The name had an air of the Raj about it, but the system was what my mother called the contact points on every door and window. Disarming meant dialing from the kitchen phone, giving the receptionist a spoken code, part name, part digits — simply, our phone number: Wellington 3 4 6 oh oh. They must have hated accounts like ours, with pot-fuelled, latchkey teens whose sole incoming focus was the refrigerator, who were usually found combing the Frost Free shelves, startled, mouths full of frozen cake by the time police arrived.
And it’s curious to think, as apparently no-one did circa 1969, that the person speaking numbers into the black receiver might have had a knife to the throat. But this was the Dominion of Canada, self-governing nation of the Commonwealth, when dusk was dusk, not the twilight of empire, and a call duly disconnected the circuits until everyone was home for the night, to be reset by the last to bed.
Then wind would start to roil the tallest maples swamping the house, leaves brushing even the third-floor panes before sighing into place at dawn. And when daylight broke and poured across the wide lawns, the Italian gardeners were already there, eating bagged breakfasts on the tailgates of their trucks, while up and down the street, systems were silenced, and men with their briefcases set forth.