Sunday, September 18, 2011

Excerpt from "The Lies Have It" part 3



This continues where the previous blogpost left off...


Sunday, 11:15 am


“Can I get a large orange juice, please, and a coffee?” I said to the waiter as I took my seat at a sunny patio table. Toronto was currently experiencing a welcome blast of, ahem, Aboriginal Peoples’ summer, and patios all around the ’hood were jammed. Today’s brunch was at Kilgour’s, near Bloor and Bathurst, one of the Annex’s hidden gems, and home of the best eggs Benedict anyone could ever ask for.

Jessica and Lindsey had gotten here before me and were already on their second cups of coffee. No doubt Jessica needed the caffeine as much as I did.

“Sorry I’m late. I slept through the alarm.”

“I could hardly drag my ass out of bed this morning. That was quite a night,” Jessica stifled a yawn as she spoke. “At least I’ll be able to sleep on the plane tonight.”

“So, tell me all about the fetish group,” Lindsey said.

“I have no idea where to begin,” I said.

“I can sort of get my head around the dominant and submissive part of it, but the role-playing stuff I just don’t get,” Jessica said.

“Like the ancient cowboy?” I said.

“Exactly. This grey-haired old dude, he had to be at least 168, was all tricked out like a wrangler from the Old West,” Jessica said. “And this chick – she was probably in her early thirties and pretty good looking – well, she was letting him bronco bust her or something. Giddy-up.” We both snickered

Lindsey gave us a look of utter disbelief.

“You should have seen them, Lindsey,” I said. “The girl was down on her hands and knees, and the old guy was whipping her ass like there was no tomorrow.”

Our waiter, who happened to be delivering our meals at this exact moment, gave me a quizzical look, then asked if anyone needed ketchup. We all said no, and he walked away, no doubt wondering about the rest of our conversation.

“Wow. I hope you earned good tips. Tell me at least the money made it worth your while.”

“Meh. They tipped okay, but they weren’t exactly big drinkers. I probably made more money for less hassle back at the slut mines.” If nothing else, the phone sex job had paid well, and had given me a unique insight into human nature.

“All this talk about kinky sex makes me want to become a born-again virgin,” Lindsey said.

“It was surreal,” Jessica said. “But enough about that. What’s happening in your world, Lindsey? Any appointments today?” Lindsey, who is a real estate agent, usually has to devote most Saturday and Sunday afternoons to open houses and viewings of resale homes priced well above market rates. Such is the Toronto real estate racket.

My purse started ringing.

“Hello,” I said, fumbling to grab the phone before the call went into voicemail.

“Hi, is Ian there?”

“Sorry, wrong number.” I clicked off. A moment later, the phone rang again, and the same guy asked again for Ian. “Sorry, it’s still the wrong number,” I said and hung up. I took a closer look at the BlackBerry and realized toot sweet that it wasn’t mine.

“Ooops,” I said. “I think this is Ian’s phone. I must have picked it up last night by mistake.”

“Shit happens. I’m sure he’ll call the bar looking for it,” Jessica said.

“I bet he’s got some juicy stuff on it,” I said, flipping through the menu. “Maybe some kinky photos….”

“You’re not really going to poke your nose in his business, are you?” Lindsey said.

“Of course not. I’m just saying I could, if I wanted to. That’s all.”

“About the last thing I want to see after last night is pictures of kinky sex,” Jessica said. “Anyhow, Lindsey, what have you got on this afternoon? Want to tag along while I do some impulse shopping?”

“My afternoon has unexpectedly opened up,” Lindsey said. “I kept today free from clients because I was supposed to go to some rah-rah-rah political group hug at around four, but it’s been cancelled.”

“You mean the community BBQ or picnic or whatever with Mr. Plastic Fantastic wannabe mayor and his Barbie Doll wife?” I asked.

I was only half listening to Jess and Linds. My thumb was poking through the text messages and callers list on Ian’s phone. I wanted to get his BlackBerry back to him as soon as I could. I know how lost I’d be without mine. I scrolled through the directory to see if he had a home number or a work number stored in his contact list.

“I know these political events are pretty lame, but they’re good for networking. There’s always a chance I’ll get a listing out of it,” Lindsey said. “Besides, Shane’s an ardent supporter of Tim Nealson.”

“I know.” My brother had never before shown even a slight interest in politics, but that was before he started working for himself. Now, as a small business owner, he was becoming something of an activist, at least at the municipal level.

“Why’s it cancelled? The election’s only three weeks away. You’d think Nealson and whatsherface would be out there glad-handing everyone and taking pictures with cute little babies,” Jessica said.

“Gwendolyn. The missus is Gwendolyn. She was in a car accident this morning,” Lindsey said.

“Uh-oh.”

“I don’t think it was very serious. All I heard on the radio was that she’d been in a fender-bender and was taken to hospital.”

“Yikes. Not exactly what the Nealsons needs to deal with right now,” Jessica said.

“Sometimes I think she campaigns harder than he does. She gets her name into every news release and every sound bite. If Tim Nealson gets elected mayor, I have a feeling his wife will be the one who’s really running City Hall,” I said.

“It may not be such a slam dunk. Cooperman and the Italian Stallion are gaining in the polls,” Lindsey said.

“And the right-wing blowhard has a loyal following.”

“Anyhow, I’ll have a chance to do my bit to support Nealson later this week,” Lindsey said.

“Oh yeah, he’s doing that dinner at Shane’s place,” I said.

Shane’s place is a wonderful restaurant called Pastiche. It’s a five-star fine dining room with five-star service offering five-star cuisine at five-star prices. Luckily, I usually eat here for free.

“I’m kind of surprised to see this side of Shane. He’s normally so passive, but Nealson’s positions on small business and taxes have won him over. Shane’s really excited about the shindig at Pastiche,” Lindsey said, more to Jessica than to me.

“What night is it again?” I asked.

“This Thursday. It’s being arranged by some group called the Egg Business Improvement Association,” Lindsey said.

“It’s not egg, you idiot. It’s E.G.G., which stands for Elm, Gould, and Gerrard streets,” Jessica said.

“Whatever,” Lindsey retorted pithily.

“I totally get why Shane supports Tim Nealson, but honestly, none of the candidates in this campaign really bowls me over. I don’t think any one of them is cut out to be mayor,” I said.

“I hate to sound like a bimbo, but can we get off this topic?” Jessica said. “It’s a bit heavy for me right now. Keep in mind, less than twelve hours ago, I was watching people in leather and Saran Wrap paddle each other. I’m still suffering from the aftershocks.”

“I think I’m permanently scarred from last night, too. I can’t get rid of the images,” I said, flipping again through Ian’s phone.

“For crying out loud Sasha, that’s not a toy. Why don’t you just call back the wrong number? Maybe whoever that was has another number for Mr. Spank Me.”

“There are times I don’t feel I deserve to call myself a sleuth.” I hit recall. The wrong number dude was a guy named Andy.

“There seems to be a mix up, and I somehow ended up with Ian’s phone,” I said. “You’re the last guy who called this number, so I thought maybe you could help me track down Ian.”

“He has a land line,” Andy said. “Why don’t you call him at home? His number is –”

“Just a sec, let me find something to write with.” I dug through my purse. Wallet, a hairbrush, some tampons, two tubes of lipstick, a ring of keys – some legal, others not – gum wrappers, my iPod, a broken pencil, a golf ball – not sure from whence that came – a few hair scrunchies, a green marker, and my own cell phone, way down at the bottom of my bag. “Okay. Fire away.” I scribbled the number in Kelly green felt-tip on a paper napkin. When I hung up, I immediately called Ian’s home number and left a message for him to call me.

“So are you all packed for your trip, Jessica?” Lindsey asked.

Jessica was booked on an overnight flight to London Heathrow for a family reunion planned around her great grandma’s hundredth birthday.

“Pretty much. Just a couple last-minute things. I have to make a pit-stop on my way home, and then I’m all set.”

“Since I’m free, I can drive you to the airport, if you like,” Lindsey offered.

“Thanks, but no need. I’m carpooling with my cousin Zack and my aunt and uncle.”

“What did you decide to get Great Granny for her birthday?” I asked. “It’s gotta be pretty hard to shop for someone’s hundredth birthday.”

“I got her a pair of argyle socks.”

“Tell me you didn’t…” I said.

Long before Jessica was a twinkle in her daddy’s eye, Jessica’s great grandmother had both legs severed just below the knee after an unfortunate incident involving railroad tracks and too many glasses of dry sherry. The old bird never bothered with prosthetics and has spent the last forty-plus years in a wheelchair.

“You’re positively deranged. GG’s going to write you out of her will.”

“The old broad still has an off-the-wall sense of humour. Zack is giving her a pair of tap dancing shoes,” Jessica said.

“What in the hell is she going to do with any of it?”

“She’ll use the socks as mittens, and the tap shoes will probably become a doorstopper or bookends.”

My jaw dropped as the waiter came by to clear our plates, and to offer coffee refills or dessert.

“I’ll pass. It would be extravagant to have dessert after Eggs Benedict,” I said, in a rare instance of self-restraint.

“Before I forget, here’s the key to my apartment and the key to my mailbox,” Jessica said.

I tucked them into my wallet.

“Thanks again for offering to cat-sit and apartment-sit for me,” she said. Jessica’s big fat lazy Himalayan cat Bella was like a baby to her. I’m kind of neutral on cats, but this twenty-pound ball of grey and white fur, with a face that looked like a ping pong paddle, was okay. Low maintenance and occasionally affectionate. “And help yourself to whatever you want. Mi casa su casa.”

“No sweat. I’ll enjoy the peace and quiet,” I said.

“Hey, I resent that,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey is my brother Shane’s girlfriend – actually, they’re engaged now. Even though Shane and I are both in our early thirties, we both still live at home with our resignedly indulgent and frequently befuddled dad Jack. Lindsey stays at our place two or three nights a week, so the Jackson abode is often pretty busy. Moments of solitude are cherished for their rarity.

“Well, if you weren’t allergic to cats, you could apartment-sit and use the place as a love nest,” I replied.

“Bella doesn’t eat much. Just measure out a scoop of cat food every day and make sure the water bowl is full.”

“I think I can manage.”

“And the litter box is in the bathroom”

“I know,” I said.

“Yeah, but you’ve got to change it as often as you can. It starts to stink really quickly. The ventilation in the bathroom is terrible.”

“No worries,” I said.

“So what time do you have to meet your new client?” Lindsey asked me.

“In about half an hour. We should get the check.”

A Mr. and Mrs. Edquist had left me a message on my office number yesterday morning, but I wasn’t able to schedule a meeting with them until this afternoon.

“Do you know what kind of a case it is?” Jessica asked.

“Yeah. A teenage girl who ran away from home. It promises to be frustrating. Runaways always are.”

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