See previous chapter –
I had a mini-panic attack early in January. I was sitting on the downstairs couch in my skivvies at two in the morning staring at the closed blinds. Trying to shore up my resolve about doing Donald Wayne. I knew I’d have to spin the chamber again first. Let fate be the final arbiter.
I started to shiver and that turned into shaking, then spasms. I thought I was having a heart attack but I didn’t cry out. Dying on the couch of natural causes didn’t seem bad compared to bleeding out on the office floor with a bullet in my head.
The bottom-liners have tried to portray me as a homicidal maniac, someone who feels no fear and shows no mercy. Those who have read this far know different. Donald Wayne had me shaking in my underwear. I knew he’d be constantly on guard against his multitude of enemies and seldom alone. He would likely be armed or, if not, would use anything at hand to bash his would-be killer to a bloody pulp. I didn’t want to go out in a puddle of blood watching a crazed Dennis the Menace raise a concrete block over his head.
I’m not sure if the whole episode lasted a minute or 10 minutes or an hour. The spasms slowed and I began to rock, a slow rocking. I got deep into it with the gods of fate, offering up complete surrender. It felt good to turn it over, just like Adams said. It was out of my hands. All I had to do was survive.
I waited until mid-January, with Kate away visiting her sister in Toronto for a week, to get up close and personal with Donald Wayne. I wanted to give myself a reality check. To confirm he was a punk at his core. That he wouldn’t have anything when the end came. I’d learned in my research that he hung around a downtown nightclub called Ecstasy, said to be quietly owned by the Demons. The place was an old warehouse in Yaletown with a huge sprung dance floor. It was packed Thursday through Saturday.
The real action took place upstairs, in the lounge, where high rollers waved hundred dollar bills to get the attention of nearly naked lap dancers. The cover was $50 bucks if you didn’t know the right people. Men who made easy money happily paid to mingle with celebrities, gangsters and beautiful nude women. One side of the lounge had booths that afforded views of the dance floor below. The money men could sit above it, pick out a woman they liked and send a minion downstairs to bring her up. And women outdid themselves on the dance floor to become a chosen one. I kid you not. The place was thick with bottom-liners.
Two things had caught my eye in the article. First and oddly, Donald Wayne Findley was an avid dancer who loved to show off his moves. Who knew? Second, Ecstasy billed itself as a no-camera zone to reassure its publicity-shy clientele. I doubted the second part but figured it would be safe enough to go there on a busy Thursday night.
Anticipation built throughout the week. On Wednesday I went shopping for a sports jacket at lunch. I wanted a downtown look without being splashy. A color and cut that would blend in with the in-crowd. I walked to Hastings Street, near the financial district, where two or three men’s wear stores catered to stylish bottom-liners on their way up.
I went to a small shop called Harry’s. He had a table and a chair in the window with a sports coat hung on the back, as if someone was sitting there and had just stepped away. He changed the jacket every day or so. It was his idea of window dressing. I stopped by the store every couple of weeks to browse the racks and check out his featured chair jacket.
I hated the high-end men’s stores’ window displays. They always conjured bottom-liner good times. Genteel times. The mannequins were always playing golf or croquet or on their way to tennis in just the right clothes. I pictured a Wolf mannequin wearing one of those hunting jackets with leather patches at the elbow and on the gun shoulder. A sporting man.
Harry’s had been located at the same site for 62 years. Its latest owner had only been around for 23 years. His name was Sheldon Shelby. I appreciated his good taste and had gotten to know him a little over time. We even went for a drink once.
“Aah, Roger. I have a jacket you’re going to love.”
Shelby could sell anything, but he was still working well into his sixties because he was a prodigious spender. He lived well, always on the far edge of what he could afford. I liked him for that. He loved people and it showed. He and his wife had travelled the world before settling in Vancouver in their middle years. He had impeccable taste in clothes and took a paternal interest in his young clients.
Shelby stood respectfully at a distance waiting for my reply. He always gave his clients a moment or two to browse before he approached. He was wearing a tailored grey wool suit with a hint of navy woven into the fabric, a brilliantly white shirt perfectly starched at the collar and a dark blue tie and matching three-point hanky. The suit hung naturally on his somewhat stout frame. It bespoke elegance.
“Looking sharp as always, Sheldon,” I said, moving my eyes from a table of cashmere sweaters to his suit. “I love the way that tie brings out the blue. It’s a nice colour. Understated.”
“Thank-you. I appreciate that coming from a man of your taste.”
He never commented on my attire beyond that generality. He wasn’t a phony flatterer.
“I just got a jacket in that you simply must see. I couldn’t hang it out with the regular stuff. No. No. No. I set it aside for you. It’s a one-of-a-kind 42 tall. We got it from a small tailor shop on Commercial Drive. Some guy got fitted for it, paid half-down for a deposit, then never showed up to pick it up. I can give it to you at the half-down price. It’s the perfect cut to hang nicely on you. I doubt we’ll have to do any modifications.”
He led me to a holding area beside the storeroom door. I could see a sewing machine on a table in the storeroom, with Sheldon’s older brother Benjamin hunched over it in concentration. I spotted the jacket before Sheldon pulled out the hanger. The olive-green fabric stood out among the others hanging on the rack. He laid the coat across his arm to show me the quality of the material and the workmanship as I took off my sport coat. He held the jacket deftly, offering up one arm then the other, as I slipped it on then stepped over to the mirror.
“Nice coat, Sheldon.”
The jacket, a muted olive-green with the latest narrow, high-cut lapels and flattering shoulders, hung to mid-calf, the extra length giving it a bit of a tuxedo feel. It stood out, not so much in its colour as in its quality. It would not stand out in a nightclub filled with high-rolling bottom-line predators dressed to the nines.
“This jacket was made to be worn by a man of substance,” he said. “It says, ‘I am confident and successful. I don’t need to show off.’”
“No need to sell me Sheldon, I’m going to take it. How much?”
He gave me a faux hurt look.
“Of course, you’re going to take it. I wouldn’t have put it aside if I didn’t think so. Another gentleman wanted to try it on. A nice young man but he doesn’t have your substance.”
When I took off the jacket, he showed me what he’d already written on the price tag: Sold to Roger Delaney. With tie, matching hanky and Shelby’s 10 per cent commission, it cost more than $900 bucks. I knew he probably took an extra hundred off the top on these kinds of deals. I didn’t care. The jacket was a steal at $900. Shelby only sold quality. The jacket didn’t need modifications. A perfect fit for a man of substance.
I got to Ecstasy about ten o’clock. Early for the nightclub set. A line of about 30 people waited in the January drizzle. I’d brought a cheap umbrella with me, but not to keep the rain off. I kept it open and angled towards the warehouse, blocking my face from any camera angle on the outside of the building. I didn’t mind the wait. I needed time to assemble my thoughts. Calm my nerves. It felt like I was going to do Donald Wayne that night. I had to remind myself it was only a reconnaissance mission.
I got in sometime after 11, with the group ahead of me, two guys and three girls. All in their early thirties. I’d been flirting with the one who seemed on her own. Debbie. Better to blend in. I was worried that Donald Wayne or one of his cohorts would think I was a cop if I was alone and got too close. I stopped worrying when we passed through beautifully carved wood doors into the warehouse. The scene was chaotic. Nobody noticing anything.
The enormous sprung dance floor was heaving under the weight of bottom-liners getting their mojo on. I followed the group to a table with sight lines to the dance floor and did a quick scan for Donald Wayne while everyone settled in. I bought Debbie a drink, a Bombay Sling, and she introduced me to the table as Patrick, the name I’d used in the line-up. The guys feigned friendliness but it was evident they had no interest in me. Neither did their girlfriends, other than as someone to take care of their fifth wheel friend.
Debbie was the best looking of the three, but she was recently divorced and seemed needy. I had no interest in her beyond a cover. She got the message after about 10 minutes of non-responsiveness and turned to talk with one of her friends. I did not see Donald Wayne on the dance floor or among the male habitués ogling slinky women on the sidelines. He was not among the coiffed heads and well-tailored shoulders visible above the railing in the lounge overlooking the dance floor. I decided to go upstairs to take a look and excused myself from the table. I left the umbrella behind, as if I was coming back.
Even though I knew about it beforehand from my research, the $50 cover to the lounge pissed me off. Goddamn bottom-line scumbags. I didn’t care about the money. Money meant nothing to me after I started the people’s work. I made a decent living and I knew I didn’t have to keep anything back for retirement. I just hated adding to the scumbags’ bottom line. To be played for the rich fool who was so insecure he’d pay gangsters to hang out with them.
To the bruiser taking the money at the bottom of a short stairway leading to the elevators, I was a nobody, a sucker to be fleeced. He was well-dressed in a dark blue suit, with a red tie and matching hanky. He exuded menace, despite the refined exterior. Or maybe because of it.
“The cover includes your first drink and an introductory table dance.” His voice was high-pitched for such a big man. “Keep your hands off the ladies unless invited. They don’t like to be touched and if you upset them needlessly it upsets other people. You don’t want to do that. But have fun up there.”
I went into the bathroom opposite the elevator doors at the top. I sat in a stall, elbows on my knees, head in hands. I slowed my breathing, concentrating on the job, which was to find out as much about Donald Wayne as I could. Seeing him in person might help me later. I wanted to size him up at my leisure. I had no doubt I could get to him, but I knew it would likely take a long time. I left the bathroom refreshed, after splashing water on my face and drying off with one of the soft white towels neatly folded in a wicker basket.
The lounge was done out in what looked to be red velvet. I kid you not. The carpet, the seat cushions, the bar stool seats, the curtains hanging in the window box booths looking out over the dance floor. The room had a long antique mahogany bar with a backdrop of mirrors and shelves filled with gleaming liquor bottles. The mahogany stools and chairs, with their cushioned red velvet seats and carved legs, gave the place an old time feel. Like it was a top notch booze can during prohibition.
Topless women, wearing shoes and red velvet thongs and chokers, mingled among the men in power suits. I wondered if anyone realized what a clichéd picture they made. Nearly naked women and men dressed for success. There were a lot of young guys in the crowd. Guys with slick hair who didn’t pay the cover. None of them looked like gangsters but I knew different. Putting an expensive suit on a lowlife, scumbag thug didn’t change anything.
The lounge was laid out in a long rectangle with the bar stretching along the entire side opposite the window booths looking down on the plebeians below. Small rooms at the far end were reserved for private lap dances. One bigger room was roped off with red velvet cord. The cover didn’t include access.
I took a stool at the bar and ordered a double Chivas. The bartender politely informed me that the cover only included singles. Fucking cheap pricks. I wondered how long a guy would last if he came out blasting in this crowd. I took a single on ice and scanned the room in the bar mirror. It didn’t take long for my introductory lap dance to arrive.
“Hello sir, my name is Sherry. I’d like to dance for you tonight. If you like what you see and want to see more, we can book a more private place.”
“How old are you, Sherry?”
I don’t know why I asked her that. It just popped out. The question startled her.
“Old enough. Are you a cop or something?”
I instantly realized my mistake.
“No, no. I like young girls but only if they’re of legal age. Show me what you’ve got Sherry.”
I turned my stool and leaned back, one elbow on the bar. She started to sway in a small circle. I couldn’t put her on a specific age. She could have been 18 or 28. Hard to tell with all that make-up caked on. She had a red velvet ribbon in her hair, to match her thong and choker, and red patent leather shoes with ankle straps and impossibly high heels. She shifted her weight from one high heel to the other, hardly moving below the waist, and leaned into me with her long, tits hanging. I had no desire to touch them.
She tried to engage my eyes, sticking a finger in her mouth and sucking on it in a way she thought was provocative. The whole thing was so ridiculous, so not sexy, I laughed in her face. She took it as a positive sign and stuck another finger between red lips. To avoid another outburst of laughter, I moved my eyes down her body.
She had fair skin, narrow shoulders and banana tits that curved out at the ends in opposite directions. The nipples were small and pink. She was thin, with hips like a boy. She had a red stone stuck in her navel, an oval shaped innie. The only sexy thing about her was the small area between her thighs immediately below her crotch. She had one of those boxes men lust after, the kind light passes through when a woman is wearing tight jeans and standing with her legs together. The kind of box made for fucking.
But I didn’t want to fuck Sherry. She was pathetic, a plaything for a bottom-liner with bad taste in women. My hard-on was for Donald Wayne. And he was nowhere to be seen. Not at first.
Sherry finished her preview, which did not inspire a follow-up in a back booth. She tried to get me to buy her a drink, but I dispensed her with a wave and turned my attention to the room. That’s when I noticed the sliding doors that opened onto an outdoor smoking area. I bought a single cigar at the bar for $10 and grabbed a book of matches and my drink.
The patio was bigger than it looked from inside. It was about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide, with stools and tables arranged under huge silver space heaters glowing like red umbrellas in the cool air. Donald Wayne Findley was huddled under one about halfway down, smoking and laughing with three of his hoodlum friends. I took a nearby table, sat down and fiddled with the end of my cigar, as if I knew what I was doing. I thought I noticed a pause in their conversation when I first sat down. By the time I got my cigar going they were back into it.
“The son of a bitch pissed himself,” I heard one of them yell gleefully. Donald Wayne laughed loudest. I got a decent look at him out of the corner of my eye as I pretended to concentrate on my cigar.
He was shorter than I thought, maybe only five seven, but more muscular than he appeared in the pictures I’d seen. He was jacket-less, seated on a stool with his feet perched on the second rung, wearing a white shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows, a black tie loosened at the neck and beige chinos. What got me were the shoes. In mid-winter, he was wearing tasseled brown loafers without socks. Like some kind of Miami Vice throwback. It disappointed me. Really. I’d built him up in my mind to be more than that.
He had powerful-looking sloped shoulders and solid forearms ridged with muscle. No visible tattoos. No biker beard or tough guy goatee. No rearranged nose or facial scars. He had a pronounced cowlick that wasn’t evident in pictures. You couldn’t look like a hard case with a cowlick like that. I suspected he cultivated the preppy look to give him the element of surprise. I could tell by the respect he was afforded by the other thugs that they knew exactly who he was, and what he was capable of doing.
I sat under the heater’s warm glow puffing on my cigar, careful not to inhale. But I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy. I felt fury, welling up in my brain, expanding into my chest and stomach. Vile curses and invective intruded into my thoughts. Cocksuckers. Monkey fuckers. Smegma-gargling shit eaters. In that venomous moment of hate, I lost any remaining fear of Donald Wayne. I would take him out. Relieve the world of his presence and send a message to the top predators. There was a new sheriff in town.
I hadn’t noticed the woman come outside. By the time I picked up on her she was already at their table, her left arm draped across Donald Wayne’s shoulder and his right arm comfortably encircling her waist.
She was blonde and looked to be in her mid-20s, way too young to be Donald Wayne’s beloved wife. She was wearing a business suit with a name tag on the lapel, the only fully clothed female I’d seen on the second floor. I assumed, correctly as it would turn out, that she worked at Ecstasy. Her name was Stacey Ryan. I would learn in the papers later that she was the nightclub’s general manager and Donald Wayne’s girlfriend. Even in the conservative suit, I could see she was built like a brick shithouse. But my only interest in her was as a conduit to Donald Wayne.
I left the patio without finishing my drink and went back through the lounge, then down the elevator to the dance floor. I moved through the crowd toward the exit, just another moke whose plan to get laid had gone awry.
The car jockeys used a garage one street over for valet parking and I figured staff parking might be over there. But when I got back onto the street, I noticed a 20-foot wide area on the far side of the warehouse with a dozen or so vehicles parked in it, a disproportionate number of black Escalades with tinted windows.
I walked the three blocks to my car and drove back past Ecstasy, checking out the fenced parking lot as I passed. I drove around the area for a few minutes looking for a spot where I could park unobtrusively and watch the Escalades. I settled on a small car lot at the end of the block. It had a service center attached and there were four or five vehicles parked alongside it. I backed into a free space with good sight lines through the chain link fence, turned off the engine and settled in.
I thought the wait would be boring, but time went by in a flash. The parking lot, with its easy access to a side door, was a hub for the line jumpers. Cars came and went, people went in and out of the club, but as far as I could tell Donald Wayne wasn’t among them. By closing time, there were only three vehicles left, two Escalades and an Audi coupe. At about three a.m., an hour after closing, the side door opened and Stacey Ryan came out, with Donald Wayne beside her, and walked over to the Audi. He wasn’t wearing a jacket and after he kissed her, he turned and went back inside.
I made an instant decision to follow her. I wanted to see where she lived. What opportunities it might present. I pulled out of the lot a respectable distance behind and followed from a half-a-block back, letting a taxi get in between us. She turned south on Burrard Street and picked up speed going over Burrard Bridge. I figured she’d turn off into Kitsilano, the funky beach district, but she kept going up Burrard and turned west on West 12th Ave., then south on Arbutus to the leafy streets of Kerrisdale, one of Vancouver’s most affluent neighbourhoods.
She was a block ahead when her taillights disappeared. I sped up and turned right at the corner. I caught a flash of the Audi’s taillights turning into an alley. She was pulling into her garage when I reached the alley. I stopped for a moment before turning to follow, then drove slowly up the alley with my lights out to the garage. The motion detector lights were still on. I stopped short and rolled down my window to listen. I moved the car forward a touch to give myself a better view of the house and saw a light come on in a back window. I backed up to the end of the alley, still without lights, and parked around the corner. I walked back up the alley and entered her yard. The drizzly night was dark, and I kept in the shadows. I had replaced my new sports jacket with a dark windbreaker I kept in the car. It felt good to be back at work for the people.
I went alongside the house to the front, a typical Kerrisdale yard with hedges screening the street and two massive rhododendrons, one on each side of the front walk, overtaking what remained of the yard. The light came on in a front window and I moved into the deep shadows between the rhodo and the hedge. I could see her clearly, standing in the living room wearing a red kimono and talking on the telephone. I felt a little uncomfortable spying on this woman from the darkness. I thought about trying to explain it to Kate if I got picked up as a common peeping tom. Can you believe it?
I was lost in this thought when the vehicle pulled up. I tried to crouch down to make myself smaller and fell back onto my ass. The car door opened before I could recover myself.
“Pick me up at 8. I’ve got to drop Felicia at school in the morning so don’t be late, bro.”
It happened so fast I had no time to do anything but cringe in the shadows as the car drove off, leaving Donald Wayne alone to walk the 30 feet to the front door. If I got caught now being labelled a peeping tom would be the least of it.
I sat there, senses heightened, vulnerable, unable to get up for fear of making a noise. Although I had a distinct height advantage and was about the same weight, I knew I was no match for someone who had already beaten another man to death. I’d never been a fighter. Too much blood.
The few seconds he took to reach the door and fumble with the key imprinted themselves in my brain. Almost as good as taking a bad guy out. Better than sex. Better than the best winning feeling. Clarity. No turbulence. Full alert. But I wasn’t thinking about my state of mind at the time. I was thinking about the gun. Wishing I had it.
A small dog barked frantically when he opened the door. It tried to run past him onto the porch, but he reached down and scooped it up. I still wonder how it would have turned out if the dog had made it past and sniffed me out of the shadows.
I left the yard immediately and walked briskly to my car. I didn’t realize how hyped I was until I started to come down a little on the drive home. Driving the empty early morning streets, I thought of Adams. How could that pipsqueak know anything about these kinds of feelings. About putting your life on the line. About risking everything for the common good.
I was still jacked up when I got home. I went straight to the office and got out the gun. I hadn’t touched it for several weeks and it felt good in my hand. An old friend. I put a round in, spun the cylinder and put the gun to my head. No hesitation. No fear, really. Just a certainty that fate would choose me over Donald Wayne. This was my fourth spin on the wheel of fate. I was still a five-to-one favorite..
So long, Donald Wayne.
I called in sick on Friday. I couldn’t wait to remove another evil presence from our world. To send a clear message to the bottom-liners—Nobody is safe.
The stars were aligned. I decided to do the job that night. Kate would be back Sunday, severely cutting into my late-night free time. I had lucked onto Donald Wayne’s soft spot. His hard dick. I smiled at the thought of it. The happily married tough guy would be brought to heel in his girlfriend’s front yard. With a poofty little dog yapping in the background. It was time to act.
I had picked up an old Selectric typewriter at a second hand store a few weeks back for twenty bucks. I went downstairs and got it, set it up on the kitchen table and plugged it in. I sat down to write a short letter but nothing came. I got up and walked around the darkened house, around the living room and up the stairs, trying to burn off some of the nervous energy. I went into the bathroom, stepped into the shower fully clothed, and stared at the taps. After a while I went back downstairs and the words came out. I had breakfast, phoned the office and went to bed. I didn’t stir until late afternoon. The letter was sitting in the typewriter and I reread it.
Justice has been delivered to the criminal Donald Wayne Findley in the name of the people of this great country. Like the drug dealer Tran Hoc Do, the pimp Raymond Evers, the legal shyster Richard Cunningham and the corporate crook Morrie Greenberg, all of whom preceded him in our cross hairs, he forfeited his right to live by conducting himself in a way that is counterproductive to the greater good.
The bottom-liners among us have had their way so long they take it as a given that resistance to their parasitic lifestyles will be minimal, and easily dealt with by minions. Their world view is based on their own entitlement and dependent on the rest of us believing that great fiction. They would have you believe everyone is at risk. And that I am a madman.
Be reassured, the vast majority among you who comprise the righteous. Go about your business without fear. You are safe. Only bottom-liners need beware.
I leave you with a quote from Herman Hesse:
Not for everyone,
For madmen only.
The People’s Wolf
The ‘our’ reference and the Hesse quote were red herrings for the police. I had no connection to the German author other than reading one of his books in university. The quote, a sign on a closed door in Hesse’s imagination, had always stuck in my brain. It seemed fitting.
I knew from the beginning that communicating was a huge danger. I wasn’t worried that somebody would recognize my style. I’d written for so many trade magazines over the years I had no style, other than correct grammar and spelling. Still, being able to write competent sentences narrowed the field considerably. I pictured some poor cop pouring over the reading list for first year arts students at UBC. It would take a miraculous leap to reach back to my time there with Herman Hesse.
I had a shower, without clothes, then took a long time shaving, pausing several times to stare at my face in the mirror. An ordinary face. How could it be that I had been chosen to take the people’s fight to the evil-doers? Why not some cop or military guy who had training and was familiar with guns? I had no explanation then, and none came later. Some things just are, I guess.
I spent the early evening padding around the house in bare feet and pajamas formulating a plan, gathering what I’d need. I went to the basement to our seldom used tool box and got a small coil of wire and some wire cutters. I laid out my navy track suit, an oversize hoodie with a roomy pouch and a black balaclava-style ski mask I’d paid cash for at a big box sporting goods store. I had the TV on for background noise but took no notice. I had no need for the numbing banality of shows created by bottom-liners to soothe the public into compliance.
I started getting ready for the job around nine. I put on a pair of surgical gloves and retyped the letter, careful to take an untouched sheet of paper from the middle of the package. I addressed the envelope to Osterwich and wet the stamp with a new sponge. The gloves wouldn’t come off until Donald Wayne was on his way to hell.
I put on my track suit and pulled on the dark hoodie over top. The pouch provided better freedom of movement for the gun than the fanny pack and the bulky hoodie made it harder for witnesses or an unseen security camera to determine body type. I was learning on the job. I rolled the ski mask into a tuque and pulled it low over my ears. Then I got the gun, loaded it and wiped it down. I put extra bullets in my pants pocket and zipped it shut.
In my exhilarated state, I felt kinship with the universal soldier. I knew with certainty as I prepared for my mission why combat veterans formed lifelong bonds that often later baffled wives and relatives and civilian friends. They had lived this feeling together, an experience unlike any other in the human condition.
Fear so powerful your body rebels against moving. Threatens to empty its contents in protest. A last mental battle of titanic proportions as your brain searches for a way out and finds nothing acceptable. Profound relief when the decision to act overcomes all protests. Calmness in the eye of life’s perfect storm. Pride at passing through the portal, flowing through your being on a river of adrenaline. All in an instant that repeats itself in an endless Ground Hog Day mental loop that forms the bigger picture.
Clarity. Focus. Purpose.
After this, all else is drudgery.
I debated stealing licence plates to switch with mine but decided against it. Better to have a reason to be in the area if your vehicle was spotted than to be caught with plates that didn’t match your registration. I drove down Hastings in a drizzle, through the Downtown Eastside, past the collateral damage of the bottom-liners war on society, the scabby zombies and ghouls who scuttle along the mean streets. The ones without the strength to make it through. I didn’t feel anything for them. They were victims of evolution. Like the Cro-Magnon man.
I went past the Ecstasy, to see if the Audi was parked in its spot. Bottom-liners in waiting spilled down the street, the long line-up partially obscuring the preferred parking lot on the side. But I could see the Audi through the open gate.
I knew the whole mission was a leap of faith. I had no solid reason to believe Donald Wayne would visit his Kerrisdale girlfriend two nights in a row. Or that she would even go home straight from work. I hadn’t planned on doing him for weeks or even months but I could see no reason to wait. I felt the light shining brightly on me. The storybook hero, working alone against great odds, without any thought of personal recognition or gain.
It felt good.
I drove to Kerrisdale and parked along 41st Ave. in the village shopping area, near a pub. There was enough activity along the street from the restaurants that I wouldn’t be noticed. I thought of having a drink in the pub. But I didn’t want to mess up my high with alcohol. I pulled off the hoodie and tuque before I left the car. Too sinister. I walked the six blocks to Stacy Ryan’s house. A middle age white guy in a track suit out for his evening stroll.
I turned down her alley and slowed my pace in the darkness, looking for a spot I could hunker down for the wait. It didn’t take long. A neighbor a couple doors down and across the alley had taken out a section of fence and parked a utility trailer there loaded with yard debris. It had enough clearance to get underneath it and there was no security light on the garage. I walked to the end of the alley without stopping and made a circle back to my car.
I moved the car around the corner, in front of a two-story condo complex, bundled the gun and tuque inside the hoodie and turned into an alley a couple blocks from where I parked. I found a blind spot behind a garage and pulled the hoodie and tuque on, emerging at the other end as an anonymous dark figure on the tree-shadowed streets. It was still drizzling when I slipped under the trailer at 12:41 a.m. A soldier in the trenches waiting to do his duty.
Stacy Ryan’s car pulled into the alley a little after three. I could see the Audi emblem clearly in the light of the motion detector as the door closed behind it. I didn’t move for five minutes. A long time to wait, looking at your watch. But I didn’t care. I felt calm. No turbulence.
The motion detector lights came on as I approached the garage. It scared me spit-less. Luckily, I had hardly eaten all day, or I might have done a Morrie Greenberg right there in the alley. Hard to stalk prey smelling like shit. I stopped at the gate long enough to flip the latch. I moved into the darkness alongside the house, paused for a second to listen, and continued to the front yard. I took one look at the front window. The light was off in the living room. I went right to work, attaching one end of the wire at about mid-calf to a solid branch on one rhododendron, pulled the wire across the sidewalk, and tightened it around the other bush. In the shadows of the yard, it might as well have been invisible. I was back in the blackness between the rhododendron and the hedge when the living room light came on. I couldn’t see Stacy Ryan this time.
I checked the gun. Safety off. A full load.
Waiting wasn’t hard. I felt too good about myself. I didn’t even feel the damp night’s chill. If Donald Wayne didn’t show, he’d get a little more time. No big deal.
But he did show.
A black Escalade pulled up and parked. I could see it through a gap in the hedges. There were two men inside. Nobody made a move to get out. I couldn’t tell if they were talking or providing security. I wondered if the cops did stakeouts in Escalades. I thought of the letter I was carrying. I thought of the wire. If anyone other than Donald Wayne tripped over the wire, I was committed to action. If only in self-defense.
Waiting wasn’t easy anymore.
The scene sprang to life when the front door light came on. Before I could do more than turn my head towards the house, Donald Wayne was on the porch in his stocking feet, silently waving at the men in the Escalade. He had come home with his girlfriend. I turned enough to see that they weren’t receiving the message. The guy on the passenger side had his head turned towards the driver. Donald Wayne waved a couple more times and when he didn’t get his desired result bounded in a fury down the wet stairs in his socks. He hit the wire on his third stride and went down hard on the sidewalk.
I’d already begun to move when he cleared the porch and he’d noticed the movement out of the corner of his eye and was turning his head when the wire took his legs out. He cracked his head pretty good and appeared stunned when I came around the bush and took dead aim with both hands, TV cop style. I hit him in the chest, and he slumped back, bleeding profusely.
“Oh fuck,” he said. The words came out gurgly.
I stepped around him and walked straight at the Escalade firing. The window shattered and glass flew as the driver squealed away. When I turned back to Donald Wayne, Stacy Ryan was standing on the porch with the yappy dog clutched in front of her like a shield.
“You’re family man boyfriend won’t be hurting anyone else in this life, lady.”
I said it calmly, affecting an East Indian accent so she couldn’t get a read on my voice.
Donald Wayne was breathing heavy. He looked at me when I stepped toward him and pointed the gun. A look of resignation. He knew it was over for him. Time to pay up.
“Not in the face,” he said, turning his head away. I put one behind his ear from about four feet. I wasn’t going to get any closer.
The stupid woman didn’t move or say a word. She just stood there shaking, barely able to hold up the yappy dog. So I walked to the porch and put the letter on a step. No need to worry about the post office fouling things up.
“Keep better company,” I said before disappearing around the side of the house.
I went up the alley at full speed, grabbing the gun and wire cutters in the hoodie pouch to keep them from bouncing. I hung a left and slowed to a fast walk as I passed Stacy Ryan’s street. Lights were coming on up and down the block but there was no sign of the black Escalade. I half expected it to pop out of an alley with guns blazing from every window. When I got a couple blocks from my car I pulled the hoodie over my head and stuffed the ski mask into the pouch with the gun and wire cutters and bundled it under my arm like a sports bag.
Everything was quiet when I got to my car. I threw the hoodie on the back seat floor and pulled onto 41st Ave. heading east. I was barely past the lights at Arbutus when I heard the first siren. Then I saw flashes of blue and red coming towards me fast. The cab that had been in front of me at the lights slowed and moved to the right and I pulled in behind him. Four cop cars went past us at speed, and I marveled that not one of them thought to stop and check us out.
From the time Donald Wayne opened the door to his death to the point the cops passed me couldn’t have been more than four or five minutes. As I’ve said before, killing people doesn’t take a lot of time. I was home just after four a.m.
Doing Donald Wayne had taken a lot out of me. I relived the whole scene a hundred times on the drive home. So many things could have gone wrong. If the henchmen in the Escalade had been on the ball I’d probably be laying in that yard dead. If one or both of them had gotten out of the Escalade and walked toward the house when he waved I would have been forced into a gunfight with three murderous thugs. It didn’t take imagination to figure the outcome. At the very least Donald Wayne could have slipped back into the house to fight another day. But nothing had gone wrong and Donald Wayne was done. The scourge of the local underworld went out worried about how he’d look in his coffin. At least he didn’t beg or call for his mommy
Sitting on the edge of the bed, still dressed, I felt the full weight of the responsibility I’d taken on. The list of villains was endless. I knew it could only end badly if I kept going. I swung my feet onto the bed and went to sleep in my track suit.
I didn’t get up until mid-afternoon. My brain felt muddled. Not turbulence, just an absence of clear thought. I put away the gun, then had to take the floorboards up again to put the bullets away. I made a mental note to get rid of the shoes. I wasn’t about to get caught out by an errant footprint in Stacy Ryan’s flower bed.
I wondered what the cops would think about the wire. I’d meant to clip it and take it with me but it didn’t seem worth the risk at the time. I hadn’t reckoned on the possibility that someone else might trip over it or that Donald Wayne would come out of the house and take a header from the other direction. It seemed like a terrible idea when he was standing on the porch waving his henchmen over as I crouched behind the rhodo with no way out of the yard.
The image that kept coming back to me was the face framed in the Escalade’s passenger window. The kid was blonde with spiky hair on top, clipped short on the sides. The dumb fuck sat there and looked at me with amazement when I stepped toward the car. That’s the last thing I saw before the car window shattered, the surprised face of a kid who had taken a wrong turn and ended up getting shot at.
I waited until five o’clock to walk to the corner store for a paper. I wanted to get the late edition to be sure the killing would be covered. I hadn’t listened to the radio news or turned on the TV. I wanted to read about it in the comfort of home, with a cup of tea. A couple of scumbags standing in front of the store spoiled the surprise. They were smoking and reading the paper. I’d seen one of them around before, using the pay phone to conduct his dirty drug business.
“Shit man, they got the Demon, Donald Wayne Findley. Took him out and shot his son, too.”
“There must be a long list of suspects. That motherfucker had more enemies than Mother Theresa.”
“Yeah, that Catholic cunt. Fucking dried up old prune. Probably never been fucked in her life.”
“What’s she got to do with Donald Wayne?”
I went into the store before I heard the answer. Fucking mutts. Pretending to have some inside knowledge and they couldn’t even get the story straight. Then I saw the headlines blaring from the newspaper rack.
Gangster and son gunned down in Kerrisdale
Wolf claims credit for gangland slaying
Two dead, one critically injured
I paid for the paper and left the store. The mutts were standing over at the phone booth talking shit.
“This Wolf guy must be good.”
“You better hope he doesn’t set his sights on your skinny crack-dealing ass.”
“I’m just working for a living like everybody else. Giving the people what they want. He’s a friend of the people.”
It felt good to hear that. Even from a lowlife moron. The message was getting through. If he got it others would get it too.
I covered the two blocks to home in double quick time, but I didn’t read the paper right away. Instead, I put the tea pot on and savoured the moments until it came to a boil. I read the lead story while waiting for the tea bag to steep.
Gangster and son gunned down in Kerrisdale
One of Vancouver’s most notorious criminals was shot dead outside a Kerrisdale home early this morning and his son is in hospital with life threatening injuries.
Donald Wayne Findley, 46, the leader of a gang called the Demons, died on the sidewalk outside a West Side home at about 3 a.m. Another unidentified man was also killed and Findley’s son, Alex, 18, is in intensive care at Vancouver General Hospital.
Police say the shooting happened about 3 a.m., shortly after Findley returned home from a night at Ecstasy, a popular downtown nightclub said to have gang connections. He was killed, execution-style, in front of his live-in girlfriend, Stacy Ryan, who manages Ecstasy.
According to police, the younger Findley was parked out front of the house playing video games with another Ecstasy employee when the gunfire started. After shooting Findley senior, the gunman, who left a note behind (See page 2: Wolf claims credit for gangland shooting) opened fire on the car hitting both occupants. The driver managed to make it to VGH but died outside the Emergency Ward before he could receive treatment.
Police are playing down the Wolf angle.
“As a leading member of the Demons Donald Wayne Findley crossed paths with a lot of bad people,” said Detective Sgt. Earl Blancher, head of the gang squad.
“The shooter left a note at the scene claiming to be the People’s Wolf but at this time investigating officers have no reason to believe this is anything but a gang killing.”
Stacy Ryan, who lives in the house where the shooting took place, told police Findley’s son, Alexander, was being dropped off to spend the night at his dad’s house. He is not known to police. The name of the other dead man is being withheld until relatives can be contacted.
Donald Wayne Findley was born in East Vancouver, where he attended Templeton High School. He has a long record dating back to his teens and was convicted of manslaughter in the beating death of Aubrey John Klenner in 1985. He served four years for that crime. He has two other children with his estranged wife.
Wow. Two dead and the teenage son clinging to life. Stacy Ryan, the live-in girlfriend. Who knew family man Donald Wayne had left his wife? I’d never intended on hitting anyone in the car, but it didn’t make me feel bad. Not even for junior with the stupid look on his face. I’d fired because I thought it was them or me. I’d more pointed the gun than aimed it. Hang around with dogs and you get fleas. Maybe people would start thinking about who they were hanging with. Maybe the bad guys would realize they weren’t as insulated as they thought.
I read through the other stories quickly. The son had been hit in the side of the head and was expected to lose his sight. The story covering the Wolf angle interested me most. Osterwich led with my last words to Stacy Ryan: “Keep better company.” The story included the letter and a bunch of speculation about the Herman Hesse quote. He interviewed a UBC lit prof, who noted that the German author was known for his dark themes.
The Donald Wayne execution had changed everything. The experts had a new theory now. The Wolf had to be somebody with military or police training. Someone familiar with guns. I laughed at the speculation. Five down and the cops had no clue.
I picked Kate up at the airport Sunday night. I acted my part. Kissing her and telling her how much I’d missed her. She prattled on about her sister all the way home. About her kids and lawyer husband and her beautiful home in Scarborough. The importance of staying close to family. What a load of shit. We were almost home when she brought up the Wolf.
“That horrible person killed someone else. I read that he shot two men and a boy, one of the men’s sons. Honestly, Roger, what kind of demented human being would shoot a boy.”
“Eighteen-year-olds carry guns, dear. I doubt he was an innocent kid if he was related to Donald Wayne Findley. The men you’re talking about are gangsters. Killers who deal drugs and think only of themselves.”
“You can’t believe this maniac is working on behalf of the people. How does shooting people on the streets and in their offices help society. Everybody on the plane was talking about it, joking about the Wolf as if he were some superhero. Laughing with two men dead and a boy badly injured. I don’t care what those men did, they deserve their day in court like everyone else.”
Kate was an innocent. One of the little picture people I was risking everything to help. The only thing that bothered me was her reference to the boy as if it somehow demeaned my work. I pictured the surprised face in the window and the wide eyes that would never see again. I felt nothing for the kid who had grown up reaping the benefits of dirty money.
“If the courts were doing their job enforcing the laws this horrible person wouldn’t have to shoot people. The system is rigged, everybody knows that.”
“Honestly, Roger, you’re such a contrarian. Always trying to be so gruff and tough. I know you’re a softie inside where it counts. That’s why I married you. Have you set up another appointment with Doctor Adams?”
“Not yet, maybe in the new year.”
“No maybes about it. I’ll make the appointment myself if I have to. You’re doing so much better now. It would be a shame to waste all that progress.”
I couldn’t wait to get to work Monday morning to get Thorsby’s take on the weekend shootings. Predictably, he went hook, line and sinker for the military man theory.
“You’ve got to be cool under fire to take out somebody like Donald Wayne Findley. Probably a disgruntled Afghan veteran. Someone like the Wolf doesn’t just come out of the woodwork one day and start killing people. There has to be a back story, a trail that leads to his door. I predict he’ll be caught within a month.”
“I’ll put money on that.”
He ignored my betting proposition.
“He’s smart, no doubt about it. And he’s obviously an expert marksman. It says in the morning paper that three shots hit the mark. That’s pretty good shooting under pressure.”
“What happened to the weirdo sitting around his basement suite in his underwear theory. If I recall, you said he was a pussy who wouldn’t take on a tough guy.”
“I never said he was a pussy. A pussy doesn’t go around shooting people.”
“No. The guy’s ex-military. I’ll bet on that.”
“How will you pay when you lose. Mollie isn’t going to give you money to pay off gambling debts.”
“I’m not going to lose.”
He got all pouty at the mention of Molly and his allowance and rolled his chair back to his desk.
“As I’ve told you before, petulance doesn’t look good on a man in an ill-fitting golf shirt.”
Oliver appeared in the doorway before he could answer.
“So what do you guys think of this Wolf stuff. He must be a cool customer to shoot it out with gangsters.”
Before we could reply, the temporary receptionist, Oliver’s supposed girl-on-the-side, joined in from her desk at the front.
“I think it’s about time someone stood up for the little people against these criminals.”
“What about the lawyer and the media guy,” Thorsby interjected. “They weren’t criminals.”
He couldn’t stay petulant with Oliver standing there.
“He must have had something on those other people. Why would he kill someone if he didn’t know something.” The temp got up and came over. “They’re all a bunch of crooks,” she said with finality.
Oliver smiled at her and agreed.
“There are a lot of crooks out there. I wonder who’s next on the list.”
“I’m sure we’re all safe,” she said. “The Wolf said righteous people don’t have to worry.”
Oliver got back to business. He came in and outlined his expectations on the Nextco story. He wanted five thousand words by the end of February. I knew I could stretch the deadline into March. With Donald Wayne done it would be a leisurely beginning to the new year.