Monday, June 6, 2011

Paranoia Sets In

The second after I put up the last entry, I looked at it with a mental squint. I had been looking at these hand-written documents as being fundamentally true. My therapist said that despite my background, I was an "idealist romantic". Or maybe it was romantic idealist. Whatever.

What if these damn papers were just the oozings of a unpublished bi-polar who happened to die of booze and anti-depressants?

I took a day’s worth of spare-time and travelled on-line and through microfiched newspapers. Nothing about a multiple murder in any alley of the Greater Toronto Area. Not on the day that it supposedly happened and not the days around it.

(Note: There was a very significant gun related incident in Toronto day that day. It's so unique that I'm making no mention of it, because the instant that I do, even Google drop-outs would be able to pin down the exact date. I'm not exactly sure how, but I worry that single thread might lead them to being able to trick out a street name or, worse, a person's.)

The light of my super-hero fantasy was dimming rapidly. It had only one person and one place of contact left.

I sat and thought for half a day, determining a plan of attack and deciding how far I was willing to go. That set, it was a simple matter to research the ownership of the estate sale house, and, because of a pretty unique last name, calling twelve numbers (out of a possible twenty-seven) and asking the potentially morbid question, “Are you related to a Ted P-----?”

Six apologies, 4 hang-ups and a “No, but I could be anyone you want for 50 bucks” later, I recognized the voice of the woman on the other end even before asking the question. And the pause before she answered was familiar too.

“Who is this?” Her voice was the underside of a rotted log. Tired, sad, a lone centipede of thin anger.

“The estate sale a few days ago. I was your ‘first customer of the day’. I bought the record collection.”

“Right, Mr. Twenty-bucks.” Again a pause, which is only an absence of sound, everything else is still there. “We don’t do returns,” she said trying to keep it light.

“Oh no,” I returned with a laugh in my voice, “No problem with the product... or the service.” Remember the plan. “I’ve been listening to the albums,” I lied, “and I realized that Ted must have been a pretty young guy to…”

“… to be dead,” she finished mercifully.

“Yeah. I thought it might be appropriate... I was wondering if I could make a donation to whatever health problem he had... Y'know?”

“Health? Oh, you mean like the Heart and Stroke Foundation or muscular dystrophy or something.”

“Yes, exactly.”

“That’s really nice of you, but I don’t think…” Nervous breath-laugh up over the bone in her throat. “It’s just that they don’t know what killed him.”

I pushed it a bit. “Oh, ‘natural causes’.”

She leaned over the emotional fence and said, “There wasn’t a body.”


“But there was too much blood for him to have survived.”

The distance between us grew so fast right then, I could almost feel the air rushing by my ears. She was hearing me go. She must have witnessed that in other peoples’ voices, in other peoples’ eyes, a dozen or more times, every time she explained what happened to her brother, cousin, whatever he was to her.

My grandma had a cataract, frozen milk that had poured in over a beautiful teriyaki brown. It kept her safe and smiling. Through funerals and cancers, and from seeing a once-spotless house peeling down around her. It excused her from caring about anybody or anything.

Two good eyes and I was no different.

“That’s terrible. Sorry to bother you.”

“No, it’s okay.” Yeah, she had watched a few cataracts grow in her time.

“Thanks for your time.”

“No problem.”

“Bye now.”


I’m no super-hero.

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