Sunday, August 11, 2013

The hole

When I woke up the next morning I found a sticky-note clinging to my leg. Its message was simple: Meet me at Confederation at 9 - Leslie. It was 8:30. I had to run.

And run I did. No time to wait for streetcars and subway trains. I gathered myself together, ran right out the front entrance, dodged some homeless guys still asleep on the subway air-grates, and made a beeline for the station.

No time for tickets either. I’d pay on the train. I ran for the Hastings-Bancroft platform. Not many people were heading out to the sticks at this time of day, so it was easy to spot Leslie. She was looking as calm and collected as usual bearing a striking resemblance to a Land’s End catalogue model from the ‘Missy is on her way to the Hamptons’ pages. I on the other had was striking a pose from this year’s Columbo collection, which is what you get after sleeping in your clothes all night on a couch.

Leslie held her tongue and we boarded the train with just formal pleasantries. The coach was nearly empty and we had our choice of seats.

After we had settled down, Leslie handed me a ticket,”You owe me 50 bucks.”

“I’ll give you 25 and the rest after I’ve submitted my expenses.”

Leslie frowned. I fished 25 dollars from my wallet and handed it to her, “Have you ever been out there?”

“I don’t tour prisons when I go on vacation.”

“No of course not,” I said seeing the error of my ways. I should have stopped there, but in the morning my brain is all rev’ed up and it runs pretty much on auto-pilot until I’ve had some coffee, “But this one has got some strange history. Back in the last century some mining promoters discovered what they thought was a big iron ore deposit there. They dug a huge open pit mine and hauled the ore out by rail and sent it down to Lake Ontario. Turns out the deposit wasn’t as rich as they thought, and in a couple of years there wasn’t enough high grade stuff left to make a buck, so they closed it down. 

“A couple of years later the government is looking for a place to build a penitentiary for the worst of the worst criminals. Those mining guys wanted to get rid of the pit, so they pitched it as the ideal place for a jail: a solid iron hole in the earth that just needed to be outfitted with cells. They’re well connected, so within a year the feds have a new, pre-excavated jail site. Turns out it wasn’t that easy to build a jail out of a hole in the ground, and it became a big scandal because it went way over budget and there was lots of cronyism in the contracts. 

“At that place, when they say they’re putting someone in the hole, they’re not talking euphemistically – they literally mean it. The more punishment they figure you need, the deeper in that place they put you. Murderers go pretty close to the bottom. I don’t know how they still get away with running that place.”

Leslie was thumbing through the breakfast menu in the seat pocket, “Thanks for the history lesson, but I’m not interested in sightseeing if that was your plan. I just want to see with my own eyes that it’s not Donna and then leave.”

I hoped it wasn’t her either, but my eyes saw something in that missing persons report. “Agreed.”

We turned our attention to ordering some food.

The next instalment can be found here.

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