"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."
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.