Read Saving Farley's Bog Online

Authors: Don Sawyer

Tags: #wetland, #bog, #swamp, #thugs, #strippers, #money laundering, #Mystery, #councillor, #environmentalists, #shopping centre, #development

Saving Farley's Bog

Saving Farley's Bog
is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are a product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2010 © by Don Sawyer

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication, reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the proper written consent of the publisher – or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency – is an infringement of the copyright law.

Published by Highgate Press

An imprint of Playfort Publishing

Cover design by Otto Pfannschmidt

Cover photo: Robin Klassen by Ben I Photography

Printed and bound in Canada by Hignell Book Printing

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Sawyer, Don, 1947-

Saving Farley's bog / Don Sawyer.

ISBN 978-0-9813164-3-7

I. Title.

PS8587.A38983S38 2010 jC813'.54 C2010-905774-0

While this is entirely a work of fiction, I would like to thank Daryl Dunn and Mickey Sims for their forensic and technical advice, Robin Jackson for his legal and courtroom information, and Bill Remphrey for his perspective on wetlands and their importance. I'd also like to thank the management and staff of Nisbet Plantation, Nevis, as well as Harry Goldhar for keeping me honest.

Dedicated to Robin Jackson 1950 - 2010 Lawyer, friend and passionate environmentalist who loved bogs – and everything they represent.


Meeting Daffy

“Damn it, Stitch!” Daffy yelled out.

Stitch leaned over his coffee. “Keep it down, eh? The whole place is looking at us.”

Daffy looked up. The 15 people in the Tim Hortons had gone quiet. Some looked at him in alarm. Others stared nervously at their tables.

Daffy lowered his voice. “Sorry, but did you see this?” He jabbed his finger at an article in the paper he'd been reading. “It just pisses me right off.”

Stitch looked at the offending article. The headline read, “Venam Shopping Centres Set to Build Mega Mall at Farley's Bog”. Stitch shrugged. “Yeah?”

“Yeah?” Daffy thundered. He stood up from the table. “All you have to say is ‘Yeah?'”

Out of the corner of his eye Stitch noticed people heading for the doors. One woman looked over her shoulder fearfully.

Daffy lowered his voice again. “What do you mean, ‘Yeah?' Farley's Bog is one of the last natural wetlands in the Toronto area. Venam wants to fill it in. Then pave it and put up a bunch of big boxes!”

Stitch sat back. “Man, I know you're an environmental lawyer. But do you always get this worked up? You're going to have a heart attack.”

“And you're a private investigator. Don't you see what's going on, Stitch?” Daffy sighed heavily. “We just don't learn. Look at the weather. Australia is burning to a crisp. Fires in California. The Arctic ice cap melting. More and fiercer storms.”

Stitch thought about the hurricane he'd been through in the Bahamas. It had been more than six months before. But he still remembered its ferocity and the devastation it had left behind.

Daffy went on. “A chunk of ice the size of Prince Edward Island just fell off Antarctica.” Daffy paused and took a sip of coffee. “Look outside. What do you see?”

Stitch had known Daffy for 20 years. He'd seen Daffy like this before. But this time he was really riled up. Stitch knew he'd better come up with the right answer. He looked at the dark clouds and water running down the windows. “Rain?” he suggested tentatively.

“Rain,” Daffy said quietly. He closed his eyes and shook his head. “Don't you get it? It's rain we're screwing with. Too much here. Drought there. Millions are going hungry in Africa. They can't depend on the rains anymore.” As he spoke his voice became louder. “Their wells are drying up. Hell, whole rivers are drying up!”

Stitch shrugged again. “OK, but what does that have to do with Farley's Bog? It's just a swamp.”

Daffy rose half out of his chair again. “Jesus, Stitch. Sometimes you can be such a moron!”

“Sit down, Daffy,” Stitch ordered patiently.

Daffy sat back down heavily. “Sorry, Stitch.”

“OK, Daf. I know you can't help yourself. But I don't think calling your best friend a moron is one of the seven habits of highly effective people.”

Daffy reached over and squeezed Stitch's shoulder. “I didn't mean that. But cripes. Pay attention, Stitch. That hurricane you went through in the Bahamas? The Caribbean is heating up. Hell, the whole ocean is heating up. That's why we're getting these storms. We just keep cranking out the exhaust and factory smoke. So we can buy cheap crap.” He took another sip of coffee. “And our radiator? It's broken.”


“Our cooling system. We're logging the Amazon. Cutting our northern forests. Filling in our wetlands.”

“Like Farley's Bog.”

Daffy nodded. “Exactly. Like Farley's Bog.” He pointed at the picture in the newspaper article. “And this guy? This Bob Maxwell?”

“Who's he?” Stitch asked.

“Who's he?” Daffy hissed. “He's the son of a bitch that sold us out! He's the damned city councillor that changed his vote. Seven months ago Venam brought the same proposal to council.”

“And who exactly is Venam?” Stitch asked.

“Stands for Venturi America. Owned by a guy named Joe Venturi. They're one of the biggest shopping centre developers in Ontario.” Daffy waved both hands impatiently. “Anyway, less than a year ago the council defeated their proposal four votes to three. But this time Maxwell switched sides. Never gave a reasonable explanation. Somehow they bought him off.” Daffy shook his head. “Bastard!” he fumed.

Stitch smiled broadly at his friend. Daffy was a big bear of a man with a full beard. He was almost completely bald. Stitch figured he grew the beard to compensate for the loss of hair on his head.

“What the hell are you grinning at?” Daffy demanded.

“I love it when you get mad. You live up to your name.”

Daffy rolled his eyes upwards. “Let's not get into that.”

Stitch chuckled. “Why not? You earned it.”

“Maybe,” Daffy growled. “But that was a long time ago. Back in high school. I'm a lawyer now,” he said.

“Yeah, but everyone still calls you Daffy,” Stitch pointed out. “Daffy Abbott, Attorney at Law.”

“I know, I know,” Daffy said, waving his hand. “But they don't know how I got the nickname. They think it's from my middle name, Duffy.”

Stitch smiled broadly. “But your middle name is Beatrice.”

Daffy winced. He put his forefinger to his lips. He looked around the deserted restaurant. The women behind the counter eyed him curiously. “Keep it down, eh? You're one of the few people that know that. You and the Ontario Provincial Police.” He shook his head. “It was my mother's maiden name.” He closed his eyes as if in pain. “What were my parents thinking?”

Stitch laughed out loud. “Can't answer that. But I do know how you really got your nickname. Started when you dropped that gerbil out the biology room window.” Stitch laughed again. “The second storey window.”

Daffy looked as if he'd been punched in the stomach. “I didn't mean to drop it. I was trying to impress Darlene. I had it by that little stubby tail. Told her I'd let go if she didn't go out with me.”

“And then you did it!”

Daffy shook his head vigorously. “No, no. The little bastard somehow twisted around and bit me.”

Stitch was still laughing. “I remember. I don't know which one of you screamed louder, you or Darlene. That finally got old Watkins' attention.”

Now Daffy was laughing. “That was the last year he taught, wasn't it? Deaf as a post.”

“What happened to the gerbil?”

Daffy shrugged. “Beats me. I tried to tell Darlene I was liberating it.” He punched his fist in the air. “Mapleton Senior Secondary Animal Liberation Front.”

“MSSALF,” Stitch nodded. “Nice ring to it. Did Darlene buy it?”

Daffy shook his head sadly. “Not for a minute. She made me go down and try to find the little bugger after class. I figured it had broken its neck or something. Never found it. I told Darlene it was happily cavorting in the woods with its rodent cousins.”

“More likely it was lunch for a barn owl. And what about the time you switched DVDs in English? What was it called?
Debbie Does Dallas
or something?”

Daffy winced again. “Yeah. We were supposed to be watching that Dickens novel. What was it?”

A Tale of Two Cities.

“Oh, yeah.” Both were laughing now. “It took about 15 seconds to figure out that Miss Havisham wasn't a Dallas cheerleader.”

“A topless cheerleader. With really big boobs,” Stitch pointed out. “Did they ever figure out you'd done it?”

“Nah. I think they had a pretty good idea, though. Especially Mr. Lowe. Remember him?”

“Oh, yeah,” Stitch said. “The vice-principal. He kept the whole class in for a week. He threatened to keep us in until somebody told.”

Daffy smiled. “But no one did.”

“I was probably the only one who knew for sure. Anyway, the rest were scared of you. The big wrestling champ. And they could have waterboarded me and I wouldn't have talked.”

Daffy leaned over and grabbed Stitch roughly by the arm. “I know it, partner.” He sat back. “Plus you're the only guy that ever took a wrestling match from me. Three years undefeated. Except one loss to you.”

Stitch shook his coffee spoon at him. “Yeah, and I can do it again if I have to.” Stitch squinted at Daffy, sizing him up. “You've gotten fat and slow.”

Daffy laughed his deep bear laugh. “Anytime, little buddy. Anywhere.” He stirred his coffee absentmindedly. “Anyway, I'm trying to get people to use my real name.”

Stitch's eyes went wide. “You're putting me on.”

Daffy looked offended. “No, why?”

Stitch laughed. “Peter Abbott?” He stuck two fingers behind his head like rabbit ears. “You want people to call you Peter Abbott? Honestly, how many people have offered you a carrot when you introduced yourself that way?”

Daffy held up his hands helplessly. “About 10,000. But I'm a lawyer now. I can't go by Daffy anymore!”

Stitch thought a moment. “You're right. Beatrice is way better.”


New Client

The cell phone in Stitch's car buzzed. He was near his office and thought about not answering. Whoever was calling would leave a message. He could get it later with a coffee in his hand. Besides, you never wanted to take confidential information over a cell. They were too easy to listen in on, whether intentional or not.

The phone kept buzzing. Stitch sighed. Business hadn't been that good lately. He couldn't afford to lose a potential client. He pushed the answer button on his steering wheel. “Stitch Robinson,” he answered.

“Mr. Robinson?” It was a woman's voice. A soft voice. Stitch figured she was about 32, 33.

“Yes, ma'am. How can I help you?”

There was a hesitation at the other end. Stitch waited patiently. He had heard it a hundred times before. You didn't call a private detective on a whim. Usually his clients were at the end of their rope. Worried sick. Desperate. Angry. But that first call was hard. How do you talk about a cheating husband? A missing daughter? Suspected theft by a trusted employee?

“I'm sorry to call you on your cell phone,” the woman stammered.

“No need to be sorry,” Stitch said. “If no one calls I'm out of a job.”

The woman gave a feeble laugh. “I guess I mean I'm sorry I have to call you.”

“Yes, ma'am. I understand.”

Stitch wheeled his Rav 4 into the parking lot. He pulled into a parking place marked Robinson Investigations. He turned off the ignition and pulled out his BlackBerry from the holster on his belt.

“Are you still there?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma'am. I just pulled into the parking lot. Sorry about that. I'll be in my office in five minutes. May I call you back when I get inside? Cell phones are not very secure.”

“Oh. Yes, I see. I'd never thought of that.” The woman seemed a little more confident. “Yes, that would be fine. About five minutes?

“Yes, ma'am.”

“Well, goodbye then.”

“Ma'am?” Stitch said hurriedly. “Do you want me to call you at this number?”

“How silly of me,” the woman said. “I forgot to leave you my phone number. I'm just feeling, I don't know…”

“Yes, ma'am. I understand.”

“Flustered, I guess,” the woman continued.

“Yes, ma'am. So, should I call you at this number? I have it in my phone log.”

“Yes, that would be fine.” The woman paused. “No, actually. This is my cell phone.” She laughed again. “I guess I'm already learning a bit about detective work, Mr. Robinson.”

“Stitch. Please, call me Stitch. And how about you?”


“Yes, ma'am. What is your name?”

“Oh, my,” the woman groaned. “I completely forgot to give you my name, didn't I?”

“That's fine. Maybe you don't want to tell me right now. But I probably should have a first name if I'm going to phone.”

“Of course. My name is Molly, Molly Maxwell. But call me Molly.”

Stitch had walked into the hallway of his office building. He fumbled with his keys while balancing the phone between his chin and shoulder. “OK, Molly. Give me five minutes. What number do you want me to call you at?”

“905-649-7441,” Molly said quickly.

“Right. Talk to you soon. Stitch took the phone with his left hand. He pushed the red off button to be sure he was disconnected. Then he slipped it back into the holster on his belt. “905-649-7441,” he said aloud. “905-649-7441.” He took a pen and small leather notebook from his shirt pocket. He held the notebook against the door and wrote the number down. He finally found the right key and shoved it into the keyhole. He pushed the heavy wooden door open.

His office was a wreck. Every time Erin took a few days off things just seemed to go to hell. Three different coffee cups sat on his desk. He peered into one. A dark green scum was forming on some ancient coffee at the bottom. Huh, he thought. Stitch's Bog. Thank God, Erin was back tomorrow, he thought. Otherwise the health department might shut the place down.

He pushed three files to the side and tried to clear a space where he could take notes. The phone was buried under 30 pages of a report he'd just finished. Some of the pages, he noted, had slid onto the floor. He hurriedly picked them up and stacked them on top of the others. He tossed the report into a basket already piled high with paper and books. He watched in dismay as the report slowly slid off the pile and fluttered back onto the floor. Damn, he thought. This is embarrassing. I've got to clean this mess up. Even if Erin is back tomorrow.

Stitch's computer monitor glowed white at the back of his desk. He leaned forward and glanced at the screen and groaned. There were at least 30 new e-mails. He noted with some relief that most were spam. At least three were trying to sell him cut-rate Viagra.

He pulled the phone toward him. The red message light blinked steadily. He quickly checked the numbers. Two from Jill, his most recent girlfriend. She'd dumped him about a week ago. He couldn't commit, she'd complained. So now she called on a daily basis to tell him what a creep he was. Great. Well, those could wait.

There were a couple of others from clients. Mrs. Dukeshire. Stitch had caught her husband on video tape in bed with not one but two prostitutes. Looked like he might have to show up in court for the divorce hearing. Carl Darling, still trying to find his young son. His wife had taken off with him nearly a year ago. By the time he'd come to Stitch the trail was pretty cold. Stitch still hoped he could track her down. So sad, he thought. How did once caring relationships end up in such bitterness?

And then there was Molly's message. All of his cell calls were directed to his main number as well. He glanced at the number he had written in his notebook. He punched it into this keyboard. The number appeared in the phone's tiny screen along with a name: Bob Maxwell.

Stitch sat back in his chair and looked at the picture of his cat on the bookcase against the far wall. Bob Maxwell. Councillor Bob Maxwell?

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