Friday, 31 October 2014


Friday, 24 October 2014


"In a rich man's home there is nowhere to spit but his face."


"What do you think you’re doing?"

"What do you mean?"

"Come on, man."

"What are you talking about?"

"Bringing that jackass here!"

"Shh…he can hear you."

"He can’t."

Richard opened an eye. He had been asleep for what felt like a day. "Ah shit," he muttered in his head on hearing Marty’s voice. "Him and that Spanish guy are arguing."

Earlier, before his sleep when he had been working on the last chapter of his novel, he had heard some loud thumping coming from the ceiling. 

He was hoping it was Marty but instead ran into Marty’s friend. There was another man too, this tall thin-faced black man that Richard had never seen before. He was lying on the couch while the other man was playing some first-person shooter. Richard, poking his head in the doorway, then asked if either of them knew where Marty was. For a few seconds the two younger men looked at him. He asked again and the one playing the game shrugged.

"Punks," he muttered now, sitting up on his mattress.  He wondered why Marty bothered with people like them as he got up and turned on the light. The sight of the drug-filled briefcase under his desk made him realized that he was not the ideal person to criticize Marty on the issue.

He sighed and went out the door to the kitchen, urgently needed to speak to him.


"What the fuck? Seriously, why the hell would you bring him to my house?"

"This is practically my house too. You said it yourself."

"Oh right!" Marty hollered sarcastically. "When I was drunk? Obviously I meant you—you can crash here! That’s it! It doesn’t mean you can bring random criminals here!"

"You’re the one who masterminded a heist," Jimmy retorted in a hushed tone.

Marty wanted to punch him. He had come home ten minutes before to find Spades sleeping on the couch in the living room while Jimmy was passed out in one of the chairs facing the screen. Marty slapped his face awake and grabbed him, getting Jimmy up and out the door into the freezing night.

"Shut up," he said, looking around to see if anyone was looking. He was ready to push him against the wall and pin him there.

"Where do you think we’re going to sell all the stuff after?"

"What?" Marty asked. "Is he proposing Spades sell all of Franco’s loot?" he wondered, realizing that he had not considered how the actual sale of the items would happen. He knew no one who was looking for jewellery or electronics. "What do you mean?" he inquired. "Don’t you know any—any avenues or any people yourself? I mean, we could go to a flea market maybe." Marty knew of such a place near Downsview Park up in North York.

Jimmy shook his head. "He knows people with black market connections. He’s done this before, at least he told me that. I don’t know anyone who can get us good deals. We’d probably get ripped off."

Marty shrugged. "I don’t trust him. The guy’s shady."

"That’s the whole point!" Jimmy snapped.

"Yo, seriously though, you should’ve told me this before. I never wanted him to know where I lived. Even if we worked with him I didn’t need him knowing my address. We could’ve found a meeting place."

Jimmy looked around. "Oh hey," he said.

Marty turned to where he was looking, over at the corner of the house toward the street. Richard stood there, probably having just come out from the front door judging by his lack of winter clothing. He wore stained white pants and a t-shirt, looking not much better than Ivan did when he was alive.

"How long was he listening?" Marty thought as he gave Jimmy a shocked glance.

"Marty!" the Englishman called, walking over.

"Richard, this isn’t a good time," Marty said, waving a hand, facing Jimmy again.

He was already at his side. "Marty, we have to talk," he said rapidly, grabbing hold of Marty’s elbow. "Please, come inside."

Marty yanked his arm back. "I said it’s not a good time!"

"Come on! I need to talk to you!" Richard shouted, taking a few steps backwards. He looked at Jimmy for a second. "Need to talk alone right now."

Marty shook his head. "Talk to me later," he said, transferring his annoyance to Richard, now no longer wanting to shove Jimmy. "Jimmy, let’s go," he said, moving past Richard toward the street. He heard the footsteps behind him and hoped that they were Jimmy’s. He had to resolve this Spades issue then and there. Whatever Richard wanted could wait.

"Marty!" the older man’s voice called from behind him. 

He turned around to see him within three feet of him. Richard looked thin and worn out, his eyes puffy like he was sleep deprived while suffering an allergic reaction.

"Stop it!" Marty barked, noticing how gangly he looked. "I don’t have time.  You never spoke to me in weeks so I don’t know why you want to talk to me now!"

His room-mate frowned.

Marty, suddenly feeling pain in his arms and in his stomach saw Jimmy moving past them along the sidewalk toward Maria Street. "Wait up!" he called to him and turned from Richard.


The two young men disappeared around the corner onto Maria, leaving Richard standing alone and disoriented at the end of the cul-de-sac. The sound of splashing slush could be heard as a car went by down the street, causing Richard to cringe.

He ran back into the house.

"What the hell was that?" he wondered, making his way back to the kitchen. He had come out and overheard Jimmy and Marty talking in borderline whispers at first before getting louder. They were arguing over whether or not someone was shady, Marty’s friend saying "That’s the whole point." He could tell they were planning something and Richard figured the man upstairs was the shady person in question.

He gazed at the ceiling, wondering if Marty and his friend were talking about using the man for protection. "Do they already know about these guys?" Richard asked aloud, the two other recent visitors coming to mind. He meant to tell Marty about them.

It had been two or three days before (Richard was not completely sure) when they had come by, the man who reminded Richard of Vladmir Putin and the other thicker one. Although Richard had already figured out that they were asking for Ivan, he immediately played dumb, feigning ignorance to them.

"I don’t know, which friend?" was the first thing he had asked, feeling a sharp shakiness shoot down his arm to the hand he held onto the door-knob with. The door started swaying slightly.

The two men  had looked at one another at once.

"Was your friend living here?" Richard asked, making a conscious effort to stop his arm from jerking. "Ivan, their Ivan’s friends!" he shrieked in his head.

They were imposing, brutish looking types. The eyes of the larger of them looked somehow off, both pupils darted from his partner back to Richard, but the left one seemed higher in the eye slightly, revealing more of the white of his lower eyeball.

The tall balding one said something to the other. Richard knew it was in Russian but knew nothing about regional dialects. The shorter man nodded. "We are friends of Ivan," he said. "Do you know where he is?"

"Oh!" Richard cried, trying to add a hint of laughter to his voice to hide his nerves. "Oh, you mean our landlord? Yes, I know him, but I haven’t seen him for a while," he said, looking down the stairs to his left for a second, trying his hardest not to sound like he was reading a script. The words came out. He felt stiff as he said them. "He’s been gone a while now. He didn’t tell me when he would be back. It’s been a while, a few weeks now. He’ll probably be back by next month."

The men looked at each other again, saying nothing. Richard nodded and gave a small wave with his right hand. "Come by then," he said and closed the door.

He felt like screaming once he was back in the kitchen. He locked himself in his room. An hour after he looked outside again, parting the curtains slightly as he peered from the bottom of the window. The car, a big black one, was on the other side of the street, idling with its inner and outer lights on. He resolved to stealthily remove himself from the house and then crept out the washroom window, planting his feet on the snow at the house’s side. From there he dashed to the backyard, throwing himself over the fence at the end. He was in another yard to a house that faced the next street over. There were no lights on in the house so he quickly made his way out the yard and into the alley. Two bicycles were resting on the side of the fence, neither of them tied up. Once he was on the street he headed southward towards Dundas, disappearing into the older Victorian neighbourhoods that lead down to High Park.

Richard had then spent twenty-four hours away from the house. When he went back the car was gone. He had gone straight to sleep, waking up a few hours later to work on his novel, and then went to sleep again. He had not woken until he heard Marty and his friend’s voices.

They had not been back since, but every time Richard looked out the window from his room he expected to see the black car. Since then he had not touched any of his drugs, fearing bad trips due to the apprehension he felt at having two of Ivan’s friends coming by.

"What do they want?" he wondered. He somewhat had an idea of that.



Friday, 17 October 2014



"Nobody can give you freedom.  Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything...You take it."


Hey!” a gruff voice called from behind him.

Marty turned around and saw him, a big man with a scruffy red beard and messy hair. He wore a coat that probably started out gray but turned coffee brown over the years.

Get out of my spot!” the burly, viking-looking man barked.

This is your spot?” Marty asked, standing up from the cold street, his bottom feeling numb. He recognized the man now. When he worked at the condo he had given money to him a few times on his way in or out of the Tim’s. Marty knew the man would not recognize him in turn since he was now in disguise.  The costume shop had only solid colours, something Marty regretted as it was not as realistic, especially if he wanted to convince people that he had spent his life on the streets, the stress of which he believed would turn even a late twenty-something’s hair grey.

My spot!” the man yelled again.

Marty raised his hands at once. “Okay, no reason to get mad sir,” he said, and then reached a hand into his own raggedy jacket. “Here,” he said as he pulled out a fifty. “Can you go find another spot for a few days?”

The man’s eyes grew wide, looking first at the bill and then at Marty. He reached for it, paused and asked: “Are you a cop?"

Marty shook his head.

The homeless man took the bill quickly, stuffing it into his pant pocket and leaving, heading down the nearest street towards the University of Toronto grounds. Marty had anticipated something like this. He had other fifties and twenties in his jacket just in case. 

He sighed as he thought it over, sitting down on the sidewalk again, focusing his attention back on his old workplace building across Bay Street. He checked his wristwatch for a second before concealing it under his sleeve again. It was nine and there was still no sign of Harvey Franco or Erin.

As he took a sip of his coffee he sighted a sleek red sportscar turning out from the alley that led to and from the underground garage. He remembered Mr. Franco usually drove a convertible, but it would not make any sense to drive one in the snowy weather.

Nine,” Marty noted in his head. The car turned south on Bay Street, no doubt headed for the big skyscrapers near Queen and King Streets. Marty shielded his eyes from the sun, managing to make out a curly toupee of hair within the car. It was him.

The sound of metal clinked beside him, startling him out of his spy zone. “Huh?” he said as he spun his head to his right. A toonie sat on the sidewalk by his knee. He gazed up to see a woman in a parka looming over him. She smiled for a second before moving on her way down. “Oh yeah,” Marty thought. “I’m homeless.” He called a ‘thank you’ after the woman and picked up the toonie, thinking how helpful it could have been when he was authentically broke.

The rest of the day passed by on Bay Street as it did on any weekday.  A few people, most decently dressed, walked by on the sidewalk, but more people appeared to be driving. It was usually that way in the winter. Marty spotted a few people coming and going from the condo lobby whom he recognized. He saw one man, an opera singer named Andre whom he had always enjoyed chatting with when he was employed there, but he resisted the urge to call to him.

By the late afternoon, after Marty had downed at least four coffees, there was still no sign of Erin. Marty wondered if she and Franco had broken up. A part of him hoped that, but then he remembered that he had lost his job because of her.

The sun was already starting to set and Toronto was descending into darkness, early as always in the winter. Marty always hated it. It brought his spirit down every year. As he looked up at the glass tower and saw the twilight colours in its surface he started having second thoughts about the operation. He thought of the risks, about how much he would lose if caught. Ivan’s death, he wondered, could be found out too as a result and he would be in prison until he was in his fifties or sixties if he was lucky.  He shuddered at the thought of being locked up.

He wondered too if he could trust Jimmy in the whole thing. Overall he would have preferred to go in on something like this with Richard, just because he trusted him a bit more, not to mention that he and Richard were both in on another crime as it was.

He shook his head and sighed, thinking of the way Richard had been completely missing from action the past few weeks. It worried him.  And it kind of made him angry, the way he had disappeared on him like that.

As he finished his last coffee he sighted the red car down the street, just passing by College Street.

Might as well see,” he thought, resolving to go check it out either way. He could decide later on the status of the operation. There was no rush.  Either way, his recon work would be going ahead.

Marty stood up, stretched, and then ran across the street without any second thoughts. He was fortunate all the cars were moving so slowly due to the slushy street. Once he was on the other side and within steps of the condo’s property he reminded himself to hunch over slightly and walk with a bit of a limp. He had crossed the street with too much youthful vigour for an older homeless man.

Spare change,” he called as a couple passed by. He recognized them.

Watch out for black ice!” he remembered calling those words and having them misunderstood. It was them, the man and woman who had thought he had said: “Watch out for black guys!”

Marty shuddered as he looked away from them, eager not to make eye contact. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill. Marty smiled sheepishly and took the bill and bowed slightly, stepping away from them, careful to keep his face to the sidewalk.

The red car then turned into the driveway to his left. Marty backed himself up against the nearest concrete planter that contained a small fern tree still draped in Christmas lights. He made eye contact with the driver. It was Harvey Franco. He returned his look with a glare and a scowl. The window lowered.

Get a job!”  Franco yelled.

Marty held out his hand, remembering his role. “Got change, sir? I had a job but they let me go,” he said in a weak voice, purposely making his voice gravely so as not to be recognized.

Get another one!” Franco replied, rolling up the car window.

Yeah, that’s why homeless people are homeless,” Marty muttered.

A few seconds later a security guard came out from the glass doors and approached Marty. It was Trevor.

Sir, we’ve received a complaint. You have to leave our property.”

Marty looked over to him, a bit taken aback at how quickly it had all happened. Trevor stood his ground, one hand in his pocket, the other by his side. Marty nodded, looking right at him and turned to leave.

Thanks,” said Trevor.

He doesn’t recognize me,” Marty thought. He then decided he was definitely going to rob Harvey Franco. Any doubt he had had was gone. Not only was it a way to make money, but the man deserved it. 

It was justice.

When night fell fully at eight Marty cut through the University grounds, making his way to Queen's Park. As he made his way north of Ontario's mini-Parliament, the one that was once an insane asylum, Marty spotted a large crowd of people up ahead in the parkland. When he got closer he could smell something that smelled like marijuana in the air. It was not though. It was smudge.

Idle No More?” he asked himself quietly while he crossed the street and headed under the nearest pair of the tall oaks that the park was known for. The bulk of the crowd was congregated around a statue on the eastern side of the grounds. Marty knew not the name of the statue but could tell from the outer edge that it was a man mounted on a horse, no doubt British, probably a Lieutenant Governor or a general, or both.

The first few people Marty passed by were clustered in pairs or groups. The further he moved toward the centre the more bunched up everyone became.  From above he figured the crowd looked like a galaxy; a big cluster bulge in the middle with fading arms flinging out at the sides.  Once Marty started having to tuck his arms at his sides he realized that he was as far as he would get. In front of him was a field of heads mere inches away from one another. He heard someone singing in the middle where the smoke rose up from an unseen spot.

Marty had not been to any gatherings or demonstrations relating to the wider indigenous rights movement. Things had just been too busy the past year and a half since Idle No More was launched in Winnipeg. Marty knew native Indians, most of whom he had met in University, but also had met some in activist circles, especially during the G-20 weekend. He knew even more people, mostly white people, who were involved in directly supporting indigenous land rights. He knew a bit about the Caledonia land dispute, but not enough. All he knew was that he sympathized with the natives in the case, as he felt he always would when it came to land disputes.  He wondered too about his novel, the one he had been writing for a while now, the story was about the Americas had they not been "discovered" by Europe.  He had not had time to write anything, not in weeks, and it had not been a priority since the incident with Ivan. 

He started looking for people he recognized. There were some familiar faces, most whose names escaped him at the time. He saw one guy that he had met before a few times, a tall dirty-blonde haired guy with glasses around his age who was always talking about the Palestinian issue. He noticed Marty and nodded over at him. Marty raised a hand to him, then backed up out of the crowd, starting to feel claustrophobic.

The singing had stopped and a moment of silence followed. The smudge kept burning. Marty looked around while mostly everyone else still stared ahead of them. He noticed a big red banner behind him. It was the New Democratic Revolutionary Caucus. The familiar sight of Gerry Bernstein, his round Trotsky-style glasses and salt and pepper goatee confirmed it. He looked to be glaring over at Marty.

Marty looked away, but his old comrade starting calling him. “I should have gone home,” Marty thought as he turned around and forced a smile. “Hey Gary,” he said.

Hey there, comradely greetings Marty,” said Gary, reaching into the bundle of newspapers he held in his arms. “Here is our latest issue of Crisis in Capitalism.”

Marty reached for it.

Gary, ever the socialist who never cared about money, held out his hand. “Cost one dollar.”

As a broke student he would never spend a dollar on Bernstein's paper, but now the fee was nothing to him. He gave him the toonie the woman had given him on Bay Street and said the extra dollar was for the free issues he had received before.

Will you be coming to our meeting this Saturday? We will be meeting at O.I.S.E. and will be screening a film on imperialism in the age of crisis.”

I don't know, maybe,” Marty replied diplomatically. He had no interest in sitting in on a movie he had probably already seen with the same five fifty-something men that made up the caucus.

At our last convention we got over one hundred new members,” Gary went on as if he could read Marty's mind.

Oh wow,” Marty said flatly, looking about for someone else to greet. He noticed another large red banner, this one with block white lettering: Strike-Back. This group was made up of people closer to Marty's age. He noticed some of the members manning the table under the banner, most of them looking a little less plucky and youthful as the last time Marty saw them. This group was a little more in touch than Gary Bernstein's, and it had more members, but Marty found them just as sectarian as any of the other small leftist vanguard groups.

Yeah man,” Marty said to Gary, holding up his paper. “Thanks and good luck with your new members. Anyways, I got to duck out now, got some stuff-”

Gary's eyebrows went up at once. “Really? Why are you going to leave now, Marty? You just got here. Here,” he grabbed a small pile of flyers off the table and shoved them lightly at Marty's chest. “Help us give these advertisements out.”

Okay,” said Marty, taking the flyers. They were notices on the group's film screening that weekend. He had learned years ago not to argue with Gary. “I'll do that, fine.”

And come back for more when you're done.”

Marty nodded and walked off, dropping the flyers in the nearest recycling bin. He looked back for a second to see if Gary, who was now a good thirty feet away, was watching him. Gary was pushing his papers on another person. Another man, this one nearer, was looking at Marty instead, a short man in a red plaid shirt and a black toque. He had a bundle of his own newspapers under his arm and was approaching Marty at a fast pace.

Yeah?” Marty called back, turning about and walking backwards, a little taken aback by the man's aggressive posture.

You just accepted a newspaper from the Revolutionary Caucus?” he asked in a nasally pitch.

Yeah, I know them.”

"You should not read their papers,” the man declared, waving his free hand. “They are reactionary and have published numerous attacks against us, the true revolutionary vanguard.”

Okay, I can get one of your newspapers,” Marty said. “I'll read both and decide.”

First you must denounce the pseudo-working class politics of the Stalinist Gary Bernstein and the deformed worker's state Revolutionary Caucus and then you can join us and read our manifesto.”

Bye,” said Marty, waving Gary's newspaper at him dismissively. 

Some groups were definitely worse than others. Being sectarian was bad enough, but being cult-like was plain scary to Marty. As he came to the periphery of the park he pulled out the newspaper and took a quick look at it's cover. Although there was much talk on various issues Marty found no mention of anything relating to indigenous rights or Idle No More in it.

He sighed as he made his way back to the street at the north end, taking one last look at the crowd, now seeing only silhouettes and candles. There were so many people trying to struggle against the system. Marty struggled no longer in a systemic sense like the activists, but now only in a personal sense.

In a few days he would make his next move against oppression. By the next week he would either be in jail or be richer than ever.

Sunday, 12 October 2014


"Courage stands halfway between cowardice and rashness, one of which is a lack, the other an excess of courage."



Jimmy huffed as he shot his arms up straight.  Marty felt the swoosh of air from his friend’s mouth hit him in the forehead.  Jimmy lowered the bar back down, hovering it for a second over his chest.

“Thanks for the breeze,” Marty said lightly, placing the curve of his fingers under the weight’s center. “One more, lift!”

Jimmy’s face went red as he shot the bar up again.  For a second he held it straight above his chest, but then his left hand started lowering, prompting Marty to move both of his hands leftward to level the bar.  “Up, up, up, good!”

He sighed as Marty secured the weight on the uppermost rungs of the bench-press.  

“So, that’s the first exercise?” Jimmy asked, leaning up on the bench.  He looked to his right, over at the latest equipment piece they had bought, the multi-purpose Goliath Pro, a seven foot item that incorporated the shoulder press, butterfly, tricep pull and preacher curls.

“We’re working chest and biceps today,” Marty explained, heading to Jimmy’s other side and sitting on the exercise bike. “So I guess we can do the free-weights next.” 

These weights had been placed on the floor across from the bench-press.  There were six sets ranging from ten pounds to fifty.  Buying them was easy.  They had sold a few remaining antiques and managed an extra few hundred dollars on top of what they already had.  Getting all the weights and bars and the big multi-use piece required two taxi rides from the fitness store out in Etobicoke. 

“Okay, so biceps.  I'll start at twenty,” Jimmy said as he made his way to the weights. “Too bad you got a window instead of a mirror like a real gym.”

“Who needs a real gym when we got one right here?  I guess it costs more than membership, but you never have to leave the house.”  

“I guess,” said Jimmy, lifting the pair of weights with both hands.  His arms were skinny and lanky and unless he changed his diet (or metabolism) drastically Marty could not imagine his arms would be getting any bigger.

“We should buy some mass gainer for you,” he said. "You look like a scarecrow."

Jimmy shook his head. “Is my form right?”

“Yeah,” Marty muttered, getting up from the exercise bike and moving over to Jimmy's side, facing the window.  He had kept expecting to see a police cruiser out on the street.  There was a large black car instead sitting across the cul de sec's end.  Marty saw this vehicle often, figuring it was likely a neighbour's. “I wonder if we should buy a car,” he said as he looked out.

Jimmy shrugged in the middle of lifting, something unrecommended by fitness trainers. "Get more girls that way," he said.

“I never liked cars much before,” Marty explained as he bent over and picked up the thirties in both hands. “But we can probably afford one,” he grunted, standing himself straight again. “Maybe when we do that thing in the penthouse.”

His friend did one more curl with each arm, then paused, letting the small weights dangle at his sides.  Marty finished his set, intending to do ten curls but only doing five, quickly realizing that he had over-estimated his arm strength.  He had worked out almost everyday in his last two high school years and first year in university, but had stopped at the year-end exams and never managed to get back into it since.  Now that he had purchased a personal gym he knew that there was no excuse not to get bigger and harder.  Back when he was working out regularly he remembered being overall the happiest.  It was probably the chemicals that flowed in his brain when he lifted and the sense of accomplishment that followed.

“Yeah, about that,” started Jimmy. “Is that still on?”

Marty nodded. “It's on if you're down.  I got the skeleton key.  We can do it.”

Jimmy shrugged again. “Can we?”

They had not really talked about it since that day before (now three days passed) when Marty had first proposed the idea.  He had told Jimmy the basic plan, but they were both very drunk and stoned at the time so it was not completely concise.  Marty had thought it out though, at least for the most part. “As long as I'm not the one who goes in,” he explained, taking in a deep breath before started his next set of bicep curls with his weights.

“Well yeah, they know you so obviously it'll be me or me and someone else,” said Jimmy.

Marty used some extra energy to shake his head as he lifted the second rep with his left arm. “(Two!) Nope, no one else, just you.  The less people who know about it the better. (Three!)  Even Richard, who is, well, was like my best friend doesn't know. (Four!)”

“Ah yeah,” said Jimmy, starting his own set. “Why do you hang out with that guy? (Uno!)”

“What do you mean? (Six!)”

“He's not helping getting you any pussy,  so why? (Trios!)” 

“Sexist!  (Seven!)”

“(Quatros!) Fine then, girls.”

“Ah fuck—seven's all I can do.”  He knelt down with one leg and dropped the weights at his sides. “You haven't exactly helped me with girls yourself so I don't know what you're talking about.  It's because of a woman why this rich douche-bag got me fired.  We didn't even do anything.  He just didn't like us talking and waving at each other.”

Jimmy placed the weights at his side just as Marty had done. “So what, this is revenge then?  I can't even see you doing this shit.  Selling someone's shit is one thing, but since when do you teef people's property like that?  It's break and enter we're looking at on top of it.”

“Since when do you care?  You steal shit all the time.”

“Like, not all the time and it's just drinks from asshole bosses anyway.”

“Okay, well this guy is the ultimate asshole boss,” said Marty with a grin.

“Since when are you a criminal?” Jimmy asked

Marty paused, not knowing what to reply with.

“Anyway, when is your landlord coming back?” Jimmy asked next.

“Great he's changed the topic,” Marty said in his head. “Well, the topics aren't exactly unrelated.”

“Many months,” he answered. “Don't worry about it.  So, what are you saying?  You in?

He shrugged once more. “How do we pull something like that off?”

“Well, I got to do a reconnaissance mission, maybe two.  I am just going to make sure the schedule of the building is the same as it was beforehand.”

“Okay and how do you do that without being noticed?”

“I'll be in disguise,” he replied.

“As what, a homeless guy?”

Marty nodded. “Yep, exactly that.  We can buy a realistic fake beard, there are plenty of theater type stores over in the Junction Triangle, you know Dupont just East of Keele?  I can get some shitty clothes too and I know where is out of the surveillance camera's vision.  I can wear contacts and we'll have one way radios to communicate.  Of course I'll put mine in an L.C.B.O. bag or something.  When you are robbing the place you tell me what you're taking.”

“And how do I get up there in the first place?”

“When Harvey Franco and his girlfriend are gone you go in, just around eleven.  Usually a meals of wheels van comes by for Mrs. Whiteshire, this sweet old lady on one of the lower floors.  You go in and say you are with a new contracting company.  One of us will call the building's security earlier in the day or the night before you notify them that a new company is going to deliver her lunch from now on.  You will go in with some trays and they will let you up. Then you go to the penthouse, look out for security, who usually patrol at ten and are done by then.  Then you go in, take jewellery, sculptures if he has any, and whatever else he has that can fit into your delivery sacks.  That's it.  The normal food delivery people come at noon but you'll be long out by then.  It only takes a few minutes right?”

“I guess,” Jimmy consented. “But are you sure there are no house-cleaners or nannies or anything?”

“There are but they always arrive at around three.  I know them by sight.  As I said, I will set out a few days before and make sure the weekday routines are all the same.”

Jimmy went on to his next set of lifts.  When he was done he asked Jimmy if they could smoke a joint when they were done working out. 

“First thing we got to do is get some costumes,” Marty said once they were outside smoking.

Jimmy looked uncertain.  His face was blank but Marty could read his hesitance. 

“When did I become a criminal?” he asked himself as his friend changed the topic again, this time saying he wanted to get some protein shakes after they finished the joint.

Marty acquiesced.

As they walked down to a slushy Dundas Street Marty started to wonder about the possible consequences of his plan.  The weed made him more paranoid too, making him feel a sense of dread as he thought of getting arrested or even attacked by Harvey Franco if they got their timing off.  

He somehow doubted it though.  The consequences of stealing might not catch him if the consequences of murder had not done so. 


He woke up to the sound of loud thumping coming from upstairs. Richard Brewer leaned up, groaning as the sunlight pierced his eyes.  His hands flew up to block them.  He swallowed, feeling the inner muscles of his throat ache while the inside walls of his mouth felt dry and tingly.  His stomach contracted, heaving up something that tasted bitterly foul.

“Ach!” he wretched, sounding more Scottish than English.  The nasty taste doubled in his mouth.

Another thump fell from above the ceiling.

“Morning,” he said in a creaky hoarse voice.  He started wondering how long he had been sleeping for.  As he thought it became semi-clear that the last thing he recalled was being awake at night, typing away at his laptop’s keyboard like a high-speed factory machine.  His eyes were wide, nearly bulging as he sent the words from his head down his arms and out his finger tips and onto the screen.  In the background he had a youtube playlist of rock music from the eighties.

The story he had been working on, the one he had been unable to write due to his writer’s block, was finally getting finished.  The plot became complex, moving beyond the murder in the depths of the underwater station on Europa to a large-scale drama involving the entire crew of the station and various corporate and governmental entities on Earth.  Every organization had agendas, and each character had their own loyalties; some to other people, others to the organizations they worked for and yet others to abstract ideals.  The story’s emphasis on characters shifted.  Some characters, most of them by the end, had died.  Most of the deaths he had planned out in his head months before, but a few of them he had not anticipated. 

“Then what happened?” he thought, not of the novel but of himself. “When did I go to sleep?”

He crawled out of bed and over to his desk.  The computer was still on, though the screen was asleep.  Richard pressed the spacebar and the image of the word document faded in, the flashing prompt at the end of the word 'End'.

“I'm done?” he asked, not recalling typing those words. “Come to think of it,” he thought. “I don’t remember anything past Dayne getting crushed by the bulkhead.”

He heard the sound of a door slamming shut and then he looked out the window to the street, just catching two people walking down the sidewalk.  A few cars were parked across the street.  One was large and black; the others were smaller white, grey and beige ones.

Richard looked over to the space on the floor under his desk.  The sack of money was still there, half empty, the sack of drugs sitting next to it.  Richard had been awake for nearly three days straight, having typed out his story in two major writing blocks.  It had been about a week since he had started this.

He stood up.  The room spun. 

A knock came from the front door, startling him as he struggled to keep himself standing.  He turned around and went for the door to the kitchen.  The table was littered with empty beer cases and pizza boxes and dirty napkins and paper towel strewn about them.  He turned himself about again to head to the little hallway and the front door.

As he came up on the doorknob there came another knock, this one louder, sending shots of pain through Richard’s head. “Okay!” he shouted, bringing one hand to his left ear as the other one turned the knob.  The sunlight blinded him for a second, but then the shapes of two big people came into focus. 

They were two men, both tall and broad shouldered.  The one on the left was slightly taller with a thinner face.  His sparse hair that ran up the sides of his egg-shaped head was a sandy blonde with some greys.  The man’s nose was thin and combined with his larger than normal eyes reminded Richard of Vladmir Putin.  The more stout man on the right had a wider face with a thick mouth and dark brown hair.  Both of them wore dull-coloured turtle-necks and long gray coats.

“Hi,” Richard said.

The balding man looked to the other.  “Hi,” he said in a deep voice.

“Can I help you guys?”

“Maybe you can,” the man said and Richard could now hear the man had an Eastern European accent. “We are looking for our friend.  Have you seen him?”