Eat Your Heart Out, Dallas Drake
by David Hickey
THE LAST OF THREE PARTS
Jack's coat is now hugging the tree nearest the driveway. He
sprays water across it, changing the tone of the sleeves. He
tries to spray the water evenly, so that the coat becomes a
uniform colour. He tries to remember how many days he wore it
to work before he realized he had been wearing it inside out,
the absence of a lining making it look more or less the same
either way. He was standing in the elevator, still easing into
his job when someone from human resources on the sixth floor
complimented him on his "new way of thinking." If
the same person had told him, in fourteen years time, he would
be wearing a toque to work, he probably would have never taken
the elevator again.
Jack pulls off his scarf, then his tie. He hangs them both
carefully on opposing branches, and, even though the scarf is
longer, in Jack's mind, it offers the tree a certain balance.
He sprays them both lightly, waving his arm like a conductor
in a music store, testing the weight of a baton. He's shaking
slightly, but with his free hand Jack unbuttons his shirt, then
pulls the tucked-in part out of his pants. He thinks of names
that would be stranger than Silo: Buick, Raspberry, Cornhuskie.
When he has his shirt free from his body, he throws it as high
as he can in the tree. It catches mid-way up, and becomes almost
clear as he sprays it. The scarf and the tie are still soaking
wet, but already show signs of frosting.
He takes off his pants. He loosens his belt and exposes his
legs to the air, which suddenly feel colder than the rest of
He looks down past his loose-fitting boxers at his hairless
knees. He wonders what Dallas Drake's legs would look like in
place of his own. He wonders about the size of his chest, how
much his quadriceps have grown from years of hard skating. He
imagines what Dallas would look like if he were spread out in
pieces before him, his heart in the mouth of a neighbour's dog,
its small teeth tearing it apart on a bed of snow.
He steps out of his shoes, plants his feet beside them, and
throws his pants into the branches.
He runs his hand against his forehead, looking at the clothes
in front of him. Lights, Jack thinks, all I need now are some
He lets go of the hose and walks across the front yard, towards
the basement window. Kneeling beside it, he forces the latches
from either side of the winter frame, and pulls the house towards
The boxes weigh more than he remembers. He takes each one off
the storage shelf and sets them on the basement floor. His chest
and stomach are sore and red from sliding over the sill, but
he can no longer see his breath, and his body has stopped shivering.
Jack pulls out strand after strand of white lights. He wraps
them around his arms, around his waist, up and down the length
of his body.
* * *
"Dallas," he said, "Dallas, it's me. It's Jack.
I called about your account, and now you're returning my message.
I mean, I'm returning your message."
Dallas cleared his throat. "You said there's a problem?"
He peered over the edge of his cubicle, then sat back down.
"No, no problem. I mean, there was one, but I fixed it
for you, there, Drake."
Dallas didn't respond. Jack pictured him in an elaborate kitchen
where pots and pans hung neatly above islands. He pictured him
standing there, unsure if he should hang up the phone or wait
a second longer for Jack to say something else.
"All right then, thanks," Dallas said finally, but
Jack could still hear him on the other end of the line.
"I'm having trouble in my marriage, Dallas. I called because
I wasn't sure what to do."
"I mean, Brenda doesn't know we're having problems, but
I think we are." He stopped to collect himself.
"I get...I get jealous of her ex-hockey player boyfriends."
That's not quite right, Jack thought, but he didn't bother correcting
himself. Dallas was going to hang up, and nothing he could say
would change that.
"Well how many did she have?" Dallas asked, his voice
followed by the sound of his teeth tearing into what sounded
like an apple.
"A whole team of them," Jack replied, "and when
I dream about them playing hockey, you're their captain."
Dallas swallowed, then let out a slow, contemplative sound.
"That's funny, Jack, because me and the guys, we sometimes
have dreams about guys who answer telephones."
Jack thought he might die right there in his cubicle. He pulled
out a pen, thinking the next thing that came out of Dallas'
mouth would change his life forever. He sat there for what felt
like an eternity, waiting on Dallas' next word, not realizing
the noise filling line wasn't static, but actually the sound
of poorly muffled laughter.
* * *
Jack reaches down next to the house and sticks the plug into
the socket. He feels the white lights warm against his body.
He looks at the tree and the clothes that hang there. He pulls
off his toque and casts it high in the tree furthest away from
him, watching as it catches, not on the branch he expected,
but on one close to it, not far from where he had been aiming.
He hears a knocking on the living room window. Jack turns around
in time to see the front door open, and Brenda as she appears
on the front step. He raises his arms in the air and waves,
but as he tries to walk towards her the plug going to the house
stops him short in his tracks, the green insulated wires holding
him where he is, the Christmas lights burning his skin.
David Hickey will
be taking questions now. A few.