Once upon a time, I hosted Haunted Toronto walking groups, and for a while, dabbled in co-owning an antique store, but now, I’m into vintage photography.
Actually, I’m really into Samantha Ellis, a photographer who specializes in Depression Era photography and silhouette portraits.
I can’t wait to tell her about being asked to consult on a cold case—an unsolved homicide dating back to the 1930’s.
Well, I’ll get my chance tonight—Sam is coming over to my apartment and I’m making dinner.
“It’s not necessary,” she protests. “We could go to The Mandarin—I kinda feel like Chinese.”
“Or, we could stay home,” I tease, “and have a romantic dinner high above the city.”
I tilt my head in the direction of the glassed in balcony overlooking the Don Valley.
“I suppose,” she concedes.
<br><br>My apartment’s a bit dated—it was built sometime in the 60’s. The elevators are wonky and the building needs a reno—but other than that, it’s a great place and an easy commute to work.
“What are you making anyway?”
“Ah Mademoiselle, la spécialité de la maison ce soir est Poulet Parmesan.”
She giggles. “You’re making chicken parm—Really?”
She holds up my bottle of Medoc.
“Say, how much of this wine have you been drinking?”
“Take a close look,” I reply, “it hasn’t been uncorked.”
She comes over and stands behind me while I stir the sauce. She puts her arms around my waist.
“So, how come you’re in such a good mood?”
“Am I—in a good mood?”
She stands back, eyeing me, in my narrow galley kitchen, legs apart, arms akimbo, staring at me as if assessing my mental state.
“Are you sure you haven’t been into the sauce?” She lifts the cover of my Le Creuset Dutch oven cook pot. “What’s in this—vodka?”
I wrinkle my nose. “Definitely not,” I sniff, and reach around her to replace the lid on the pot.
“Okay, then fess up—why are you in such a good mood?”
“Well, I guess because I’ve met a friend.”
“A friend?” she snorts, “ You don’t even have time for the friends you have.”
Her eyes are dancing.
“Abe, eh? So, what does Abe do for living?”
“He’s a cop.” I try to say it nonchalantly.
“A cop—where the hell would you meet a cop? Hey—you’re not involved in this Occupy Toronto nonsense are you?”
I raise my hands. “No, no,” I reassure her, “Abe’s the uncle of one of my former students. He needed my help on a case and we sort of hit it off.”
“Hit it off, huh? Sounds like a man crush. Hey—you’re not gay are you? Because I don’t think I could handle that. That’d be a deal breaker, believe me.”
She’s waving her manicured talons and I grab them in both my hands.
“It’s nothing like that, Sam. I’m helping Abe solve a cold case dating back to the Thirties—believe it, or not.”
She stops and stares in disbelief. “Wow—the Thirties—and a cold case! That’s right up your alley.”
“Well, the Thirties part is, I guess. I told Abe I knew a guy who might be able to help—you remember Harry Greenspan—the old fellow I interviewed about the Christie Pits Riot?”
“Oh yeah—how could I forget? You made me sit through two hours of that tape.”
“I know—thanks. But because of that interview, I might be able to help Abe catch a cop killer.”
She looks less than enthused. “Hate to rain on your parade, Scott—but what are we talking about here—eighty years ago? The suspect’s long dead.”
“I know, but that’s not the point—we may get to bring closure to one of the oldest Toronto police cold cases and it’ll boost the morale of the force. You know, they never give up—especially, when it’s one of their own.”
“Cheers to the fuzz,” she deadpans, raising her glass.
“I thought you’d be excited,” I sulk.
“What made you think that? You know how bored I was having to listen to that old guy gas about the Depression.”
“Oh,” I say, completely deflated.
She reads the change of mood.
“Look, Scott—the past is your thing—not mine. You get all teary eyed over this nostalgia—as far as I’m concerned, I make a mint off guys like you. Hell, that’s why I got into period photography in the first place.”
We haven’t popped the cork on the Medoc and the evening’s a failure—as a matter of fact, it goes downhill from there.
We watch a film on TV and I drive her home about eleven, giving a perfunctory kiss on the lips—but I figure we both know it’s over by then.
Some things you can’t change—some things are non-negotiable—and for me, the past is one of them.
The evening started off with such promise and had me sitting on top of the world—but now it’s come crashing down and I’ve fallen off my cloud with a thud.
Even the prospect of solving a Thirties cold case doesn’t quite excite me—just doesn’t do it for me.
I figure Sam and I aren’t going to make it—whether or not it’s because of my thing with the past—but one things for sure—putting together a new future will occupy a hell of a lot more of my time from now on.
For the next little while, I’m going to be more concerned with puzzling how to manage life after Sam, than fitting together the fragments of an old cold case.
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.