The passage below is from the recently published murder/mystery, “The Reluctant Virgin.” It describes Toronto’s Yonge Street on a sweltering July evening. When the mid-winter blues wrap around the city, it is encouraging to remember that such weather and good times exit.
During the languorous days of July, Yonge Street pulsed from dusk until the early hours of the morning, as revellers celebrated summer’s heat. Their scanty outfits exposed more skin than the hormone-driven young should ever be allowed to view. After the bars closed, eye contact on the street increased. It was “cruising time.” To be a participant, no automobile was required, although the traffic on the street now moved slower and the shouts from the cars erupted more frequently and louder.
“Cruising time” was truly embraced by the young. They knew that it was almost as short-lived as the month itself. Virgins were initiated into mankind’s oldest ceremony, while the more experienced became acquainted with the rites of the “quickie” romance. When the doors of the bars and clubs finally closed, and the screen doors of the houses throughout the city had banged shut for the final time, the most cherished rituals of summer ended for another day. More than one parent’s voice was heard shouting from upstairs, “Where the hell have you been?”
The fear of July relinquishing its place on the calendar, intensified the desire to soak-up the luxury of the summer’s finest month. Each day, as the Sam McBride ferry, named after a notoriously free-spending mayor of Toronto, pushed its way across the placid harbour, excited children leaned over the oak railings, while concerned parents enforced the rule that their feet must remain on the deck. When the ferry dropped its large metal gangway onto the dock at Centre Island, crowds surged forward, anxious to be swept into the enchanted world of nature that lay within sight of the Toronto skyline. The Toronto Islands comprised one of the largest car-free zones in the world.
By noon, on a hot day, the lakeside and harbour beaches of the Island were crowded. Hotdogs, french fries, popcorn, and candyfloss were consumed in such quantities that some feared the ferry might sink on the return voyage to the city.
At the end of July, Torontonians enjoyed the second holiday weekend of the summer. It was not an observance or a celebration of anything, other than the need for a mid-summer break. Unlike other holidays on the calendar, parades, fireworks, turkey dinners, greeting cards, special church services, and gift giving were foreign to it. It was a time to drive to the beaches north of the city or the lakes of the Muskoka, Georgian Bay, or Haliburton Region.
Within the city, picnickers crowded High Park, and sunbathers basked on the warm sands at Sunnyside and Woodbine beaches. The flames from backyard barbeques charred the hamburgers and hotdogs for outdoor lunches, and in the evenings, cooked the steaks or chicken for supper. It was not a time to indulge in gourmet banquets, but to enjoy the delights of comfort foods. Potato and macaroni salads, as well as cold slaw, were among the latter category.
* * * *
The murder/mystery, “The Reluctant Virgin,” at available at any Chapters/Indigo. The novel is a strange tale of the serial killer who haunts the streets and laneways of Toronto in the 1950s seeking victims to drain their blood. The police are puzzled by the strange ritual.
To purchase electronic versions of the book or order paperback copies: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx