One of the first things I notice about the Toronto skyline is that it is conspicuous by the absence of mountains, unlike Vancouver. At least I don’t have to worry about the rains so much here, I tell myself as I push my luggage towards the taxi stand past Terminal 1.
Having recently graduated from UBC specializing in Intellectual Property Law, an opening with Andover, Klein and Schultz seemed like the perfect break. The firm specializes in copyrights and patents. After a few years of experience and some high profile clients to add to my résumé, I could return to Vancouver, have my own copyright law firm, or partner with one of those big firms downtown.
My train of thoughts gets interrupted by a sudden crashing noise and a painful shriek.
“Ow! Christ! Watch it, will you?”
Daydreaming my way around the airport and not noticing where I was going, I almost knock over a young woman with my cart.
Ignoring my toppled suitcase, I apologise and rush to help her as she straightens up, adjusts her rectangular rim-less glasses and rubs her knee. Hurt by the pain on her leg or a seeming sense of disappointment or both, she dismisses me and walks away.
I look down at my luggage – one of my two big, overstuffed Samsonites lies on the floor, exploded, its handle broken. I cram the strewn papers, books and clothes back in and clumsily try heaving it back to the cart, the task made all the more difficult with the handle having come apart.
“Hi there, do you need help with it?” I look up to see a strikingly beautiful and tall girl, probably in her early to mid twenties with curly blond hair and a beaming smile. Before I can answer, the damsel in shining armour picks up one end of the box, and helps me hoist it back to the cart.
“Thank you so much!” I smile uneasily, feeling a bit embarrassed.
“You’re welcome! So, big move to Toronto, eh?”
“Yes,” I reply, as it isn’t hard to guess, given the size of my luggage. “I’m Broden Irvine, from Vancouver.”
“Leslie Harding, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.”
We exchange pleasantries, and realizing that we’re both headed to the same hotel, decide to share the ride.
“So, what brings you to Toronto?” she beats me to the question as the cab negotiates the airport traffic and hits the 401 highway.
I tell her about my new job at Andover, Klein and Schultz. Her bright blue eyes widen.
“Wow, so you’re a big shot lawyer!”
“Well, I’m not into litigation actually,” I reply, explaining that my specialization is in IP law. Deciding not to bore her with the details of intellectual property rights, I change the subject, “So, what about you? What brings you here?”
“I’m an artist. I’m taking an internship with a curator at an art gallery.”
“Wow, artist, eh? Interesting! That explains those oversized boxes you’ve got there”
“Yep, canvas. Planning to showcase my paintings at some exhibitions here.”
My phone rings. It’s mom. “Excuse me,” I answer the phone.
“Hi mom, yes, flight was good. I had sandwiches on the plane.”
“I’ll have the pasta for dinner mom, don’t worry”, I look at Leslie who seems amused at my conversation.
“What? A bear in our backyard? All right mom, tell dad not to go after it... Listen mom, I’ll call you after I reach the hotel, okay? Take care.”
“Love you too mom, bye.”
“That was my mom.. She keeps checking on me,” I hang up and tell her sheepishly as she smiles in acknowledgement. “So, how is it with your parents?” I ask her.
“Oh, they are probably in Istanbul now,” she pauses for a moment, and then adds “or maybe Athens. I’m not sure really. They just travel the world, experiencing different cultures. My mom wants to write a travel book – something like ‘Around the world with 80 delicacies’, or ‘Eat, Drink, Travel’. “
We reach the hotel and part ways to our respective rooms, agreeing to stay in touch, and wishing each other good luck with our new lives in Toronto.
I unpack my now cracked-open suitcase, and notice a few papers I hadn’t seen before. Printed neatly in Times Roman size 12 font with some hand-written markings and corrections, and titled in bold, the first page reads “Middle of it All – Samantha Stevens”.
My mind flashes back to the time when I bumped into the dark-haired spectacled young woman at the airport. Oh yes, she must have dropped these papers when I knocked her over with my cart. Being the klutz that I am, I must have stuffed these along with my books and papers back in.
I’m not an avid reader, and neither can I call myself a writer, unless legal paperwork counts as literature. But I can see that this is some really good work-in-progress of an aspiring writer
I feel sorry for her, but at least I know her name now. Samantha Stevens and Leslie Harding – one, a writer and another, an artist. That’s two interesting women I’ve stumbled upon since landing in Toronto. Wonder who else I will meet in this teeming metropolis of 5.5 million people?
My hotel room phone rings. Probably mom calling to check on me again..
“Hey, Mathieu, it’s me again,” the caller speaks in a rapid tone, “I’ve got a gig for you. Meet me at the lobby at 8 tomorrow. It’s really important, okay?”
“Err.. Looks like you’ve got the wrong room number.”
“Oops, sorry.” Click.
Who is this Mathieu? He must be staying in another room in the hotel. And what are he and his caller friend up to?
Tired from the long flight and both excited and nervous about the first day at the new job tomorrow and of finding an apartment to move to, I unwrap the dinner mom had packed for me and switch on the TV.
It’s going to be a warm and sunny day tomorrow, CTV weather report says. Next up in the breaking news, David Andover, a local lawyer, has been found murdered at his home at Lawrence Park.