February 01, 2008 Features & Images » Feature Story

Murder in the Great Big Playground 

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

click to enlarge Illustration by Phresha Levandale (deviantethics.com)
  • Illustration by Phresha Levandale (deviantethics.com)

By Grant Stoddard

As the Perimeter bus rolled past Creekside, Minty St. James’ unequivocally favored grandchild girded her loins. Somewhere just south of Squamish Janna had, for the first time, begun to entertain the idea that something truly awful had happened. The surgically-tautened matriarch was well-known for her flightiness but going off the radar for this long was simply beyond the pale.

As she grabbed her skis, backpack and began walking briskly towards Minty’s Painted Cliff condo, Janna self-soothed with the knowledge that her grandmother was at her most vital and in the rudest of health. Since her husband Teddy St. James had passed in 2002, Minty had declared a personal jihad on the aging process and had been making serious headway. Unbeknownst to Janna, her grandmother had been simultaneously dating a cosmetic surgeon, nutritionist and personal trainer and had put their combined skill and know-how to good use. When they were together, the vivacious sexagenarian would be commonly mistaken for Janna’s mother; an occurrence that would make them both beam and giggle with mischievous delight.

“Gammy?” she said after a loud rap on the door came to no issue. “Gammy Minty, it’s Janna!”

“Looking for your grandma, eh?” said a shrill woman’s voice from behind Janna, startling her somewhat.

“Uh…yeah,” she said, regaining her composure. “Have you seen her?”

“Just when I came to clean last,” said the mousy woman, who produced a key from her pocket and opened the door. “She ain’t here, darlin’. Said that she’d be out of town for a few days, didn’t say where. I recognize you from your pictures. Such a pretty young thing. Why don’t you come in and warm up?”

Kindly house-cleaner Barb McCann was 10 years Minty’s junior but a hardscrabble life had etched deep lines in her face. Janna followed her into the grandiose foyer and headed straight for the bathroom; she’d had a premonition of Minty falling in her antique claw-foot tub or state-of-the-art steam shower and banging her head. The coltish debutante partially covered her eyes with her fingers and gently pushed open the door. She found nothing untoward and sighed with relief.

She darted up to the master bedroom to ensure that Minty hadn’t passed in her sleep.

She was again greeted by an empty space where her grandmother’s dead or dying body wasn’t. Of course Gammy wouldn’t go like that, thought the 17-year-old phenom and smiled weakly. On numerous occasions Minty had confided in Janna that she wished to shrug off her mortal coil at 100 years old with “the sun on my face, a drink in my hand and a strapping young buck on my arm!”

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