Murder Never Ends

Although we might mourn the death of a murder victim, the victim’s troubles ended at the moment of death. The loss, however, doesn’t end for loved ones. The ramifications can be enormous. Imagine what the murdered person might have been meant to do in the hours and days that followed the abrupt halt. Everything else continues, although adapting to the altered circumstances. Just yesterday facebook sent me a heads up that an old friend has a birthday coming up this month. Unfortunately, I know that she had cancer and passed away a few months ago.

What if she had been murdered? How different would be the thoughts and the mourning? Nadine had never told me of her cancer, but I learned of it from a mutual acquaintance. Had it been murder, I would be tortured by thoughts of what might have happened to her before death liberated her. Her sisters, brother and mother would suffer every day for the rest of their lives. Nadine’s absence from family events and gatherings would insert a dark presence in her stead.

Nadine tailored her exit from life with the wisdom and taste that had always marked her professional performance. She returned to the place where she’d been born, Jamaica, and enjoyed the sand at her feet and the ocean on her body until her death.

The unending burden on the ‘survivors’ carries on for up to three generations. The murder of one’s kin becomes a family legend, retold proudly for its colour and intrigue.

Murder never ends because the shock and loss have a relentless impact on those who cared about the victim. Not just loved ones, but business associates, employers and employees, doctors and dentists and insurance executives all are impacted atypically.


The Lerby Job

Our grandfather, known as Paw, would hand out quarters to each of us cousins when we gathered at his house each Sunday. There were eight of us. There were only two girl cousins, sisters, and they were rarely with us on these Sunday visits.

We’d clutch our quarters and dawdle down the street to Lerby’s to buy licorice pipes and chocolate bars. Lerby’s was a small confectionary store at the corner of little Belview Street and busier Dunfield Avenue. That was in the nineteen fifties. Today, Lerby’s Smoke Shop would be known as a convenience store or milk store.

Most times, Mr. Lerby was upstairs in their apartment over the store. He liked to sleep a lot I guess, because he was very fat and drank a lot of beer. Mrs. Lerby liked some of the boys, and one day took Harvey into the back store. She knew the rest of us were stealing stuff out front, like Potato chips, chocolate bars and bubble gum. She didn’t care, it seemed.

When Harvey came out of the back store, he told us why Mrs. Lerby took him there. He said she wanted to play with his monkey.

“What monkey?” Paul said. “You ain’t got no monkey!”

“My dick, dickhead,” Harvey boasted. We were all aghast and dubious. “She called it my monkey and she played with it.” I asked him how? What did she do when playing with it?

“First she opened my fly and reached in to get my dick out of my underwear. Then she just looked at it with a smile on her face. She started to waggle it back and forth, and it got stiff and hard.” I looked around at Paul, Marty and Ricky. They were as spellbound by the story as was I.

Harvey kinda puffed himself up and took on an air of superiority. I could understand it. I had never had a woman see or touch my willy.

“She said it was ‘way bigger than she expected, and she took it into her mouth.”

“Oh my god!” Paul inhaled and caught his breath. We were afraid to know more.

Paul had a plan for the next Sunday. We went out to the old shed on the lane behind our grandparents’ home. There, we discussed Harvey’s adventure. Harvey filled us in on some of the unbelievable moments he enjoyed with Mrs. Lerby. It gave Paul an idea that he outlined for the rest of us. In the end, Paul talked Harvey into partnering him in his scheme.

The following Sunday, we gathered together to march down to Lerby’s store. In the store, we were milling around as usual, and Mrs. Lerby invited Harvey into the back store again. This was Paul’s opportunity to act. We didn’t know his plan until he suddenly went behind Lerby’s counter, unplugged the cash register and carried it away. We all ran out with whatever we had stolen and followed Paul. Harvey caught up to us a few minutes later and we all went to the old shed at the back of my grandparents’ yard.

Paul began trying to open the cash register. He pushed buttons, clawed at the drawer, banged on it with a stick. It would not open. Finally he heaved the heavy machine at the wall. It fell to the ground… unopened. Furious with frustration, Paul stormed out and went we don’t know where.

I walked over to the cash register, picked it up and placed it on a rickety little rough wood table. The electric cord hung down to the ground. I picked it up and reached up to the outlet thing that was screwed into the light fixture and the bulb was screwed into the outlet thing. The plug slid into the receptacle. The cash register buzzed for a second.

There was a button that said “No Sale”. I pushed it. The door slid open with a clang of a bell. When we divided up the money, we got $2.46 each. We took an equal share to Paul. We had enjoyed that Sunday more than usual.

The Victim is not The Sinner

I used to visit a chiropractor once in a while. It helped me a little, but my payments to him helped him a lot. One day, David was grumbling that he might have been tricked by an Orthodox Rabi that came to the door. He said he was raising money to send poor Jewish kids to Orthodox summer camp.

After he had made a donation and the bearded man had left, David began to squirm inside himself. He got it into his head that the guy was just making his own living, going door to door in Jewish neighbourhoods. David was not a totally together guy, and I wanted to help him get over his frustration over a problem that might not exist.

I have often been the victim of some kind, as have most of us. We get cheated on car repairs, or pay more than we should for a toaster or something like that. I simply told David something I long-since realized: The Victim is not The Sinner. The perpetrator, the victimizer, in other words, has done wrong. The victim has done no wrong and can live as a good person. The sinner will have to settle for ill-gotten gains… a feeble reward compared the feeling of being good and right.

The Ebb and Flow of Human Society

I sometimes wonder why some people become incensed at transient things. Just wait your turn and it will come around. In politics, be it municipal, provincial, or federal, whoever is IN is despised while whoever is OUT is beloved.

You hate the supermarket since the new people took it over and raised prices terribly. You and others who had been regular customers found other places to fill your needs. Competition is a wonderful thing. From time to time, one returns to the former favourite place and notices that prices fall into line. They realized it’s wiser to accept a smaller markup on many sales than it is to grab unfair markups on dwindling sales.

In sports, the heroes are usually adored and supported while underdogs are also favoured as they rise. Some individuals are just irritating although they are superb in their sport. Even at their pinnacle, they have millions of haters. In Formula One Grand Prix racing, Lewis Hamilton is perhaps the best of the field right now. As such, he has millions of admirers. He also has millions of haters.

Most older, long-time fans and followers of Formula One like the traditional image of the Grand Prix winner. Usually, they are suave, intelligent, and conservative in dress and word. Lewis Hamilton is covered with tattoos, dresses flamboyantly and wears large diamond studs in his ears. This might be the driver at the pinnacle of motor sports in the future, but for older purists, Hamilton’s personal manner and presentation suck.

This inappropriate appearance by Hamilton will fade in F1. His ambitions are in show business, and his skill will diminish and more likeable drivers will move into prominence. Many F1 fans look forward to the time when Lewis Hamilton moves out of Formula One and on to a pursuit that might appreciate excessive talk and flash.

Faith is a Sometimes Thing

All kinds of religions promote the idea of faith because they have nothing substantial to offer. A congregation must have faith to contribute to the fine edifice in which the mistering takes place, guiding the flock that bought the building. The clergyperson, be it a man or woman, Christian or Muslim, Jew or Buddhist or any of the hundreds of religions that cover the planet Earth, is just a person. Just as is every person, the clergy person is subjected to temptation and often is in a position of authority over a victim.

I am unable to have faith because I have no justification for it. Evil people succeed, good people suffer and everyone is forced to be on guard. The need to protect one’s self reduces the amount of pleasure one acquires in their lifetime. Perhaps the clergyperson is actually taking refuge from the jarring realities of daily life. They live in an atmosphere meant to reflect a connection with god. Such a connection cannot exist because there is no god. People should be good because it’s right, not because they hope to avoid hell or purgatory.

I certainly agree with the good works that religious cults do. The havens for homeless, the soup kitchens for the destitute and hungry are wonderful acts of high dedication. I just don’t understand why god has to be involved. Why do ragged, hungry people have to listen to a sermon before they’re given food? Are they being force-fed faith?

A few times in my life I’ve been at risk of bodily injury or worse. In each case, I believe I saved myself where a ‘believer’ might have failed, asking god for salvation instead of bearing down of the crisis and dealing with it.

A Party of Eight… Plus One… All Mismatched

The boy turned fourteen so his mother held a small family party. It was just dinner, no cake and ice cream; it seems fourteen is beyond that. My use of the word ‘mismatched’ is the best I could think of to examine this group of individuals. ‘Mismatched’ doesn’t necessarily mean each pair of people is mismatched, although they might well be.


Each guest is somehow not a match to the others. To begin with, I am the oldest of the family group – the eight plus one – that gathered for the… uh… party. I mismatch most everyone there: I’m the only Jew, I’m second generation Canadian, I’m not related by blood to anyone else there and I’m married to a Hungarian woman who is the mother of the Hungarian husband of the birthday boy’s mother. The boy is from a previous relationship his mother was in. He was noticeably uninterested in the celebration of his birthday.

The boy is related to his mother but not to her husband. The husband is related to my wife but not to me. That is not to say that the husband and I are not close. We are. Still, you can see some of the mismatch, even with me having gone to Budapest to marry my love by the River Danube. It is my fourth marriage and by far the best

Another individual at the gathering was my favourite, the five-year-old half-sister of the boy, born of his mother and her husband, the son of my wife. She is my granddaughter even without blood. While her parents pursued their careers, my wife (her actual grandmother) and I raised her every day until she was through preschool. Since then, she is with us from about four in the afternoon until six or seven when we deliver her to her parents’ home, a couple of blocks away. She’s a joy, and I’m determined to live to near one hundred so I can watch her become something great. She draws, dances, sings and speaks English, French, and Hungarian and has begun Spanish.

The boy and his half-sister have grandfathers by blood, but they are relatively uninterested in them. There is another grandmother as well – the mother of the mother of the boy and the little half-sister. She is no longer married to the father of the boy’s mother. She has been living for some time with a tall, bearded German gentleman who clearly doesn’t understand children. Their grandmother does understand because she was a teacher. But she’s cold, as is her daughter, the mother of the boy and little girl.

The ‘Plus One” is a blood grandfather, the ex-husband of the other grandmother and father of the mother of the two kids. He’s a small, pale, whispery creep who, although educated as an engineer, lives on welfare in a basement where he makes model planes. He means nothing to the kids.

The remaining grandfather is the ex-husband of my wife and father of the little girl’s father, my stepson. He was not at the gathering because he’s a hermit and never goes out. He’s an educated chemist, and he lives alone in a one-room flat and eats Sara Lee cakes and drinks a bit of Heineken.

My own children decided to not have children as it would interfere with their personal lives. I’m happy for them, although I would have loved to have grand-kids. Now, thanks to my stepson and his wife, I’ve been given the opportunity to pass myself on to this brilliant little girl. I have been dedicated to her since the day she was born. I love her, and she loves me. She says I’m her only grandpa, and we both know what she means.

I Like Some Criminals

An ordinary day in a boring car dealer showroom, I was chatting with one of my salesmen when I saw a man enter and look around. He was tall, lean, and with a boney face covered with character. He approached me, I guess, because I appeared to be the boss. He asked if there was a chance he could get a job in my dealership and I referred him to Helmsley, my sales manager. A few moments later I saw him heading for the door.

“What did he say,” I asked.

“He said no,” he replied.

I could see that this man needed help and was desperate to work and earn a living. I reversed the manager’s opinion and hired the man. As time passed, I saw that the man was energetic and eager to make sales. I also learned that when I hired him, he was just out of an eighteen month jail sentence for robbery. That explained the lean desperation and the sad old topcoat he wore. I also learned he had a wife and two sons that he was determined to raise well.

Over the years I became friends with the man, and got to know his family. When he came to visit at my home, my son and daughter joined us at the kitchen table, eager to hear the colourful stories he would tell. All of us were fascinated, not just by the stories, but while talking he would roll perfect cigarettes with one hand and smoke them. His dexterity was remarkable. He said one learns such things in prison.

He had been a daredevil motorcyclist in a travelling carnival, riding an old Indian bike around the inside walls of a large ball of metal lattice. On another tour, he hired a disabled boy to sit in a pit and bite the heads off live chickens. Another time, he rented a number of fetuses in jars of formaldehyde from a laboratory and made a midway exhibit called “Pickled Punks”. Only a criminal has such imagination.

He was not a street mug at his roots, however. He had attended an exclusive private school with the sons of dignitaries that later became dignitaries themselves. His father was a mining engineer in charge of a world famous mine in Northern Canada. Before that, his family had lived in British Guyana while his father managed a mine there.

Every opportunity for an average life was there for the man, and he chose wisely to follow his desire to have a life of excitement and adventure. I did the same, and I believe that’s why we were trusted friends with each other.

He passed away from cancer a couple of years ago. I’m glad he lived to see one of his sons rise to be a television writer/producer and marry well and provide grandchildren.

Some Days are Different

Early every morning, around seven, I put my sweet Doberman, Shadow into the hatchback and head out of the village to give her some liberty. I’ve been taking her out to Moore Road. South out of town on concession road ten and turn left onto Moore.  It’s paved only about a quarter of a kilometer, up to the crossing of the bike trail that used to be a railway spur. After that, it’s a wide gravel road lined with thousands of hectares of corn getting started. On stalks barely half a meter tall, shining, green leaves reflect the morning sunlight.

This morning was different. Shadow jumped into my little Sonic’s hatchback, I got behind the wheel and fired it up. Immediately the air conditioning started making the morning feel fresher. NPR on the radio, a backup picture on the dashboard screen, and I backed out of the garage. So far, everything was as usual. 12

Down CR ten to Moore, swing left onto the short strip of pavement and I see about fifty people in yellow hard hats, and about a dozen huge machines. Graders, rollers, asphalt extruder, trucks and associated equipment. They are line exactly where I usually make my U-turn to park and run the dog along the bike trail. She heads off into the tall grass on either side, to poop demurely.

This morning, I pick my way through the meandering construction people out onto the gravel part of Moore Road. But – it’s not gravel now. It’s crushed flat and smooth like wet sand or something. I drive up between the green fields about a kilometer, stop and let Shadow out. She frolics in the grass at the edge of the corn fields, down into the roadside ditch, back up into the grass where she relieves herself.

Rather than turn around and go back through the construction circus, I carry on. Before too long I emerge onto two-lane highway fourteen back into town. I turn left at the little poutine stand and home. It surprises me that yesterday morning at seven I was there in the serenity of country. Today, the gravel road is instead a bed suitable for asphalt, and much activity replaces the serenity.

It’s not a big deal, but it is a surprise. There is nothing but vast cornfields the whole length of Moore Road. Why does this road get this luxurious treatment? I must admit that all the remote farm roads in this part of Ontario are beautifully paved and striped. As a result, it’s a haven for bicyclists and motorcyclists that proliferate through the summer.

Beautiful Women, out in the Cold

Are you one of them? The lovely women whose offices are in large downtown buildings?  Are you one of the professionals that we see standing outside building entrances? Some of you cower in alcoves to escape the wind while you desperately suck in nicotine smoke. You know it’s killing you, you know it makes you smell, and it makes a fool of you as you stand out in the cold, feeding your addiction.


I’ll never forget the day I quit. I was behind the wheel of my car, stopped at a traffic light. On the corner, also waiting for the green light was a stunning woman. She was tall, lean, with excellent posture and a perfectly tailored business suit. Suddenly she lifted a cigarette I hadn’t seen to her lips.

In seconds, she became less attractive. As she let the two streams of smoke glide from her nostrils, she began nervously flicking, flicking, flicking non-existent ashes from her cigarette. At that moment she became completely unattractive to me.

The light turned green and I drove off. At that moment, the announcer on the car radio said, “It’s national quit smoking month, folks”. I thought that I must also look like a loser fool when I smoke. The thought punished me. When I got to my destination, I opened my briefcase, extracted the half-pack of Camel filters, crumpled it into dust and discarded it in a garbage bin.

I’ve not tasted tobacco in any form since that day almost thirty years ago.

Guns for Protection

We came to accept women at the range about ten years ago. There never were many there: Alice came usually with her husband, Carl; Mrs. Dagliesh still comes about once a month even though her husband Claude passed. Ms Laura Fletcher is a regular every Thursday evening – most of us think she’s lesbian. The other regular Thursday lady is Diane Moore. She’s a head shrinker… like a psychologist or psychiatrist or something. I don’t know the difference. She’s divorced from a Marine officer who got her interested in shooting.

I admit I was interested in her. So was every other single guy in the club, but all of us were a bit afraid to speak to her. We’re just a bunch of country boys, y’know, and none of us talks classy like Diane does. I can call her Diane ‘cause I went on a date with her.

I was afraid to hit on her, just like the others. I guess I just wanted to know her more than any other guy. Then Frankie, at work, pointed out that it won’t kill me to ask her. What’s the worst that could happen? Would she pull out her Colt .45 and blow your face off? Not likely, but she might get me from a long ways away with her Winchester. I’ve watched her score at the range, and she’s really too good. She shames me.

Something told me she was using target practice for more than relaxation. I just had a hunch that she might be up to something. That’s part of the reason why I went after her, sort of. I wanted to see if she was up to no good. She drove a BMW to the club, so I expected she’d have dough, but when she invited me back to her place I almost flipped. It’s a big house on the edge of the bluff overlooking the lake. It’s completely surrounded by dense forest. Diane said she bought up all the surrounding acreage to assure she’ll never have objectionable neighbours.

I asked her one time why she wanted to be so perfect with her weapons, since she never entered competitions. Without any change in her face, she simply sipped her coffee and said, “There are some people that need to be killed”.