Chapter Sixty-Eight: “I hate you both”

Iggy had gone to a concert three cities away with her friend from work. Her friend was staying the night in the city with some of her other friends and Iggy was taking the train back to Roehampton. It was a really good plan until the train was flooded with hundreds of other people doing the same thing and then even more hundreds of people on their way home from the Roehampton Panthers away baseball game in the same city. Then Iggy was smushed into a corner of the train by hordes of drunk strangers, trying not to smell anyone else too closely. It was fine until the train stopped suddenly, two stops before the station she was going to get off at, because of some kind of malfunction. Iggy was stranded on the platform with hundreds of other people, trying to find an alternate way home. She guessed it was better than sitting on the train, convinced they were seconds away from derailing after the first announcement explaining the predicament. Jacklyn learned all of this when Iggy called her in the dead of night to ask for her help, relating everything in very quick succession. Apparently she had called Miles first, because he sometimes had access to his friend’s car, but he was getting drunk with Patrick Chan.

“The Olympic figure skater?” Jacklyn asked, rubbing sleep from her eyes and she struggled to untangle herself from her sheets and sit up.

“Not really the point,” Iggy retorted through gritted teeth. Jacklyn could actually hear that her teeth were gritted.

“Right,” Jacklyn nodded to herself. “Well, what do you want me to do?”

“Can you borrow someone’s car or something?” Iggy asked. Jacklyn was about to protest, to say she didn’t know anybody who owned a car, but then she remembered that she did. Every so often, she’d see Gord fly into the underground parking lot beneath their building in his maroon 1980s Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. She thought of asking to borrow Gord’s car at one o’clock in the morning. Then she thought of Iggy, stranded alone at a train station with no way of getting home. She would like to say that the choice was easy, but she very nearly told Iggy to call someone else for help.

In the end, her human decency won out and she pulled on some clothes, grumbling bitterly the entire time, and then stomped across the hall to wake Gord. She risked waking one of his other roommates as well, which would ultimately be fine if she woke Gavin, but truly frightening if she woke Finch. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you looked at it, Gord answered the door. He was wearing what Jacklyn assumed were his pyjamas, though it was only a vintage band t-shirt and a pair of plaid pants so it could’ve gone either way.

“For Christ’s sake, I don’t have your fucking cat,” was the first thing Gord said to her.

“No, I know,” Jacklyn returned, the irony of already needing to backtrack when she hadn’t even said anything not lost on her. “My friend is stranded at a train station and I was wondering if I could borrow your car to go get her.”

Gord looked at her like she had three heads and seventeen extra limbs.

“No,” he said after a long moment.

“Please?” Jacklyn pressed again. “It’s the truth, I swear. I have my licence, I’m a really good driver. I’ll pay for gas. I’ll only be gone an hour. Please?”

Gord stared at her with his eyes narrowed for a long time. Jacklyn swore his mustache bristled. She was almost positive he wasn’t going to lend her his car. She was already trying to rack her brain for another option, but the only other people she knew with cars were Melly and David. She was pretty sure Melly would actually kill her if she woke their baby at one in the morning. Madison had an incredibly strict sleeping schedule. One wrong move and she was off kilter for weeks. Inevitably, Jacklyn would have to hear about it on an hourly basis as Melly called her to complain about it at all hours of the day.

“Fine,” Gord finally replied, looking incredibly disappointed in himself. “But I’m driving. For fuck’s sake.”

He disappeared back into his apartment, shutting the door in Jacklyn’s face, and retuned moments later in the same shirt, but different pants and with a jacket in his left hand. He had his keys in the other and a scowl on. Jacklyn was not as such thrilled about their rapidly approaching car ride together. It was sure to be both silent and tense. Leaving Iggy to sleep at the train station like a vagrant was becoming more and more appealing by the second.

When they got to the train station, after a very uncomfortable ride together, they discovered that many of the other stranded people must’ve also called for rides because the parking lot was packed. They had to park at the very back corner and then trek through streams of slow-moving cars and people until they finally reached the train station.

“Where’s your friend?” Gord asked as they looked out over the sea of people waiting in the lobby. Jacklyn had tried to call Iggy twice, but she hadn’t answered. She was a little concerned that Iggy’s phone had died.

“She’s tall, blonde, and kind of pale,” Jacklyn said in answer. Gord turned to give her a very sardonic look.

“There are, like, four hundred white women here right now,” he began to reply. “And fifty per cent of them are blonde. So unless she’s this blonde woman three feet to my left or has some kind of obvious facial disfigurement, that’s not going to be super helpful.”

“You’ve met her,” Jacklyn said, exasperated. The car ride had not been good for their tenuous peace. “She goes to jazzercise. And she came to your apartment one time.”

“I don’t remember that at all,” Gord said, crossing his arms over his chest. “When were you and your friend at my apartment?”

“We came over to borrow…something,” Jacklyn explained, blushing as she recalled the experience. It had been mortifying and she still wasn’t over it. Every time she passed Gord’s friend Amare in the hall, she had to avert her eyes, too embarrassed that her idiotic friends had dragged her across the hall to ogle him.

“What?” Gord asked, clearly not willing to let it go.

“I said we came over to borrow something,” Jacklyn huffed, attempting to mask her humiliation with annoyance.

“No, I heard you,” Gord replied. “I meant what did you borrow?”

The look he was giving her suggested he remembered the incident perfectly. Jacklyn resisted the urge to shove him and started leading the way through the crowd to find Iggy, already trying to call her again. She looked back only once to check that Gord was following her. He was, but he looked very upset about it. She wondered briefly why he’d agreed to help her, since he clearly didn’t like her, but she was cut off before she had a chance to come to any kind of conclusion, finally getting through to Iggy.

“Sorry!” Was the first thing Iggy said to her. “I almost just got into a fight with some drunk girl, who kept hitting me in the face with her flower crown. Probably not on purpose, but she got a fake petal in my eye. I almost pushed her onto the tracks. We’re not actually anywhere near the tracks, but I would’ve dragged her to the tracks. That’s how strongly I feel about this.”

Jacklyn rolled her eyes.

“Where are you?” She asked instead of responding to the diatribe about the flower crown. She could basically feel Gord glaring at her back.

“By the automatic ticket things,” Iggy answered. “You know, the machine things that print tickets so you don’t have to talk to the people who work in client services for public transportation.”

“Yeah, I got it,” Jacklyn said before hanging up and scanning the crowd for the ticket machines. She began leading the way with renewed purpose, again only looking back once to make sure Gord was following her. If possible, he looked even less impressed than before. Jacklyn wasn’t sure their tentatively peaceful relationship would ever recover from this favour he was doing her, which felt ironic.

They finally found Iggy, standing unhappily amidst a veritable sea of giddy, tipsy young women in gauzy crop tops and flower crowns. They were all beautiful women. They were also annoying as hell. Iggy was pressed against the ticket machine, glaring at one woman in particular, looking like she’d like nothing more than to reach out and strangle her, possibly with her flower crown. In all fairness to Jacklyn and her half-hearted, lame attempt at describing Iggy, she was tall, blonde, and fairly pale. Beyond that, she was rather different-looking compared to the women near her. She was leaner and angrier. She was wearing cut-off jean shorts and a full length black muscle shirt, which had a cartoon banana in sunglasses poking its head out of breast pocket. The girl directly to Iggy’s left had a tattoo on her wrist of a dove surrounded by olive branches. Iggy had six line drawing tattoos up her left arm; one of a camel, one of a cactus, one of two jellyfish tangled together, one of an astronaut, and one of three lavender branches on her shoulder.

“Oh you know what? I do remember her,” Gord said to Jacklyn as they approached Iggy through the crowd. “From that time you guys came over to borrow…something.”

Jacklyn thought really hard about punching him in the throat and then just stealing his car, but ultimately decided against it. Not due to any kind of particular kindness, but because she feared what Finch would do to her. He was the scariest person she’d ever met in real life.

“Iggy!” Jacklyn called, shooting one pointed glare in Gord’s direction before she moved on. Iggy, looking unbelievably pleased to see her, pushed the drunk girls aside and rushed over to them. Her relief quickly turned to surprise when she caught sight of Gord, his mustache, and his surliness for the first time.

“What is he doing here?” She asked Jacklyn, looking back and forth between her and Gord.

“He drove me here,” Jacklyn answered.

“You’re welcome,” Gord added darkly. Iggy shot him a brief smile and then started pushing her way out of the crowd. By the time they had reached the car, Gord had taken over the lead, swearing steadily under his breath, and Jacklyn had touched about four hundred strangers, which was four hundred too many. The three of them climbed in Gord’s car in silence. Jacklyn caught Iggy’s eye in the rear-view mirror and instantly knew that she wanted to make a comment about the car, but she wisely kept her mouth shut. The parking lot traffic had dispersed quite a bit since they’d arrived so they were able to leave without waiting too long, which was just as well because it seemed a high likelihood that Gord would murder them both if they had to endure gridlock traffic.

Gord drove back to their building in silence. He pulled into the parking lot at an alarming speed, parked, and threw open his door. He started marching toward the door into the building before Jacklyn had even gotten out of the car. She didn’t think he had remote controlled locks.

“Aren’t you going to lock it?” Jacklyn called to him. He turned to raise an eyebrow at her.

“Who the fuck is going to steal my car?” He asked. “I can see, like, four Lexuses from here.”

Jacklyn wondered who in her building could afford a Lexus.

“I don’t live here,” Iggy pointed out as they started following him.

“You can stay over,” Jacklyn offered. The subway had stopped running for the night and she didn’t feel comfortable letting her walk home. There was also not a single chance in hell that she would ask Gord to give Iggy a ride back to her apartment. That could only end very, very poorly for all parties involved.

When they got up to Jacklyn and Gord’s floor, he began opening his door without even a final word to either of them.

“Thank you!” Iggy called to him as he slipped into his apartment.

“Good night!” Jacklyn added, feeling like she needed to do something to repair the delicate balance or else it was likely she would never she her cat again.

“I hate you both,” came Gord’s flat response before he let the door close behind him.

“He’s not a very happy man,” Iggy commented as the two of them went into Jacklyn’s apartment. As Jacklyn began setting up the couch for Iggy to sleep on, she couldn’t help but reflect on how much on an understatement that was.

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