There was a long green line painted on the sidewalk, as if green meant go. But I don't think that was the point. It was saying, and I may be paraphrasing...follow the line. Do no sway, stray, cross over, stay on track. So I did. Following down a street I have not been down since I was in my 20's. Over 30 years ago. Yonge Street. So I couldn't have seen it coming. I was following the line. I stopped and looked right at the window, Ethel, a consignment store, and in the window was me. Thirty years ago. Houndstooth coat. Full length. So full length as I remember it that it came almost to my ankles and I am close to six feet. I broke the rules. Steered over the green line and into the store, asked for the coat, bought it without trying it on, and veered back to the green line looking for a dry cleaner.
My coat 30 years ago never went to a dry cleaner. I bought it at a Salvation Army store and wore it out of the store. That was that. But now I can actually clean things properly. And when I saw Dickies I was excited. A landmark. The same sign since I suspect it was hung a hundred years ago. I dropped off the coat and was excited to hear they could have it back to me by the next day.
So when the next day arrived, a Friday - June 12 to be exact, my first step off the green line was to go back into Dickies.
The cashier saw me coming and had the coat ready for me. A small envelope was stapled to the dry cleaning bag. "There's a secret pocket on this coat, at the bottom, with a zipper," she offered. "Yes, I remember that. Was there something in the secret pocket?"
"Yes," said the cashier. "Yes indeed. Bob wanted to keep it, Bob Dickie that is, the owner. But I said no. Not yours to keep. He usually keeps the money but I don't have any problems with that. Leave money in your clothes we will take it. But this was not money. No sir. Much more...how do I say it best...mysterious? Interesting perhaps. Go ahead. Open up the envelope."
I did. And in the envelope was the front of a cigarette package, Cameo Menthol, with the words "help me" scrawled across the back and a locker key. No big mystery on the key front. It had the Union Station logo on it. Locker 1981. Union Station.
"So you are going to tell us if there's a dead body in there right? Dickie is dying to know. Dickie loves a good mystery."
I promised I would. I was only a few blocks from Union Station, Front Street. And it took all of five minutes to be standing in front of the locker in question. Number 1981. Stuck the key in. Turned the lock and it opened.
Hanging from a string at eye level was the other side of the cigarette package, two new words. "Thank you."
And in the locker a briefcase containing money. Lots of money. In bills. Tens of thousands. Maybe hundreds of thousands. And over a dozen passports, all different countries, with no names of photos. Oh and a gun. Forgot that part. A very shiny handgun. Loaded. And if that wasn't enough there was an address written in pencil on the first bill. 324 Euclid Avenue. Bathurst subway station. I used to live there, on Euclid. Not sure of the number but I lived there. With her. The dreaded her. And I remembered the owner.
I had a dilemma. Turn it in? Or keep it? So I kept it. And walked toward the subway to make my way to my old neighbourhood in the heart of Little Italy.