I didn’t plan to be a detective.
I even don’t know if I could be called a detective.
I didn’t take any courses in crime investigation. I don’t have business cards with my contact numbers and a few words about my services.
I was happy living in Vancouver’s east end near the Pacific National Exhibition grounds, doing my job as a courier that delivered parcels and packages.
I had a wife, Ruth, and two children, Lennon and McCartney. I planned to be around as they grew.
I had a house. I was doing OK. Then, the call came.
“Are you Matt Brady?”
“The man who found Bob Jansen?”
“Uh, he actually found me.”
“But only after you had tracked him down after, what, 10 or more years of looking?”
“Yeah, but he called me. Was living in Vancouver all that time as Bob Johnson.”
“You brought him back. You smoked him out.”
“Yeah, ok, but to what do I owe this phone call?”
“I need some help.”
I figured, That’s exactly what I was wondering. What’s this guy want?
“I, or rather we, want you to clear Seth Bradley of murdering Holly Wood, his girlfriend.”
“That’s not me.”
“We need somebody who will look for the truth and won’t give up until he has it. That is you.”
“And who are you?”
“I’m the manager of the the accused, Seth Bradley.”
“And who are we?”
“Seth’s parents. Want to speak to them? Nora and Omar.”
“Omar Bradley? The American general?”
“You can ask him about that, but he doesn’t like to talk about it. Here you go, on speaker phone.”
“Matt Brady?”
“Still guilty.”
It was Nora speaking.
“He didn’t do it, the murder he’s accused of.”
“How do you know?”
“He just wouldn’t. He’s not violent.”
“Of course you think that way. He’s your son. Shouldn’t the police be doing this?”
“They call it an open and shut case.” Omar was speaking now.
“ As far as they’re concerned, Seth did it and that’s that, “ he continued.
“OK, what happened to make them think that?”
“When the police arrived at the apartment, she was dead on the floor, covered in her own blood. Seth was next to her, a knife in his hand, her blood on his clothes, moaning and rocking back and forth.”
“But that doesn’t mean he killed her,” I thought aloud.
“He wasn’t thinking straight. When the police took him away, he was strung out on drugs, almost incoherent. Later, in a jail cell, he said he must have done it. There was nobody else. He was crazed but doesn’t clearly remember,” Omar continued.
“He confessed, in other words.”
“Seth has concluded he must have murdered her in a moment of anger.”
“So the police have a confession. Sounds ‘open and shut” to me.”
“That’s why we’ve turned to you. The police think they have the killer. We want you to prove they haven’t. They won’t budge.”
“Seth says he must have killed her, but he doesn’t remember actually grabbing a knife and stabbing her.?”
“He doesn’t remember,” I muttered. Between the doing and dying.
“The police should know better,” I told him. “They have to close that gap.”
“You’ll look into this?”
“Gimme a day or two to think about it.”
And I did need to think about it.


“Do it,” said Ruth.
“Do it? But you know what that means.”
“Letters, phone calls, emails, time off work, but this will bug you if you don’t get the answers to questions I know you’ll ask.”
“But this might take months.”
“Or years. Do it. For Seth, for his parents, for yourself.”
“You’re talking as if you know him.”
“I know of him.”
“You do? How?”
“If it’s the Seth Bradley I’m thinking of, he’s the youngest brother of Yvonne.”
“Yvonne! You haven’t mentioned her in years.”
“But we were good friends. We both were in the same grade at Templeton.”
“”That long ago?”
“Careful. Not that long ago. I guess we went our separate ways around the same time I met you.”
“But you do know Seth…”
“Just barely. He was still in elementary school when Yvonne introduced us. By the time he got to Templeton, we’d graduated.”
“But you remember him.”
“If it’s that Seth Bradley. I’d go around to Yvonne’s house once in a while and he always would be practicing on guitar. He never talked, at least to me. He just played.”
I wonder what happened between then and now to get him to commit murder.

Actually, I know a little about Seth Bradley. Although I wasn’t drumming full time any more, Could be hired part time and occasionally I’d sit in on jam sessions. I was still connected to the scene, if marginally, and that’s how I heard about Seth Bradley.
Initially he stirred up a buzz of excitement
He’d got a rep as a good guitar player. Maybe a great guitar player. Want something that sounds authentically 50s or 60s? Seth’s the guy. Retro, I guess. But he wasn’t trying to bring something back from the dead for nostalgia.. He was trying to prevent something from dying, to keep alive for the next generation or for all time.
At least that’s what his father told me.
Seth never was short of work. He was in demand as a sideman and on various tours, As a studio guitarist. Ultimately as a producer. Consequently, he can be heard, usually uncredited, on a lot of Vancouver-made records, yet he never made one of his own. That’s probably why he never had a band. Too busy, also too exacting. As a hired gun, he knew he had to tailor his playing to the needs of whomever was the boss. When he was the boss, that was different. He turned into a control freak. Nothing was good enough for him. The musicians he’d gathered ultimately would shake their head, give up and leave.
He was always broke, never had any money, frequently borrowing.
No one could figure out why, until the rumour got around that he was hooked on drugs. Heroin. All his money went on buying junk. That excitement turned to sad reflection.
And that’s when he met Holly.
It was an unlikely relationship but it worked at first. She had a job, a regular pay cheque and a place to stay. He had little more than the offer of a sympathetic ear. Just as he needed her; she needed him. That was all it took.
After a few weeks, she learned of his habit. At first, he kept his addiction hidden. Holly’d go to work early in the morning while he would sleep until noon. Seth would rise, pull his kit out of hiding, shoot up. She’d return,, apparently no wiser but struck at how serene he seemed to be. At night, before a club gig, he’d slip quietly into the bathroom and do it all again.
That couldn’t last.
His addiction was insidious. Nothing new in that.
One night, somewhere, he couldn’t sleep after the gig.
“Try this,” said one of the musicians with whom he’d been touring. He snorted the smack and felt great. That night he slept better than he had in weeks, anything troubling him was obliterated. He wanted more. He wanted to feel that freedom. His musician friend put him in contact with a dealer, who was too happy to help and gave Seth his first hit free of charge. That was the first and last time. The freedom was an illusion.
After a few weeks, if he didn’t have his smack, he felt ill.
“Dope sick,” his friend said. His friend always had controlled himself. He wasn’t addicted but knew the symptoms. Seth would sweat and itch. At the same time, he felt cold and shivered.
“Face it, you’re addicted. Back off, “ he cautioned, although he knew Seth wouldn’t
He also was going broke. He’d saved a bit of money and still had some when he met Holly and moved into her apartment. This allowed him to stay afloat and keep up his own end. However, more and more of his money was going toward his next fix. He started demanding advances, then lying to his hired musicians about what he actually had, telling them it was less than they thought but keeping the rest. He also stole some gear and took it to the pawnbroker.
The fights with Holly came when not only could he not pay his portion of the rent, but wanted to borrow from her. Money started disappearing from her purse. Seth claimed to know nothing about it, but she knew.
Holly tried to help him by dipping into her boss’s cocaine stash and bringing it home to Seth. This took the edge off but forced a confrontation, Seth miserably admitting the extent of his addiction. She thought of leaving him when one afternoon after the Vancouver Stock Exchange closed at three pm as usual, Holly came home to find Seth sprawled in their living room surrounded by four guys she didn’t know, all shooting up. Seth tried to explain that that their regular shooting gallery was locked and they were left with no place to go.
“So you brought them here? “ she asked incredulously.
“Well I offered our place, but I didn’t think they’d take me up on it” Seth bleated.
“This can’t happen again.”
“It won’t.”
“Yeah? You have to do something.” She left it at that, hoping he’d realize the next move was up to him.

.Holly Wood was born Mary Forest.
She didn’t like her name. Too plain for her. Mary, she thought, as in Merry, as in Jolly, which rhymes with Holly. So, Holly it was. A forest is all wood. OK, wood. Holly Wood. She liked that a lot better than Mary Forest.
She became Holly Wood legally.
Since then, she’d met a singer, an actress and a publicist all called Holly Wood. Holly sighed. Too late to go back to Mary Forest. She had to live with the fact that she hadn’t been original. She was, however, happier as Holly Wood and the name made her memorable. It was as though she had the aura of Hollywood itself.
It also was the sign of a headstrong woman.
Ever since she was a teenager, Holly went her own way.
Her parents, Jim and Ellen, couldn’t do anything with her. Mary and Ellen fought constantly. Thanks to Jim, Mary always got her way. She was the father’s daughter, after all, and he tended to side with her. Ellen wasn’t unreasonable but imposing a curfew, an unspoken dress code that exercised itself when she wanted to go out with her friends, or not allowing Mary to bring home boys only assured that Ellen would be a symbol of authority. Mary would rebel. Jim felt powerless.
Eventually, they washed their hands of her. Changing her name to Holly Wood was the proof. They couldn’t tell her what to do.

“You’re dying to ask me about my first name, aren’t you?”
It was Omar. I’d gotten to know him over a few beers at a pub on the corner of Boundary and Hastings. He was genuine even if ’“Omar “was not. I’d only been asking around on behalf of the Bradleys a few days and already was discovering that nothing was what it seemed. Omar, for instance.
“As a kid, I wanted to be an American soldier. I had hundreds of toy soldiers and I would be their commander. To me, American soldiers were superheroes, ready to save the world. You couldn’t say that about the Canadian military. My father returned from wherever he was during World War Two, saw me ordering around my soldiers and started calling me Omar. Soon, all my friends were calling me Omar. So I became Omar. My birth name is Harold.”
“Nice to meet you Harold Bradley.”
“Omar. Seth never liked that. He wasn’t anti-American or anything, but what I saw as protecting freedom, he saw as interference. To him, America’s presumptuousness was arrogant, self-important, even hypocritical. I’d argue that if the States didn’t step in, who would? He’d be silent after that, but I don’t think I won the battle. We just didn’t talk.”
“But did you talk about music?”
“Yeah, we did.”
“His music?”
“Seth’d get worked up over that. Like he was on a mission. But I liked it, too. I mean, I grew up with that stuff. I like to think I guided him to certain records.”
“Like what? Just curious.”
“Specific titles? England’s Newest Hitmakers, With The Beatles, Bringing It All Back Home, Music From Big Pink. Gilded Palace Of Sin. So many. I can’t remember.”
“You sound like a broad-minded music fan yourself.”
“Well, I liked it. If a record or band made me curious, I’d listen. My entry to country music was Sweetheart Of The Rodeo by The Byrds. Like a lot of people who were Byrds fans, I was shocked, but, after a while I started liking certain songs, and then more until I liked country music a lot more than I thought. That led me to Gilded Palace Of Sin. Seth grew up with that. I didn’t buy the records, though.”
“You didn’t?”
“No, Seth did. It was enough for me that The Rolling Stones were gaga over Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley. But Seth got Muddy Waters At Newport, B.B. King At The Regal, Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger. He’d play those fuckers as he learned the solos. Over and over. Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran. Elvis…”
“Scotty Moore, I noted.”
“Gene Vincent…”
“Johnny Meeks.”
“Rick Nelson…”
“James Burton.”
“Johnny Burnette.”
“Paul Burlison.”
“Howlin’ Wolf…
Hubert Sumlin.”
“And that’s a few of the 50s guys.”
“I’m getting the picture.”
“When he’d saved money from his paper route, he bought a white Fender Strat just like Buddy Holly’s.”
“He was a purist, then.”
“Sort of. He knew his stuff, that’s for sure. Purist? I’m not certain about that. Like, when he played rockabilly, it sounded like rockabilly brought up to date. Ask him to play gospel and the feel would be gospel, but it wasn’t actually gospel; it was him.”
“Tube amps? American-made guitars, not the later farmed out Chinese or Japanese variety? “
“To him, these were the authentic sound, what rock and all the other roots were supposed to be.”
“Never tempted to be a modern guitar hero, say Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson?”
“You mean flashy? No, I don’t think he liked them.”
“What about the guys who came out of the blues, Warren Haynes, Walter Trout?”
“I think he appreciated them, but that’s all. “
“Joe Bonamassa.”
“Unavoidable, isn’t he? Made Seth suspicious.”
“Well, what about Jimi Hendrix? Every guitar player except Jeff Beck aspires to be Jimi Hendrix.”
“He loved Hendrix but didn’t want to be like him. Seth figured Stevie Ray Vaughan had that covered anyway. He was more the Steve Cropper type.”
Talking about Seth’s guitar playing was safe ground for Omar. He didn’t have to talk about Seth himself. Me? I finished my beer and left the pub realizing I liked Seth Bradley.

ason Breckinridge wasn’t Seth Bradley’s manager.
Seth managed himself. He got the gigs, which meant putting together a band. He confirmed his sessions. He hired himself out to tour.
He didn’t drive, however, and didn’t have a car. That’s where Jason came in.
He desperately wanted to be some part of the music business and just as desperately wanted to befriend Seth Bradley. Seth could be Jason’s entry to the business. He was talented, in demand, somebody who was on the rise.
Jason did drive, had a car. More or less his. He drove a cab during the day, took it home at the end of a shift, used it at night. His time was his own and he used it to get Seth to the studio for his sessions. He dropped off Seth at the meeting point where he was due to begin a tour. To keep the dispatcher off his back Jason occasionally charged a trip to Seth, but more often ate the cost himself.
A time or two, he even put up Seth at his place, especially when he was fucked up and Holly was mad at him.
Both of them knew this wouldn’t work. Jason lived in a small old house in Kitsilano, one flight up. He had a room and not much more. There was a tiny kitchen area, a mattress on the floor, where Jason would cross his legs and eat and watch TV. The bathroom was shared with the tenant on the same floor. Her place wasn’t any bigger than Jason’s but she kept it neater and cleaner. Fortunately, Seth simply would pass out. Jason would spread a blanket over him and carefully made his own sleeping space. Usually, Seth would be gone by the time Jason came to.
Jason would save a little money and dream of the day he would move up to something comparatively more spacious, a studio apartment maybe. He didn’t know when that would be. Vancouver was an expensive city.
All Jason needed was Seth’s schedule for the week. In this way, Jason became Seth’s coordinator and, in his own mind, blew that up as his business manager.
He helped Seth put his bands together, helped him get his gigs, ran interference. You wanted Seth; you had to go through Jason.
Jason asserted himself gradually as Seth became more helpless. He’d occasionally forget where and when his recording sessions were. Then he would forget his parts. That was unlike Seth. He prided himself on being a quick study and being able to deliver great, innovative solos. Jason realized Seth only was playing for his next fix; he wasn’t being creative.
He also was getting a reputation for being unreliable.
Not only couldn’t he pay for his rides, but he started borrowing money.
Jason might have thought of Seth as his friend but he was becoming work, and so although not officially Seth’s manager, he might as well have been.
He earned his 15% but didn’t take it,

Paul Bennett intended to be a personal manager but became a drug dealer instead.
He left high school unable to play an instrument and not really wanting to,
But his friends at school who could play an instrument adequately had no clue beyond playing in a band, maybe growing rich and famous. So, Paul took his love of rock and roll, combined it with an acute business sense – he’d presented and promoted a few successful dances and then concerts while still in school – to handle a couple of his friends. He’d grow rich and famous, too.
This was tougher than he thought.
Getting gigs and then getting paid for playing them wasn’t easy. His friends and he weren’t getting rich either.
In fact, the rock and roll business was expensive. Making a record was out of the question. Nobody was buying records anymore. Touring? Who was going to pay for the transportation and the hotel bills?
Another high school friend inadvertently came to the rescue. His older brother grew marijuana, stored it and sold it at a mighty profit. Paul tried it, growing a few plants in his unknowing parents’ back yard. He was able to unload what little he had for enough money to buy more from his friend’s older brother. In his role as middleman, he acquired more ganja. Garbage bags of it. He duly rented a house, hid the dope in the rafters and installed his friends’ band.
If anybody asked, he managed a successful rock and roll band. People believed him. They thought all musicians were glamorous rock stars in the making. They were rich.
Then, the brother of Paul’s high school friend decided to stop selling dope. He’d made enough money to set himself up as a TV producer. He went legitimate and ended phase one of Paul’s career as a drug dealer. Before he dropped out of the picture, he introduced Paul to Carlos. For phase two, Carlos was anxious to drop the warring gangs that imported his dope but were killing each other.. There was enough violence at home without being subjected to a neighbourhood turf war. Paul seemed a good solution.
Over the years the demographic changed. At first his buyers were hippies who thought of pot smoking as an act of rebellion. Then came the punks, looking for an escape. The married couples for whom smoking dope was part of their lifestyle. Their kids, born into it.
He still aspired to go legitimate himself as a personal manager but the money selling pot was too good .
Paul would have been fine selling marijuana but he got greedy.
He eventually started dealing heroin, which was how he met Seth Bradley.
Seth was on the hunt and Paul became his guide.
Paul made a lot of money with little effort and virtually no risk. Vancouver, being a seaport, had the stuff coming in all the time; it was plentiful.
It also was a repeat business. There were a few hassles but he demanded cash, not stolen goods. Also, there were a few punks who’d wake him in the middle of the night, needing their dope.
Seth never bothered him at night, always had enough money .
Paul’s band, Ropadope, had made a huge compromise. At times, it felt cowardly about it.
But Paul had put it up in a house, where it could live and rehearse. He kept it in good new equipment.
It had put its trust in Paul’s hands, but wound up being his shill, his front, his excuse.
A couple of Ropadope were now addicts, too, It also was pathetic to hear the cries of kids who needed a fix.
Ropadope wasn’t ready to make the sacrifice by dumping Paul. At least not yet.

“Who are you?” the man wanted to know.
“Matt Brady. I’d like to ask you a few questions about Seth Bradley and Holly Wood.”
“Uh, no.”
“Then I don’t have to talk to you. I don’t want to talk to you.””
“Please? Seth’s parents asked me to investigate Holly’s death on their behalf…for Seth.”
“Uh huh. Got any identification?”
“No. I wish I did. I just want to prove for them that Seth didn’t do it.”
“Oh, he did it alright. The police seem to think so and I know so.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“She was dead on the floor, covered in blood, and he was on the floor beside her, holding a knife. But I’m talking to you now. I’d rather you get out of the hall. Fuck off.”
“Just a minute. Tell him the story, Herb.” It was the woman. She stood beside the man, presumably her husband. Looked imploringly at Matt.
“Not a reporter?”
“No, not a reporter. Just trying to get to the bottom of this even if the truth hurts the parents.”
“He’s doing this for the parents ,“ she told the man “Tell him what we told the police.”
“Again? I went through this several times with the police.”
“But you haven’t told me.”
“OK. In that case, you’d better step inside.””
Their apartment was like them – trim, neat, well kept. Proper. Matt couldn’t imagine them putting up with Seth and his practicing electric guitar or Holly getting madder by the day.
“We were home when we heard them fighting. It was late, maybe one p.m. They were arguing again. This was happening more and more. Then, everything was quiet. No scuffling, nothing.”
“Nothing. After half an hour, I looked at Cath. At the same time, we both thought something isn’t right.”
“You were both up?”
“Watching some talk show.” Cath affirmed.
“Cath pushed me out in the hall, then followed. Their apartment door was partially open, so I looked in.”
“I told you what I saw. Cath ran back to our place and called 911.”
“How was Seth?”
“Totally wiped. He was crying, blubbering. I didn’t understand a word.”
“Did he get any better when the police arrived?”
“Not much.”
“Was he in good enough shape to wield a knife?”
“How strong do you have to be to stab someone?”
I”’m asking you. You said the apartment door was ajar. Was this common?”
“I don’t think so, but Seth was out of it, so who knows? I make a point of locking ours. Thieves are everywhere and you never know where they’ll strike next or what they’ll take.”

“I met Seth Bradley when he flagged me down.”
Jason Breckenridge recounted his first meeting with Seth Bradley.
“”I had finished my shift for the day and was on my way home. I had this tiny place in Kitsilano. He was standing with his amp and guitar outside a coffee shop next to a recording studio. I figured I could use one more fare. Turns out he was on his way to another session at another studio. What the hell, it was on my way. I told him to get in. He sounded relieved.
“He was in demand then. The session he had just finished was for a couple of country songs this woman hoped to release as a single. The next one wanted him to play blues. Seth told me this on the way. He wasn’t bragging, he was just explaining his situation. No car.
“I had never met anyone like him. I mean, he evidently was talented and respected. I’d always wanted to be involved somehow in the music business and getting to know him seemed a way.
“He needed a driver and was busy doing a lot of things. So, I dropped him off at the next studio. “Didn’t charge him for the ride after all, but gave him my card and told him to call me if he needed me.
“This was before the drugs took over. That was months away.
“It was a good relationship. I was at his beck and call, but wherever we went, Seth would introduce me, as though I was his business partner. I met people in the business, kept my mouth shut and learned. He was on his way up, and I could help him.”

Seth Bradley was a mess.
The past eight or nine days would upset anyone. He realized he not only was cradling Holly’s dead body, but he also was holding a knife, the alleged murder weapon. There was her blood everywhere. When the police arrived and took him away, he was too distraught and disoriented to do anything but blubber.
The Vancouver Police Department, believing it had a suspected murderer, put him in a jail cell of his own separate from drunks and other users.
“Of course, “said Constable Msu, when I talked to someone from the VPD who was at the murder scene. “He was a murder suspect. That made him different from the drunks and addicts, though we suspected he was both drunk and high.”
“What was he like?”
“Passive, co-operative, but he kept crying, I’m sorry, Holly; I didn’t mean it, Holly. That kind of thing. We had to tell him to shut up. Though he obviously was the murderer, we had to warn him that kind of talk was incriminating.
“I told you he was cooperative. He just kept crying. It was an easy collar.”
“Yeah? How so?”
“When 9-1-1 contacted us, we thought uh oh. It was presented to us as a domestic dispute. Those are the most dangerous kind. It’s usually a fight between a husband and wife. We’ll get there and there’s often a stand-off. One or the other is injured, sometimes both. Bleeding on the floor, or injured. The man or the woman will have a shard of glass , maybe a baseball bat, a gun or, in the case of Holly Wood, there is a knife.”
“What makes it dangerous?”
“The guilty party is unpredictable. He or she is mad, They feel trapped and maybe feel that the only way out of their predicament is to lash out, swing or shoot. Occasionally, someone is suicidal: they actually want the police to shoot them dead.
“Mr. Bradley wasn’t like that. We had a dead body, a weapon and a confession. There was no fight in Mr. Bradley. He went along with us without a struggle.”
When he was more coherent, the police moved Seth into a holding cell on Cambie. Upon hearing of his condition, a judge delayed his bail hearing for three more days.
Instead of calling a lawyer from legal assistance, Seth phoned his parents, who had a family lawyer and assured him, though doubtfully, that he’d be alright.
“He started to shake and sweat, which is when the police offered him Narcon, a nasal spray designed to help addicts overcome withdrawal, and to bring in our doctor. “ Msu continued his story. “Seth snorted the Narcon and opted to return to his holding cell and tough out cold turkey. ‘I killed Holly, who wanted me to get clean,’ he cried.’ I’ve got to do this for her. I’m alive, though I don’t deserve to be.’’”
Though the VPD doctors looked after him, for seven days he screamed in agony, clawed the walls of his cell, sweated, shook, scratched. By the seventh day, he was drinking water, his eyes focused, his speech lucid. Seth was shaky but he could talk straight and could make sense of whatever was said to him.
That’s how I met Seth for the first time. Gulit-ridden, fragile, distrustful.
“You’re not my lawyer,” he said accusingly.
“No, I’m not. Your parents want me to clear your name. They’ve asked me to delve into Holly’s murder.”
“Yeah? Good luck.”
“Why do you say that?
C’mon. Who else could have done it? “
“That’s what your parents…and manager…want me to find out.”
“I don’t have a manager.”
I wasn’t expecting that. Seth seemed self-absorbed. Maybe he really wanted to be punished. An actor on the stage, standing alone. All attention on him.
“You must mean Jason. The guy who drives me everywhere.”
“Did he drive you the night Holly died?”
“Must have. I was pretty out of it.”
“Why were you so ‘out of it’?”
“Holly was going to throw me out. I couldn’t face it.”
“So, you went the other way. But she had threatened to throw you out before.”
“This time she meant it. I didn’t know what to do.”
“Except wallow in self-pity.”
“I guess, but I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember?”
“You got mad, frustrated, grabbed the knife and stabbed her. Is that it?”
“When you say ‘out of it,’ drugs, booze or both?”
“Both. I shot up after the gig, then had lots of beer and box cars . Bad combination “

Holly Wood didn’t know what to do once she left high school. She just knew she had to leave.
She wanted to put miles between her and a formal education. Just like she knew she didn’t want the subservient life of her mother or the workaday anonymity of her father, a manager of a shoe store on Robson Street.
She wanted to be Holly Wood, whoever that was.
She had no immediate plans to travel, or to go to university, but she was open to suggestion.
Her first step toward becoming Holly was more about survival than finding an identity.
She took a job as a waitress. The restaurant was beside her dad’s shoe store and was hiring.
It wasn’t ideal, but solved some immediate needs. Rent first and foremost.
Holly’d taken an apartment in the West End within walking distance of the restaurant. She’d save money there, enough to make the difference between being in debt and just getting by. The trouble was that this restaurant thrived during lunch hour and was quiet in the evening when Robson had emptied for the day. Holly worked the afternoon to night shift and didn’t get the tips that her colleagues who worked early in the day were getting.
Holly knew she had to look elsewhere.
There was one regular customer who would order a few appetizers and a carafe of Retsina most Fridays around four p.m..
Her name was Yvonne and she worked at the Vancouver Stock Exchange.
After she’d been in a few times, Yvonne got to know and befriend Holly.
One Friday, Holly opened up and complained she couldn’t save any money.
You ought to see if you can get a job at the stock exchange, people there always need secretaries.
The next day she applied and was hired almost immediately by someone named Kevin Lifeson.
He was a stock promoter and relatively new at the VSE, but not so new that he didn’t know its ins and outs.
As a secretary, Holy didn’t make that much more than she would have waitressing, but she was able to save and once was able to invest a little based on what she overheard. She was discreet about it and was careful. Insider trading was illegal so she kept beneath the radar.
Yvonne was about five years older than Holly but they became friends. She worked for a stock broker, Doug Shemanus, who knew and dealt with Kevin.
One Friday, Yvonne showed up at the the restaurant as usual but instead invited Holly to see her “little brother” play at Kapow, a downtown club.
Holly didn’t have much interest in music, but neither did she have many friends.
So she went with Yvonne to see her “little brother.”
Which is how Holly Wood met Seth Bradley.

A night club is no place to search for a long term relationship, but it seemed to work for Holly and Seth.
She was attracted to him.
He stood onstage, directing his band, Autumn Almanac, and although she was no judge, he played guitar extremely well. At least the small crowd liked it It applauded after every solo and he would bow graciously and modestly.
Half way through the first set, Seth spotted Yvonne, beamed brightly and dedicated The Byrds’ I Wasn’t Born To Follow to her.
Afterward, he sought her out and joined Yvonne at her table. Yvonne introduced him to Holly, who complimented him on his playing.
Holly immediately wished she’d been more clever but Seth just beamed again and turned the conversation around to her.
He turned out to be attentive, considerate and intelligent. She was charmed.
The way Yvonne talked about him, Holly expected him to b be dedicated to his guitar and maybe had a touch of the artistic temperament she’d heard about. Maybe that would show itself as she got to know him, and she did want to get to know him.
Yvonne explained that Holly was a colleague and, like her, was finding her way around the VSE. Both had been hired as secretaries but aspired to more.
Holly nodded vigorously but looked troubled. Seth picked up on this and asked her what was wrong.
This surprised her. No one had ever sensed this, so had never asked her.
She was being investigated by the VSE. She wasn’t sure why. The insider trading gambit had always been low key and she’d thought she was getting away with it. She’d only done it once.
Seth listened as she told him of her dilemma. Holly hadn’t discussed this with anybody.
Seth listened but admitted he knew nothing about stocks. Then he excused himself to play the second set. Before leaving, however, he invited Holly to attend the next night and promised to put her name on the guest list.
So she did, flashed the rubber stamped Admit One on her wrist. He looked relieved, happy and dedicated a song to her, Left Bank’s Pretty Ballerina.
Jason was there. As Holly later discovered, he was always there. He put Seth into his car, who insisted he also take Holly home. So she climbed aboard, taking the backseat while Seth rode beside Jason. At her West End apartment, she got out, they bid each other good night and that seemed to be that.
A few days later, Seth called Holly. He was recording a track at a recording studio near her, so he invited her for lunch around 1 pm. The exchange was winding down around then so she thought she could slip away. Holly said yes.
Seth was just dabbling in heroin at this point and so had money.
The two enjoyed each other’s company despite coming from different worlds.
Holly would listen to him describe his session work, like that morning’s requirement of surf guitar, like a Dick Dale sound. A question mark hung over her head, but she said nothing.
Seth would listen to her attempt to describe her work for a stock promoter. A question mark hung over his head, but he said nothing.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t too long after that he moved into her apartment, bringing almost only his guitar and amplifier. She’d be at the exchange at six am. He’d get home around three am and sleep until she returned around three pm. At first, they shared nearly everything.

Holly always would explain that she worked for a stock promoter.
Seth always called Kevin Lifeson a stock broker.
“There is a difference you know,” she’d say shaking her head. “In simple terms, the promoter makes aspiring investors aware of a new stock. He promotes.”
“Like a concert promoter announcing their next show?”
“Sort of.”
“And a stock broker?”
“Seals the deal. If the stock promoter introduces an investor to a company, the stock broker works for the company to make sure the money is invested.”
“What unites them?”
“Greed, “ she would say without blinking or blushing. “The broker and the promoter are preying on the person hoping to ‘make a killing on the market.b
“Kevin didn’t intend to be a vulture,” Holly’d continue. “It just worked out that way. “

If Kevin Lifeson had his way, he’d be entirely legitimate. As it is, he skirted around the law.
He came to what is now called the TSX Venture Exchange with a degree in business and aware that the TSX was trying to clean up a dirty reputation that dated from the late 60s.
The Vancouver Stock Exchange as it was before a merger in 1969 with the Canadian Venture Exchange, which, in turn, became TSX, had been written about as “the scam capitol of the world.”
It was discovered that many of the companies listed by the VSE didn’t really exist. They were shells hoping to attract investors interested in plunging money in schemes that were fraudulent.
Although the VSE was striving to clean up its image, many shells still existed and it was inevitable that Lifeson would represent a few of them, always hoping they’d turn out to be genuine. Regardless, he’d get paid a commission by the shell company, so manfully he’d talk them up, make would-be investors aware of it.
There didn’t seem to be a shortage of investors. When he lined up an investor, Lifeson would bring in his friend, Doug Shemanus. Shemanus would handle the contract and they’d go from there, which often was nowhere. The guy who created the company simply would take the money and run.
Far from making a killing on the market, the market would kill the investor..
Lifeson would sigh, you take your chances…, and go on to the next client. Or sucker.
Holly came into this environment and quickly discovered it was toxic.
That was Kevin’s problem, not hers. She was hired as a secretary. As long as she stuck to her secretarial duties – typing and sending letters, sorting through the mail and the like – she was fine.
But Holly was too smart for that.
She’d sign requisition forms for mining equipment that never arrived.
They didn’t arrive because the forms never got sent, Instead, it was filed in case TSX inspectors came around. It was offered as proof of the shell company’s existence. If these forms required Kevin Lifeson’s signature, Holly discovered she had a knack for forging it. As he often was away from the office doing who-knows-what, she’d sign his name for him. Usually this was unnecessary as inspectors never snooped the company and never Kevin. Occasionally, she’d stick her neck out and put her own name down.
That couldn’t be why she was being investigated.
What little investing she’d done was so small as to be inconsequential. Easily overlooked.
No, it had to be that Kevin was being investigated and as she worked for him, Holly was also a suspect.
She was wrong, but only slightly.

I phoned Jason.
I was home, he was home. He evidently had Caller ID.
“Matt Brady? How ya doin’”
“All right. You? You sound down.”
“Do I? I guess I’m tired. Long day, and this thing about Seth. How’s that coming? “
“Slowly. But that’s where you might help me pick up speed.”
“OK. Fire away.”
“What did you do the night Holly was killed?”
“The usual. Dropped Seth off at his apartment building and went home.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“I didn’t?”
“No. From what I’ve been told, Seth was especially zonked. He needed help getting into the building and finding his way to his apartment. Right?”
“OK. What then?”
“With the keys you fished out of his pocket you led him into the apartment. You left the door open in case you had to go back in. You left Seth asleep on the sofa and then had it out with Holly. She was waiting for him.”
“But I didn’t kill her.”
“No? What happened then?”
“I pleaded with her not to throw Seth out. He needed her and he needed a place to stay. She wouldn’t listen. She wanted her life back, She’d made up her mind. Throwing Seth out might force him to make drastic, personal changes in his life. Right now she had troubles of her own. and had to deal with them herself.”
“What kind of troubles?”
“She was being investigated by the TSX.”
“For what?”
“I don’t know. Seth didn’t understand either. He. knew nothing about the TSX.”
“That makes two us.”
“Huh? All Seth could do was offer support. It frustrated him.”
“And Holly?”
“Obviously she was frustrated, too. With Seth, with the job, with her dwindling bank account. As she got more frustrated, she would take these out on Seth.”
“Seth could have cleaned up; that would have solved plenty of the problem.”
“He tried but just couldn’t do it. And Holly was pretty headstrong. My arguing with her wasn’t going anywhere.”
“You didn’t scuffle? “
“Did she have a knife?”
“Yeah, she reached in a kitchen drawer and pulled one out. It was menacing.”
“But she didn’t use it.”
“No. But I didn’t put it past her to come at me with it.”
“Where was Seth in all of this?”
“Passed out on the sofa. Slept though it all, even the shouting.”
“When she lunged for me, I gave up and hurried out. Holly was alive, though, and crying.”

“Couldn’t you work at home? “I asked Paul Bennett. He had a tiny office in what was the B.C. Hydro building at Nelson and Burrard. It was tiny but, if he only managed Ropadope, Nonetheless, this seemed excessive.
“I like to keep my home life separate from my business life,” he explained.
“But you can do business these days with a lap top. You can do it anywhere, even at a coffee shop.”
“If I wanted to. When I’m doing business that’s one thing. When I’m at home, that’s another. I can relax at home.”
“Home ?”
“West MacDonald, not far from UBC.”
“Nice area. How can you afford it? Does Ropadope make that much money?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“No secretary, no receptionist. though.”
“I can afford an office, can’t afford staff. Not yet, anyhow.”
“And this keeps you busy.”
“Someone has to monitor the streaming. Records don’t sell like they used to and streaming might not pay as well, but at least it pays. We just make sure we get our share. That has to be kept track of.”
“That’s a phone call.”
”The band needs to be kept up to date. The money is made on the road, so I keep Ropadope touring. Here too, there are fees to be collected, merchandise to be ordered and sent, crews to be paid . Money coming in; money going out.. All kinds of things to consider and which, indeed, keeps me busy
“Look,” he said, changing gear abruptly “I know you’ve been hired to clear Seth Bradley. I like Seth. Talented guy. I’d like to help him, which is why I agreed to talk to you. But how do you know me?”
“Jason Breckenridge.”
Him? The cabbie with delusions of grandeur?”
“Maybe, but he said you were really plugged into the alternative rock scene here and that I should talk to you.”
“That’s all?” Paul sounded suspicious. “Is there more?”
“If there is, Jason didn’t tell me. You know why I think you’ve taken this office?”
“Tell me.”
“You’ve set up a company that recently was listed on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. You’ve got a line on some valuable ore and need investors to get you started in research and development. That’s a big left turn from rock and roll. You probably could manage Ropadope with a few strokes on your lap top, from a coffee shop. This office gives you an address. Makes you appear more legitimate.”
“It could get messy, combining the two. So, I’ll come clean; yeah, the office is for this new enterprise. And is legit.”

Was this insider trading?
Holly didn’t know for sure. One day, she heard Doug Shemanus and Kevin Lifeson discussing a new company.
This was nothing new. The two often discussed their most recent clients. Most of them were fakes just in existence to soak up money from aspiring investors. This one, Back To Nature, was real, a recycling depot with an eco friendly agenda. As Doug and Kevin usually didn’t talk about ecological concerns, Holly paid attention. They knew about such resource industries as forestry and fishing, but the one they knew best was mining.
Back To Nature had been hired by a mining company to clean up its water disposal and to make recommendations to make it more correct. After years of criminal neglect, the company was being held responsible and was trying to comply with the government and get it off its back.
To Doug and Kevin this was the future. What had been a cause had become a growing industry.
Back To Nature had started out making park benches from old garbage; now it was trying to straighten bent industry. It only could get bigger.
Holly couldn’t help overhearing. She took out $1000.00, which was a lot for her, and followed one of investing’s rules: Buy low, sell high. Each share was a dime, 10 cents.She managed to buy 10,000 with investors falling in behind her once it went public driving up the price of each share. At 70 cents a share, Holly got nervous and sold her stock to a willing investor. She had made $7,000.00 minus her original $1,000 investment, put it in the bank and was relieved. She kept her ears and eyes open for other possibilities.
Then, the TSX came to Kevin’s office, asking how she suddenly had $6000.00 extra in her account. It implied that she had acted on privileged information that the public didn’t have.
Holly looked at them, but only could say, I inherited it from a dead uncle. They’d see through that lie soon by which time she hoped to have a better excuse.
Holly needed Kevin at this time; he could offer a reason or some kind of alibi, but he was nowhere in sight and he and Doug had stepped back, knowing better to to invest their own money and to invest too early.
She realized she was on her own. With Seth draining her and fucking up; this was too much.
She had to do something.
Her first step would be to throw out Seth. She didn’t want to have to do it, but it seemed to her that something drastic had to happen to get him to clean up.
Then Holly prepared to make the second step that she didn’t live long enough to take.

With its frequent brushes with the RCMP, Ropadope understandably was guarded.
“We don’t know you,” they said warily.
“You wouldn’t but I know you.”
“Big deal, thousands do. Who are you?”
By now this was an old question. I gave the band my ready answer.
“A fiend of Seth Bradley.”
OK, Ropadope responded, sounding noticeably less leery of me. Still careful, though.
“We know him, but he’s never mentioned you.”
“He wouldn’t. Up until a few weeks ago, we’d never met. His parents have asked me to help him.”
“How is he? {“”The speaker was the band’s singer, Darren Krebs. The other four were Roger Kent, Dave McDougal, Jay Feldman and Amarjeet Dal. Apart from Dal, they looked alike and were faceless. They all were in the process of growing a beard as if punk had never happened. That was a long time ago, I admit, but beards don’t seem rock and roll to me.
“Still shaken but clean and getting stronger. Clearer, too.”
“Good. We saw him on the night he killed Holly.”
“Allegedly killed Holly, “I corrected Darren. “That’s what I wanted to ask you. How was he?”
“Seemed fairly straight at first,” answered Jay, Ropadope’s drummer. “But he got noticeably drunk.”
“But you new he was a junkie.”
“Allegedly a junkie, “Darren mimicked.
“Yeah, we knew but he was slamming down those Boxcars. That was more evident.”
“Do you know why?”
“Something about his girlfriend throwing him out. “
Why were you guys there?
“We wanted him to produce us. We wanted something more raw and real and he seemed like a guy who could….”
“Return us to our roots,” butted in Roger. “We were getting too slick and further from where we started. So we went to the club to talk to him. See if we could get along and see if he had any ideas.”
“We liked him, didn’t we?” Darren had resumed to take the lead. “And he was great, a great musician and we needed a musician’s perspective.”
“I wish I could play like that when I’m drunk,” swore Amarjeet.
“He was wobbling and near incoherent toward the end of the night but still brilliant,” Roger added.
“Was anyone else there you might have known?”
“Apart from his band? Only Jason, the guy who says he’s Seth’s manager. He arrived around midnight to collect him.”

Kevin was planning to have a vacation in Mexico, but before that he bought some cocaine from Paul Bennett.
“You could get coke in Mexico, easily and probably cheaply, said Bennett.
“I know, but I’m not going to Cabo San Lucas for a few weeks yet. I want to buy enough coke to tide me over until then.”
“You won’t have to buy it; I’ll give it to you, if you do me a favour.”
“What’s that?” Lifeson said warily.
“Introduce yourself as a friend of mine to a guy called Carlos.”
“Does he have a last name? There must be millions of Carloses.”
“I don’t know his full name. People call him Carlos El Toro.”
“Carlos the Bull? You’re joking.”
“I wish, but drop his name El Toro and watch people shake. They’re afraid of him. He commands a lot of respect. You don’t want to cross him.”
“But you’re doing business with this Carlos guy.”
“I didn’t intend to. Some gang would buy the dope, bring it up to Canada. I would buy it from the gang and distribute it to my dealers. Then the gangs started killing each other. They all were involved in drug smuggling and causing the cops in Vancouver to look more closely. That was the last thing Carlos wanted. He gets enough of that at home. Uneasy lies the head of the kingpin I guess. He had to set up a new operation.”
“Which is where you come in.”
“Yeah. He doesn’t know me but I guess I’m a good customer and this is a promotion for me of sorts.”
“So how does it work now?”
“Carlos is a pretty hands-on type of guy, so I think he’s got things under control – his control – without further complications. I just know I’m the new contact at the end of the process. Not much risk there…and more money for me.”
“I don’t get it.”
“You’ll get it once I know you promise to meet him.”
“OK, I promise. And, by dealing direct to you, he cuts out the middleman. Why are you telling me this?”
“I want no surprises. You have to know what you’re getting into and know that there are no last minute changes of mind. It’s kinda like a code: of honour among thieves and all that,” Paul continued.
“So…if this happens and you make millions, how are you gonna explain that?”
“Same way I do when the RCMP come snooping around the band.
You tell them you’re a manager of a successful band, but not that successful, which brings me to another favour.”
“I’m already doing one. A second is going to cost you. Let’s hear it.”
“I want you to set me up on the stock exchange. It doesn’t have to be a real company. It just has to show I have investors and am worth millions of dollars. There’s a million and change in the account right now.”
“A shell company?”
“I’ve heard you’re no stranger to them. I can hide my money in broad daylight.”
“But what if you do get some real investors?”
“That probably won’t happen. I’ll be just a name on the page. Unnoticed.”
“But I’m a stock promoter.”
“No one’s asking you to promote. You can represent me but, oddly, forget to mention me. You’ll just be a front.”
‘Like it or not, Kevin became the go-between to Carlos and Paul.
Carlos shipped coke, fentanyl and heroin up to Vancouver. Vancouver, being a seaport city, was hard for customs to police. He told Kevin what ship it would be on and what day it was due to arrive. Kevin told Paul. Paul surreptitiously got the drugs, gave a little to Kevin, sold the rest. He sank the money into his bogus company, Erasmus Trading. Kevin watched Paul getting rich and wondered how he could profit.
Carlos wasn’t above playing Paul against Kevin, but, for now, the operation was working and was uncomplicated.
Actually, there was one complication in that Kevin was playing what could be a dangerous game. He attracted the local heat and kept Paul’s name out of it, Kevin had set himself up as the middleman Carlos had hoped to avoid. Out of gratitude, Paul made sure Kevin’s coke stash was topped up.
Holly discovered it on one of her routine cleans of the office and confronted Kevin with it. He actually gave a sigh of relief.
“I’m not addicted to it,” he assured her, “But I like to have it around. It’s actually been good for doing business.”
One of the reasons Kevin kept the coke at the office was that he was afraid to be carrying it if he was stopped…or raided at home. He went a little further when he then asked if Holly would deliver some to his weekly get together on Fridays.
This was at a downtown lounge after the stock market closed. Promoters and brokers would mingle to discuss plans for the weekend and recent triumphs or defeats. It was a boy’s club in which Holly didn’t belong. She would walk into the lounge, discreetly pass a little bag to Kevin and walk out again, knowing that all the men were leering at her.
Holly didn’t mind. She knew from the start she was hired for her legs not her brain. This way, too, she could dip into the larger bag and take a little coke home to Seth. She didn’t like to do it, but it was cheaper than buying it from this Paul guy.

Although Kevin hired Holly to be his secretary, she turned out to be a bonus.In addition to the usual telephone calls and handling the mail, both of the old fashioned kind and online, Holly didn’t say anything about the shell companies. She kept her head down, her mouth shut and was blind when necessary.
He was annoyed that Holly spurned his sexual advances, turned him down right from the start. She let him know that she was happily settled in with Seth. A musician! He didn’t really understand, but all his buddies at the Friday get togethers thought he was fucking her, lucky guy, and he didn’t say anything to have them think any different. Let ‘em.
He knew that Holly forged his signature, but that was ok because he often was out of the office, spending more time than he bargained on becoming a closer contact to Carlos. As well, she dipped into his coke to pass on to Seth. That was ok, too, as it strengthened her reliance on him. Finally, he knew about Holly’s discreet and infrequent insider trading. Once that he knew of, anyway. He taught her that. He didn’t mean to but she is smart and if you hang around him and his Doug Shemanus buddy you can’t help but overhear a few things and learn.That was something he held over her. He swore to protect her but easily could rat on her to the TSX, especially if it got too close to him and he needed a sacrificial lamb to distract it.
In turn, Holly knew Kevin couldn’t be trusted but she thought, hoped, her loyalty would count for something. Holly tried to make herself indispensable .
Fighting off his sexual advances was easy as he seemed to understand right away when she said, no, and they quickly formed an effective working relationship. She’d heard, through Yvonne mainly, that fucking her boss could be good for her career. Maybe, but from what she could see, Kevin had his hands full just having a career of his own. It wasn’t that she lacked ambition, but Holly wasn’t trying to fashion a career. At the moment, it was enough to survive and have her own identity.
Although Kevin pledged to protect Holly, he knew he wouldn’t.
Not ultimately. He’d do what he could to shield her but if the TSX investigators seemed to be coming for him, Kevin could distract them by letting it slip that she is involved in insider trading. Maybe it was discreet as well as seldom but she was still breaking the law. So, while the TSX was looking closely at her, he’d be able to move sideways enough to appear clean.
Kevin wasn’t going to worry about that as it might never happen. At the moment, he was trying to get closer to Carlos.
This wasn’t easy. Carlos trusted nobody. He didn’t use email if he didn’t have to and avoided phones. If Kevin needed to talk to Carlos, he had to do it in person or via emails that were cryptic. Kevin by now knew the route to Cabo and could leave office business to Holly. As Carlos’s wealth and power grew, he unavoidably was watched closely by not only the Mexican authorities but U.S. drug enforcers as well.
Kevin offered to set up a phoney bank account in Vancouver where Carlos could wire the dirty money.
“And what would you do with it?” Carlos demanded.
“Invest it in luxury cars, no questions asked.”
“That would scrape the surface.”
“What kind of art?”
“Nothing weird; maybe a few up and comers. They’ll be worth more once they get better known”
That would be a big left turn for me. I’m not known as an art collector but I’ll think about it.””
“How about real estate? Again, no questions asked. Just buy the places. Nobody has to live in any of them.”
“What becomes of the cash?”
“I’d send the money back but it would be clean. Flip the cars, the art, the houses. “
“You know, I do this in Mexico. Vancouver is just one of many, how you say, tentacles. None of this is new to me. What I need is to get the buggers off my back. I need clean money.”
“Okay,” said Kevin, feeling desperate. “What if I hit the casinos? Buy chips with the dirty stuff, cash them in, take a cheque for good money to the bank. One thing about the stock exchange is that you meet a lot of people who are gambling on the market. Casinos are no different to them.. I’d give them the money and they’d cash in at the end of the night. I’d send you the money, even the profits if there are any.”
“Why aren’t you doing this with Paul?”
“Trying to keep our distance from each other, just like you and Paul. We’d be watched, if we’re not already.
“ The TSX is sensitive about its image.”
“Okay, try the casinos. Keep it simple and my name out of it. If this works, we’ll do more.”
“Once. This will be easy. Send me the money and I’ll find a heavy gambler.”

The second time I met Seth Bradley he looked a lot better.
Still shattered, but clean and overcoming weakness and getting straight..
“I can hardly wait to get out of here. I want my guitar and to play.”
“Whoa back. You’re the prime suspect in a murder investigation. You aren’t going anywhere.”
“But my guitar… I need to play to take my mind off this place.”
“I’ll see what I can do, maybe get you moved as a person who is a low risk to escape.”
“I’m that, alright. I’m a murderer but I’m not going anywhere. I did it.”
“Did you? How can you be so sure?”
“Who else could have done it?”
“That’s what we’re going to find out. You were alone, right?”
“I guess so.”
“Passed out on the sofa.”
“When did you come to?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Where did you get the knife?”
“In the kitchen, where else?”
“But you don’t know.”
“No. She, Holly, might have had it.”
“But I don’t remember.”
“Why would you murder her?”
“She was throwing me out. I was so mad at her.”
“Mad enough to kill her?”
“I wouldn’t, couldn’t, kill anybody.”
“But the police think you did it, and you’ve confessed as much. So…did you have the knife in your hand?”
“I don’t remember.”
Did you stab her?
“I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember anything? Try harder.”
“What do you think I’ve been doing in the prison cell? I can’t recall.”
“OK. A lawyer could run with that.”
“Is that what is called temporary insanity?”
“No, you were just drunk and stoned. Have you blacked out before?”
“Usually I don’t drink that much.”
“But you did on this occasion.”
“Yeah. Holly was going to throw me out. That was supposed to be my last night. After that the binging was over. I was gonna give it all up, but I told myself to go out in style. One last time. Bad idea.”
“Maybe, but it rendered you incapable. When police found you, you were near catatonic. You also were incomprehensible. You might as well have been speaking in tongues.”
“So maybe I didn’t kill her”
“Not unless you had a brief moment of clarity and were lucid long enough to stab her in a rage. A good lawyer should get you off.””
But who did kill Holly?”
“That’s the question, isn’t it?”
“I aim to find out. For now,I can stop worrying about you. “

So did who did murder Holly Wood?
I didn’t know. Maybe the guilty party is obvious but not to me at this point.”
So, I eliminated.
The first name to be struck from my short list was that of the Forests. The parents had had nothing to do with Holly for years. They characterized her as headstrong and who did what she wanted. She didn’t listen to them. They might have heard about her problem with Seth, but, in that case, they’d try to help her. It wasn’t just unlikely they’d show up at Holly and Seth’s apartment, that they’d end up murdering her was ridiculous.
The next was Seth’s parents. Unless they knew something and were keeping it hidden, they’d hired me, for Chrissake, to clear his name. I couldn’t see what they had to gain by Holly’s death. Maybe they’d get their son back, clean and not guilty. What a price to pay if they killed her, what a risk!
Also struck off were Herb and Cath, the couple living in the suite next to Seth and Holly. Judging from their apartment, they lived a passive, ordinary life. Everything I saw was clean and in its proper place. They weren’t the types to disturb the peace and no doubt didn’t want their peace disturbed, so Holly and Seth’s arguments, which grew louder and more frequent could be upsetting to them. Holly had a penchant for showing her anger in various ways, most emphatically throwing things. Seth, by comparison, was quiet but he would practice his electric guitar playing at all times of the day when he was home.
Herb and Cath asked them on several occasions to be more quiet and probably were going to say something on the night Holly was killed.They heard an argument, some scuffling and then silence. The silence was as disturbing to them as the shouting, so they headed next door to check out what was going on.
The apartment door was ajar. Herb pushed it open and they saw Seth clutching a knife as he rocked beside Holly’s bloodied body..He was sobbing and not making sense. Cath ran off to phone 911.
Could they have killed Holly?. Herb and Cath had the opportunity. They could have spotted that the door was open and Seth was passed out, but having noisy neighbours is not strong enough reason to kill. It would be out of character for them.
Jason Breckinridge was my prime suspect, so I asked him….
“Did I kill Holly Wood? No, never. Why would I do that?”
“She was standing between you and Seth.”
“How so?”
“It’s obvious that you were using Seth, exploiting him. I think Holly saw that, too. Threatening to throw him out was her attempt to straighten him out.”
“That was no threat. She really was going to throw him out…”
“Which was proving to be a real distraction. He could think of nothing else. She was his anchor when music failed him; his shelter when music couldn’t sustain him. He needed Holly.”
“Which means she was more worth to me alive.”
“OK, maybe you didn’t mean to kill her, but that’s what happened. It upset your plan.”
“I had a plan?”
“As long as he was strung out, you could do what you wanted with him: Go here, go there, Be at this studio at a certain time; you’re playing at such and such a club this weekend. And he’d do it as long as it paid for his drugs. You controlled him.”
“That’s a laugh. He was out of control and getting more out of control. Nobody could control him. I agreed with Holly. I wanted him off drugs, too. If I had a plan, it was to be loyal to Seth when no one else was. I wanted back the Seth I’d met years before. Holly and I disagreed on how to achieve that. I thought throwing him out was desperate. She thought it was a kind of reality check.”
“So you argued about that and when she grabbed a knife you overpowered her and stabbed her.”
“No, when she started waving a knife around I knew it was time to leave. I’d heard about how wild she could be.”
So, if it wasn’t Jason, what about Kevin Lifeson?
All I knew about Lifeson was that he was Holly’s boss. He’d hired her, trained her in what he needed from her but the secretarial stuff she already knew.
She was good looking so no doubt Lifeson tried hitting on her, without any luck, apparently.
I can’t say I liked him. When I think about it, it’s not that he was a bad guy, it’s more about my ignorance of investment. He might have been honest but from what I’d heard about stock promoters, Lifeson was slimy. Or maybe I didn’t trust what I didn’t know.
I tried to place him at the crime scene. That was difficult. He’d have to come into the apartment before Herb and Cath looked in and before Seth came to and discovered her dead body.
Also, why did he kill her? During my lunch hour I went to his office and asked him.
“Why? I didn’t know where she lived – or just barely knew – and why would I go there at one in the morning?”
“You could have hired someone to follow Seth, slip into the apartment after him. He was there to make it plain you weren’t happy. But she came at him with a knife and you know the rest.
“Maybe you had a beef with her, needed to clear the air, get it off your chest, you know what I mean,”
“Naw, she was great. Holly would cover for me when I was out of town. I could count on her. I’d like to think she would count on me.”
“Still, she might have done something that greatly upset you, maybe put your career in jeopardy.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know but from little I’ve seen, you’re a shifty bugger.”
“Shifty? She trusted me to protect her.”
“But would you?
“She was being investigated by the TSX for alleged insider trading. Did you have anything to do with that? Blew the whistle on her?”
“Not me. The TSX is suspicious of everything.”
“What were you doing all this time?”
“I probably was out of town.”
“So she was on her own. Exposed.”
“I told the TSX Holly was just a secretary and I described what she did.”
“She only was your secretary?”
“That’s all. She was smart, though, so I can’t tell you what she did when I wasn’t around.”

Carlos was getting to trust Kevin. For someone who didn’t trust anybody and surrounded himself in bodyguards for protection, this was an accomplishment and testified to Kevin’s salesmanship.
In Mexico, Carlos was a powerful man. Although Cabo San Lucas was a beautiful tourist stop and not known as a hive of drug activity, Carlos employed hundreds of farmers, dealers, informants and bribed police and politicians alike.
But you can’t bribe or kill everybody, he discovered. So, he was exploring his options, one of which was Vancouver., which was said to have passed a billion dollars in laundered money.
“I’m gonna put you to the test, though,” Carlos told him.
Kevin gulped. He didn’t want to be tested. Nonetheless, Carlos wasn’t called El Toro for nothing. Kevin knew he had to take that test.
“Okayyy,” he said slowly, warily.
“Relax, I’ve done this many times. You come to Cabo San Lucas. The drugs will be in containers loaded by my sources in ColombiaI. You meet the freighter and go with it up to Vancouver. You board the ship, travel with the coke….”
“What about customs?”
“What about customs? As far as they are concerned, this is just another ship with an ordinary cargo. They won’t look beyond that…unless they’ve been alerted. And you aren’t going to alert customs, are you?
“The coke and heroin and fentanyl will be sealed in a container. Paul’s guys will be on hand to unload the drugs and take them away. Simple?”
“Uh, yeah. Seems so. “
It was.
Vancouver was a small x on a global operation. The drugs were worth millions of dollars that made the expense worth it. Kevin felt small and he guessed that Carlos had run his test many times with people from all over the world.
It would be foolish to think otherwise. Carlos was worth billions and didn’t need Kevin to hide his money. He had lots of advisors who could do that. He had an army of lawyers. He wanted to know that he could trust Kevin, so Kevin was doing his best to earn that trust
It dawned on Kevin that Carlos had a personal city-to-city touch. He wanted everything to go smoothly and didn’t want trouble. That’s why he stopped working with the Vancouver gangs and developed a working relationship with Paul Bennett. Why he even laundered some of his money in Vancouver. Paul or Kevin could update him. They’d be close.
Kevin flew down to Cabo, made his way to Baja, California, (which is in Mexico) boarded the loaded freighter that eventually stopped in Vancouver. The biggest risk was going up the coast amid a crackdown on drug smuggling by the Mexican and U.S. coast guards. Kevin soon discovered that this was a big ocean. The ship slipped by undisturbed.
The marked container was unloaded. It was a big container, easily hiding the drugs. Paul’s flugans showed up, cracked the container, removed the dope and disappeared into the night. No one was around that Kevin could see. No security. Nobody. Maybe they’d been bribed, too. He’d been told that customs has to inspect so many a containers a day it had opted, or had no choice but, to do random checks.
Kevin breathed easier.

Ropadope knew it had to come out from under the thumb of Paul Bennett but how.
Paul put the group up in the house where the band lived and rehearsed. He’d bought each member a new car. He furnished it in the latest music gear. He paid for recording.
Paul gave Ropadope security most groups don’t have. With his support, it made records, videos, toured, made a bit of money
Although it all was a front for what Paul really was doing, Ropadope was still a band. Creative musicians with aspirations.
It wanted to prove itself, if only for its own self-esteem.
To do that, Ropadope would have to fire Paul Bennett.
And replace him with what?
Would Paul evict it, reclaim the cars, repossess the gear?
Who would arrange the tours or monitor the record sales if Ropadope ever recorded again?
The only way to find out is struggle on its own like any other band.
Was it ready to take that step? Was everybody in the band together on this?
The moment of truth was edging ever closer.
But it wasn’t here yet. Ropadope had another tour coming up during which it could take the measure of how it stood.
Then, maybe, it would find a new manager.
As for Paul Bennett, he sensed more than he knew that soon he would be fired as Ropadope’s manager.
That day was yet to come, however, so he went about the business.
Why not? The band still had potential and was doing respectable numbers. It wasn’t rich, but the streams were mounting, it still was a force on the radio, videos regularly were posted and being watched, the tours made pots of money to the extent that promoters were willing to meet the rising price for a Ropadope show. Of course, a hit record would explain everything.
The house, the cars, the equipment.
Paul understood. Ropadope needed to show its independence. Couldn’t do that as long as he was its sugar daddy. How he hated that term, but that’s what he was. Getting rid of him would be like starting over. Starting out is tough for a new band, but it has surprise and discovery in its favour. Starting over might be impossible. Pop music is not friendly to veteran groups.
Ropadope can try if that’s what it really wants.
He still needed the band for a little longer.
When he was wealthy, above it all, Paul could set it free.
Until then, he had the cards. He was still the manager.
Ropadope wanted Seth Bradley to produce the next record. He couldn’t go along with that.
Bradley would give it a more rootsy sound, and he was a musician, which meant he would go for feel above precision. That was the hope, anyway.
But Paul knew the other side of Seth Bradley, the undependable loose cannon, the junkie.
Bradley was talented, no doubt, but if he was paying the freight, Paul didn’t want to take a chance.
If the record got completed, it might be Ropadope’s masterpiece, but it just as easily could be a disaster.
This might be the excuse the band needed to sack him.
If so, Paul had one last card to play.
He had trademarked the name. He owned it. Ropadope was his brand, or band.
He could put together his own Ropadope, put it on the road. It wouldn’t be much more than his very own tribute band, but nobody in the band stood out. There were no stars. One of the knocks on Ropadope was that it was anonymous. Only die hard fans would know the difference. As long as the ersatz Ropadope played its hits the crowds would be happy. The hits are what they came to hear.
And a phoney Ropadope would be completely in his debt.
He liked that.

Not many people attended the funeral of Holly Wood.
Evidently she had few friends, Certainly no one from high school came. Nobody from the Greek restaurant. Not many from the stock exchange, either. Yvonne, sure, but she was the older sister of Seth and so was connected two ways. The others from the exchange were Doug Shemanus and Kevin Lifeson.
Oddly, the guys from Ropadope attended but it was evident they were there out of curiosity, checking out Seth.
He was escorted by policemen and wore a suit. Hair combed, clean shaven. Distressed, naturally, but clear-eyed.
Holly’s parents, Jim and Ellen,”eyed him with hostility but it was apparent they didn’t know what to think. There might have been pity in there somewhere.
Seth made a few appeals to them.
“I didn’t do it. I couldn’t have. I loved her.”
They ignored him and, with their back to him, walked away. Sure, they hadn’t had any contact with their Mary the last few years, but now they never would.
Nora and Omar couldn’t comfort Seth but tried to lend their support.
I’d not been invited but I needed to know if there was anyone new I should add to my short list of suspects. I nodded to the Bradleys to let them know I was still on the job, and to Seth to let him know I was on hand if he needed anything.
It was all over quickly. A priest said a few kind words, led the small crowd in a hymn accompanied by an organist and there was a tearful overview of Holly’s life and tiny legacy by her mother. Then, she was cremated. That was it.
We could have coffee and miniscule sandwiches in the reception area, but few stuck around. Depressing in its austerity and efficiency.
When I go, there’ll be a party. But then, I don’t plan to be murdered.

Omar and Nora Bradley supported one another and that had created a shield for their son, Seth.
He had a garden supply store while she had her own store that sold used clothing.
They weren’t rich but they were well off enough to encourage Seth’s ambitions, first by buying him an electric guitar, and now by hiring the lawyer they hoped would result in him being found not guilty of the murder of Holly Wood.
The lawyer, Adam Grossman, shouldn’t have any trouble clearing Seth but my antipathy toward all lawyers clouded my judgement and made me suspicious.
This might derive from my own first experience with a lawyer.
Our band, Fast And Bulbous, had made a demo tape that was turned down by all but one record company, which offered us a contract but told us to have it looked at by a lawyer. I took that to be an act of good faith by the label. We duly found an entertainment lawyer who told us not to sign it.
So, we didn’t. The company pulled its offer and that was that. It wasn’t a bad demo. It was in the punk vein and people liked it but not long after punk fell out of favour and so did we.
Years later, I got an established personal manager to look at a copy I’d made and kept. He looked it over and concluded it was a standard first contract and we could have negotiated. The way it was predictably favoured the record company. It got the profits, we got all the responsibility including the costs and a minimal royalty rate.
But, the label told us, if the first record does well, a better settlement can be negotiated. Since no band believes it’s record is a flop, Fast And Bulbous was all set to sign and look ahead.
The lawyer, though, was adamant so no deal was inked, our moment passed and eventually we broke up. We might have broken up anyway but who’s to know if this had turned out differently?
Ever since then, I’ve no high regard for lawyers.
So, I kept a curious eye on Grossman.
He was a little too flashy and self-confident for me, but maybe this was how a lawyer is expected to be. Beneath the tailored suit, separated from his expensive-looking brief case, he might have been a nerd. It seemed I had cleared a path and all he had to do was throw for a touchdown.
If that’s what the Bradleys expected, mission accomplished, but now I was hooked on the question, as Ruth predicted, who killed Holly Wood?

The next time I saw Seth Bradley, he looked a lot better.
Still grieving for Holly, naturally, but clear-eyed
His memory of the night of Holly’s murder was starting to come back and I tried to take advantage of that.
“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of time in here to think of what happened. I still don’t know how I got home. Jason probably drove me. Somehow I made it into the apartment but I can’t tell you what happened next. I guess that when I came to, Holly was dead beside me. I don’t know how this happened.”
“That’s ok. Don’t start crying now. “
“Instead, lead me through the night up until you drew a blank.”
“Well, I got to the gig, had a meeting with my band, a sort of pep rally, then I – ahem – excused myself, felt better and got a drink from the bar, a box car. I don’t usually have vodka, but Holly was throwing me out and I was unhappy about that. I just wanted to get obliterated.
““We played our first set, which was seen by a couple of guys from Ropadope. I guess it wasn’t on tour.
“Anyhow, Darren and Amarjeet from the band wanted to talk to me. I knew Ropadope, of course, because it was managed by Paul Bennett, who, er….”
“Yeah, I know of him.”
“Anyhow, Ropadope wanted me to produce its next record. I had to stop them at this point. You know, I’ve got a reputation. Apparently, I can be difficult. I’m thought of as a purist. Yeah, they said, that’s what we’d heard.”
He was looking at me the whole time he was relating his conversation. He was offering an explanation as if I needed one. Maybe I’d understand him better.
“ I don’t know if I’m so much a purist as someone who wants to get to the core, the essence. So, no auto-tuner, no Pro-Tools, no effects pedals no production tricks. If I had my way, all records would be cut live. Are you guys prepared for that? I asked them. Do you have enough material?Are you rehearsed enough? I thought that might have put it off, even though I could have used the money.”
“But it went for it?”
“Yeah, they told me, that’s precisely why we want you to produce. Paul is against it.
“He probably knows me too well.
“Well fuck him, the two said. He might not be our manager too much longer. I ordered another box car and got up to do the second set. I was starting to feel kinda spaced out.”
“But you did the second set. Do you remember anything from that point?”
“Sure. I wasn’t that out of it yet. There was one guy in the crowd that seemed to be paying particular attention to me. I’m sorta used to that; usually guitar players checking me out or looking for pointers. But this guy wasn’t doing that. He just seemed focused and I thought I recognized him.”
“So who was he?”
“I don’t know, but one thing about being in jail, there’s all kinds of time to think. He was the guy I bumped into at the stock exchange.”
“The stock exchange. What were you doing there?”
“I was there to see Holly, of course. She suddenly had some money and I needed a few bucks. At the time, she was being investigated by the TSX and needed someone to talk to. So, I offered to take her to lunch and be her listening post. This guy…”
“The guy you bumped into.”
“Yeah, he was one of the team investigating Holly and he also was a music freak. “
“So he was combining business with pleasure when he came out to the club.”
“Yeah, but I never got his name. I thought Kevin might know but he wasn’t around. I don’t trust that bastard. Never did.
“I kept drinking box cars and mixed in a few beers. How we got through the third set, I’ll never know.”

His name is Tim Cushnie,” Kevin Lifeson told me after I’d cornered him..
“You know him?”
“I know of him, I’ve never talked to him. It’s not like we’re buddies.”
“How do you know who he is?”
“If you work at the exchange you’re going to run into TSX investigators sooner or later. Anything suspicious, they’re on it. This has been going on near 50 years. They’ve never investigated me.”
“Until now. Why?”
“You got me. I’ve always been pretty straight up.”
“From what I’ve heard, some of the companies you represent don’t really exist.”
“You mean shell companies. As far as I know, they’re all functioning. I’ve got the paper work to prove it. Like requisition forms; the TSX guys know that. I’ve shown them.”
“So why was the TSX investigating Holly?”
“Ahh now, that might have been my fault. She crossed a line, committed a no-no.”
“A no-no; that’s a nice way of putting it. Insider trading you mean. How might it have been your fault?”
“Holly might have overheard me and my friend Doug discussing a promising venture, Back To Nature. It was trying to raise money for its environment initiatives, put itself on the market to attract investors. Holly took advantage of that.”
Weren’t you supposed to protect her?
“How? The TSX came after her. Nothing I could do about it.”
“Somebody must have told ‘em. Where to look; what to look for. The TSX doesn’t have a great track record of convictions. If it was looking at Holly, it wouldn’t have seen you.”
“I don’t like what you’re implying. I relied on Holly.”
“But in the end she still was just a secretary. She was replaceable. So she became your sacrificial lamb.”
“Fuck off.”

Did Kevin Lifeson murder Holly Wood?
Not directly, but he might have hired somebody. She knew a lot about Lifeson’s business and possibly was threatening to blow the whistle on him. The TSX was causing her to worry. Too much pressure. If that were the case, she’d have to be shut up. Maybe he only wanted to reason with her and sent somebody to explain that to her. No intent to kill her, but Holly wouldn’t listen and the situation accelerated to murder. So, who did Lifeson send?
None of this seemed likely to me because the timing would have been tricky.
Nonetheless, I decided to follow Lifeson for a day or two.
The first was a Friday. Lifeson left the exchange got into a Lexus – not flashy or ostentatious but still a statement – and parked in a lot beneath the Howe Street lounge. There he seemed to be among his peers. I didn’t go in. I put my old beater in a space that wasn’t reserved. I hung out in the lobby and just watched and waited.
After about half an hour, a man that fit Seth’s description of Tim Cushnie came into the lobby and hung around the entrance to the lounge. The lounge being filled with stock promoters and brokers and Cushnie being an operative of the TSX, he likely figured it wasn’t wise to go in. Instead, Lifeson came to him. That was unexpected so I watched with curiosity and fascination.
Lifeson passed him something. It appeared to be an envelope and probably was filled with money. Cushnie was taking a bribe from Lifeson. How long had this been going on? No wonder his business had been left alone. Lifeson knew Cushnie, after all. Did Holly know about that? This would be a threat to Cushnie and his partner as well.
Lifeson stayed on my suspects list and Tim Cushnie was added to it.

If it had worked out differently, Tim Cushnie would still be with the RCMP.
He was born and raised in Toronto and, attracted to the romance of being a Mountie, he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police almost as soon as he left high school. Cushnie trained at an RCMP camp near Winnipeg and was transferred to Vancouver when he passed the courses.
It seemed to him that he had skills as an investigator, but he spent most of his time manning road blocks or breaking up fights in pubs.
That’s when he heard the Vancouver Stock Exchange needed detectives. It had been bought and was trying to clean up its image. It looked right for Cushnie, who was unhappy as an unheralded Mountie.
He quit the RCMP and began working for the TSX, the current owners of the VSE.
At first he liked scaring these rats and occasionally bringing them to trial, although that seldom happened. Just his presence seemed to make them stiffen and get nervous.
Then Kevin Lifeson approached him, bearing a lot of money; certainly more than he was earning as a virtuous TSX agent. The money was his if he wanted it. All Cushnie had to do was turn a blind eye to anything involving Lifeson . He could go on investigating anyone else as usual.
Lifeson had put him in a compromising position. Ethically, he couldn’t take the money, but he realized ethics had nothing to do with it. He really wanted a Lexus and couldn’t afford one on his salary.
He saw the brokers and promoters driving the fancy cars, wearing custom-tailored suits. In the back of his mind he was thinking, I want some of that, Every few months, he’d arrange a pick up from Lifeson. Nobody knew about it.
He would have ignored Holly’s insider trading sin. After all, it was small and, as far as he knew, she’d only done it once. There were much worse and much bigger examples, but, bizarrely, it was Lifeson who told him about it.
I want to scare her, he said and winked. Holly was more worried than scared. She didn’t scare easily; perhaps she had something on Lifeson and this investigation was an equalizer.

Holly put two and two together and came up with Tim Cushnie.
She didn’t know him but certainly had met him. He and his partner, Jake Chen, were investigating her. They came to Kevin’s office, wondering why suddenly she had an extra $6,000 in her bank account. She told them it was an inheritance but knew they’d see through that one. They did. The next day, Tim and Jake came back, implying she had made a profit by insider trading, which, of course, she had, so lying that it was money she had saved and put away was another temporary stall.
Why me? she wondered. There were far bigger frauds, and so far she had only done it once.
Yet she had committed a crime whether she knew the implications or not. That was enough.
What Holly couldn’t shake, however, was that Tim and Jake had never investigated Kevin. They would shoot by Lifeson’s office on their way to checking out someone else.
To Holly, this was odd.
If the TSX was cracking down on fraudulent companies, Kevin represented several. He was anathema to the TSX but Tim and Jake went clear of him.
All she knew about Jake was that he went along with whatever Tim was involved in, which indicated that Kevin paid only Tim money to leave him alone. Now she was under investigation, which meant that someone not only had tipped off Tim but had encouraged him. That meant Kevin Lifeson. If so, he had betrayed her.
She couldn’t prove it. She had to stand her guard while being nice to Kevin and Tim. It wasn’t her way but at this moment she didn’t want to provoke their curiosity by behaving strangely.

Holly tried to intimidate Tim Cushnie.
A deal wasn’t going to work.
She’d broken the law and Cushnie and his partner, Jake Chen, were charged with investigating her.
If found guilty, Holly didn’t know if she’d be fired, fined or jailed. Maybe all three, she fretted.
So when Cushnie and Chen visited Lifeson’s office she made up her mind to confront him, see if he could be backed into a corner.
First though, she went to the filing cabinet, pulled out some order forms and gave them to Cushnie.
“Here are some companies we represent, “she told him. “Most of them are mines in need of equipment.”
“Yeah we know. We’ve seen them,” Cushnie said, examining the documents again.” But that’s not why we’re here. We want to prove what you’ve been up to.”
“Just the usual.”
“No, we think you’ve been naughtier than that. All of a sudden, you’ve got an extra $6,000.00 in your bank account.”
“I’ve already told you that was an inheritance from an uncle.”
“Bullshit. We checked and your uncles are still alive and from we could figure out, don’t have anything to do with you. At least one of them doesn’t even like you.”
Holly tried to look hurt.
“OK, I saved the money.”
“Maybe, but I don’t know how. Your boyfriend has been bleeding you. There’s practically nothing in his bank account. From what we’ve heard, he relies on you.”
“What else do you know?”
“He’s a good guitar player.”
“I know.”
“I plan to see him this weekend. I really like how he mixes in surf guitar with rockabilly and that dark swampy sound. Lots of atmosphere.”
“Music fan, are you?”
“There are a certain few local musicians I follow. I know Seth always is working. That’s why me and Jake can’t figure out why he’s broke and so dependent upon you. “
“Uh huh,” said Holly, trying not let Cushnie get too close.
“Can I ask you a question? Why aren’t you investigating Kevin?”
Zing. That unsettled him.
“He hasn’t done anything that we can see.”
“I’ve been working for Kevin about a year, and in that time you’ve never even set foot here. How come?”
“Like I said, he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“You’ve investigated everybody else. Gone into their private lives. Even found out enough to send a few to court. Yet you’ve never investigated Kevin. Do you and Kevin have an understanding?”
“Understanding? Like a bribe?”
Chen seemed interested. Why hadn’t they been on Lifeson’s case?
“Did he offer me as bait? A distraction? While you were looking at me, he could claim you and Jake were checking on him. That would take off any heat he was feeling from the TSX and his colleagues.”
“Look, you bought stock in Back To Nature just before it was publicly registered. Then you sold it. That’s a crime, insider trading.”
“If you know all that, why are you continuing to put pressure on me?”
“Because we need more evidence to make a solid case. Maybe also, you’ve done this before. We need to look at that.”
“Is that why you’re here today?”
“We wanted to give you a chance to confess and tell the whole story.”
“Noble of you.”
“Evidently,” he said, leaving Lifeson’s office with Jake close behind, “You aren’t going to tell us anything we haven’t already guessed.”
Watching him leave, Holly Wood knew she didn’t like Tim Cushnie.
As he left Lifeson’s office, Tim Cushnie knew he really didn’t like Holly Wood.

“Well, it’s happened, just as I feared, “Kevin Lifeson told Paul Bennett over the phone.
“What, what’s happened?”
“We’ve got someone who wants to sink one million dollars into Erasmus.”
“No. We’re all but invisible. How do they know about Erasmus?”
“Not they, a he. He sounds like an American.”
“An American?””
Yeah, he speaks with a drawl but he’s no nonsense when it comes to business. Apparently Erasmus is one of the few companies he looked into that actually has money, the money you tried to hide in the wide open.”
“But you haven’t promoted Erasmus?””
“No. You told me not to. Erasmus is just an entry on a long list.”
So he phoned you as my rep. What did you tell him?”
“Not much. There wasn’t anything to say. He’s just assumed you were onto something and he knew I specialized in mining.”
“What do we do?”
“Take his million, sit on it and tell him you’re waiting for the right time to move.”
“And if he gets impatient?”
“Pay him back with your money, but keep his. You’ll have a clean million; his will be dirty.”

If he hadn’t become a TSX investigator, Jake Chen would have been a happy, if boring, bureaucrat.
Jake got a job at 650 West Georgia, where he walked, or ran, toting market shares, up or down. It kept him busy, that’s for sure, and he discovered a lot about shell companies and tax shelters. He was caught up in the clamour of brokers, promoters and investors. It was thankless, though, and when he saw there was a job opening as a TSX investigator, he applied. To his surprise, Jake was accepted and teamed wth Tim Cushnie.
He liked the new role. People who once ordered him to do this or do that, right away, now were afraid of him.
At first he and Tim cleaned up the local shell companies, ran the fakes out of town, and there were a lot of them. There were more international shells now and most had offshore tax shelters once it was discovered the TSX was toothless and barely half-heartedly pursued a conviction,. Trying to determine which was real and which wasn’t had become harder.
The TSX image was a lot better and there was more a spirit of trust than there was.
He figured he and Tim made a good partnership. Tim usually would take the lead but would get Jake to check bank statements or telephone records of the person or company they were assigned to investigate. This, Jake would do dutifully.
He wondered, though. Tim dressed better and drove a nicer car. And not once during the two years they’d worked together did they check out Kevin Lifeson. Everybody else it seemed but they skipped past Lifeson’s space that he called his office.
Checking on Holly Wood was a little different. It was investigating Kevin’s employee, but it wasn’t investigating Kevin.
Holly’s claim made sense to him.
There were worse examples of insider trading, so to her (and him) the investigation was a smoke screen designed to satisfy the TSX and all the other traders they’d checked out. Kevin would be just like them. Jake didn’t know where the assignment came from, usually the TSX, but one day Tim took an interest in Holly’s place at Lifeson’s office. Was there more to her than being his secretary?
Maybe he got a whisper in his ear from Lifeson. Maybe it was intended as a distraction from what he really was doing. While they were looking at her, they wouldn’t be looking at him.
So when Holly beckoned him into Lifeson’s space, he grabbed an office chair, sat down and listened to her telling him she no longer trusted Kevin, how he might have thrown her under the bus. Furthermore she intimated that Tim was being bribed by Kevin.
Jake promised to keep a closer eye on Tim now that he had something to watch for.
He and Tim still had to investigate her, though.
Holly didn’t like to hear this but she seemed to understand.
Unlike Tim, Jake Chen liked Holly Wood.

Tim Cushnie didn’t know if he could keep his faith in Jake Chen.
For two years they had an effective working relationship. He would get the assignment, or would act independently unknown to the TSX, and have Jake do the menial work that he always felt was tedious. Together, they’d uncovered a few fakes, but not everyone. Kevin Lifeson came to him, cash in hand, wanting Tim to turn a blind eye, which he did, and told not a soul, including, and especially, Jake.
But now, Jake was asking questions that made Tim uncomfortable.
Foremost he wanted to know why the duo had never investigated Kevin Lifeson. Cushnie had no answer for him. He said Lifeson hadn’t done anything illegal as far as he was concerned. Therefore, no investigation.
But we’ve looked into everybody else, Jake protested. And why Holly Wood? She only works for him.
Tim grinned to himself lasciviously all but leering. Maybe Jake just wanted to get into Holly’s pants. Just about every male, free or otherwise, in the exchange wanted to, but assumed she was Kevin’s.
Getting Tim off her back might be Jake gaining points with Holly. He knew he would have to tread carefully from hereon.

“You again,” said Herb at the door.
“Yeah, me again. Sorry about that, but I’ve got a few last questions, then I won’t bother you.”
“You were trying to get Seth off.”
”I think I’ve done it.”
He did it alright, the murder.”
“I’m not as sure as you are; that’s why I’m here.”
“Look, we saw him. He had blood on his hands, a knife and Holly was lying beside him.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, I know but you didn’t actually see him kill her. Could you go back over that night minute by minute, step by step? You might remember some little detail that’s important.”
“Isn’t it enough that I still keep seeing that night?”
“Listen, I’m sorry, but I need to do this. You and -uh – Cath – said you were watching TV at one a.m..
Yeah. Seth arrived home, actually a little early, so we might have heard him and Holly later, maybe around 2 a.m..”
“What did you hear?”
“The usual. Holly was upset and getting louder but Seth was silent. We were getting used to this. The fights were growing more frequent and Holly was getting angrier.”
“And you heard a male voice?”
”Definitely, but quiet.”
“So you don’t know what he was saying?”
“You definitely heard Holly but you don’t know what she was saying.”
“Not really.”
“What was different about this fight if anything? “
“The thing that made us curious and worried us, was that she cried ‘No no no, ‘and then there was silence,”
“Did she sound frightened?”
“More alarmed… maybe afraid.”
“Then what?”
“About a half hour of silence. That’s when we went to check on them. That’s when we saw what we saw. The knife, the blood, the crying, the body. Oh God, the sight is flashing before my eyes again.”
“Sorry, sorry, sorry. I’m sorry you had to live through this again.”
“Not as sorry as I am.””

Holly Wood had decided Jake Chen was her ally.
She didn’t know why she thought that way, but when Tim Cushnie and Chen came by, Holly got the feeling that Chen was paying more attention than usually to Cushnie. When she intimated that Cushnie gave Kevin Lifeson a wide berth, Chen seemed to sit upright, as though he’d ben wondering the same thing.
When Chen was at the exchange, probably doing some legwork Cushnie had wanted, she signalled for Chen to visit her.
Two hours later, this he did.
“I shouldn’t be talking to you. We’re investigating you,”he said.
“Don’t I know it? But why me?”
“Because you’re suspected of insider trading.”
“Yeah, but you’ve never accused Kevin of anything. Just me. Compared to Kevin’s other clients, I’m pretty small. Am I really guilty of insider trading?”
“We don’t know. That’s what we want to to be one hundred per cent sure of.”
“Okay. Your conscientiousness is duly noted .”Holly decided to lean on Jake.
“Do you think Kevin is bribing Tim?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“He’s my boss. I’m only asking because until now you’ve left us alone.”
“Again, I wouldn’t know.”
“So again, why me?”
“Someone told us to look into your recent activity.”
“Someone! Who?”
“Tim just said we have to check you out.”
“But who? Do you think it was Kevin?”
“I don’t know. I can’t talk to you about this stuff.”
“While you are looking at me, you wouldn’t be looking at Kevin.”
“Maybe, but….”
“….You wouldn’t know.”
Before he left Holly, Jake promised her he would be more watchful of Tim and would tell her anything she could use in her defence. Holly told Jake she would monitor Kevin’s activities. Between the two of them they had created a cloud of mistrust and suspicion. Though neither believed they could convey anything that might help one another, they hoped they’d be able to see through the haze.

One of Holly’s first acts of self-preservation, or maybe it was revenge, was to go to the files.
She pulled them out and went over Kevin’s client list.
A few were genuine; they actually were mining.
A few were shells; they simply existed to tempt would-be investors. Otherwise they did nothing except to pay Kevin a retainer with the promise of a commission on any investment. The money would be hidden in offshore tax shelters and the owners were always ready to flee.
There was one company Holly kept stumbling on called Erasmus Trading.
It had a million dollars in its account to play with but, like other shell companies, hadn’t done anything.
It purported to be sitting on a lode near somewhere in Idaho, so what was it waiting for?
And why did Kevin never mention Erasmus? He talked up everybody else.
As well, Erasmus had never paid Kevin. Why not?
If the intention was to be so low profile as to be practically invisible, Erasmus was doing a good job. This was going against the principle of every other company.
It was a slim file, too, practically nothing. Erasmus was owned by Paul Bennett. A bell went off in her head. Paul Bennett? Why did she know that name?”
Holly took the Erasmus file to Jake Chen.

“Erasmus Trading?” asked Tim Cushnie. “What about it?”
“I came across it in the listings,” replied Jake Chen. “We don’t know anything about it. It’s never been investigated.”
“Which means it hasn’t done anything illegal, so why would we?”
“Its rep is Kevin Lifeson.”
“So?” demanded Cushnie.
“We’ve never investigated any of Lifeson’s clients. We’ve never investigated him either.”
“Which means he’s never done anything illegal, so why would we?”
“Just seems strange is all. Mind if I keep the file?”
“Go ahead. Waste your time if that’s what you want.” When Jake disappeared from view, Cushnie let out a big breath of air and made up his mind to talk to Kevin.

“I did a little check on our American investor, Sammy Madden,” Kevin Lifeson told Paul Bennett.
“He’s a fake. He’s tried the same routine in New York and Toronto, both a lot more stringent than here.”
Paul was uneasy.
“What’s the routine?”
“He finds a company, likely a shell, and says he wants to invest a million bucks in your venture. Then he says he’s grown impatient and wants his money back. The company writes a cheque for a million dollars to shut him up. As soon as he has it, our Sammy is gone. The company won’t report him because the exchange will find out it’s phoney. You haven’t paid him, have you?”
“Oh god, what have I done?”
“So you did write him a cheque.”
“Emailed a million dollars, actually. I’d never met him.”
“A million dollars of your drug money? Your bank account shows you only had a million bucks plus a few other dollars. You’re broke now unless you can cancel the cheque.”
“I don’t think so. Online is fast.”
“You know, a million bucks doesn’t seem like much anymore, “Kevin tried to rationalize the blunder.
“No? Try losing it. You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”
“So I’ve heard, But these days you could have bought a house in Vancouver. Not too grand, not imposing, but respectable. You could have rented it. Or you could buy the band house outright.”
“Now you tell me.”
“It’s kind of like the advice I gave Carlos. He didn’t heed it, either. So I stopped.”
“Why me?”
“You sound like Holly. Of all the little known companies here, Erasmus was the only one to boast of having any money. You were an easy target.”
“Is Sammy Madden his real name?”
“Not likely.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“Are you kidding?”

Paul Bennett was showing more interest in Ropadope than he had in months. To him, he was taking a more active role. To it, he was meddling and Ropadope wasn’t used to this. This was unsettling.
He was watching the band’s spending more closely, wanting an account of every dollar. He was setting up a tour that would be the band’s most extensive and foreseeably most lucrative.
Paul was taking care of the next recording, which meant that he was phoning the record company daily, booking the studio and making a list of producers.
Seth Bradley’s name was not on it.
“What’s he got against Seth?” wondered Roger Kent.
“He’s a junkie, not dependable, probably erratic, answered Darren Krebs.
“Clean now, straightened out.”
“A murderer?”
“We don’t know that for sure. Give him a chance. As a musician, think about what he could do for us.” The support came from Seth’s biggest booster in the band, Amarjeet Dal.
“We have this album to do for Ambrosia and then we have fulfilled our contract, “ said Krebs. “We’ll be free.”
“We’re free now. “Kent reminded him.
“Not really. Ambrosia pays us a royalty and that’s about it. We could get more as an independent. Set up our own tours, set our own fee.”
You’re looking forward to being an indie? It’s a lot of work,” warned Kent
“Yeah,” admitted Krebs. “But not only will be free of any interference by Ambrosia but Paul as well…and we could make a record with Seth if that’s what we wanted.””

Like me, Jake Chen followed Tim Cushnie to his next private meeting with Kevin Lifeson. The usual lounge on the usual Friday.
And as usual, Kevin gave Tim what looked like an envelope.
Jake didn’t know for sure but he presumed the envelope was filled with money, which was all the proof Jake needed that Tim was bent.
That would explain a lot of things – the better-tailored suits, the more expensive car. Why Kevin Lifeson never had been investigated.
Unlike me, I can only guess at what happened next. The confrontation might have been like this.
“You saw me? That was you in that car that followed me? I thought I recognized it.” Tim exclaimed.
“How could you?” asked an aggrieved Jake.
“How could I not? We’ve been doing this how long? The fakes keep coming. There’s just as many now as there were 50 years ago.”
“No, there are fewer.”
“You think so? They’re just different. Foreign owned shells as opposed to locally created shell companies. Oh sure, the Vancouver Stock Exchange had a real bad image. That tainted the investors that were here so they went elsewhere, East, to the States, and discouraged would-be investors from buying in. Once it was discovered that the new exchange had no serious intention to clean up, foreign investment returned.”
“All those shells must have thought twice once it was discovered they were being watched.”
“Maybe they did. But few were prosecuted, much less jailed or fined. They now know they won’t get more than their wrist slapped. So what does that tell you? “
“Our job isn’t done.”
“And never will be.”
“But we’ve got to try…”
“That’s the one thing we’ve got in our favour, the worry that we might expose the shell, maybe even get a conviction…or at least…an eviction.”
“So where does Kevin Lifeson fit in?”
“For a few bucks he can go unnoticed. He thinks he bought freedom. He doesn’t realize just how small he is, which is okay, the money he pays me has come in handy.”
“ If he’s small, what about Holly Wood?”
“Even smaller. Even if we report her probably nothing will happen. But we’ll be doing our job.”
“Futile as you say it is,” said Jake.
“Do you think the people in power care about Holly Wood? asked Tim pointedly. “They’ve got much more to lose, much more at stake.”
“Which says we’re just spinning our wheels.”
“Yeah, but at least as meaningless as it might be, we’re still doing what we were hired to do. It has to appear that it’s regulating itself. But who knows how far up the ladder this goes or where the ladder ends? I can’t worry about that. What about you?”
“I don’t know. You’ve obviously had lots of time to rationalize this. I haven’t. Until then, I’ll just do what I am paid to do.”
“I can trust you?” asked Tim
“As much as you can trust anyone here.”
“I’m gonna have to take that as a yes.”

Paul Bennett began to associate Kevin Lifeson with bad news.
First, he was told by Kevin he had an investor when he really didn’t want one. Then, Kevin informed him that this American, Sammy Madden, was a fraud and ran off with a million of Bennett’s dollars. Here he was again. Kevin had come to his office on Burrard and was waiting in the tiny reception area. Evidently this was important.
Bennett prepared himself – griitted his teeth, girded his loins? – for more bad news.
Instead, Kevin said, “Sammy Madden is dead.”
“What? How?” Bennett tried to feel some kind of pity for Madden but secretly he was elated. The bastard got what he deserved.
“Shot. At his home, which was in Texas. I guess he got sloppy. He was traced through his computer correspondence. You should always delete that stuff as soon as possible.
‘He was living well but not ostentatiously, not wanting to call attention to himself. No matter, someone came to his house and popped him.”
“Will I get my money back”
“I doubt it. Police seized everything. Maybe once they’ve made their inquiries…but you don’t want that.”
“No. Somewhere along the line you’ll be asked to account for that million dollars. As soon as you do that, you’ll be exposing yourself.”
“So who did it?”
“Too early to say, but it’s a very American thing to do. Something in your way, something you don’t like? Shoot it.”
“Maybe. Apparently, it was a professional hit. Cross the mob and you’re asking for trouble. Or maybe he was part of the Mob and wanted out. So maybe he knew too much and became a liability.”
“You don’t think it was Carlos?”
“No. He might be a ‘hands-on’ kind of guy, likes everything to run smoothly, but he also is Lord over a global operation and probably has no time for this kind of disturbance. Sorry, Paul, but he probably didn’ t know or care about you and Sammy Madden.”
“You know him that well, now?”
“OK. Let’s not slam the door on that possibility.”

Ropadope wasn’t recording until eight p.m., which was ideal for me.
It meant I could work a full shift, have dinner and spend a little time with my family before having to go out. Interviews, phone calls or other appointments had been squeezed into coffee or lunch breaks. This could be awkward but as long as I completed my rounds, the company was happy.
I invited myself to Marvel Arch studio but was blocked by the band. I was recognized by Seth, so Ropadope reluctantly let me in and to stay.
The recording was in an early stage but already there was strain.
This was caused primarily by the presence of Paul Bennett. In the past, Bennett had stayed out of the studio, throwing up his hands in an admission of his ignorance of music-making. He just knew what he liked. To him that was as good a gauge as anything.
Here he was, though, as if brandishing a whip, watching the clock and making sure no time was wasted. Most of all, he was keeping an eye on Seth Bradley.
Ropadope wasn’t happy and couldn’t relax but at least it was getting to make the record it wanted.
Seth had chosen Marvel Arch because it was old fashioned by modern standards. Analog rather than digital. Vintage microphones. Seth wasn’t averse to using Pro Tools, Autotune or any new technology that was available. The studio had computerized mixing and was up on all the trends and breakthroughs but also knew that Seth was going for genuine performances. He didn’t mind imperfection, some grime.
To that end, he threw out the click track much to the relief of Jay Feldman. Drumming to a metronomic beat never felt natural to Jay.
Right now, though, Seth was arguing with Amarjeet Dal. Amarjeet loved his pedals, especially reverberation. Seth tried to reason with him.
“We’ve got hundreds of dollars worth of reverb units; you’ve got a cheap pedal.” Seth told him.
“Yeah, but I like the sound of it,” countered Amarjeet.
“Maybe you do now. I’d like to record you without any goof and add the effect as needed to everybody’s satisfaction. If we record your guitar with that processed sound and nobody likes it, it will be too late to scale down…or scale up for that matter.”
”Trust me.”
“Gonna have to. You’re the boss. I’m just here to make sure you get the record you want.”
“No,” Amarjeet argued. “We wanted you to make us sound more real, less of a studio product.”
“So why are we having this dispute?”
“We want your input, your insight, but we have to have room for our own sound and ideas.”
“OK, we’ll compromise…but only where compromise makes everybody happy and the result is a good record.”
“So you trust me?”
“Like I said, gonna have to.”

Paul Bennett got Seth Bradley alone during a break in the Ropadope recording.
“The guys like you. I’m pleased that they’re pleased.”
“Yeah? How can you tell?”
“They’re actually smiling. Usually they’re a surly lot. not happy with anything. You’re doing a good job.”
“You didn’t think I could do it at all.” Seth lashed out.
“Let’s face it, you. had earned a bad reputation and it was getting worse.” Paul seemed unperturbed.
“And to what or whom do I owe this bad reputation?”
“Oh no, you’re gonna put the blame on me. We’re not going to argue the morality of the drug trade or the rationale of the dealer are we? I’ve even argued with it by myself.”
“You had a choice and made it. If you didn’t buy your junk from me, you’d have got it from someone else. Right now you’re straight. You can continue to go that way. If not, you know where to find me But if you do fall backward, wait at least until you’ve finished this album. Holly would be proud of you.”
“Leave her out of this. I’m not making the album for her, but for me and Ropadope. For her, I’m going to remain clean.”
“Oh yeah? We’ll see.

“Just because you’ve got a hunch, doesn’t mean I can do this.”
Speaking was Sergeant Frank Msu, the only constable I knew at the VPD. We’d met briefly at the Main Street headquarters.He was convinced that Seth Bradley was the killer. Msu was very disappointed when Seth walked.
“He did it.” he swore.
“That’s not what the judge thinks.”
“Well, he’s wrong.”
“Why are you so convinced?”
“Come on. He had the murder weapon in his hand. The deceased’s blood was on his clothes, he was next to her body, he had a motive and, moreover, he confessed.”
“But no one saw him stab her and he was too fucked up to do anything. At the time it was figured she’d been killed, he was passed out on the sofa. If Holly was going to argue, she had no one to argue with if Seth was out cold? But she did argue with someone, probably Jason Breckinridge. He claims he left as soon as he saw the knife came out. Seth was spaced and Jason had left but the argument picked up again, with another indistinct male. Who? How? That’s the basis of my hunch.”
“That’s pretty airy, especially put next to a confession.”
“Seth was distraught when he made his confession; he wasn’t thinking. As Grossman pointed out to the judge, the testimonies were dismissed as circumstantial.”
“Circumstantial, what crap! You think someone else did it. On that basis, we’re supposed to wire you up?”
That seemed to be my opening I wanted a wire, convinced that I could get a confession. Msu turned me down.
“Why can’t you get me a wire?”
“Lots of reasons. For starters, we need more than a hunch.”
What, a possible confession isn’t enough?”
“That brings me to the second reason. Who are you?”
“Somebody trying to get Holly’s killer.”
“You don’t have any credentials. You’re not a licensed detective.”
“No, but….”
“You’re a civilian.”
“Yeah but….”
“Civilians know nothing about police work, and we can’t involve a civilian in what could be dangerous.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
“We don’t take chances. For a proper procedure, we’ll need constables listening to your conversation in a van outside the premises just like on TV. And we’ll need a couple to make an arrest. None of this is cheap or a sure thing.”
“So you can’t give me a wire?”
That word again. I walked out of the VPD determined to find another way.

The Ropadope sessions were going well but there was a lot of tension.
The source was Paul Bennett.
There was something going on between the band and Bennett, but neither would discuss it. Then, too, Bennett was keeping his eye on Bradley, like a watchdog. He didn’t have faith in Bradley, who knew Bennett better as his drug dealer.
Having Bennett so near was a constant challenge. He wanted to make a good Ropaope record that also would speak well of him as producer. He didn’t need the temptation Bennett represented.
Bennett knew it and seemed to want Bradley to derail.
Bradley knew it, too, and tried to treat Bennett’s presence as a mere distraction.
“Nailed it! exclaimed an exultant Dave McDougal. It wasn’t a hard bass line to play but a little tricky. It was propulsive and gave the song Ropadope was recording its feel. Seth decided then that an insistent bass sound, placed prominently in the mix, could be the album’s signature.
“Sounds great,” Seth agreed. “You should go back and overdub all the bass parts we have so far.”
“Is that necessary?” piped up Bennett. “What we have sounds fine as it is.”
“No, it’s not necessary but it could be distinctive and lend the record more character. Dave’s on a roll.”
“How long will it take? asked Bennett.
“Not long. A few hours. Depends on Dave.”
“I can do it,” Dave said plaintively. “Let me try at least.”
“Is that what you’re worried about? Seth demanded of Paul. “The budget? Or do you want a good record?”
“I don’t want to be the asshole of this piece.”
“Too late for that. Trust me, if you can.”
“You’re pushing me. Just like Holly.” sneered Paul.
“Leave her out of this,” Seth said angrily.
“Well, it’s too late for that, too. If she had left me alone, that bitch would still be alive.”
”What do you mean by that? And she wasn’t a bitch.”
Seth leapt at Paul, but McDougal, Krebs and Dal pulled him off Paul and held him against a wall.
Smoothing himself as he went, Paul Bennett stormed off.
Seth took a few minutes to calm himself.
“Shall we continue?’ he asked.

“It’s just after six,” noted Paul Bennett. “Strange time to come calling, especially when you know I’m due at the studio around eight.”
It was, but I was there at Bennett’s office after work and I wanted to talk to him before dropping into the sessions, if Ropadope and Seth let me in.
“I’ve answered all your questions and have no more to say. So, why don’t you turn around and go back to your family?”
“Actually, you haven’t told me everything.”
“I think I know who killed Holly Wood.”
“Really? Who?”
“Me? Tell me how you came to that conclusion.”
“You almost said as much at the studio last night”
“Listen, before we go on this odyssey, which I can’t wait to hear, are you wearing a wire?”
“No,’ I told him. “The police wouldn’t suit me up with one.”
“So there’s no one listening to us. But lift your shirt.”
I lifted my shirt.
“Drop your drawers and turn around slowly.”
Aw c’mon. If you’ve got nothing to hide, I’ve even less.”
“Drop your drawers, I said, and turn around slowly.”
I dropped my drawers, turned slowly.
“Are you taping this?”
“I deliver parcels for a living, have a family and house payments. I can’t afford the luxury of a tape recorder.”
“Had to ask. It’s not everyday you get accused of murder.”
Bennett seemed unperturbed and all I had was a strong hunch. I let him hear it, anyway.
“So this is just between us. Your confession; my memory.”
“OK. How did I do it?”
“You followed Jason and Seth. You’d concluded Seth was a fuck up and wanted proof to give to Ropadope. More than that she’d figured out you were Paul’s dealer and threatened to report you to both the TSX and the police . She was a threat. After about 20 minutes, Jason came out and drove off. You managed to grab the door before it locked. Jason hadn’t seen you. Your luck held up when you discovered Seth and Holly’s apartment door was open.
“Seth was asleep on the chesterfield and Holly was seething.”
“Alive?” Bennett asked as if this detail was important to him.
“Alive. Waving the knife, almost as if she was expecting you. Holly was planning to blackmail you. She wanted you to stop selling dope to Seth.”
“I told her that if he didn’t buy from me, he’d buy from somebody else.”
“So you were there.”
“Might have been. Won’t say.”
“Holly admitted she couldn’t control Seth and would have to do something more drastic. Report you. Cushnie would have no choice but to dig into your set up and Lifeson couldn’t offer any protection. You’d be found out, a drug dealer hiding his money as a stock asset, but not spending any of it. You’d be sunk, possibly in jail.”
“That would be extortion. She’d have to prove it.”
“She could. She’d given your files to Jake Chen. By the way, who is this Sammy Madden guy?”
“Someone who had my money. A con artist. He’s dead, though. I found out this can be a volatile business”
“Did Holly know about this Madden guy?”
“No, but she was threatening to report me, and I couldn’t have that.”
“So you killed her.”
“No. Not intentionally. I warned her that I knew people who would think nothing of killing her if it would shut her up.”
“It seems like no one who saw her aimed to kill her.”
“Maybe she brought it on herself. Holly could be caustic, volatile, violent.”
“So when she came at you with the knife, you were prepared.”
”Where was Seth this whole time?”
“Passed out on the chesterfield still. He didn’t see her die. He didn’t see me rearranging her body or leaving the apartment. You know you can’t use any of this.”
“No, Guess not.”
“It’s all circumstantial. Your word against mine. I’ll deny everything. In a way, it’s the same argument that cleared Seth Bradley. Congratulations on that, by the way.”
“Thanks, I guess, but I’ll get you.”
“I don’t think you will. I’ll tell you what I told Holly. There are people who would think nothing of coming up from Mexico to endanger you and your family.”
“Is that a threat?”
“No, consider it a warning. What’s that?”
Against my better judgement, I took my eyes off Bennett and turned around. Standing behind me was Seth. He had a knife in his hand and a determined, frightening look on his face.
“You murdered Holly.” he accused Bennett.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Yes, you did. I heard you.”
“She was trying to blackmail me.”
“To protect me.”
“Not to protect you. To protect herself. She was looking after number one.”
“Seth,” I said. “Cool down. Don’t make things worse.”
“Worse! I’ve got Holly’s death hanging over me.“
“But killing him won’t make it go away.”
“But I’ll feel better.”
“”Seth, I can give whatever you need, how much you want, anytime.” Bennett was squirming.

Seth lunged at Paul. I accidentally was between them, put up my right hand to stop Seth and got it slashed. Just reacting instinctively. I certainly wasn’t thinking.
Paul wasn’t bleeding. In fact, he was untouched. This was because two policemen had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, to grab Seth before he could do anymore damage with his knife. They bent him over the receptionist’s desk and were handcuffing him. Following quickly behind the officers was Constable Msu.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him, although I new the answer.
“Just be glad I am,” he replied. “I asked that Mr. Bradley be tailed upon release, so we’ve been watching him for days.”
“But the charges had been dropped. He was freed.”
“I never bought that circumstantial argument. We had him; we even had a confession. I figured that he might accidentally cough up evidence that would nail him. Instead he cleaned up and went back to his parents.”
“But you still tailed him.”
“Sure. When he was arrested, it was evident Mr. Bradley was an addict. It was hoped he would try to score again and lead us to his dealer.”
“He was clean…”
“Ever heard of recidivism? Sooner or later he might back slide. Then you came to me with your hunch and request for a wire.
“So you started following me, too?”
“More coincidentally than deliberately. You crossed paths with Mr. Bradley so often. So when you went off to see Mr. Bennett and Mr. Bradley followed you, we followed him and you. It seemed like a good idea..”
“Well, you obviously kept your distance. If you were any later, things would have turned out differently.”
“Had to. Especially as none of you had committed a crime we could prove. The building was deserted, too, so any noise carried.”
“What now?”
“We’ve got a lot to talk to Mr. Bennett about.”
“And Seth?”
“He’ll be charged with attempted murder. With the Vancouver Police Department as witness I doubt Mr. Bradley will be able to slip out of this one.”
“You sound satisified.”
“I had a hunch.”

In the months to come, Seth went to court accompanied by Omar, Nora, Justin and Grossman. Second degree attempted murder. Was convicted but the sentence was light. Five years. One of the factors was that no one was hurt. Except me, but I didn’t count.
Sure enough, Ropadope fired Paul Bennett but everything worked out for the band. It was allowed to keep the house and cars. Paul protested at first but backed off. He was in enough trouble.
Roger and Jay were able to kick with Paul’s influence gone.
The recording studio went on spec, having faith in both Seth and Ropadope.
When the album came out it got good reviews but the rough energy cost the band a few fans. It sold enough, though, to notch respectable streaming numbers. Enough that Ropadope didn’t have to go looking for managers. They came to the band. The media focused on Home Is Calling, the track that Seth used as the hinge for the sound of the album and, in its way, summarized the whole album by hinting at a theme.
The controversy stirred up by Seth’s court case proved the wisdom that even bad publicity is better than no publicity. As a result, the record got more exposure than it might have.
Paul Bennett knew his days were numbered. No band, no dope, no money. There was even the suspicion he had orchestrated the murder of Sammy Madden from a distance. An investigation was underway.
Carlos refused to do business with Paul. Paul wondered if Carlos might kill him, but couldn’t buy protection. El Toro came to rely more on Kevin.
Thus, Kevin got involved even deeper in the drug trade. He didn’t mind the money or the power and an aura of glamour, but he knew he couldn’t leave. He’d become a liability sooner or later, so expendable. Accordingly, his paranoia grew and he hired a body guard.
No more bribe money for Tim Cushnie. Jake Chen became his boss by getting an upper hand. Cushnie started looking for other employment.

Me? On the night Msu arrested Seth, I went home, gathered around Ruth, Lennon and McCartney and told them I loved them.