Do­min­ion Pro­tec­tion™

The Walrus - - CONTENTS - By Julie Bruck

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.

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