Aaron’s Summer of ’77 Ch. 17

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“117 Londonderry Square, North West Edmonton. It’s supposed to be around where the Namo/Clareview Shopping Centre is.”

Sure hope that man Dad was with left the key in the mailbox like that woman from the Lawyer’s office said. Otherwise I’m gonna’ be fucked for a place to stay tonight.

Twenty minutes later the cab driver pulls into a townhouse development. “You better just wait here for me for a minute while I check for a key in the mailbox.” Fortunately, there’s a key there so he pays the cab fare and then stares back at the front door. Well, you made it this far Blanchard… no turnin’ back now.

The place is freezing cold inside and smells faintly of cat piss. He flicks on the light in the entry, sloughs of his boots and ski jacket, dumps his knapsack and suitcase and starts to survey the place. It’s very compact inside with just a sparsely furnished living/dining room and galley kitchen on the main floor. The kitchen overlooks a small back yard with a 6′-0″ tall privacy fence and a gate that opens up to a single car parking spot behind the unit. In one corner of the yard there is a Taoist Yin-Yang symbol hanging on the fence and banging against it with the wind.

Better go check to see if his car is still there.

On with the boots again… and then out the sliding doors and through the piled up snow. Aaron stops dead in his tracks to be greeted with the depressing sight of a huge mountain of snow and ice under which is what he assumes is a car. Fuck. Looks like it hasn’t been moved in weeks and weeks. Too tired to think about that now. I’ll figure out where that stinkin’ cat smell is coming from inside and find a shovel in the morning. Sure as hell hope he’s got some clean sheets and a decent bed upstairs. Just need to find a thermostat to crank up the heat and get a good night’s sleep.

Once upstairs, Adam looks for his Dad’s bedroom. He finds a linen closet and searches to find fresh sheets for Tom’s bed. Hmmm… brand new orange sheets and towels in here. Nice! Hanging above the bed in Tom Blanchard’s bedroom is a simple and elegant large black and white canvas. To Adam it looks like Japanese calligraphy with character symbols masterfully hand-painted onto a piece of fine linen, tightly wrapped around a wooden stretcher. Below the characters at the very bottom of the piece in small, subtle black script are the words ‘wise sky’ and ‘small forest’. Adam stares at the artwork and wonders… just who is this man who was my father?

It’s the next day and Adam is sitting in the reception area of Crawley, Crawley, Carruthers and Feltmate waiting for Miss McCarthy.

“Good morning Mr. Blanchard. Thank you so much for coming out so soon. I trust you had a good flight and that Mr. Kobayashi left a key for you to be able to access your Father’s house.”

“Yes ma’am he did.”

“Oh please call me Angelina. I’ve known your Dad and Mr. Kobayashi for many years and it’s nice to finally get to meet the son your Father always went on about.” Just then she smiles across the desk at him.

Adam is totally shocked by this revelation.

“Ummm, Angelina… I haven’t seen or heard from him since I was fourteen. This is all kinda’ weird to me. Why did he name me as his Executor and what’s he been doing out here since he walked out on my Mom and deserted her and me years ago?”

“Well Adam… all I can say to you about that is that he’d been working ever since I first met him as a property manager for Mr. Kobayashi who has a small restaurant and several apartment buildings and condominium units here in Edmonton and in Calgary. He and Mr. Kobayashi, who’s first name is Riku by the way, were ummm…. close for many years. Riku is devastated over his death and was there night and day for him this past year. I have a phone number and address for him and he’d really like to meet you, if you are at all interested to make contact with him. I understand he has been looking after your Father’s cat ever since he was last admitted into hospital back in December.”

“My Dad had a cat?”

“Yes Adam. He named it ‘Adam’ by the way.”

Adam’s jaw drops at that comment and he just stares out the window in silence as Miss McCarthy continues.

“As I told your Mother, there is an insurance policy in your name that he made out for you years ago when you were a baby. We’ve taken the liberty of contacting them and providing them with a Death Certificate. Once you let me know where you would like the money from that policy deposited, I will contact them to instruct them to pay out the claim.”

“Ummm… how much was the policy for?”

“Thirty-five thousand dollars, Adam. May I call you Adam?”

“Yes please Angelina.”

“There is more in his estate as well Adam.”

Adam is in shock and just stares at her as she continues.

“You’ve seen the townhouse condominium he rents from Riku and I assume you’ve had a brief opportunity to at least get a preliminary look at his possessions. He has a car that with the exception of a couple of months canlı bahis of remaining payments, is fully paid for. We can clear up any outstanding accounts on that for you and monies he owes on your behalf from his Chequing and Savings accounts. He knew he wouldn’t be coming back out of the hospital the last time he was admitted Adam and put everything in motion at that time for you to handle his affairs. He was very organized. His bank received a Death Certificate the day he died from us and they will be expecting you to call them to discuss how you want to deal with the money he has in those accounts. Last time I checked his statements, there was another eighteen thousand or so in the both of them. There is more than enough money to cover off his outstanding debts. Don’t worry about any of that Adam. His rent is paid up to the end of March and since he was renting from Riku, I’m sure there won’t be any problem with that at all. His credit card has no outstanding balance owing on it. You’ll need to cancel that by the way. There are probably going to be a few small expenses like ambulance fees and maybe some medications for his Cancer that weren’t covered under the private members health care plan he had with Mr. Kobayashi’s company. But again, we can certainly take care of them for you as well. You’ll need to have the ownership of his car transferred over to you and take out a temporary insurance policy on it before you can drive it. It’s now yours to either sell or keep. It’s a very rare car and I understand quite special. You’ll need to have the registration and insurance transferred over to your name and address permanently in Ottawa if you do decide to keep it. Licence plates will need to be done up as well for Ontario. The Department of Motor Vehicles can work with you on that. You’ll be needing copies of his official Death Certificate for when you have to notify the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency for his final tax assessment and you’ll have to contact the proper officials and organizations to cancel his provincial health card, his driver’s licence and social insurance number and all official pieces of documentation like that. Here is his wallet, by the way. They are all in there. We have an ‘Executor’s Tool Kit’ we provide to clients having to go through all of this. I can see from the expression on your face you’ve probably never had to deal with any of these administrative estate details before. Am I correct in assuming that Adam?”

“Ummm… yes Angelina. I’m still kinda’ reeling from the shock of all this. Not sure really where to start with all of those to tell you the truth.”

“I understand completely Adam. Most people don’t. Usually they’re going through a period of intense sadness and grief over their loss and then they have all of this responsibility put onto them at a time they are dealing with their own emotions. I want you to know that I was extremely fond of your Father and am still of Riku. I am here for you now to answer any questions and help out in any way that I can. I am truly sorry for your loss Adam.”

“That’s just the thing though Angelina. How can ya’ lose someone you never thought ya’ had? So many years and no contact with him. Then all of this when it’s too late.”

“Adam, you may wish to make contact and speak with his partner Riku. I don’t know how you feel about that. But I know him well and he was devoted to your Dad and maybe he can answer some of your questions. That may help you to make some sense and come to terms with of all of this. Here is his phone number. He has a little restaurant downtown. My husband I dine there frequently. He is a wonderful man and I know he would very much like to meet with you and perhaps get to know you if you are at all interested.”

“Thanks Angelina. I guess I’d better. If only to pick up Dad’s cat.”

Once outside of Angelina’s office and in the reception area alone by himself, he starts to look inside Tom’s wallet and finds a picture of Tom and him from when he was six years old. He recognizes the scene and remembers that they were at the Brockville Memorial Centre trade fair together. Tom has his arm around Adams’ shoulder. They are standing there smiling and happily looking back at the camera. Tom towers over Adam in the shot and is looking down on his son with a tender expression on his face.

Fuck. So many wasted years after he disappeared…

It’s finally Winter Break and I’m back in Brockville with Mom and Dad for a week away from crazy Camilla and her comedy cast of College cohorts back at Algonquin.

“Mom? Dad? I’m glad we’re all together here right now because something happened with Adam and I wanted to tell you both about it in person while I’m down here this week.”

My Mom is the first to pipe up. “Oh my God! Tell me he’s still living with you! Tell me there’s nothing wrong! Tell me you’re still together!”

“Yes Mom, that’s all fine.”

“Oh thank God for that!” she exclaims.

My Dad looks up from his newspaper and asks, “So son, what happened with Adam? bahis siteleri You have our attention.”

“Well… where do I begin with this? Let’s see. I guess first off I need to tell you that Adam’s Dad died of Cancer a couple of weeks ago out in Edmonton.”

My Dad is looking at me intently and quietly says, “Go on Aaron.”

“Adam’s gone out there to settle his estate. His mom got a call from some Lawyers Firm out there and he flew out a couple of weeks ago because his Dad named him as Executor of his estate.”

Mom and Dad are staring at each other and not saying a word.

Then suddenly, my Mom exclaims, “Oh my God! Del must have been stunned to take that call… it’s like a ghost coming back to haunt her all these years later!. Go on Aaron. What else happened?”

My Dad is just sitting across the table from me, not saying a single word.

“Well… she drove up to Ottawa the next morning to talk to Adam about the call and tell him some things about her marriage and how Adam’s Dad walked out on them and all years ago.”

“Go on…”

“Well I don’t know if I should be saying any of this to the two of you or not. Please don’t say I told you to either Adam or Mrs. Blanchard. But she told him about his Dad and why he left and that he was living with someone out there in Alberta for years until he died.”

Finally my Dad says something. “A man or a woman Adam?”

“So you know then! How long have you known about him Dad?”

“Aaron… I’ve known about Tom Blanchard for years. There are no secrets in Brockville, son. He was a friend to one of the cooks who worked in the kitchens at the Hospital back then. I think his name was Raju or Rimo or something like that. He was Japanese. That friendship went on for two or three years before he disappeared back in the ‘sixties. It wasn’t like Tom was being discrete about it either. I always used to see that old white Pontiac of his parked behind the hospital in the staff parking lot after hours in the evenings. It got to be a subject of gossip and speculation amongst all the staff at the time. You remember that, don’t you ‘Leigh?”

“Yes, Richard. I remember the gossip.”

“So what else did Adam say to you about this Aaron?”

“He was really upset and told me he just had to go out there to discover whatever he could about this man he never really knew, who happened to be his father. I’ve talked to him a couple of times since he arrived in Edmonton. He’s met with the Lawyers out there and is settling things now and he’ll be back here just before Easter.”

“We won’t bring any of the intimate things up about Tom and Del with Adam when we see him, Aaron. I promise you that. And Leigh, you are ‘not’ calling Del to speak with her about any of this either. I absolutely forbid it!”

Mom looks at Dad, nods and quietly looks down at the table top.

“Does she know that ‘you’ know Aaron?”

“Ummm… yes, I think so Dad.”

“Well, you just keep your lips sealed when you see her and let her come to you if she wants to talk or confide. This is a private matter between her and her son. Adam won’t thank you if you upset his mother or try to get mixed up in it without him asking you to. You be there for support for him and let he and his Mother work this all out between themselves. Do you understand what I am telling you here son?”

“Yes Dad. And Dad…?”

“Yes Aaron?”

“I’m really glad ‘you’re’ my Dad.”

The façade of Mr. Kobayashi’s restaurant is refined and understated with a simple black lacquered wood door leading into the space beyond. To the right of the door is the word ‘Komorebi’ inscribed with simple, flowing raised silver lettering on a white enamel plaque surrounded by a thin black frame.

The interior of Komorebi is like nothing Adam has ever seen before. It looks carefully edited and controlled with a deliberate attempt to limit any use of colour inside except for small touches of pale blue consciously and sparingly used in certain areas. The restaurant is spare and minimal with black and white Japanese calligraphy prints on the walls, simple white rice paper textured, black ebony-framed wall sconces, natural-looking straw-like tatami mats on the floor and sliding Shoji screen panels to separate off parts of the restaurant creating more private and intimate smaller spaces within the main space. There is a quiet serenity and cool elegance to the restaurant. Extremely tall, high-backed booths with pale blue leather-upholstered seat and back rests are toward the front. Toward the back are two large ‘U-shaped’ Teppanyaki cooking stations where people gather together to watch Shogun-dressed master chefs make an art of cooking right in front of them. Adam takes one of the booths at the front and thinks to himself, wow… Aaron would be really impressed with this place. A gorgeous young Asian woman dressed in a deep coral pink, dark indigo blue, vibrant pure red and bright orange silk kimono embossed with egrets and herons approaches him and ask if she can bahis şirketleri serve him.

“Thanks, I’m here to see Mr. Kobayashi.”

“Ahhh… you must be Adam.” She smiles, bows and disappears to find Riku.

Adam’s eyebrows raise almost imperceptibly when Riku approaches him and the booth. He’s not what I expected at all. In front of him is a slim, well-proportioned man, almost as tall is he is… most uncommon for a typical Japanese male.

Riku pauses just then to study Adam carefully… Adam Blanchard… this compellingly handsome young man before me… the adult son of my lover. He motions to the young woman and whispers, “Fumiko, bring green tea for me and Sapporo beer for Mr. Blanchard. I do not think this morning it is too early for alcohol.”

He moves with graceful, composed poise and is simply and elegantly dressed from head to toe in black linen. Thick, straight black hair and a near flawless light skin complexion… Riku’s almost black-hued eyes are larger and wider than those one would expect to see on a typical Japanese man… so sensual with long lashes concealing whatever thoughts he must be thinking as he appraises Adam. There is a gentle, serene, almost androgynous quality to him that fascinates Adam. He looks to be in his mid to late ‘forties, although it is hard to tell as he has a face that appears ageless.

You are as tall as he was and you have his eyes…

“I’m Adam and you must be Mr. Kobayashi.” Adam starts to get up to take Riku’s hand. But Riku motions for him to sit back down with a simple gesture of kindness and respect.

“Welcome to Komorebi. My name is Riku, Adam. I would like you to call me that if you wish to.”

“I’m sorta’ uncomfortable right now. So let’s see how this goes Mr. Kobayashi.”

“I understand. This is not easy for me either.”

“You’re not what I expected, Mr. Kobayashi.”

“Riku smiles shyly and replies, “You are precisely how your Father described you to me Adam. I see him in your eyes. I would know you anywhere. I am so sorry for your loss Adam.”

“Ummm… this is all so weird. I just don’t know what to say back to you.”

“You don’t need to say a word Adam. I am happy you feel comfortable to be able to come to meet me.”

“This place is beautiful. The name of this place… what does it mean Mr. Kobayashi?”

“Thank you Adam. That word is Japanese and difficult to translate. There are some Japanese words and expressions to describe feelings and emotions that do not have equivalent words in English. Komorebi is like a dance of light… think of sky and sunlight shining through the leaves of trees in a forest and then consider how you feel when you see their movement and experience the warmth of the sun on your face. That is the best way I can think of to describe Komorebi.”

“Wow… that really is beautiful. I’ll remember that word Mr. Kobayashi. Ummm… the reason I am here is that Miss McCarthy said I should come to meet you and that you wanted to meet me too… and that you have his cat.”

“Ahhh yes… Angelina McCarthy. She has been so supportive and helpful this past year.”

“I understand my Dad worked for you and she told me he rented his place from you too?”

“Yes Adam. Your Father was a proud man and insisted on being independent and paying his own way. I never wanted to take anything from him. But he was determined and renting to an employee provided tax relief benefits for my company over the years. He was a good property manager and so much more than that to me.” Riku’s expressive eyes open wider, briefly allowing Adam to see the deep emptiness, sadness and pain hiding inside.

Adam feels empathy and compassion for him. “I hope you don’t mind me sayin’ this… you’re a beautiful man Riku. I can see how my Dad or anyone for that matter would find you attractive.”

“Riku blushes and simply says, “Thank you for calling me Riku.”

“I understand he was sick for a long time. And you were with him ’til the end. What kind of Cancer did he have Riku? There are so many questions…”

“It was prostate cancer Adam. He didn’t suffer much until the very last.”

“Why did he never try to contact me? I would have come if he’d only asked. I just don’t get that at all…”

“He didn’t want to interfere with your life and hurt your Mother any more than he already had when he left her. You were so young and he was conflicted back then and felt your Mother would be the one to best take care of you.”

“Ummm… you aughta’ know Riku. I’m gay myself.”

Riku’s eyes open wide. He is silent.

“I have a partner back in Ottawa and his name is Aaron. He’s a lot younger than me and going to College right now. I love him Riku. Probably as much as I think you probably loved my Dad.”

“… even when months and days are long, life is short… “

“What’s that Riku?”

“Oh… I am sorry. That is a Japanese proverb. I was thinking of it when you spoke just now. You know Adam, you were never far from your Father’s thoughts. We closed down the restaurant here every October 10th on your birthday to celebrate… just he and I. And Mrs. Fullerton always kept him informed of how you were doing when you started to work for her at the store.”

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