By Charlie Buckley
It was a fateful Thursday in February; the kind a person never forgets.
I was standing on Gould Street, minding my own business, wondering what it would be like to have a hot dog cart of my very own, when I heard somebody sneeze. But here’s the thing—nobody was around.
It was 3 a.m., right in the dead of the night. I had just left my nightly spin class by that one vent outside the campus store that smells like french fries. I know it wasn’t me, because I’m not capable of sneezing—not since the accident. The doctors had never seen a pepper overdose so severe.
Regardless, sneeze someone did. It broke the foreboding silence and echoed off the Gould Street asphalt, sending a chill down my spine. I looked around, primed and ready for nocturnal attackers, only to fix my eyes on the man himself–Egerton Ryerson, cast in bronze.
Then I saw him sniffle.
I tried calling the university president’s office; my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. The Toronto Police Service, the RCMP and the Catholic Church’s official exorcist all shrugged me off. But in my search for sympathetic listeners, I stumbled across some key pieces of evidence.
During the statue’s construction decades ago, workers reported strange sounds coming from the site under the cover of night, and movements caught from the corner of their eyes. According to Rye legend, the sightings were covered up by the school’s administration. Evidence suggests the cover-up was orchestrated by the metal-goods supplier for the project, who worried about losing the “100 per cent not-haunted” guarantee on their products.
Julie Keighley, a fourth-year social work student, appeared on RUtv News last year pleading for inquiry into her own experience. Keighley said the statue climbed off its pedestal, looked up to the moon in the sky, and belted out an off-key rendition of Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer.’ Keighley added her attempts to harmonize “did not go well.” Clearly, something is going on.
I decided to sit down with Bozo the Clown, a face-painted children’s performer who moonlights as a living statue in his off-hours.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Bozo said, sitting in his dressing room. “That is no ordinary statue.”
Bozo’s 2013 book, Buckingham Palace Guards Ain’t Got Shit on Me, describes a living statue as a “street artist who remains completely still, covered in metallic paint, with the goal of startling passersby.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was pretty damn startled when I heard that sneeze. I’ll bet that Julie Keighley and those construction workers were startled too. I was tired of asking people for help; I got out my cloves of garlic, my wooden stake and my Book of Mormon. It was time to get some answers.
All this and more in the next installment of the Ryerson Statue Caper, Part Two: the time I got my ass kicked by a 215-year-old Methodist.
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