"The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again."
He examined the piece of jewelry in his hand. It was shiny and turquoise, not unlike the dress that Erin wore that time he had found her in that room when he worked in the condo. Marty wondered if she had worn this earring with it. He sipped his coffee, and then accepted the joint from Jimmy, his fingers shivering as he nearly dropped it.
Marty had cursed at first when Jimmy had told him the news days before. He said things he was regretting already, things that he never would have imagined himself saying. Jimmy had just shrunk in front of him, sinking into the big chair. And then Marty said the word, the n-word.
As he inhaled his tote he thought back to his life in high school. He had last said the word there. Being the only white student in most of his classes had always set him apart in that school. One time while playing basketball (badly) in gym one of them, this big guy named Andrei, started yelling at him in some patois Marty couldn’t understand. That was when he said it aloud. In that heat of the moment he let it slip and instantly braced himself for a beating from every side of him, even from his own team-mates. After a few seconds the game went on instead. He had turned around and saw his friend, another black student who lived in Marty’s old neighbourhood. They had stopped talking after this. Marty promised himself then never to use the word again. Anything that cost him one of the few friends he had made was wrong.
Marty now stared forward at his huge flat-screen television, the various video game systems plugged into it, and the earring, ivory pipe and rhinoceros horn that lay on the coffee table in front of him.
He laid back, giving the joint back to Jimmy. “Where did it got wrong?”
“I knew we shouldn’t have trusted him. I told you,” Marty said, shaking his head. “I guess it’s over then. I almost ended up in jail back there. We have enough money, whatever’s left. We can sell this stuff too. I’m sure we can find someone, just be careful we don’t attract attention.”
Jimmy nodded. “We can get maybe a few more thousand dollars.”
“Yeah,” said Marty. “And then maybe we can split. It’s only a matter of time until the cops start looking. It will take a while. My old condo bosses never even had this address, but they got resources, or at least Franco does. If he and the cops put them together they can find something...eventually.”
“I don’t know about that, Marty. I mean, you told me before we did it that that you covered your tracks pretty good. No one knows. They wouldn’t recognize you on camera, and even if they did they would go to your old house. Your dad’s not there though, right? So it’s nothing to worry about. We can stay here for a while still.”
In his mind the image of Ivan materialized. He saw himself pushing Ivan down and throwing down the cinder block on top of him all over again. After he had dreamt of waking up as a cockroach in his room, his dream had shifted to that moment. One time Marty felt that he himself was down the well looking up at two unknown people. The cinder block fell this time too, just as it always did. It pounded Marty’s dream self into oblivion.
“There are enough reasons,” he finally told Jimmy. “More than enough reasons why the cops will end up here. We need to hurry up whatever we do.”
Jimmy shrugged again. “Where are you going to go?” he asked as he finished what was left of the joint and put it in the ivory pipe.
Marty grabbed the pipe and poured the little tip of blackened zig-zag paper onto the coffee table. “Don’t cheapen the merch,” he said sternly. “And I don’t know where I’ll go. I can probably rent somewhere else under the table.”
“Another shitty landlord?”
Marty shuddered. “No, no, not that. I mean, maybe in another town. I can rent a place where the landlord is never around, just a small house out somewhere, maybe even a backwoods in Northern Ontario. We can both go and then lay low before finding someone, maybe by going to bars and getting to know the right people. We can get someone at some point to make us fake ID’s, and then we can start over with a nice nest-egg to start.”
“Not if that’s what you’re doing,” said Jimmy. “I’m getting out of this country. Money talks. I’ll go someplace warm.”
“Good luck getting past borders. Still though,” Marty said with a sigh. “If Spades hadn’t fucked us over, it would be so much easier to do something.”
Marty got up, feeling more clear and relaxed than he had in ages. He decided he had to talk to Tony, find a way to get Tony to leave the house. Tony deserved better than this, Marty realized. He knew he had to do something to get him to leave safely.
As he made his way down the stairs to the outside he thought over the hardships that he figured would lay ahead. He would have to sit down and count his money, but it would be a struggle to buy a bus ticket out of Toronto while still having enough for a few months rent and food. He regretted the HD-TV, the games systems, the expensive furniture and weights. When he had drawn the plan for the heist on Franco’s he was not anticipating that he would be struggling again.
As he stepped out into the cold space between houses he considered, just for a moment, if it was worth helping Tony leave. “What’s the worst that would happen? Police questioning? Would they accuse him of the crime?”
Marty then imagined Tony telling a detective detailed descriptions of the friend who brought him food and gave him company frequently. Tony knew Marty’s name, his voice, and that he used to live in the Jane and Finch area. Tony knew that Marty was once a security guard at a condo on Bay Street. The pieces could be put together by a skilled detective.
“And what about Richard?” Marty asked himself as he reached the front of the house. “Nah—fuck him! He’s been hiding and being a dick to me for weeks. I don’t owe him anything. He can go to jail for killing Ivan!”
He opened the door and stepped into the kitchen of the main floor. Dishes were piled up in the sink, giving off a foul odour that reminded Marty of Ivan's reign. As he took the first few steps down the stairs to the basement one of the bedroom doors behind him opened up. It was Richard’s.
“Marty!” the Englishman called after him. He turned about to see an unshaven Richard at the top of the stairs.
“So, the beast awakens finally?” Marty asked as he turned to face him.
Richard nodded. “I’ve been awake for days, Marty. We need to talk.”
“That time is over, I think,” the younger man scoffed, shaking his head and taking another few steps down.
“Marty, I’m serious! We need to talk now. Please, just come up here. I need to show you something.”
He sighed loudly, purposely trying to show his old room-mate his annoyance, but he relented and followed Richard up to the kitchen again. “Hurry up whatever you’re going to do,” he said.
“Okay,” the middle-aged man replied, quickly disappearing into his room and then coming back out seconds later with a duffel bag in his hands. “Now, this is going to look bad at first, just don’t jump to conclusions before I explain.”
Marty felt something jolt through him. “What the hell is this?”
“This is not the bag I found it in,” Richard said, placing the bag on the kitchen table.
“That’s—that’s...? The money?”
“Yes, Ivan's, the money you've been looking for,” he replied, zipping it open. “Or half of it.”
Marty leaned over the round table, peering inside the spacious interior of the bag. There were bills, red fifties and brown hundreds, but they only filled up the bag a little under halfway to the top, not the way he had seen it originally in Ivan’s room. “This is the bag?”
“Not the same bag, but the same money, yes, just half of it. Your half.”
“Where is your half?”
“I spent it already,” Richard replied blankly, sharing Marty’s gaze at the bills rather than looking up at him directly.
Richard sighed. “Drugs. Lots of drugs, hard drugs.”
“Why?” Marty asked, now looking at him. His cheeks, the part not covered by his beard, were a deep pink.
“I don’t know. I guess after the whole thing with Ivan, I wasn’t sure how I felt. I contacted an old dealer, Laura’s younger brother, this trash guy, but he had connections. I just wanted to finish my novel and be alone. I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
“So, more or less, you were holding out on me this whole time?” Marty asked, suddenly feeling angry. If he had the rhinoceros horn he might have whipped it at him in the moment.
The sight of the multi-coloured bills beneath him calmed him, just slightly though.
The sight of the multi-coloured bills beneath him calmed him, just slightly though.
Richard nodded, still gazing downward. “I’m sorry, Marty. I didn’t know what to do.”
Marty ran his hands through the money. “How much?”
“About three thousand.”
Marty smiled, and then frowned. His emotions were still of a dual nature, but the positive started to overwhelm the negative. “Why? Why would you do this? You knew I was looking for this. If I had this money I'd have been out of here already.”
“I don’t even know why I did it. My money is gone though. I felt guilty about the whole thing, haven’t been able to see anything clearly since it happened.”
“Jesus, Richard,” Marty muttered in a harsh, almost whispered tone. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I don’t even know,” he said. “I’m sorry, Marty. Here, I kept your half. Part of me stayed clear at least, but Marty, we have problems, serious problems now.”
“What?” he asked, taking up a hundred dollar bill, bringing it to his nose to smell the maple scent that had been embedded onto it when it was printed.
“Ivan had friends.”
Marty dropped the bill in the bag. “What?”
Richard finally looked him in the eyes. “Two men, two big Russian men, shady fuckers, have been coming by the past week. I’ve seen them many times. They only talked to me once, asked me where Ivan was. Marty, these guys are suspecting something. I told them Ivan hasn’t been around and that I didn’t know. They don’t believe me, I can tell.”
A loud thump came at the front door. For a second both of them froze in place, and then Richard grabbed the bag and ran to his room. Marty followed.