Jenny looked at her father, tried to read his face in the light of the fire in his study, seeing what kind of damage she did to herself in acknowledging that she seized the Edward Fitzsimmons and had pulled her back to Buffalo.
Jenny took a second look and had to guess if the corners of his mouth had the start of a smile…
“Um, yeah…?” she said.
The smile grew. “I always thought you were special,” he said, “that you were going to be a great talent and really surprise everyone.”
“As a pirate?”
“Well, as somebody important, able to do big things. I assumed you’d have been a broker, maybe a CEO. Which I guess being a pirate, you sort of have to be on some level.”
Jenny just stared at him, not sure how to react.
“But you can tell me more after we get something to eat. I know a few restaurants that either stay open all night or can open the kitchen and deliver a meal for some of the better customers. One of the things I really like about London, is how they’re doing all the things that make Toronto worth it, without making the same mistakes they made.”
“Well, when more folks came north-”
“The Climate Claimants?” Jenny interrupted.
“Well, some of us, yes, we did see which way the winds were going, and prepared. But not as many Americans as you think just bought their way in. For every guy who moved as much liquidity with him as he could to come here, a lot more folks were just out of luck and everything else, all coming here because it seemed like Canada was going to do better, coming with nothing except fear.
“It was not easy for them. They lost more than homes, more than jobs; there was this belief that everything was going to be better because for Americans, the next day always was, and this time, that didn’t happen. Too much water on the coasts, not enough water inland; the big meme was whether you preferred a dry death of a wet one.”
“Were people really dying?”
“A lot of them wished they had, considering the alternatives were worse. The crap just got deeper, and there were a lot of people who just lost faith and fled north.”
He took a drink from his snifter and went on. “You had all those poor bastards that came over at once with less than nothing, stuck in hotels in Ottawa waiting for their refugee status to be heard, thinking they could cut in front of all the rest of the refugees from elsewhere in the world. The worst of them gave other expats a bad name and made the name ‘Americatown’ a dirty word. Did you know that there’s an Americatown in Saskatoon that has a rep for being one of the worst slums on the planet? It supposedly makes every old American urban horror story I grew up with sound quaint.”
“Sounds like where I live,” said Jenny.
“Well, ‘lived,’ you cou- Anyway, I can’t say I blame them. I was in their boat, too.”
Jenny looked askance at him.
He took a moment to meet her gaze before he replied, “Well, the same waters, not quite the same boat.”
She leaned forward and cast him another glance.
“Your mother used to do that too. Creeped me out when she bore her eyes into me like that.”
Jenny took a sip from her snifter. The extravagant taste of the brandy gave her a few tinges of guilt for having put him through that, tinges that flamed out very quickly.
“So tell me,” she asked, “what did you do when you got here?”
All content Copyright © 2012 James Ryan