Day 2 ... 7ish
Chapter 3. The Real Reason Grandpa Visits So Often
I hadn't been asleep for more than an hour when Kenya began to keen. I groaned and asked her if she were sick. She felt fine ... cool wet nose ... paws and ears normal ... but she was huddled up against my bed shivering, her hair standing straight up like a thick black Mohawk. I tried to get her up on the bed so she could cuddle and get over her night terror but she was having none of it. She cringed almost as if the bed were the problem.
I was too sleepy to spend any more time than it took to find a cookie and put her in the walk-in closet where she prefers sleeping on blustery stormy nights, and we both went back to sleep.
But not for long. Grandpa decided to pay another visit. I smelled his hair pommade first.
"You were just here a couple of nights ago," I said. "Are you planning to make this a nightly occurrence?"
His brilliant blue eyes pierced the darkness, and he responded by smoothing his already slick hair, giving the small moustache a couple of pats, and saying through thin lips that did not look friendly, "This is the first time I've come myself. It seems you inherited your grandmother's inability to understand subtlety."
"What are you talking about?" I asked sleepily. "I dreamed about your escapades with women, about how you treated them shamefully. I got it. You were a scoundrel."
‘No one bothers to make this trip just to blacken his reputation, woman. Couldn't you guess why I came into your life?"
"Not really, Grandpa. Sorry."
"And don't call me Grandpa. It sounds ridiculous for a woman of nearly seventy to call a man half her age Grandpa."
"Okay, Paul. So what's the message, eh? Are you trying to warn me about men who take advantage of women?"
"Don't be ridiculous. You're old enough to take care of yourself. And you don't have all that much time left to play."
"So, what then? You want me to immortalize you by writing about your philandering?"
Kenya's wet nose nudged in under my duvet and dampened my pyjama leg. "It's all right Girl. It's just a dream. Go back to bed."
"I want you to do your duty as the only living member of my immediate family," Grandpa muttered. "And get that dog away from the bed. She smells."
"If she can put up with you, you'll have to put up with her. She lives here; you don't." I hesitated, and then added, "Although you seem to be moving in."
"Well, will you help me or not?" he asked brusquely.
"Tell me what you want me to do," I muttered. "I need to get some sleep."
"I was murdered and I want you to make sure that ... " His voice trailed off, and we were left with a lingering smell of attar of roses, and yet another question.
Did he want me expose his murderers or to avenge his death? Either seemed irrelevant now almost a century after his death.
One thing was sure. He had no interest in helping me. Why was that no surprise? I called Kenya up onto the bed and we slept until a frozen pink dawn brightened the morning sky.
7:49 am ... another 600 words8 a.m.
Chapter 4 ... The Quest Begins
I gave Kenya her Dentistik, made a pot of weak tea, put the pot, a mug and a creamer on the round silver tray and turned on the computer.
Two hours later (I have dial-up up here in these hills) I had uncovered very little I didn't already know. I was looking for something in the Detroit papers about a shooting death in the twenties. The first site demanded payment of $10 a month. It didn't seem important enough to spend that much money.
I decided to try Chicago. Another hour and I was still no closer to the truth.
New York was no better and there were between 30,000 and 100,00 speakeasy clubs in New York City alone during prohibition according Wikipedia.
I broke for a while to bake some banana bread and turned on the radio in the kitchen. In the middle of the regular CBC morning programming, the radio screwed up. I began getting some other signal and a fragmented song came in amid the static and Jian Ghomeshi's voice. It was an old Irving Berlin number called "Hello Montreal". Good bye Broadway, Hello Montreal ...
Of course ... Montreal was known as Sin City, and, between 1920 and 1933, it was the largest wet city on the East Coast.
I'll bet the old coot didn't bother with the American cities at all. I bet he headed off to Montreal where he could have a feast of everything decadent without leaving Canada.
A whiff of smoke floated past my nostrils, and I checked the oven. The banana bread was fine. And then the smell became stronger ... cigar smoke ... expensive cigar smoke ... maybe even a Havana Panatela Supreme Deluxe, the one favoured by Al Capone, which sold for the equivalent of 2 ½ hours wages during the Depression.
"Finally," said a now familiar voice.
"This is a non-smoking house," I said wearily.
"Thank God you inherited some of my brains. Good thing you're not such a prig about sex."
He laughed, a throaty smoker's laugh, and then he was gone again.
Something weird just happened in real time. I heard a noise that sounded like a small animal ... but nothing gets into this house, and certainly not into my den bedroom. No smell of cigar smoke ... just the rattling noise ... but I shivered.
Well now I knew where I should start looking for answers. I decided to visit Sin City.
8:58 a.m. another 370 words ... and now I am really going to make banana bread and have breakfast.