75. Pent up contention beasts

Note: chapter title stolen sideways from Virtualis

The two movers had to pass repeatedly in front of Cary’s open door. Colin, fastidious and judgey as he was, went straight to it in a series of likely audible whispers.

Jesse said, “Whispering shit that’s rude just lets people know you’re rude, but it’s okay if you’re of limited capacity or a child,” and smiled, because his mimicry of Colin was full-bodied and he was proud of it.

“Fuck you, and you say I’m judgemental,” Colin replied. “You’re seven years younger than me and you treat me like a child.”

“I could go on and on about why that’s so, and for a fair bit about how you let me, and yet I don’t. Seriously, dude, you’re going to have to stop treating your posture as an afterthought.”

“God, you sound like my grandmother, when she was still talking.”

Jesse turned from teasing at the mention of his dying relative — as Colin no doubt knew he would. “Maybe she’ll speak at the end. Humans often do, they are wired for it, if it’s a reasonably natural death.”

“What?” Colin said.

“It’s something George said, and Michel agreed when I mentioned it.”

“You spend a lot of time checking what one says versus another.”

“You know about the wiki. If we don’t stick in everything we know that we’ll be able to rapidly vet and share with the appropriate people come O-day we’ll end up spending hours and hours in interrogation rooms.”

“I don’t like thinking about that.”

“George is striking a deal with the cops and other interested parties so we’ll have special status under the new regime as experienced Sixer wranglers.”

“I hate that term, it makes the Sixers sound like brute animals,” Colin said.

“What are you guys talking about?” Cary said from his room.

“A LARP,” Jesse and Colin called back in sync. “It’s a kind of game,” Colin said officiously.

“I know what it is,” Cary said. They left the house with two boxes apiece and fucked with the ramp by bouncing on it as they walked up it, which combined with the wind and rain made a noise that was rhythmic, unnerving and rather catchy. It also made the two of them howl with laughter, which echoed in the carport. The regular truck didn’t have a ramp, but the regular truck was in the shop after a possum-related incident which had involved smoke and flames.

“I didn’t know possums lived in Vancouver,” Colin said, when Jesse told him. “They aren’t common,” Jesse said, “Which is good because I think they’re creepy as fuck. I know they’re one of god’s critters but, brrr.”

“You know Cary’s gonna try to engage us in conversation and require our cooperation,” Colin said. They stopped outside the door, to continue the conversation.

“Yup. I started carrying cuff-straps as part of my kit last month.” Colin made a noise that could have been disbelief or approval. “They’ll probably get used against me, given my shit luck, but the point is that if I need to fasten him to something I have the power. I know he’s physically sick right now and it’s hurting his brain, which is making him really yucky to be around.”

“When I get home I can shower and remove the stench of total loser, which is the thought that’s keeping the harsh off my wallies,” Colin said.

They went back into the living room. They commenced to staging more awkward objects, things and appurtenances, having among their number floor lamps, hutches, rather too many flimsy bookcases which would likely not withstand the rigours of being reassembled, corner cabinets, an antique spinning wheel, seven wheelie bins of craft supplies (all very well organized and labelled, but daunting in their scale) “I mean look at these fuckers,” Jesse said as soon as they went back outside. “Stick hats on ‘em and leave ‘em in an alley and even Michel would run the other way.”

“You know you have the most amazing rural BC accent and yet you speak like you got a university education.”

“You didn’t live with Raven when she was going to school,” Jesse said.

“When will I meet her? She sounds intriguing,” Colin said.

“Why would I do that to you?” Jesse said. “She’d bite your dick off, spit it in your face, and then argue that you were better off.”

“You’d say that about your own sister,” Colin said in disgust.

“Yeah,” Jesse said, “But only to hear her delightful laugh. I mean once she got to know you she’d have no interest in you — I certainly know her well enough that you wouldn’t be her cup of tea.”

“And you’re going to tell me why,” Colin said.

“Oh no,” Jesse said. “You wanted to meet her, you’ll get your wish.”

“But I’ll wish I hadn’t.”

“No, no,” Jesse said, sounding just like George for a second, “If you decide to be in friendly puppy-dog mode you’ll survive first contact with nothing worse than a light glaring.”

“You’re having me on.”

“Do you have a sister?”


“Damn, I knew that. But if you had a sister, would you let me date her?”

“This. Is a trick. Question,” Colin said.

“Totally,” Jesse said, waggling his eyebrows. “But can you articulate how?”

“It’ll have something to do with feminism,” Colin said grimly.

“Which is a philosophy devoted to digging up the roots of inequality between men and women, and replanting life with practical and humane solutions to that inequality.”

“You make it sound so reasonable,” Colin said.

“English can make anything sound reasonable,” Jesse said.