Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Étude for Ventilator and Voice
     Nocturne for Sledgehammer and Splintered Wood

Susan Olding

Spring 2021 - Etude


In late September 1867, Cornelius Driscoll was on his rounds in the building that now houses the Tett when he heard a peculiar noise. It might have been an unfamiliar voice or footfall; it might have been a sledgehammer cracking against wood or glass or stone. He set the guard dogs loose in the yard. Another employee heard them barking on his way to bed, but did not investigate since it was common for the dogs to bark at night. The brewery was near the penitentiary and was a magnet for vagrants. Little is known of what happened after Driscoll freed the dogs, but the next morning, his badly beaten body was found lying against a stone wall …


Susan Olding is the author of Big Reader (forthcoming in spring 2021) and Pathologies: A Life in Essays. Her writing has won a National Magazine Award and has appeared in the Bellingham Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Maisonneuve, the Malahat Review, the New Quarterly, Queen’s Quarterly, and the Utne Reader and in such anthologies as Best Canadian Essays 2016 and In Fine Form, 2nd edition. She is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University.