Blood Sports by Eden Robinson - Excerpt
Blood Sports

a novel by Eden Robinson


THE THIRD FLOOR had ten rooms on each side of the hallway. The doors were shut, the hallway filled with the tinny echo of classic rock from a slightly out of tune radio station. Willy’s room was the first door to the left, distinctive because he’d spray-painted eyes on his door and the surrounding walls. One of his less lucid states, he’d explained, when Tom asked about the eyes that stared, shocked wide and dull.

Tom passed Willy’s room. He walked to the end of the hallway. The communal bath was in the room on the left side, and the toilet was separate, on the right. The window was boarded up to prevent frequent flyers. He flicked the switch. A bulb in a cage lit a room overwhelmed by the rusting, clawed bathtub. Tom turned and shut the door, locked it behind him. As an extra precaution, he took three plastic wedges from his courier bag and jammed them under the door.

He unrolled a threadbare towel in the yellowed tub. In the towel, he’d stashed a utility knife, a roll of joint tape, a small can of antiquing wash, a sponge brush, a paint scraper and a mini-tub of putty. He held the knife in one hand. Stepping up, he balanced himself by straddling the wide rims of the tub. Under the dim light, the walls were the colour of old piss. He ran his fingertips along the wall until he felt a raspy line. He brought the knife up and sank it in, cutting a square. He eased the piece down, leaning it against the tub’s wall. A fat hook gleamed from one of the wooden struts. He pulled on the thin, silver chain attached to the hook until he brought up a black metal briefcase. He shook off the roaches, sat on the edge of the tub, resting the briefcase in his lap. He spun the combination locks until the snaps cracked open. The bottom of the case was filled with money and three kilos of coke.

He dropped the bundles of money into the open courier’s bag at his feet. He snapped the case shut, spinning the combinations. After placing the briefcase back, he slowly brought the square of wall up and taped it. He ran putty over the seams.

While he waited for the putty to dry, he took out a well-worn, phonebook-length copy of What to Expect from the Toddler Years. He picked up a wad of bills and took them out of their Ziploc bag. He opened the book and started placing hundred dollar bills between the pages. The next wad was all fifties, another wad of twenties and then the rest of the money was hundreds again. Tom tried to think of other things while he did this.

That’s your problem, his cousin Jeremy had told him, knocking his knuckles against Tom’s forehead. You overthink things. That’s why deer get run over. They aren’t dazzled by the headlights. They’re weighing their options – should I go back, no, I should keep going, shit, is that the right thing to do? And then their time runs out and, WHAM, Bambi burgers for dinner.



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