Monday, October 10, 2016

Light Ray Blues, Series 2, Instalment 10: Three is the magic number

When we last saw Ed Bryce he had just gotten off the train in Ottawa and was walking over to his hotel. Where's the remote? I can't hear what's happening.....

If you check into a fancy hotel with no luggage, the staff looks at you a little askance, but if you pre-pay by peeling off a few bills from a sizeable roll of cash, everyone is your friend. They happily went about catering to my every whim which included ordering a change of clothes and some overnight things. And seeing if Leslie had left a message. No dice. Not yet. 

My next stop was Bank Street. The postal code corresponded to three street-level donut stores in the Trudeau Complex, a vast megalithic office block plopped down like some wayward starship in a sea of gothic spires. Typical for downtown Ottawa. The core is dominated by the touristy houses of parliament, massive government office blocks, palatial digs of their supplicants and hangers-on, and the banks. Maybe that should be: The Banks. They say the difference between Americans and Canadians is that Americans know how to make money and Canadians know how to count it. That old saw wasn’t completely true, but it has legs in this town, and The Banks have the legs of marathon runners.

Bank Street is where The Banks are, but some of their workers are actual human beings and need things like coffee and food, so there are lots of cafes and restaurants. However, the question for me was which one of these postal code sharing three was the one? All I could think of was Adams’ insight that these people were likely smug amateurs who liked to play games, so figuring out which of the three was the one was probably some sort of puzzle I was expected to solve. 

I was on the wrong side of the street. I crossed over at a nearby light and walked down to the first place: Keon’s Donuts. I could smell the sugary sweetness from where I stood on the sidewalk. I went in and wandered around looking for something that looked like a clue. 

I must have had a clueless look on my face, because a nice, uniformed woman gently called to me from behind the counter like I was a lost soul in search of the life enhancing sustenance only a donut could provide, “We have some fresh, double-dipped maple cream donuts.”

I can only hope that this delicious food-of-the-gods is served in the Pearly Gates’ waiting room, but I was on a mission and had no time for clogging my arteries today. I called back, “No thanks, just looking.”

Just looking? I was clueless. I left the same way I came in and walked into the second place, which was right next door: Mahovlich’s Dounts. It looked and smelled the same as Keon’s. And like Keon’s, I couldn’t see any clues. 

Mahovlich’s had a side exit that opened into the Complex’s internal pedestrian mall. I could see that the third address, Ellis’ Donuts, was across the corridor, so I went out the side door. Down the corridor were the usual dry cleaner, shoe repair, stationary shop and so on that you find in these kinds of malls. But, there was one that you didn’t often see. It was a little store, no bigger than a walk-in closet, wedged between Ellis’ Donuts and the dry cleaner: Lester’s Laffs, a joke shop.

Its main display window showed the usual stuff. But just below the X-ray specs, fake vomit, and fart pillows was an ad stencilled on the glass in big, bright red letters: This Week Only ! Severed Thumbs! Half-off!

Part 11 can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment