Tag Archives: Ed Staskus

Chapter 11

   William Murphy, Jr. was 21 years old the day the Marco Polo was deliberately run aground at Cavendish. She was a three-masted three-deck clipper ship built at Marsh Creek in Saint John, New Brunswick 32 years earlier. During its construction the frame was disheveled and blown all over the shipyard by a storm and the skeleton had to be reassembled. When the shipbuilding was done the launch didn’t go well. The boat grazed the bank of the creek while sliding down the slipway, got stuck in a mudflat, and went over on her side. A week later a high tide lifted her up, but she got stuck in the mud again. Two weeks later she finally floated free and was fitted with rigging.

   The big boat carried emigrant men and women from England to Australia for many years. She set the world’s record for the fastest voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, doing it in 76 days. More than fifty children died of measles on her maiden voyage and were buried at sea. Coming back, she carried a king’s ransom in gold dust and a 340-ounce gold nugget. It was a gift to Queen Victoria from the colonial government. Pulling into its home port, the ship unfurled a banner claiming it was the “Fastest Ship in the World.”

   During the gold rush it carried loads of standing room only men to Australia. Nobody died of measles, although some of them died of bad moonshine and fights. Fire is the test of gold. Many of the men died of typhus, what they called ship fever, burning up in their hammocks in the South Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Tasman Sea. Many of the original whites laying claim to aboriginal land, the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent with the least fertile soil anywhere, got there on the Marco Polo. 

   When she was retired from the passenger trade, she was refitted for the coal, timber, and bat shit trade. The hull was rotting wasting away. Chains were wrapped around it and drawn tight trying to keep it together. A windmill-driven pump was installed to send leaks back to where they came from.

   It was a late July morning, clear sunny warm after the storm that had driven the ship to Cavendish. Bill Murphy was in the dunes watching the crew wade ashore. They had been on the way from Montreal to England loaded with pine planks when they got caught in a gale. They plowed ahead but started to take on water. Two days later wind and waves were still pommeling them, and they were still taking on water. The ship was flooding from stem to stern and the hands couldn’t plug the leaks fast enough or well enough. The windmill blew away and the pumps gave a last gasp. Captain Bull decided to try saving the crew and cargo. He put the clipper into full sail and wheeled it straight at Cavendish’s sandy beaches.

   The closer they got the better their chances looked until, three hundred feet from shore, he ordered the rigging cut. The masts groaned wanting to snap and the bottom of the boat scraped the bottom. Everybody stayed where they were, staying awake all night, until dawn when the storm finally wore itself out and they rowed ashore. There were 25 of them, Norwegians Swedes Germans. They were tough men. There was a Tahitian, too. He was half-tough, it being the beginning of only his second sea voyage but looked tougher. He was speckled with tattoos and wore his hair in long braids tied up at their ends with small shiny fishhooks.

   Lucy Maud Montgomery was a pale slim 8-year-old girl, her long crimson hair in braids with choppy bangs, when she and everybody else in Cavendish watched the crew abandon the boat. She wore a white flower hairpiece on one side of her head and took notes on scraps of paper. Nine years later her short story “The Wreck of the Marco Polo” was published.

   Bill Murphy was hired by the salvage company stripping the boat. It was welcome work before harvest time. As soon as they started on the grounded vessel, another storm rolled in. Bill was on the boat and had to stay where he was. Trying for the shore was too dangerous. They battened whatever hatches were still left and spent the night being battered. Captain Macleod from French River showed up the next morning. The wind beat him back the first time he tried to reach the Marco Polo, but he made it the second time, saving all the men except one. He and his shipmates got gold watches for their courage. Bill went home wet as a wet dog.

   He didn’t go home empty handed, though. There were twin figureheads of Marco Polo, depicting the boat’s namesake, spearheading the boat. A man from Long River hauled one of them away and hung it in his barn. Bill hauled the other one away and hung it in the Murphy barn. It was the end of the road for the far-ranging Polo

   Bill was back on the boat two days later as the salvage work went apace. He was taking a break on the poop deck leaning against a gunwale above the captain’s cabin when a young dark-skinned man joined him.

   “I am Teva the Tahitian,” he said.

   “I am Bill the Murphy,” Bill said.

   Teva was the only one of the crew who signed on to help salvage the ship. The rest stayed in Cavendish drinking and chasing farmgirls. The Tahitian and the Irishman worked together for the rest of the week and into August. Teva told Bill he was putting his purse together to get to Maine and sign on to a whaler.

   “My grandfather Queequeg was a harpooner,” he said. “He was the best in the world. You could spit on the water, and he would split your floating spit from the deck with one throw. He shaved with his harpoon and smoked from a tomahawk. He was a cannibal, but his favorite food was clam chowder.”

   “He was a cannibal?” Bill asked, taken aback. 

   “Him, not me,” Teva said. “I never met him, but my father told me about him before he went whaling and never came back, either.”

   “They both went to sea and never came back?”

   “Both, never. A friend of my grandfather’s stopped on our island when I was a boy and told us about what happened to him. He and grandfather sailed and slept together.”

   “In the morning his arm was thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner,” Ishmael said. “You had almost thought I had been his wife. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.”

   “When I asked what my grandfather was like he told me ‘There was no hair on his head, nothing but a small scalp-knot twisted up on his forehead, large, deep eyes, fiery black and bold. He looked like a man who had never cringed and never had a creditor. His bald purplish head looked for all the world like a mildewed skull. His body was checkered with tattoo squares. He seemed to have been in a war, and just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt. Still more, his legs were marked, as if dark green frogs were running up the trunks of young palms.’”

   Teva lapped up water with his hands from a barrel and spat on the deck.

   “Grandfather saved Ishmael’s life when their ship was head-butted by a white whale they were hunting. The coffin they had built for him when he was dying during the hunt was thrown overboard and Ishmael hung on to it like a buoy. He was the only sailor who survived when Captain Ahab the crew my grandfather and the Pequod all sank to the bottom.”

   “Since your father and grandfather both went whaling and never came back, why are you going to the States to take up whaling?” Bill asked

   “It’s in my blood,” Teva said.

   Every day when the day was fair and the sun shining families picnicked on the beach at Cavendish, watching launches with two-masted ketch rigs go back and forth, taking what they could to Alexander MacNeill’s for auction.

   It was a Sunday when Sinbad the Sailor walked up to Bill Murphy, looked him up and down, and meowed. “They say our boat had no rats the whole last year,” Teva said. “He drove them off and those who thought they could stand up to him, they disappeared.” Teva tossed a piece of salt pork at Sinbad, who snagged it midair and gulped it down.

   Sinbad was a two-tone black and white Norwegian Forest cat.

   “One of the Vikings brought him aboard,” Teva said.

   Sinbad was a twenty-pound bruiser with long legs and a bushy tail. His coat was a thick, glossy, water-repellent top layer with a woolly undercoat. It was thickest at the legs, chest, and head. His ears were large, tufted, wide at the base, and high set.

   “He’s a good climber, very strong,” Teva said. “He can climb rocks and cliffs.” 

   When he leaned on Bill and reached up stretching flexing his front legs, his claws extended slightly. They were sharp as razors. Bill rubbed Sinbad’s head. 

   “He’s big enough to be a man-eater,” Bill said. “What’s going to happen to him when our work is finished?”

   “I don’t know,” Teva said. “The Viking left him behind.”

   That evening, when Bill was walking back to the rude shelter he had thrown up for himself behind the dunes, Sinbad the ex-sailor-to-be followed him. Bill put a bowl of fresh water out for the cat but left breakfast lunch dinner up to him. He was sure Sinbad was not going to starve. He was a vole shrew deer mouse snowshoe hare red-bellied snake widow maker. Even racoons coyotes and foxes gave him a wide berth.

   Sinbad went back and forth to the boat with Bill the rest of the month and into August while it decayed and fell apart piece by piece until a wild thunderstorm barreled up from the United States and the vessel broke up along the coast, going down to the bottom of the sea, to Davy Jones’ Locker. It was the end of the Marco Polo. It sank to a moldering standstill.

   When Bill packed up his bedroll and shelter and walked home, Sinbad walked beside him the five miles back to Murphy’s Cove and North Rustico. Biddy and Kate were shucking oysters on the porch, a pot at their feet. The oysters were from Malpeque Bay. Hundreds of boats were in the fishery there and at St. Peter’s Bay. Until the 1830s oysters were so plentiful and so few people ate them that they were spread over land as fertilizer. The shells were burned, too, for the lime they produced.

   After the Intercolonial Railway got rolling in 1876 new markets for Prince Edward Island oysters opened in Quebec and Ontario. But oyster stocks started to fall and kept falling as more boats joined the harvesting. Oysters fled for their lives. They didn’t like being eaten alive. Biddy and Kate didn’t know anything about overfishing or the deep-seated fears of shellfish, and didn’t much care, either, so long as they got their fair share.

   “Oh my gosh, what a beauty!” Kate exclaimed when Bill walked up to the porch with Sinbad beside him. 

   “He landed here on the Marco Polo,” Bill explained. “The ship broke up yesterday in the storm and he needed a new home, so here he is.”

   Sinbad walked straight past the girls to the pot and started pulling oysters out, gulping them down without a single word of hello glad to meet you happy to be here.

   “Hey, stop that,” Biddy scolded, covering the pot. “You’ll ruin your appetite, silly goose.”

   Sinbad’s ears pricked up. He had goose for dinner last Christmas, and it was delicious. He shot a look in all directions. He didn’t see any birds, but had no doubt there had to be one or two somewhere nearby. He was by nature a nomad, but as there was a pot full of oysters and silly slow geese to eat, he thought, I’ll stay for the time being.

   He was a back door man, but when the front door was wide open, that was the way he always went.

Chapter 12

   The first day of summer wasn’t any different than the day before the first day of summer. When JT Markunas checked the weather report, it looked like it wasn’t going to be any different the next day, either. He sat outside his rented house in Milton and thought it was like the murder he was still investigating. It wasn’t any different today than it had been yesterday and looked like it wasn’t going to be any different anytime soon.

   The RCMP knew where and how the woman with the empty briefcase was killed but didn’t know why. They still didn’t know who she was, nor did they have a clue about who might have done it. The more days and weeks went by the more it got pushed back in everybody’s minds. It was starting to become a cold case. Nobody had seen or heard anything in the fall and by the time anybody knew something had happened, winter was over and done and it was springtime.

   It was a hell of a shame, he thought. Nobody should get away with murder. Murders are often a spur of the minute mistake, but what happened in Conor Murphy’s field wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate. It rankled him to think whoever did it might get away with it. It was usually the poor who didn’t get away with murder. The rich hired somebody to talk their way out of it. JT thought what happened had to involve money, and lots of it.

   An execution is justice, but assassination is murder. There was no justice in taking the law into your own hands. There was money in farming and fishing, which Prince Edward Island did a great deal of. Farmers and fishermen rarely shot each other, or anybody else. At one time lenders got rough when it came to collecting debts, but that time was gone. Criminal gangs shot first and didn’t ask questions whenever they were crossed, but there were no criminal gangs like that on the island. There were some folks with criminal minds. That’s why the force existed. He thought it was likely whoever did the shooting was a lone wolf. That meant whoever it was, was likely to keep to themselves. Whoever it was, was going to be hard to find. JT wasn’t holding his breath.

   It was going to be a tough nut to crack but it was a nut that would have to keep. It was his day off. He tossed his bicycle into the back of his Chevy pick-up. The bike was a Specialized Rockhopper, nothing special, but virtually indestructible. It went up and down farm roads and tracks just fine and rode smooth enough on pavement. He lived about 10 kilometers from Charlottetown and the RCMP station. Brackley Beach was about 20 kilometers away. He drove to Brackley Beach.

   JT parked at the west end of the beach. It was 15 kilometers to Dalvay. He was going to keep going another 5 kilometers to Grand Tracadie, stop and stretch and his legs, and go back. Forty kilometers in the saddle would be enough for him. When he started the wind was at his back and the living was easy, until he realized it would be in his face on the way back. He thought he would find somewhere in Grand Tracadie to have a scone and a cup of coffee, maybe two cups.

   He rode past the Harbor Lighthouse, some cottages, Ross Beach, some more cottages, Stanhope Beach, Long Pond, and stopped at Dalvay. He rode to the front steps, parked his bike, and walked down the sloping lawn to a set of red Adirondack chairs. He was sitting there looking out at the ocean when somebody walked up and asked if he would like tea and biscuits.

   “Black tea and plenty of butter,” he said.

   He need not have asked for butter. If there was anything plentiful on the island, it was homegrown butter. There were enough cows in all directions that everybody on the island could go on an all-butter diet if they wanted to and there still wouldn’t be a shortage.

   Dalvay By the Sea was a big house and seasonal rooms. Before becoming lodgings, it was a big house. The Gilded Age American industrialist Alexander Macdonald built it just before the end of the 19th century on grounds of 120 acres. The lower half of the house and all the fireplaces were island sandstone. Windmills supplied power and water. He kept horses and carriages and a cohort of grooms to look after them. He and his wife entertained all summer when they weren’t riding and at the end of every summer hosted a lavish dance for the locals. They were like patroons.

   By 1909 Alexander Macdonald was dying. At the beginning of fall, he stood on Long Pond for the last time staring at his house. He died in California the next year. After his children squandered the family fortune, Dalvay was sold to the man who had been tending it. William Hughes contacted the family to ask what should be done with the 26-room place. They said, “You can have it for the back taxes.” He bought it and all the furnishings for less than $500.00. Fifteen years earlier it had cost more than $50,000.00 to build. The furnishings were bought during family travels to Italy, France, England, and Egypt. They were transported to Prince Edward Island by ocean steamers. Nobody knew what all of it had cost.

   William Hughes turned around and sold the house for a tidy profit. The last owner went broke and sold it to the government in 1938, which turned it over to Parks Canada, which under a concession had been operating it for the past fifty years as a summer hotel.

   JT finished his biscuit and tea, saddled back up, and buckled his helmet. Before he got started, he saw two young women on bicycles going his way. They were noodling it. He rode past them givng them a wave. They waved back. He thought they were both good-looking, one more than the other. He had a job, a house, and a bed, but he didn’t have a girlfriend. His job was the problem. It was a Catch-22. Most of the women he met who liked policemen, he didn’t like. Most of the women he liked didn’t like policemen.

   There were no coffee shops in Grand Tracadie. There wasn’t much other than houses and fields. He rode as far as MacDougalls Cove and turned around. At first, riding back to Brackley, the breeze was at him from the side. Once he got back on the parkway, though, it was in his face. It wasn’t a hurricane, but it wasn’t a powder puff, either. He dropped his bike into a lower gear and plodded on. He rode the bike for fun and fitness. The ride back to his Chevy pick-up was going to be about fitness.

   He had just passed Cape Stanhope when he saw the two young women on their bicycles ahead of him. It almost looked like they were riding in place, although he could see they were peddling. He was fifty-some yards behind them when a red motorcycle went humming fast past him. JT hadn’t heard the motorcycle and was taken aback when it went by. It was going 140 KPH for sure, maybe faster on a road where the speed limit was at least third of that. When the Tasmanian Devil passed the women ahead, the rider wiggle waggled his motorcycle at them and was gone. 

   The women were riding on the shoulder. The one closest to the road got shaky unnerved see-sawed lost control and fell over. She bounced on the shoulder and bounced off sideways onto the sand. Her friend stopped and ran back to her friend.

   “Son of a bitch,” JT cursed under his breath. If he had been working, he could have caught the motorcycle, maybe. It had to be a Jap bike. They made the quietest motorcycles. He hadn’t gotten the plate, but he knew high-tech when he saw it. It looked new and might have been faster than his Ford Mustang police pursuit car. He stopped where the fallen woman was rolling over and sitting up. Her hands and forearms were scraped and bleeding. There was sand in the blood. She had broken her fall with them. Both of her knees were scraped and bleeding, one of them worse than the other.

   He put his hand on her shoulder and pressed her back down when she tried to stand up.

   “No, don’t do that,” he said. “I’m with the national police, RCMP. Stay there.” 

   He turned to the friend.

   “Don’t let her get up until I come back, it should just be a few minutes.”

   He rode back across the bridge the way he had come, raced down Wharf Rd., and stopped at the first deep-sea fishing shack on Covehead Bay that he saw somebody at. He telephoned for an ambulance and rode back to the two women. They were where he had left them, except a man and wife had stopped to help. Their Ford Taurus with Massachusetts plates was half on the road and half on the shoulder behind the women, its flashers blinking. 

   “I run a tow truck operation back in Boston,” the man said.

   When the ambulance had come and gone, the man said, “She’s got road rash all over. What happened?”

   “Some jackass on a motorcycle went past them fast and made a veer at them before cutting away, and she lost it, went down.”

   “That’s too damned bad,” the man said

   JT stopped at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital the next morning. It was almost new, the biggest hospital in the province, having replaced both the Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island hospitals in 1982. He was told the woman had been treated and released.

   “Is she an islander?” he asked.

   The woman at the desk checked. “I don’t know, but she lives here in town,” she said.

   An islander was somebody who had been born on Prince Edward Island. When a woman who was brought to PEI as a baby died 90 years later her obituary in the newspaper read, “Woman from away died peacefully in her home.”

   Some said you had to be conceived on the island to make the grade. A boy living in Souris was flummoxed when he found out he might not be an islander, even though both his parents were,and he was born on the island. It turned out he was conceived on an impulse in a dark corner of the ferry crossing the Northumberland Strait. “He was not conceived on the island so he’s not an islander,” his uncles and aunts pointed out their noses out of joint. His parents took the argument to his father’s father. “It all depends on whether the ferry was going away or coming back,” his grandfather said.

   The woman’s name was Kayleigh Jurgelaitis. JT got her address and went to work. After he was done wasting his time arresting a teenaged dishwasher smoking pot behind a dumpster behind a restaurant, he clocked out at the end of the day, changed his clothes, and went looking for the address. He didn’t have far to go. She lived near Holland College. It was a two-year trade school, home to the Culinary Institute of Canada and the Atlantic Police Academy.

   He recognized the friend when she opened the door and she recognized him. When Kayleigh limped out of a hallway into the living room, she was limping up a storm.

   “How’s the leg?”

   “Better than yesterday. I couldn’t even walk. You’re the cop, right?”

   “Peace officer.”

   “Right.”

   “So, what happened to your leg?”

   “They said I have a slight meniscus tear in the knee,” she said sitting down and elevating her bad leg. “I’m supposed to keep it elevated and put ice on it every couple of hours. They think I should be back on my feet in a week or two.”

   “I’m glad to hear it. So long as I have it on my mind, did either of you get the license plate of that biker?”

   They both said no.

   “Neither did I,” JT said. “He was too far ahead, and it happened too fast. We might be able to find him, but probably not, except by accident.”

   “If I never see him again it will be soon enough,” Kayleigh said.

   “I couldn’t help noticing your name,” JT said. “Are you Lithuanian?”

   “Yes and no,” she said. “My mother was Irish, from here, and my father was Lithuanian, from the old country. I’m half of the one and half of the other. Why do you ask?”

   “Because my name is Justinas Markunas,” JT said.

   “I was wondering if I was the only Lithuanian on PEI,” Kayleigh laughed. “Now I know there are two of us.”

   Before leaving, pausing at the door, JT asked, “Since it’s just the two of us, we should have lunch or dinner sometime and toast ourselves.”

   “I think I should and I think I will take you up on that,” she said.

Chapter 13

   It wasn’t two weeks or even a week later that JT Markunas and Kayleigh Jurgelaitis sat down to dinner together in Charlottetown. Kayleigh healed fast when dinner on the town was on the table. It was three days later when they sat down to eat at the Canton Café on Queen St. It was early evening. The sky was clear, but the stars weren’t out, yet.

   “Homegrown is the best,” Kayleigh said, “but it’s fun to globetrot now and then.”

   “I’ve had nothing but next-door eggs and bread for breakfast and white fish mussels potatoes and rhubarb pie for dinner the past two weeks,” JT said. “I’m ready and willing for something off-shore.”

   The restaurant opened 19 years earlier. George Lee and Ken Wong both came from China to Prince Edward Island in the 1950s. Whenever they heard the words “Chairman Mao” and “Land Reform” they spit out the back door. They had their reasons. When they got tired of working at other people’s restaurants, they put their heads together and scrimped and saved and bought the Lotus Café. They renovated it renamed it and opened it with themselves in the kitchen and at the cash register. Ken Wong retired in 1980, a new cook getting acquainted with the tongs whisks utility knives, spatulas and skimmers, sushi kits and bamboo steamers, dumpling makers, and the dozens of woks. George Lee stayed behind the cash register, a fixture at the front. He kept his eyes on the prize.

   “They have got great egg rolls,” JT said.

   The Canton Café had a Canadian menu, too, a short list of hamburgers, hot sandwiches, and French fries. Nobody ever ordered the Canadian menu, except for tourists who stumbled in by mistake. When they were done they usually knew they had made s mistake.

   “Why would you have French fries when you could have this?” Kayleigh asked, biting into an egg roll.

   “Policemen say everything happens for a reason. What I say about ordering fries here is that sometimes something happens for a no good reason,” JT said.

   “I want to thank you again for stopping and helping me in the park.”

   “Uphold the right,” JT said.

   “What’s that?”

   “That’s the official RCMP motto. The unofficial motto is ‘They always get their man.’ We might get that guy on the bike but I’m not holding my breath until I see his motorcycle again. Anyway, I thought you were a tourist, and part of our mission is making sure tourists want to come back.”

   “Were those the only reasons?”

   “No.”

   “Are you from here?”

   “No, I’m from Sudbury, which is a mining town in Ontario.”

   Kayleigh didn’t say anything for a minute until she said, “Are you messing with me? Did you check up on me?”

   “No, of course not, why would I do that?”

   “Because I’m from Sudbury, too.”

   JT sat back pursed his lips and whistled. “I don’t believe in coincidences, but that is a hell of a coincidence.” His Canton Café chopsticks lay on the table untouched. He wasn’t going to touch them and risk going hungry. They ordered dumplings and roasted duck and shared their plates. They talked about chance and taking chances. 

   A wiry scruffy young man walked it and waited at the counter. George walked to the kitchen and brought back a take-out order in a brown bag. The man paid in cash and walked out nibbling on an egg roll.

   They were sipping their green tea and unraveling fortune cookies when Kayleigh burst out springing up from her seat facing the front window, “Hey there’s the motorcycle!” The red Kawasaki wheeled away from the curb. By the time Kayleigh and JT, followed by George, abandoning his cash register, were out the door, the bike was out of sight. They looked up and down the street. George shrugged his shoulders. They heard its whine somewhere in the distance. It was impossible to tell where it was or where it was going.

   “Goddamn it, that is the second time that has happened,” JT cursed.

   “Can you put an APB out for him?” Kayleigh asked.

   “What’s that?”

   “An all-points bulletin like in the movies.”

   “It doesn’t exactly work that way, but it will be on a worksheet tomorrow.”

   After they determined the motorcycle was long gone not to be found, George went back to his cash register, JT paid the bill, and suggested they stop at a bar on the waterfront.

   “Talk about coincidences,” Kayleigh said walking up to the bar and looking at the sign that said JR’s Bar. “JT and JR. Are you two the abbreviation brothers?”

   “Now that is a turn of the cards,” JT said. “I never gave it a thought. This place has been here before I ever even saw the light of day. They’ve got some good draft beers and a dance floor in the back. The tunes are always terrific, whether they’re local or otherwise. JR has had his share of music makers come through here, Anne Murray, John Allen Cameron, and Stompin’ Tom Connors. Stompin’ Tom even wrote a song about the place.”

   When they walked in Johnny Reid behind the bar gave JT a wave, waving him to the bar. “Long time no see, been a month, eh?” He was a short man wearing big glasses and a ratty short-sleeved rugby style shirt. He had a bar towel stuck in his pants pocket. JT ordered two pints of Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale. 

   “He doesn’t look that good, like he’s sick,” Kayleigh said while JR was pouring their beers.

   “JR’s got cancer.”

   “Oh, that’s terrible.”

   “Don’t say anything to him about it. He’s afraid he might have to close.”

   “Of course, I won’t, poor man.”

   “He’ll pull through. Johnny’s no spaghetti-o. He’s in it for the duration, whatever that might be.”

   They sat in silence for a few minutes until Kayleigh said, “Tell me about yourself and how a Sudbury boy ended up here.”

   “It’s a long story.”

   “I’ve got all night,” Kayleigh smiled.

Chapter 14

   The night Siobhan Murphy died in 1901 was the same night Queen Victoria died almost five thousand kilometers away. Siobhan was hit on the head when Father Georges Belcourt’s one-seater fell on her. The horseless carriage killed her just as fast as the horse who kicked her husband in the head many years before killed him. 

   Her last thought was of the day she first met William Murphy in Cavendish, of her first look at him. She knew in a flash what he was about when he looked at her and knew what her answer would be. After her last lightning-fast thought she went down into the darkness, taking her last breath.

   Siobhan lay dead under the steam-powered car in her barn all day before anybody noticed. She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She knew she wouldn’t be forgotten. Flies buzzed around her. Her cat wandered in and lay down beside her. There was nothing he could do except keep her company. The sun went from one end of the sky to the other. Queen Victoria died in Osborne House of a stroke in her sleep, in a palatial bed surrounded by her family, under a full moon.

   Father Belcourt bought the car that killed Siobhan from a man in New Jersey in 1866. It was unloaded at Charlottetown and pulled to the Farmer’s Bank in Rustico by a team of horses. Nobody except the priest knew how to work the self-propelled wagon. He had a letter explaining its operation. He was keeping it close to the vest in the meantime.

   “Be careful father,” one of his parishioners said pulling him aside. “The devil could be in that tank.”

   If he was, he was hunched over and hot as hell. The steam chamber was four feet high, and the motor was connected to the wheels by a chain. The car had no suspension, no windshield, and no roof. Father Belcourt kept it in a shed beside the bank. The Farmer’s Bank was organized soon after the priest arrived there in 1859. One of the first things that jumped out at him was the economic hardship of his flock. What he did was establish a Catholic Institute to bring parishioners together. Everybody had to agree to be teetotalers. The second thing he did was create the credit union to provide loans to farmers at Christian rates of interest. The third thing he did was buy the car to be able to get out to see the sick and homebound.

   The priest was from Quebec and had been in the business of saving souls for more than thirty years before arriving in Rustico. He led missions in Manitoba and North Dakota and fought it out with the Hudson’s Bay Company over their compensation to the natives who delivered furs to the trading company. But when he demanded the savages swear off liquor as he demanded for conversion, they were unwilling to give up their Hudson’s Bay Company-supplied booze.

   He didn’t give up working for them, working up a petition for redress of wrongs. When he got a thousand of the savages to sign the petition about the company’s selfishness and discrimination, a petition he meant to send to Queen Victoria, Earl Gray the Colonial Secretary threw it away and had Father Belcourt arrested for inciting discontent. The Archbishop of Quebec had to step into the fray. He got the charges retracted but sent the priest far away to Prince Edward Island. 

   Father Belcourt retired as the pastor of Rustico in 1869 and moved to Shediac, New Brunswick, but couldn’t get islands off his mind. He pled to pastor a parish on the Magdelen Islands. It wasn’t long before he was on a boat out on the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the Archbishop of Quebec’s expeditious blessing. Before he sailed, he asked Siobhan Murphy if he could store his steam-powered car on her farm. 

   “Of course,” she said.

   The horseless carriage had forgotten how to get up and go and had to be towed there by a team of horses.

   Siobhan had gotten into the habit of burying her money in a hole at the backside of the barn. When the bank got going, she dug it up and put it in the bank. She didn’t know it, but she was one of the biggest holders of the credit union. In 1893, a year before the bank closed, after her son Bill told her the bank would be closing soon, she withdrew all her money and buried it in the ground again. 

   She had raised six children on her farm outside North Rustico. She raised them by herself. Siobhan knew the value of a dollar better than most. She wasn’t a miser, but she was frugal. When the shipbuilding business in Atlantic Canada collapsed in the 1880s and her son Sean was thrown out of work, she paid for his passage to the United States, where he joined Michael, her youngest. 

   Half of the island’s economy disappeared when shipbuilding disappeared. Thousands of islanders migrated to the Boston States looking for work in factories and domestic service. By the time Siobhan died more than a third of everybody on the island was gone. She never saw Sean and Michael again. Her three daughters all married, one of them going to Summerside, one to Acadian land, while Biddy stayed nearby in Stanley Bridge. She married a fisherman who was good at getting eels. They had seven children by the turn of the century.

   In the mid-1880s, unhappy that their winter mail and passenger service was still relying on iceboats, islanders started demanding a fixed link to the mainland by way of a railway tunnel.

Siobhan rarely got mail and never left the island and didn’t care if there were iceboats tunnels or bridges. The tunnel never got built, no matter how many folks demanded it.

   In 1895 Robert Oulton and Charles Dalton become the first men on Prince Edward Island to successfully breed silver foxes in captivity. They brought a litter of foxes with a vein of silver in their fur to maturity near Tignish, on the far west end of the island. They did it by mating red and black foxes. After that the gold rush was on. They shared the secret of their success and breeding stock with a small circle and before long the small circle was getting rich. When word started to get out, the fox boom was on. When Bill Murphy heard about it, his ears pricked up. It was early fall 1900. When he told his mother about it, she dug up the family money buried behind the barn and laid it out on the kitchen table.

   She knew there was a livelihood and even a fortune to be made from fur. The explorer Samuel de Champlain was in the fur trade three hundred years earlier. Alexander Mackenzie, the first European to go cross-country and reach the Pacific Ocean, was in the fur trade. John McLaughlin, who built forts in Vancouver and established the Oregon territory, was in the fur trade.

   The Hudson’s Bay Company and North-West Company were in the business of hunting and killing bears, beaver, fox, deer, buffalo, mink, otter, and seal for their skins. Every Victorian woman in the Americas and Europe coveted a fur coat, but as the century raced to a close there weren’t enough wild animals left to answer the demand. Fur farms became the answer.

   “Charlie Dalton and another man have got a fur farm out on Cherry Island,” Bill said. “They’ve been raising foxes in pens and have somehow got it so that the females stay quiet. They sold two breeding pairs to Silas Rayner up in Kildare and he’s making it work, too. Bob Tuplin bought a breeding pair for $340.00 and has gone into a partnership with Jimmy Gordon at Black Banks.”

   “That is a bushel full of money,” Siohhan said.

   Farm hands on Prince Edward Island made about $25.00 a month. After a year they might have been able to buy one breeding fox, but it takes two to tango.

   Bill leaned across the table. “Charlie sold one of his pelts in London for almost two thousand dollars.”

   Siobhan was amazed and said so.

   “Charlie and the Raynor’s and some others are setting up what they call the Big Six Combine. They plan on keeping their secret a secret, not produce too many pelts, and keep the price sky high.”

   “What’s their secret?” Siobhan asked.

   “One of their secrets is the wire they use, which they import from England. The foxes don’t seem to mind it. Charlie builds his pens with it. The wire stays free of rust and shiny. They keep one breeding pair in one wire pen with a wooden kennel.”

   “How do they keep the foxes from climbing or digging their way out?”

  “They build sidewalls slanting in and add overhangs. To keep them from burrowing, they dig trenches and bury wire in the ground. They put catch boxes in corners and along the guard fences to trap any of them trying to escape.”

   “I would build a watchtower, valuable as the animals are.”

   “Charlie’s got watchtowers.”

   “It must be hard on him if a fox does escape.” 

   “He pays schoolboys to hunt them down on weekends. There might be a boy or two who ends up going to Saint Dunstan’s with that money.”

   “What does he feed the foxes?”

   “He mixes fowl livers, junk fish, raw horsemeat, tripe, and offal with water. They eat about the same as a cat does, about a half pound a day. If a vixen can’t make milk for her pups, he brings in a nursing cat. He keeps the pups in good health, making sure they don’t have mites or worms.”

   “How do they go about getting the pelts without damaging them?”

   “Charlie pokes poison into their chest cavities. I hear he might get a stunner from Norway, which kills the foxes on the spot. He’s got a fleshing machine that cuts the flesh from the pelt and sucks the fat into a tank. He cleans the pelt by putting it into a spinning drum filled with corn grit. Then he dries it on a wood board cut through with ventilation holes.”

   “Do you think you can make it work like Charlie’s done?”

   “Yes.”

   “How do you know all this about farming fox furs?” Siobhan asked.

   “It’s a secret,” Bill said.

Chapter 15

   “How did it happen that you come from Sudbury,” Kayleigh Jurgelaitis asked.

   “World War Two,” JT Markunas said.

   “Me, too”

   “My dad is from Siauliai up in the north of Lithuania,” JT said, giving the pint in front of him a break. “My grandmother was Russian, a schoolteacher in Saransk, when my grandfather met her before the start of World War One” The town and an army garrison were in the Penza, four hundred miles southeast of Moscow. “My grandfather Kestutis was an officer in the Russian Imperial Army.”

   “You’re part Russian?”

   “A small part but there it is, so watch your step.”

   Saransk was founded as a fortress, on the left bank of the Isar River, at the crossroads of Moscow and the Crimea. Before First World War its commercial life revolved around leather, meat, and honey. After the war its factories were closed for more than ten years when there weren’t any available fuels or raw materials.

   “He was conscripted and trained as an officer and sent to serve there with an infantry regiment. He was from a good family, so it was a hard post for him, because back then they said drinkers go to the navy and dimwits to the infantry.”

   The Imperial Russian Army counted more than a million men in uniform, most of them conscripted, most of them peasants. There were a quarter million Cossacks, too. Only the Cossacks knew what they were doing.

   “He swept my grandmother, Antonina, off her feet and they got married. They had my older aunt, Genute, in 1917. My other aunt Gaile was born the next year.”

   JT’s father Vytautas was born six years later, in 1924. He was named after King Vytautas the Great. His mother called him Vytas. His sisters called him many things, including the Little Prince. They didn’t mean it as a compliment.

   Siauliai is home to the Hill of Crosses, a hill where there had once been a fort less than ten miles from the town. It is covered with tens of thousands of crosses, crucifixes, and statues. It was after Czarist forces crushed the November Uprising of 1831 when the first crosses appeared.

   By 1918 Lithuania had been missing from the map for more than one hundred years, having disappeared after the Partition of Poland. Since that time, it had been under the thumb of the Russian Empire. In late 1919, while Russia was being torn apart by the Bolshevik revolution, Kestutis Markunas went home to a newly independent Lithuania.

   “The country didn’t have many officers when they formed their own army,” JT said. “Most of them were men who had been conscripted into the Imperial Army before the war. My grandfather fought in the post-war battles around Klaipeda and after that he served in the secret service in Kaunas, which was the capital.”

   Lithuania declared independence and for almost three years fought Soviets, West Russians, and Poles for their land. Finally, in 1920 they formed their own government, although they later lost their largest city Vilnius to the Poles, with whom they remained officially at war with little official warfare.

   “After the fighting my grandfather got some land for serving his country, near Siauliai. They had a house in town but lived on a farm most of the time.”

   During World War One most of Siauliai’s buildings were destroyed and the city center was obliterated. Since its founding in the 13th century Siauliai had been struck by plague seven times, went up in flames seven times, and World War Two was the seventh conflict that wrecked the town.

   “My grandfather was the governor of Panevezys for more than fifteen years.”

   Panevezys, a royal town founded in the early 16th century, is on the plain of the Nevezis River, about fifty miles east of Siauliai. During the interwar years Lithuania was divided into 24 districts and each district had its own governor.

   Vytas went to grade school and high school in Panevezys, but then his father was transferred to Zerasai, a place that sported a summer resort. In 1834 Zerasai burned down and was rebuilt. Two years later it was renamed Novoalexandrovsk, in honor of Czar Alexander’s son, but after the Great War the name was expunged. By then most Lithuanians hated most Russians.

   “When my grandfather became the governor of the Zerasai district, my grandmother didn’t want to move, since it was more than seventy-five miles away from where they lived, so my father stayed with her. But he didn’t get along with the students at the high school there.” It was a strict religious school, and everybody had to dress appropriately, like they were tending to saints.

   “On my first day of classes I was dressed up too nice, like I was going to a party, with a bright tie and everything, and everybody laughed at me,” Vytas said. “Where are you from, they all asked, mocking me. I didn’t make any friends there.” He finally told them, “I’m leaving and going to Zerasai.” He moved there in 1939 and lived with his father. “We always studied a second language in school, and since my mother was Russian, studying it was easy for me. But when I got to Zerasai I found out they only had English as a second language, no Russian. My father had to hire a tutor to help me.”

   During the 1930s the world was changing fast. In 1940 the Lithuanian world changed even faster. The Markunas world didn’t change so much as fall apart.

   “The Soviets showed up in 1940,” JT said. “All of the country’s officials were let go and the Russians put in new people they wanted to run the show. They always said they didn’t order anything themselves, but it was the Lithuanian Communists who were in charge, so it was really the Russians.”

   The father and son moved back to Siauliai. By then Vytas spoke Lithuanian, Russian, and English. The Markunas family spent more and more time at their farm. “It was only a few miles from our farmhouse to town,” Vytas said. “I used to walk or bicycle to town. But the mood was bad. Everybody thought something terrible was going to happen.”

   The Russian annexation of Lithuania was completed by the late summer of 1940. Businesses were nationalized and collectivization of land began. As the Russian presence expanded the family talked about leaving the Baltics.

   “Why don’t we go to Germany?” his mother Antonina asked.

   “We had a chance to leave the country then and go somewhere else,” Vytas said. “My mother wanted to go. We talked about it often.”

   But Kestutis Markunas didn’t want to leave his homeland. “I have never done anything wrong that they would arrest me,” he told his family. “I have always been good to the people. They aren’t going to put me in jail.”

   In the fall a troop of Soviet infantry commandeered their farm for several days. “They didn’t do anything bad, or mistreat us, but they hadn’t washed in months,” Vytas said. “They smelled bad, and they rolled their cheap tobacco in newspaper. They smoked all the time. It took a week to air out the stink.”

   The family stayed on their farm through the winter. Then, as mass arrests and deportations of policemen and politicians, dissidents, and Catholics began, Kestutis Markunas was picked up by NKVD plainclothesmen. It was a sunny summer day.

   “My father told me he was gardening in their yard, wearing a shirt, old pants, and slippers when they drove up, a carload of Russians, and stopped, saying there was something wrong with their engine,” JT said. “I’ll help you out, my grandfather said. He walked over to the car with them. They shoved him into the back seat and drove off.”

   Vytas was in school taking his final exams that morning. “My mother called the school and told me my father had been taken. I ran out of class and went home right away on my bike.” Antonina packed clothes, socks and shoes, and soap for her husband. She went to see him the next day. “The man who was running the jail was a Jewish fellow. He had grown up with us and was a friend of our family, but when my mother asked him to help us, he said the times have changed.” 

   It was a new day and a new order.

   “He was a Communist and had been in and out of jail because of his political activities. He was always in trouble. My father usually let him go after a few days, telling him to not get involved in politics anymore. Just be a nice boy, he would tell him, but then the next thing we knew he would be in jail again. He wouldn’t help my father when he was arrested. He said everything’s different now. Times have changed. Everybody was looking out for themselves, only themselves.”

   The man who had once ruled the local police stayed under lock and key in the local lock-up.

   “They didn’t let my mother talk to my father. We went there many times, but they never let us see him. We never saw him again.”

   Kestutis Markunas was taken to New Vilnius and loaded onto a boxcar. Four days later, starting on June 23, 1941, at the Battle of Raseiniai, the 4th Panzer Group, part of the first phase of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, finished the almost complete destruction of Russian armored forces in Lithuania. Within a week Nazi Germany seized the whole of the country.

   JT’s grandfather was transported to a labor camp near Krasnojarsk in Siberia. He logged with a work gang in the dense forests and starved to death in the winter of 1942. Anton Chekhov, the Russian short story writer, once wrote that Krasnojarsk was the most beautiful city in Siberia.

   “My father logged when he first came to Canada, north of Sudbury,” Kayleigh said. “He always said it was hard work, working in all kinds of weather, harder than the mines.”

   “The morning after my father was arrested, I drove our horse and wagon to school to finish my exams,” Vytas said. “I had to deliver milk to my teacher’s family on my way. But when I stopped at his house, he ran out with his family and said, help take us to the railroad station. They all got into my wagon, his wife and their two children. I took them to the station. The next day one of our neighbors told me the Russians had come to the teacher’s house that same afternoon looking for him. Teachers, lawyers, anybody from an educated family. They were afraid professional people were against them. “

   When the NKVD began mass arrests of Lithuanians, Soviet officials seized their property, and there was widespread looting by Lithuanians among themselves. It was every man for himself, unless you were a Red.

   “If you were a Communist then you were all right,” Vytas said. “The father of one of my friends was a metal worker. He didn’t even know how to read, but the Russians made him the mayor of Siauliai because he was a one of them.”

   His mother, sister Genute, and he stayed on the farm after his father’s arrest. His sister Gaile was living in Vilnius. When the mass arrests intensified, they became alarmed. “We had to leave the farm. It was too dangerous to stay. We went into the forest. But then my mother told me to go to Vilnius and tell Gaile our father had been arrested. She wanted Gaile to know to be very careful. I took a train to Vilnius, but as soon as I got there, I got a phone call saying my mother had been arrested.”

   “How did they live in the forest?” Kayleigh asked.

   “They built a lean-to and camouflaged it,” JT said. “My father was 16 years old but knew how to set traps. He and his sister stole food from nearby farms.”

   “When I got back to Siauliai I found my mother was being deported,” Vytas said. “Somebody complained and informed on her. We had land, 160 acres, so we were considered capitalists. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor, either. I went to the train station but didn’t see her anywhere. She was sent to a prison camp.”

   His mother was transported to the Gulag. She was released in 1956, after Stalin’s death, but not allowed to return to her home in Siauliai. She was sent to a cinder block two-room apartment near the Baltic Sea.

   “After his mother’s arrest my father moved to Vilnius, staying with my aunt Gaile and her husband,” JT said. “At the time almost everyone living there was either Russian, Polish, or Jewish.” Lithuanians in the former capital city were strangers in their own land.

   “The day the Communists left and before the Germans came, everybody rushed to the food warehouses and broke into them,” Vytas said. “It wasn’t that we were robbing them, but everybody was doing it, since there was no food. Gaile and I went, too. We filled up our bags with bread and pork and took everything home. When the Germans arrived, they put a stop to it.”

   Vytas stayed in Vilnius for a month but decided to go home before the end of summer. The family farm had to be cared for, but, first, he had to get a travel permit.

   “I couldn’t get in to see a single German to apply for a permit, but finally I talked to someone who had known my father and got an appointment. The officer told me they weren’t issuing any more permits, but after we talked about my father a little, he said all right, and wrote one out for me.”

   He took a train back to Siauliai and walked home, but when he got there, he discovered a company of Wehrmacht had taken over the farm.

   “They were there about three weeks, more than seventy of them. I couldn’t even get into our house since the officers had taken it over. But those Germans were good men. They didn’t do our farm any harm. They had their own quarters and their own mess. I made friends with some of them. We drank beer together at night.”

   His father’s practice had been to have a foreman run the farm. The foreman hired three men and three women every spring. Although the farm had chickens and pigs, and horses to do the heavy work, it was largely a dairy farm with more than twenty cows.

   “It was a model farm,” said Vytas. “Every summer students from the agricultural school would tour it. When I came back, Genute was there, but she wasn’t interested, so she didn’t do any work. I started taking care of things, even though I didn’t know anything. I knew the cows had to be milked and the milk had to go to the dairy. But about growing crops, and the fields, I didn’t know anything. But I worked as though I knew what I was doing.”

   That fall he sent his farmhands out to till the ground in a nearby field. When his nearest neighbor saw them working, he ran across the road shouting and waving.

   “What in the hell are you doing?” he yelled.

   “I told him we were preparing the ground for next year. He said, you’re ruining this year’s seed and you won’t have any grass next year. We stopped right away. I learned what to do.”

   A year later he was on a horse-drawn mower cutting hay when he saw storm clouds gathering. He thought he would walk the horses, lightening the load so they could pull the mower faster, and jumped down from his seat.

   “As I hopped down, I stumbled and fell on the blades of the mower. The horses stopped. My hand was almost cut off. The boy who was helping me ran over. When he saw what happened, and saw my hand, he passed out.”

   As the war went on, he had problems keeping the farm going. He had only partial use of his injured hand and farmhands everywhere were deserting the land.

   “I went to the prisoner-of-war camp where I knew they gave Russians out. They gave me five of them. They were nice guys, worked hard, and we sang together at night. One morning I woke up and there wasn’t one of them left. They were all gone. I had to go back to the Germans and ask for five more. My God, how they yelled about it. One officer shouted that I hadn’t looked after them, shouted that I needed to lock them up at night, and shouted that they weren’t going to give me anymore. In the end I said, I need five more, so they gave me five more. I kept them locked up after that and they were still there when the Red Army came back.”

   In 1944 the Red Army stormed into Lithuania. Vytas escaped with a mechanized company of Germans, whisked up by them as they passed. They had been stationed near the prisoner-of-war camp. They told him he had five minutes to decide whether he was coming with them as they retreated.

   “They were in a hurry. They said the Russians were on the other side of the Hill of Crosses. I only had time to fill a bag with a few clothes, a little money, and photographs of my parents.”

   His sister Genute fled to East Prussia. His other sister couldn’t get away. “She had a problem at the border and didn’t make it. The Soviets had taken that area, so Gaile was forced to stop in a town there. She had her daughter and her husband’s mother with her. Her husband had been shot. In the end the three of them were forced to stay there. She finished school, became a nurse, and never told anyone where she was from. The Russians never found out anything about her.”

   In July 1944 the Red Army captured Panevezys. Later that month they took Siauliai, inflicting heavy damage on the city. Two months later the counterattacking German 3rd Panzer Army was destroyed, and Lithuania became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

   “My father ended up in Sudbury in the late 1940s with a duffel bag and enough loose change to buy a snack,” JT said. “He got a job with Inco and that’s where he stayed. At first, he worked as a blaster, one of the more dangerous jobs, but over the years his work got easier and paid better.”

   “My dad worked in the mines for seven or eight years after he got there, but then went to Toronto and from there moved to Buffalo,” Kayleigh said. “No matter, I still think of myself as a Sudbury girl.”

   “Where did you live?”

   “We lived on Pine Street, where the Finns and Eastern Europeans lived.”

   JT grew up on Stanley Street where it dead-ended, only a few blocks from Pine Street.

   “When were you born?”

   “1961.”

    JT took a bite on his inner lower lip. He had been born the same year. Kayleigh was his age, from his hometown, and had grown up within shouting distance. He wasn’t sure if the coincidences piling up were a good thing or a bad thing.

   “Do you remember the Canadian Pacific trains wailing where they curled around the back of Stanley Street?”

  “I do,” Kayleigh said. “Whenever they wailed, I wailed right back.”

   “Me too,” JT said.

Chapter 16

   Malcolm “Monk” Kennedy was half rattlesnake and half Scottish. He was from Prince Edward Island but had spent less than a small part of his life on the island. He was born on Point Prim near the lighthouse, off Route 209 in a fishing shack that had nothing to do with fishing and everything to do with smuggling, especially drugs, most of it weed. 

   When the midwife left the first thing she did stepping outside the door was make the sign of the cross.

   His father kept an American Indian head penny made in a leap year and a double six domino in a drawer. There was a rooster claw nailed to the front door of the shack and prayer candles on the sills of the two front windows. Mason jars full of lye were buried at the four corners of the house.

   By the time he was ready to go to school Monk decided he wasn’t going to school. 

   “Thomas Edison only went to school for three months his whole life,” he said.

   “Who’s Tom Edison?”

   “He’s the man who invented electricity.”

   “You ain’t no Edison,” his father said.

   “I know, that’s why I’m not going to go at all.”

   “You got more nerve than a bum tooth.”

   His father knew full well Monk was his father’s son. His mother left the minute she was done nursing him, not leaving a note or forwarding address. She left with some clothes and all the money in the house. She moved to Vancouver Island, as far away from Prince Edward Island as possible. None of the clan ever heard about her or from her again.

   His father sent Monk to live with an uncle in McMasterville near Montreal. He turned 18 in 1982 without a grade school or high school diploma. It made no difference to him. He wasn’t planning on working in an office or supermarket or anyplace that made him punch a clock. He knew his way around the world he lived in. He tied his star to Maurice Boucher, a friend of his uncle’s. Maurice and Salvatore Cazzetta were leaders of a white supremacist outlaw motorcycle gang who called themselves the SS. 

  The Schutzstaffel, an elite Nazi corps of combat troops who were known as the SS, would have shot them dead on the spot if they had spotted them and appropriated their motorcycles for their own use. The SS didn’t believe in the law or outlaws. They lived by their own dark rules of due process.

    Maurice was on his way to prison for sexually assaulting an underage girl. In the meantime, Salvatore would run things. Four years later Maurice was a free man and was hooking up with the Hells Angels. It didn’t take long before he was president of the Quebec branch. Salvatore didn’t like it and said so. He had sworn off ever having anything to do with the Angels after the Lennoxville Massacre the year before. Hard words and some pushing and shoving led to more hard words and more pushing and shoving.  Salvatore stomped off and formed his own gang with his brother Giovanni. They called themselves the Rock Machine.

   Before long Quebec was known as the Red Zone among bikers far and wide. The RCMP didn’t call it that, but they knew all about the blood being spilled. So long as it was biker blood, they didn’t worry overmuch about it. Both the Angels and Rock Machine distributed cocaine for the Mafia. They would have bought and sold the drugs themselves except the kingpins of the drug trade didn’t trust any of the biker gangs.

   “The Mafia are in charge of importation and the Hells Angels are the distributors. The Mafia has a better reputation than the bikers because the Colombians don’t trust the Hells Angels, but they do trust the Mafia,”the journalist Andre Cedillot explained.

   The made men of the Mafia were all Sicilians or of Sicilian descent. They kept their business to themselves. They didn’t drive around in limousines without mufflers. The bikers were mostly French-Canadian, with a sprinkling of assorted misfits. Their Harleys were loud. They either replaced the stock exhaust pipes with variants or simply removed the bike mufflers. Outside the door The Hells Angels were dangerously jacked up men with dangerously jaundiced minds.

   During an RSVP Hells Angel picnic watched over by the San Mateo, California Sheriff’s Office, Terry the Tramp hooked up a microphone to speakers and addressed the lawmen parked on the other side of the road.

   “Remember this,” he screamed, “just remember that while you’re standin’ out there on that cold road, doin’ your righteous duty and watchin’ all of us sex fiends and dope addicts in here having a good time, just think about that little old wife of yours back home with some dirty old Hells Angel crawlin’ up between her thighs! What do you think about that, you worthless fuzz? You gettin’ hungry? We’ll bring you some chili if we have any left over, but don’t hurry home, let your wife enjoy herself.”

   One of the policemen spit in the dirt, his eyes twinkling viciously. “That dog is doing a lot of chopping, but no chips are flying,” he said to the policemen standing beside him.

  “Yeah, that smart boy has got a mind like a steel trap, except it’s full of mice.”

   “The Hells Angels try not to do anything halfway, and anyone who deals in extremes is bound to cause trouble, whether he means to or not. This, along with a belief in total retaliation for any offense or insult, is what makes the Hells Angels unmanageable for the police,” is what Hunter Thompson said about Terry the Tramp and the rest of the Red & White.

   Chico Jones was a Mexican who cut his own finger off during a statewide Angel run. One of the other Hells Angels, Butch the Gringo from Cleveland, Ohio said to Chico, pointing to the man’s hand on the handlebar, “What would you do if I cut that finger of yours off?”

   Chico said, “You don’t have to cut it off, I will.” 

   After he cut his little finger off and threw it in a ditch beside the road, while doing a wheelie, Butch said, “That’s what I call showing class.”

   The Hells Angels came to Quebec in 1977, prospered in their own way, but shot themselves in the foot eight years later. During a pow-wow five Angels in the Laval chapter were shot and killed by other Angels.  One of the dead men wasn’t dead. He got his face kicked in for his trouble. None of the gunmen made any apologies about what they had done. It came to be known as the Lennoxville Massacre. 

   Michel “Sky” Langois, the national president of the Canadian Angels, fled to Morocco after a warrant for his arrest on charges of first-degree murder was issued by the RCMP. Maurice Boucher was fully patched two years later and became president of the Montreal South chapter. He decided the Angels would turn a new page on his watch.

   “We’re going to expand into the Atlantic provinces the next couple of years,” Maurice told Monk. “We’re going to start with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. You go to PEI, scout out Summerside and Charlottetown. Keep it on the quiet side, don’t ride a Harley, and don’t wear colors. Don’t tell anybody what you’re all about. We’ll talk every few months.”

   He gave Monk a thick envelope full of fifty-dollar bills.

   “Don’t live it up and don’t come back to me for more,” he said.

   As the end of the next year approached, Monk had gone through almost all the cash living it up. He knew he couldn’t go back to Maurice for more. There would be hell to pay. He hadn’t recruited anybody to the Red & White, not that he tried, although he had found a girlfriend. When he found out she was going to Montreal for a few days, he asked her what it was about.

   “I have to make a delivery.”

   “What kind of delivery?”

   She showed him a briefcase stuffed to the gills with cash. 

   “Two million, but it’s not real.”

   “It looks real,” Monk said after inspecting a wad.

   “It’s the best in the world,” she said.

   The money was going to Montreal. It was going to Vito Rizzuto, who imported and distributed most of the hashish heroin and cocaine in the eastern half of Canada. He ran gambling and laundered hundreds of millions of dollars, dollars that included payments for contract killings. Everybody called his gang the Sixth Family.

   Vito’s father and grandfather were both murdered in turf wars. His mother was the daughter of a Mafia chieftain. His wife Giovanna was the daughter of a mobster.

   The only time he served time was in 1972 for arson but he was on the hook for a boat seized by the RCMP off the coast of Newfoundland the year before. The boat was loaded with 16 tons of hashish. He was free on bail. The prison time he spent 17 yeasr earlier was a mistake. He knew with certainty that he wouldn’t be serving any time for the loss of his hash. As soon as it was wrapped up, he would load up another boat.

   “You done good, babe, you done good,” Monk said, giving her a kiss and rifling the wad in his hand.

   “What do you mean?” she asked

   “Nuthin’, babe, nuthin’,” Monk slithered and hissed.

    She didn’t know he signed and sealed her death warrant that night. He would deliver it in his own good time.

Chapter 17

   “We used to have trains here,” JR said as he re-filled their pints. “They ran from Tignish to Summerside, through here and on to Georgetown. We had the first diesels, to save on coal, ten years before anybody else in Canada. But when truckers started hauling potatoes, it was the beginning of the end. Now all we’ve got is a train museum in Elmira.”

   Neither JT nor Kayleigh had ever seen a train on the island. 

   “By the way JR, have you seen a guy in here who rides a red motorcycle?”

   “What kind of bike?”

   “I don’t know, but it looks and sounds new.”

   “No, not new,” JR said. “There’s a guy who rides an old red Indian, but it’s a 1970s, before they went bankrupt.”

   “No, this one is new. I think it’s a Jap bike. If you do see it and get a chance to get his plate, let me know, will you?”

   “Will do,” JR said.

   He pushed a bowl of old pretzels their way and went to the other end of the bar where a group of locals looked thirsty.

   “How is it you come from Sudbury like me?” JT asked, pushing the old pretzels away.

   “World War Two, like you,” Kayleigh said. “My father was born in 1916, in the Ukraine. My grandfather Juozas and grandmother Stanislava were living in Poltava, insanely far from Marijampole, their home in Lithuania.” She meant the 700 miles was insanely far given the state of Russian roads and railroads. The Eastern Front, where millions of men were slaughtering each other at the time, was closer.

   “He was a professor, teaching there during the war.” 

   The school was the Poltava National Technical University. It was founded in 1818 by the wife of the governor-general of the province, the granddaughter of the last Ukrainian strongman before the Russian Empire absorbed the country in the 18th century. For hundreds of years Polish and Lithuanian freebooters controlled vast tracts of the Ukraine and were a law unto themselves. They were no match for the Cossacks, however, who later were no match for the Russians.

   The main building on campus was built in the early 1830s as the home of the Institute of Noble Maidens. It had an Empire-style look. When the institute became the technical university, women were forbidden to attend, no matter how noble they were.

   After the war the family, including three-year-old Gediminas’s older brother and sister, who were twins, went back to Lithuania. They settled near Iglauka, not far from Lake Yglos, His father taught school in Marijampole, 12 miles to the west, and they lived on a farm. His mother’s family were well-off owners of farmland and property.

   In 1924 the state-sponsored revolt in Klaipeda was signed sealed delivered, the country competed in the Summer Olympics for the first time, and Gediminas’s older brother suddenly unexpectedly died. The next year his mother was shot dead at a wedding.

   It had been Russian imperial policy to leave the country in a non-industrial state. The inheritance system that was exercised after the land reform of 1863 forbade the partition of land plots. There were many landowners at the reception. They stuck together socially, friends neighbors families bound by the old time way.

   “A group of Communist agitators, people who wanted land, came to the wedding, started a fight, started shooting guns, and my grandmother was accidentally shot and killed,” Kayleigh said. The Communist party of Lithuania was formed in 1918 and remained illegal until 1940. They were out for blood, though. There is only so much land to go around in small Baltic-like countries.

   “My father grew up, got married, had a daughter, and was planning on going to school to study medicine, but then the war happened. My grandfather was shot and killed by fifth column Reds in his own living room. My father joined the Lithuanian Army, and then the Soviet Union invaded. “

   It was never a fair fight. In mid-June 1940 a half-million Red Army troops poured across the borders of Estonia and Latvia. Within a week the Baltics were overrun, one week before France fell to Nazi Germany.Josef Stalin blew his nose into his walrus mustache. Adolf Hitler did an awkward little jig grinning behind his toothbrush mustache.

   “My father took to the forest, joining a group of partisans, staying in the fight for the next year. It wasn’t any more dangerous than anything else in those dangerous times. He had been working in the fields when his father was killed, which is why he wasn’t shot. They were killing landowners. They would have killed him all the next year if they had been able to track him down.”

   A year later Lithuania was invaded by two German army groups. Most Russian aircraft were destroyed on the ground. The Wehrmacht advanced rapidly, assisted by Lithuanians, who saw them as liberators. They helped by guarding railroads, bridges, and warehouses. The Lithuanian Activist Front and Lithuanian Territorial Corps formed the native backbone of the anti-Soviet fighting.

   Gediminas Jurgelaitis was one of many who joined the German Army, being assigned to a Baltic Unit. Three years later he was having second thoughts. The Russian summer offensive of 1944 was in full swing, the Red Army on the march saying they meant to “liberate the Soviet Baltic peoples.” An NCO by then, Gediminas and his men were ordered to man the front line and hold it at all costs. It was costing them every day. 

   “The rich Lithuanians were our officers,” Gediminas said. They weren’t in the tranches getting their heads shot off. “The enlisted men were the men getting killed.” Gediminas and his men were trying to stay alive. They didn’t care who was right or wrong.

   A small airstrip for reconnaissance and resupply was nearby. Junker 52s were flying in and out with ammunition first aid food and hope in the grim hopelessness. Gediminas and three men from his unit were unloading one of the planes at a side door by means of a ramp, the front prop and wing-mounted engines roaring, when without a word spoken between them, they made up their minds to steal it and fly to safety.

   Two of the men rushed up the ramp and threw the German pilots out the door, while the other man and Gediminas kept watch, guns at the ready. Gediminas was the last one to scramble into the plane and was shot in the back of the foot just before he slammed the door shut.

   “I was playing on the floor one day,” Kayleigh said. It was the late 1960s. “My dad was relaxing, shoes and socks off, sitting on the sofa in the living room reading a newspaper. I saw a scar on his heel and asked him what it was. He said it was a bullet wound. He rolled up his pants and showed me three more on both legs.”

   One of the Lithuanians returned the incoming fire with a MG15 machine gun from the dustbin turret, while the other two men dragged Gediminas to the cockpit. None of them had ever flown an airplane. He was the only one of them who had ever even driven a car.

   How hard can it be? he thought. With bullets slamming into the corrugated aluminum fuselage, he found out it wasn’t hard at all. He pushed on the throttle, got the Junker going as fast as he thought it would go, raised the nose, and Iron Annie lifted up into the air.

   They quickly came up with a plan, planning to fly to Switzerland. They got as far as the neighborhood of the Poland Germany border when they ran out of gas. The plane wasn’t the fastest, 165 MPH its top speed, and it could go about 600 miles on a tankful. When they went down, they were headed in the right direction. All they needed was another full tank.

   It solved their landing problem, since Gediminas had already told his countrymen he had no idea how to land the plane. The Junker hit the ground hard and every part of it broke into a thousand pieces. When Gediminas came back to life he was in a field hospital. He never found out what happened to his comrades.

   The doctors and military men asked him who he was and what happened. He answered them in German, in High German, not Low. “My father spoke Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and German.” He was wearing the right uniform when found, was speaking like a householder, and they assumed he was one of them. Gediminas bit his tongue about who he really was, thanking God for his good fortune.

   After he got out of the hospital he was deemed not fit enough for combat and assigned to the motor pool. Soon after he drew a lucky number and was assigned to be the driver for a general. It was lucky enough until several months later, early one morning, in the middle of winter, when he got a wake-up call from one of his motor pool sidekicks.

   “Don’t come to work today,” the man said.

   “What does that mean?”

   “Your general died late last night. One of the first people the Gestapo will want to talk to is you.”

   He knew it was true. He knew what had happened to anybody and everybody involved in the attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler that mid-July. Nearly 5,000 people were executed. He would never be able to stand up to scrutiny. 

   His general was probably out carousing in their Tatra 87, slid on ice and smashed into a tree. The Tatra was the car of the year the last five years. Sleek futuristic BMW-engine fast and high-tech as could be, it was the vehicle of choice for German officers. Unfortunately for them, it was sloppy, handling like pudding, killing its drivers right and left. Gediminas always kept it under 40 MPH. It was the vehicle of choice of the Americans, too, but for their mortal enemy. They thought of it as a secret weapon, killing more highly placed German officers than died fighting the Red Army.

   But none of it mattered. It didn’t matter whether the general died in the arms of his mother or was assassinated. His goose was cooked if the Staatspolizei got him. The SS literally cooked people to death.

   He jumped to his feet, threw himself into his uniform, threw on a winter coat, and fled his room. Making his way to the motor pool, he found a truck with keys in the ignition and a full tank of gas. There were plenty to go around. Opel manufactured 95,000 of the 2-ton 4 x 4 Blitz Utility trucks during the war. He quickly signed it out, turned it over, and drove away unnoticed. He drove straight for the front. His plan was to break through the line and surrender to the Americans.

   When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

   He didn’t get blasted by either side and when he got to the Allied lines, he surrendered. He was relieved and confident that the war was over for him. But by the time the war actually did end, the Wehrmacht raising the white flag, he was in his third army. At least he was finally on the winning side.

   “My grandfather Juozas was a gigantic guy,” Kayleigh said. “He was six foot four. My father was five nine and maybe one hundred forty pounds.” Being on the small side doesn’t matter. In the end, what matters is what you do. Dwight Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of what he called “the whole shebang” in Europe. He knew there was more to winning the war than armor. “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” he said.

   At the beginning of 1945 the Allied Expeditionary Force on the Western Front had 73 divisions ready to go. The Germans had 26 divisions. The Battle of the Bulge ended in an Allied victory. Adolf Hitler held a meeting with his top men, instructing them to hold the Americans and British off as long as possible. By that time, however, his top men were flat tires. He boarded a train and never went back to the Western Front. At the end of January, he gave the last speech he was ever to give. He tried to rally the troops. It didn’t do any good. 

   After surrendering, Gediminas spent time in a DP camp, until being recruited by the Americans. They were looking for men who spoke multiple languages and he fit the bill. He had been picking up bits and pieces of English. He was fluent in Russian and Polish, which are among the top 10 hardest languages to learn. English is no slouch, either. He served as a Sergeant in a Baltic Unit. In 1946 and 1947 he was in Nuremberg, where war crime trials were being conducted. The top dogs who propagated the National Socialist German Party either committed suicide, were executed, or locked up in a kennel for a long time.

   As the hard-fought decade of the 1940s wound itself down, Gediminas Jurgelaitis snuck aboard a tramp freighter and sailed to North America, finding work as a lumberjack near North Bay, Ontario. “It was an indentured servant kind of job,” he said. More than two-thirds of the Canadian province is forest, in land area the equivalent of Fascist Germany and Fascist Italy combined. “He was never quite sure where he was,” Kayleigh said. “He wasn’t, at least, a mile down in Sudbury’s nickel mines.”

   “Hey, my dad worked in the mines his whole life,” JT said.

   “Going miles down into the ground takes its own kind of courage,” Kayleigh said.

   Making it work in a company lumbering town is unlikely. Since there is no competition, housing costs and groceries bills are exorbitant, and workers build up large debts they are required to pay off before leaving. It can be slavery by another name. Gediminas determined to find another way, his own way.

   “He and some other Lithuanians pooled their resources, found a broken-down car, scavenged parts from other wrecks, filled the tires with enough cotton to get them to roll, and hit the road. They didn’t tell anybody where they were going. He ended up in St. Catherine’s, near Niagara Falls, and later, finding a chance to go to the United States in 1950, took the chance and settled down outside Buffalo, New York, where he stayed the rest of his life.”

   “What did he do there?” JT asked.

   “He got married to an Irish girl. He never found out what happened to his Lithuanian wife and daughter.” The Iron Curtain had slammed shut. “My mother Sadie taught school. They raised a family. He went to work as a butcher in the meat department of a grocery store. He never missed a day until the day he died.”

   Kayleigh’s father built a house on three acres of land. One acre of it was devoted to a garden. “My brother pushed thousands of wheelbarrows of manure as a child. Whenever our car parts factory friends went on strike, he and I delivered food to them in the morning before school. Sometimes my father would hang from his heels in the garage to prove he could still do it. He smoked and drank with his friends at the local Italian and Polish social clubs. He was an affable man, but he was a strong man, too.”

   “He must have been, being in three armies, one of them twice, and fighting with a guerilla group,” JT said. “He had more lives than a cat.”

   “Yeah, but once he was done, he never enlisted in any other man’s army again.”

Chapter 18

   There are more than six thousand kilometers of two-lane roads from one end of Prince Edward Island to the other end. There are some fast roads but most of them are laid-back. Tractors cows dogs slow the going down. About two thousand of the kilometers are unpaved and even slower, even if it was a sports car or a Jap motorcycle trying to get up to speed. The ruts and chuckholes would make short work of them. All the unpaved roads are red clay dirt. Most of the paved roads are reddish to the naked eye.

   When the roads were built island stone and beach sand was mixed into the concrete. The land is layered over sandstone bedrock. Sandstone is dug up by backhoes simple as ABC. Wet weather transforms unpaved tracks into what some call baby poop. The sandstone is leavened with iron oxide, or rust, giving the landscape a red color beneath blue skies overlooking green fields. The natives who lived on the island before European colonization called their land Epekwitk. They thought Glooscap, who was their god, after he finished making the rest of the world, with a final flourish mixed all his colors and made their island.

   “When I was a kid most of the roads around here were dirt,” Conor Murphy told JT Markunas. “Sometimes after a bad winter storm you couldn’t go anywhere for a day-or-two.” He took a bite of his fish sandwich. They had picked them up at Carr’s Shellfish Market and were sitting on the front deck of the Sterling Women’s Institute, what everybody called ‘The Hall.’ The market was down the hill on the Stanley River.

   “I see kids jumping off that bridge down there all the time,” JT said.

   “That’s been going on for a long time,” Conor said. “Generations, if you want the truth. Parents show their kids how to jump the same way they were shown.”

   “Don’t they worry about their kids getting hurt?”

   “Those that worry, their kids are never on that bridge. Those that don’t worry don’t have anything to worry about.”

   “Maybe they say a prayer and leave it at that,” JT said.

   Stanley Bridge was settled in the mid-eighteenth century. It took a hundred years for the first church to be built. It was a Presbyterian congregation. It lasted twenty-five years before a new one needed to be built for the ever-expanding flock. It got back to saving souls in 1895, became the United Church in 1925, burned down four years later, and was replaced by a near likeness the next year.

   When the Presbyterians moved out of their building, they kept the deed in their pockets, and rented the upstairs to the local Masonic Lodge, who later bought the land and building in 1920. When they did, they rented the lower part of it to the Sterling Women’s Institute. When the Masons ran out of steam, they sold the building to the Institute in 1978.

   “What do the women do?” JT asked.

   “I don’t rightly know,” Conor said. “Probably something to do with good works.” He took a pull on his bottle of lukewarm Red Rock Lager. He had brought one for JT and one for himself.

   “This isn’t half-bad,” JT said. “I don’t think I’ve seen it around.” 

   “That’s because it’s not around. I have two or three cases of it, which is probably the last of it. My brother Danny runs a seafood pit stop down on the waterfront and he gave them to me after the brewer went out of business.”

   “They brewed it here on the island?”

   “Yeah, right in Charlottetown,” Conor said. “The Island Brewing Company got started a few years ago, the first brewery to operate on PEI since around the turn of the century. There used to be dozens way back then. They hired an English brew master who had worked for Bass. Old Abby, his first draft, was a big hit. They couldn’t keep the kegs filled. They invested in a bottling system two years ago and launched Red Rock Lager. It didn’t go too well, don’t know why, and a year later they were out of business They sold all their equipment to an outfit in Ontario and that was that.”

   “That’s too bad.”

   “You know we had Prohibition here from the turn of the century until 1948.”

   “No alcohol?”

   “Total ban on alcohol.”

   “There must have been some serious bootlegging going on.”

   “We had some smuggling, you could say.”

   “Heavy drinkers hereabouts?”

   “Some, sure, but the other half of it was the money. I remember a guy by the name of Roy Clow from Murry Harbor, my dad knew him, who couldn’t make a living selling his crops and his fish, so he put his mind to running booze. There was real money in that.”

   Real money meant enough money to feed clothe house your family.

   “We’d sell our turnips in the fall. The Newfoundland schooners would come in and we’d get 15 cents for a two-bushel bag of turnips,” said Roy Clow. “Potatoes was 10 cents a bushel, some years less.” He got two and a half cents a pound for his lobsters.

   “There is an older man right here in Stanley Bridge, Tommy Gallant, whose family did more than their fair share of bootlegging,” Conor said.

   “My father Henry drank heavy,” Tommy said. “He done all the things and more in them days that he thought was going to make money. He bootlegged some serious.” There were 11 children in the family. Money was tight. Their salt cod sold for one cent a pound. A gallon of rum sold for four dollars.

  “As we started to grow up, we thought we should sample it. And we did. We could steal it from our father easy because he had it everywhere. Those were the days when the runners were off Cavendish all the time.”

   Henry Gallant hid his 120-pound 10-gallon kegs in nearby woods or in the ocean. His children knew all his hiding spots.

   “On his way home with a load of rum, he would run a long line and he’d put all this steel on it and tie the kegs on it. And, of course, it’d all go to the bottom. And then he had a landmark and at night he’d take a dory out and he’d pull up one end and he’d take a keg ashore.”

   When the kegs were empty, he used them to salt mackerel.

   “Us young fellas were schooled by our father. We had a big tree in the woods, probably 80 feet in height. My father used to tell us kids ‘If the RCMP is here before I get home, one of you boys go up that tree and wave a flag three times, when I’m coming up the bay, so I can see that plain, and I’ll know they’re there and I’ll sink the rum in the bay.’” 

   “That’s a lot of trouble to go to for a drink,” JR said. “I’ll bet everybody except for the bootleggers were happy when Prohibition was repealed.”

   “They were, the way I hear it, but it didn’t get all that easier to have a drink in peace. As soon as the ban was over a Temperance Act was made law.  If you were an islander, you had to get a permit to buy liquor. Even then you could buy only so much of it. If you were a tourist, you had to get a special temporary permit. Maybe you didn’t if you were staying at Dalvay-by-the-Sea.”

   “Why is that?”

   “Back in the 30s and 40s it was owned by Captain Eddie Dicks, the number one rumrunner on the island. They might still have some of his Irish whiskey left over. They might still be serving it.”

   The first roads on Prince Edward Island were built in the late 1760s. At the turn of the 20th century cars were banned on most roads most of the time, especially on market days. It didn’t have anything to do with drunk driving. There was hardly any booze on the island, anyway. A Red Flag law was passed ordering there be a man at the front of every car with a red flag, ready to wave it just in case a horse or wagon or human was in the way. Everybody who had a car got sick of the flags soon enough. Twenty years later the law was thrown out, the red flags were put away, and cars went anywhere they wanted, so long as there was a throughway that they could handle without breaking an axle.

   “I grew up on a mixed farm,” Conor said. “It wasn’t anything elaborate, basically turnips, which is a rutabaga, and we grew grain, barley, and wheat. My father was the farmer.”

   Conor Murphy’s father Danny farmed 100 acres, although they had 400 acres. “They rented most of their land out, the same as I do now. They had seven fields on our 100 acres, but I’m going to shave it back to three fields. I don’t want potatoes growing on my land.”

   “Why not?”

   “Too many pesticides.”

   By the early 1900s most of Prince Edward Island’s wall-to-wall forest had been cleared and ninety percent of the land was being farmed. There were more than 15,000 farms, almost all of them less than one hundred acres. The land was sub-divided by dikes, walls built of rocks dug up from the fields.

   “All around those dikes was full of berries,” Conor said. “Our mom used to send us back in the fields with buckets. We’d come back with them full of wild raspberries and blueberries.”

   After World War Two technology and machinery led to bigger farms and one-crop planting. On the eve of 1990 there were just 2,500 working farms on PEI and more than half of them were growing potatoes. It had gotten so it was called Spud Island.

   “Fields were smaller thirty years ago,” Conor said. “Maybe it should have stayed that way. Now the dikes are being ripped out and sprays kill all the wild berries. It’s a shame to see it.”

   Danny Murphy and his wife Dottie were the only Murphy’s who ever farmed.

   “My great-great-grandfather was from Ireland,” said Kelly Doyle. “It was on his sailing to the New World that he landed hereabouts and stayed. He did something so that the Queen, or somebody, granted him land, and two shore lots. We’ve still got his British Army handgun from back then.”

   “Does it work?”

   “I don’t know. I’ve never shot it. My dad kept it cleaned oiled wrapped up and locked up. There are some bullets for it, but God knows if the powder is still any good.”

   By 1850 a quarter of the people on Prince Edward Island were Irish. The last wave of immigrants were the Monaghan settlers. They came from County Monaghan. They paid their own way and made their own way once on the island, rather than tenant farming. The freeholders farmed and controlled livestock. By then the island was exporting surplus foodstuff to neighboring provinces and Great Britain. The Murphy’s, however, raised horses and propagated thoroughbreds. Later the family got into the fashion trade and bred black silver foxes for their pelts.

   The secret of breeding foxes was solved in the late 19th century on Prince Edward Island. Twenty years later single pelts sold for as much as $2000.00, at a time when farm laborers were lucky to make a dollar a day. In 1913 the provincial government estimated foxes were worth twice as much as “all of the cattle, horses, sheep, swine, and poultry” on the island. But, after the Second World War the business was wiped out. It fell out of fashion. Many farmers lost their shirts. They stayed warm wrapped in fox furs. Fox tails started popping up on car aerials.

   “When they went out of style my dad let all our foxes loose and he became a farmer.”

   Conor went to the Stella Maris School, across the street from the Church of Stella Maris on Church Hill Rd. The school was built in 1940 and burned to the ground in 1954. “We stood looking utterly helpless in our misery,” a nun at the nearby convent wrote in her diary. The village re-built their school the next year. “It is the most modern fourteen room school in the province,” the island’s Guardian newspaper noted in its feature article.

   “I went grades one through nine. Almost everybody my age quit in grade nine. It was the 60s. There was no need of education around here. Fathers would tell their kids, you’re not going to do anything in school, get to work in the boat or the fields. We all said we’ve got better things to do and banged out of there.”

   But he wasn’t ready for work, roaming Lower Canada instead, and moving to Montreal. He sowed a bushel full of wild oats, later joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After he left the force, he ran restaurants.

   “When I was growing up and even now, she was lean here. There was no money around for years.” All through the 1980s the gross domestic product of Prince Edward Island was still the lowest in Canada, just a nudge more than 50% of the national average. Next to Newfoundland, the province had the lowest per capita income in the country. 

   “Back then all the fishermen around here had a gasoline engine in an old wooden boat. Everything was done manually, except for hydraulics to haul gear off the bottom. The steering was even done by chains. Now everything is going fiberglass, and everything is going diesel.”

   Fish men going door-to-door selling cod was a way of life until the 1980s, when a ban on the taking of ground fish was put in place. Fish stocks had been over-exploited up and down Atlantic Canada for a century and were severely depleted. “Everybody was baiting all the hooks they had and they was trawling for halibut, haddock, and cod. They took all they could get. Then the moratorium came in. After that all they were allowed was lobster.”

   “Every harbor I stop at, what I see are lobster traps,” JT said.

   “You got lobsters you got traps,” Conor said. “They’re as simple as mousetraps, which this island has plenty of, too, mice, I mean, but you can’t eat them.”

   Like mousetraps, they almost always get the job done. Invented just more than one hundred years ago, they had changed little since. Even though entrances to the traps are one-way, any lobster that tries to escape can get away, if it has a mind to. They hardly ever get away, though.

   “My thought is there are two ways lobsters get caught,” Conor said. “One way is what I call simple simplemindedness.” Lobster brains are about the size of the tip of a fountain pen. “They won’t usually back out the same way they’ve come in. They crawl up the net, there’s a flap on it, and once they’re in that they can’t go back. The other way they get caught is they just stay in the trap all day eating bait, and when they’re jerked out of the water they get tossed into the back, by the sheer momentum of getting pulled up with the hauler.”

   Lobsters spend most of their time racking their brains about where their next meal is coming from, crawling on their walking legs to get to the table, and finally eating all the crabs, mollusks, fish, and even other lobsters they can get.

   Conor’s brothers all fished at one time or another. “We weren’t farmers, not exactly, but we weren’t fishermen, either, although I think it was naturally in our blood, since every one of us is at ease on the water.”

   Flynn Murphy fished for several years before marrying and moving to Ontario to start a family. After he zipped up, he brought his new family back to Prince Edward Island. He was one of the few men who came back to work and live on PEI. Most men left to work and live somewhere else. He opened Andy’s Eatery across from Lorne’s Snack Shop. 

   “Danny had rubber boots and oil gear and he went out, too, but then he got into TV’s.” He was one of the first satellite television providers on PEI. When he left the boob tube behind, he transitioned from catching lobsters to serving them at the Blue Mussel, his new seasonal seafood restaurant, at the far end of the North Rustico harbor.

   “In the 1960s my parents ran a small restaurant in Cavendish,” Conor said. “It was 7 cents for pop, 30 cents for a hamburger, and 17 cents for fries back then. That was the kind of money you made in 1964. There were five kids in our family. Some of those French Acadian families had a dozen births. It was no different for anyone. Maybe we were all in our separate boats, but we were all in the same pond.”

   Hugo Murphy spent some years as a hand on local boats, and after that got to working on his own boat.

   “He’s an able man behind the wheel.” Conor said. “He fishes with Paul Doucette, his partner, out of the North Rustico harbor. Their boat is the Flying Wave.” It was a nearly new, high-bowed fiberglass craft built in nearby Kensington.

   “Paul, that’s my buddy, that’s my partner in crime,” Hugo said “He’s roundish, built like a buoy, strong as can be, even though he drinks a bit too much beer. He lives right here in the crick.”

   North Rustico had long been known as the crick. “There is a creek that runs right through the village,” Conor said. “Some people from Charlottetown didn’t know what a creek was, or misunderstood, being from the city, and ended up calling us the crick, so we ended up being nicknamed that.”

   “I’ve heard it can be rough work,” JT said.

   “You can get black and bruised on a boat for sure,” Conor said. “When it’s rough, you do everything slower, no matter how strong you are. You need to be more careful with your gear, your traps, and the rope under your feet when the ocean is up. You have got to watch your P’s and Q’s.”

   “You’re right in the National Park,” JT said. “How did that happen, that the land stayed in your hands?”

   Murphy’s Cove and the family’s land were in the National Park but weren’t part of the National Park. The park was established in 1937 and encompassed more than 5,000 acres of coastal headlands, sand dunes, and beaches. The Murphy’s didn’t sell their land when the park was being formed on the central north shore of Prince Edward Island.

   “We didn’t sell an acre,” Conor said. “But they have the patience to wait everybody out. That’s the beauty of the National Park. You don’t want to sell right now? That’s fine. Your son will want to sell, and if he doesn’t want to, his son will. If it takes two hundred years, we will get you out of this park.”

   “So, you’re staying?”

   “Yeah, I think so, so long as no more bodies get dug up.”

   “It’s a hell of a thing,” JT said. “There was a man murdered in Charlottetown last year, but the homicide rate here on Prince Edward Island, next to the Yukon’s, which is zero, is the lowest in Canada.”

   The young man who was strangled and stabbed to death in the bedroom of his home on a quiet street in Charlottetown less than a year earlier was Byron Carr. “I will kill again,” was scrawled on the wall. The killer was never found. He hadn’t killed again, not that anyone knew.

   “When I got back, I seen there’ve been a lot of changes around the island, but it’s nice to come home and say it hasn’t changed much right here,” Conor said. “That’s another beauty of the National Park. It stays pretty much the same. Only the rabbits and trees get bigger, and the roads get better. When I was kid there wasn’t much of a road. When the National Park got around to it their new road cut our farm in half, but none of us complained. Before that it was a hillside. When it rained in the early spring or late fall, and especially when it rained all day, it turned into a red clay slippery slope. Sometimes no road will get you where you want to go, but a good road under your feet is the way to go in the right direction.”

   Conor and JT finished their sandwiches and warm beer.

   “Do you think you’ll get whoever done it?” Conor asked about what was on both their minds.

   “If he’s still on the island we’ll find him sooner or later,” JT said. “Unless they’re contract killers. Most killers don’t know where they are going, which means every road gets them nowhere.”

Chapter 19

   At the time Monk Kennedy thought it was a good idea. He didn’t think he would burn through what he had stuffed into his pockets last fall, but he did and now he needed more. That meant going back to North Rustico and the barn beside the green house on the ocean and digging up his stash.

   It was the last place he thought anybody would look for it. Now, it was the last place he wanted to go to, ever since the girl had been dug up. That was a mistake. He should have tied her to an anchor and thrown her in the ocean. He wasn’t going to make himself miserable about it, though. Trial and error were the way he did things. It was how Thomas Edison had done things. Thomas Edison was the only hero he ever had. The Wizard of Menlo Park had invented light bulbs, record players, the movies, and electricity to make it all work. Monk could live without light bulbs and the movies but not electricity or Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest.

   Monk lived in Charlottetown on Dorchester St. in a yellow flat fronted two-story two-family house with front doors as far apart as they could be. There was no front yard and barely a back yard. There was just enough yard to park and chain his motorcycle out of sight. He kept his shades drawn night and day and never answered the door. He didn’t have any relatives or friends and kept it that way.  

   The Confederation Centre of the Arts was two blocks away. It opened the year he was born. The Queen of England officially dedicated it. He had never gone there and never went there. The year after it opened the musical “Anne of Green Gables” opened. It had been playing every summer ever since. He hated Anne, even though he had never read the book or seen the show. He hated everybody who went to see the show. If he could have, he would have modified the pipes on his motorcycle and roared up and down Queen St. whenever it was playing. As it was the Kawasaki was as quiet as a stealth bomber.

   The Olde Dublin Pub was a block away and he ate there every Wednesday. They had a “2 Can Dine for 1” special on Wednesdays. He ate alone but ordered for two. He took the leftovers home. One of the managers had told him his contrivance wasn’t allowed but Monk told him in a menacing way where to go and after that nobody ever bothered him on Wednesdays when he ate by himself at a corner table. The managers gave him a wide berth.

   After he scouted out the green house, he realized he wouldn’t be able to dig up his stash during the morning noon or night hours. It would have to be the middle of the night. It didn’t matter to him. He hardly ever slept, anyway. He lay in bed on his back with headphones listening to heavy metal on his portable CD player.

   Conor Murphy’s cat Snaps slept most of the time. The rest of the time he prowled around, except when he was eating. Sleeping and eating came first with him. Everything else paled by comparison. He got his name the day he showed up and walked on Conor’s heels into his kitchen.

   “What have we got here?” Conor asked. “Where did you come from?”

   Snaps told him but Conor didn’t understand. The cat knew the language he spoke, and the language people spoke, were worlds apart, but it didn’t hurt to try. Conor rubbed his head and put some cold chicken on a plate for him. Snaps wasn’t especially hungry, but since he usually didn’t know where his next meal was coming from, he wolfed it down. 

   “There’s no collar on you, even though you’re a big one, and a healthy-looking son of a gun.”

   Snaps was a black Maine Coon just shy of seventeen pounds. If he had been a house cat, he would have been bigger, lazing around, but being a rolling stone, he stayed lean and mean. Being a Maine Coon, he wasn’t by nature mean, but he knew how to take care of himself. He had beaten off foxes and coyotes in his time. Dogs were no problem, unless they were Pit Bulls, which he avoided.

   Being a black cat could be a problem, a riddle problem he had trouble working out. Sometimes when he crossed somebody’s path, he would overhear them saying black cats were bad luck. He was alive and kicking and considered himself a lucky dog. When he tried explaining that he was just going somewhere, nobody ever seemed to understand what he was saying.

   Conor made himself a bowl of Rice Krispies and sat down at the kitchen table. The cat finished his chicken, licked his chops until he was clean as whistle, hopped on the chair opposite Conor, and sat there staring at the bowl of cereal. 

   “That’s not for you, Snap Crackle Pop,” Conor said. The name was too long to say, so Conor called him Snap, but the cat liked Snaps better, and got his way.

   Snaps was opportunistic at the best of times but understood that what Conor was eating was his and wasn’t his to try for. He knew full well how to bide his time. He slept in the shade on the porch the rest of the day and that evening slipped back into the house. When Conor put another plate of cold chicken and a small bowl of water on the floor for him, he ate all the chicken and lapped up half the water. That night he slept curled up on the floor at the foot of Conor’s bed. The next day it was like his name had always been Snaps.

   It was the middle of the night the night Monk parked his Kawasaki at Cape Turner and walked down the Gulf Shore Parkway to Murphy’s Cove. There sky was heavy overcast, and the full moon was a missing man. If he had seen headlights or heard a motor, he would have ducked into the pine and spruce that butted up to the shoulder. But he didn’t see any cars or pickups coming from either direction. What he also didn’t see was Snaps coming back from Rollins Pond, where he had been hunting frogs. He tore their legs off and ate them first thing, considering them a delicacy.

   The cat had fallen asleep under a holly bush after dinner and slept through lights out. He was getting acquainted with the bush because he knew that although the orange berries were poisonous to people, they were prized by red squirrels, ruffed grouse, sparrows, and ducks. He wasn’t going to mess with squirrels but everybody else was fair game.

   When he pawed at the door of the kitchen but found it locked, he made a night of it, exploring and reconnoitering. Rollins Pond was almost a mile away. It was as far as he went. He and a red fox skirted each other on the way back. A rabbit pretended he wasn’t there. He exchanged suspicious glances with a racoon.

   He saw Monk the second he darted off the road and crept toward the barn. The small lanky man looked like a hairball some stray mutt might have coughed up. Snaps stood stock still, almost invisible inside a dark shadow. He didn’t normally over think anything, but he thought whatever was going on had to be sketchy. When Monk ducked out of sight, Snaps followed. He moved slowly alert and vigilant. He knew full well people could be dangerous. He had good teeth and razor-sharp claws, but he was out of his weight class going up against a full-grown man.

   He stopped when he heard digging sounds. He got low and looked around the corner of the barn. He had always heard curiosity killed the cat, but he wasn’t the suspect tonight. The man doing the digging was the suspect. He had a garden spade and was using it to dig at the base of the barn. The soil was loose, and it didn’t take him long. He pulled a canvas bag out of the ground reached in removed some banded money cinched up the bag returned it to where he had found it filled the hole and smoothed the dirt over to make it look undisturbed. He put the money he had taken into a paper grocery bag rolled it up tight and walked back to the road and towards Cape Turner.

   “What is this all about?” Snaps wondered, although he knew some kind of a cat was out of the bag.

   Monk had been planning on taking all the money with him, but at the last minute decided to only take some of it and leave the rest where it was. He had to hide it somewhere, anyway, and the scene of the crime was as good a place as any, probably better. Who would ever think of looking there? It had been ridiculously easy getting what he wanted. He could do it again anytime he wanted. He had enough in the bag to last him the rest of the year, and maybe longer. Once the heat was off, he would get the rest of it in early spring and leave Prince Edward Island for good. He had been thinking lately of going to the States, to New Orleans for a while, and from there to Mexico.

   He could live like the King of the Jungle in Mexico.

   Snaps was still watching the road from the base of the roadside mailbox when he heard the Kawasaki coming. He backed up into high grass. When the bike was gone in the direction of North Rustico, he cautiously came out and made a beeline for the house. The kitchen door was still locked. He followed his nose to the holly bush and got comfortable for the rest of the night.

   He would have to tell Conor in the morning about what he had seen.

Chapter 20

   “When Britain is at war, Canada is at war,” Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier said in 1910. “There is no distinction.” Four years later when Britain entered World War One, Canada signed on, too.  In August 1914 the Governor-General of Canada vowed that “if unhappily war should ensue, the Canadian people will be united in a common resolve to put forth every effort and to make every sacrifice necessary to ensure the integrity and maintain the honor of our Empire”

   Empires are made by plundering and slaughtering. They are always sure of the rightness of their cause. They never go down without a fight. It doesn’t matter if there’s any honor in the fighting, or not. They plow straight ahead.

   The country had no air force, a navy fit for a bathtub, and an army of 3,000-some men. By the end of the war more than 600,000 Canadians had enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force to fight for King and Country and more than 400,000 of them served in Europe, out of a population of fewer than 8 million nationwide.

   “The Empire Needs Men” is what the posters said. “All answer the CALL! Helped by the YOUNG LIONS the OLD LION defies his foes. ENLIST NOW!”

   Everybody wanted in on the fight because everybody thought it would be over by Christmas. Canadians lined up to support the British Empire and collect steady pay of $1.10 a day. The harvest that year was bad, and unemployment was soaring. But machine guns fired ten times as many bullets a minute as they were paid pennies a day. Hundreds of thousands on all sides were slaughtered week by month by year by the rapid-firing weapons on the Western Front.

   At the beginning of the war, it was better to be killed than wounded. The wounded were taken off battlefields in horse-drawn wagons or on mules with baskets on their sides, the baskets soaked and dripping with men bleeding to death. There wasn’t any such thing as a dressing. If they made it to a train station, they were transported to hospitals. “One of those trains dumped about 500 badly wounded men and left them lying between the tracks in the rain, with no cover whatsoever,” said Harvey Cushing, the head of the Harvard Unit of volunteer doctors at the American Ambulance Hospital of Paris.

   Nearly 60,000 Canadians were killed, most of them the result of enemy action, and more than 170,000 of them were wounded. Almost 3.500 men and one woman had at least one arm or leg amputated. Private Curley Christian lost all four limbs but survived.

   During the Battle of Vimy Ridge he was unloading cargo from trucks when an artillery shell hit next to where he was, trapping him under debris for several days. When stretcher bearers tried to reach him, they were killed by more artillery. When he was finally rescued, he was transported to a military hospital and from there to London. His arms and legs had gone gangrenous and all four were sawed off.

   When he got back to Canada he was fitted with prosthetic limbs and married Cleopatra McPherson. He deigned his own prosthesis for writing. Cleo and he had a son who twenty years later served in World War Two.

   More than 7,000 Prince Edward Islander’s enlisted. Five hundred of them were killed and more than a 1,000 wounded. Tommy Murphy went overseas with a siege battery in 1915. Before he went, he got married to Freya O’Sullivan and got her pregnant. He got word of his son Danny’s birth by telegram while taking a break in an ankle-deep puddle of water sheltering in a trench during the Third Battle of Artois. 

   He had spent eight days at the front and was due for four days in a reserve trench and then four more days at a rest camp. When the bloodletting went on and on and the ranks thinned out, he never made it to the reserve trench much less the rest camp. It was that kind of a war. The Allied and Central Powers fought the same battles over and over.

   The British French and Canadians assembled seventeen infantry and two cavalry divisions for the offensive at Artois, backed by 630 field guns and 420 heavy artillery guns. During the fighting the field artillery fired 1.5 million rounds and the heavy artillery 250,000 rounds at the Germans defenses. Tommy Murphy barely slept for days. Whenever he took a break, he felt like his arms were going to fall off after loading shells until there weren’t any more to load. He knew he had sent his share of Germans to Hell even though he never saw one of them die.

   When the Allies tried to advance, they suffered 40% casualties. The battle went on from late September to mid-October when it ground to a halt in the middle of a never-ending autumn rainstorm and mutual exhaustion. By that time both sides were conserving ammunition because they were running out of it. They spent the rest of the month burying their dead, tending to their wounded, and withdrawing.

   Tommy was a cannon man because he was taller than five feet seven inches and burly enough to do the heavy work of feeding artillery. He didn’t have flat feet or bad eyesight, He didn’t have the greatest teeth, but explained he was enlisting to fight Germans, not bite them. He could have begged off the war because he was married, but he was patriotic and wanted to do his fair share. Money from the Canadian Patriotic Fund helped his wife keep the home fire burning.

   His battery had a lance corporal scout sniper attached to it. Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow was an Aboriginal who could split a bullseye nobody else could even see. He had more than 300 kills to his name. He roamed No Man’s Land at night for them, seeking out enemy snipers and forward spotters. He always came back in the morning. The other side never made it back to their side.

   He wore moccasins instead of army boots, chewed dead twigs whenever he sensed danger, and always carried a medicine bag. “When I was at training camp on Lake Superior in 1914, some of us landed from our vessel to gather blueberries near an Ojibwa settlement,” he said. “An old Indian recognized me and gave me a tiny medicine bag to protect me, saying I would shortly go into great danger. The bag was of skin tightly bound with a leather throng. Sometimes it seemed to be hard as a rock, at other times it appeared to contain nothing. What was inside of the bag I do not know.”

   Tommy had signed up for short service and when 1915 was over and done and it was April 1916, he was done with his one year on the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His commanding officer tried to convince him to re-enlist, but he had a wife, a child, and a farm that needed him. He didn’t need to kill anymore Germans. He was sick of the butchery. Three men from North Rustico were already dead. He didn’t want to be next. He knew if he re-enlisted it was only a matter of time before he went home in a box to be buried on Church Hill Rd.

   He got out when the going was good. The next year enlistments dried up as men near and far began to realize the toll the new style combat on the Western Front was taking. Machine gun fire and shell fire was murderous. On top of that there was poison gas. The dead were left where they fell. They were left for the rats. In May 1917 the government announced conscription through the Military Service Act. The rats stood up and cheered.

   It was easier getting into the army than it was getting out. He finally found a ride on a troop transport from Calais to Dover, took a train to London, and spent the night at a whore house with a razzle dazzle girl. He took a steam bath the next morning and had lunch at a corner fish and chip shop eating cod with a splash of vinegar and a full pint at his elbow. He followed the first pint with a second pint and was happy for it. He had a ticket for passage to Halifax in his wallet, but it was a week away. His grandfather had come from Ireland, or so the family story went, and done something big for the Crown, who rewarded him with 400 acres of PEI shoreline. He unfolded a map and located Dublin. It was directly across the Irish Sea from Liverpool.

   He bought a train ticket to Liverpool and the next morning landed in Dublin. It was Easter Monday. The Easter Rising had happened yesterday. The Easter Rising was happening today. 

   After landing at the Dublin Port, he followed the River Liffey, making for Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His plan was to find a room for a few days and have dinner. He would explore the rest of the city after a good night’s sleep. He was wearing his Canadian Army uniform over a pair of Spring Needle underwear and carrying a rucksack. He had his toiletries, four pairs of clean socks, his rolled up military wool overcoat, and a paper bag full of Huntley & Palmer biscuits in it. The biscuits were so hard they would crack a man’s teeth at the first bite if not soaked in tea beforehand.

   His papers and money were in a travel wallet attached to his belt. He had his Colt New Service revolver on his belt, too, for what it was worth now that his war was over. An hour later he was glad he had it, after he got it back, although he wasn’t sure if he was going to need it to protect himself from the Irish or the British.

   Dublin Castle was in the middle of the old part of the city. The city got its name from the Black Pool, the ‘Dubh Linn,’ where the rivers Liffey and Poddle met. It was where the castle was. It had been a Gaelic ring fort in the beginning, a long time ago. Later, after the Vikings showed up, it was a Viking fort. For the past 700 years it had been a British fort, the seat of their rule in Ireland. 

   Tommy didn’t have anything against the British, but after a year of serving in their army, he thought the Irish might be better served ruling themselves. They couldn’t do worse. During the year he served on the Western Front three quarters of a million Jacks and John Bulls were killed. It made him sick to think of the men he had seen obeying orders to attack barbed wire and machines guns across open fields. Another few million men went wounded and missing. The broken might survive, but he didn’t think the missing were coming back anytime soon.

   He was glad to be out of it. It hadn’t ended by Christmas of 1914. It still wasn’t over by Christmas of 1915. The next Christmas was in eight months and the talk was it would take a half-dozen more holidays to either win or lose the war. He meant to say a prayer in St. Patrick’s Cathedral before dinner. 

   He didn’t get a chance to say a prayer, find a room, or have dinner. He lost his chance when he came across the bridge leading to Trinity College, turned the corner towards Dublin Castle, and found himself face to face with a Mauser semi-automatic pistol. He knew exactly what it was. He stood stock still exactly where he was. The hand on the firearm was a woman’s hand. She was wearing an old military hat and a yellow armband.

   “Hand’s up and on the wall, boyo,” she said, a second woman coming up behind him. The second woman was wearing a bandolier laden with a half dozen hand grenades. She had a revolver. It looked like it came from the Middle Ages. He did what she said. She patted him down and took his Colt.

   “Who are you and what are you doing here?” she asked.

   “Tommy Murphy, Canadian Army, from Prince Edward Island by way of a year in France,” he said. “I’m here to take in the sights before going home. Now that we’re talking, I thought Ireland was sitting the war out.”

   “We ask the questions,” the woman wearing the bandolier spit out.

   “Come on,” the woman with the Mauser said, poking him in the small of the back with the barrel of the gun.

   The streets leading to the city center were barricaded. When they got to the General Post Office, he saw there were two green flags flying in place of the Union Jack. They said “Irish Republic” in gold letters. He knew there was no such thing as an Irish Republic. 

   “What’s going on?”  

   “We’re rocking the casbah,” the grenade girl said.

   There was a man outside the post office reading from a broadsheet. It was the “Proclamation of the Irish Republic.” There were copies of it pasted on walls. Newsboys were handing them out to anybody who wanted one. Not everybody wanted one. Most of them didn’t understand what was happening. The grenade girl handed him a copy. “Read this,” she said. There were men with rifles and shotguns on the roofs of buildings overlooking bridges.

   “Who’s this?” said a man wearing a scrap of paper pinned to his breast. It said “Citizen Army.”

   “We found him down the street, Sean.”

   Sean was Sean Mac Duiarmada, one of Commander-in-Chief Patrick Pearce’s right-hand men.

   “He’s Canadian,” Sean said pointing to Tommy’s regimental badge and the “CANADA” title at the end of his shoulder straps.

   “We thought he was a Brit.”

   “They’ll be here soon enough,” Sean said.

   There were 1,200 rebels waiting for 20,000 British troops to arrive.

   A shot rang out in the distance and Margaret Keogh fell down dead. She was a 19-year-old nurse tending to a wounded Citizen Army man. She was the first person to die during the Rising of Easter Week.

   A team of Volunteers trotted past on their way to the Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park. They took all the weapons and ammunition they could carry and blew up the rest. When the son of the fort’s commander tried to raise the alarm, he was shot dead. He was the second person to die.

   “You’re free to go,” Sean said to Tommy. “Best you leave Dublin all together.”

   “What about my sidearm?”

   Sean nodded to the grenade girl, and she handed Tommy’s Colt back to him.

   When a contingent of the Citizen’s Army approached Dublin Castle, the police sentry James O’Brien ordered them to halt. He was shot dead even though he was unarmed. He was the third person to die. When British troops showed up the rebels retreated to City Hall, stormed up to the roof, and fired down on the troops in the street. The man commanding the rebel contingent, Sean Connolly, was shot dead by a sniper, the first rebel and fourth person killed.

   Tommy carefully made his way back to the docklands and the port. He boarded the same boat he had come on. An hour later the boat was steaming into Dublin Bay on its way back to Liverpool. Eight hours later he was asleep in a room of a boarding house on the waterfront, not far from the Three Graces.

   The next morning was cold and damp. Women were out in the streets with their long-handled push brooms. They were called Sweepers. Others were in homes cleaning and scrubbing. They were called Dailies. Many more were at work in munitions factories. They were called Munitionettes. Liverpool’s men were on the Royal Navy’s battleships and in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. They were called Cannon Fodder.

   Tommy found a greasy spoon near the port and ordered breakfast, eggs back bacon sausage baked beans a fried tomato fried mushrooms fried bread and black pudding. The Liverpool Daily Post headline screamed “REBELLION!” There was no need for him to read about it. He thought he might have this same breakfast at midday and tonight. Somebody once said, “To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.”

   He put the newspaper aside. Pushing himself away from the table, he checked his ticket for Canada. He tucked it securely away with his service revolver. Tommy Murphy was going to keep himself safe and sound until his boat sailed for home. Once he was out of the frying pan that was burning and smoking on another man’s stove, he was going to stay out of it.