Saturday: An Ottawa Story - Six


David and Richard's travails in the grocery store were the definition of mundane, especially in light of their near-collision mere minutes before. Stirred if not shaken, the two wound their way through the aisles, David heaping maybe a little more than what he needed for that evening in Richard's arms as a sort of forced penance. As expected, Richard retorted with accusations of emasculation and sexual inadequacy, to which David replied with strategically timed rolls of the eyes--normal guy stuff.

Of course, David was preoccupied, the image of a drug-sniffing K-9 unit pinpointing the ten grams of nasal powder tucked away in Richard's car dancing in his head like sugar-plums in a child's on Christmas Eve. It was an absurd scenario any day of the week, but by 9:30 that morning he had realized this particular Saturday would be anything but another day in the week. He sighed at another insinuation of small penis size, half-threw a bag of frozen peas his compatriot's way, and mused on the crossword he could have had completed by 10.

David's worries were rooted in the notion that Richard's private pharmacopoeia could effectively render the Geo an odorous beacon for kilometres in any direction. By extension, they were obviously rooted in the notion that the cocaine was actually in Richard's car. Indeed, his current anxieties could be traced back to 9:30 that morning through a logical flow of events, one that, when examined, would turn out to bear interesting fruit.

Particularly informative was the hitherto unexamined portion of time between David and Richard returning from the shed and their departure in the latter man's deathmobile. Trying to be discreet as possible, the two men had flashed toothy grins at Alex as they came through the back door, David mumbling something about "that useless tree pruner" as he shifted his body to more effectively hide the package of coke. Ignoring the bemused expression on his wife's face, he had beckoned Richard back downstairs, where over the next two hours Richard tried to grab a decent portion of sleep and David had another crack at his article. This had consisted mainly of staring at the screen and alternately pondering how to properly dispose of the drug and how to most efficiently kill Richard (smothering seemed the most ideal). It had been a tense two hours, and with nary a word committed to the screen.

Around noon, David had come upstairs and given Alex a half hug, using the opportunity to reach around her and grab a fresh mug from the cupboard. "Tea beckons," he had said, pouring some water into the kettle and flicking the switch.

"Everything alright?" she had asked, her voice lined with subdued concern.

"Ah, you know how Rick is," David had muttered, idly tapping his fingers on the formica counter to the rhythm of "There There."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Are you too occupado with him to make a grocery run sometime this afternoon?"

"We out of something?" David had asked.

"Oh, you know, only just the essentials."

"Yeah, that sounds about right."

"And it's a good way to get him out of the house," she had suggested, tilting her head toward the basement door.

"Again, sorry about that--"

"Please, don't do that right now. Just get him out of here so I can get things in some semblance of order for tonight, and tell him that if he's on his best behaviour he can spend a couple hours within ten metres of my sisters when dinner comes around. Sound good?"

"Very good. Things are feeling a little tight here, anyways," he had muttered, snatching the small list she had been lightly prodding his stomach with. He had then slipped away, went downstairs, and returned a minute or so later with both a small package and a groggy-looking Richard in tow--all the while Alex looking on with a mixture of perplexity and unbridled worry. She nodded with a feigned smile as David waved and the front door slammed behind him.

In the undisturbed vacuum that followed, Alex paced around the house, trying to mentally cobble together even the vaguest idea of what was going on. Dave had his moments of breathless and inexplicable drive, almost always involving drumming, leg-jiggling or some  other form of sending small, fast vibrations through anything in a five foot radius. But Alex was damned if she could remember him being in such a state in excess of half an hour, let alone two. And Richard--well, when Richard wasn't teaching high school history he moonlighted as a professional shit-disturber. Indeed, someone's shit had been disturbed.

"It's always him," she groaned lightly, and ventured out onto the porch, dropping onto the couch with a resigned sigh. Alex didn't dislike Richard in any sense of the word, but the man was like caffeine: best served in small, controlled doses. She lit a cigarette, injecting a little carnicogenic calm into her system so she could think of some way to explain the fast-talking pseudo-stud to her sisters for when the time came.

It hit her just about the same time as the nicotine: Why in the Hell, she asked herself, did David take that bag of fertilizer with him? The plastic baggie, rolled up in a piece of cheesecloth to keep the squirrels away, contained all that remained of a largish package of the stuff she had bought earlier that summer. Though it had whizzed by her sight only very briefly, no thanks to David's suspiciously covert movements, she had seen the multicoloured chemical pebbles within, visible through a ragged hole in the cloth.

"The shit?..." Alex took a second and final drag on her cigarette, stubbing it out on the stained ashtray that resided on the windowsill. She half-walked, half-jogged around the house towards the shed, wondering if the two were planning on making some half-assed bomb with the stuff or what.

She saw it not even half a second after opening the door: the empty, largely dust-free spot on the workbench where the bundle of fertilizer one sat, and more interestingly the new, albeit similarly-shaped package not much larger than her hand resting about half a foot away. Tentatively, she laid a hand on the edge of the shroud and pulled, revealing a baggie of that unmistakable white powder within.

Letting the cloth fall from her fingers, she sat back against the bench, her expression neutral, her mood... turbulent. Not one to make poorly thought-out leaps of logic, she rejected instantly the idea that the drug was David's. The man would physically duck if Alex so much as tipped her head in his direction while she was having a smoke. As for it being Richard's... oh who was she kidding, of course it was Richard's. In her time associating with him, she knew that the man ran on a steady stream of pep and that now he was balancing a teaching job and a girlfriend it seemed only logical that he would have to rely on something beyond the spark of life.

And yet she wasn't mad at him. More like frustrated, as one might be at a toddler who had smeared paint on the walls or a puppy that had done its business on the carpet. You could yell at them, smack them with a newspaper (in the case of the latter, of course) but ultimately it would be a futile gesture, largely incomprehensible for the receiving party. In the vein of Lennie from Of Mice and Men, Richard was often too stupid to fully understand the stupidity of his actions.

David's deception... well, that was worth getting a little angry over. No doubt he had intended to bring the cocaine with him, maybe even disposed of it, but the fact that he hadn't broached the subject to her during Richard's two hours of unconsciousness was more than a little aggravating. A little hurtful, even.

Alex blew a faint raspberry and prodded the bag of cocaine with her finger, watching the powder shift about. It became suddenly clear she didn't know what step to take: this issue, be it for Richard's personal health or Dave's lack of honesty, needed to be addressed at some point but tonight was not ideal to do so. Echoing her husband's earlier thoughts, she noted that Richard certainly didn't have the best timing. She glanced at her watch, saw that the boys wouldn't even be halfway to the grocery store, and clicked her tongue.

She had time. She could think of something.


1 comment:

Jo-Anne said...

Enjoying this, Keep the chapters coming