This had been Jim’s third girlfriend to my knowledge – Patricia, or Pat, or Patt as she would be discussed. I was surprised it wasn’t Patti. (A Belgian. When she spoke English she sounded Canadian. I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask whether she spoke Dutch, French or German. I think it must have been French, or German, and I wouldn’t even discount Dutch altogether either.) She was a beautiful barn creature with long chestnut hair, big buck teeth that were becoming and non-invasive, and the kind of freckles that go along with being radiant.
I was under the impression she’d lived off of Kellogg’s Cheerios since she’d arrived. She said she liked my sense of humour when I mentioned something about a novella instead of a novel. She was a bit older I think; and could organise picnics, and felt comfortable talking about such earth-giving things as tulips. It was a revelation to me how people, through this process of doing and trialing, made visible steps toward progress in their lives – one girlfriend was an improvement upon the previous, and so forth. Jim looked like he was really getting it together when he bought that Sylvia Plath book. I don’t recall whether he started using the words ‘pithy’ and ‘antiseptic’ before or after Patt.
Sometimes we’d go out to dance to Drum and Bass music. It was always Drum and Bass. She’d get hold of a flyer, and afterwards it would be “We’ll do this again?” I was content with more Maasai dancing and Running Man. I’d get soaked through wet and ask everyone if they were alright. It had become my role, in those days, to chaperone Jim’s younger sister. I think that to her I was a catch. She hadn’t seen anything in the world. She didn’t know that doing things and trialing things were revelations to me. We even went out in Cleveland together and she loved the cleanliness of the buses out that way, but was a bit concerned with the lack of familiarity I had with my own region. I think both her and Jim liked coming out there as a matter of satire. Jim quipped on his arrival to Capalaba, “I can see how you come from here”. She turned up there with her pale skin housed under a broad-brimmed hat, and open-toed footwear. I guess I was the Latino community of Los Angeles, who never venture into Beverley Hills. I guess Beverly Hills and Cleveland are not comparable. Jim once said my work was “what have you done to me” work, which I thought was perceptive.
The first girlfriend was Alice. I think Jim was really into her name, which may have actually been a permissible place to start. They bonded over someone in their class, who they called Sovereignty because, from what I could gather, Sovereignty justified all of her candidature via the political construct of sovereignty.
Then Hannah, or Hanna, who I never actually saw. I think her and Jim were getting up to night activity. There was an utterly bedroom-and-night-spot flavour to their communion. All of Jim’s family thought she was crazy, and eventually Jim did too. But I believe that Alice beget Hannah, and Hannah beget Patt. Either this, or Jim was a bit of a whore, or, for that matter, I was quite possibly dead and finished. When I declared at eighteen years, at the table, that I was finished, that Jim was finished, I’m glad to say now that I was right. I had a certain intuition about it.