Thursday, 28 August 2014


On that hot summer day Richard had turned back around and looked at the cityscape.  The sun flashed brightly and hotly against many of the glass buildings.

Chapter 23 will be published on September 4, 2014

The statues stood around a small flat statue in between them, making him think of Stonehenge as he made it to the middle. 

It was a sign of a nation’s industrial economy, once considered modern, but now a rotting grey slab against a backdrop that has moved far beyond modernism. 
His face was frozen in pain, eyes and mouth wide open. 
...her face too looking afraid, eyes wide open at the unseen sight in front of them.

Friday, 22 August 2014


"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."


The Junction was transformed.

The sides of the streets, where once one could see abandoned antique appliances and furniture sitting outside the houses, were all covered from sight. A glaze of ice in turn covered the snow like a thin shell. The streets themselves, though cleared of the snow by this point, were all covered in this glaze as well. Even the salt that city workers had sprayed over the roads had frozen over. It was surreal, like nothing Marty had ever seen, even in his childhood winters.

Richard had boots, but Marty had none. He managed to find some, likely Ivan's, stacked with a bunch of other shoes and boots in the basement storage area. Once outside the two of them were met with the awesome sight. 

The trees, Marty pointed out to Richard as they passed by the old synagogue, were encased in ice. The trunks had a transparent shell going all the way up, and every branch stretching out was likewise encased. Once they reached Dundas they saw only a few cars on the sides of the roads frozen in place. The radio antennae of one looked like a clear popsicle.

“This is insane,” Richard stammered as they passed by it.

“I would say 'welcome to Canada', but I haven't seen anything like this either,” said Marty. “It looks like something out of science fiction.”

“Or maybe in Siberia.” At that comment they both looked at each other and went silent.  Marty looked at Ivan's boots that Richard wore.

When they reached the supermarket on Pacific Avenue they parted ways, each with their own cart, and began filling up on groceries. For once the sky was the limit. Money was no object, only the amount that they could lift and take home. After they dropped off the groceries at the house they went out again, this time heading West to the LCBO near Runneymede. By the time they got home the second time they found Nicky getting ready to leave, bundling himself up in a bright purple scarf and yellow toque.

“Is it cold outside still?” he asked. “At least, I mean, as cold as it was the past few days?”

“It's freezing,” said Marty, placing his bags on the kitchen table and heading to the sink to run hot water over his red hands.

“Very cold,” Richard agreed, looking pleased instead of angry at the annoying kid. “And watch your step. The ice is everywhere.”

“This is bullshit!” Nicky cried. “I'm going down South for two months. My mom gave me a few thousand dollars so I'm going away.”

“Oh,” said Richard. “Really? Why not move out altogether then?”

Marty shot him a glare. “Are you trying to ruin our cash flow?” he thought, but kept his mouth shut.

“I'm still here. I love it here!” Nicky replied. “So, I guess I got to pay Ivan for the two months. Have you seen him around yet?”

Richard looked over to Marty. “He's still out,” he said. Marty nodded, looking at the boots that Richard still wore.

"Okay, well, this time I'll pay in advance,” said Nicky, pulling out a swathe of bills from his pant pocket. “So that's another nine hundred for the two months.”

“Oh yeah,” said Marty, pointing to Ivan's door with his free hand, his other hand, now warmed sufficiently from the water, grabbing a tall bottle of red wine out of the nearest bag. “Ivan told me he's increasing all of our rent because of the price of heating so it's going to be one thousand for you now.”

“Oh,” said Nicky, reaching deeper into his pant pocket.

“No, no,” said Richard, waving his hands. “That's not true. He went back on that. It's just nine hundred, Nicky.”

Marty glared back.  An extra hundred dollars went a far way. Ivan was really going to raise the rents anyway, so Marty was not sure what Richard was doing this for, especially when Richard always complained about the kid before.

“Is it nine hundred or a thousand?” Nicky asked, heading over to the door. “I can do either.”

After a few seconds Marty sighed and answered: “Just nine bills.”

“Okay,” said Nicky, stuffing the money under the door to Ivan's, and then standing up and looking at his two seldom seen room-mates. “Tootle-ooh!” he said, waving with one hand. He left out the front, looking to brace himself for the ice storm aftermath.

Richard smiled. “Glad to have him gone,” he said, reaching for the next bottle of wine.

“What was that?” Marty asked as Richard pulled out the bottle from the bag.

“Hm? What, not charging him more?”

“Yes, in case you didn't notice we only have these drinks and all this food because of his money. Why not ask for more?”

“Because it's not ethical.”

Marty stopped himself from laughing out loud. “Oh yeah, ethical, right! Ethics! I forgot about those when I was handed a cinder block to throw on someone's face.”

“Hey, shush yourself, mate,” Richard snapped, looking about. “You know we got someone beneath us and he's blind, not deaf.”

Marty shook his head. “An extra hundred goes a long way. You don't even like that little shit.”

“It's not about who I like or not like, it's about not being greedy. Besides, what do you need the money for, rent? Are you going to go move somewhere and start paying rent again after this?”

“If I have to,” he replied. “Once the snow melts and at the first sign of anybody looking around. Point is, we're going to have to take what we got and split if we want to go on like this.”

“I'm not going to become as bad as the capitalists we're always cursing, mate,” Richard said, shaking his head, pulling out the next bottle of wine. “Ah yeah, from France, taste of the mainland, aye.”

Marty shrugged, unsure of how to respond to that (the part about 'not being as bad as capitalists', not the 'taste of the mainland' part). “I guess,” he said after a minute. 

Richard handed him the bottle. “Let's just eat and drink. Be merry,” he said, raising the glass he had poured himself. Marty raised the bottle in return and gulped it's sweet contents.


The meal was epic. It tasted like Christmas. They had purchased a whole garlic-roasted chicken, four potatoes, a small veggie pizza with goat cheese, a bag of steamed broccoli, a partridge, and a bunch of pears, and three cobs of corn. They ate it all in that one meal, at the same time going through three bottles of red wine.

“That was like Thanksgiving,” said Marty. “Mmm, wish we bought dessert. I can make space.”

“Wine's enough,” Richard said, leaning his chair back against the sink counter. “I'm ready to sleep.”

“Not yet,” said Marty. “We got to roll something up.”

“Okay, sure, for old time's sake,” said Richard weakly. He preferred not to. Weed had lately made him paranoid.

Marty got up. “Let me just go back, buddy. I got one rolled up already, just need to get that and a lighter, then we can go outside.”

“Outside?” Richard laughed. “Why? Who's going to care?”

Marty paused in his tracks, his hand on his room's door, his back to Richard. 

“Shouldn't have said that,” the old Brit thought, closing his eyes, hearing the door-knob turn.


They had the joint in the kitchen, and then had the rest of the wine. Marty belched, folding his arms over the table, resting the side of his head against them. He closed his eyes and saw black with swirls of purple and red in his eyelids.

“Good drinks eh,” he muttered into his sleeve.

“Yeah,” agreed Richard. “Although I'm feeling more like shit now, probably because of the weed. It's a waste of time drug.”

“Not a drug, Richard. Marigana is a herb, dawg.”

“Okay, well, cocaine is a plant, alcohol is sugar and fermentation, or wheat for beer, or whatever. But as a drug, as a high, it's useless. It's not a high, it's a low.”

Marty looked up, gazing drunkenly across the table. The room spun around him, but he managed to focus on Richard, who stood upright on his chair like he was totally stiff. Richard was the one thing in his vision not moving.

“But, who cares? I mean, it makes you think, doesn't it? Smoking weed. Combine that with alcohol and you have a bouncing mind and a loose tongue, right? Everything's loose and rigid at once. What we're dealing with here, Marty, is a human life.”

“Oh shit!” Marty yelled, raising both hands, feeling a sinking feeling in his stomach. 

“Shush, remember your tone.”

“Remember my tone?” Marty gasped, short of breath, suddenly wanting to yell at Richard for bringing it up. “Why's he doing this? Asshole!”

“Marty wait, catch your breath,” said Richard, getting up, accidentally knocking over an empty wine bottle, which rolled down the table toward Marty.  Richard reached forward and managed to catch it before it smashed onto the floor.

Richard flung himself up from the table completely, looking to almost loose his balance as he hoisted himself to his feet. “Whoa, vertigo, fuck,” he stammered, grabbing his neck with one hand. “Ah, man, Marty, are you okay?” he asked as he put the wine bottle right-side up in front of Marty.

Marty tried to back off from Richard as he came in to grab him around the shoulders and bring himself over to him. “Are you okay, Marty?”

Marty raised a fist, wanting for a second to strike him. He slammed it against the table instead. “Fuck, fuck,” he got out. He felt the tears coming to his eyes, not even trying to stop it, the drink taking over completely. As his vision fogged up he looked down at the plates and empty wine glasses in front of him, feeling disgusted.

Richard shut his eyes and breathed in sharply. “What are we going to do?” he asked, letting go of Marty.

“I know what I've got to do,” said Marty, taking in a single deep breath.  A few minutes passed before he caught his breath again.


He sat before his computer that following morning beside a steaming mug of black coffee. The day was a bit sunnier than the last few. Those ice storm clouds had gone inland and disappeared over Chicago. 

Richard sat in front of a blinking prompter on a white screen, still unable to write in the next paragraph. Even the sight of the glistening, crystal-like cover of the snowfield driveway failed to inspire him to conjure, in his mind, the great ocean floors of an alien planet. 

“What did Marty mean that he knew what he was going to do?” he asked himself.

A train went by, shaking the room as usual. A black SUV came to the edge of the road, the ice under it heaving and cracking as it slowed down and then stopped. 

“Just write,” his mind told him. The promise of continuing his novel was the only thing that kept his mind busy. Now that he no longer had to work, he had to concentrate fully on his passion. 

Writing stopped him from worrying. “Come on mate, you got to write something. What happens next?” 

The black car started backing up before turning around fully and heading back down to Maria street.

Richard groaned. He minimized the word processing file, getting onto a browser to go to his e-mail. There was nothing new in his inbox. He sighed.

“What did I do when I had writer's block before, eh? When I first wrote this bloody thing?” he asked himself.  

He knew the answer to that, even if it took him another few minutes to admit it to himself. He thought of the money. The extra hundred dollars would have been nice. Richard still had half of the money though, he and Marty had negotiated that when they fist came up with the arrangement with Nicky. 

Richard laughed, thinking about his earlier argument he had had with Marty over ethics. “Who am I to argue ethics when I am taking any money?” he thought, shaking his head. “Ah well, I know what I need to write and there's no reason not to get it now.”

He went through his contacts in his e-mail. He was still there. Richard sent him a message.

Friday, 15 August 2014


 "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves.  But deep down the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune." - Carl Jung

The driveway and sidewalk to the street were still completely blanketed in snow.  For once there were no cars coming down the street.  Typically they would run to the end of the cul de sac and then turn back. Only lost people seemed to come down this way. 

Richard sat in his room, his old room, looking out at the blinding white in front of him. Ivan had changed the lock to his room before, but he and Marty had recently managed to find his tools in the basement and removed the lock and then placed on the new one.   
Richard Brewer shook his head, thinking over the past few days. “No one knows,” he figured. “How can they at this point?”

He had a home, for once did not have to worry about money. Ivan's death had liberated both of them. They knew it, even if it felt wrong. He may have killed before, he was not so sure. In the Falkland's he had fired his gun numerous times at the position of the enemy, taken part in shelling and had thrown grenades down a hilly valley where they were taking fire from. It was possible, even likely, that one of his bullets or grenades had hit someone.
“That was different,” he told himself. “That was war. Is this war?”

He started remembering how he had felt after he had gone home after his service. It was then that he became active in the peace movement. One of the main lessons he took from that was the very real absurdity of fighting and killing, possibly even dying, for one's country. It really meant doing these things for the ruling classes. Whenever one fought for the state, he had come to believe, one really fought for those in charge, those with money and power. Even in Communist countries one was killing and dying for the Communist Party members, the new ruling class who had replaced the old one through revolution.
“Ah yes, revolution,” he thought next. “War is when you are told who your enemy is. Revolution is when you figure it out for yourself. Revolution then. Class warfare. Ivan the Terrible was my landlord, a petite bourgeoisie, a landowner and Marty and I have just overthrown him and taken his estate, such as it is.”
Marty and Richard had talked more about turning themselves in. Both were afraid to do it. Richard had acknowledged that if they had done so, their sentence would likely be less than if they continued to hide the body and got caught later.
“But will it be found?” Richard had asked him.
“Will he be found,” Marty corrected. “This is a person we're talking about.”
Richard nodded. “Yeah, I know, I know, Marty,” he sighed. “Why don't we just wait and see?”
Marty wanted to find Ivan's money. He wanted to know what the money was for. He refused to believe it was just for rent. Marty told Richard that they could sleep on it, the decision, horrifying as it was. Richard saw a look in Marty's eyes that he had not seen before. It was hard to describe, just a glimmer of something. He wondered if it was hope, or perhaps dread from having done what they had done.
Richard knew that there was no rush to turn themselves in if that was what they chose to do. There was no way they could leave the house with the deep snow outside. Even a police cruiser could never make it's way there. The city was busy clearing the major streets, at least according to the radio. All of Toronto was temporarily paralyzed.
Ivan's death was not on the list of the city's priorities, not when the ice storm of 2013 was underway. Richard shook his head as he heard Marty's new saw buzzing from across the way. 
Richard tried writing his novel to get his mind off of everything, but it didn't help. He kept seeing Ivan's mangled corpse underneath the mannequins. When he went to take a shower, thankfully a warm one (the heating was still working), he continually imagined himself in a mass prison shower. He gripped onto his bar of soap tightly as he finished.  Stepping out of the shower, he began to wonder if Ivan had had some prepaid heating bill plan or if someone would be calling Ivan's cellphone or coming by the house in a few weeks. At the time Richard was just glad that the water pipes had not frozen over in the storm and burst.  Any repairmen coming over, even if Marty found a way to the money to pay them, would arouse possible suspicion. They could always say that Ivan was out and had delegated them, the tenants, to pay for the repairs with his money.
“Play dumb,” Richard said as he wiped himself dry with his towel. “Just play dumb.  This is our house now,” he told himself as he returned to his room. “If we play dumb we can be fine. Just play dumb. Feign ignorance.” He knew it was hard for two intelligent people to pretend to be dumb.  It would have been easier for Nicky.
He took a pause in his drilling, already sweating despite the cold. By now he had drilled one long line directly down on the wall. Power tools were not exactly Marty's forte. He had never really used them in his life.
“I'm not good with my hands, ask my ex,” he always said as a joke to contractors when he was a security guard. 
The plan was to drill an entire doorway. He wanted to see what was in Ivan's room. If there was money, he wanted it.  He reasoned that theft was nothing after murder, even if it was just manslaughter.  Now he was no longer panicked. In fact, he felt eerily calm.
“Imagine that money,” he thought to himself as he started drilling again. “Just take it. You can go anywhere with it. You don't have to stay here. You can do anything with it. You can flee to the states, pay your way through, get a fake ID, do anything with it. You don't have to live at the beck and call of others anymore. You can be your own man.”
He thought back to the moment he had pushed Ivan into the window well. That moment kept playing itself over and over again in his mind. Usually when Marty did something bad, hurt someone, he felt terrible about it afterward. Ivan though, he just kept yelling after Marty had pushed him. It had only enraged Marty rather than make him feel sorry for him. Richard coming over to his side with the cinder block, that had only soothed him, made his actions feel clearer.
He continued drilling. The last two days unfolded in his mind. After he and Richard had seen their apparently new room-mate they both panicked again.
“What do we do?” Marty asked Richard as if Richard somehow had all the answers.
“I don't know,” he replied, sounding like he was freaking out just as bad. “I didn't know anyone else was here. I thought it was just you and me!”
“You said they were all gone! Shit! He's got to have a cellphone! He's going to call the police if he hasn't already! Even if they can't get here because of the snow, they know!”
He tried writing again after his shower, nothing.
Nothing could make him feel calm enough to continue his story. The events of the past two days kept repeating themselves over in his head. He remembered walking in on Ivan and Marty, the makeshift greenhouse in pieces all over the snowy backyard. Even for Ivan, this move seemed cruel.
“Ivan,” Richard sighed, shaking his head. “What is wrong with you? Or rather, what was wrong with you?” 
When they had seen their new room-mate in the basement those two days before, Richard's heart skipped a beat and started thumping, making him feel like he was ready to have a heart attack. “Who's this?” he asked himself. 
“What do we do?” Marty asked at the time, after he screamed about the room-mate possibly having called the police already.
Richard had shrugged in reply, completely dumbfounded. “He's had a body in front of him for what, almost two days?”
“Christ!” Marty shouted.
“Don't shush' me! We're in this mess because of you.”
“Me? Was I the one who pushed him in?” Richard asked, trying to control the volume of his voice.
“Was I the one who brought the cinder block?”
Richard wanted to yell at him, but he held back. “Shit, well,” he said instead. “Keep your voice down. We're in this now. Shit. Shit. Shit.”
“Hey Richard, have one of your P.T.S.D. episodes, why don't you? Go kill him and be done with it, then we cover up our crime.”
The urge to push Marty against the wall increased. Richard stared at him, feeling the heat coming to his face, this time not from sickness, but from rage. “Shut up, Marty,” he snapped quietly, moving forward towards the new room-mate's door.
“What, Richard,” Marty called after him. “What are you doing?”
Richard smiled, saying the words without thinking. “Killing him, like you said.”
“Wait!” Marty ran upstairs to the kitchen.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Richard thought in his mind. “What the hell are we going to do? If Marty gets money, will we buy him off? We can't do it. We can't harm him, not again.”
Marty returned to the basement, his left hand in his pocket. “Let's talk to him, find out what's going on.”
Richard nodded. “Okay,” he said. Maybe they could tell him it was an accident.


Knock, knock.
“Hello?” Marty called.
“Hey?” Richard echoed.
“Just a minute!” came a soft voice from within. 
“He sounds pretty chill for someone with a body in his window,” Marty whispered to Richard. His room-mate nodded, while Marty reached deeper into his left pocket.
The door knob turned. As the door opened Marty felt a stinging sensation in his nostrils. Something foul was inside. As the man opened the door to the room fully Marty saw what it was. The room was a mess. It was about the size of Marty's room, a mattress on one side, loads of bookshelves on the other. On the floor were plastic bags full of stuff; empty Gatorade bottles, pizza boxes, chip bags.
“Hey?” Marty said. “You live here?”
“Yes,” said the man as he poked his head out from behind the door, nodding once. “Do you?”
“Uhhh, yeah,” said Marty.
The man gave out a hand.
Richard and Marty looked at each other. The way the man reached forward with his hand was odd. He had just stretched out his hand in front of him, not giving it to one or the other. Richard grabbed it. The man turned himself towards him.
“Hi, my name's Tony,” the man said in his soft voice.
“Richard,” said Richard.
“I'm Marty. How long have you been here?”
“Just a few weeks,” said Tony, reaching for Marty's hand. “Where are you guys?”
“Upstairs,” said Richard. “Welcome.”
As Marty took his hand he took a second to look past the man. He didn't want to, but something forced him to. He saw the window at the far end of the room. The mannequins made it hard to see, but he could still see Ivan under them. His corpse had his head turned, facing into the room, his face white and frozen in a look of fear, his eyes and jaw still open. Marty looked at the floor, not wanting to ever see that again.
“So you've met Ivan?” Richard asked.
Tony nodded, his eyes starring off past the two of them. “Yeah, bit of an odd man, but whatever, I got to pay to live here. Not so bad.”
“Yeah,” said Richard. “Not too bad.”
“Okay, well, nice meeting you guys,” said Tony, turning about. Marty noticed it now. He walked with a stick. “See you guys,” he said, turning around again, flicking his free hand about to reach the door. After a few seconds he managed to reach it and close it.
Marty knew that Tony would not be "seeing" them. He was blind.
Marty and Richard gave one another another look before heading upstairs to the kitchen. Once up there Marty placed the butcher knife back in the sink.

He walked outside to the kitchen again, realizing that he was unable to write any of his novel. There were too many other things on his mind. Sometimes when he was experiencing hardships and challenges he wrote his fiction very well, but this situation was too much. He felt overwhelmed. The sound of Marty sawing in the room across didn't help things either.
The image of Ivan's gaping face kept popping in his head. The thought of Tony, down there in the room, a corpse lying in the window, continually came to mind. What luck, Richard thought, for both Marty and him, but also for Tony, that he was blind. The drilling noises stopped.
Marty's door swung open from across the kitchen.
“Alright,” he said, wiping sweat from his brow. “I've done it.”
Marty nodded. “I've drilled and then sawed a little doorway into Ivan's room.”
“The money?”
He shook his head. “It's not in there! I only saw his bed and a pile of papers on his desk. There was nothing under his bed. The money must be somewhere else in this house.”
“Or not at all,” said Richard. “I mean, he could've put it all together to pay someone, or something.”
Marty sighed. “Shit then. What are we going to do then, Rich?”
Richard had no answer.
The door to the side creaked. Both of them looked over, then at each other.
“Oh my God! It's cold out there!” the boy cried, stepping inside in his big winter boots, flinging snow pieces around the kitchen as he came in.
“Nicky!” Richard and Marty yelled at once.
“Wow! I've never had people so excited to see me! How are you?” the littler guy said, setting his knapsack down on the kitchen table. “Anything interesting happen since I was gone?”
Richard and Marty exchanged looks, then both at once replied: “No.”
“Okay, well, I've been on vacation back home, but I'm back now!”
“We thought you moved out,” said Richard.
“No, not me! I've been gone a month though! I owe Ivan this month's rent.”
“Well, he's not home right now, Nicky,” said Marty, looking at Richard.
“Don't look at me, Marty,” Richard thought. “Stop it. Nothing happened. There's no reason for us to look at each other.”
“He said he'll be gone for a while,” Marty continued. “You can pay his rent though by sliding it under his door. He told us that.”
“Oh okay!” said Nicky, pulling out his key from his pocket. “I guess I'll go in and get settled and then get the money together and slide it under, if that's what Ivan wants.” The younger man smiled at his two room-mates again, and then opened up his door and went inside.
Richard smiled at Marty. “You clever fuck.”
“I'm getting my money.”

Thursday, 7 August 2014


"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."


Richard Brewer woke up to the sight of sunlight streaming in through the window.  He had been dreaming of Laura and his old home.  The sound of a train followed by the shaking of the walls reminded him of where he really was.  He leaned up, feeling his muscles aching.  His throat felt healed, albeit still a tiny bit sore.  This was a different kind of soreness though, not one that felt sick, but rather one that felt like the inner tissues were regenerating from the sickness itself, kind of like the soreness one gets after a weight-lifting session. 

“Marty?” he called, glancing about, realizing that he sat on a comfy bed instead of a hard cot.

“Richard?” came his mate’s voice on the other side of the door.  The doorknob turned and Marty stuck his face in.  He looked paler than usual.

“Hi,” said Richard, looking over to Marty’s desk and chair. “What am I doing here in your room?”

“You’ve been here for two days about.  You want something to eat?”

“Really?  Two days?” he asked.  It had felt like it had been eight hours, a normal night’s sleep for him.

Marty nodded.

“I must have been really sick.”

“How do you feel now?” Marty asked, letting himself into the room and stepping over to the bedside.  He ran the back of a hand over Richard’s forehead. “You’re not hot.”

“Thanks,” laughed Richard. “Ah, it must have been living up in that filthy room.  Bloody hell, it’s got to be that.  Where have you been sleeping?”

“I haven’t been,” Marty said. “Do you want some food?”

“For two days?”

Marty shook his head and grabbed the chair from the desk behind him, twirling it around and setting it by the bedside.

“Well,” Richard said, feeling his own forehead. “I feel better.  I can’t believe this place. You’ve got to get yourself out of here pronto, mate.”

Marty nodded, looking strangely meek and solemn.

“What’s wrong?” asked Richard, noting this. “You look right and miserable.”

“Are your legs better?” Marty asked, pointing to the foot end of the bed.

Richard moved them about in a scissoring gesture, nodding.  Marty stood up, tucked the chair back under the desk, and then motioned for Richard to follow.


At first Richard looked like he was going to throw up.  Marty had done so already numerous times in the snow covered bushes at the far end of the yard.  His friend managed to keep his last meal, a meal that was probably days old, down.  Richard knelt over the window well, shaking his head, unblinking.

“I don’t believe it,” he said finally.

“It took me a whole twenty-four hours to believe it,” Marty said glumly, glancing about the yard for any sign that anyone else could see them.  The houses behind them were still covered from sight by the snow hill that had accumulated between them.  The house next door’s entire side was encased in an entire snow wall that itself was encased in a thick wall of ice.  There was no sign of any of the windows.   

There was no way anybody had seen the event through the blizzard at the time, and now no one could see the aftermath.  The storm of the century had seen to that.  They were snowed in and Marty had not left the house once since it happened.

“Why the mannequins too?” Richard asked as Marty loomed over his shoulder.

“I guess, when I was freaking out so bad, I got them from the basement and covered him up.  If someone finds him they might not notice him.” 

There were three mannequins from Ivan’s basement that Marty had tossed in on top of him.  He could barely see him underneath the sprawled fake bodies.  Marty noticed his two arms, but they looked as white as the false limbs.  His face was covered by the torsos and heads of the two directly on top of him.

“Oh fuck.  What have we done?”

“You were delirious.  You don’t remember.  You could pass a lie test if I hadn’t just told you.”

The older man nodded. “Well, I know now,” he said, and then lowered his voice, looking around at the tall snow banks beyond their clearing in the yard. “If we’re caught we both go to jail though.  This is at least manslaughter, if not second or first degree murder.”

Marty felt vomit in his throat again.  He turned away. 

Richard sighed. “Jesus Christ, Marty.”

“You're the one who brought me the cinder block,” he said dryly, fighting the urge to yell at him to shut up.

“I did?”

“Yes, you did, and you called me Nigel too.  What the fuck is that?”

Richard shook his head. “Nigel?  I did?  Oh no.  Oh shit.  Marty, I must've been having a flashback.”

“Well, your little flashback has me in huge shit!”

“Keep your voice down,” Richard said, looking around. “Neighbours might not be able to see us, but they could still hear us.”

Marty shook his head. “No one's out in the snow, he replied. “He really doesn't remember, does he?” he thought. “At least he has an excuse.  I got none.  I struck out at him in cold blood. Assault is assault. Murder is murder.”

Richard walked over to Marty's side, his face dead serious and showing signs of fear. “What now then?  What is to be done?”

“I don't know,” Marty replied, feeling the start of tears in his eyes. “We're fucked.”

A train’s whistle sounded in the West.

“Are we?”

Marty stared at his friend, unsure of what he was saying. “Turn ourselves in?  Say it was an accident?  Tell the police the truth.  He treated us terribly, you had nowhere to go, he threatened us, which he kind of did, said racial slurs, we flipped out, knocked him down and then threw a brick at him.”  Marty chuckled.  The laughter was out of fear and the fact that their explanation, though truthful, would come across as ridiculous.

“Still manslaughter,” the Englishman said.  A cold wind came in then from the railroad side as the train noisily stormed by, knocking some light snow down towards the two.  The train was unseen over the tall metal wall. “I don't know how many years that gets here.”

Marty sighed, thinking of the stories some people he had known in the past who had gone to jail had told him.  Sure, it would be a Canadian jail, on the international scale that was not too bad, but still, Marty doubted he would do well in jail.  He didn’t want to spend the next few years among the Spades of the world.  What would his family think?  What would his dad, who had already distanced himself from his son, think of this?  Would he bail him out, defend him, disown him?  He never imagined his father doing something like that.  He wondered about his mother.

His knees felt weak.

“Manslaughter, yeah,” Richard said quietly. “I guess that's what we do.  It's the right thing to do, isn't it?”

“And then where?” asked Marty, suddenly thinking about his future. “Where is my life then?  After I am out after a few years?  I have to live with it.  I killed someone,” he looked around, lowering his voice at those words. “Where is my future jobs?   Can I work in security?  No.  I can't have a career now.” For a second the thought of his books, if he were to someday be an author, selling more because he was a killer came through his mind, but he quickly shook it free. “Fuck, fuck this.  Fuck me.”  He lowered his head, staring at the snowy ground.

Richard grunted. “Or we walk away?  Say we left early?”

Marty looked up. “What?”

“Well,” said Richard, again glancing about the yard. “Who knows besides the two of us?”

Marty looked to the sky.

“No,” said Richard, as if he understood exactly what was on Marty's mind. “You're not religious, you told me.  It's only you and me here.  Everyone else moved out, even Nicky.  I haven't seen him for a month.  The guys in the basement, the Brazilian guy and the others, they all moved out.  I say them leave a few weeks ago.  No one is upstairs.  It's only you and Ivan, or was you and Ivan, on the main floor.  No one knows.  No one could have seen anything.  The snow covered up everything that night.  Has the snow dropped off at all since I was asleep?”

Marty shook his head. “The snow has been falling all the time, no breaks.”

“So no one saw anything then,” said Richard.

“Is he serious?” Marty asked himself. “He is actually saying we walk?”

“If he ever is found,” Richard lowered his voice to a whisper. “We can say we had no idea.  We didn't know.  We lived here.  We stopped hearing from him.  He had alcohol problems.  All kinds of misadventures can happen.”

“I feel sick.”

“There's nothing you can do to change the past, nothing either of us can do, is there?  Look, Marty, brother,” he said, kneeling over to Marty's side. “Look at us, both of us, we've been treated like shit from everyone; employers, capitalists, landowners.  We're the exploited class.  This is the one time we fought back.  Things happened and ended up where they did.  Ivan pushed us.  We didn't mean to do it like it happened.  The only thing that matters now is where we go from here.”

Marty shook his head. “This is wrong.”

“What was done to us was wrong too,” Richard sighed, getting back up. “But what can we do?  We either fess up and face the price and live the rest of our lives like we've lived up to this point, running and afraid; being treated like shit.”

Marty looked up at him, tears running down his face. “Or?”

Richard smiled slightly, very slightly. “Or we stay here, cover up the evidence completely, and know nothing about it.  Shit happened.  Now look, the two of us; I was homeless before this happened.  Now I can live here.  We are both jobless.  Now we have a place to stay, at least for a bit, just until this winter storm passes us by.  Then we can go out and go on with life.”

Marty stood up, wiping his cheeks. “People will come looking.”


Marty remembered Ivan saying that night that he had no family. “People.”

“Which people?  Renters?  Who's going to put the ads up?  The only people who would come by are, maybe eventually tax people.  We can just say we don't know where he is and that we haven't seen him, but we'll tell him they came by.  By the time that happens we can leave.”

Marty looked at the house, seeing his room's window and Ivan's beside it. “Confess and go to jail.  Hide it and you own this house.” He thought of the suitcase of money he saw in Ivan’s room before.  He had tried to go into Ivan’s room, just a few hours before.  It was locked, but he knew he could find a way to get in if he wanted to. “You get everything.  Everything is yours.  You don't have to run anymore, Marty.  You don't have to be poor.  You don't have to be dependent on others for life.”

“This is ours,” he said, getting onto his feet and leaning back to take in the full sight of the house. “All of it, the house, the money.  This is our revolution, our fightback.”


He ran some cold water in the sink in the downstairs washroom, unable to block out Ivan’s face from his mind.  Part of him laughed, the part of him that was not horrified. 

“Ivan must have been crazy, or a sociopath,” he thought “What kind of person behaves that way?  What kind of person treats people the way he did?”  

Marty and Richard had decided to hide Ivan while they figured out what to do.  They took some paint cans from the basement and threw them on top of the pile of mannequins, and then placed a large wooden  board over the top of the window well, concealing its contents completely.  They used the superglue they had used to make the greenhouse on the edge of the board, making it impossible to remove from the window well’s top.  They then piled up some of the pieces of the destroyed greenhouse on top of the board, making it look like it were just a collection of junk like everything else Ivan stored in the yard.  As they worked they said nothing to one another. 

“I shot at people in the Falklands,” Richard thought as he rubbed his eyes, raising his face to look into the mirror. “I know I might’ve killed before. I was a soldier.  All that killing and being killed for the sake of the government and imperial hubris.  You finally realize that your real enemy isn’t the one you fight in war, but your own bosses, your own exploiters.  I should’ve gotten out of here before.  None of this should’ve happened…and now Marty, now that kid, he’s terrified.  Is he going to call the police?”

He gazed in the mirror.  His face was pale as well, looking so different, so much older than he remembered being. “Everything I’ve lived through comes down to this.”

There was a knock on the door behind him.



Marty opened the door. “Hey.  I guess we can look for the suitcase of cash that Ivan had.  If we’re going to live here we might as well have the money.”

Richard smiled.

"Let’s find the money, then decide what to do.  We’re snowed in here for at least a day or two, so we’re not going anywhere and no one’s coming here.”

“Alright,” said Richard, nodding and wiping his face with a towel. “Let’s find the money then.” He put the towel back on the rack and the two of them headed for the stairs.  Richard flicked off the basement hallway light switch.  Just as they reached the first step they heard a door open.

They both stared down the hallway as a man came out of the farthest of the doors in the basement.  He looked to be middle-aged and was bearded with long, brown hair in a thick pony-tail at the back.  He made his way to the washroom Richard had just exited, went inside and then closed the door behind him.

Marty shot Richard a wide-eyed glare. “I thought you said everyone moved out,” he said in a whisper.

“They did.  I swear I was down here just a few days ago and all the bedroom doors were open with nobody inside.”

“He must have just moved in,” said Marty quickly, sounding panicked. “Holy shit.”

“Can he have seen anything?”

“I never saw him before.  Who is he?”

Richard realized something as he took another look down the hallway. “Oh shit,” he said, shaking his head. “Oh shit, not good.”

“What?” Marty asked, elbowing him.

“That door down there.  That room is the room that has the window to the backyard with the window well."