Dermot Stripe

Some Girls

It was a chance encounter outside Scribbles that knocked me. I can remember getting up at eight and looking forward to my day. I had a slight hangover but not enough to stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. I remember after breakfast; grabbing my coat from the back of the bedroom door, all very normal, putting it on and wrapping a scarf around my neck before I left the house. There was no need for the scarf. It was warm for March, but it is a habit I have. Going out wearing a scarf. I made my way over to Scribbles, again all very normal, until I bumped into Dave Byrne. That’s when the day began to go downhill. 

He asked me what I was up to. When I said I was up to nothing he then started to tell me about Kim. How she had gotten married and had a kid. I was careful not to give anything away but when Dave told me the news that she had a kid. I’ll be honest it upset me and I think that was his intention. He knew what had happened. As Dave was talking about the christening and the party afterwards I could feel my body slowly falling back against the school railings that the kids lock their bikes to. I could also feel the scarf tightening around my neck. It was irritating my skin but for some reason I didn’t loosen it. I just continued leaning against the railings; slipping down a bit, staring at Dave, hoping my legs would keep me up. Although Dave kept talking to me, I wasn’t really listening to him. My mind had started to tumble back to the last time I had spoken to Kim. We were in my car, in the Phoenix Park, and I was stripping her or at least trying to. She told me that she was beginning to feel guilty about what we were doing. How she was sleeping with me behind her best friend’s back. I suppose it was tough on her. Knowing that she was betraying her best friend, but I never much went for the betraying part myself. It didn’t really bother me what we were doing on my girlfriend. I was enjoying what was happening.

I raised my back a little from the railings. I could hear Dave telling me about how happy Kim was now. I quickly figured out that she had married the same guy she was living with when the two of us were sleeping together. I could get over the fact she was married. Marriage doesn’t mean anything but a kid? A kid really changes everything. It meant Kim was focused on someone else now. Strange as it may sound I liked to think that she thought about me in some way. That she couldn’t let me go. After a while and with Dave telling me that he had plans to go to Spain for his holidays. We said our goodbyes and I went into Scribbles and bought the papers.

I usually look at the headlines and read them a little as I’m walking back down Millmount but I wasn’t in the mood. I could see the sun trying to rise above the red brick houses on the avenue and all I wanted was for it to scorch me in some way. If it scorched me it would burn me and if it burnt me I’d have something else to worry about. Rather than thinking about Kim. I just didn’t want to think about her and how happy she was.

By the time I got home I was still upset. It began to annoy me that she still had a grip over me after two years. There’s nothing worse than a woman dictating how you feel. It’s power for them. I imagined her laughing at me with her little voodoo doll, putting needles into my body and heart. Getting back at me for what I had done. I know it’s a slight exaggeration, a voodoo doll, but it’s difficult to describe how you feel after a woman gets the better of you. Even when I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the papers I couldn’t get her or her kid out of my mind. My mind kept racing back to the times I spent with her. I even tried to finish off the apple pie my mother had baked that Friday. Anything to comfort me. When that didn’t work I went up to my bedroom, lay on the bed and made another attempt at reading Raymond Carver’s Night School. I had started it earlier in the week but never got around to finishing it.

That proved to be pointless too. I was still thinking about Kim and getting even more annoyed with myself for thinking about her. In a final effort to get her out of my head I took the dog for a walk in Griffith Park, but it was useless. All I managed to do in the park was sit on a bench and stare at the O’Connell tower in Glasnevin Cemetery. Even the dog walked away from me when he realised that I wasn’t going to throw the ball for him. It was while I was sitting on the bench that I remembered how Kim and I had first hooked up. I had told her that I fancied her. If the truth be told I fancied a lot of my girlfriend’s friends, but Kim seemed the one most likely to sleep with me and say nothing. It also helped that she had money or at least her father had money. That attracted me to her too. If things had of panned out the way I had wanted and we had taken things a step further at least she could look after me.

It was after the Phoenix Park that things began to get worse for me. I was annoyed that Kim wouldn’t have sex with me anymore and rather than push her further or try persuade her to continue I got it into my head to tell my girlfriend not only what I had done but more importantly to tell her what her best friend had done. It was a simple idea. I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt Kim just like she was hurting me by ending our relationship. As far as I was concerned things had been running smoothly for three months. There was no need to stop doing what we were doing. I had plans after all and they were falling apart. Looking back I can see that I didn’t give the matter the proper attention it needed. I was hasty. If I had tried a different approach, given it time, I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

As far as I know, Kim and my ex haven’t spoken to each other since it all came out. But I couldn’t be sure. It also split their circle of friends. Some blamed Kim and some blamed me for preying on someone who was weak at the time. I’m not sure where they got the weak from? She never came across as weak to me. She wanted fun, I wanted fun, so we had fun. As for her boyfriend or should I say her husband, I haven’t seen him in a year. The last time I saw him he was driving down Home Farm Road. Apart from staring at me, he didn’t do anything else. I doubt he will do anything now but you can’t be too sure. There’s one thing knowing your girlfriend or wife cheated on you, but it’s another thing knowing that other people know too. It’s not good for your ego when other people know you can’t control your woman. People are like that. They like to look into other people’s relationships, make some type of comment, when they really should be looking at their own lives and relationships.

Even though I was leaving my ex I let her think she was throwing me out of the apartment. Might as well let her feel good about something. I moved back into my mother’s on what was supposed to be a temporary basis. Until I found a place of my own, but unfortunately two months after moving back I lost my job and have been stuck there ever since. No job and no woman. I rarely think of my ex. If anything she was a convenience. A stop gap measure before I found something better. Though there was some longevity to the relationship.

I’ve had other girlfriends in the last two years, two in fact. First there was Cathy, she was a laugh. Then there was Tina. She had a great body, not too bright, but a great body. It was Cathy who told me I hadn’t moved on from the past. I knew she was right but I didn’t like admitting it to myself. As for Tina, she left me too. Found another guy. Someone with a job and his own apartment. I miss her, she really did have a great body.

  Dermot Stripe  

Dermot Stripe lives in Dublin, Ireland. He has been writing flash fiction and short stories for over ten years. He likes to write about everyday people who may or may not realize they face challenges. He also has a dog called Penny.