January 25, 2008 Features & Images » Feature Story

Murder in the Great Big Playground 

A tale of real estate, murder, politics, and really great powder: Chapter One

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Chuck “Mess-up” Jessup had claimed to be a land developer, but the only thing he’d managed to develop so far was an ulcer — constant battles in the courts, the municipal council chambers and the parking lot of the Pony Espresso took their toll. Mess-up survived by playing the margins, skewing the angles, and generally avoiding using any of his own money in his questionable business deals. Not that there was all that much money left after the old man died. All they had was land — hundreds of acres that some wag in Victoria had decided would forever be condemned to growing potatoes. And if there was anything Chuck Jessup had hated more than Victoria bureaucrats during his 36 years on earth, it had been potatoes.

The din by the airport baggage carousel made it nearly impossible to hear, but Janna St. James hit the redial on her cell phone anyway.

Her grandmother’s voicemail, again. “Gammy Minty. This is the seventh message that you haven’t answered. When we were in Calgary for Christmas, you seemed happy that I was coming to visit. So could you answer… the damn… phone?”

Finally, the tall, blonde, and aerodynamically-proportioned teenager saw what she’d been waiting for — her skis. She snappd her phone shut, and, grabbing the 250 cm planks, headed for the Perimeter bus. If she couldn’t track down Gammy, she’d just chain herself to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Information Centre in the village and start her hunger strike. That would show the world what fascists the IOC were. But first, she’d pick up a box of Timbits for the bus ride.

Rory McDougall broke down in sobs at Tapley’s when he found out Chuck had been found dead at Joffre Lake. They had been boyhood pals until Rory got serious about snowboarding. Ten years and 20 pounds ago, Rory had made it all the way to the Olympics. But things hadn’t panned out, and since nobody wanted an Olympic motivational speaker without an actual medal he had spent most of the last decade driving a backhoe for the muni.

As he sipped his Kokanee, Rory noticed the logo for the 2010 Olympic Games on a sign in the village. He had an idea that could help him lose the nickname “The No-Go at Nagano” and honour Chuck’s short life at the same time. But first he had to finish his beer.

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