“What about the decriminalization of drugs?”
“On the back burner for now.”
“I thought that was the reason you got into politics?”
Marty spoke into his glass. “There are other more pressing issues. The economy, jobs”
“That didn’t take long.” Freyja stood up.
“For you to start sounding like a fucking politician.”
“When did this or any issue for that matter become important you?”
“What about the war in Afghanistan? Your dead buddies? The murdered reporter? The corruption?”
“Of course I’m still concerned, but they’re federal, not provincial issues.”
Freyja folded her arms and looked at the man she thought she could love. He was morphing right in front of her eyes. A moral shapeshifter. “You’re not just an East Ender, or a Vancouverite, or a British Columbian, Marty, you’re also a Canadian, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I’m Canadian, Free, and yes I still want to do what I can to end the corruption, misery, and suffering associated with illegal drugs. But I’m one person. I do what I can. Besides, like I said, it’s a federal issue, not a provincial one.”
“What’s with the fucking bureaucratize, Marty?” Freyja found it hard to breath. This wasn’t happening. Not Marty, not now.
Marty put down his glass. His face was red. “What about you, Free? You’re a Canadian. What contribution are you making? Did you vote in this election? Have you ever voted?”
“No, I didn’t vote and no, I’ve never voted. My contribution to this country is fuck all. I can barely look after myself. Hell, I still owe the government ten grand. But I never aspired to anything. I didn’t promise anything. I don’t have anything to prove.”
“Free, politics is the art of the possible. You have to–”
“Don’t do this, Marty.” Her words hurt in her throat. She shouldn’t have to be saying this, explaining this.
“If you really want to make a difference don’t accept this.”
Freyja put her hand on his mouth. His upper lip was full and soft, his chin roughed from a needed shave. She was afraid. Afraid to hear his excuses, his rationalizations, his sell-out. “Once you accept this it’s over, you’re over.”
Marty took her hand, kissed the palm and rubbed it against his cheek. “Without power, Free, you can’t bring change.”
“But you campaigned for change not power.”
“You don’t understand.”
“I understand, Marty.” Freyja withdrew her hand. The guilt that motivated her friend was fading as his future became clear. Like adjusting the aperture on a camera’s lens, images in the foreground came into sharp focus while the background blurred, became fuzzy.
“Things change.” Marty’s eyes asked for understanding, empathy, mercy.
Freyja had none. “Things don’t change, Marty, but people do.”
“You’re too hard, Free, on yourself and everyone around you.” Marty ran a hand through his sixty dollar restyle. “Believe it or not, there are other points of view, there’s a world beyond your own perspective. Your uncompromising attitude alienates people, puts them on the defensive. It hurts your chances, Free.”
“For success, for happiness.” Marty dared to look at her again. “For love. You’ll always be on the outside looking in.”
Freyja turned and left the room. In the upstairs closet she found his coat. Not the beat-up leather bomber but a wool and cashmere blend overcoat, similar to the one Nathaniel Leach wore the last time she’d seen him alive. She pressed it to her face and inhaled, sighed, and took it with her back down stairs.
Marty seemed surprised when she returned and handed it to him.
“Tomorrow is going to come early,” Freyja said.
Marty shrugged into the coat. “For both of us.”
Freyja followed him down the hall. Marty opened the door and pointed the security remote at his new Ford Explorer parked at the curb. The vehicle flashed and chirped in response.
New hair, new coat, new car, new job, new Marty. New, but sadly, not improved.
“Maybe that’s where I belong,” Freyja said.
Marty turned back to her. “And where would that be, Free?”
“Like you said, on the outside looking in.”
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