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Authors: Catherine Greenman

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BOOK: Hooked
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“Ninety-three thousand, six hundred dollars,” he said coolly. But I saw that jump-start his eyes did when he was discussing anything that involved a profit. It wasn’t hard to miss.

“So what about helping me?” I’d asked matter-of-factly. This time, I was not the drunken slut crashing my rental car into gas stations in Europe, or even the little girl with the too-big shopping cart at the toy store. I was a mother who wanted
to support her kid doing something she loved. This time I was channeling Ian. Ian Galehouse Weston, my albatross, my savior. I had to go after what I wanted, or neither of us would stand a chance. “I can’t crochet three hundred bikinis all by myself. Can we please go to Brooklyn and meet these people?”

Dad shifted in his chair, clicking the tip of a pen up and down. “Okay,” he’d finally said.

The shop was in a one-story, tan brick building in Red Hook. Carmen and I got there first and went up a flight of stairs, into a dim room with a square table in the middle of it. The table was covered with brown paper, with streaks of masking tape running along the sides and bottom, and five women were sitting around it. They all had long, black hair, and all but one had it tied back in low ponytails.

“Thea, this is Dalma, Lydia, Elizabeth, Josie and—I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name,” Carmen said. “You’re new, aren’t you?”

The woman nodded and smiled. “I’m Jade.”

“Josie and Jade,” Carmen said. “So this is Thea and she has designed a beautiful bikini, which everyone wants to buy.”

Dad walked in as they said, “Ahh, bikini,” giggling, in unison.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“This is my father,” I said to Carmen.

Carmen shook his hand vigorously. “Nice to meet you.” She waved her arms around the room. “Yeah, so we’re trying to set Thea up with a … production situation.”

Dad glanced at me skittishly, nervous about what he was getting into. “Right,” he said. “And are these the women who would be helping?”

Carmen nodded. “They’re wonderful. Very skilled and very meticulous. I love their work.”

“How does it go, then?” Dad said. “They get orders from designers and fulfill them within a certain time frame?”

As if on cue, a man with his hair combed over in a short-sleeved button-down shirt stepped out of a door in the narrow corridor at the end of the room. He walked up to us and introduced himself.

“I’m Mr. Silva,” he said. “We charge by the hour. If the order is a large one, sometimes by the piece.”

“Or the two-piece.” Dad smiled at me. “Get it?”

One of the women was sliding the bikini onto a white plastic mannequin.

“It’s so nice,” the woman said. The others nodded enthusiastically, then dipped their heads back to their needles.

nice, Thea,” Dad said, surprised. “There’s a pretty cut to them. I was expecting them to look more … showy.”

“That’s the whole point,” I said.

“She’s got a very specific sensibility,” Carmen interjected. “She knew exactly how she wanted them to look.”

“Hmmm …” he said, turning to Mr. Silva. “Well, how do we do this? Is there some sort of contract?”

“You tell me what you want and I write something up for you,” Mr. Silva said.

Dad looked at him and rubbed his mouth. I could tell he was put off by Mr. Silva’s vagueness. “Well, you need to make three hundred,” he said, turning to me. “Is that right, Thea?”

I nodded. “Three hundred and twelve, so far, but I can do the twelve.”

“We have to factor in shipping costs.” Dad put his hand on my shoulder and paused, watching the women.

“And work out some kind of wholesale deal for the yarn,” I said.

“I can help you with that,” Carmen said quickly.

“And are you … looking for anything?” Dad asked Carmen.

“Me?” she asked, putting her fist to her chest. “Oh, no, I’m just helping her out.”

It hadn’t occurred to me that Carmen would want a cut. “Thank you,” I said. “Really, thank you.”

Carmen smiled at me and put her hand on my back. “You deserve it, kiddo.”

“I have no idea what the margins are in the garment business.” Dad frowned at the floor. “Mr. Silva, what if we offered you twenty thousand dollars to do the work?”

Mr. Silva looked away, smiling passively. “Three hundred pieces?” he said, gesturing at the women. “Twenty-five.”

Dad looked at me. “When do you need them by?”

“Two weeks?” I said. “Is that a reasonable amount of time or will you have to hire more women?”

“We’ll see how it goes,” Mr. Silva said.

“Shall we put something in writing, then, to that effect?” Dad said. “I can write you a check today.”

I heard a garbage truck groan outside as Dad started to follow Mr. Silva. “This will all be in addition to your work at Pullman,” he said sternly. “And you’re going back to school someday.”

I nodded as he turned down the hall. Carmen winked at me and shot me a subtle high five.

“I’m going to make Dad proud,” I said.

Now I watch as Dad turns the camera horizontally, then vertically, then horizontally again, my eyes almost tearing from
the setting sun, trying to hold Ian still as he fends off a patch of seaweed coming toward him. I wonder if we’ll just go on together like this forever, until Dad’s an old man and I’m a spinster, long forgotten by Will, and Ian’s a punk in the park. About a year after we split, Will and I started talking on the phone, late at night, when the rest of the world was shut down and far away, the way we used to when we first met. I learned some new things, mainly just
afraid he was of failing. I tried not to think about the irony of it: he was so afraid of failing and yet he’d failed
so completely. But as time went on, I realized that part of being a healthy, well-adjusted adult meant not holding on to stuff that made you so angry you couldn’t see straight. There was no point.

Will is coming back to us someday, I think, as Dad finally clicks the shutter. He is, and if he doesn’t, more power to me for believing that he will. Once I’m hooked, I don’t let go. So sue me. I’m not holding my breath—I’ve got things to do, a luxury crocheted-accessories business to build. Department store contracts to win.

I splash seaweed out of Ian’s way and let him throw about fifty more rocks into the water until it starts to get dark. “We should get back to the house,” I say, imagining all the things I wanted to do once Ian went to sleep, like think about designs for a collection of crocheted skirts. “It’s getting late.”

Dad wades onto the beach and rolls down his khakis. I pick Ian up and we climb the steep steps and cross the street into the parking lot, where Dad helps me strap Ian into the seat on the back of my bike.

“So I’ll see you two at home,” he says. He is running into town to pick up a pizza. A car drives by, too fast for Dad’s liking, stirring up the sandy pavement.

“Slow down!” he yells after the car, taking a few indignant steps out into the street. “Jesus!” he mutters, turning back to me. “Should I get a salad?”

“Only if you want,” I say. “It’s too hard to think about salad when there’s a pizza staring you in the face.” He smiles, the creases on his forehead relaxing, revealing little white lines. “You’re a little sunburned,” I say.

“Am I?” he asks, wiping sand away from Ian’s mouth and tightening his strap. He heads to his car as I start to pedal out of the parking lot, getting ready for the hill that leads to our house. Dad passes, waving his arm at us out the window, and I have a strange thought—the weird, hard-to-connect possibility that Dad loves me in the same, dumbstruck way that I love Ian. When we reach the top of the hill, Dad’s blinker fires shots of red into the dusk as he turns the corner. His car stretches farther ahead of us, his blinker still on, a flickering, distant star, here now but not forever.


Catherine Greenman
grew up in New York City and lives there now with her family.

BOOK: Hooked
6.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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