Thursday, 11 September 2014


"Crime is a product of social excess." - Vladmir Lenin

"How old are you?  Wait, let me guess," the blind man said after Marty brought him his food. "Twenty...twenty something."

"Yeah, you're warm."

"Why, thank you!" Tony said with a grin. "You're, hmm, maybe twenty-five?"

"Well, thank you," replied Marty. "I'm twenty-seven, almost twenty-eight."

Tony smiled. "What do you do?"

"Like work?  I was a security guard for a while, just to make money.  Now I got no job.  Ideally I'd like to write for a living, but that's easier said that done."

“I never wrote anything, not fiction anyway.  I just read it a lot, especially fantasy and some science fiction,” said Tony.
Marty nodded, glad to hear he had something in common with his newest housemate. “I like science fiction, used to like fantasy a lot more when I was a teenager."
The blind man smiled as he leaned back on his chair. “I used to play Dungeons and Dragons.  I was a player mostly in the eighties, had two characters in a long campaign, a dwarf fighter and a half-elf mage.”
“I played a bit.  I think my generation kind of skipped that, those geeky ones of us.  Video games kind of took over in any genre.  It was just my buddy in his basement when we played.  We had to be the only teenagers west of Bathurst who played.  Everyone else was playing basketball or soccer all the time.”
“West of Bathurst?” Tony asked, facing Marty but staring into space as blind people almost always did when their eyes were unconcealed. "Like, away from the Annex?"
Marty smiled. “Who would have thought I would smile in this room?” he told himself, peering for a second to the rectangular window a foot down from the ceiling.  Tony sat right under it.  The room's light was off, the only source coming from Tony's desk-lamp that he strangely left on.  Marty only saw black in the window, Ivan completely hidden.
Heh, I guess I mean, there wasn't a lot of nerd culture at Jane and Finch.  Okay, maybe a bit.  Actually yeah, there were quite a lot of geeks in the hood actually now that I think of it.  I guess I never thought of us as nerds at the time.  When you become an adult the negative associations aren't the same.”
“Oh,” said Tony, his tone rising though still gentle. “I've never been in that area.  Well, I was a nerd too when I was in high school, I guess.  But then, I always remembered that when nerds grew up they'd be the ones with all the money.”  He turned his chair around to face his desk.
“Yeah,” agreed Marty, standing up from the tiny wooden chair he had been seated on.  As Tony started eating from the plate that Marty had brought he started wondering why Tony had said that comment on nerds having money. “Where is your money?” he wondered, but kept himself from asking him. "And where is my money?  Not the money I've stolen, but the money I've earned?"
“Thanks for dinner,” Tony said as he stuck a chicken leg into his mouth.
“Yeah, no problem,” said Marty, walking over to him. “I mean, I got the money so why not?”
Tony took a huge bite, taking the meat and skin off the chicken leg.  He seemed to feel Marty's presence looming over him as he turned his head up slightly and smiled.  Marty returned the smile even though he knew it would be unseen.  One of Tony's eyes gave him a sudden chill.  It was completely white, the pupil covered in a film, looking like his eye had been literally white-outed.  The right eye was an ordinary brown.
Marty started wondering if the blindness was the reason why Tony had no money at this point.  He looked to be in his forties about.  Marty always hoped that by the time he was middle-aged himself that he would be financially comfortable, maybe by then having a house and wife, maybe kids.  Most importantly he imagined that period of his life being absorbed in a career.
“No problem,” Marty repeated, patting Tony lightly on the shoulder as he started digging into some mashed potatoes with his fork.  Marty backed up, keeping his eyes on Tony, away from the window.  When he got the the end of Tony's little bedroom he leaned on the closed door to the basement hall. “Richard, the other guy upstairs, is a big nerd too.   He's a writer too."
“What kind of stuff does he write?”

“Science fiction mostly,” Marty said. “I'd like to read his stuff.  I should ask him, not sure why I haven't yet.”
 “Oh yeah,” said Tony.
“Yeah,” replied Marty.  He wanted to leave.  He had some errands he had to run before turning in for bed, but it was hard to close the door on a blind man.  He checked his watch.  It was almost nine. 
“This food is so good,” Tony said after thirty seconds of silence between them. "If you want to get going, go ahead."
“Yeah,” said Marty, placing a hand on the doorknob.  He sighed, opening the door slightly. “Tony?  Hey, are you thinking of staying in this place long?”
Tony turned his head slightly, 'looking' at the wall, showing half of his face to Marty. “I don't know,” he said, taking a gulp of milk from the big cup Marty had filled up for him. “I just got here,” he said after swallowing. “It's not very easy to move all my stuff again.”
Marty nodded, looking about the place.  He had a bed with a single sheet to the left, a few pill bottles and a tiny television on his desk.  There was also a small plastic hamper and a large cardboard box full of clothes near the front door. “I can help you move, call you a cab.  I don't think you'd want to stay here long.”
“Why not?”

Marty looked ahead at the window. “A bunch of reasons,” he said. “Mostly because of the landlord.  He's never here and he doesn't do anything.  Me and Richard hate it and we want to move out.  You can find a much cleaner, healthier place for the same price.  This place is especially not good, not safe if you're visually impaired.”
“Blind?  Hmm, I'm okay here.  I can't really hurt myself in a small room.  My room-mates, namely you guys, at least as far as I know, seem nice.  Are there other people here?”
Marty shook his head, opening the door slightly more.  Then he remembered his audience and spoke: “No, no, sorry, no one else.  Nope, just the three of us.  Ivan is never even here, so it's not even his place really.”
“Well, this place is in my price range.  I only get money from the government and it's not much so I'll just be here all the time.  Come by any time and visit.”

Marty sighed, relieved that Tony had given him the exit cue, but distraught to hear that he would be in his room all the time. “Yeah, goodnight.  We'll have some more food soon!” he called as he slipped out into the dank hallway, closing the door loudly behind him.   He could hear Tony calling good-bye back as he made his way to the stairs.
“Last thing I need,” he thought. “Tony down here while I try to pull off the most insane scheme I've ever come up with.  Well, at least he won't see anything.”
He reached the mid-floor, his floor, and went into the kitchen.  At the sight of the little table he thought of his last dinner with Richard, now almost a week ago.  It was weird. 
“Richard?  You there?” he called to his door.  He hadn't seen him since that meal.  He knocked on his door. “Eh man?  Mate?”  He put his ear to it, hearing some slight jazzy music. “Must be sleeping,” Marty figured, going to the fridge. 

It was almost empty, save a few condiments and sauces in the door.  Marty had given Tony the rest of their groceries. “What do I have left?  Two hundred? Shit, do I need to start working again?” He thought of his time at the condo and shuddered. “No rent, you can stay here.  No one's come yet.  Who's going to come?” He headed to his room.
He sat on his bed and picked up his cell.  For a second he looked about the room, thinking about what he could do with more money.  At his desk, right beside the huge hole he had sawed into the other room, he pictured a thirty-two inch high def T.V.  Sure, Marty never watched a lot of television anymore, but that's because most of it was junk.  If he had a cable box he could get some good stuff, including movie and documentary channels.  He could use the huge monitor for his computer too, play a bunch of online games and delve back into fantasy worlds.  His talk with Tony made him miss that part of himself.
On his dresser he pictured some video game systems.  He had not played a thing since he was twenty-two, but it could be fun to get back into gaming.  He could buy some art, nice stuff, maybe little sculptures or abstract paintings for the walls.  He could colour-code the room, perhaps a light blue or green?  He pictures flowers and other plants to compliment the colours.  Then he thought of a bookshelf full of a new collection of his readings.
Marty got up and opened the closet, looking at his few pairs of pants and shirts.  With Ivan's bag of cash he could get a bunch of new dress shirts, maybe even some sport-jackets and blazers.  He could dress nice, wear a tie with expensive looking shirts and pass as a Bay Street banker.  Marty smiled, thinking of dressing in a more expensive suit than Harvey Franco.
He made a repulsed face as he noticed his security uniform. “Yuck!” he said, shaking his head. “I should burn this.”
Marty closed the closet and checked himself out in the mirror, noticing he had put on a little weight.  He then turned to the wall to his right, taking in the hole in the wall again.  The image of a bench-press appeared in the center of the room, followed by a treadmill near the window, and then a set of free weights on the far wall.  Marty beamed as he made his way to the hole, sticking his head through. “Yeah, a gym,” he said, nodding to himself. “Move the bed, yeah, then the desk over there can go out, outside maybe.” 
He looked to this room's window. “No, not outside.  I can grow stuff out there, yeah, all kinds of stuff; tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, beans, corn, squash, cucumber, weed...” He pulled back into his bedroom. “No one's going to stop me this time.  It's all mine.”  With that bag of money he could buy anything.
Marty had been searching more the past few days, finding all kinds of things in the upper rooms, all kinds of antiques that he knew could fetch a good price at one of the stores in the neighbourhood.  Although he had yet to find the bag other means of making more money were presenting themselves to him.  For the first time ever Marty, even as a staunch socialist, could feel a spirit of entrepreneurship stirring inside.
“And I can eat healthier too,” he figured, sitting back on his bed and grabbing his cell from his desk again.  He texted Jimmy: Let's meet A.S.A.P.  I got an idea.”
A few days before Marty was considering cutting Jimmy permanently out of his life.  At the time he envisioned he would be cutting mostly everyone else left out as well.  In the shadow of Ivan's death, it seemed he was destined to disappear, but Marty had not disappeared, even if he still felt invisible.  Talking to a blind man for three hours tended to produce that effect. 
Richard had vanished though. 
Marty's cell buzzed.  His text was returned.
“Come to my crib if you wanna talk.  I'm too tired for coming down there.”
Usually Marty would argue with him, in the end usually demanding they met halfway.  Tonight he would go though, so long as he got some coffee on the went.  As he got to the driveway and passed by Ivan's pick-up truck he realized he could buy a car himself soon if things worked out.  At the next street he saw a big black car go by.  It looked like a hearse.
“Yeah, I could get a nice car,” he said as he tuned down another road toward Dundas.  He would catch the Keele bus northward to Jimmy's place.  When he got up to Jimmy's in his hated old area he would tell him about the antiques and propose they sell them together.  Once that was done Marty was considering something more drastic.
The weather was nice this night, he realized, feeling a slight warmth in the hair despite the lack of sun.  Much of the snow was melted already, leaving whole puddles of brown on the roads where they dipped and rivers of ice water pouring down the driveways.  As he arrived at the bus stop he placed his hands in his pockets, feeling the tiny key in his right one.  Very soon he could have everything, all the money.  He was a nerd after all.  The one thing that put people like him apart from most others is their great mind, that thing that, if used properly, can bring all kinds of wealth to it's owner.      

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