Tag Archives: North Rustico PEI

Blood Lines Chapter 21

   Malcolm “Monk” Kennedy was half rattlesnake and half Scottish. He was from Prince Edward Island but had spent only a 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 house the middle of the night that he was born the first thing she did when stepping outside the door was make the sign of the cross. She hurried away under a full moon. Monk was born under a bad sign, staying a bad boy as soon as he began to crawl.

   His father was superstitious to a T. He kept an American Indian head penny made in a leap year and a double six domino made long ago in a drawer. There was a rooster claw nailed to the front door and blood red prayer candles on the sills of the two front windows. Mason jars full of moonshine 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 Thomas Edison?”

   “He’s the man who invented electricity.”

   “Maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t, but you ain’t no Edison, whoever he is,” his father said.

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

   “You got more nerve than a bum tooth.”

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

   His father took Monk’s declaration to heart and sent him to live with an uncle in McMasterville near Montreal. He turned 18 in 1982 without a diploma, not even a first grade one. It made no difference to him. He wasn’t planning on working in an office or supermarket. “I ain’t punching no clock,” he said. He knew his way around the world he lived in. He tied his star to Maurice Boucher, a friend of his uncle’s. He was the leader of a white supremacist outlaw motorcycle gang who called themselves the SS.  His best friend Salvatore Cazzetta was the other leader of the gang.

  The Schutzstaffel, who were the Nazis known as the SS, would have shot them dead on the spot if they had spotted them. They hated the French and Italians. They would have taken the gang’s motorcycles for their own use. The SS didn’t believe in the law or self-styled outlaws. They lived by their own dark rules of due process. They shot first and never asked questions.

    Maurice went to prison for sexually assaulting an underage girl. In the meantime, Salvatore ran 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 to never have anything to do with the Angels after the Lennoxville Massacre the year before. Hard words and pushing and shoving led to more hard words and more pushing and shoving and finally fists. 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. If they could have, they would have encouraged the fighting. Both the Angels and the Rock Machine distributed cocaine for the Mafia. They wanted to buy and sell the drugs themselves except the kingpins of the 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,”one journalist explained, looking over his shoulder.

   The men who were the Mafia were all Sicilians or of Sicilian descent. They kept their made-man business to themselves. They didn’t drive around in limousines with noisy 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 rowdy variants or simply removed the mufflers. Inside and outside their clubhouse doors the Hells Angels were jacked up.

   During a Hells Angel picnic in the homeland, which was strictly RSVP, 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, you jackasses,” he bellowed, “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. “That dog is doing a lot of chopping, but no chips are flying,” he said to the others standing beside him. He fingered his handgun. “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, Butchie the Gringo who was 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 the ditch alongside the road, while doing a wheelie, Butchie said, “That’s what I call showing real 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 gone wrong five Angels in the Laval chapter were shot and killed by other Angels.  One of the dead men wasn’t dead, yet. He got his face kicked in for his trouble. After that he was dead. 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. He was looking ahead to expand their thuggish empire of crime.

   “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 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 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 handful of bills. “It looks damned real.”

   “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 out on bail. The prison time he spent 17 years earlier was a mistake. He knew for sure that he wouldn’t be serving any more time this time. As soon as it was wrapped up, he would load up another boat.

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

   “What do you mean?” she asked

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

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

Blood Lines Chapter 22

   JT Marcunas started in Kensington with gas stations, went on to diners and convenience stores, and ended at the Parkview Drive-in in Brackley Beach. From Kensington he went to New London and Stanley Bridge. He stopped at farm stands and fish shacks. He stopped at liquor stores. He described the motorcycle and what little he knew about the rider. In between he stopped at every ice cream stand he saw. They all had gravel parking lots, although not all of them had gravel. They served some of the best ice cream in the world, most of it from ADL Dairies. The milk and cream came from Prince Edward Island cows. The sugar came from Florida.

   A new ice cream store had opened in Charlottetown six years earlier and was soon expanding. Inside a few years Cows was voted “Canada’s Best Ice Cream” store in a Reader’s Digest opinion poll. Twenty years later it was listed as No. 1 in the “World’s Top Ten Places for Ice Cream.” Walking up to the counter of his third ice cream stand JT broke down and had a scoop of Wowie Cowie.

   Everywhere he went, he went in the door, described the red motorcycle, left his name and phone number, and asked to be called if anybody spotted his man. One woman in Stanley Bridge remembered the motorcycle because the rider had paid with a one-hundred-dollar bill for a fish sandwich.

   “Do you have anything smaller?” she asked.

   “Take it or leave it, lady” the rider said, snarky. She made change for him and watched him ride away. “That one was a rude piece of work.”

   When he walked into Captain Scott’s on the Cavendish Boardwalk, JT heard the same story about a young man on a red motorcycle stopping in for a bite.

   “He come in, ordered fish and chips, and when I brought him his food, he paid with a one-hundred-dollar bill. But then he threw it down on the floor and said it was no good, it was old fish, and he wanted a new piece. When I said no, I thought at first he was going to come over the counter at me. I even put my hand on this knife that he couldn’t see.” He showed JT the knife. It was a knife that could gut man or beast. “What he did though was throw the fries down on the floor next to the fish and stomp out. I went to the door to make sure he was leaving. There was something crooked as a corkscrew about that young man.”

   When JT got to North Rustico he stopped at the Lion’s Club and the co-op store. He went to the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant. He stepped into Lorne’s Snack Shop. Two women were at the counter. One of them said something.

   “What was that?” he asked. She said it again. He caught a word or two. Judging by their unfamiliarity with English, he suspected they were Newfies. When he asked one of them if they were from Newfoundland, the bigger of the two said, “I just dies at you!” JT reckoned it meant something pertinent. He thanked them for their time.

   He walked across the street to the harbor. He talked to the Doiron’s in their fish shop, a couple of teenagers scraping danglies and goop from the bottom of a boat, and two men at the entrance to a yellow building. The two of them were outside the entrance. One man in suspenders, his pants pulled up to his belly button, was sitting on an old stove next to the door. The other man in a red t-shirt and ZZ Top beard was standing in the doorway. They were the Court brothers. There were white board signs on all sides of the door advertising deep sea fishing. One sign said, “This place has been advertised in Modern Maturity Magazine July – August 1985.”

   “Yeah, we seen him,” ZZ Top said. “We take tourists out mornings, afternoons, and evenings, but never on Sundays.” They were born again Christians. “We was here one Sunday, not working, since it’s a day of rest, when this young fella on a red motorcycle pulls up. He wanted us to take him out, not for no fishing, but to see the lay of the shoreline. We told him we don’t do that, and besides we don’t go out on Sundays. He flashed some hundreds, but we said no again. He didn’t like that. He got mad as a hornet, took a couple of steps at us, but he was kind of scrawny and us two being grown men, he backed off, but not before swearing up a storm.”

   It was nearly dark by the time JT made his last stop at Brackley Beach’s Parkview Drive-in. He talked to the teenager in the ticket booth. The teen was downing a can of Big 8.

   “We don’t get many motorcycles here,” he said. “Practically none, no sir. I can’t remember the last one.”

   “OK, thanks for your time.”

   “You know, we’re showing a cop movie tonight, if you want to stay.” 

   “Is that right?”

   “Yeah. It’s got Jim Belushi in it.”

   JT parked in the last row, turned off his car, and hooked the sound box onto his partially lowered front door window. He adjusted the back rest. The movie started.

   The big screen cops and robbers movie “K-9” was about a disheveled San Diego detective who orders pizza delivered to his car during stakeouts. He heats up the leftovers with his cigarette lighter. He’s after a drug dealer who sooner than later spots him and blows up his car with a helicopter. After he gets a new car his commanding officer says he has to ride with a partner for safety’s sake. He would rather work alone but settles on a compromise. His new partner will be a dog. The dog later bites some of the criminals and sniffs out the dope. To top it off he saves the policeman’s life. He later plays dead, and the detective thinks he really is dead. While he is delivering a eulogy the dog slyly opens his eyes, takes a peek, but quickly closes them again when the detective looks his way.

   JT laughed so much he had to wipe his eyes a couple of times. When the movie was over he flashed his red and blue lights to show his appreciation. On the way home he thought, if I don’t get myself a steady girlfriend soon, I’m going to have to get a dog for a friend.

Blood Lines Chapter 23

   “When Britain is at war, Canada is at war,” Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier proclaimed in 1910. “There is no distinction.” When Britain entered World War One, Canada signed on, too. The Governor-General of Canada vowed that “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”

   Blood and guts bravado was easy enough talk. He might have had the guts, but it was going to be somebody else’s blood. He wasn’t going to be doing the sacrificing. Empires are made by plundering and slaughtering. They never go down without a fight. They are always sure of the rightness of their cause. It doesn’t matter if there’s any honor in the slaughter, or not. They plow straight ahead. Stay out of the way or get plowed six feet under.

   Canada had no air force, a navy fit only 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 less than 8 million.

   “THE EMPIRE NEEDS MEN” is what the posters blared. “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 pay of $1.10 a day. The harvest that year was bad, and unemployment was soaring. The army was a steady paymaster. 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 day by week by month by the new 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 in baskets draped over their sides, the baskets soaked with men bleeding to death. There wasn’t much in the line of on-the-spot lifesaving. 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,” complained Harvey Cushing, the head of volunteer doctors at the American Ambulance Hospital of Paris.

   Nearly 60,000 Canadians were killed, the result of enemy action and disease, 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 a truck 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 home, he was fitted with prosthetic limbs and married Cleopatra McPherson. He designed his own new hand for writing letters. Cleo and he had a son who twenty years later served in World War Two. He managed to walk away from it at the end on his own two feet.

   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 ankle-deep sludge sheltering in a trench during the Third Battle of Artois. 

   He spent eight days at the front at Artois 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 war. The Allied and Central Powers fought the same battles over and over again. It was every man for himself and God against all.

   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. 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 fair share of Huns to Valhalla even though he never saw one of them die.

   When the Allies tried to advance, they suffered horrific losses. 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 the 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 cannons. 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 because he was married, but he was patriotic and wanted to do his fair share. Cash money from the Canadian Patriotic Fund helped his wife keep the home fires burning in North Rustico.

   His battery had a 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 for them, seeking out enemy snipers and forward spotters. He worked at night. He always came back in the morning. The other side didn’t always make it back to their side.

   Peggy wore moccasins instead of army boots, chewed on 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 medicine bag to protect me, saying I would shortly be in great danger. The bag was deer 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. 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.  He had heard three men from North Rustico were already dead. He didn’t want to be next one. He knew if he re-enlisted it was only a matter of time before he went home in a pine 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 fighting on the Western Front was taking. Machine gun and shell fire were 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 for more grub in their feedbag.

   It was easier getting into the army than it was getting out. However, 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, cod with a splash of vinegar and a pint at his elbow. He followed the first pint with a second one and was happy for it. He had a ticket for passage to Halifax, but the voyage was a week away. His grandfather had come from Ireland, or so the family legend went, and done something big for the Crown, who rewarded him with 400 acres of Prince Edward Island 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 started yesterday. The Easter Rising was happening today. Tommy was unaware of the hubbub until he walked face first into it.

   After landing at Dublin Port, he followed the River Liffey, making for Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His plan was to find a cheap hotel 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. He always soaked them 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 from the rebels, 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 hundreds of thousands of John Bulls were killed. It made him sick to think of the men he had seen obeying orders to attack barbed wire and machine guns on foot across open fields. Many men were wounded or went missing. The wounded 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 many more holidays to either win or lose the war. He wasn’t a religious man, but 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 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 half dozen hand grenades. She had a rusty handgun. It looked like it came from the Middle Ages. He did what she said. She patted him down and took his Colt.

   “This is a right nice gun,” she said. “Now, who are you and what are you doing here?”

   “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. I thought Ireland was sitting this war out.”

   “We ask the questions,” the woman wearing the bandolier barked.

   “Come on,” the woman with the Mauser said, jabbing him in the small of the back with the barrel of her 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 was surprised. 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 the onlookers didn’t understand what was happening. They went about their business, shopping, stopping for lunch, gossiping. 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 show up. 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. She wasn’t happy about giving up the up-to-date firearm. She wasn’t sure hers even fired.

   When a contingent of the Citizen’s Army approached Dublin Castle, 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, ran 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 made his way back to the docklands. He boarded the same boat he had come on. An hour later the boat was steaming out of 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 fry-up near the port and ordered breakfast, which was 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 again at midday and tonight. Somebody once said, “To eat well in England you must 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 on somebody else’s stove, he was going to make sure he stayed where the frying pan was of his own making. The old lions could tear themselves apart as much as they wanted, for all he cared, empire or no empire.

Blood Lines Chapter 34

   “Goddamn it to hell,” Monk Kennedy swore resentfully when he saw the police car in his handlebar mirror. Why were things always going wrong? When he looked up the road again, he was coming into New London. It looked like the cop was on his tail but hanging back. He wasn’t blasting his siren or flashing his lights. It was an RCMP car. He hadn’t done anything to raise anybody’s hackles. He hadn’t even bumped into the speed limit. Besides, it was raining, and he was forced into going slow. What did the county mounty behind him want?

   JT Markunas knew full well he would not have been able to overtake the Kawasaki if the roads had been dry. But they weren’t dry. They were getting wetter by the minute. He could see the single taillight of the motorcycle ahead of him. He knew he was going to stop the biker sooner than later. Time was on his side.

   He called in the pursuit, his siren quiet and lights off, only firing a short burst of light whenever he came up on a car or truck ahead of him. “That’s your man,” he heard back. “We’ve got a strong signal on him. We’ll send another car up from Kensington.” Thank God there weren’t any tractors crawling along Route 6. They would have been the same as a roadblock. It didn’t take long before there weren’t any cars or trucks, either. Everybody had made a beeline for home. It didn’t take long before he was right behind the Kawasaki ahead of him.

   The rider was hunched over his handlebars, riding cautiously. JT wondered why he hadn’t pulled over, under a bridge or a leafy tree. What was the point of riding a motorcycle in a storm the likes of Hurricane Dean? Was he running away from something riskier than wiping out on slick concrete? Monk didn’t like that the cop wasn’t turning away or going away. He slowed down. The cop slowed down. Monk swore again.

   He took a right on Rt. 20, the other way away from Kensington. He didn’t want the cop to think for a minute he was headed for the ferry. If that happened, the approaches would be crawling with police in no time. They would make him on a red motorcycle in a heartbeat. He would be stuck on the infernal island forever. He went past Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace without noticing the house or the memorial sign and crossed the Southwest River. Standing outside but out of the rain, Lucy watched him go past, followed by an RCMP car.

   She knew who Monk was and who JT Markunas was and knew what the chase was about. She didn’t need “the flash” to know. She didn’t know how it was going to end. She knew how she would have written it, but her writing days were long gone, fifty years gone since she wrote her last book. She was long gone, too, even though she kept tabs on doings on Prince Edward Island. After she died in Toronto in 1942 the city placed an historical marker near the house where she lived the last seven years of her life. She made sure she wasn’t buried in Toronto, though. She was buried in the Cavendish Community Cemetery on the other side of Stanley Bridge.

   Lucy Maud Montgomery knew what she would have told Monk if he had stopped to listen. “We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” She doubted he would have listened. In that case, she would have said, “It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it?” She doubted there was anything useful she could have said to JT, other than, “In this world you’ve just got to hope for the best and prepare for the worst and take whatever God sends.” She was sure he already knew that.

   He probably would have told her what she herself had said many years ago, which was, “Proverbs are all very fine when there’s nothing to worry you, but when you’re in real trouble, they’re not a bit of help.” Now that she was dead, she knew it better than when she had been alive. She remembered the clipper ship stuck on the shoreline at Cavendish a hundred years ago. Everybody said it was God’s will. That didn’t help the Marco Polo. When it broke up and sank there wasn’t a trace of it left for either God or the Devil.

   After the motorcycle and police car were gone, Lucy Maud Montgomery realized she had better get back to the graveyard. The powers that be didn’t like it when she roamed too far afield for too long. There wasn’t anybody out in the rain, so she thought she would walk instead of gliding back. She loved walking. It was when she did her best thinking. She took a step followed by another step.

   Monk rode north through Springbrook and French River. When the road curved to the west through Park Corner and Sea View, he followed it. He knew there were cottages on the shoreline before and after Thunder Cove. He was going to have to lose the son of a bitch behind him and ditch the bike. When he did, he would hunker down in an empty cottage and wait for the storm to pass. When it did, he would steal somebody’s car and head for the ferry again. What he had to do first was lose the cop.

   His handgun was in his saddlebag, but he didn’t want to shoot it out with a peace officer who carried more firepower than a handgun. He took County Line Rd. towards the ocean. The police car stayed on his tail and suddenly turned its lights and siren on. Monk didn’t bother looking in his mirror. He didn’t bother thinking about it or anything else except the road under his front tire. He rode as fast as he dared. The police car stuck to him like a barnacle.

   JT knew the other RCMP police car was coming up Route 102 from Kensington. Another one might be coming from Borden-Carlton. Whatever the man on the Kawasaki was up to, it was no good. He had turned his lights and siren on to give the man a chance to stop. If he didn’t all bets were off. Monk didn’t slow down or stop. He sped up. JT called in his location again. He was told that the car from Kensington was no more than five minutes away.

   “Stay close but wait for your back-up.”

   “Will do,” JT said.

   When the moment came, he didn’t need back-up. It dawned on Monk that he wasn’t going to be able to outrun the pursuit car. But if he got off the road, where there were no roads, he might be able to jack rabbit his way to safety. The cop car would turn into a stick in the mud. When he got to the County Line Beach Access Point, where the road ended, he kept going, veering to his left away from the beach, trying to stay steady on the grassy top of the dune.

   The Kawasaki wasn’t built for the off-road. When Monk tried to steer it away from the beach it started to slide. When he tried to correct the slide nothing good happened. It kept sliding. When he looked up the ocean was right in front of him. He never saw the tree stump stuck in the sand and when he did it was too late. He hit it and the bike went airborne. He was still in the saddle when the Kawasaki slammed into ten-foot-high waves. In the next instant he was in the water and the instant after that he was drowning. He didn’t know how to swim. His dark mind went black ink. He drowned in no time flat, his lungs filling with water. 

   The transponder that undercover RCMP men had concealed inside one of the cash bundles hiccupped and stopped sending its signal. The hand axe in Monk’s saddlebag started rusting the instant salt water touched it. The other saddlebag full of counterfeit money came unclasped and hundred-dollar bills were soon bobbing on the surf. When JT pulled up to where the road ended and jumped out of his car what he saw wasn’t a motorcycle, which had sunk, or Monk, who had also sunk, but money littering the waves, tossed onto the beach by the surf and wind, blowing away in all directions. Seagulls screeched and tried to snag the counterfeited bills for a snack, spitting them out when they realized they had come from a bad harvest.

   “Jesus Christ,” JT said as his back-up pulled up behind him.

Blood Lines Chapter 35

   Mariko Kobe wasn’t from Prince Edward Island. She was from Osaka, except she wasn’t. She had lived in the big city but was from a small village on the coast of Wakayama prefecture, near the Nachi Falls. The land in all directions was Japan’s fruit kingdom. It was where plums, kiwifruit, and persimmon were cultivated. It was mountainous in parts. The place was more-or-less a peninsula. There were massive ancient cedars on the hillsides that day and night refreshed the fresh air.

   Nature-worship and Shinto were on all sides of the hillsides. It was known as the “holy ground where the gods dwell.” The spirits of the departed, so long as they were devout, were believed to inhabit the forest. Mariko had never bumped into a spirit and didn’t want to. She wasn’t devout, but there was no sense in taking chances.

   Her grandfathers had both been farmers, her father was a farmer, and her brothers were all growing up to be farmers. She was the last child, a mistake they called her, and the only girl, which was another mistake. She was the only one of the family who ever left the village for greener pastures. Her mother dropped a dozen when she told her she was moving to Osaka and enrolling in college. Her father flew into a rage and forbade her to go. He kept his eyes on her and locked her up at night, but in the end, there was no stopping her.

   Her home was on the Kii Peninsula. The capital of the prefecture was the whereabouts of Wakayama Castle, set on top of a hilltop with city views. There are more than one hundred temples scattered among the peaks of Mount Kōya, where Shingon Buddhism is headquartered. All the rooms of her home except the kitchen and common room were tiny. Everybody had their own futons on the floor. All the doors were sliding doors.

   Mariko’s family and everybody she knew were conservative and hard-working. She was hard-working but not conservative. Her father ruled the roost. His word was law. He had served in the Imperial Army during World War Two, seeing ferocious combat during his tour of duty during the last year of the war, and somehow miraculously surviving. Most of the men in his infantry regiment had either been killed or committed suicide. By the time his time came he was too sick to do anything. He was captured by riflemen escorting flamethrower troops and brought back to life in a U. S. Army field hospital. After that, although he had no use for Americans, he always bit his tongue whenever they were being talked about. He never said a bad word about the western ocean people.

   He was a hard man, and the back of his hand was as hard as the rest of him. He hit her mother whenever he thought it was necessary or when simply lost his temper. Once Mariko grew up and was in her teens, he did the same to her. She never got used to it, although she learned what worked and didn’t work and he hit her less often the older she got. The last time he hit her, three sharp slaps to the face, was when she told him she was leaving home. “No, you’re not,” he said, his face in her face. After that she knew for sure she was leaving and never coming back.

   She left early one morning without saying goodbye to anybody. She walked to the train station in a fog and bought a one-way ticket to Osaka. The train went past the Wakayama Castle on its way north. By then the fog had lifted. She turned her head and watched the castle get smaller and smaller until it disappeared behind her.

   She attended Baika Women’s University which was set on a small hill in the north of Osaka prefecture. The school started up in 1878. She liked the way the grounds smelled, plum and cherry blossoms and Chinese hibiscuses. It was a Christian-based school, but she didn’t let it bother her. She read the Bible when she had to and threw it away after she graduated. “It is full of nonsense,” she told her friends. She studied English and by the time she was done could have moved to Kansas and made herself understood.

   During her senior year she read “Anne of Green Gables” in one of her classes. She loved the book, especially the plucky heroine, and found communion with the lay of the land. The summer after she graduated, taking a month off from everything, she read all of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books featuring the redheaded girl. She discovered Anne was big in Japan. It hadn’t been that way before World War Two. Almost nobody in the country knew anything about the book until the day Loretta Shaw left the island nation in 1939.

   Loretta was a grammar school teacher in New Brunswick when she signed up with the Missionary Society of the Church of England of Canada and was sent to Japan. She taught at a school for girls in Osaka. She became head of reading and writing at the Christian Literature Society of Japan. She thought books were windows on the world. She looked through them day and night.

   Hanako Muraoka was from a hard-luck family of tea merchants. She left home at ten and went to a school in Tokyo founded by the Methodist Church of Canada. Her parents didn’t know anything about John Wesley but were glad to see her go. It meant one less mouth to feed and less talk about foreign beliefs. The neighbors had been talking and they didn’t like the gossip. Hanako got an English-based education. She married a man who operated a printing company, but it went bust after the Kanto earthquake in 1923. Everybody was too busy rebuilding to read a word of anything.

   When Loretta and Hanako met at the Christian Literature Society of Japan in the early 1930s, they hit it off and started the magazine “Children of Light” together. Hanako hosted a radio show as well, explaining current events to kids. She was known as Aunty Radio. The year World War Two officially blew current events all to hell Loretta gave Hanako a copy of “Anne of Green Gables” and went back to Canada. After Nippon attacked Pearl Harbor the Methodist missionaries in Japan all left the country, too. During the war Hanako secretly translated “Anne of Green Gables.” She made sure nobody knew what she was doing. It would have meant prison since her countrymen and the gaijin were at each other’s throats.

   After the war Hanako convinced a publisher to take a chance on Anne. When the book was published in 1952 it was called “The Red-Haired Anne.” It was a runaway best seller in no time flat. A native college professor said, “Japanese women admire Anne Shirley’s feistiness as an antidote to the passivity instilled in them.” Anne knew her way around passivity. Many Nip gals liked that.

   The book was distributed to Japanese libraries run by the U. S. State Department. In the 1970s, it was added to the country’s school curriculum. In 1986 the national obsession with Anne grew some more with the broadcast of Kevin Sullivan’s TV mini-series. A businessman with a brainstorm imported a boatload of potatoes from Prince Edward Island, believing that since they came from Anne’s Land, they would sell like hot cakes. They sold like hot cakes.

   Mariko was working two part-time dead-end jobs after graduation when she got the chance to be the last-minute fill-in translator for a tour group going to Prince Edward Island to see ‘Anne’s Land’ for themselves. At the end of her second go-around, she redeemed the flight back half of her airline ticket and stayed in Charlottetown. She found a room in a boarding house and a job as a waitress. She met Flynn Murphy, Conor’s younger brother, at a downtown pool hall.

   One nine ball in the corner pocket led to another, and when Flynn asked if she would move to North Rustico, to move in with him at what was Sandy’s Surfside Inn, and help him restore it, she said, “Yes, I do. Just don’t think of me as a geisha girl.”

   “Geisha girl?” Flynn asked. “What’s that?”

   She was filleting haddock at the kitchen table at Sandy’s when the Montreal killers burst into the house. It was raining. What was left of Hurricane Dean was all around them. The side door opened then slammed shut, there were angry voices, a grunt, and a thud. The two killers walked into the kitchen. They both had guns in their hands. The man looked at her. The woman kept her eyes on the living room.

   “You watch her,” Louise said. “I’ll deal with what’s left of the dumbass in the living room.” What she meant was the living room was going to become the dying room if Conor didn’t tell her what she wanted to know once he came to. She had pistol-whipped him. He had been on the sofa watching the news about the storm on TV. He was just coming back from the inky darkness at the bottom of the well. 

   “Is there anybody else in the house?” Jules asked, his gun casual as a lollipop. Mariko shook her head side to side without saying a word. Flynn was at the hardware store in town. The haddock she had been filleting lay quiet as a mouse on the kitchen table. When she was a girl Mariko shucked oysters and gutted fish at home. Those were some of her daily chores. She got good at it. She could snap open an oyster in no time flat, with or with a dishtowel. She hardly ever poked her off hand, rarely drawing blood.

   The Montreal killers Louise and Jules lived within blocks of each other in the city’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighborhood, but never saw each other unless it was related to their work. They fought like cats and dogs whenever they were together. It was an uneasy peace between them the rest of the time. But when it came to business, they were all business.

   Jules sat down opposite Mariko. The back of his hand lay on the table and the gun lay there like a lazy hunk of baloney, like it didn’t have a care in the world.  “Put that knife in the sink,” he said. The pot of clam chowder on the stove simmered. Mariko always liked the smell of chowder. When the man turned his head, glancing at a sound in the living room, Mariko in a flash lifted her fish knife and drove it into the man’s open palm. The force of the thrust drove the knife through his hand and nearly a half inch into the wood table top. Blood gushed out of the wound and the man jumped, still stuck to the table, his chair and the table going sideways and taking him with it. The gun went flying and skittered across the floor. Mariko grabbed for it.

   “I’ll kill you, you fucking chink bitch,” the man roared, crazed, spit flying, not believing what had happened, getting to his feet, grabbing for her with his free hand.

   Mariko shot twice at Jules, pointblank, at his face, the gun head high, one bullet whizzing harmlessly through an earlobe, the other bullet hitting his right eye, and exploding out the back of his head. Bits of his brain and shards of his skull were catapulted into the soup in the pot on the stove top. Jules went backwards, his legs like an Ice Capades comic trying to get a grip on ice. When he toppled over, he took the kitchen table with him, one of its legs breaking. 

   “What the hell is happening in there,” Louise yelled from the living room.

   From Mariko’s point-of-view it was all happening in slow motion. She watched the table leg crack and splinter. She watched the dead on his feet Quebecois man lurch and stumble and crash to the floor, the table going to pieces under him. Louise lunged into the kitchen. She fired her gun at Mariko. The bullets went past her head. She watched them go by. She could hear them hiss. Mariko raised the gun in her hand and pulled the trigger. There was an explosion. The bullet buried itself in the door jamb. Louise jumped back. Mariko pulled the trigger again and there was another explosion. The bullet flew into the ceiling. Jerking away, Louise shot blindly into the kitchen, bullets going every which way. She ran out of bullets and ran out of the house.

   Conor stumbled into the kitchen. Jules was dead on the floor, his head half gone, oozing a puddle of blood. Mariko had backed up to a wall, her back to it. Her outstretched arm still had the killer’s gun in its hand. Conor lowered Mariko’s arm and put the gun on a windowsill.

   “Are you all right?” he asked looking her over. She looked all right. Mariko shook her head from side to side. “The soup is ruined,” she lamented.

  “Call 911,” Conor said and turned to go.

   “Where are you going?” Mariko asked.

   “I’m going after the she wolf.”

   “No, don’t go, wait for the police.”

   “You wait here for them. I’ll be back soon.”

   “She could be anywhere, where you won’t see her,” Mariko said. “She’ll see you coming. Don’t go.”

   “I know where she’s going,” Conor said. “Stay here.”

   Conor knew whoever the hell she was wasn’t going anywhere on the ferry. He knew she knew she would never get off the island that way. There was only one way for her to go and there was only one way of doing it. He walked into the dining room, opened a drawer, and lifted his great-great-grandfather’s Beaumont-Adams handgun out. There was a moldy cardboard box of shells. The percussion revolver held five rounds. He pushed five cartridges into the cylinder. He was only going to need one of them, but the bullets were old, and he thought it best to load the gun to the gills in case there was a misfire.

   Snaps watched Conor run out of the house, like he had watched a madwoman run out of the house a minute earlier. He had seen her and some man skulking around earlier and then sneaking into the house. He was laying on his stomach in old hay in the loft of the barn and meant to stay there. He didn’t like the rain, or the gunshots, or everyone running around like there was something out to get them.

   Conor ran to his Buick GNX. He wasn’t altogether steady. His head hurt. The gash across his forehead was still bleeding, but he had made a headband with a handkerchief and none of it was getting in his eyes. The car came to life, and he drove towards the harbor. He was sure the woman was going to try to steal a lobster boat and try to get back to Montreal upstream on the St. Lawrence River. He knew some of the fishermen never took their keys out of the ignition and all Louise had to do was find one of those boats. Once she was out on open water in the rain and overcast she would be nearly impossible to find.

   He drove up then down Church Hill Rd., took a left at Harbourview Dr., and stopped at the North Rustico Harbor. There were 40-some lobster boats. The boats were being lashed by the rain and wind but were lashed tight and not going anywhere calamitous. Conor parked in front of Doiron Fisheries, got out of the car, and stuck the gun between skin and the waistband of his pants.

   He hadn’t gone a dozen steps before he was soaked to the skin. He hadn’t crept up to more than a half dozen boats before he saw who he was after. Louise was hunched over fiddling at the console inside the open cabin. She pressed the start button. The engine of the lobster boat she was stealing turned over. She tossed the lines aside. Conor waited until her back was turned again before he noiselessly hopped into the back of the boat. He stayed behind a stack of blue bins. Louse looked over her shoulder repeatedly. Conor stayed where he was. The boat was out of the harbor and on the open ocean in less than five minutes.

   When Flynn Murphy got back from the hardware store, he parked and walked into the house, glad to get out of the rain. Snaps watched him approvingly. Here was somebody who didn’t seem to have gone crazy. When he heard Mariko crying, and Flynn running back outside and racing away in his car, he realized he was wrong. Everybody on Murphy’s Cove had gone crazy. He curled up, wrapping his tail around him, and called it a day.

Blood Lines Chapter 36

   The boat was white fiberglass, with a single diesel engine, and narrow with barely a 12-foot beam.  It was 45 feet long with a low trunk cabin and a standing shelter. It bore witness to a springy sheerline. The rails sloped downward from bow to stern. It was equipped with a CB radio, VHF marine telephone, a depth sounder, and radar. It was as good as it got for harvesting inshore lobsters.

   Louise knew enough boats to be able to start it and steer it. She didn’t give a damn about the hydraulic trap hauler or anything else about the boat that wasn’t part of her last-minute plan of action for getting off the Atlantic Canada island and back to the island of Montreal. The boat had a high bow the better to shoulder aside the sea. That suited her fine. The sooner she was a gone girl the better.

   She flinched when she heard Conor Murphy’s voice but didn’t turn her head and kept her hands on the wheel. “Stay where you are,” Conor said in a loud voice. “Keep your hands where I can see them. Don’t do anything stupid.”

   Louise had stuck her semi-automatic Beretta 9mm in the back pocket of her pants. She could get it fast enough and wheel on the cop but thought better of it for the moment. If he was behind her with a gun in hand, she could do better picking a better moment. She decided on the spur of the moment to make the moment right now. She twisted the wheel to the right and the boat went up in the air and slammed back down, hit sideways by a wave that rocked it.

  Conor had been on plenty of boats in rough weather and stood his ground although he was thrown slightly off balance. Louise snatched for her gun and swung it towards Conor emptying the new 15-round box magazine she had hurriedly jammed into the grip after the fiasco at those sons-of-bitch’s house. She meant to kill him for sure, whoever he was. When she saw it was Conor and not a policeman, she kept shooting. It didn’t matter who he was. Conor threw himself flat and rolled away from the bullets. He brought his Beaumont-Adams revolver to bear and pulled the trigger. The bullet leapt out of the barrel and made a straight line for Louise. It plowed into her chest as she was squeezing off more shots. Her last shot went skyward as she was knocked backward. The bullet went straight up into the air and then straight down. When it came down it plunked her in the forehead where she had collapsed prone on the deck. She lay there, whatever milk of human kindness still left in her leaking out of her left breast. A bullet was stuck dead center in her heart. As soon as it stopped beating it started getting colder than it had ever been.

   The boat spun in a crazy circle. Conor hurried to the wheel and got it back on an even keel. When he looked at Louise to see if there was anything he could do for her, he saw there wasn’t anything to do. She was dead as a doornail. He stuck a wrench through the wheel to keep the boat on course and lifted Louse off the platform, draping her over the rail. He tied cement bricks to each of her feet. He got a grip on her legs and heaved her over the side. She sank like a stone in two seconds. Conor threw her Beretta 9mm into the ocean after her. 

   “Remember me?” William Murphy asked the sinking Louise from a century away, watching his chip off the old block tuck the Beaumont-Adams back into his waistband. “I’ve got better things to do than remember you,” she spit out. There was lots of trouble in her part of the world just then, between the devil and the deep blue sea.

   The lobsters will get her, Conor thought. They are probably right under the boat. They are nocturnal and eat everything dead or alive. If the lobsters didn’t get her, eels would. There wouldn’t be anything left to identify her. She would be a skeleton soon enough. After that she would be nothing. He eased the boat back in the direction of land and chugged into the North Rustico Harbor. He managed to tie the boat up, walked to his Buick GNX, and drove back to Murphy’s Cove. He pulled in as his brother Flynn, who had been driving around in circles, was pulling back in.

   “Are you OK?” Flynn asked.

   “Yeah, I’m OK,” Conor said. “Hey, let’s get in out of this rain.”

   “What happened?”

   “It’s a long story,” Conor said. “I’ll tell you later.” They walked up to the house as Sandy was coming down the stairs from his bedroom.

   “What was that racket that woke me up earlier?” he asked rubbing sand out of his eyes.

Blood Lines Chapter 37

   When a band of homeboys found Louise face down at the bottom of the ocean they started to eat her, but soon stopped. They didn’t like the taste of her. She tasted bitter and a lot like ammonia. They thought about trying again until they saw Louie the Large coming. When they did they backed off, wary and respectful. Good or bad, it was up to Louie to decide.

   He was just shy of 40 pounds and nearly 100 years old. Most lobsters are less than 10 pounds and less than 20 years old. All the fishermen who had ever seen him called him Jumbo. Unlike most lobsters, who are usually green or yellow, he was bright blue. Everybody could see him a mile away, which was a good thing for them. Louie had a fearsome temper and didn’t take guff from anybody. Lobsters can swim forward and backward. When it’s an emergency they scuttle away in reverse by curling and uncurling their tails rapidly. Louie never did that. He never went backwards. He always went forward.

   He had never been caught by any fisherman and was determined to keep it that way. He put his heart and soul into staying alive. He had no use for landlubbers trying to boil him. Whenever he saw a lobster pot in action he spit and went his own way. He wasn’t interested in herring laid out as bait. He ate everything but didn’t especially like herring, anyway. Even though he didn’t have lungs or vocal cords, he could talk when he had something to say. His voice sounded like a crackly violin. His brain was the size of the tip of a ball point pen. He didn’t do a lot of thinking. He didn’t have to. He pushed his weight around. That’s how he got things done. It was the way of the world.

   Fishermen used to throw the shells of lobsters into landfills. Somebody started making the core of golf balls out of the shells. It became the ball of choice for golfing on cruise ships. Whenever a shot got shanked into the sea, the ball biodegraded. The inventor won an environmental award. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster had happened three years ago, and the ecology movement was looking for good news.

   Louie had seen plenty of his friends and enemies biodegrading. He liked it better in the old days when his kith and kin were considered poor man’s food, even though they were so plentiful they were often used as fertilizer, feed for farm animals, and even fishing bait. They were eaten by servants and served to prisoners. Orphanages had more lobster than they knew what to do with. He liked it even better that Jews were forbidden to eat shellfish altogether. It almost made him a God-fearing crustacean.

   He went at Louise like he would any buffet. When he started eating her he kept eating until he was so bloated he couldn’t eat anymore. His teeth were in his stomach, right behind his eyes. He lay down on top of what was left of Louise and burped. He took a pee. Lobsters urinate through the green spots near their antennae. He went to sleep. He did his best digesting when he was asleep. He was going to be sleeping for the rest of the day. The other lobsters sighed and went away, looking for worms, crabs, mollusks, or anything.

   Louie stayed near Louise most of the rest of the week, eating, burping, and sleeping. When there wasn’t much of her left he moved on. He was always hungry and always looking for his next bite. He used his walking legs and his tail like a locomotive’s connecting rod to slowly crawl ahead. He never went the wrong way. He crawled away following a well-worn trail on a rock shelf. He was a rock lobster. He was slow motion in the ocean. He spent most of his life at the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

   Louise was nobody when Louie got done with her. Nobody cared about her anymore. Before long nobody knew she had ever even existed.

Blood Lines Chapter 38

   “Did you get it sorted out,” Conor Murphy asked JT Markunas at lunch the afternoon of JT’s wedding to Kayleigh Jurgelaitis the third weekend of October. They hadn’t seen much of each other lately. They were at the Fisherman’s Wharf not far from the church. After two months of rolling in the hay JT and Kayleigh had decided there was no point in waiting. They wanted to get married outdoors on Brackley Beach where they had first seen each other but when the weather got bad towards the end of the month they changed their plans and got married indoors, in the Stella Maris Catholic Church in North Rustico. Neither of them were parishioners but both had grown up church-going Catholics and Father Arthur Pendergast had no objections to performing the service.

   Besides, he had more on his mind than joining two non-parishioners in holy wedlock. His mission that fall was to get artificial ice finally installed in the next-door North Star Arena. It was going to cost a quarter million dollars. The church had been helping with fund raising since 1986. Money hadn’t rained down from heaven, but the Rustico communities were doing their best to get it done.

   After the ceremony the small wedding party walked down Church Hill Rd. to the restaurant. The air was cool, but the sun was out, and it wasn’t raining anymore.

   “Just about, except for Monk and the two Montreal killers,” JT said. “They sorted themselves out.”

   “It was all about the money, was it?” asked Conor.

   “Yeah, that’s what it was all about. Monk had the bad cash. He killed the girl, Jimmy LaPlante’s niece, to get it. Montreal wanted it back and when that wasn’t happening, they sent the two contract killers to get it. The man and woman who attacked you, they thought Monk had hidden it somewhere on your property and believed you knew where it was.”

   Before the Fisherman’s Wharf was what it was, it was the Cosy Corner. Leo LeClair operated it on North Rustico’s main drag from the early 1960s, until he sold it to the Legion. A few years later they sold it back to Leo. He remodeled the restaurant and changed the name to Fisherman’s Wharf. He sold it to Albert Dow in 1975. Albert put up blue awnings, expanded the seating, and added a gift shop. His father was a sometime carpenter and built the gift shop.

   “I’ve never eaten here,” JT said.

   “Neither have I,” said Conor.

   “They’ve got squirters in the gift shop,” JT said.

   “It was our policy that any camping or pocket knife we sold to anyone under 16, they had to have the parent’s permission,” Albert said. “My dad wouldn’t allow any plastic play guns or water pistols that were shaped like a real gun to be sold in the gift shop, although we had tons of lobster water squirters.”

   “Why did Monk chop the girl’s arm off?”

   “We think he did that because he got mad when she didn’t want to give up the cash. He did it after the fact, though. The funny thing about it is, if he hadn’t we probably wouldn’t be talking about the facts right now. I think she would have stayed unseen and unfound in the ground.”

   “Where is Jimmy?”

   “He’s in the Provincial Correctional Centre for now. He’ll probably end up in Renous down in New Brunswick. Do you know I have his dog?”

   “No, I didn’t know,” Conor said. “I don’t know much about him, except what you’ve told me, including anything about his dog.”

   “It’s a fine young Pit Bull with one quirk. He hates guns. I have to put mine away the first thing when I get home. Otherwise, he goes ballistic.”

   “That’s not a bad thing,” Conor said. “You’ve got a companion and a bodyguard all wrapped up in one. Not only a dog, but a handsome wife, too.””

   “Kayleigh likes the fella, which is the most important thing.”

   “You sound like a married man already.”

   “It’s too bad that woman fell off the boat,” JT said.


   “You know, her body has never washed up. It’s like she just went up in thin air.”

   “Is that right?”

   “I wonder what happened to her body.”

   “That’s a good question.”

   “It would have been helpful to get her into an interrogation room.”

   “She didn’t have much to say after I shot her.”

   “Or found her remains so forensics could have a go at it.”


   “You don’t seem to care too much.”

   “I don’t care at all,” Conor said. “Besides, it’s past time I go give your wife a best man’s congratulations kiss.”

   “Don’t overstay your welcome,” JT said taking a bite on his lobster roll. “Remember, the real deal is sitting right here.”

   Just then a tall thin man wearing a mask and a red cape walked in. He strode up to JT and shook his hand. He walked up to Kayleigh and gave her a sloppy kiss. He saluted everybody else and ran out the front door.

   “What the hell was that?” JT asked.

   “The Red Rider,” Conor said. “He usually comes out after dinner, down the dump road, and roams around scaring kids. Stirling Peters was the first Red Rider. After that his brother Keith took over. After that it was different guys, like Ronnie MacDonald. I’m not too sure who it is these days.”

   “All right, but why is there a Red Rider in the first place?”

   “It’s the Crick, JT, don’t you know, the Crick,” Conor said.