Monday, May 9, 2011

Post Twelve: In which Katie goes out for dinner, drinks too much gin, and secrets are revealed.

“She left you a note, Katie." He held out a piece of paper; it was letterhead for the building. Thick, creamy paper embossed with The Richardson Building in elegant burgandy script. Katie opened the note, and saw a message written across it in a scrawling version of her sister's usually neat handwriting:  You were going to be fantastic.

"What's that mean?" asked Melissa.

"I don't know," said Katie, but she did. She totally did.


"And then--" Melissa had to take a breath, she was laughing so hard "--that James guy wanted me to feel the injustice of racism! Right there! Lying on the floor pretending I was a star fish. What?"

"We know, Melissa. We were all there," Katie said, rolling her eyes. They were out at a little restaurant, tucked away down a side street that tourists didn't know about. It was called Aunt Agnes', (it was actulaly Katie's Aunt Angela who'd introduced them to it. "It's like it belongs to me!" she'd laughed, and Katie and Anne had given up trying to convince her that Angela and Agnes were two completely different names), and only had about five little tables. The food was good, inexpensive, and featured little tasting plates so they could order a bunch of stuff to share. You could get things like baked macaroni and cheese tarts, tiny meatballs, and toasted asparagus sandwiches. The whole thing had a very 1930s feel. Even the music was vintage -- hits from long before their time were always playing on an ancient Victrola.

And, true to its early 30s feel, the alcohol was cheap and plentiful and mostly gin. And Katie was deep into the gin.

"I wasn't there," declared Nora, a friend of Melissa's from highschool. She had moved to Toronto a year before Katie had come back, and Katie always felt a bit of a rivalry with her. Katie felt she'd swooped in and taken her place while she'd been away. This rivalry always intensified when Katie drank, when she got edgy, sharp. "I was having a respectable day off," continued Nora. "Unlike the rest of you, I'm in a union. They can't make us work outside of our regular hours." Nora was a city planner. She planned roads, or something.

Nora, Melissa, Katie, Mike and Paul had gone out for supper after the dreaded improv workshop was over. They'd invited Erica, but, being the star of the day, she'd been whisked off by James and Luis to talk about upcoming auditions, much to Katie's delight. The rest of them felt they needed to relax a bit after spending the day being agreeable, open-minded, and optimistic.

"Racial injustice is a very important thing to consider in the workplace, Melissa," Mike, born in Vietnam but raised in Orillia, shook his finger at Melissa. "You and I both know how difficult it can be to get ahead at work."

"I didn't think you had any trouble getting head at work," Katie mumbled into her Gin Fizz, and the whole table laughed, Paul blushing a deep pink. It was probably inappropriate to talk this way with people she supervised, but at this point Katie couldn't care less about her position of authority. She had no right to be held in any higher esteem than any of these people. She was a joke herself.

The note from her sister was in her pocket. She hadn't dared look at it again. She hadn't even talked to Melissa about it. They'd ridden up the elevator in silence, the note balled up in her hand. They walked into the office, and found the group partnered up, one of them blindfolded, the other leading their partner around the room. Katie allowed herself to be blindfolded. She was grateful for the dark.

But now she was out, in the light, with her friends. They were laughing about nothing and everything and it kept everything at a distance, the whole thing at bay. She took the last sip of her drink, and ordered another one.

"Are you sure you don't want a water?" Melissa spoke quietly into Katie's ear. Katie pretended not to hear her and popped a cheese tart into her mouth.  But when the next drink arrived Katie didn't touch it. She sat it in front of her, like a security blanket. Like a gun in the bedside table. Like a tax-free savings account. Like freezing your eggs. Like --

"So Katie," Nora looked over at her. "What ever happened to that art show you had been planning? When was that? About a year ago, wasn’t it?"

Katie looked at her, shocked, and a loud scraaaatch -- a needled being wrenched off a record-player-- echoed through the room. The whole room fell into a dramatic silence.

"Sorry! Sorry!" a young waitress called out. "No need to panic. I just brushed against the Victrola." She put the needle back on the record and Al Jolson started up again, but the damage was done. The scene had taken on a very John Hughesey kind of feel. They were in the school cafeteria and everyone was watching.

"Um, what?" Katie smiled up at Nora warily, wishing partly that she'd skipped her last drink, wishing partly she could drink the next one fast.

"That art show! It sounded so good. What was it -- painting and sculpture, or something? You had a gallery all set up. And then...what? I never heard." She cocked her short, red-haired head and smiled. Katie couldn't tell if this was genuine or if she were being mean-girled. She hoped Melissa would step in with the answer.

"Oh, you know." Katie rolled her eyes. "Whatever." Melissa was taking her sweet damn time.

"You had an art show?" Paul sounded incredulous. "I didn't know you were an artist."

"You didn't?" Katie was surprised. Everyone knew this about her. Didn't they? She thought it was obvious. She was often late for things, she never had the right notes for meetings. She read Adbusters on her lunch break, and she once came to work in mismatched shoes. She'd always thought people reassured themselves with, "Oh, but she's an artist", and indulged her eccentricities. But maybe they actually just thought she was disorganized and off-beat for no good reason?

"No, I just thought you did graphic design 'cause you were ... I don't know. Like the rest of us? I mean, we make art, but I wouldn’t call us artists.” He glanced at Mike. "No offence, babe?” (The trips to the photocopier would no longer be secrets on Monday.)

Mike shook his head. "None taken. That's cool, Katie. Tell us about the show!"

"There never was a show." Katie shrugged. She felt Melissa squeeze her hand under the table. “Whatever. It just didn’t pan out.” She tried to be nonchalant about it. “Life happened.” Heartbreak happened. Anne happened. Excuses. The art just dried up. “You were going to be fantastic” pressing heavy in her pocket. Oh, Annie. Weren’t we all?

Time to decide!

Katie’s friends decide to organize an art show of Katie’s work at a new gallery opening in the Distillery district
Katie’s friends figure out a way to get Katie’s designs into the hands of a major client.


  1. Katie's friends decide to organize an art show... but just because they decide to, doesn't mean they are actually successful in doing it.

  2. Art show. Seems improbable that her design 'friends' would give her a leg up in thier own world (Except to set her up to fail). Art show/good and non threatening.

  3. art show...maybe she'll meet you-know-who.

  4. Oh yes, Nancy, "you know who" at the art show! Favrulous!

  5. I vote art show.

  6. No. . . I just caught up. I like option two better. Jesse