Questions Surrounding My Disappearance

Granted, things have not been well in the Canadian Film and Television Industry, and sure, even when things were good, or at least promising, people—your average viewer—didn’t read the credits. …

Illustration by Sonny

Granted, things have not been well in the Canadian Film and Television Industry, and sure, even when things were good, or at least promising, people—your average viewer—didn’t read the credits. I mean, frankly, who cares, who should give a shit who wrote or lit or recorded the sound for a television show or a movie. Watch the story, have a snack, soon to bed, right? But there have been, however poorly publicized, awards—two Jerrys, a Great Plains Indie (a “Gippie”), of which I am particularly proud, and a Barry Boodarby Memorial for Historical Drama (though I didn’t, technically, meet the residency requirements) for a show out of Halifax. There were plaudits in the trades… well, trade… and even notes in the infrequently scanned rear passages of the newspapers. You would think that someone would notice, wouldn’t you?

On the home front, I had mistakenly assumed that I was being taken for granted, that the kids and Marilyn relied on my being there, on my running errands and doing stuff around the house between gigs, and that they just imagined it would always be thus. But, hearing now what’s happened, reading some of the detail in the report my lawyer provided, I see that, on the home front, I was already as good as gone: Marilyn, “assuming” that, in the nightly rounds of musical beds, I must have slept somewhere in the house; Buppy (How did we ever let that nickname stick?) and Virginia, too, “assuming” (and they are too young to assume) that I was off at the Banff Television Festival or the like. So, not taken for granted, but… assumed. There’s a difference.

The police said, as I knew they would—remember now I’ve written crime drama, written multiple episodes—that someone had to have been missing for twenty-four hours before they would act. (And I’ll tell you they were pretty cavalier when I reported it.) So I said, to move it to the top of the list, I said it had actually been seventy-two hours. I considered, but quickly discounted, leaving evidence—a note, a door left ajar. That would be unnecessarily complicating the story. Keep it simple: you learn that working in television. I thought the call had worked but (I’m reading in the report here) they didn’t go around to the house until the next morning, and then, finding no one at home, didn’t come back until supper time. No one even bothered to call Marilyn at work. When they did finally speak to her they didn’t even ask if there was a note. I wasn’t expecting bloodhounds, you know, just that someone would make an effort.

Marilyn’s first response (from the report again) was to say that it accounted for no one being there to meet the animal-control people. The raccoons are still up in my eaves, running riot. And it’s my fault.

And all that would have been fine but it was hardly as if I’d gone to ground, you know. People saw me! I kept my appointments. I was at meetings. I wasn’t that vociferous, and we were covering much the same ground as we had during the last round of meetings, but you would think people would remember a person having been there. The capper, though, was that in the midst of it all I was on the radio. Agreed: it was CBC Radio. Agreed: it was late at night on a program dedicated to the arts. But there I was, for anyone who cared to listen. It was a panel discussion concerning the latest crisis in funding; maybe people mistook it for a repeat.

Now that it’s over I’ve been subject to some derision—lots of cracks about “finding yourself,” and… well… you can guess. The cops are much more exercised about my being found than my having been lost, let me tell you. They are determined to lay a charge, but, my lawyer assures me, they won’t do any better than “mischief.” Mischief doesn’t sound so bad—sounds like fun for some. Whatever the case, it will be a precedent, as no one has before, at least in this jurisdiction, reported themselves missing.

Edward Riche