The Body on Mount Royal
by David Montrose with an introduction by Kevin Burton Smith
You want to know about Montreal? Listen. I’ll tell you. The first anyone heard of Montreal, it was an Indian village called Hochelaga. The name has been changed a few times since then, but the place is still full of Indians. Low life, high life, all around the town, we got Indians. Not Red. White.
I could tell you about the high life, about the people who have homes beautiful as Forest Hill Villagers but instead of keeping them private castles, use them for only one thing—entertaining. The people who dine at La Maisonette Carol and Chez Ernest and Au Lutin qui Bouffe, and dance and drink in the Ritz Cafe or the Normandie or Le Pavillon. The people with Cadillac convertibles—Montreal is a city of convertibles, but a lot of them are Morris Minors.
I could tell you about them. But I have a hunch you want to hear about the people I know better, the ones I work among and get drunk with, and beat up or get beat up by. Sure, I know the rolling greenery of upper Westmount and the high square solemn houses of midtown Montreal’s Square Mile, and the wide streets of Outremont with mansions set away back. But my name is Russell Teed. R. Teed Private Investigator. I don’t always like it, but I get involved in crimes. And I go where the criminals go.I can take you to restaurants where you get a beautiful steak for four bits, and I can even tell you where they get the horses to cut up. I can stand you on a street corner where a man has never stood alone for five minutes without being approached by a pimp. I can get you a bottle, or a drink in a bar at five in the morning if you wont tell the cops. And if you want to risk your roll at barbotte
or crap or even, God save us, roulette, I can show you places that will cover your ten grand bet—and pay off if you win. Montreal is a city with honest cops. But it’s a big city with a tradition of Indian living, and there are places, there are places. I’ll take you anywhere. I’ll tell you anything you want to know. And I’ll give you one piece of advice.
Don’t walk alone on Mount Royal at night.
Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe you’re big and brave. But a big, brave friend of mine looked awful funny without his wallet, wristwatch, glasses, pants, and false teeth. He lost them on top of Mount Royal and got in exchange a black and a broken jaw. And that’s not all.
Once in a while the hugger-muggers get careless and hit too hard, and then in the morning somebody finds a body on Mount Royal. One particular body that was found there was the beginning of this story, though I didn’t know it at the time. I’ll tell you about him now, the way I heard about it myself, in the words the newspapers used the next day.