18 September 2012

tilly with the others: part 29

The TTC police officer sat Tilly down in a faded orange plastic chair. A few men wearing driver uniforms were slumped in similar chairs, sipping coffee and looking completely unfazed by the news of the homeless man's suicide a few metres away.

The officer handed her a clipboard with a form attached to it. A battered disposable pen hung from a piece of twine tied to the clip. The officer told her to fill in the form, and asked if she wanted coffee or water. Tilly shook her head no and started working on the form.

The form was titled "Witness Contact Information" and wasn't too big of a surprise to Tilly. Contact information, location of incident, date and time, and a box at the bottom to write in a description of what she saw and heard. All right.

She wrote in what she expected the TTC wanted to hear, then sat up and looked around. The drivers were still sipping at their coffee, and apparently had been passing the time by watching her fill in the form. The officer hadn't returned yet. Tilly wondered how far he had to go to get himself a cup of coffee.

"Do you think he'll be much longer?" she said to the drivers, but the one nearest her just shrugged and took a sip of his coffee. The driver next to him belched and thumped his chest.

Just as she was considering leaving the form with the drivers and leaving, the officer returned, cup of coffee in hand.

"Ah! You're done. Good," he said. He took the clipboard from her and glanced over what she had written. "So, Mrs..... Zondernaam, you live quite near here. On your way to downtown today?"

"The art gallery." Tilly wondered what that had to do with anything. Maybe he was just making small talk before asking her about the suicide.

"Did you know the deceased? Other witnesses said he was talking to you before he jumped."

"No, not really. He panhandled along this stretch of Bloor a lot. I gave him change sometimes, but at most we've just had some chats about the weather."

"I see. You've never noticed anything strange about his speech or behaviour before?"

"A lot of homeless people say and do strange things."

The officer gave a hearty, and, to Tilly, false-sounding laugh. "Fair enough, Mrs. Zondernaam." He removed the form from the clipboard and folded it before slipping it into an inside breast pocket. "That apartment building you live in... it always looked nice from the outside. You like living there?"

"Oh yes."

"Clean place? Quiet?"

"Definitely."

"Garbage chutes work all right?"

Tilly gave her brightest smile. "All the facilities work just fine." She pulled her purse onto her lap. "I take it we're done now?"

The driver sitting by the doorway kicked the door with his foot, knocking it closed.

Tilly pretended not to notice and stood up. "Well, I must be on my way," she said brightly. "I hope your investigation goes well. Terrible tragedy. The poor man."

The officer stood between her and the door. He wasn't moving.

"When is the door in the sky going to appear?"

"The what in the where? That's a random question."

The officer studied her face. Tilly counted the seconds quietly, judging that after fifteen seconds it would be all right to start screaming for help.

She had counted to twelve when the officer stood aside and opened the door for her. "Thank you for your time, Mrs. Zondernaam. Thank you for your help. We'll contact you if we need any further information."

"Certainly," said Tilly. She brushed past the officer and left the break room, forcing herself not to hurry.

Outside the regular Toronto police had the stairwell the homeless man had dove into cordoned off. Officers in uniform were trying to keep the crowds away from the scene. Tilly judged by the presence of an empty stretcher that the man's body was still on the stairwell.

She took the escalator up to street level and slumped against the wall of the nearest building. Now all she wanted to do was go home, have a tea, read her book. But home seemed like the least safe place to be right now.

The hostiles were in her garbage chute. And the TTC officer had known about the garbage chutes and the door in the sky, which meant he and those drivers — if they were TTC drivers, if they were even human — were hostiles too.

Not sure what else to do, Tilly crossed the road with the light and started walking south along Spadina Avenue. She didn't have a shift with Pizza Tela until tomorrow, so even if the Others were aware of this and had instructions for her, they had no way of telling her until then. She would just have to make sure she was safe before then.

On a whim she waited for a streetcar and took it as far south as Dundas. She walked along Dundas in the general direction of the Art Gallery of Ontario, although now that she had told the TTC officer that was where she had planned to go this morning, it didn't seem like such a good idea to make it her destination anymore. You could have gone to the museum, she told herself, but she didn't like going there anymore since they had put the ugly new addition on it that stuck out over Bloor Street.

Tilly walked up the ramp leading to the gallery entrance. This was probably one of safest places for her to be today, even if the hostiles knew she was there, she reflected. A big, airy space with all sorts of security guards and alarms.

She went inside and bought an admission ticket.

6 comments:

  1. Awww I have to wait till next week to find out :(

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  2. I did not expect that! That felt really tense. One of the things I like about Tilly as a heroine is her normality. No superpowers, no special forces training and bless her, she's not as young as she used to be.

    Good work!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! "No superpowers, no special forces training and bless her, she's not as young as she used to be." is a great summing-up. If this was a physical book, I'd ask to use that as the blurb.

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  3. Uh-oh, they're onto her! FInally got caught up, I think I was like 5 eps behind.

    Suddenly, I remember a Bomb the Bass lyric: "door opens in the sky." I wonder if they're reading this too. :-D

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