Chapter seven: Hello Bernadette
A few days pass by since the green line/houndstooth/secret pocket/help me/thank you/briefcase/handgun/white van day. I feel like exponential growth has occurred. Somewhere. Just not with me.
I do know I have the best small wardrobe in my custom navy blue suit—an easy choice since my dad always said navy goes with everything. Wear the jacket. Wear the pants. Or wear them together. Also some pretty great casual clothes and a bathing suit for the hotel pool that I have only thought about going to so far.
It came to me that if there was a grassy knoll moment in this briefcase adventure, a second shooter, it must have been someone at Ethel. So this morning, after a buffet breakfast I ventured back to Yonge Street to visit the store and ask a few questions.
My thought: it is a consignment store. Someone must have…um…consigned…the coat to the store to sell. I had a pocket full of bribery money to boot. Give me the name and contact info for the coat seller and I’ll pay your Ethel rent for six months.
But much to my chagrin the store was closed for a one-month vacation. It wasn’t a consignment store. It was a houndstooth coat store. Then someone bought it and they left on vacation to celebrate.
This added to the joy and terror I was feeling. And for a fleeting minute I thought I may want to double up my dose of antidepressants and go for a nap. But instead I headed to the Black Bull on Queen Street West, settled in for an afternoon of beer and nachos and the oddest people in the world to watch.
I had barely started in on my first drink when a woman sat beside me.
“Do you kill people for a living or have done time in say the last two years for any type of crime?” She stared right into my eyes.
“In the last two years?” I pondered [beat]. “No. I don’t think so. Is that bad?”
“I don’t do this stuff. Bars… I am a housewife, whose husband left her yesterday. Do you know the song By the time I get to Phoenix?
“I was the woman in the song,” she explained. “He was always saying he was leaving. You know, like in the song… But he didn’t. Until yesterday. I’m Pamela by the way. Be gentle. This bar thing is new to me. You are a regular yes?”
“Pamela. Has anyone ever mentioned that you are a very attractive woman?” I inquired.
“No but thank you.”
“Did your husband think you were, well, um nuts?”
“Oh yes, oh yes, he would call me Crazy Pam. Hey Crazy Pam, what’s for dinner? That kind of thing. Couples have cute nicknames. Mine was Crazy Pam. Never liked the name Pam. Always Pamela. But people. They go right to Pam. It’s Pamela. For 12 years I said to Stan, can you change that to Crazy Pamela. But he wouldn’t. Would---not. Said it didn’t sound right. But Crazy Pam was, in his words, ab-so-fucken-lutely perfect-oh. So I let it slide. Sometimes couples need to concede. I did that on Crazy Pam. But for today how about you call me Pamela. Or a name of your choosing. Sound good?”
“I got it. I will even drop the crazy part if you’d like. No problem. By the way I am not a regular here. Just watching one. But he’s not here today.”
“Are you a spy?” She asked.
“Yes, um Bernadette, I am a spy. Does that make you nervous?”
“Oh dear me,” she offered. “This is even better than a killer or someone who served time. I was hoping you were one of those. But you are a spy. Take me wherever you’d like. I’m just a puppy for spies.”
“Let’s take it slow [beat] I almost called you Bernie. But I’ll stick to Bernadette. You scare me Bernadette. I like that.”
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