February 29, 2008 Features & Images » Feature Story

Murder in the Great Big Playground 

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

click to enlarge Illustration by Dave Petko
  • Illustration by Dave Petko

By Kim Thompson

Every so often a bloated snowflake catches an airstream to be tossed aimlessly in an acrobatic moment of glory before joining Whistler’s slushy streets. A few snowflakes end their journey on the tongue of a snotty nosed kid or an eyelash of a beautiful woman like Janna St. James. Those are the lucky ones.

Janna St. James wiped back the tears that mixed with the snow and snot running down her face. The snowfall was unleashed, sending its energy through Whistler Village. You could see the twinkle of excitement in the eyes of every camera-happy tourist on the Village Stroll but it all made Janna want to puke.

She swallowed back the bile in her mouth. Her grandmother Minerva “Minty” St. James was dead. Gammy Minty didn’t pass away on her own terms — her last moments were ones of terror. Janna’s stomach lurched at the thought and finally allowed the vomit to splatter the pavement outside of Tommy Africa’s nightclub. To the passerby Janna looked like just another binge drinking college kid.

Only one name surfaced once Janna regained her balance – Rory McDougall. At one time Janna had a schoolgirl crush on him that bloomed when she turned eighteen. She could still taste his lips – a mixture of beer and cigarettes. But that didn’t matter now.

Janna was one of the few who didn’t take cheap shots at “The No-Go at Nagano.” But now every offside remark and bad joke came flooding back to her. And the tears came before she could stop them, boiling hot then instantly freezing on her face, and what was the point in wiping them off or pretending? She let them fall, her lips pressed hard together, walking blindly forward and running headlong into Hiroshi Steinberger.


Hiroshi’s bloodshot eyes betrayed his night’s activities, sadly staring into a foaming beer at Tapley’s while willing the mess to go away. But that never works and Hiroshi’s reality came screaming back with the last drop of beer in his glass. The thought that Rory had anything to do with the murders made him sick. It didn’t make sense.

“Sorry,” she said wiping her face. “I don’t know if you heard but my Gammy was found dead.”

The verbal acknowledgement of Minty’s death was too much and Janna crumpled into a pile of sobs, leaving Hiroshi to awkwardly pat her on the back. She reminded him so much of his own daughter with the intensity of those green eyes. Rough tears began to well up in his own eyes until he picked Janna up off the pavement and practically dragged her into Tapley’s.

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