Friday, 12 December 2014



"The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again."
- Charles Dickens


He examined the piece of jewelry in his hand.  It was shiny and turquoise, not unlike the dress that Erin wore that time he had found her in that room when he worked in the condo.  Marty wondered if she had worn this earring with it.  He sipped his coffee, and then accepted the joint from Jimmy, his fingers shivering as he nearly dropped it.

Marty had cursed at first when Jimmy had told him the news days before.  He said things he was regretting already, things that he never would have imagined himself saying.  Jimmy had just shrunk in front of him, sinking into the big chair.  And then Marty said the word, the n-word.

As he inhaled his tote he thought back to his life in high school.  He had last said the word there.  Being the only white student in most of his classes had always set him apart in that school.  One time while playing basketball (badly) in gym one of them, this big guy named Andrei, started yelling at him in some patois Marty couldn’t understand.  That was when he said it aloud.  In that heat of the moment he let it slip and instantly braced himself for a beating from every side of him, even from his own team-mates.  After a few seconds the game went on instead.  He had turned around and saw his friend, another black student who lived in Marty’s old neighbourhood.  They had stopped talking after this.  Marty promised himself then never to use the word again.  Anything that cost him one of the few friends he had made was wrong.

Marty now stared forward at his huge flat-screen television, the various video game systems plugged into it, and the earring, ivory pipe and rhinoceros horn that lay on the coffee table in front of him. 

He laid back, giving the joint back to Jimmy. “Where did it got wrong?”

Jimmy shrugged.

“I knew we shouldn’t have trusted him.  I told you,” Marty said, shaking his head. “I guess it’s over then. I almost ended up in jail back there.  We have enough money, whatever’s left.  We can sell this stuff too.  I’m sure we can find someone, just be careful we don’t attract attention.”

Jimmy nodded. “We can get maybe a few more thousand dollars.”

“Yeah,” said Marty. “And then maybe we can split.  It’s only a matter of time until the cops start looking. It will take a while.  My old condo bosses never even had this address, but they got resources, or at least Franco does.  If he and the cops put them together they can find something...eventually.”

“I don’t know about that, Marty.  I mean, you told me before we did it that that you covered your tracks pretty good.  No one knows.  They wouldn’t recognize you on camera, and even if they did they would go to your old house.  Your dad’s not there though, right?  So it’s nothing to worry about.  We can stay here for a while still.”

In his mind the image of Ivan materialized.  He saw himself pushing Ivan down and throwing down the cinder block on top of him all over again. After he had dreamt of waking up as a cockroach in his room, his dream had shifted to that moment.  One time Marty felt that he himself was down the well looking up at two unknown people.  The cinder block fell this time too, just as it always did.  It pounded Marty’s dream self into oblivion.

“There are enough reasons,” he finally told Jimmy. “More than enough reasons why the cops will end up here.  We need to hurry up whatever we do.”

Jimmy shrugged again. “Where are you going to go?” he asked as he finished what was left of the joint and put it in the ivory pipe.

Marty grabbed the pipe and poured the little tip of blackened zig-zag paper onto the coffee table. “Don’t cheapen the merch,” he said sternly. “And I don’t know where I’ll go.  I can probably rent somewhere else under the table.”

“Another shitty landlord?”

Marty shuddered. “No, no, not that.  I mean, maybe in another town.  I can rent a place where the landlord is never around, just a small house out somewhere, maybe even a backwoods in Northern Ontario.  We can both go and then lay low before finding someone, maybe by going to bars and getting to know the right people.  We can get someone at some point to make us fake ID’s, and then we can start over with a nice nest-egg to start.”

“Not if that’s what you’re doing,” said Jimmy. “I’m getting out of this country.  Money talks.  I’ll go someplace warm.”

“Good luck getting past borders.  Still though,” Marty said with a sigh. “If Spades hadn’t fucked us over, it would be so much easier to do something.”

Marty got up, feeling more clear and relaxed than he had in ages.  He decided he had to talk to Tony, find a way to get Tony to leave the house. Tony deserved better than this, Marty realized.  He knew he had to do something to get him to leave safely. 

As he made his way down the stairs to the outside he thought over the hardships that he figured would lay ahead.  He would have to sit down and count his money, but it would be a struggle to buy a bus ticket out of Toronto while still having enough for a few months rent and food.  He regretted the HD-TV, the games systems, the expensive furniture and weights.  When he had drawn the plan for the heist on Franco’s he was not anticipating that he would be struggling again.

As he stepped out into the cold space between houses he considered, just for a moment, if it was worth helping Tony leave. “What’s the worst that would happen?  Police questioning?  Would they accuse him of the crime?”

Marty then imagined Tony telling a detective detailed descriptions of the friend who brought him food and gave him company frequently.  Tony knew Marty’s name, his voice, and that he used to live in the Jane and Finch area.  Tony knew that Marty was once a security guard at a condo on Bay Street.  The pieces could be put together by a skilled detective.

“And what about Richard?” Marty asked himself as he reached the front of the house. “Nah—fuck him!  He’s been hiding and being a dick to me for weeks.  I don’t owe him anything.  He can go to jail for killing Ivan!”

He opened the door and stepped into the kitchen of the main floor.  Dishes were piled up in the sink, giving off a foul odour that reminded Marty of Ivan's reign.  As he took the first few steps down the stairs to the basement one of the bedroom doors behind him opened up.  It was Richard’s.

 “Marty!” the Englishman called after him.  He turned about to see an unshaven Richard at the top of the stairs. 

“So, the beast awakens finally?” Marty asked as he turned to face him.

Richard nodded. “I’ve been awake for days, Marty.  We need to talk.”

“That time is over, I think,” the younger man scoffed, shaking his head and taking another few steps down.

“Marty, I’m serious!  We need to talk now.  Please, just come up here.  I need to show you something.”

He sighed loudly, purposely trying to show his old room-mate his annoyance, but he relented and followed Richard up to the kitchen again. “Hurry up whatever you’re going to do,” he said.

“Okay,” the middle-aged man replied, quickly disappearing into his room and then coming back out seconds later with a duffel bag in his hands. “Now, this is going to look bad at first, just don’t jump to conclusions before I explain.”

Marty felt something jolt through him. “What the hell is this?”

“This is not the bag I found it in,” Richard said, placing the bag on the kitchen table.

“That’s—that’s...?  The money?”

“Yes, Ivan's, the money you've been looking for,” he replied, zipping it open. “Or half of it.”

Marty leaned over the round table, peering inside the spacious interior of the bag.  There were bills, red fifties and brown hundreds, but they only filled up the bag a little under halfway to the top, not the way he had seen it originally in Ivan’s room. “This is the bag?”

“Not the same bag, but the same money, yes, just half of it.  Your half.”

“Where is your half?”

“I spent it already,” Richard replied blankly, sharing Marty’s gaze at the bills rather than looking up at him directly.


Richard sighed. “Drugs.  Lots of drugs, hard drugs.”

“Why?” Marty asked, now looking at him.  His cheeks, the part not covered by his beard, were a deep pink.

“I don’t know.  I guess after the whole thing with Ivan, I wasn’t sure how I felt.  I contacted an old dealer, Laura’s younger brother, this trash guy, but he had connections.  I just wanted to finish my novel and be alone.  I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“So, more or less, you were holding out on me this whole time?” Marty asked, suddenly feeling angry.  If he had the rhinoceros horn he might have whipped it at him in the moment. 

The sight of the multi-coloured bills beneath him calmed him, just slightly though. 

Richard nodded, still gazing downward. “I’m sorry, Marty.  I didn’t know what to do.”

Marty ran his hands through the money. “How much?”

“About three thousand.”

Marty smiled, and then frowned.  His emotions were still of a dual nature, but the positive started to overwhelm the negative. “Why?  Why would you do this?  You knew I was looking for this.  If I had this money I'd have been out of here already.”

“I don’t even know why I did it.  My money is gone though.  I felt guilty about the whole thing, haven’t been able to see anything clearly since it happened.”

“Jesus, Richard,” Marty muttered in a harsh, almost whispered tone. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I don’t even know,” he said. “I’m sorry, Marty.  Here, I kept your half.  Part of me stayed clear at least, but Marty, we have problems, serious problems now.”

“What?” he asked, taking up a hundred dollar bill, bringing it to his nose to smell the maple scent that had been embedded onto it when it was printed.

“Ivan had friends.”

Marty dropped the bill in the bag. “What?”

Richard finally looked him in the eyes. “Two men, two big Russian men, shady fuckers, have been coming by the past week.  I’ve seen them many times.  They only talked to me once, asked me where Ivan was.  Marty, these guys are suspecting something.  I told them Ivan hasn’t been around and that I didn’t know.  They don’t believe me, I can tell.”

A loud thump came at the front door.  For a second both of them froze in place, and then Richard grabbed the bag and ran to his room.  Marty followed. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Hey there reader,

I apologize for not having a new chapter for the past two weeks.  Unfortunately things have been hectic in my personal life, including the death of a family member.  On top of that my work schedule has been really busy.  The next chapter is in production and will most likely be posted next week.  There are only a few more chapters of Junction Landlord left until the story is complete.  Go back and read from the start if you haven't started already.  And help spread the word!

In the meantime, some good news. 

I have had a short story of mine published recently.  It has been published by Polar Expressions Publishing, an organization that seeks to promote Canadian writers.  My story was published in a compilation called That Golden Summer.  Order yours today!  In this book I am published under the name Jesse Zimmerman, which is my real name. 

This is my first official fiction publication.  Presently I have many other short stories that are ready for submission for fiction contests and for magazines and websites.  Junction Landlord is my free story and so far it has been a great time writing this story and sharing it and my other writings on this blog, which is just around a year old at this time.  Please stay tuned for more.
Junction Landlord will continue very soon.  Thanks for reading so far.

Friday, 21 November 2014



"Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before."


He slept for forty-eight hours, all the while wrapped in his bedsheet like a germinating butterfly in the cocoon.  All of him felt warm and secure.  Marty’s eyes peered out through the thin gap in his sheet toward the bedroom window.  Thick snow fell down in droves, making his comfort greater knowing that he was thoroughly insulated.  He loved the sensation as he drifted through sleep and wakefulness casually.  When he was awake he just stared up at the window, growing hypnotized by the increasing patterns of frost that slowly spread out over the glass.  Outside was a blizzard.  Inside there was only silence, warmth and stillness. 

Whenever he fell into a hibernating state he saw through his eyes the world at different steps in his life.  At first he was helpless, staring up at blurry whiteness.  His strength grew as he flung upward and gazed about a sunlit room with baby blue walls.  There were white bars in front of him.  Soon after that he was running through a bright green field for a few moments before the grass blades jolted upward suddenly, shooting up toward the sky, suddenly trapping him in a forest of dark pine trees.   

As Marty tore down a vine-laden trail through the woods he noticed that he had become taller, now being able to see further away.  Up ahead there was a wooden door standing alone in a clearing.  He turned the knob and inside he saw a small room.  There were rows of desks with chairs and a large blackboard on the wall at the front.  He took a seat, looking about at his mates, seeing some familiar faces and waved at some of them.  No one looked back at him.  They all stared forward. 

A teacher pulled up a television set on a trolley and turned the set on.  The image of an open frog appeared on the screen.  Marty was now dissecting it, sticking his utensils into the dead creature’s insides.  He wondered if he would ever be preforming surgery on people.  Marty relished the idea of making more money than his dad.  He smiled, suddenly catching the reflection of a pimply faced adolescent boy in the lab’s window.  Outside it was raining.  The high school front lawn was soaked.  He walked to the street, trying to avoid the puddles on the pathway.  The strong smell of cigarette and marijuana smoke floated to him from the sidewalk, but he pressed on, ignoring it. 

And then he was in front of his house.  Two women walked out the door.  One was his mother.  The other was much younger.  Both of them walked away from him and disappeared into a mist.  Marty stepped into his door and was suddenly in a crowd on the lawn of the Parliament buildings.  Stephen Harper, Paul Martin and Jack Layton were on a stage, yelling at one another as the people cheered and booed alternatively.  Marty ran up to Jack.

It was no longer Mr. Layton.  Instead it was another older man in a suit that he reached out to.  The man smiled warmly and handed Marty a rolled up paper.  It was his diploma.  Marty stood on top of a column of books as he threw his graduation cap into the sky.  The black cap vanished in the air and so did the paper in his hand.   

Now he stood in front of his house in the Junction.  The snow was up to his knees.  He moved into the front door, stepping over a gigantic dead cockroach that had frozen stiff, a thick coating of ice covering it's carapace.  Richard stood in the doorway, wide-eyed and frightened as Marty passed.

He was in his room again, wrapped in his blankets, staring out at the window.  His legs started kicking wildly.  He parted his arms and started to unravel his cocoon.  When the first arm flung out he felt the instant change in temperature, shivering as he shot out his other arm into the cold, unwelcoming air.  He was changing.  His arm felt different, colder and longer, his fingers replaced with feelers.

He stood for a few seconds, shuddering.  And then he turned around and caught his reflection in the mirror on the bedroom door.

He saw a giant cockroach staring back at him.


Now that he stood at the end of the street a part of him wanted to turn back.  He had in his knapsack all the money he had made in the past two days off the merchandise from Harvey Franco’s penthouse.

The first things he and Jimmy had grabbed were the pair of vases on a hutch near the front hallway.  These were not simple glass or plastic vases that grace the insides of lower class apartments and homes.  These vases were the ones that those knock-off ones were trying to impersonate.  He noticed the glint off the sun’s light as he placed the vase in his bag.  He looked up then, seeing a ceiling window that bathed the hallway in a gold glow.

“Come on, let’s split and grab as much as we can,” Jimmy had called at him as he disappeared down the hallway.  Spades turned left into the first wide open room, a sort of lounge room with four big white chairs and a low coffee table.  On the table was a globe made of gems, each country had its own colour.  Canada was a big white space, likely ivory.  Spades placed that in the bag.  Nothing else in the room of value would fit in so he moved on down the hallway.

Next down the hall on the left there was what looked like a study.  A map of the world lined half the wall.  It was marked with red lines stretching from city to city.  Beside it was a map of just North America with even more red lines criss-crossing over it.  Beneath the maps was a long wooden desk with a laptop propped up with a cluttered desktop screen with various opened, overlapping windows.  Spades moved over to the desk, looking about the surface of the desk.  There he saw it, the diamond encrusted golden earpiece.  He picked it up and placed it inside the vase.

“Beyond bougie,” he whispered to the room.

Spades flung open the drawers underneath the desk.  Most of them contained envelopes, some fresh, others with writing and stamps all over them.  In the far drawer he found a gold and silver watch.

“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered as he noticed the letter opener lying on the desk next to the laptop.  He stashed both items into the vase.  There was an opened manila envelope on the other side of the desk.  On it read big block letters: Franco Shipping.   

Spades grabbed it and looked in.

“Oh shit!” he stammered once he tilted the envelope and emptied the colourful bills one by one into his palm.  There were five hundred dollar bills and four fifties!  He stuffed them in his back pocket.  He decided that it would be his personal tip.

“Mr. Franco?” a female voice interrupted his thoughts.

That was when he shouted for Jimmy.  His partner came tumbling down the hall, slowed down by the weight of the bag in his arms.  As Spades ran out to meet him he shot a glance over his shoulder.  A confused-looking woman’s face was on the screen.

They had stolen enough by then.  Jimmy had visited the main bedroom and scooped up some ivory statues, a silver flute, two brooches, three pairs of earrings, two rings, an ivory pipe and a rhinoceros horn. 

They had fled unnoticed from the building lobby.  There wasn't even a guard at the post.  Waves of police cruisers had rushed by, sirens blaring, when they were in the backseat of the cab.  Jimmy was red-faced with beads of sweat streaming down both of his temples.  Spades was already smiling.  They said nothing.

When they got back in the Junction and into Marty’s house they unloaded everything.  Spades counted the worth in his mind.

 “What about Marty?” Jimmy had demanded, finally breaking the silence.

“Wait,” Spades snapped, going back to tallying up the rest of his estimate. 

 “We can’t use the radio, he’s out of range!  Did you see him?  The police had him!”

 Spades grinned back. “This is almost three million at worst.  But damn, his stuff had to be more!  Look at this!” He grabbed the shiny earpiece. “This itself might be half a million!  There’s a whole African country de-mined for this!  We got it.  If they got Marty what are we supposed to do?  That’s two halves instead of three thirds!  We get maybe two million each if we’re lucky, maybe more!”

 “I don’t know!” Jimmy stammered, picking up one of the rings.  Spades could tell he was at a loss of what to say. 

“People get caught—move on,” he thought to himself, thinking of what a rookie Jimmy was. “Marty though—that guy is no rookie.  He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who talks.”

He had then started packing everything up again, telling Jimmy he was leaving to sell it all.  Jimmy protested, taking a few of the things back.  Spades let him keep the ivory pipe, an earring and the rhino horn.  He could sell that later on.

Spades was now outside Marty’s house carrying two bags now full of cash. It hadn’t taken long for him to call up some people.  One of his boy’s from a way back had all the connections.  Spades had cultivated a relationship with each of them over the past year.  They had networks that were always looking for luxury items.  Most of the time it was electronics and cars that they dealt with, but Spades knew they could find people who would buy the luxury goods that formerly belonged to Harvey Franco.

It took two days to get rid of all the stuff, but he made it with a clean three million.

“I could go now and have it all,” he told himself as he approached the front door. 

With the money he would leave town, head to Montreal or Calgary, get some fake ID and rent somewhere under the table.  His place would be modest at first but as long as he had the money for rent, food and anything else he wanted things would be fine.  He would move slowly in his purchases (the B&W could wait) just to make sure there were no loose ends in his previous life that would come back to haunt him. 

Most importantly, before jumping town he could deliver a stack of bills to two people; his mother and his son’s mother.  For all the things he did wrong in life, at least he could do this before he left them forever.

Spades sighed, watching his breath drift into the air, hearing the sound of a train whistle as the top of the train trailers sped by above the metal wall at the end of the street.  He wanted to turn around.  He had ignored his conscience plenty of times before.  When it meant more money for him he had turned his back on others who had helped him.  The first car he helped steal; his accomplice was arrested, but Spades never spoke to him once he was released.  He moved to another neighbourhood and never answered his phone.  He needed all the money. 

Now it was different though.  His life as a thief was over.  And Marty—there was something he respected about him.  He was a mastermind.  He had been cool with Spades since the beginning, had always seemed to show decent respect to him. 

It was decided.  Spades would go in. 

 A car-horn honked behind him.  The train rumbled down the track, fading as it made its way eastward.  The car honked again.  Spades turned around and saw the big black car idling at the end of the cul-de-sac.  The driver’s seat window rolled down and a large man stuck his head out.

“Cops?” he asked in his mind, tightening both hands on his bags full of money.

“Do you live here?” the man asked in a deep, accented voice.

Spades shook his head.

The shotgun seat door opened and another man, this one tall and balding stepped out on the other side.  He flicked a cigarette from his fingers, sending it streaking toward Spades like a comet.

“Who’s asking?” Spades asked, taking a step back toward the front door.

The driver opened up his door.  Spades wished he still was strapped.  He had not carried a gun in over a year.  It was too risky.

 Both men approached him. “We have some more questions,” said the bulkier of the two, the driver. “We hope you will answer them.”