Chapter Nine: “I thought he was buying an iPod, not dealing crack out of my Toyota in a sketchy parking lot”

Robin had moved into his apartment six months previously. He had been waiting for an opportunity to move out of his parents’ place basically since he’d graduated from university a year ago so he possibly hadn’t exercised brilliant decision-making skills when he answered a personal ad on the internet. Some dude named Joey was looking for a roommate. Robin, having spent quite a bit of time listening to his mother talk about how badly she wanted a cocker spaniel, was more than ready to move out on his own to bigger and better things.

Before moving into his apartment, Robin had questioned what kind of fully grown adult man called themselves Joey. It seemed like a nickname that only applied to children under the age of twelve. Once puberty hit, it should’ve been nothing but Joe or Joseph. And then Robin had met Joey and it had made much more sense. Joey was the kind of person that Robin’s mother called unsavoury. Alternatively, he was the kind of person that Miles called dodgy as fuck. Robin could see where he was coming from, but at the same time, Joey was a reasonably good roommate. He cleaned up after himself, he turned off his aggressively loud, bass thumping electronica before ten on weeknights, and he didn’t have many people over. He was also funny and personable and considerate of Robin and his things. It was because of that that Robin didn’t mind living with him or lending him his car on the odd occasion.

Robin had a grey 1997 Toyota Camry that he’d bought from an extremely elderly man for two thousand dollars. The button that controlled the level of bass on the stereo was broken so every song sounded senselessly aggressive. There were manual windows and locks and the sway bars in the back were slowly going, which meant that it thundered like it had an eight cylinder engine. Joey had only asked to borrow it a few times. He didn’t have a car, not that he really needed one in the city anyway. He normally took his bike or the subway. He only really asked to take Robin’s car when he wanted to go to Best Buy. Though he didn’t take the car very often, it did seem like he spent an inordinate amount of time at Best Buy.

“What the hell is he even going to Best Buy for?” Miles asked once. He and Ramsay had come over because the three of them had plans to go for dinner. It was raining and Miles wanted Robin to drive them so they wouldn’t have to sprint from the subway to the restaurant in the downpour. He was therefore most displeased to find that Joey had already borrowed Robin’s car.

“You guys don’t even have a TV,” Ramsay added shrewdly from where he was leaning against the kitchen island. “He doesn’t strike me as a big fan of electronics.”

“Yeah,” Robin agreed thoughtfully. “I don’t think he has a laptop either. It’s kind of weird that he spends so much time at Best Buy. I kind of just thought there was like a salesgirl or something there that he liked.”

“So he’s stalking her under the pretense of buying headphones or some shit?” Miles returned. “That’s kind of creepy.”

“He’s a twenty-four year old man and his name is Joey,” Ramsay pointed out dryly.

“I mean, I don’t know why he goes there so much,” Robin shrugged. “Maybe he’s got a part-time job. It could be for almost any reason. I don’t know.”

“It’s eight o’clock,” Ramsay said.

“Yeah,” Robin nodded, waiting for some other point. Ramsay was like that. Sometimes he would say something, usually a very short statement of fact that he felt accurately explained his entire argument. It was always obvious to him and literally nobody else.

“Who goes to Best Buy at eight o’clock on a Friday night?” Ramsay asked, somewhat exasperated at having to explain himself. He was always explaining himself and simultaneously making it very clear that he didn’t think he should have to explain himself at all. He was constantly annoyed with other humans.

“Again, I really have no idea,” Robin answered, also somewhat exasperated. “I assume he’s buying USB cords or something.”

He was not in fact buying USB cords.

Robin only discovered what Joey was actually borrowing his car for because he happened to find himself at Best Buy at the same time as Joey. Robin had always assumed Joey was going to a Best Buy on the other side of the city if he required a car to get there, but as it turned out, he was spending time at the Best Buy a fifteen-minute walk away from their home. Robin had stopped by one Friday evening on his way home from a late shift at the record store where he worked to get some headphones because the cord on his had frayed to the point of uselessness. He had thought about buying some at work, but everything was overpriced and he wasn’t a sucker. Although, he was less certain of that fact when he caught sight of his roommate standing outside his 1997 Toyota Camry in the far corner of the back of the parking lot, taking money from some sketchy looking kid in a tank top.

Joey himself was also wearing a tank top. To complete his outfit, he was wearing a pair of low-slung grey sweatpants, the trendy kind that rich university students wore to morning classes, and his black Nike Frees with his parka hanging open, despite the fact that it was early November. It was his usual uniform of choice. He probably owned something like twenty white tank tops. There was a gold chain hanging around his skinny neck, as per usual, and a cigarette was hanging from his mouth. He looked bored. His nose was also bleeding. It looked like he’d been punched in the face, which wasn’t unlikely because Joey was always getting punched in the face. Up until that precise moment, Robin had never understood why. But now he got it.

Joey was selling drugs out of his God damn trunk in the far recesses of the Best Buy parking lot. It looked like coke. Robin was stunned. He thought about going over to Joey, taking his keys back, and driving off to change the locks on their apartment door before Joey could make it home. But then he thought that angering a drug dealer possibly wasn’t a very good idea, even if it was only Joey, who got punched in the face frequently.

In the end, Robin dithered about the spot for a bit, watching his roommate sell drugs to several other questionable individuals, trying to decide if it was worth it to say anything to him, before ultimately deciding that it was not in fact worth it. At the very least, he assumed it would be safer if he waited until they were in a highly populated public area to have the conversation, not the dark, empty outreaches of a Best Buy parking lot with no one to witness anything except for a couple of strung-out coke addicts. Those people seemed like they would most likely favour the guy with the drugs in any kind of testimony.

Instead of going home, he made his way to Oscar and Ramsay’s apartment. He knew Miles was already there because he’d gotten a text about it hanging out later in the evening when he got off work. He let himself in without knocking. They never locked their door, not even when no one was home. It wasn’t particularly safe, but there wasn’t really another option because Oscar had broken the lock coming home from the bar one night and they didn’t want to tell the building super about it. It wasn’t the first time it had happened.

“So, as it turns out,” Robin announced as he walked into the living room. “My roommate has been driving my car around with a metric fuckton of crack in the trunk.”

His declaration was met mostly with blank stares. Miles was standing behind the kitchen island, which opened up into the living room, pouring himself a beer and looking generally stunned. Ramsay was sitting in one of the armchairs, a handful of Cheetos held up halfway to his mouth, also looking stunned. And Oscar, was lying facedown on the living room floor, so Robin had no idea if he was stunned or not. Robin was a little impressed that he’d managed to get such a reaction from Ramsay. He kind of wished he could’ve gotten it without his roommate putting enormous amounts of illegal drugs in his car.

“Is that the specific amount?” Miles asked after a moment. “A metric fuckton?”

“Specific and scientific,” Robin nodded, coming to sit on the couch next to Oscar’s prone body. There was another long silence. Then Ramsay began to eat his Cheetos, already bored with the conversation. Oscar rolled over onto his back so that he could look up at Robin.

“Why did you let him do this exactly?” He asked, folding his hands over his chest.

“In my defense, I didn’t know that’s what he was doing,” Robin answered. “He didn’t ask if he could borrow my car to evade the police with an insane amount of drugs in the fucking trunk. He just said he wanted to go to Best Buy. I thought he was buying an iPod, not dealing crack out of my Toyota in a sketchy parking lot.”

“How could you not know he was using your car to sell drugs?” Oscar returned.

“Well, he never said and it’s a very specific question to ask,” Robin replied, shrugging again.

“You know what’s a less specific question to ask?” Miles stepped in. “‘Hey, what are you borrowing my car for?’”

“Alright, sure, a fairly good point,” Robin conceded.

“So what are you going to do?” Oscar asked. He looked ready to roll back over. Miles had decided that the four of them were going to go out, but Oscar hadn’t wanted to go pretty much anywhere since his emotionally devastating break up. It’d be a small miracle if they managed to get him off the floor, let alone out the door.

“Well, I’m going to stop lending him my car,” Robin said.

“Fair,” Ramsay snorted. Behind them, Miles scoffed loudly from the kitchen. He grabbed his beer and came around to face Robin in the living room, stepping over Oscar’s legs.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” He asked incredulously.

“What the hell am I going to say?” Robin retorted. Miles stalled at that for a moment, clearly also not sure what the appropriate thing to say was.

“Maybe you should move before your apartment becomes a crack den,” Oscar suggested, actually rolling back over for real. He bumped into Miles’ legs, but continued anyway.

“Where am I going to go?” Robin asked in response.

“You could move back in with your mother,” Miles said.

“I’ll take my chances with the crack den,” Robin returned immediately. Ramsay snorted.

They went to a bar at Miles’ insistence and even managed to get Oscar to come with them. Of course, he really didn’t want to be there so they spent a large portion of the evening convincing him to stay, which in turn included a lot of heavy drinking. By the time they made their way back to their respective apartments, Robin was drunker than he had been in a long time. The last time he drank that much, he’d ended up breaking into a petting zoo in the middle of the night with his old university roommate. He’d tried to steal a sheep, which had not gone well, and he’d woken up with manure in his hair.

He stumbled into his apartment, dropped his coat on the floor by the kitchen, and grabbed a glass of water. Then he started toward his bedroom. Before he got inside however, he changed his mind and walked over to Joey’s closed bedroom door instead. It was three o’clock in the morning and Joey was most definitely asleep, but it didn’t stop Robin from knocking on his door anyway. There wasn’t an answer. Robin knocked again. There still wasn’t an answer so Robin just opened the door and walked in. It was dark, obviously, and Robin tripped over a lamp stand. His arms pinwheeled and he struggled to find his footing again in the darkness. He spilled water down the entire front of his shirt. And then the entire room was suddenly flooded with light. Robin looked up, startled, to find Joey propped up on his elbow in his bed, blinking groggily having clearly just turned on his bedside lamp.

“Uh, hey, bro,” Joey said to Robin, voice gravelly. “Good night?”

He was surprisingly chill about Robin bursting into his room in the middle of the night and taking down his lamp.

“Yeah, it was good,” Robin said with a slightly accusatory tone, pointing at Joey and squinting. “And another thing! You are using my car to sell drugs! You’ve disgraced my car! He’ll be ashamed in front of all of his car friends!”

He was vaguely aware somewhere in the far recesses of his mind that he had stopped making sense. To be fair, he wasn’t sure he had even been making sense in the first place.

“Oh yeah, dude, is that not okay?” Joey returned. He didn’t even have the decency to look sheepish.

“Well, it isn’t great!” Robin returned. He was still shouting. He couldn’t find it in himself to stop.

“Okay, sorry, man,” Joey said. “Won’t happen again.”

“Okay, cool,” Robin nodded. “That’s good. Good. Good, good, good.”

Robin snapped his fingers a few times, swaying on the spot. Joey stared at him from his place on his bed for a little while.

“Do you need anything else, bro?” Joey asked eventually. “Or can I go back to sleep? Not that I don’t want to spend more time with you, but I’ve had a long day.”

“Pushed a lot of drugs?” Robin asked.

“Yeah,” Joey answered simply.

“Oh, gotcha,” Robin nodded like he understood and then turned to leave. He tripped over the lamp again.

The next time Joey announced he was heading to Best Buy, he walked and took a sketchy looking backpack with him. Robin figured he should’ve been at least a little concerned that he was still living with a drug dealer, but he had managed to stop him from using his car to sell drugs, which felt like a big enough win. Miles disagreed, but Robin was prepared to ignore him.


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