This picks up where the previous excerpt left off...
Sunday, 2:05 pm
“We’ve been wandering all over the city looking for her,” Mrs. Edquist said.
“And you’re certain she’s in Toronto?” I asked.
Mrs. Edquist, in a basic pair of navy gabardine slacks and a rather ugly white and blue polka dot blouse with batwing sleeves, was sitting on the edge of a neatly made bed in a standard room at the Best Western Hotel downtown. Her hair was neatly combed and a few grey roots were poking through. Her husband, a seemingly affable, middle aged man with a bit of a paunch, was pacing back and forth in front of the window, and I was in the beige vinyl club chair beside the bolted-down television. Mrs. Edquist was calm and businesslike right now, but her red-rimmed eyes told me she’d cried more than a few tears of worry over her daughter this morning.
“Her friends all said she was coming here. Macy always talks about getting out of Peterborough and coming to the big city. She says small towns stifle her.”
Macy is the sixteen-year-old angst-ridden, angry Goth offspring of Mr. and Mrs. Small Town Middle Class. Peterborough, about an hour and a half from Toronto, began as a farming town, then became a factory town of sorts, and now was mainly a university town. Mom and Pop both had administration jobs at Trent University, she in the Registrar’s Office and he in Alumni Affairs. The daughter in the photo looked like she would prefer hanging out in dodgy back alleys with a bunch of skinheads rather than trying to decide on her eventual major. Her dyed black hair was shaved about an inch above both ears. She had on way too much black eyeliner, and seemed to be sneering at the camera.
“Well, Mrs. Edquist, a lot of runaways end up here. Has Macy taken off from home before?”
“Please, call me Phyllis.”
“And call me Harold. Or Harry if you prefer. She’s taken off four or five times in as many months,” Mr. Edquist said. “But she always comes back in a couple of days. This time it’s different. She’s been gone almost a month.”
“We had to come here to look for her. We couldn’t just stay home and wait for the phone to ring.” Mom’s voice cracked a bit.
“The Toronto cops were no help?” I already knew the answer. There was little the police could do since, at sixteen, Macy was no longer a child.
“No. We tried, and they were sympathetic, but impotent. We’ve put up posters all over downtown. We’ve canvassed the streets where we’ve seen kids hanging out. None of them could help us,” said Phyllis.
Pierced and tattooed teens hanging around the usual inner-city haunts wouldn’t be inclined to speak to such examples of Suburban White Bread under any circumstances. Rebellious youths would stay mum out of spite just because the Edquists had “Conformist Parental Units” written all over them.
“Where have you been looking?” I asked.
Mr. Edquist rattled off a list of neighbourhoods and intersections. Parkdale, the Eaton Centre, Yorkville, College Street.
“And when have you been doing this?” I asked.
“Since the week after she left.”
“No, I mean, what time of day?”
“We hit the streets right after breakfast, and keep going, off and on all day, until suppertime, maybe five thirty or six.”
“That’s your mistake. The goths and punx and emos and phreaks don’t even start to come to life until noon. I’ll begin looking in the late afternoon and go until two or three in the morning.”
“Thank you so much for helping us. Harold and I can’t take any more time off work. We’ve used up all of our vacation days. We’re not exactly poor, but we can’t afford to take unpaid time off work. We still have a mortgage.”
I was reluctant to bring up the subject of my fees.
“Today’s our last day in Toronto, we’re going to check out soon, and drive home. We both have to be back at work tomorrow.”
“I’ll give it a whirl, but only for a couple of days. I don’t want to waste my time or your money.”
I gave them the contract I had tucked into my purse. The bleeding heart in me wanted to help these folks. Sympathy prompted me to shave about twenty percent from my usual rates. They gave me all the info they could on Macy Edquist, plus a few more photos. We shook hands, and I bid them farewell, already feeling guilty that I would be profiting from their pain and worry.
Such is life. I’ve got to make a living. I can bartend at fetish parties only so often.