Arts & Entertainment
5 min

Sharp in the Dark, Part 26

Neighbourhood Prowler

The City of Scarborough was a large area to the east of Toronto, and one of five regions that wrapped around Toronto’s downtown core.

Its north end was mostly subdivisions and high-rises that had been built in the ’60s on former farmers’ fields. Sharp found it a desolate, soulless part of town, but no one was asking her opinion. Further south, the homes were older: ’40s and ’50s-era bungalows and workers’ cottages that stood alongside low-rise factories and warehouses. Multi-lane boulevards, thick with traffic and lit up with fast food joints and strip malls, completed the picture.

And then there was the southernmost part of Scarborough. Here, stately homes looked out over Lake Ontario from the top of 100-metre high, winding cliffs. This area was called The Bluffs, and it was reserved for the rich.

Sharp pulled over on Kingston Road, one of the main, east-west arteries and the dividing line between The Bluffs and the rest of the world. She opened her glove compartment and took out a ragged map of the city. She scratched her ear while she scanned the index on the back for King Cross Road.

“H-21,” she said aloud, then turned over the map and drew her fingers up and across until they met in the section where the Iversons lived. Sharp took a good look at the map, then hastily put it on the seat beside her and continued east on Kingston Road.

The K-car rumbled over the streetcar tracks at the intersection of Victoria Park. A moment later, Sharp neared a gas station and glanced down at her gauge, which hovered just over the quarter-tank mark. She frowned, and drove on.

Suddenly, the sky opened and rain drops splattered against the K-car’s windshield. She flicked on the wipers and squinted through the sluicing trails of water. Sharp saw the street sign for Brimley Road as she drove through the intersection.

She cursed, put on her right turn indicator and took the next street south in a sliding, slippery turn. The lights and storefronts of Kingston Road were replaced by the silence of 100-year-old trees and the still, damp lawns that lined the street.

Near the bottom of Brimley, the sign for King Cross Road appeared. Sharp was ready for this one and slowed, then made the turn. Number 3 was at the end of the street, and the street was a dead end. Sharp stopped the vehicle for a moment, thinking, then drove carefully into a driveway and back out onto the street, facing the other direction. She pulled the car up against the curb and cut the engine.

And waited.

The Iverson house was made of grey-black stone that glistened in the rain. Two chimneys stood at either end of the gothic-looking building, which was partially blocked by a tall, cedar hedge. A driveway slid up beside the building and ended at a two-bay garage with a second storey. Sharp frowned, wondering if Eve’s blue Buick was parked inside.

Between two sections of hedge, a wrought iron gate welcomed visitors in a menacing sort of way. Sharp scanned the windows that she could see. They were all in darkness.

Maybe nobody’s home, she thought to herself, losing a little of her earlier confidence.

Then she remembered that Mowbray had said the Iverson clan meetings took place on Sunday nights. It was four in the afternoon. Sharp settled back into her seat.

The rain gently tapped her windshield and the sky darkened.

Half an hour later, Sharp was lying across the K-car’s front bench seat and sleeping soundly.

                                                                                                                         *

“Huh?” Sharp squinted as headlight beams sprayed her car with white light. She slowly leaned up as the memory of where she was, and why, filtered back into her consciousness.

She peered into the darkness.

The headlights were now glowing red taillights and they were disappearing up the driveway beside 3 King Cross Road.

Sharp wound down her window and stuck her ear out. She heard a car door click shut — expensive, by the sound of it, then heels clipping across a stone path. Her breath caught in her mouth. It must be Eve, she thought.

A moment later and with her collar turned up, Sharp was skirting along the cedar hedge. She glanced around. The street was dark and silent. In a flash, she slipped between two bushes — and fell back onto the sidewalk with a yelp. The hedge stood against thick-gauge wire mesh that had made painful contact with Sharp’s kneecap.

She walked away from number 3, cursing under her breath.

At the property line separating number 3 and number 5 King Cross Road, the cedar hedge gave way to a thick stone wall about two metres high — too high for Sharp to get over on her own.

But it has to end somewhere, Sharp thought as she scurried along the wall and into the darkness.

After walking for six metres, the neighbours over-sized dogwood bushes blocked her path. She decided to stick to the wall and crawl behind them on the damp, spongy ground. Her knees were sore and her pants soaked through, and she was about to reconsider her plan when the wall sloped down and the clipped Iverson lawn emerged. Sharp stepped over the little wall and looked around. A light was coming from one of the windows in the main building. Its beam was cut by the edge of the two-storey garage. Sharp darted over to the back of the garage, crept to the corner and peered into the light. She stepped back into the darkness, breathed in, and ran.

If anyone notices, they’ll think I’m a raccoon, Sharp thought, hopefully.

A moment later, she was crouched behind the boxwood hedges that grew under a large, stained glass window.

Light was coming through the window.

So were voices.

“No, I don’t accept your decision.” It was Eve’s voice, and she sounded upset. But not as upset as her father.

“You will do as I say! I built this company. I make the decisions and I am making Mark the president. It’s in the best interests of Iverson Devotionals and you know it.”

“Why? Why is it the best decision? I’ve worked for you all my life. I have the experience — the credentials. Mark doesn’t even have an MBA, for goodness sake!” Sharp could hear the sneer in her voice — and the desperation.

“Now babe, don’t be upset.” It was Mark’s voice trying to soothe her, but it wasn’t working.

Sharp peered up to the window frame and looked in at a dark, book-lined library. Mark held a half-empty highball in his hands and sat in a thick, leather chair. She couldn’t see Rand. But she could see Eve, except that she was turned to the wall, gathering her thoughts. Suddenly, she spun around and faced the other end of the room — where Rand was sitting.

“You, you,” she pointed, trembling.

“Eve, I’m warning you — ” Sharp heard him answer.

“You can’t bear a woman leading the company. That’s it, isn’t it? Just like Clare.”

Mark jumped up and moved toward Eve, putting his arm around her like she was a mad child — or woman.

Eve screamed, “Anything that’s not conventional, conservative! A woman president, a lesbian daughter — ”

The sound of Rand’s fist hitting the wooden surface of a table silenced the room.

Sharp recoiled as Rand came into view, walking slowly toward Eve. His eyes flashed wildly. Gone was the congenial man who had introduced himself to Sharp when she’d gone in search of bible study supplies. This man was hard as nails.

“I have one thing to say to you, Eve, and one thing only — ” But Sharp didn’t hear what it was, because her head had just made sudden, crushing contact with the Iverson mansion.

Part 27 >>