16. The very model of a modern SJW

Returned inside with the bin, he pulled it closer to the worst of the carnage and said to Chris, “I think George scared them off.” Jesse was relieved when George slipped in behind him a moment later and locked the door.

George said, “They’re sitting in Drew’s truck, trying to work each other up into having a shot at me since I’m obviously a circus acrobat and not a combat fighter.”

Jesse said, “Heugh! Like either of them are.” It was irritating to know that George would mop the floor with both of them and yet be unable to bet on the outcome.

George stared at Jesse. “He is most assuredly a karateka of some renown! — but that doesn’t help if you fall over backward when startled.”

“Yes,” Jesse said. “After that, it’s all grappling and ground game.”

Chris said, “I don’t even think I can go through with this. Maybe I can get an extension from the landlord.” It was month end.  Chris veered between low-grade panic, snarky humour and catatonia. Panic was definitely winning.

George was dismissive. “You’ve paid us, we’re here, you’re in shock, sit down, shut up.” Jesse looked at him.

“I will not,” Chris said.

“Please keep talking, but sit down,” Jesse said, and walked noisily through the mess and stood with him.

This being a much more palatable request, Chris sat down and stared up at him. Jesse bore the attenuated but still irritating assessment of his fitness-to-bang with as good grace as he could, and moved away to find something useful to do. There was a lot of broken glass, but the squeeze had only found some of the kitchen boxes, and it looked worse than it was.

“You don’t have a lot of sympathy for people in this situation, do you,” Chris said, addressing George.

Jesse didn’t let the smirk reach his lips, but his eyebrows missed the memo. “That’s enough out of you, Jesse,” George said.

“Me? What? Fuck d’I do?”

George didn’t answer the customer right away, and considered Jesse’s question unanswerable.  He found the broom and the dustpan where Chris had let them drop in the dining area, carefully moved to the far wall of the kitchen, and started to push broken glass into the middle of the floor. The sound of the sweeping, and the crunching, sliding glass, was rhythmically interspersed with George’s response.

“I have sympathy for few people in few situations,” George said. “Victims of domestic violence get what little I have, in the form of a service to help them stay safe, and keep all their belongings safe, during periods when the cops won’t help them because there’s no threat, and their friends won’t help them because their friends absolutely know there is a threat, and hope that by avoiding helping they may also avoid the brutal treatment they know is likely. I make people pay for the service, and if this culture wasn’t a pile of maggots feasting on a dying planet, I’d have no reason to take your money because you’d never have taken up with such a person. You’d have had the sense not to, since you would have been raised properly, and he wouldn’t be an asshole, because ditto.”

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Jesse said, appalled that George would say such a thing to a customer.  In the truck, afterward, on the way home, sure, let ‘er rip, but holy fuck. And is he reefing on Chris so hard because he’s a guy? Or gay? He looked at George, no longer trusting what he thought he knew about him.

Chris sat on a kitchen stool and looked at George, stricken. After a second he dropped his eyes and watched the floor slowly be cleared of its burden of shards with slow, steady strokes.

“You’re saying I asked for this,” Chris said. “You’re blaming the victim.”

George stopped, and remained awkwardly posed.

“No, sir,” George said coldly, sweeping again. “By no means. I’m saying you’re lucky you can buy your way out of the problem. This problem, the one we’re dealing with right now. We can have you out of here by dawn. I have a storage facility I will let you use for sixty days at no charge, but I have three conditions, each one of which you’re going to hate more than the last.”

“I’m the customer,” Chris bleated.

Jesse blew through his lips and quietly said, “Like that means fuck all in end-stage crony capitalism.”

George fixed a quelling gaze on Jesse, and then said to Chris, “You don’t have a place to move your stuff to, unless you have connections or qualities so far unrevealed.”

“You are a fucking prick, you know that?”

No argument here, Jesse thought, once again trying to keep the smirk on the inside.

“I am the very model of a rational social justice warrior, and you need to give me your phone, leave this apartment by cab and report the damage in person to the police, indicating that you’ve left the movers in the apartment so they don’t come in and try to thump us on general principles. Then you need to go to the last place he’d ever look for you. We’ll move your stuff into the locker. I’d come back and clean but by the looks of things it would make no difference to your security deposit. The kindest thing you can do for your landlord is get the hell out so she can fix it.”

He contemplated what looked like a lot of drywall work for a handyman; enough for a weekend, anyway.  There were holes, some gaping and dramatic, others like a succession of hammer head impressions, made in a row to illustrate some point.

George continued, “I’ve got a spare key and and card for the locker, which I will give to you, so it’s not like we’re trying to run off with your stuff. We witnessed the two of them exiting the building and heard lots of screaming, and you’d already asked us to help you move, as will be evidenced by the phone records, if it comes to that. You have witnesses and a good timeline, and those two morons are still out there in the truck.”

To Jesse he said, “I planted a listening device,” and briefly pulled out and waggled an earbud, replacing it before Jesse could get too close a look.

George said, “Now I have to say something that’s going to be hard to listen to.”

“Oh really,” Chris said. “Because everything’s just been a Roger Whittaker song up ’til now.”

Jesse, who had found another dustpan brush and was removing glass from the cloth furniture, coughed. Or at least, so he hoped it would be interpreted.

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Born when atmospheric carbon was 316 PPM. Settled on MST country since 1997. Parent, grandparent.

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