"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization
as much as they can from a lack of bread."
"I realize I did nothing for Christmas this year," he told Jimmy. Of course the reason why he did nothing was because this was the first Christmas where he had to come to terms with the fact that he had killed his landlord. He had not told Jimmy that. He didn't dare tell him. Jimmy was his friend, but he felt it was best that the secret stay between him and his co-conspirator. He still had not seen Richard in weeks and it was already January 2014.
"Ah shitty," Jimmy said. "I didn't really do anything either."
"Do you usually do anything?" Marty asked, leaning back on the chair. They sat in Jimmy's common space in his place in North York. Spades slept on the couch across from their two chairs.
"Used to," said Jimmy, pulling out his cellphone from his pocket. He read the screen. "Ah shit, the guy flopped."
"Ah great, so we got all our shit finally and all those drinks back home, but no weed," Marty moaned. He was only at Jimmy's to pick up. Nothing else could bring him to North York since his father had moved out. He had no pot connection in the Junction. Once or twice he smelt it as he went through some of the back streets near Maria Street, but most of the people smoking it were teenagers. Marty would never feel right, being a man of almost thirty, going up to people of High School age and asking for weed.
"Wait up, I got one more contact," said Jimmy, pressing the keys in with his thumb on his phone. "We'll get some weed." The doorbell rang. "Pizza," said Jimmy.
"No munchies," Marty lamented as he got up, feeling the twenty dollar bill in his pocket. Within seconds they had the pizza box sprawled open on the coffee table.
"Okay," said Jimmy, licking his lips. "I just texted another guy named Snizzle."
Spades stirred on the couch, either from the fresh smell of the pizza filling the room or the talk of weed...or both. "Don't pick up from that kid," he muttered, leaning up, rubbing his eyes.
Marty's stomach tightened at the sight of him. "Want a slice?" he asked. Spades shook his head. Marty and Jimmy dug in. Marty had the feeling he would enjoy the pizza even more if he had smoked first. It had actually been a few days since he smoked anything, which was rare for him. The weed sometimes made him feel anxious, making him half expect to see a fleet of police cruisers outside his window as of late.
Spades stared at Marty as he and Jimmy ate. His face looked expressionless, not a smile or a frown, just a blank look. It looked as if he were surprised or confused by Marty's offer of free food. It made Marty uncomfortable. As he reached in for his second slice Spades stretched his legs in front of him and reached into his pant pocket, grabbing out a huge joint, one of the biggest he had ever seen.
"Damn, look," Marty said to Jimmy. "Spades has got some trees."
Jimmy nodded, chewing, a string of cheese hanging from the side of his mouth.
"Yo Spades, can we have a couple drags of that?" Marty asked next.
"You high?" Spades scoffed, lighting up the end of it and breathing in.
Marty looked at Jimmy, shaking his head. "No, that's the problem."
"You want weed? I got some. How much you want?"
Marty reached into his pocket and pulled out a fifty. "This much."
Spades eyes widened, breaking his blank face. "Alright," he said after a few seconds. "Give me twenty minutes, pay me when I get back." With that he stood up and left the room, leaving a trail of marijuana smoke after him like a gaseous tail.
Jimmy smiled. "He's got some good stuff."
"Why didn't you tell me he had some for sale?"
He shrugged. "He's been sleeping for almost two days now."
About an hour later Spades came back inside, tossing his thick jacket on the couch. By now the pizza was gone, a moist stain all that was left of it on the cardboard box. Marty placed the red fifty dollar bill beside the pizza box and Spades reached into his pant pocket and pulled out a large, sandwich-sized zip lock bag full of kush weed. He threw it in the middle of the pizza box, grabbed the fifty, and then fell onto his back on the couch in one swift move.
"Thanks," said Marty, grabbing the back to inspect the prize. It was a deep forest green mostly, with some red and gold bits on some of the tiny leaves. When Marty peered carefully he could see the leaves were covered in a layer of tiny white crystals.
"Ah shit!" stammered Jimmy, grabbing the bag next. "Merry Christmas, Marty!"
"Ain't you Jewish?" asked Spades, breaking the moment.
"Part, used to do Christnukkah when I was a kid, but not lately."
Spades nodded, pulling out the original joint, now half done and taking in a big tote. When he breathed it back out he looked at Marty, once more with that blank stare that made him uncomfortable. "Yeah, Jews run the shit, don't they? What's your last name?"
He laughed. "Yeah, Jewish. Yo, there's old ties between the Rothschilds and the Illuminati, you know that?"
"Ah shit," Marty muttered in his mind. "One of those, another conspiracy nut; has political views at least, even if they're pseudo-bullshit. I guess he read some websites or saw some videos on youtube and now thinks he's an expert on how the world works."
"The Illuminati runs everything," Spades declared, taking in another big drag, the red end of the joint running almost up to his fingers now.
"Illuminati was an enlightenment era group," stated Marty. "They were only a secret group because the Bavarian Monarchy opposed their ideals, which were not ruling the world like the conspiracy theories go, but rather they wanted to spread education and more equality, acting as a bulwark against arbitrary monarchical and clerical powers."
"What the fuck is that?" Spades said.
"What? I'm telling you, this was a group founded in the late seventeen-hundreds. They were revolutionaries, anti-monarchists, not some secret cabal that ruled the world."
"Yo, why's this man talking to me like I'm some school kid?" Spades asked Jimmy.
Jimmy said nothing back.
"I'm just saying, man," said Marty.
Spades leaned back on the couch, bringing his legs over and resting his feet on the opposite end from his head. "That's some wicked shit, the illuminati."
"Let's roll," Marty said to Jimmy. "We got our high def screen and our playstation back at my place. Let's smoke some, drink some, and have some nice belated Christmas celebration."
First they played a shooting game online. Marty played on the high definition television on the left while Jimmy played on the identical screen to the right Each of them sat on newly bought office chairs, the most comfortable ones they could pick out. They also had two headsets and microphones. Marty’s first kill brought a high-pitched squeel from some German kid. He had cornered him at the end of an alleyway off a street that looked like Baghdad’s.
“Ah fuck! Fuck—fuck!” yelled Jimmy, backing up frantically from a knife-wielding opponent at the other side of the virtual arena. Once his avatar was dead he grabbed his next beer. They had a twenty-four pack on the floor between them.
They were in the room that Richard had once been hiding in, the one full of old furniture at that time. Jimmy and Marty had sold most of the stuff, all except a rotted old desk that they stored behind the two T.V.s. Behind the screens there were also some old appliances; a toaster, a wood varnished seventies era stereo stand and what looked to be the very first model of microwave oven.
“Fuck this game,” Jimmy said after he died for the tenth time. “Fuck Europe,” he said in the mic. “Let’s play a racer?”
Marty nodded and laughed, grabbing another beer and downing half of it at once. “I never knew I was good at shooting games.”
“Whatever,” he said, realizing that Marty had no intention of changing the game himself. Jimmy got up to change it. They had one actual system, but had found a technique to plug it into two screens.
“I guess I’m good at killing things,” Marty sneered, not thinking before saying it.
Jimmy switched the games. Some unrecognized logos flashed on the screens. “I’ll pick the network,” said his friend as he leaned back into his chair.
“What’s up with Spades?” Marty asked, breaking the silence of the loading screen.
“What you mean?”
“He’s fucked, isn’t he?”
“He’s alright,” Jimmy said with his usual shrug.
“Like, he wouldn’t share weed with us, and when I offered him pizza he looked at me all weird, like no one ever offered him anything before,” Marty explained. “What’s up with that? He never shares? If you got weed and you’re chilling with people you should share it. It’s just plain manners.”
“He’s broke I guess,” Jimmy reasoned as the online connection image came on.
“Then why did he not want free food? It’s like he would think he owed me if I gave him any. That guy is so messed up, man.”
“He’s okay,” Jimmy repeated, selecting their network and then the track. They played for a few hours more, finishing the last beers as the last lights of the afternoon in the window gave way to a dark, wintery evening. Marty stood up on wobbly legs after their last race. They had barely made it passed the first lap they were so drunk, crashing into each other at one point. Marty’s car spun out as someone yelled at him in Spanish. Jimmy yelled back.
“Yo, want to smoke something?” he asked as he made his way to the hall.
“Hmm? I don’t think I can move, bro.”
Marty made his way downstairs, gripping the rail tightly as he made his way out the side door and into the night. He nearly slipped at first, but then managed to catch his balance and hobble over to the front of the house. Marty took a quick glance at the street. There were cars parked along the sides under a rapidly blackening sky. As he turned into the front door he thought he caught what looked like Northern lights over the stockyards across the railroad.
“It couldn’t be,” he thought as he trudged up the stairs inside. “We’re not north enough for that, and you could never see them here in Toronto with all our city lights!”
Marty stumbled into the kitchen space, humming loudly a drunken rendition of King Wenceslas:
“Good King Wenceslas first looked out,
On the feast of Stephen!”
He got out a bottle of red wine from the cupboard.
“When the snow was all about,
Nice and crisp and even!”
Marty got out two glasses next and poured them both.
“Brightly glowed that moon then night,
And his peeps were cool!
Running about, left and right, running out of fuel!
Some peasant said ‘Bring me wine and food!’”
The door across from the table flung open as Marty sat down with his two glasses. A familiar, yet lately seldom seen face poked out.
“Richard!” he called, raising a glass. “Where’ve you been keeping your bald ass lately?”
“Richard!” he called, raising a glass. “Where’ve you been keeping your bald ass lately?”
“Shh!” Richard snapped, raising a finger to his lips. “I’m on a roll in here! Stop singing! It’s not Christmas! Shh!”
“You know King Wenceslas was a counter-revolutionary, eh Rich? A real reactionary monarch if you ask me. He helped a peasant the day after Christmas, but all the rest of the time he did nothing since it wasn’t a holy day! I mean, really, feeding a peasant and giving him wine and firewood is a good deed, but he is not implementing any long lasting change to ameliorate existing inequalities in his kingdom. I mean the fact that the peasant was freezing and starving is in itself an indictment of the king’s mistreatment of the commons!”
“I am on a roll here! Don’t kill the moment!” the bald headed face replied, starting to look flush.
“I’ve missed you, Richard!” Marty declared, standing up and raising his glass higher. “Come have a glass with me!”
Richard grunted and slammed the door shut, disappearing back into his self-imposed isolation.
“What the hell is wrong with him?” Marty asked the room. He poured another glass for himself, and then drank the other one that he had originally intended for Jimmy.
Marty returned to Jimmy on the second floor, passing by another room that was empty of its contents. Standing over his friend he glared at the two monitors. Images of flashy cars racing down asphalt played in a loop.
“Anything I want can be mine,” he said. Jimmy mumbled a reply, shuffling slightly in his chair with his eyes shut and headed leaning back. “Come smoke a j with me,” Marty said as he shook his friend by the shoulder.
“What if I told you we could get some new stuff to sell,” Marty told him as he lit the joint outside.
Jimmy rubbed his eyes. “Yo, I want to sleep after this.”
“Yeah sure,” said Marty. “Same. I got an idea though, man,” he started explaining as he reached into his pocket. For a second he thought he might have forgotten it inside, but then his fingers ran along the familiar metal. He pulled out the key and showed it to Jimmy with one hand, while he handed him the j in the other.
“What’s this?” Jimmy asked as he took the joint and brought it to his mouth.
“The master key. This opens every door at my old work. Unless they’ve made some changes to the lock this should get us into anywhere, including this asshole named Harvey Franco’s luxury condo mansion on the top floor.”
The joint fell out of Jimmy’s mouth and landed in snow. Marty laughed.