The morning of his seventieth birthday David Green woke up early, earlier than usual – according to his clock, at least. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep he shuffled out of his bedroom and into the bathroom. From there on into the kitchen, where his first thought was that his clock must be wrong. It seemed well after sunrise, judging by the intensity of light pouring through the uncurtained windows.
Too bright – far too bright – for any time of day. David frowned and replaced the empty kettle he was about to fill back onto the stove top. He peered through the rear door window. The sky where he could see it between neighboring buildings was sulphurous as usual, but upward past bands of umber the zenith appeared to glow with a bluish tinge.
Could this be possible? Perhaps a distortion in the glass deceived him. Drawn by the light David slid the door open and stepped outside. Yes, the sky directly overhead, within a halo of fuzzy green, was definitely pale blue. The day promised to be mild, too, although the air prickled where his skin was exposed. Even so, pleasant to be outside on such a day.
Suddenly a melodic trill from the shrubbery in one of the cement planters. A bird, David knew, although he could not see what produced the sound. A long time since he had heard birdsong. A memory came to him of not one bird or even several, but of a whole avian chorus greeting the dawn. Or was this something he had once dreamt? It seemed fanciful somehow. David sighed deeply, triggering a coughing fit. A sudden fluttering of wings, but David saw no movement in the gloom. He walked over to and around the planter, and then sat on its rim. The unrelenting low hum of machinery all around, which passed for silence these days, was unchallenged once more.
David wanted to remain outside, to possibly see the bird return, but the urge to cough persisted until he was persuaded to retreat. He reopened the patio door and stepped back into the kitchen, arresting his daughter Tamar in mid pace.
“Dad, where were you? Tamar was quick to pounce.
“Out in the common area.” He wilted a little under Tamar’s glare. “I heard a bird.”
“You heard a bird. Well, that’s just fine. You remember what day this is, don’t you?”
“Of course. It’s my birthday.
“Your seventieth birthday.” Tamar transferred a plate of toast to the kitchen table and placed it next to a slightly wrinkled apple. “Now, listen Dad, your grandson will be up soon and we’ll be leaving straight away. You’ll have time to say goodbye but, please, no drama. Let’s not mention your birthday – he doesn’t need to know what it means. Promise me.”
“Yes, no drama, we’ve gone over this several times already.” David turned and peered upward through the patio door. The blue was bluer than before.
“Are you hungry? Our grocery quota has been amended already – I wasn’t expecting that so soon – but you can have a slice of my toast. The apple is for Jacob – a special treat.” Jacob was Tamar’s allotted one child, David’s one grandson. David didn’t interact with Jacob very much. Tamar wouldn’t allow that – she didn’t want them to get “too attached.”
“No, I’m not hungry. Maybe I’ll have something to eat later.”
“Well, I’ll leave you a bit of toast, but don’t wait too long. There won’t be much time after we go – the Closer is due at nine sharp. I’m glad that we arranged a house call.”
There was, as it turned out, no time for a goodbye. Not really. As usual, Jacob was hard to rouse and, once up, sat sleepily at the kitchen table while his mother cut the apple into quarters. Then Jacob spilled his juice, which ran over the table and splashed onto Tamar. David mopped up the table and floor while Tamar dabbed at her pants with a damp towel. “No time to change,” she muttered. “Come on, Jacob, we have to get moving.”
A final bustle to get out the door and then an awkward moment. “Bye, Grandpa, see you later,” said Jacob from the threshold.
David glanced at Tamar and saw tension in her eyes and jaw. He forced a smile. “Goodbye, kiddo.” And then they were gone.
David remained seated at the kitchen table staring out at the patio, which was now uncharacteristically bathed in morning light. He wondered if the bird would return, whether he might have the chance to hear it sing once more.
In lieu of birdsong, a doorbell chimed.
The doorbell chimed two more times while David plodded slowly through the house to answer the front door. A man stood on the stoop, flanked by two large carrying cases. His features were hard to make out; he was in the shade and windows across the way reflected a dazzling glare. “Mr. Green?” the man asked.
“I’m Mr. Green,” David replied. “You are the Closer?”
“Titus Dismass, Termination Specialist with the Lifespan Regulation Ministry.” A well rehearsed correction of popular terminology. Ditmass picked up his cases and pushed past David, who said “come in” to the man’s back.
Ditmass set the cases down just inside the living room, and checked his watch. “This is fine right here; best to stay as close as possible to the exit. A bit early I know. But if I don’t stay ahead of schedule in the morning I find I won’t be through all my appointments by day’s end.”
Now his visitor was inside and had pulled his mask down from his nose and mouth, David was able to get a good look at him. The Closer was younger than David first thought. Late twenties, early thirties possibly. Short haired and clean shaven, a dark stain of facial hair visible under immaculate almost plastic skin. He wore a jacket and dress pants, not showy but fastidious – tie in a Windsor knot, shirt skillfully ironed, pant legs creased with uncanny symmetry. Ditmass carefully lay the taller of his two cases full length on the floor, aligned with the doorway.
David closed the door. At the sound Ditmass looked up. “Is anyone else home?”
“No, my daughter has left for work. She’s dropping my grandson off at school on the way. It’s just me here now.”
“Excellent, we will manage just fine, just the two of us.” Ditmass unlatched and opened the case he had laid on the floor. From it he hefted out a jumbled mass of metal plates, wheels, legs and hinges. Through a series of efficient unfoldings culminating in a dramatic levitation, the mass resolved into a gurney. Ditmass turned to the other case.
“The sky is blue today,” said David.
Ditmass grunted and then, after a pause, he said “That is not anything we need worry about.”
“No, it’s quite lovely. And I heard a bird… earlier, out on the patio.”
Ditmass paused for a second and frowned at the second case. “I am sure that was possible,” he said, without conviction.
Ditmass extracted a tray and what looked like a paper placemat from the second case, and looked around. Flush against the wall, under the front window, a coffee table. Ditmass laid the placemat on the tray and centered both on the table. He took out other items – bottles, surgical tubing, clamps –and arranged them neatly on the tray. The last item out of the case was a large plastic bag, roughly the length of the gurney, a zipper running full length down one side.
“Now, scoot yourself up.” Ditmass patted the top of the gurney. David hesitated for a moment; it looked too flimsy to bear his weight. But when he hiked himself backwards up onto the gurney he found it sturdy enough. He rotated and brought his legs up to lie down.
“Not so fast. Let your legs hang down. We need you to put your feet in here.” Ditmass knelt and slid the bag up like a pair of pants – pants with only one leg. At mid thigh Ditmass bunched up the slack until the bottom of the bag pulled against the soles of David’s feet. “Good, good – now stand again please.” David let himself down while the bag was unfurled up the rest of his body and around his shoulders. “Now please…” With his hands Ditmass directed David back up on the gurney and into a lying position.
“This is very uncomfortable,” said David.
“It won’t be for very long. Now make a fist for me. Perfect.” Ditmass slapped the upper part of David’s forearm a few times, and then picked up a hypodermic from the coffee table.
“Wait, is that…?” David began.
“No, not yet. I am only setting a needle in your arm. You will feel a bit of pinch. The most painful part of the procedure and it is just a prick – that’s all. Now relax, please.”
David looked through the window and up at the sky. The blueness had spread to an extent he hadn’t seen for many years. He breathed deeply and felt a chill in the small of his back. He pressed down with his spine and realized his shirt was soaked in sweat.
The pinch wasn’t bad at all. In fact he barely felt it. When he looked away from the sky, down at his arm, the needle was in place. Attached already was a length of tubing, which Ditmass was in the process of looping over a pole on a tripod.
Catching David’s eye, Ditmass smiled for the first time. “Well done, we’re almost there. I’m going to put you to sleep first and that will be it as far as you’re concerned. Once you’re under I will give a second injection and then a third to finish the job. A bit of clean-up and we’re on our way.”
“We? Where am I on my way to?”
Ditmass smiled again, primly. “That’s the question, is it not? I am afraid you will have to look to your personal belief system for an answer. Ministry Termination Specialists are not authorized to speculate about the hereafter with our clients.”
David felt that his question hadn’t been understood, but decided not to pursue the matter.
Ditmass attached the far end of the tube to the bottom of a clear bag of fluid, which was clamped just above the connection point. “Excellent – we are all set up. Oh, I almost forgot; I need to get the form from you.”
“The form? Oh, right.” David attempted to rise but Ditmass held him back with a palm heel against his chest. “No, you stay right here. Just tell me where it is and I will fetch it.”
“On the dresser in my bedroom.” David pointed. “Around the corner there, next to the bathroom.” And then, in a louder voice, as Ditmass strode away: “I’m sorry; I didn’t have time to make my bed this morning.”
“No problem – no problem at all.” Ditmass was already out of sight.
David looked once more at the sky. The blue seemed to be fading. Ditmass returned frowning at a piece of paper in his hand. “You didn’t sign the form.”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it matters. We cannot proceed without your signed consent.” Ditmass pulled a binder from his case and placed it across David’s thighs. He hiked David into a sitting position and, placing the form on the binder, held out a pen. “Here.”
David took the pen and stared at the form. He had filled out most of it several days before – Tamar had made sure of that. But he had balked at writing his signature on the bottom line. “I’ll do it in the presence of the Closer,” he had told Tamar. “Just in case he needs to witness it.”
Now the Closer was here and signing the form didn’t seem any easier. David tried reading it again, but quickly got bogged down in the legalese, as he had each time reading it before. Even so, he understood the gist. His signature would give consent for his termination, removal and disposal. He had known about this eventuality almost all his life.
Ditmass glanced at his watch and cleared his throat.
Thus prompted, David whispered, “No.”
“No? What do you mean no?”
“I mean no. No, I am not going to sign this form. It’s too nice a day.”
Ditmass let out a long sigh. He checked his watch again. “But you must sign. It is required.”
“What happens if I don’t?”
“I’ve already told you. We cannot go ahead with the procedure.”
“Fine. Come back tomorrow and I will sign. We can go ahead then.”
“Tomorrow is impossible. I am fully booked. In fact, I have no openings through to the end of next week.” Ditmass’s voice had an edge to it now it didn’t have before. “You cannot expect to arrange service at the last minute. These things are scheduled well in advance.”
“I don’t care. I am not going to sign today.”
“Listen, Mr. Green. I shouldn’t have to explain this to a man of your age. Our planet only has capacity for a finite number of humans for a finite amount of time each. Those ratios have been scientifically calibrated and, through careful population management, we have achieved a sustainability level which must be adhered to.”
“I am well aware of that, Mr. Ditmass. But really, what possible difference would my extra day make?
“All the difference in the world. If everyone demanded one more day that would add up to billions of days – the equivalent of thousands of consumer lifetimes. Over the long term our poor planet could not take the added stress.”
David knew the fundamentals of planetary capacity as well as the next person. He remained silent, not looking at Ditmass but aware even so of being under his steady gaze.
After almost a minute of silence, Ditmass spoke. “So, are you going to sign?”
Ditmass reached out and grabbed the pen in David’s hand. David locked his arm as tightly as he could, fearful that he was about to be forced to scrawl his name. But Ditmass instead yanked the pen out of his grip. “I am not going to waste time arguing with you. I have other appointments to keep.”
David turned toward the window. A sharp pain in his arm made him look back. The needle was gone. Ditmass was rolling up the surgical tubing.
“Get up,” said Ditmass. David heaved his legs around and stood. The body bag fell to the floor; he stepped out of it and walked to the other side of the room. With his back to wall David watched as Ditmass packed up his equipment.
When finished packing Ditmass stood, almost at attention with his head tilted back, facing David. “It is my duty to advise you of the consequences of your non-compliance. You have reached your mandated lifespan. To the extent that you exceed your quota, your account will have to be balanced by next of kin.” Ditmass checked his watch once more and then scribbled some notes on a half letter-sized card, which he placed on the table where his tray had been previously. “This is a notice of citizenship arrears, effective as of today. Please discuss your status with your family and have them advise my office as to how they intend to redress any ensuing deficit.”
With that, Ditmass picked up his cases and let himself out. As the door closed behind him, David whispered “goodbye.” He retrieved the card from the coffee table and walked back through the kitchen, through the rear door and into the common area. While it warmer outside than before, the sky was now its normal uniform beige. Not blue. No blue anywhere and no bird singing. David stood looking upwards for as long as he could, until he felt a burning in his nostrils and throat. He had not thought to put his face mask on. He went back inside.
The half slice of toast Tamar had left was on the kitchen table. He sat down and tore the slice into bite-sized pieces, which he chewed on slowly one by one as he stared through the rear door. He hadn’t expected to have a full day at his disposal and he was at a loss as to what to do. How had he squandered the wealth of hours once in his possession, beyond the mandatory investments in work and sleep? But he had dribbled his time away somehow, and now the treasury was bankrupt.
The front door chimed again. David ignored the summons until the fourth chime. Fearful that it was Ditmass returning for another bout he went not to the door but to the front window. Pulling the curtain aside just enough to peek through he saw a woman on the stoop. She wore a raincoat, even though the weather was dry. A large purse or small briefcase hung at her hip from a strap around her shoulder. As David watched her hand jabbed forward at measured intervals, each jab generating a new toll. Clearly she was on a mission and not about to leave anytime soon. After about eight chimes she abruptly turned and caught sight of him. She pulled down her mask, smiled and waved. David had no option but to answer the door.
As the door opened the woman’s smile amplified. “Good morning, Mr. Green. I am Hilda Durkness from Termination Support.” She gestured to photo ID clipped to her lapel. “May I come in?”
“What do you want?”
The smile did not falter. “Is there somewhere we can sit down and talk comfortably?”
Answer a question with a question and trigger yet another question. David briefly considered telling the woman to go away. But politeness had been engrained in him over the years so he nodded and stepped back. Durkness stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind her.
David led the way back to the kitchen, not offering to take her coat, nor performing any of the usual host duties, save for pulling one of the chairs back slightly from the table before sitting down opposite. Durkness placed her purse on the next chair, hung her coat on its back and slid into the designated seat. She looked intently across the table. “David – do you mind if I call you David, Mr. Green?” Not waiting on a response she continued on. “Good. I am here to apologize, David. Our clients should be fully prepared for termination. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with you earlier today and for that I am truly sorry.”
David shook his head. “No need for you to apologize.”
“Oh yes, there is – the procedure should have been handled much better than it was. Let’s see if we can make amends, shall we?” She swiveled and pulled a thick file from her purse/briefcase. Placing the file on the table she opened it delicately and began to scan its contents. David watched in silence.
“I have to say, David, I wish you had contacted our office beforehand to let us know about any qualms you had about today’s appointment. I am sure we could have avoided the unfortunate scene which transpired.” Durkness reached out and placed her hand on David’s forearm, which was resting on the table.
“How so?” David suppressed an urge to pull his arm away.
“Well, for example, I see that you were alone when Mr. Ditmass arrived. Titus is one of our very best field agents, by the way. The majority of our clients arrange to have immediate family present. Did you know that is an option?
“I didn’t think about it one way or the other. It was fine the way it was.”
“Indeed.” Durkness withdrew her hand and made a note in the file. “Are you a member of any religious sect, David? I ask because some people like to have a cleric or spiritual advisor attending. They find it a comfort.”
David folded his arms across his chest. “No, I wouldn’t want that.”
“I see.” Durkness made another notation and the smile gave way to a frown. “Perhaps, David, it would expedite matters if you could explain why you aborted – as it were – at the last possible minute.”
David stared at the tabletop in silence. The earlier blueness of the sky, the trilling from the shrubbery, the insufferable smugness of Ditmass – none of this seemed likely to satisfy the woman across from him. Besides, it wasn’t these incidents but the feelings they invoked, and those feelings didn’t make a lot of sense now even to himself. “It just didn’t feel right,” he murmured.
“What would make it feel right?” asked Durkness, softly.
David shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Durkness reached out with both hands and pulled one of David’s away from his chest. “David, you are so locked up. Please try to relax.” She maintained her grip, bringing David’s hand down against the table. “You got cold feet, that’s all. It happens.”
“Something like that, I guess,” David conceded.
“Many people – I am not saying this is the case for you – but many people want to cling to life beyond their allotted timespan. They feel there are things that they haven’t done or things they want to do more of. But really, longer lives aren’t better lives. Inevitably, things get worse. Especially after one has used up one’s share of nutrition and other commodities. And don’t forget health care as well – advanced ageing without palliatives and analgesics is no way to live.”
“I know all that. I am a good citizen.”
“David, I am so pleased to hear you say that.” Durkness closed the file and slid it back into her bag. “So then, David, this is what I think. Whether you realize it or not, you clearly need some support at this time. I strongly advise that you arrange to have your immediate family present for your termination. It would make the procedure much easier all around.”
“Perhaps you’re right.”
“Talk it over with them. Then all of you can come to down to the office together. Tomorrow first thing would be best.”
“If you are there when the office opens perhaps your arrears can be cancelled without further action required. Mind you, I am not in a position to make promises.”
David made eye contact with Durkness for the first time since her arrival. The smile was back at full radiance.
When his family returned a few hours later it was Jacob, following his mother through the patio door, who noticed David first. “Hi grandpa.” Jacob stripped off his mask and made a farting noise with his lips. Tamar, carrying a small ration bag, looked down at him as if to scold, but then froze as she registered David’s presence. She frowned. “Dad, what happened? Did the Closer not come?”
“He came, and then he left.” David slid the arrears notice across the tabletop toward Tamar.
“What do you mean? He left without…” Tamar let the sentence trail off. Hugging the rations against her chest she tilted forward to read the card. Jacob continued to blow raspberries.
“I didn’t sign the form and so the procedure couldn’t be done.”
“You didn’t sign the form? You said you would sign it when the Closer was here.”
“I changed my mind.”
No response from Tamar. After a period of uncomfortable silence David added, “It was too nice a day.”
Tamar started to speak, but contained herself. She slowly walked across to the sink counter and put the bag down. To the basin she said, “Jacob, take that disgusting noise outside.”
“No, momma, I don’t want to.”
“Go outside and play,” Tamar spoke louder than necessary. “Your grandfather and I need to have a talk – an adult talk. Now!”
Jacob repositioned the mask over his face and scuttled outside. Tamar closed the patio door behind him and turned to face David. “Father, I really don’t understand. Why was today different than any other day? Too nice is no explanation. You knew you had this appointment. Why did you back out at the last possible second?”
Pretty much the same question that Durkness had asked. But mention of this second visitor wasn’t going to help matters now. “Tamar, I can’t explain why I did or didn’t do something. I just did…or didn’t…whatever. It just didn’t seem right.”
“Right?!” Tamar’s voice suddenly became shrill. “How could not going ahead with it be right? You’re stealing our time is what you are doing. Your own flesh and blood. What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t thinking.” And what’s done is done.”
“What am I going to tell the neighbors? They all know that today is your birthday. Some of them must have seen the Closer arrive. You should be ashamed of yourself. I’m ashamed even if you’re not.”
David looked out through the patio door. Jacob was sitting on the edge of the planter, waiting for his recall. Suddenly aware that David was looking at him, Jacob waved. David smiled back.
“Father, honestly, this is nothing to smile about. We…you need to fix this.”
“I will. I’ll fix it first thing in the morning.”
“How can I believe that? You said you would sign the form today, and you didn’t. Because it didn’t feel right. Because it was too nice a day. What if tomorrow is a nice day, too?”
“I said tomorrow, first thing. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. We shouldn’t keep Jacob outside any longer.”
“Fine, let’s not talk about it. Let’s just carry on like everything’s fine.” Tamar went to the patio door. “Just so you know, don’t expect to be fed tonight. I am not taking food out of my baby’s mouth to fill yours.” She slid the door open. Anticipating her, Jacob was already in motion and he squeezed through the door when the gap was barely wide enough.
As if he had overheard what Tamar said, Jacob asked, “What’s for dinner?”
“Food,” said Tamar. “Now, everyone out of the kitchen.”
David retreated to his room. A half hour later he heard Tamar calling Jacob to the table. He remained where he was, but Tamar knocked and stuck her head through his door. “I don’t want you sulking in here. What will Jacob think? Come to the table.”
Obediently, David came back to the kitchen and sat at the table in his regular spot. He stared at the empty bowl in front of him.
Jacob scratched behind his ear with his spoon. “Aren’t you going to eat, grandpa?”
“No, Jacob, I’m not hungry.”
“Nonsense,” said Tamar. She ladled soup into David’s bowl…half full. “I don’t want any fussy eaters at this table.”
David looked at his daughter. She shifted her eyes towards Jacob and then back at him. David got the message. He picked up his spoon and began to sip.
“Well, anyway…” It wasn’t clear to whom Jacob was speaking. “Grandpa can share my food, too.” He lifted his bowl toward David’s.
Tamar attempted to smile. “Oh, Jacob, that’s so sweet of you. But it’s not necessary. Grandpa has his own food.”
“I couldn’t possibly eat any more,” said David.
Jacob kept his bowl suspended in air. “Grandpa doesn’t get his own food. He’s not allowed. He’s too old.”
David gently pressed the bowl back down on the table. “It’s okay, Jake – really.”
“Jacob, who told you this nonsense?” The smile was becoming very strained. “No one would take grandpa’s food from him.”
“Yes they would. All the kids at school know about it. You get seventy years. That’s it. And it’s grandpa’s birthday today. So now we have to share or the closerman will take him away.”
“Jacob, it’s not like that…”
“Grandpa, you can have some of my time, too. I’ve got lots.” He started to cry. “I don’t want the closerman to take grandpa away.”
With the intent of comforting the boy, David half rose, but Tamar got there first. She knelt next to Jacob and wrapped her arms around him, gently rocking as David watched. He pushed back his chair. “May I please be excused?” Not waiting for a response he went back to his room.
He lay there sprawled on his bed, not because he was tired, but for want of anything meaningful to do. Read a book, listen to the radio, do a crossword puzzle? These activities were all pointless now. They always were pointless. He could hear Tamar and Jacob talking in the kitchen, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. It sounded as if Jacob had stopped crying.
After a while there were footsteps on the stairs, the sound of water running through pipes, and closing of doors. The house settled quietly into night. But sleep for David was a remote prospect.
A knock on his bedroom door startled him. He had not heard footsteps approaching. “Come in,” he said softly, bracing himself for further reproach. But it was not Tamar. Instead, Jacob entered, socks on his feet and wearing pajamas. He glided under the covers and snuggled up against David.
Jacob had never done this before, not that David minded the intrusion. He shifted position so that his upper arm pillowed Jake’s head. They lay together in the dark for some time. The boy’s erratic breathing seemed to suggest he was about to speak, yet he did not. Eventually David felt that perhaps he instead should start the conversation, but the right words refused to arrange themselves in his mind.
The impasse was broken when Jake lifted his head off of David’s shoulder. David realized then that his pajama sleeve was sodden with the boy’s tears.
“What’s up, Jake?”
“I can’t sleep.”
“Yeah, I know what that’s like. Where’s your momma?”
“She’s in bed. She said she was worn out. Grandpa?”
“Why does momma want the closerman to take you away?”
“It’s not what your momma wants. Not really. It was what I was supposed to do. It’s what everybody does when they are my age. It’s normal.”
“So why didn’t you go with him, grandpa?”
“I don’t know, Jake. Sometimes even adults don’t do what they are supposed to do. I feel bad about it now.”
“I don’t understand, grandpa.”
“You don’t understand what, Jake?”
“All this stuff about the closerman. Why does he take old people away?”
“When you get older you will understand.”
“Older? Like when I’m momma’s age and she’s your age?”
“No, Jake, a long time before that.”
Jacob rose up on his knees and looked down at his grandfather for a long while. “Grandpa, I love you. I don’t want anybody to take you away. You’re family.”
Family. David was surprised the boy used the word. Jacob had no siblings, of course. No uncles, aunts or cousins either. He probably wouldn’t even recognize these archaic terms. “I love you, too, Jake. And I don’t want to leave you, either. Don’t worry; everything is going to be fine. Trust me.”
David’s assurances seemed phony to himself, but evidently not to Jacob. He lay down again. His breathing became more rhythmic and after a minute or so David thought the boy had fallen asleep. “Jake?” he gave his grandson a gentle shake.
“I’m awake, Grandpa.”
David sat up and placed his feet on the floor. “Come on,” he said, and raised Jacob to a sitting position beside him. “Let’s talk about this in the morning. Right now both of us need a good night’s sleep. Off to bed with you.”
To David’s relief Jacob did not protest. The boy walked over to the door, turned, and said “goodbye, grandpa.”
His grandson nodded once and closed the door behind him.
Before turning out his light David set his alarm for very early the next morning. He needed to be up and gone before his family woke up. No drama.
In his 20s Mark Vulliamy made a precarious living as a writer, actor and director in street theatre and touring companies, before taking on a temporary position in a City recreation centre. Thirty years later he retired as the planning and research manager for the municipal parks administration. In the latter capacity he wrote policy, capital plan, park land acquisition and other reports. Now free of bureaucratic duties he writes fiction and theatre pieces and was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver, Canada.