CHAPTER 15

“Wow,” Jenn said, looking at the bruise on my arm.

“You live with a nurse and ‘wow’ is the best you can do?”

“She’s a nurse practitioner, boss, and I’m pretty sure ‘wow’ would be her reaction too. I trust this Perry looks worse than you do.”

“Much.”

“Good. You want a painkiller?”

“I’d rather hear something new about Martin Glenn.”

“All right,” she said, flipping her notebook open. “I spoke to a guy named Ian Kinross at the Ministry of the Environment. He worked with Glenn for years, until Glenn left to start his consulting business. He says Glenn was as straight an arrow as you could find. Ran everything by the book. He said, and I quote, ‘If Martin told us a site was clean, that meant it was clean as a whistle.’ He’d never had a Record of Site Condition revoked.”

“Did Kinross audit the report on the Harbourview site? They’re supposed to do that before approval to build is granted.”

“Supposed to being the operative words. With the number of new buildings going up, they’re totally swamped.”

“Do we know if Glenn himself did the tests at Harbourview, or could it have been an employee?”

“There are no employees. EcoSys is a one-man show.”

“What? How is that possible?”

“Glenn subcontracted the work. Tests were done by an independent lab. If soil had to be dug out and treated, he hired a firm that specializes in that. Same with building underground barriers. He was basically a consultant for hire. His biggest advantage was being able to squire his clients through the bureaucracy.”

“Well, something was bugging him about the project,” I said.

“Kinross didn’t know about it.”

“I know someone who might.”

“Who?”

I pointed to the last paragraph of the Clarion story. “His long-time companion.” The apartment Martin Glenn had shared with Eric Fisk was on the top floor of a pink limestone Victorian townhouse in Cabbagetown, an old east-end working-class neighbourhood that had been revitalized in the eighties. The rooms had been opened up to let in more light; drywall torn away to expose brick walls. The floors were wide oak panels, sanded down and polished until they gleamed. Colourful framed photos of exquisitely prepared food hung on the walls, each illuminated with baby spotlights. There were cut flowers in vases everywhere: gladioli, snapdragons, birds of paradise and others I couldn’t name.

Fisk was about five-foot-five and weighed little more than a hundred pounds. His head was shaved and his slight body wrapped in a heavy grey wool sweater. His jeans were cinched at the waist so they wouldn’t slide down his hips, held by a belt that had had extra holes punched in it.

The front room had an electric fireplace whose false coals glowed behind an ornate metal grille. We sat in white upholstered chairs draped with cloths that looked Mexican or Central American, striped with the brightest shades of colour in the spectrum.

Fisk wiped his red-rimmed eyes and asked if we had any more news about Martin.

“What have the police told you so far?” Jenn asked.

“Just that he was beaten, and that it happened somewhere else. The woman who interviewed me, she was very nice, but the man with her… he suggested Martin had been out cruising. Cruising, like it was nineteen-fucking-eighty or something.”

“McDonough,” I said to Jenn.

“I got the feeling he thought Martin… that he deserved what he got,” Fisk said. “Who could even think that? Being beaten to death… It’s the worst way to die I can think of. Someone hitting you and hitting you. And until you go unconscious, you’d be thinking, If they just stop now. If this is the last blow. Or this one.” Tears ran down his face and he wiped them with a tissue and then coughed into it: a dry racking cough that shook his body.

“Excuse me,” he said, when he could catch his breath again.

“Eric,” I asked. “How much do you know about Martin’s business?”

“Only how hard he worked.”

“Did he ever talk about the man he was working for?”

“Mr. Cantor?”

“Yes.”

“I know he was very excited about landing the contract. Working with Mr. Cantor-and a celebrity like Simon Birk-we were both kind of thrilled about that.”

“Did he stay thrilled?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did it seem like the relationship had soured at all of late?”

Fisk thought about it for a moment. “Martin did seem tense lately. He didn’t talk about work much. And I didn’t ask. Engineering wasn’t my thing, to be honest. I’m a chef,” he said, waving his hand in the direction of the photos on the wall. “Or was, I should say. I can’t really work anymore. I haven’t for over two years. Once I started to become symptomatic… People I worked with were nice to me and all, very sympathetic, but the bottom line was they didn’t want someone HIV-positive working in the kitchen. Even doing beauty shots for magazines, food no one was ever going to eat. It’s not like I blame them. I probably wouldn’t have wanted me there either. But it was very hard going from two incomes to one. And now without Martin-my God, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll be just like him, waiting for the next blow to land.”

I looked at Jenn then back at the man seated across from us, huddled in his sweater.

“How long since you were diagnosed?” I asked.

“A little over six years. But it’s only been for the last two years or so that my health has really started to decline.”

“How bad?” Jenn asked.

“Pneumonia, thrush, uncontrollable diarrhea, you name it. Once your CD4 count gets below two hundred, you’re a sucker for every opportunistic infection out there. I was taking anti-retroviral therapy, which helped a little, but it was a cocktail of drugs, three of them, all of which kicked the shit out of me. The side effects were so bad, sometimes, that death seemed the least worst option. But then Martin…”

“What?” I asked.

“They’ve just come out with a new experimental drug in New York. What’s called a highly active anti-retroviral treatment-only one pill a day, and a lot fewer side effects-but it hasn’t been approved in Ontario yet. Fucking Health Ministry. The Hell Ministry, I call it. So we were arranging to bring it in on the sly through friends in New York. But the cost, my God! Over three thousand dollars a month. I didn’t know how Martin was going to manage it but he promised he would.”

“Eric, did Martin keep any papers here?”

“Like bills and things?”

“More related to the project he was on.”

“No,” he said. “Everything was at his office and the police took it. There’s nothing here. Nothing anywhere. Nothing left of my useless fucking life.”

He started to cry and this time the sobs shook his small frame so hard I thought his bones would break. “What am I going to do?” he moaned over and over again, rocking back and forth as though in prayer.

Neither of us had an answer for him. All I could think of was to wish him good luck; Jenn, being Jenn, put a hand on his shoulder and then hugged him and told him we’d find out who killed Martin.

Walking out his door, I almost wished Perry would spring out and attack me again, so I could hit something-someone-anyone.

Contents