No Longer on the Menu

I was surprised but not shocked when my Aunt Milda began to see her dead son up on the telephone pole outside her window in the mornings. At her age, anything was possible. I had to do something, and not just for her sake. As her tenant, I had everything to lose if she was carted off to a seniors’ residence.

“I don’t know how Frankie manages to perch there,” she said when I came in from my heated garage to join her at morning coffee. “The wire is very thin.”

As if that would bother a ghost. “The wire is immaterial,” I said, humouring her, “like a line on a computer screen.”

She didn’t know what I meant and went on. “I call out from the window for him to come inside, but he never answers me. He just looks at me funny and then he disappears.”

“You mean he vanishes into thin air? ”

“I look away and when I look again, he’s gone.”

Aunt Milda wore her hair pinned up in the mornings, but her eyesight was poor and she was getting forgetful. A few wild gray wisps stuck out on one side of her head.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 4. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“The Tangy Wishniak was a red herring. I thought I’d go down to the Lithuanian parish on Gore Vale at Dundas, the one we used to go to when I was a kid . . . ” —Gorevale & Dundas

“We were sitting in the combination living-dining room in her Dovercourt house, south of Dundas . . . ” —Dovercourt, south of Dundas

“They grew up in the suburbs, but now they wanted authenticity, and they came to look for it around Ossington and Dundas . . . ” —Ossington & Dundas

“‘You know, Tangy Wishniaks, a drink they served at the Lakeview Lunch, over at Ossington and Dundas.’ . . . ” —The Lakeview

“I walked on over to Trinity Bellwoods Park, and had an unsettling moment there . . . .” —Trinity Bellwoods Park

“But there was no Crawford Street Bridge any more. I could understand a bridge being torn down, but this was not the case . . . ” —Crawford Street Bridge

“Crawford street was still there, maybe the bridge was still under the street, but even if that was so, the open space beneath the bridge was gone . . . ” —Crawford Street