly, hoping her words would provide inspiration and reassurance.

Moments later, Sylvia let out a long satisfied sigh as she adjusted her robe in place and watched Pepper rooting about outside searching for the best place to do his business.

He seems so undeterred by this foul weather, she thought. And, she envied him for that.

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 traveled up her leg and she moved closer to it.

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

Savoring each morceau of generously spread homemade strawberry jam on her buttered toast, she leaned forward slightly at the kitchen table to watch Pepper eating from his chow bowl.

Though still tired and sleepy, Sylvia felt a sense of comfort and satisfaction as she watched him.

Putting down her slice of toast, she picked up her tea mug and blew across the tea’s surface and welcomed the warm, moist steam on her face and the heat from the cup cradled in her hands.

Her attention drifted to the kitchen window and the inclement weather and she hoped that Pepper wouldn’t pester her too much for his ritual walk.

In the background, the weather report from the radio assured its listening audience that the rain would stop late morning; the clouds would lift and sunshine was expected for most of the afternoon.

Winds off Georgian Bay could be biting this time of year but the promise of sunshine was the trump card that made her walk with Pepper that much more palatable and likely.

Unnoticed by her, Pepper had finished his meal, slurped down some water, and, leaving a trail of water droplets behind him from his soggy beard, made his way across the room to her and sat on the floor in front of her.

A single soft bark was all Pepper needed to get her attention.

“Good Pepper! You used your quiet voice just like we taught you.” And, she fed him a small piece of her toast to reward him. Placing her cup on the table, Sylvia adjusted her position on the chair and patted her lap to encourage him to jump up onto it.

Immediately, she regretted her invitation because his wet face, licking tongue, and affectionate energy were overpowering until she got him to settle down. Once she could comfortably pat him, she became more accepting of his occasional gestures of affection.


Tom had first brought her to meet the litter of terripoo puppies during their third year of marriage.

It had been 3 months after her miscarriage.

Shortly after the miscarriage, an invisible curtain had fallen between them as she struggled against the depression that had seeped into her life. Laughter—a constant companion before the miscarriage—had become silent and foreign.

She often looked back on this period and wondered if she would have survived without Tom’s steady support.

On the day he took her to meet the puppies, intuitively she knew why he had taken her.

As the six puppies cavorted around her while she sat on the floor, she found it impossible to remain aloof from their unconditional loving natures; slowly she began to interact with them.

Mysteriously that day, laughter, that had been so unattainable and deeply buried within her, bubbled to the surface.

While playing with the puppies, she noticed for the first time that a black one had already carved out Tom’s attention.

Later, she learned that Tom had already named him Pepper.

Pepper, Tom’s first dog, had not only brought out the endearing little kid in Tom but Pepper that day, alongside his brothers and sisters, had helped to initiate her road to recovery and her reconnection to Tom.

Sylvia looked upon the next seven years as the happiest in her life. Though she had learned that she would be unable to have children, somehow it no longer mattered as her life had become filled to overflowing with travel, teaching, writing her first novel and being with Tom. She and Tom had even discussed adoption.

Then, last summer arrived and with it Tom’s diagnosis.

When Tom was dying of cancer neither she nor Pepper left his side.

Pepper, normally a quiet dog except when strangers came onto the property, had become unusually restless during Tom’s final hours.

When Tom finally died, Pepper’s prolonged forlorn howling sent a soul-chilling dagger through the night.


Sylvia’s eyes bubbled up with tears as she recalled that night two months ago and she cradled Pepper closer and buried her face into the soft, downy fur on his head.

She knew it was just her imagination but, for a brief moment, she could have sworn that she had felt Tom’s presence. And, she held Pepper even closer.

As the morning dragged on, the rain finally stopped as it had been forecast and the sky cleared 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 Sylvia, occasionally leaping up at her, while she pretended to try and catch him. This continued for several minutes until he bounded up the stairs barking and headed in the direction of her bedroom.

Two hours later, Sylvia 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 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 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 safe to let him run free.

Pepper rarely ran too far ahead. Often, he would scurry back with some prize or other he had retrieved and laid it at her feet. Occasionally, Sylvia would gather up his newly found toy and play fetch and retrieve but 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 and, with his nose planted so close to the ground she surmised he was following the scent of something.


The Town of Milsburg began to change about ten years ago. Whether it had changed for better or worse was open to debate. The local bakery coexisted with Tim Horton’s—contrary to expectations—and the tax base was given a sizable boast from the influx of people from the Greater Toronto Area hungry for land on which to build their dream home. Those who came had come 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 dandy if the 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.

Country living had become defined along narrower lines that emphasized the self-centered blindness of entitlement. This philosophical shift irked the locals to their very core as they felt these city dwellers had bullied their way into their life-scape.

Real-estate that had once been enjoyed by all—especially along the shoreline—became prime real-estate gobbled up overnight, only to be traded for a hefty price-tag when the time was ripe.

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 Macleod Park and three at the other.

The number of upscale shops along Sykes Street which ran parallel to Macleod Park had tripled. 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.

Begrudgingly, the locals slowly came around to tolerate these unwelcome changes and to accept them as part of life’s natural flow which included  the unfortunate  disappearance of familiar faces and the arrival of strangers 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.

Gregarious people, Sylvia and Tom were easily assimilated into this community and had become staunch contributors to the community’s cohesiveness.

Though Sylvia and Tom had come from the city, they were part of the melt of local citizenry who looked upon the urban influx as nothing more than pesky insects that defined one of the four seasons


Pepper was busily trying to pull some sort of object out from between two large boulders on the shoreline with the help of a man.

If Sylvia could have disappeared she would have that very moment. The man helping Pepper was none other than Thackeray Thomson, their family lawyer.

Tom and she had always been on good terms with Thackeray but she was embarrassed by not having returned his many phone calls. His voice messages had been very clear and explicit: “…There is a pressing matter with respect to Tom’s Will. Please call as soon as you hear this.”

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 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