CREATIVE MJ Oliver

NWR Issue 115

The Case

Toronto Gaol
Nov 19th 1935

Dearest Baby Queen
I’m sorry, but this is where I am. I have committed no felony but have gone to the dogs. Lizbietta is dead. I can hardly remember what has happened since then. I ended up in Toronto, taking narcotics again – you can imagine the results. I’ve been and still am going through absolute hell, in and out of this place more times than I can count.
It will be hard for you to understand how tough a place this country can be. Please keep this from Dad. Outside of that, I need no help.
Your loving brother

Jim
The Book Store
Saskatoon, 1932

MEN URGENTLY REQUIRED
TO COMPLETE BUILDING OF BESSBOROUGH HOTEL
SIGN ON AT TOWN HALL

Married men only. Try reading the small print,
the town clerk says, over the top of his glasses
as if I stink, which I do, and you have to have proof.
Go to hell, I say, and head for the university
where at least I’ll get a meal for free.

I cross 25th Street Bridge. The river smelling sweet,
is wide and running smooth. I turn
into Clarence Avenue, see Heart of Darkness
in the window of a second-hand bookstore,
step inside. Hi there! a woman’s voice
sings out from the back, be with you in a second!
My wife.

Whitby Hospital, Ontario
Case Notes

Tuesday 20th December 1935
A postcard from Jim’s sister in England (see attached), forwarded to him today from Toronto Gaol, refers to the death of a Lizbietta and to the whereabouts of a baby.
So now we know.

In our meeting this afternoon, I handed him the letter. He stared at me a full minute, then started to shake and sob. I let him cry until he was spent then walked with him back to Cottage 11, where I knew Frank Schofield would be working at his typewriter.

Frank made us tea and we sat round the stove. I told Frank that Jim was recently bereaved and would probably appreciate some company tonight.

       


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