the meniscus* papers

page one
* The meniscus (plural: menisci, from the Greek for "crescent") is the curve in the upper surface of a liquid close to the surface of the container or another object, caused by surface tension. It can be either concave or convex, depending on the liquid and the surface.

"Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."
Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom

"The writer is the engineer of the human soul. "
Joseph Stalin

Chapter One

It was hot, too hot really to be gardening, although I very rarely gardened. And I would never complain about the heat, no matter how hot it got. It wasn't so much that I loved the heat, I just hated the cold. So I would reserve all this temperature bitching for the winter.

I would joke with people about how the heat was just a preparation for the next place I would be attending no matter how involuntary that journey may be. At least to my knowledge so far.

I had moved to a small town, hoping to spend the balance of my life away from the many stresses of the crowded city. I still wasn't sure whether it had worked or not.

If I hadn't moved I wouldn't have met Alex at the corner shop. I knew immediately who Alex was and what he did for a previous living but never let on that I knew. And Alex knew that I knew but would never discuss it with me. Which is exactly both the way both of us wanted it to be.

And it was at times like these that I wished my past would have disintegrated into the mindless nothingness I had come to understand and embrace, but for some reason it just wouldn't happen completely. As soon I was sure that the past had become at once nothing, a small thing would happen to remind me that it was impossible that this should be so.

I had met Dan at a barbecue or some such local event and mentioned to him that my background included criminally inspired events that I may or may not have identifed before learning of Dan's position as a Inspector for the OPP. As Dan had access to the files of various police agencies and assorted bureaus it didn't take him long to find out who I was.

He treated the information with the confidentially and respect with which it deserved, but I wasn't surprised when Dan showed up one day in his cruiser in full uniform. I opened the door hesitantly to let him in.

Upon entering my house, he hesitated a little, eyeing my house as only a cop could. As I had nothing to hide, I let him take his time. I knew he wanted something, but seemed hesitant to ask.

I let him take as much time as he needed. I was almost bored enough to be slightly interested in what he said next. He fumbled with his hat.

"I hate to ask you..."
I might have said "Well don't" but my intrigue was getting the better of me.

"Why, you want some of my expertise?"

He seemed relieved. I had anticipated the reason for his presence.

"As a matter of fact Ted. I've got a strange one and was wondering if you would mind having a look. I hope you don't... he paused as he kind of stared at me the black pools of his eyes.

"Mind what?" I wasn't too resentful as he had shown the proper respect so far.

"Have a strange death up the road. You know Alex...?"

I should have stopped right there. A death of Alex was going to be more than strange.

"What, has something happened to our Polish friend?" I attempted to show some kind of concern in my voice. Couldn't be a complete uncaring prick, I guess.

"He was Russian wasn't he?"

The use of the past tense told me all I needed to know.

"Ukranian, Polish, Russian never was too sure. He wasn't that specific. But he seemed to favour the Russians for some reason."

I bit my tongue, I hoped I hadn't said too much.

"Well whatever, we found his body slumped behind the counter of his little store up on 89 highway there. Might have been a robbery, but there's something about the scene that is making a little suspicious. You know it?"