Ilze Berzins
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Death in the Glebe (Page 1)

Chapter 1

ONCE IT WAS over he had to make damned sure nobody was going to come looking for him. He had to find the perfect place. Well, yeah, there was such a perfect place, he thought sardonically. And it was right under his nose. The old boiler. Fill’er up with acid and in no time there’s nothing left. But he knew that was ridiculous. Where would he get all that acid from? His mind scanned other possibilities. Zip her in a sleeping bag and dump her somewhere? Bury her? But of course none of that was going to work. Her body had to be found. That was part of the plan. The tricky part.

Now that she was dead Alvin couldn’t stop thinking about her.

“You can’t marry your own sister,” his father had laughed at something the ten year old had said.

“Well if I can’t, nobody else will,” Alvin had replied spitefully. His father had frowned and walked away. And Alvin had felt totally abandoned. Then he went and picked a fight with his sister who was a mere year and a half younger. It always made him feel better just to know that he was able to reach out and pinch her or pull her hair and that she would always be there. And that their connection would never be broken. As youngsters both the Tepper children had thought they would live to a ripe old age, in good health, and with plenty of money. But now Alvin was left completely alone, in good health, and wealthier than ever.

On the second day of spring Ida Tepper’s body had been found. She had been bludgeoned to death.

For years Hardon Hall had flaunted its fire-trap status, defying fire codes, complaints and tenant petitions. Whether that was due to bribes or bureaucratic incompetence or some other cunning on the part of the landlord, no one ever knew.

Kevin Hardon, slum landlord extraordinaire, was the owner, though the building was hardly in a slum. It was located in the most prestigious part of Ottawa. If not right in the heart of the Glebe, at least just a tiny stretch north of the heart, just shy of the quagmire of downtown Bank Street.

And so it came as a great surprise when Dan Scott, the Fire Prevention Officer, turned up unannounced. Something must have gone terribly wrong – terribly right, depending on whose point of view it was.

At ten o’clock in the morning the inspector started a meticulous poking around in the bowels of the old monstrosity with building superintendent, Jerry Arsenault, leading the way. The day was bright and lovely but the spring sunshine was unable to penetrate the corridors and back stairs of the ancient building. The two men made their way through pitch darkness. Dan Scott was alert and business-like, but Jerry’s whole body sagged with

Death in the Glebe (Page 2)

resentment at having his morning routine disrupted. A massive clutch of keys tugged at his belt and his varicose veins were acting up again. Jerry cursed non-stop under his breath as he steered the inspector through every nook and cranny.

“Fu-uck. As if I didn’t have enough to do…” he started to mutter in his Elmer Fudd voice. The men shuffled along, groping their way through unlit passages that gave on to locked rooms with keyholes that had rusted with neglect. Jerry struggled to unlock door after door.

“Some of these goddamned keys don’t work,” he continued his twangy whine between fits of gum chomping.

“This godforsaken dump is…”

“Stop right now!” Inspector Scott cut him off. He turned around and his I’m-your-worst-enemy look put Jerry in his place.

“We’ll get the owners over here if we have problems,” Scott added curtly.

“No problem. No problem,” Jerry quickly chomped an answer, his wad of pink gum lolling on his tongue. This guy was not just a fool tenant. He was an official. He wore what looked like a police officer’s uniform. Jerry hated cops and Jerry was afraid of the Hardons. If he got fired again, back on skid row he would go, and this time his buddies wouldn’t take him in.

Within ten minutes Jerry had lead the inspector through storage rooms and the laundry room and into the boiler room that was no longer in use. A feeble light came on as if by some miracle and revealed the old boiler that had been corroding away for decades.

“That shouldn’t be there,” Dan Scott said pointing to a mass of fabric stuffed behind the boiler.

“Get rid of it.”

“Sure, sure.” Jerry made a note. God, this would keep him busy for ages. Jerry became exhausted at the very thought of all the work this guy was making for him.

“The owners will be sent a report.” Dan Scott announced as he finished his inspection. And an order for fire doors and a state-of-the-art alarm system, Jerry could bet on that. The inspector was not a man of many words. He left as soon as the job was over.

Jerry gave himself an hour to comply with the instructions. That’s all it was worth. The guy will never be back, he assured himself.

“May as well start with this motherfucker before lunch,” Jerry said out loud. He stared at the old boiler as if it were some demonic beast ready to take over the world. Thank God this door is kept locked, Jerry said as if to appease the massive hulk of rusted metal. Dirt flew from its grungy dirt-caked walls as Jerry approached to examine the stuff behind it. A mass of some sort of carpeting, was Jerry’s guess. Jerry started to tug at the mound and hauled it out.

“Fuck, this sucker’s heavy,” Jerry groaned as he hauled out a roll of carpet bound with duct tape.

“And it stinks! Phew! What a stench!” Jerry gagged and held his breath.

“And Christ! It’s wet!” he felt a wave of repulsion course through his gut.

“Oh Christ! What’s this?” Jerry gave a muffled cry. He stood staring, his mouth open. Fluid dripped to the floor.

Death in the Glebe (Page 3)

“God! It’s blood and stuff…” Jerry panted in terror recoiling from the slime oozing out of the roll and dripping to the floor. He let go of the carpet. With a sickening thud the roll slumped heavily to the ground.

“And—what’s that in there?” he almost screamed as he felt a dizzying mix of horror and fear wash over him. He swallowed hard and then made a rasping noise. In utter breathless panic he had swallowed his gum. He sputtered and gasped to retrieve the glob, but it was gone. He stretched out his tongue. He was sure he was dying.

“Oh God! I’m dying! Oh God! Oh God!” One end of the roll gaped open. Jerry stared inside, his eyes glued to a pulpy mass of mangled flesh and blood and clumps of hair. For a moment he didn’t know what he was seeing. Then he let out a wail.

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