Week Two RoundupPosted: June 2, 2010
Wednesday’s class was really good. It began last week at The Creative Oasis on Beaver Avenue. It’s an art studio with a gallery in the front. They sell a lot of great items–decorative bowls, mugs, vases, and such. Stan instructed us to pick an item from the gallery and write about it. First we had to write a literal description of the object. Next, we had to write metaphorical description. Then finally, we wrote a combination of the two. It was a good way to get us to write creatively, which I’m not in the habit of doing. Most of my writing is literal.
We moved on to Panera for our critique session. Each of us read an excerpt from our stories. The assignment we had was to write one scene that contains conflict and a resolution. The stories everyone read impressed me. They had real plots and characters. I appreciated the feedback I received back from everyone regarding my story. I’ll use it to improved what I have. Below is an excerpt from a work in progress, tentatively titled “Katie.”
By Greg Halpin
She showed up at the café shortly before closing time. It had been a while since he saw her.
“Hey stranger,” she said.
“Hello, there,” he said.
“I have to talk to you, Hank.” He hated when conversations started like that. It usually meant trouble. This one probably wasn’t going to be any different.
“This is awkward . . . I’ll cut to the chase, as you like to say. I’m pregnant.”
How he worried about hearing the words “I’m pregnant.” He would be screwed, his life ruined, over if his girlfriend Laura had said that. When Laura went off the pill without telling him for a few weeks, Hank was convinced she was trying to trap him. But this wasn’t Laura.
“You’re a lesbian, Katie,” he said and laughed. “I don’t think your girlfriend Megan has what it takes.” He laughed some more. She didn’t.
“Seriously high is what you are if you think I’m giving you money to buy a forty up the street.”
“I’m not high. I’m not here for a buck for beer.”
“Come on, don’t waste your time or mine. I’m not giving you anymore money. Last time you needed bus fare. Before that you needed gas money–this was after you already wrecked your car–and before that it was to hitch a ride on the Hale-Bopp comet or some shit like that. You need to get cleaned up, Katie. Go back to AA.
“Hank, I’m pregnant. I’m really fucking pregnant,” she screamed.
Thank God there were no customers, Hank thought. He would have had to escort Katie out of the cafe again. He hated doing that to her even when she left him no choice.
“How is that possible? You’re a lesbian,” Hank said.
“I’m a lesbian with a drug problem. I’ve been doing coke and heroin, having sex with anyone who would give me drugs.”
The news shocked him. Hank knew Katie drank and smoked weed when she worked for him. He had no idea she used hard drugs.
“Oh, my God, Katie. How could you do that to yourself.”
“I know. I feel so fucking disgusting but I couldn’t stop. I was strung out so bad sometimes I did what ever I had to to get a fix.” Tears streamed down her face.
Hank couldn’t help to feel for her. He hated to see women cry.
“What are you going to do?”
“That’s why I’m here. I need your help. I really really really need your help. I haven’t told anyone yet, just you. I have to get an abortion. But I don’t have the money.”
Hank didn’t say anything for a few moments. His mind raced, trying to process this information. He thought of Laura for a second. Was Katie a harbinger of things to come? Doesn’t bad news come in threes. Hank’s friend Ed knocked up his girlfriend Sarah. Now Katie. What if Laura is pregnant, too? That was his biggest fear while they were together–her trapping him by getting pregnant. Was she trying to trap him? Maybe not consciously; unconsciously, very possibly.
“What do you want me to do?” Hank finally said.
“Give me the money for the abortion.”
“I’m not giving you any money, Katie. You’ll blow it on drugs.”
“You can drive me there. I need a ride, too. You pay when we get there. You won’t have to give me any money.”
“You want me to drive you to . . . to an abortion clinic,” he said, lowering his voice to a whisper on the last two words though there was no one else around. “Sorry. You came to the wrong person.”
“You said you were pro-choice that time we talked about that Supreme Court guy.”
“Well . . yeah, theoretically, I’m pro-choice,” Hank said, stammering. “I’m all for women making whatever choices they want. But I don’t want anything to do with it.”
“You have to drive me. I’ve got no other way to get to Binghamton.”
“Binghamton! What about Megan or your family. Ask them.”
“Megan kicked me out months ago. She’s not talking to me anymore. I can’t ask anyone in my family. Even if I could, they’d say no. You know how religious they are.”
“What do you have to go to Binghamton for? Can’t you get the day after pill at Planned Parenthood?
“No, I can’t take that pill. I waited too long. Binghamton’s the closet place they do abortions. I have to go this week or it will be too late to get one. I have an appointment on Friday. Can you please take me? Please please please, Hank. I’ll do anything you say. I’ll go back to AA, clean up, get a job. But you have to do this for me. I can’t have a baby. I just can’t. I’ve put so much coke up my nose and heroin into my veins. The baby would be all fucked up. I was going to kill myself last night by ODing but I worried I’d fuck that up to and I’d end up in the hospital and mother would find out. You’re the only one who can help me.”
“Get the money from the fucking father, Katie.”
“I don’t know who it is. It could ten guys.”
“Ask them all for money.”
“They’re junkies. They don’t have any. They’re more fucked up than I am.”
“You’re the only one I know who has money.”
“Katie, you can have the baby and give it up for adoption. You could go to rehab and . . .”
“I told you the baby would be all fucked up from the drugs. I don’t have money for an abortion. How could I pay the hospital to have a kid?”
“There are services available, families who will pay for the hospital and other expenses.”
“I’m not doing that. I know those religious freaks. My mom’s one of them.”
“You sure you thought this through?” Hank sighed.
“Yeah, I thought it through. I knew for a while I’m pregnant. I went to Planned Parenthood a week ago and got a pregnancy test. I wanted to get an abortion then but they don’t do them there. I don’t want to think about this anymore. I want to get it over with and forget about it.”
Hank looked at Katie for a moment. How did this sweet kid end up on drugs and pregnant? Two years ago when she first started working for him, Katie was an idealistic, hippie wannabe. She carried her guitar around with her where she went. Katie wanted to go to college for music and art. She was young and attractive. Now her hair was tangled up and matted in spots now. Her eyes were red , her face scratched and sunken in. She looked like she aged ten years.
Hank didn’t want to get involved with Katie’s problem. He was tired of other people’s problems. He had his own. Hank was furious with her. He wanted to tell her she was a fuckup but that wouldn’t help matters. He wished she’d go away. Of course, if she did that, Hank feared Katie might kill herself. He had to help her. Everyone needs help now and then. Hank was no different.
“I’ll drive you there and pay for it. But after that you have to get yourself cleaned up and you’re paying me back.”
“I will. I promise.”
“One more thing,” Hank said. “You stink and look terrible. Take a shower and wear clean clothes Friday morning.”
“I’ve been living in an abandoned house. There’s no water.”
“You can shower at my place. I’ll get some clothes for you.”
“When was the last time you ate, Katie.”
“I don’t remember.”
“Sit down. I’ll make you a sandwich.”