Half-heard, chapter 4

A weekly serial novel.

Welnot didn't believe at all that Trevor Bognetti was capable of rubbing one out into the kitchen sink, but it was not like Bong-yetti was really much of a paragon of virtue or anything like that.

Though an unassuming, pathological people-pleaser who would give a pint of his type O to anyone who asked, he also dealt pills and got into trouble here and there for it. Trevor's supply of pharmaceutical narcotics and weed was sold to a roster of clients that was 95 percent central Canadian 20-somethings, Wu- Tang t-shirt and five-toe rubber-shoe-wearing boys and girls churned out of Yonge and Eglinton ("Young and Eligible") who openly disliked prayer, loved meditation and spat the I'm Not Religious, But I'm Spiritual kind of spiels, who loved Fight Club and reggae fusion. He doled out his product the standard little bags. They were 1.5"x 1.5" 60 micron coextruded plastic coin baggies purchased in bulk from this totally-blitzed couple at the craft supplies store on Barrington, near the newly developed Roy parkade and one of the city's newest Crossfit gyms, holed up in the windowless and moisture-laden 1581 Barrington, rivalled only by the more artful and solitary workout spot at 5521 Cornwallis (Khyber Kinetics), where one could tip over tires and haul farm equipment and plyo boxes to their heart's content to the sounds of a local artist's field recordings—mottled, far-off audio of a dozen gym members grunting and groaning and herniating discs over deadlifts while somewhere, elsewhere, deep in the PA speakers, local tribute band Kinds of Leon serenades the anonymous hammer-haulers into deep profusive sweats. 

He sold drugs to make friends, you might think, and it never really worked out as well as he wanted, which was kind of heartbreaking to see. It provided him many names to drop with a humble braggart's nonchalance if he needed to enhance his profile to girls at parties though. Around the right crowd, he loved the swagger that being a dealer provided him, which is totally a detriment to anyone looking for a tenured position in the illegal drug trade, but whatever. The rest of time, you could see he just felt befouled by his sock drawers of pills; hearing his parents' voices in his ears about maybe trying to get more hours at universities' A/V or not running to Korça for a slice in wool socks sans shoes. His fear of looking like a drug-dessiminating dirtbag to the strangers at the craft supplies store and having their eyes lowered at him as he purchased baggies was tantamount only to his fear of not being able to be there for his North Toronto Collegiate Institute-bred customers in whatever way they needed.

He wanted to purchase these particular bags because of their good-standing in the intensely researched and excruciatingly dull-as-dishwater world of coin collecting, he told them. Bognetti here went great lengths to make the couple working at the front counter of their brick-and-mortar shop believe he was a righteous connoisseur of the coin—like, a real man of the mint. His coins were his babies, he told the pair, all the while dropping his purportedly collectable quarters he got from a change machine at the laundromat into the bags. He regaled them in the multi-layered process of keeping your most loved coins corrosion- and toning-free; how attics or basements are a big no-no for coinage, and how even plastic bags of this sort were no-nos for long-term storage.

"Any rookie numismatist could tell you that for free," he told them with a shrug. He told them coins were like humans, a statement he absentmindedly let hang while he dropped some nickels and pennies into the bags as the ossified and high couple stood there looking over at him blankly through their reddened eyes and faces that looked so worn and exhausted they were drooping off the cheekbones like burnt-wick wax, waiting for further elaboration like their lives depended on it. Coins, he told them, are like people because they prefer the same moderate temperatures we do and do not respond well to humidity and damp spaces, hence the no-no about attics and basements. These coins right here, he told them, were his children. He asked the couple—each leaning into their hands that braced the counter with gaping maws and lifeless eyes—if they would put their most special baby in an attic. 

His fervent need to share though mooted his entire ruse, and 10 minutes into his coin yarn, the ne'er-do-well and the sluggardly storeowners slash collectors of the most exotic strands of the golden leaf were outside by the dumpsters smoking some of Bong-netti's most recently acquired BC Whiplash while the city's roads grinded rows and rows of lunch-rush automobiles together like they were its own teeth.

The new chapter of Half-heard is published in The Coast—newspaper version—every Thursday. One week later it is published here online. So it's easy to catch up online, but best to stay ahead in print.

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