A Colder Kind of Death
Three minutes before the Hallowe’en edition of “Canada This Week” went on the air I learned that the man who murdered my husband had been shot to death. A technician was kneeling in front of me, adjusting my mike. Her hair was smoothed under a black skull-cap, and she was wearing a black leotard and black tights. Her name was Leslie Martin, and she was dressed as a bat.
“Check the Velcro on my wing, would you, Jo?” she asked, leaning towards me.
As I smoothed the Velcro on Leslie’s shoulder, I glanced at the tv monitor behind her.
At first, I didn’t recognize the face on the screen. The long blond hair and the pale goat-like eyes were familiar, but I couldn’t place him. Then the still photograph was gone. In its place was the scene that had played endlessly in my head during the black months after Ian’s death. But these pictures weren’t in my head. The images on the tv were real. The desolate stretch of highway; the snow swirling in the air; the Volvo stationwagon with the door open on the driver’s side; and on the highway beside the car, my husband’s body with a dark and bloody spillage where his head should have been.
The sound was turned off. My hand tightened on Leslie’s shoulder. “What happened there?” I asked.
Leslie turned towards the monitor. “I just heard part of it myself, but apparently that guy with the long hair was killed. He was out in the exercise yard at the penitentiary and someone drove past and shot him. He was dead before he hit the ground.”
She stood and moved out of camera range. “Two minutes to showtime,” she said. Through my earpiece, I heard the voice of the host of “Canada This Week.”
“Happy Hallowe’en, Regina,” he said. “What’ll it be: ‘Trick, or Treat’?”
Beside me, Senator Sam Spiegel laughed. “Trick,” he said.
“Okay,” the voice from Toronto said. “We’ll start with nafta.”
Sam groaned. “Why do we always have to talk about nafta?”
The host’s voice was amiable. “Ours is not to wonder why, Sam. Now, I’ll go to you first. Is the fact that environmental regulations aren’t being equally enforced by our trading partners having an impact on investor confidence up here?”
Sam looked cherubic. “Beats me,” he said.
Another voice, this one young and brusque, came through the earpiece. “This is Tom Brook in Toronto.
Washington, is there any sign of Keith yet?”
I looked over at the monitor. The image of my husband’s body had been replaced by images of Keith Harris, the third member of the “Canada This Week” panel. Keith was late, and as he slid into his chair and clipped on his lapel mike, he grinned apologetically. “I’m here. In the flesh, if not yet in the spirit. We’re in the middle of a storm, and I couldn’t get a taxi. Sorry, everybody.”
The sight of Keith’s private face, unguarded and gentle as his public face never was, stirred something in me. Until three weeks earlier, Keith had been the man in my life. At the outset, he had seemed an unlikely choice. We had both lived lives shaped by party politics; philosophically, we were as far apart as it is possible for reasonable people to be. Somehow, after the first hour we spent together, that hadn’t mattered. Keith Harris was a good man, and until he had taken a job in Nationtv’s Washington bureau at the beginning of summer, we had been happy. But distance had divided us in a way politics had not. Passion became friendship, and when Keith came to Regina for Thanksgiving he told me he had met someone else. I was still trying to sort out how I felt about that news.
Excerpted from The Further Investigations of Joanne Kilbourn by Gail Bowen. Copyright © 2006 by Gail Bowen. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.