this thing switched on? Pete?"
it's fine. Can you just talk for a minute? Tell me what you had
morning we had toast and scrambled eggs-"
great. Why didn't you have any coffee?"
the thing about living in the middle of nowhere, is that the
basic necessities of life - caffeine, cable TV… you know,
heat. They're hard to come by out here."
Although some of us prefer the simpler things in life."
of us are-"
that's enough, thanks guys. Susan? Sound's good to go. Whenever
Pete, thanks. Now, are you two comfy…? Want some water? Ok,
good. We'll just start off with a couple of easy questions
first, help you relax into it, and then see where we go. Just
remember - answer in full sentences, so if I say 'What's your
name?' Don't just say 'Ray', say 'My name is Ray'. And don't
ever look into the camera - face me.
great. Now, let's start with you introducing yourselves."
you see, the thing is, everything would have been fine if it
hadn't been for that stupid ass
things were going great. We had a nice place up in the middle
of… well, let's face it, Nowhere c/o The Yukon, and I was
starting to fit in real good with the community. I'd even
started working on some cars with Mikey down at the local garage
part-time, keeping my hand in and earning some spare cash.
wasn't so bad. In fact, it was kinda like living in one of those
old Clint Eastwood movies; more Cowboy than Abominable Snowman.
So I got used to spending every Friday night down at the Red
Feather Saloon (seriously) drinking Molson and saying
yeah, I was more Canadian than a curling rock, baby.
maybe things weren't perfect, but snow, power cuts, unrequited
love and lack of pineapple pizza aside, things were pretty damn
and I had this game we'd play where we'd each take turns naming
things about Chicago we didn't miss. So it'd be like I'd say
"pigeons" and he'd say "traffic jams" and
I'd say "Vecchio" and he'd say "Stella" and,
ok, sometimes that got us into fights, but pretty much I never
ran out of things I didn't miss about the Big Smoke.
yeah, things were good.
then… and then came The Film Crew. They blew into town with
big trucks and cameras and pasty-faced college kids running
around asking people if they wanted tea or coffee, and disrupted
the fuck's genius idea was this anyway?
Kowalski, is it? Hi, I'm Susan. I'm in charge around here, for
my sins." She smiled winningly. "I just wanted to say;
I know that you live on the outskirts of town, so hopefully we
won't bother you too much, but we will be filming around abouts,
and wanted to make sure you were ok with that." She tilted
her head to one side and gazed at me with her baby blues.
of course, that's fine, no problem." I babbled.
- thank you so much. Now, if you wouldn't mind just signing
this. It's just for our paperwork…"
yeah, she conned me into signing my life away. I'm telling you,
she's got some bad mojo working for her or something.
lights, camera, action; the Television People arrived. Yeah,
they deserve capital letters. And scary music, lightning
sound-effects - the whole shebang. They were making some reality
TV documentary about living in the Yukon, and wanted to follow
around some people in town, filming the "gritty reality of
life in the far north." This basically meant that if you
were stupid enough to show your face anywhere near town, you'd
get a camera shoved in it.
of this, the young girls in town started donating to the cause
of global warming and animal testing by upping their
hairdryer/deodorant/make-up usage like a thousand per cent, and
everyone kept walking around town trying to look busy and, oops,
am I in shot?
of course, spent the first week with his mouth tightly pursed. I
think he was actually suffering from an overdose of disapproval.
That is, until the swanky producer lady took the time to
Dawson used to be the capital of the territory, Ms Sharpe. It
wasn't until 1952 that it was moved to Whitehorse. It was quite
the thriving metropolis in its day."
how interesting, I didn't know that. So why is it called Dawson,
do you know?"
so it turned out that Fraser wasn't so pissed after all, and
that Susan Sharpe could fake her way through any conversation. I
gotta admit, I was pretty impressed.
course, we both should have known she had a serious hidden
agenda. Fuck that Double-Danish-Telescopic-Bag-Shot.
next question. Where did you two meet?"
that's kinda a funny story-"
right, uh… Frase and I met. Er-"
had gone to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father
reasons that don't need explaining at this juncture-"
attached as a liaison officer for the Canadian Consulate. During
which time I worked closely with the Chicago Police
met when Ray was placed to work undercover, posing as the man
who had been my partner for more than two years…"
we kinda bonded."
know, 'coz ghost ships, performance arsonists-"
all that stuff - Russian subs - It'll mean you get in some
serious life-or-death bonding, you know?"
crew had been there two weeks when Ray and Fraser first ventured
into town together. They were walking to Kate's for breakfast
when Ray got an awful sense of foreboding, just like when he'd
known Ira Cowan was about to pull a knife on his ass.
Ray?" Fraser paused in the doorway.
don't think we should go in there." From behind him, Dief
barked and Ray thought it was in agreement. Or it could have
been a demand for bacon.
not in the mood for pancakes?" Fraser asked, head cocked.
no, pancakes are fine, pancakes are all good. I just- I don't
think we should go in there."
Ray, the fact that you want pancakes must surely necessitate a
visit to Klondike Kate's. It's the only place in town that sells
rolled his eyes at Fraser's tone. "Oh, God. Fine, we'll go
in, just don't start with this again."
wasn't 'starting', Ray, I just meant-"
uh, I know exactly what you meant." Ray pushed his way
through the door. "And I'm telling you, it was your turn to
buy milk-" He came face to face with the lens of a huge
fucking camera. He stared at it blankly for a few seconds. Then
a sharp movement caught his eye. He turned his head and saw
Susan gesturing at him sharply. She could either have been
saying Don't come in here or they'll chop your head off,
or Don't look at the fucking camera. Ray went with the
moved over to a booth in the corner, Dief dancing around their
feet. The camera followed. It was attached to a burly man, who
was attached to Pete, wearing headphones and a pack over his
shoulder, who was attached to Susan, holding a small
box-type-thing, at which she was staring into with intent. They
all shuffled along behind the cameraman like pre-schoolers
forced to hold hands on a day out. Stay in the crocodile, kids.
the waitress, bounced over. Her hair was huge and high and wide,
and Ray stared at it for a few seconds in wonder.
can I get you boys?" she asked breathily, beaming at the
camera and sticking out her chest.
With maple syrup, please, Molly," said Fraser, who looked
the same cool oasis of calm that he always did. Apparently all
the madness was not fazing him in the slightest. Ray, however
could feel himself shooting nervous glances at the camera every
few seconds. Susan was gonna kill him, but he really couldn't
tottered off on six-inch heels. How the hell she was going to
work in those, Ray didn't know. Didn't she do like a ten-hour
sat upright, next to Ray in the booth, and looked regal. Jeez,
even the wolf was acting up for the camera.
continue our earlier discussion, Ray. Ray? Ray!"
Fraser, what, sorry," Ray made a huge effort to not look at
was not my turn to by milk, it was your turn. I bought milk the
day before yesterday. Before you decided to eat four bowls of
cereal for supper."
was suitably distracted. "Not true, Fraser, you finished
the milk last night. So you should replace it."
the hell were they still filming this? Ray wondered. This must
be the most boring conversation ever caught on film.
smaller camera appeared, operated by a small, thin girl. Susan
whispered something to her, and she directed the camera at
Fraser, while the bigger one moved in on Ray. He shot it another
nervous glance, and out of the corner of his eye saw Susan put
her head in her hands.
are you planning on doing today, Ray?" Fraser asked
you know, the usual. Head down to Mikey's later, maybe go for a
beer tonight with a few of the guys. Nothin' special. You?"
have quite an exciting day planned, actually. We have a new
recruit at the post, so I'll be taking him out into the field,
seeing how well he tracks, observe what skills he has cultivated
and what bad habits need to be ironed out." He cracked his
neck - Ray assumed it was in preparation for some serious
Ray knew about the new recruit, but Fraser clearly felt he had
to narrate for the camera.
So you'll be out late? Not home for dinner?" The cameraman
pushed forward, closer to Ray, and he lost his train of thought.
no, I should be back by then. It's not the usual patrol, more a
field-trip, if you will."
Fine. Uh… so what's the new recruit like?"
He's… well, he seems like a very capable young man. A little
naïve, perhaps, and whimsical - he seems to have romantic
tendencies" Fraser muttered darkly "- but all in all
he's coming along fine." Fraser lowered his voice. "I
think that he may have a crush on Daisy."
grinned. "Really? The hots for Daisy, huh? Well don't
worry, Frase, a week with you and he'll be licking dirt off the
floor and not even noticing Daisy exists."
I wouldn't go that far, Ray."
would. I have faith in you, Frase. In no time at all he'll be a
mini-Fraser, and forget about sex completely."
coughed, turning red.
when did you make the decision to move to Canada together?"
decided to move to Canada together after we successfully
apprehended a criminal by the name of Holloway Muldoon."
that's not right, Frase, that just started the whole Hand of
Franklin mess. It was after that that I thought I might as well
stay. And it wasn't a together thing, it was an independent
thing. You know, you were staying, and I just happened to be
too, so we may as well room together. There was no, like,
yes, of course."
see we arrested this guy and I thought I should make a holiday
of it up here, so we went off to discover the Hand of
for the Beaufort Sea…"
partied with the dog-sled for a while, froze our asses off, the
usual. Then we, well, Fraser, he got this job here, and I was
supposed to go back to Chicago, but…"
decided he liked… Well, he liked-"
you know, the, uh, air up here, the nutty people… it's all
good. Plus, not much for me in Chicago anymore. I needed a
change of scene."
moved here and everything fell into place, rather. The house, my
job, Ray's work. We very quickly established a routine."
It all sort of just happened. I don't think there was one time I
could say 'That's it, that's when I decided what I wanted'…
which was to stay."
so that's a lie. But things really don't happen wham! bam! It's
all, you know, gradual. So I saw Ray Vecchio staring back at me
with that dumbass little moustache and felt something crack, or
maybe it was something clicking into place. And stuff from
there… snowballed. But if there was one single moment, that
was when I started to realise what I wanted, which was to stay.
Near Fraser. Wherever the hell that was.
were followed out of the diner, down Main, past Mikey's, all the
way to Fraser's detachment. Dief yapping at Ray's heels like he
had donuts stuffed in his pockets, Ray with his shoulders
hunched, Fraser striding along all noble-Mountie. Ray had
started to suspect that Fraser'd got it into his head that he
had to make a good example or something.
the detachment they crammed into the narrow hallway, Fraser
hanging up his hat neatly.
fresh-faced Turnbull-clone bounced out from the back room,
mirroring Dief for perkiness. Did none of these people realise
it was still before 9am? Ray thought tetchily, running his hand
through his hair.
morning, Inspector Fraser," smiled- what was it? Thompson,
right. His smile faltered, however, when he saw the camera.
Thompson," Fraser confirmed, "How is everything this
sir," he stuttered nervously. Ray suddenly felt an old hand
at this TV thing. Heck, he barely noticed them anymore.
"Uh, I believe there is some paperwork on your desk that
needs attention, and a few messages, nothing too urgent."
good." Fraser said heartily. Thompson edged backwards out
of the hallway. "Well, Ray, I'll be home about seven, if
fine, Frase." Ray twitched slightly, making to leave,
almost chickening out. He turned away, and then turned back
abruptly, pulling Fraser to one side and lowering his voice.
"I- I made lunch, you know, 'cause you keep missing it and
stuff, especially with you two going out into the wild today and
everything. So… there." He shoved the package wrapped in
brown paper into Fraser's hands and jerkily moved away.
worry, whatever… I gotta go." He practically ran out of
the building. To his relief, the big camera stayed with Fraser.
Unfortunately, the little camera attached to the slim girl -
what was she, seven?! - stayed with him.
fact it followed him around all day. All the way through fixing
a way-cool Hummer with suspension problems, through a meatball
sub with Mikey at the dusty desk in Mikey's office, through
going home and putting dinner on, through walking Dief, through
waiting patiently for Fraser to come home.
flashed the little digital clock
on the microwave.
was so unfazed by the camera by this point that he had started
to make conversation with the seven-year old. Carla had turned
out to have a quick, sharp tongue, be closer in age to
twenty-five than seven - though she definitely didn't look it -
and was kind of a tomboy; Ray had taken a shine to her.
Carla, want the grand tour?" he asked.
sounds good." She grinned, eyes fixed on that little LCD
screen, one headphone on, one pushed back on her head.
"Make like an estate agent."
jumped up and spread his arms. "What we have here is the
classic Yukon kitchen: Oven, gas, of course; fridge; olde-worlde
countertops. It's a prime example of the period. Uh… the
pre-60s period." He wandered through a big archway into the
living room. "The TV - which is heaven, when we actually
have power - the couch, my Mom sent me that throw from the
States; knitted it herself. The computer which actually has
email - I know, amazing, huh - that's a bit of a lifeline. We
keep in touch with a lot of people from back home that way. Also
that big grandfather clock, which Fraser's grandparents left
him, or something. Makes a hell of a racket."
he walked through the rooms he played with little knickknacks
that they'd collected, showing them to the camera: old magazines
left lying around; an undeveloped roll of film so old that he
couldn't remember what was on it anymore; a packet of maple
candy that he kept meaning to send to his folks.
walked into the hallway. "That room there is Fraser's, you
can tell 'cause there's nothing in it but a bed and his clothes.
And this is my room," Ray pushed open the doors as he
passed. Ray's room looked equally empty, if he was honest.
"And lastly the bathroom. Fascinating, huh?"
smiled slightly, still looking down. Had she even made eye
contact once? Ray wondered. She did seem totally obsessed with
it's certainly not what I was expecting," she said quietly.
Ray said, surprised. "What were you expecting?"
looked up quickly and smiled. "Oh, I don't know.
Something… smaller, I guess."
Smaller than one level, a living room/kitchen, one bathroom and
lights in the hallway flickered once, and then went completely
dark. There was no light coming from anywhere. It was only at
times like this when he hated not having streetlights.
said Ray, pushing past Carla into the living room. "Shit!
Fraser isn't here. Uh… candles, candles… where the
fuck-?" He walked into the sofa with a thud. "Ow."
little light flickered on. For a brief second Ray felt relief
flood through him. Power again. But then he realised that it was
just the little battery-powered light on Carla's camera.
"Jeez, give that thing a rest, will you?" he snapped.
felt his way over to the computer desk in the light from the
camera and started rummaging around in the little drawer,
muttering something about candles.
you know what to do when this happens?" Carla asked, but it
seemed more like an interview question than something she
actually wanted to know.
answered distractedly, "Uh, Fraser usually deals with this
shit. I'm- I'm not too good with survival stuff. Where the hell
is he, anyway? What time is it?"
shuddered the grandfather clock dramatically.
Ray said, dropping a handful of candles. They skittered along
the polished wooden floor as Ray struggled to find them in the
dark, and the clock rang six more times. "Told you that
thing was noisy."
front door opened as Fraser, on time as always, stepped in out
of the cold, Dief trotting after him. A gust of air blew in a
light swirl of snow, like something out of a movie, and he wiped
his feel on the doormat, unbuttoning his coat.
looked like one of those Arctic explorers you see saying things
like "I may be some time." Carla grinned; that was one
hell of a shot she just got. The Mountie-hero and scary
wolf-companion in all their glory.
all," Fraser said chirpily.
stood up swiftly, relief making him sag. "Fraser, thank
God. There's no power, it just went out like two minutes ago,
and I dropped all the candles, plus dinner is in the stove and I
think it's burning and God I know I sound pathetic but I don't
seemed to take all this in his stride, and had quickly and
gracefully rescued the candles from under the desk, set them up
in strategic places around the room, lit them, removed the
casserole from the oven, calmed Ray down and put water on for a
"much-needed" cup of tea. Carla was pretty impressed.
hour later, the candlelight was still softening what Carla
personally thought were the rather rigid lines of Fraser's face.
Bit too military for her tastes.
around the kitchen table, the camera whirring discreetly on the
sideboard - were they even aware she was still filming? - Fraser
drank tea, Ray coffee, and they talked about Fraser's day, the
debris from dinner soaking in the sink. All very domestic.
then Thompson spilled lemonade all over himself. I was hard
pressed not to laugh, I'm afraid to say. Not very
charitable." A twinkle in Fraser's eyes belied the
pompousness. "Diefenbaker was not quite as
circumspect." He frowned down at Dief, lying casually in
front of the fire.
tut, Frase," Ray grinned, nudging him gently with his
shoulder. "Next you'll be stealing candy from babies and
stuff. Any exciting policing actually get done?"
there is something I should warn you about, Miss Shaw. Today a
report came through in reference to an extremely dangerous
criminal who recently evaded capture in Chicago," he looked
at Ray significantly, "was spotted passing through Carcross
a month or so ago. He goes by the name Tommy Donen. There has
been no confirmation of the sighting, so it's possible that it
might simply be the imagination of the locals. But since it was
in this vicinity, I have been warning everyone to take extra
precautions in personal safety while I wait for security camera
footage from the Illinois Federal to arrive."
in this vicinity? Fraser, Carcross is more than three hundred
miles away!" Ray protested.
Ray, it can't hurt to be too careful. Especially for Miss Shaw -
this man has perpetrated several cases of sex-related offences
in America, as well as being wanted for a number of other
serious charges, chief of which is the murder of two policemen
in his attempt to escape."
said Ray, absently rubbing the back of his neck. "Any ideas
where he's headed?"
Most likely he'll be looking for somewhere to conceal himself
until the manhunt dies down. Although I doubt very much if he's
familiar with this locality, it is possible he has accomplices
somewhere in the countryside."
if you want any help, you know where to come."
smiled gently. "Of course, Ray."
cell chirruped, breaking the peace that had settled over the
Hi, Susan. Yes. Yes, I'm with them now. Not really. No. Not
particularly. If you like- ok, yeah no problem. Ok, bye."
She looked at Ray and Fraser hopefully. "Would one of you
mind giving me a lift back into town?"
us about the 'adventure'."
adventure… man, that was crazy."
started out from Fort Providence, and stuck to the Mackenzie
Delta, heading north, stopping over at Fort Good Hope and
Aklavik on our way to-"
had this tiny tiny tent and two sleeping bags and a load of dogs
and it was pretty much us against nature."
acclimated surprisingly quickly, considering his previously
Chicago winters I can handle, but that wasn't nothing like this.
Eyelashes frozen, ass numb, eating pemmican and building fires -
or trying to… it was pretty wild."
it was quite exhilarating. At one point, in the vicinity of
Tsiigehtchic, we were stuck in so harsh a blizzard we had to
camp out for three days."
that was harsh. Howling winds and nothing to do all day but
quite warm in the tent. You know, arctic sleeping bags are much
warmer than people realise-"
toasty. Plus we had that lamp so I guess it wasn't as bad as it
could have been. We played cards most of the time."
I took the opportunity to teach Ray some very important survival
interrupted. "Didn't you find it difficult living in such
close proximity? Were things never uncomfortable?"
they follow you around all day?" Ray asked when Fraser came
back after dropping of Carla at her hotel. He was sprawled on
the couch reading an old magazine, angled towards a nearby
candle, glasses slightly askew, beer in hand. The low ticking of
the Grandfather Clock gave the room a peaceful air. Fraser shed
his coat and settled on the couch near Ray's feet.
at all, they left mid-morning. I'm afraid they found police-work
to be rather dull." Fraser smiled.
lucky. All day I had Carla dogging me like I had candy taped to
clearly more interesting than I am, Ray."
threw the magazine onto the couch. "No way is my life more
interesting than yours, Benton buddy." He stretched his
feet out onto Fraser's thighs with studied casualness and closed
his eyes. "When do you think the power will come back
not until morning," Fraser admitted, stretching his arm
along the back of the couch. "Or until the storm wears
Ray squinted at Fraser through one eye. "You worried about
this Tommy Donen guy?"
unduly," Fraser assured him. "As you say, he probably
has very little cause to make Dawson his base. He'll want to
avoid it at all costs, one would assume, it being such a large
town…" Ray repeated with a grin. "I can't believe
that even after living in Chicago, you still think this place is
it's all relative, Ray, and for the Yukon, Dawson is a
relatively large settlement."
was a moment of silence, and briefly Fraser wondered if Ray had
fallen asleep. Then suddenly, eyes still closed, he spoke.
"Do you ever think about, you know… moving on? Going
somewhere even more obscure? Just 'cause I know you, and I know
you like as large a bear-to-people ratio as possible."
inclined his head in acknowledgement of the joke. "Well,
I've considered it, of course. There is still work to be done on
my father's cabin, and it would be nice to return to my old
haunts of the Northwest Territories. But it's highly
impractical, Ray. It would depend on whether or not a place
opens up in any of the detachments I'd favour."
Ray sat up slowly and swung his feet to the floor. He rested his
elbows on his knees, head hanging low. "Just 'cause, you
know, I'd come with. I mean, I like it here and all, but I'd
want to come with. If that's ok. I don't want to be a drag- a
burden, but…" he stared at the carpet.
course, Ray. I'd hope you would."
grinned, shoulders relaxing. He clapped his hands on his thighs.
"How about some poker?"