Against All Odds
Disclaimer: I don't own iCarly
Chapter 18 (All I do, I do for you)
"Officer Carl? What on earth are you doing here?" Spencer asked as he opened the door for the man he hadn't seen in years. At least not since around the start of iCarly. The memory of that nauseating mistake they made on the billboard came to mind, it was cringe-worthy. James 'Carl' Greene moved inside, smiling pleasantly. He had a coffee cup in his right hand and was wearing a grey t-shirt with some smudges on the chest along with faded brown jeans, a definite change from the police uniform he'd seen a long time ago.
"My fiancé said I should come over here." Spencer's eyebrows rose and he pointed next door with surprise. As James walked to the couch, Spencer poked his head outside and glanced at Juanita's home. A brown Pontiac was seated at the curb in front of the place. "I went to visit and she was talking to your girlfriend, told me that you moved in next door. I was surprised, I never thought I'd see your face again." He chuckled nervously and closed the door. Would it be too much to hope that the man wasn't still sore about the whole 'pee on Carl' thing?
"It's definitely a surprise. You're not still sore about the whole sign mess, are you? Cause in the case that you are…" The man laughed and waved his hand through the air.
"Don't worry about it, besides Carl's just my middle name. You can call me James. The whole thing with the sign was just a mishap, I understand that, no real reason to hold any ill will towards your family for that. I'm surprised old Lenny managed to get anyone in this house." Spencer raised an eyebrow and watched as James sipped his coffee. "I don't want to scare you or anything, but I had to make a citizen's arrest on the people that last lived here, they had an illegal amount of marijuana, and other drugs, in this place. That's why the house looks so bad, nobody has ever wanted to move into a house like this, afraid they'd have to deal with the smell of drugs and whatnot." His heart sank and his eyes darted to the bare floors. They had used an abundant amount of cleaners to get a strange odor out, but once they removed the carpets and fragranced up the air, the smell was gone. James lifted his head and smiled. "I'm impressed to see this place turning around. Let me know if you need any help with anything, I'd be more than happy to help out."
"Yeah, I'll do that." He took a seat on the other end of the couch and tapped his foot on the floor. He wondered how helpful having a police officer next door could be. Maybe James could do something about these loan sharks that were on his tail. "Hey, can I ask you something? A legal thing…"
"Shoot. Just know I'm off duty right now, so anything you tell me, if it's something serious, I can't do anything about." James leaned back and rested his arm on top of the sofa. Spencer slowly nodded his head and took a deep breath. Of course he understood that, he'd had enough criminal justice to know all that. He even understood a thing or two about loan sharks, but was hoping his own thoughts on the subject were wrong. It was pretty much known throughout the criminal justice field that the police couldn't do anything for a loan shark, nor did loan sharks put anything in writing to prove you borrowed money from them. What this meant, clearly, was the only way to get rid of them was to pay them off in full.
"I have a friend of mine, an acquaintance, that borrowed money from one of these, uh…loan sharks…" The man's face fell and he started to cringe. This did not make him feel any better. "Having a degree in Criminal Justice, I think I already know the answer, but…how would one get these loan sharks off their tail?" James slowly shook his head and set his cup on his leg.
"Then your friend is screwed. Unless he pays them off, there's absolutely no way they'll leave him alone until they've either been paid off or your friend is dead." Fear struck him like a hurricane and the color quickly fled his body. He felt James's questioning eyes upon him and started to feel his hands trembling. James slowly sipped his coffee and closed his eyes. "More than just a friend, isn't it…"
"Spencer, are you the one involved with a loan shark?" He shook his head and turned his eyes towards the window looking out at Juanita's home. James followed his gaze and frowned, possibly catching Spencer's hint that he was referring to Sasha. "So Sasha, then? Loan sharks are deadly. I can offer protection on this street, that's about it. If anyone comes to your house, it's possible to get me over here faster than any other police officer's going to. Any idea how much is owed?"
"Over ten grand, I'm sure interest has piled up…We don't have that kind of money."
"Why do you think loan sharks prey on the poor? They're not creditors, not licensed, they're thugs. Illegal money lenders, and getting mixed up with them is probably the most costly mistake that anyone can ever make in their lives. Sasha's lucky to be here."
"Yeah…I don't know how she'd feel about me telling you that just now, because-" James lifted his hand and Spencer silenced. He was more concerned about Sasha being afraid that anyone who knew about her mix with the loan shark would just run off.
"All things considered, you can just assume I discovered it on my own."
"Yeah, thanks…she needs some friends that won't be scared off right off the bat. I think we all do." They needed strong friends, otherwise they'd all go crazy. His fear was life getting worse and worse. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the couch. "God I need to find a job, and here I am renovating this house." James lifted an eyebrow and looked around the living room. No carpet, bare walls, dust everywhere.
"You have a lot of work to do."
"My friend Socko, and Lenny, are helping out."
"Good. Tell you what. You should start putting applications out, while you're job searching, I'll help Socko and Lenny. Sound like a plan?"
"Hey, you need to do what you can for Sasha and Blake." Spencer opened his eyes and smiled slightly as he met James's eyes. "I saw that son of yours in your lady's arms, you don't know how lucky you are. You need to do everything you can to take care of them, same for your little sister. What you should be doing right now is looking for a job."
"I don't even have a car."
"Take the bus."
"Will come once you get the job. Still concerned? Walk." The words chilled him to the bone, but he couldn't deny the truth that lay within them. Things were so bad that he was just coming up with excuses and negativity. This had to stop. "All the money you do have right now will dry up soon enough if you can't find work. Not only that, if you're dealing with these loan sharks, it makes matters worse."
"They don't know where we are right now." That may put them at an advantage, but in reality it was only a matter of time before the thugs found them. Then what? Having James next door would help, but for how long? He was scared, scared for the safety of his family. He really didn't want to lose them. "I'll do anything to keep my family protected. To keep them safe…"
"Good, that's the way it should be. It'll be hard to find a job in this economy, so it's best that you get started as soon as possible."
"Let me just say it's been years since I've looked for a job…" James clicked his tongue and Spencer shifted in his seat. He was embarrassed to admit to that, but it was the truth. He'd been relying on his artwork for too much. There was more truth to the fact that he never looked for a job in his life except for the one time he wound up working as a dental assistant. It was a shitty job, the best he could find, and something he never wanted to do in his life. "So what do I do?"
"Well." James whistled once and slowly stood up. "I'll tell you what you're going to do. You're going to get in your best dress shirt, tie, slacks, and you're going to go out and start applying for jobs. Don't leave your woman hanging in the wind, you want to prove yourself to her, right?"
"More than ever…"
"Get started now. And by now, I mean right now."
"But Socko and Lenny-"
"I'll join them, they're not your primary concern." Already it seemed the neighbor was getting into his police officer mode. He chuckled and stood up. He was mildly intimidated, but at the same time, inspired to go out and start his hunt now. James was right, Sasha was the primary concern here. "Tell me you have a nice shirt and tie…"
"I do, I do, no worries."
"Go get dressed, I'll talk to your friends."
"All right." He rushed into his bedroom and ran for his good clothes, his family first on his mind. He knew he didn't have the money for a bus right now, but that was fine, he could simply walk. Unless of course, Socko let him use his car, he'd have to ask. After all, Socko let him drive Carly to work and back. It was a temporary luxury, as once the house was done being worked on, Socko wasn't going to be hanging around as often. It was best to utilize what resources he had while he still had them.
Soon after he was dressed and groomed, he was standing in front of Socko's car with Sasha, Blake and Juanita. Sasha was eyeing him with immense pride. She reached up and kissed his cheek. "I'm glad you're going out to look for a job now, rather than later."
"We only have so much money, I want to be able to take care of you." He hugged her waist and looked down at Blake, who was in between them. Blake threw his arms up and wrapped his tiny limbs around Spencer's husky chest. Spencer smiled with pride and rubbed Blake's head. "Hey little guy, want to wish Papa luck in his job search?"
"That's right, I'm going to look for a job to take care of you, mommy and aunt Carly."
"Yay!" He lifted Blake and hugged his son close. Sasha grinned and rested her hand onto Blake's back. Blake moved his arms around Spencer's shoulders and laughed. Spencer grinned happily and gazed at his son with admiration and love. Having a son, it gave his life meaning. Sasha, Blake, Carly, these were the reasons he wanted to make things better. Blake probably didn't understand it yet, but one day he would. Everything Spencer did, he would do for them. He met Sasha's loving gaze and leaned forward, kissing her lips, not caring if she wound up slapping him or not. Although, much to his satisfaction, she actually was coming around and not smacking him for every kiss or romantic hug he gave her.
"I recorded iCarly for you."
"You did? Thank you! I was worried I wouldn't be able to see it…"
"Yeah, you and Juanita are getting along well?"
"Yeah, I think I might have made a good friend for once." She smiled happily as Juanita hugged her. Spencer had nothing but pride in his heart, he was amazed that she was making friends now. He looked into her eyes as Blake reached for her, she took him and cuddled him close. Spencer reached up and caressed her face, holding onto her gaze.
"I'm glad you're starting to be happier, you deserve every bit of happiness in your life. You, Blake, Carly…you all deserve to be happy. I love you, and there's nothing in this world that I would trade you for." He watched as her cheeks turned a shade of red. He knew how much it meant for her to hear that, and he wanted to remind her of it every day. "Wish me luck."
"Good luck, Spencer…I love you." She kissed his lips and smiled at him. "You better get going, there's a lot of places out there."
"I'll find something. How hard can it be."
"Pretty hard, but I have faith in you…" His heart swelled and he opened the door. She said it, those words that he loved hearing. Just knowing she trusted him, had faith in him, it was enough to drive him into a state of euphoria. He felt such triumph, such victory in knowing how much she loved him.
"That's all I ask." He entered in his car and shut the door, watching as Sasha and Blake waved him off. He had the utmost confidence that he'd find work, no matter how long it took, he'd find a job somewhere. Though it did piss him off that the economy had to be as messed up as it was, now, in his lifetime. He took a deep breath and started driving off, gazing wistfully in the rearview mirror as Sasha and Blake's form faded into the distance.
Well the job search has begun, hopefully he'll find something.