30: “You strike me as a very angry woman”

Joey had a date. This, apparently, was shocking news to Robin and his friends. It was with a woman named Jacklyn who he’d met at the Halloween party. She had been quite taken with him, which wasn’t usual. Joey often found that people were drawn to him. He gathered that he seemed dangerous to people. It was alluring, especially to people who surrounded themselves with people who wore argyle.

“I feel like that was a pointed jab and I don’t appreciate it,” Miles said, straightening the front of his argyle sweater. He had come over to hang out with Robin, most likely to avoid his sad roommate, and was most displeased to learn of Joey’s latest romantic escapades.

“In his defense, you’re wearing an argyle sweater in 2016,” Robin pointed out.

“This is cashmere,” Miles replied indignantly.

“It’s ugly as fuck,” Joey assured him. “You look like you robbed an elderly person and all you took was that fucking horrible sweater.”

Miles gaped at him in shock for a moment while Robin laughed.

“How has he managed to attract both Priscilla and Jacklyn?” Miles eventually demanded, waving a hand at Joey as he addressed Robin. “They are both so smart, respectable, and pretty. Before Iggy, I couldn’t find a woman who didn’t love going to raves!”

“No one can resist me,” Joey told him. “I’m a fucking catch.”

“Well, you’re very confident,” Robin returned.

“And yet we’ve both managed to resist you,” Miles pointed out dryly, rolling his eyes. “And Robin’s even into dudes.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t count,” Joey said dismissively with a wave of his hand. “He has Finch so he’s immune to me.”

Miles stared at him for a long moment.

“Pardon?” He asked finally.

“Finch’s a fucking babe,” Joey explained, shrugging. He’d thought that had been fairly obvious. Finch scowled a lot and pretended he wasn’t friendly or happy, but Joey saw right through that. He’d trained his cat to give high fives and Joey had seen them nap together, snuggled up on Finch’s living room couch many times. Plus, he went to church every single Sunday where he held the door for elderly people and helped people find the right page in the hymn books. Joey found him fascinating. Finch was the type of person who other people expected Joey to be friends with; dark, scary, brooding. Normally Joey rejected that kind of thing, but not in this case. This time, he embraced it wholly.

“Can’t say I’ve ever noticed…,” Miles replied, trailing off.

“Don’t know how you couldn’t’ve” Joey returned, which seemed to throw him even more if possible. Joey laughed at him.

Joey took Jacklyn to roller derby. She had claimed that she liked to be surprised when he’d asked, but he suspected that may have been a lie in an attempt to make herself seem more spontaneous and fun because she looked quite frightened, as if he was about to bring her to watch open heart surgery. Joey took Jacklyn to roller derby partially because it was fun, but also because his cousin Sabrina was competing on one of the teams. She was truly terrifying. Joey had known she would be, based entirely on her vehement hatred of her ex-boyfriend Todd. In her defense, Todd was a moron. In Todd’s defense, Sabrina had threatened to impale him in the eyeball with a fork over dinner at their Nona’s house once. That had been the beginning of the end for Sabrina and Todd’s relationship. Short though it may have been, it had left a long-lasting impression on Sabrina, who was finding it hard to move on, due in part to the extreme and insurmountable rage she felt toward all things Todd-related. Her anger management support group leader had suggested she find an activity that let her vent her frustrations. He had actually suggested journaling, but Sabrina had instead interpreted his advice as “put on roller skates and beat the hell out of strangers in fishnets”.

“So what are the rules?” Jacklyn asked when they took their seats.

“I have no fucking idea,” Joey answered truthfully. He didn’t. Sabrina had tried to explain it once, but it seemed to mostly comprise of hurtling around a roller rink on roller skates, bashing into other people and praying for the best. It was a sport really well suited to Sabrina.

“You don’t know?” Jacklyn repeated, laughing. “Then why are we here?”

“It’s soothing,” Joey replied. He did find it weirdly calming to watch people body check other people.

“You think this is soothing?” Jacklyn asked dubiously. He could see where she was coming from. At that exact moment, Sabrina rolled by, being dragged behind someone else by the hair. A minute later, Sabrina had that woman in a headlock. They were still skating, though, knocking into other people. Sabrina even successfully managed to trip a member of the opposite team with the leg of the woman she was holding onto. It was really quite impressive. Joey considered petitioning to have roller derby added as an event at the Olympics.

“Don’t you find this soothing?” He returned.

“Well, I don’t know,” Jacklyn said, sounding uncertain. She was trying to impress him again, like she had been when she pretended to like surprises to show how spontaneous and fun she could be.

“You strike me as a very angry woman,” Joey added. Gord had told him as much as well. Apparently Jacklyn hated him, which had something to do with cats. Joey was sure there was more to do with it, although he would still respect her feelings even if it was solely about cats. Joey was no stranger to supporting other people’s anger. Case in point: Sabrina. When Todd had cheated on her, he and Vinny had egged his house. They’d used a shipment of ostrich eggs that their Uncle Sal had received at the restaurant. Joey was almost positive they had not been ostrich eggs, even though Uncle Sal steadfastly claimed they were. First of all, they were quite small. And secondly, he’d received them from a man named Bob Dremlin for bailing him out of a ponzi scheme. They came form Argentina and they smelled like sulphur and vomit, like eggs that had already been ingested and then regurgitated.

Jacklyn ended up getting really into roller derby. By the end of the night, she was shouting helpful tips at the players from her seat. Joey was sure none of it was useful, given that they still didn’t understand how the game worked. Regardless, Jacklyn shouted advice like she was a weathered pro. He walked her back to her apartment, kissed her good-night, and told her he would call her later. Then he walked across the hall to Finch’s apartment so that he could play with Eartha Kitten and bug Finch.

“My date went well,” he told Finch because Finch didn’t ask. Finch grunted in response. He was sitting on the living room couch with Eartha Kitten in his lap. Joey had taken a seat beside him, much closer than was strictly necessary. He flattened Eartha’s ears to her head and made car sounds, as if she was going somewhere really fast, until she lashed out and swatted him around the hand. He laughed madly, throwing his head back. Finch stared at him for a while.

“You’re a weird dude,” he said eventually.

“Thanks, babe,” Joey returned, patting him on the cheek.

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