63. Magnus frater te spectat

The shed was not a cave of wonders, but it was an impressive monument to cupidity. It appeared to be the stash house of a high end fence, and was filled with watches, jewellery, electronics, restricted weapons, ammo and art.

And drugs.  “Cocaine, meth, opium and I’m not actually sure what this is.” George held the bag at arm’s length and viewed it with disfavour. “You know that if I can’t tell what it is, it’s probably really eeeevil shit and ten bucks said the H.A. brought it here.”

Jesse said, “I’m grabbing some of the opium, I’m going to need it,” and stuffed about a g-note’s worth into his upper jacket pocket.

Then they pried open another strongbox, or rather, George did while Jesse held a handkerchief to his face, and they discovered gold bars and coins.

“Jesse, I could kiss you! — except I already did, sort of, when I suctioned all that blood off you,” George said, in that greasy voice.  Responding to the voice rather than the sentiment, Jesse said, “Ew.”

“Is that homophobia or alien squick I detect?”

“I am not a homophobe,” Jesse said, calmly. “Licking blood from someone is not kissing. Shouldn’t we be going? Anybody with a stash like this won’t sit on their ass while we take it and I’d like to get fucked on opium with all due fucking speed. Fucker broke my ribs.”

“Want me to straighten your nose for you?”

“What? No — Ow! you fucker! I knew you were going to do that,” Jesse yelled, and then felt more blood and gagged.

“All that respect and gratitude, I knew I could count on you,” George said fondly.

“I was coming to an equilibrium with the pain and you fucked me up. Yes — I know you saved my life, how could I not? — but you didn’t have my consent for touching me like that and if I’d known I coulda braced myself and that was all way, way too much like my mother.”



“Mothers are complicated,” George said. It was a vague stab at being conciliatory.

Anything he said now George would attribute to loopiness from pain and relief. “You don’t talk much about yours, so I don’t know,” Jesse said.  He was starting to shake with post-trauma reaction, and trying to control it.  His ribs and his nose were fighting for the title of king of the heap of pain.  His nose was winning by a nose, or maybe two noses since the pain was sometimes making him see double.

“She made me. Wouldn’t that teach you enough?” George said bitterly. With less emotion and more practicality he said, “They’ll turn up soon, let’s load the gold and go.”

Lifting anything made his ribs go insane, and his nose start to bleed again, so George made him sit it out. It made Jesse snicker internally to watch George plod by with the weight of the strongbox pressing him to within a half metre of the ground, while he rested at his ease in a neighbour’s lawn chair. Of course he’d had to take a nasty beating for this spectacle to occur but he’d already chowed down one ball of opium and figured Madame Thursday would be happy to see him if he showed up with even a fraction of the rest. In his briefly upbeat mood of anticipating some relief from the pain he realized that he was the one supposed to drive the truck back and said, “Fuck.”

“You’ll be fine,” George said. The truck made it back in one piece, so he’d been right about that.

Later, he remembered the drive back as an inebriant’s best stab at safety and legality.  Then he thought perhaps stab was not the best word, and felt again the edge against his throat, and his mortal balance being arrested by death.

After this existential pinioning, he was driving reasonably well down Highway 91 when he felt his nose drifting off toward the inside of the windshield. He remembered batting at it ineffectually when George said, rather stiffly, “Would you care to look at the road as a change of scene?”

He applied the brakes just in time and told his nose to get stuffed. George acted as spotter for the rest of the trip home to Burnaby.

“I want to keep an eye on you overnight,” George said.

“Hardly necessary. Going to smoke some and go crash,” Jesse said, and he did. George, true to his word, spent the night, and if he felt relaxed enough to sleep, as Jesse’s rudely applied drugs took hold, he did not boast about it in the morning.

Jesse completely forgot about the two guys in the back of the van, and the gold.  After he fell asleep George dealt with both, and returned to Jesse’s apartment to watch him as he slept. When he finally remembered to ask, George said that the gold was buried in Robert Burnaby Park, and the two men had been driven close to the corner of McBride and 6th and shoved out of the van where the surveillance penumbra didn’t fall.

“As far as I know,” George said, “They’re still alive. What the people who hired them, and the people they stole from are likely to do, I couldn’t guess.”

“Awesome,” Jesse said.

“Who drove the truck?” Jesse asked. after a minute.

“Parker,” George said in surprise.  “You didn’t think I was going to do it.”

George pocketed all but two balls of opium.  Before he left, he said, “We’re going to have to have a company meeting.”