About Us

Contact Us


2001 Archives

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
World Travel
September Issue
October Issue
November Issue
December Issue
Feb 02 Issue
April 02 Issue
May 02 Issue
June02 Issue
July02 Issue
August 02 Issue
September 02

The Graphic Designer
Harry Dade
She smoked the same way you did; incessantly,

You met her on the Fourth of July. She was a graphic designer. You weren’t really sure what a graphic designer was. It seemed like she wasn’t too sure either.
You had noticed her as you made your way through the crowd that was gathered to watch the fireworks out at Wilton Steele Park. It was strange, but you had lived in that little town in Upstate, New York for as long as you could remember and you didn’t have even an inkling who this Wilton Steele guy was that they had named the park after. Was he a war hero? Or maybe just somebody who donated the land?
For all you knew, he could’ve been a graphic designer also.

You were coming from the bar that night. Celebrating Independence Day. You were always coming from the bar in those days. You were on foot. You only lived a few blocks away and you could’ve probably had almost as good a view of the fireworks from your front porch. You saw the first fireworks shoot up into the night sky and you wandered into the park to see what you could see.
And you ended up seeing her.

You saw that she was young, early twenties, had nice firm tits and an equally firm ass.You made some silly small talk and she started small talking you back, Before you knew it she invited you to come on over by the lake where she was sitting with her younger cousin and watch the rest of the fireworks with them. They had a blanket set up she said.
Her cousin was fourteen years old. Her name was Jen also. You thought that was weird, both of the cousins having the same name.

The older Jen was a cigarette smoker. Marlboros. The choice of cowboys- and graphic designers from Queens. She smoked the same way you did; incessantly, taking unnaturally deep drags. That should’ve told you something, shouldn’t it?
As she smoked, she told you a bit about herself. Not as much as you were going to learn later, but a little bit. You learned that she was from Queens, Middle Village to be exact, and she was upstate visiting her relatives for the holiday. And you learned that part about her being a graphic designer.
When the fireworks were over you had traded phone numbers like kids trading bubblegum cards.

You saw a lot of her that summer. She'd come up on weekends and you’d go out doing summer things. Hiking, going to concerts, barbecues and so on. Sometimes you’d just drive, other times you’d just park. Either way was okay with you. She seemed good for you. When you knew she was coming up you’d watch your drinking tapering it down considerably. Not drinking at all for the most part when she was around and when you did it was only really one or two beers - and what was wrong with that on a hot summer day?
And she could really talk, couldn’t she? Always going on about things. All the words came out in a big rush. Sometimes it seemed to you that it was all one big sentence. She said it was the medication that did it. Bipolar, she said. The word made you think of big white bears and Klondike Bars. She lived at home with her mother. She treated her like a child, she said. That was because she got so sick and bugged out one time before her bipolar was diagnosed that she stopped eating and stayed up for days. Oh and boy did she drink too. Passed out on New Years and never even seen the ball drop. Got so bad from the bipolar that she ended up in the nuthouse. The "Flight Deck," she called it. Now she was on medication, she said. The medication was okay, but she couldn’t drink anymore because of it.

She told you other things about herself.
Her parents were divorced. She had a Chihuahua named Fidel and a therapist named Olga. Her father was an architect. People used to say they were one of those couples who would always stay together, no matter what. Her father was an alcoholic. That’s why her parents got divorced.
She asked you once when you first started going out with her if maybe you thought you might have some kind of problem with drink also. You lied to her and told her you definitely didn’t - but from then on you were careful to watch your drinking when she was up for the weekend. As soon as she would leave to go back to the city you’d be knocking down the beers as fast as you could. It was like you had a job to do and you had fallen behind schedule. Jen didn’t drink herself anymore. She had to quit because of the medication. You asked her once if maybe shed inherited a bit of her fathers alcohol problem.
"Olga says I’m not an alcoholic," Jen said. "She says I just drank too much because of the bipolar. Its a totally different thing. Like apples and oranges, she says."
The times you thought about it, it seemed to you that if Jen’s stories were true she drank more than you ever did. But you didn’t think about it all that much, really. It was summertime after all.

As the summer began to dwindle down and the days began to grow shorter, you began to notice a change in Jen. One Saturday night after you took her to the multiplex to see Forrest Gump the two of you ended up at a bar where they were having Karaoke Night.
"I don’t want to drink, I just love Karaoke," she explained.
You didn’t drink at all while you were there, because you knew if you started you’d have a lot more than one or two. So both of you sat at a table drinking cokes while you watched middle aged people do the Karaoke thing. Where you sat your back was to the bar and Jen was facing it. As you were talking you couldn’t help but notice that she was staring past you- towards the bar. You turned your chair a bit to the side so you could see exactly who she was staring at; jealous of the one she desired more than you. But she wasn’t looking at anyone at all. She was looking at the bottles of liquor behind the bar.
"C’mon, let’s go," you said.

As you drove her back to her aunt and uncles house, you let her bring the subject up on her own.
"For a moment theire just for one moment, I felt like having a drink, she said."
"It's not your fault," you told her. "The combination of Forrest Gump and Karaoke is enough to drive anybody to drink."

That following Wednesday, she called you up to tell you that you were invited to an "end of summer party" at her aunt and uncles house the following Sunday. Her father would be there she said.
"It doesn’t seem like its the end of summer already," you said.
"It never really does," she said.

That Sunday you went to the end of summer party. Chicken, steak and burgers on the grill.
Coleslaw and egg and potato salad. And beer, of course beer. But you stayed away from that. You were a good boy and drank Coca Cola. Her father hit the beer pretty heavy, but that seemed to be okay.
After he had a few he went and cornered you. Started asking you all the kinds of questions that fathers do. "Are you from around here? What kind of work do you do?" Those kinds of questions, one after the other. It was like taking a really intense oral exam. Listening to the sound of your own voice you started to get the feeling that you weren’t exactly acing the test.

You asked Jack if he wanted another beer and went over to the tub full of ice and pulled one out for him and one for you. Once you got that cold one in you your answers seemed to flow out a lot easier. Still you made an effort to pace yourself. You didn’t want Jack to think you were a drunk after all. You didn’t want things to start spinning out of control. If you had your way, you’d rather they didn’t start spinning at all.

The beer helped loosen you up though. Let you tell Jack a few funny stories and made it easier to laugh at his stories. You didn’t much like him really. He seemed too full of himself. He was the star player in every story he told. You didn’t drink as much as you usually did and you were quite taken with your new found control. Of the two of you, you seemed to hold your beer much better than Jack did.
As soon as you could you disentangled yourself from Jack and his stories. You mingled with other people and put down the beer and picked up the coca cola again.

Later, after the party had broken up, you and Jen went for a drive. Country roads were nice this time of year. You drove for a half hour or so until you ended up parking on a turnoff that overlooked the Hudson River. It was that twilight time, when the sun was just beginning to set, between light and darkness. Your lips met and then your tongues. Your hands caressed the small of her back and then softly brushed her breasts. But as suddenly as you came together, you withdrew.
"There's something I should probably tell you," she said.
"What?" you asked. More than half annoyed, hoping that she wouldn’t be too long in the telling.
"Olga thinks my bipolar might’ve come from my being, uh, abused when I was a child."
You took a deep breath and looked her right straight in the eyes.
"What do you mean by ‘abused’"
"Olga thinks it might have been sexual abuse."
"What do you mean, ‘Olga thinks?’"
"Well I don’t actually remember it or anything, but she says I’ve got all the symptoms. She says I’m a classic case."
"Maybe you don’t remember it because it never happened."
"Uh, Olga doesn’t think so, she thinks I might have repressed it."
"She does, does she?"
"Olga says that just because I don’t remember it, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. I just repressed it, you see."

Your hands slid off of hers then. Leaning back in the drivers seat, you fished a cigarette out of the pack in your breast pocket. You lit it, took a drag and exhaled. The smoke looked bluish in the twilight. You smoked and said nothing. You really didn’t know what to say anyhow.
It was she who spoke first.
"There's something else," she said. "You know the person."

You already suspected. Perhaps, you suspected back when the whole conversation began. That beginning seemed a long time away now. Still you didn’t speak. You could see she was waiting for your question, expecting it. Like shed rehearsed it and you were her straight man. Like you were doing a rendition of ‘who’s on first’" Except that this wasn’t funny. This whole revelation was pure drama, to her. You went ahead and delivered your line anyway.
"Who is it?" you asked.
"You met him today," she said.
"Your father?"
She nodded. If this was a movie she would surely have collapsed sobbing into your arms then.
But it wasn’t and she didn’t.
You looked her over good then. From what you could see she didn’t look like those women usually look in those schlocky movies. She was holding her chin up slightly higher than normal and her eyes looked more focused than usual.

You probably should have weighed in on her side, the side of Olga and whatever happened to be therapeutically trendy that year. But you didn’t. The reason you didn’t is because you had a hard time believing that terrible things could be so easily forgotten - and you told her so. You told her again that if you didn’t remember something it might damn well be because it never happened in the first place. You wanted to tell her about Occam’s Razor. That the simplest solution is usually the correct one. But you didn’t. She probably wouldn’t have known the difference between Occam’s Razor and a Lady Norelco razor anyways. And it wasn’t that you didn’t believe that incest and sexual abuse happened. You had known a couple of women who it had happened to and you believed them. For these women the problem wasn’t in the remembering, it was in the forgetting.
"Your taking his side."
"I’m not taking anyone’s side," you said, but it came out sounding apologetic.
Personally, you thought that Jack was a pompous ass. But that was beside the point, as far as you were concerned.
"Lets not fight," you said, stubbing out your cigarette in the ashtray. "Okay?"
She nodded her head and all of a sudden you noticed the absence of light all about. You started the engine, then. You turned on the headlights and drove her home, as the radio played songs you don’t remember now.

© Harry Dade

More Fiction in Dreamscapes

< Back to Index
< Reply to this Article

© Hackwriters 2002