How Ya Faren, Karen?
Lucky’s girlfriend left him this morning with a broken heart and a hair straightener. I light a pan flute of cigarettes as I roll into his driveway. Lucky’s an Irish artist studying history at McGill. Infertile Chinese surgeons adopted him from Ireland and their other adopted kids started calling him “Lucky” after the cereal instead of his real first name, Kelly. Lucky doesn’t care, because he says Kelly’s a chicks name and Lucky is a great pickup line. “Girls are always after me lucky charms,” he says. “They can’t wait to get lucky, if you know what I’m saying.”
This was before Karen, the now ex love-of-his-life. Karen’s a real natural disaster. Karen, the hot mess express. Heroin Karoin. How-ya-faren-Karen. Karen ballerina-pointe toed the line between junkie and glamour. She had scar where Marilyn Munro’s birthmark would be from when she burnt herself with a cigarette. She had to get a nose job from doing too much coke. She was vain to the point where it was almost a physical handicap. She would spend hours straightening her hair so long and golden it looked as if it was spun by Rumpletsiltskein himself, and then she’d go make soup and forget she left the stove on. She was almost always dying. Lucky and I would find her in the bath after doing angel dust, looking like a mermaid in polluted waters. She’d get stoned and watch movies; trying to hold her breath the whole time characters were underwater. She almost suffocated during Finding Nemo.
Lucky and Léo are in the kitchen. Léo’s the kind of guy to call in situations like this. He was named after the guy who wrote War & Peace, so he knows his shit. Léo’s a certified drug lord with connections to the Montréal mafia, using his drug lordship to finance law school. He’s a human vending machine for recreational narcotics and what Michael Jackson would describe as a smooth criminal. He’s using the hair straightener Karen left behind to make bacon.
“Karen ran off with some med school wanker,” Lucky says, burning his cigarette right into the table.
“Fuck no,” I mumble. I realize I’m still wearing my t-shirt from the night before, a present from Karen that reads It’s my Duty to Please that Booty. Léo shakes his head, peeling the bacon off the grill. I sit down at the table beside him.
Lucky puts his head in his hands. “All the signs were right there and I just ignored them. I kept making excuses for her, you know?” I nod even though I can’t see him and I don’t know. “She did a ‘juice cleanse’. And then she kept buying shit from Ikea. Like, flowerpots and bathmats and shit. Like, married people shit. She started taking up yoga.”
“Isn’t yoga a character from Star Wars?” I ask.
“That’s Yoda,” says Léo. “Lucky, you couldn’t have seen this coming. Some people just throw their lives away. You two had a really good thing going.” Lucky pours himself a glass of whiskey and he pours me one too. All Lucky’s glasses have been stolen from bars. Léo drinks red wine because he’s a man of class.
“I’m sure it’s just a phase,” I say. “Everyone goes through that rebellious shit, right?”
“What am I going to do without her?” Lucky moans. “I’ve got her name tattooed on my arse, bro. I can’t believe she’d just leave me like this. What we had was so real.” Lucky finishes his whiskey and pours himself another glass.
Karen’s dad is a tattoo artist with rumoured Hells Angels connections. He walked in on Lucky and Karen fucking once. He famously said, ‘You like my daughter enough to fuck her? Do you like her enough to get her name tattooed on your ass?’ Normal guy would’ve backed off but Lucky was batshit crazy for Karen. ‘I’m gonna ask him to let me marry her one day,’ he said. ‘How can he turn down the guy who’s got her name tattooed on his ass?’
“Now she’s dating some guy who plays golf and is a med intern at a children’s hospital. She’s moving to Ottawa. Karen! In Ottawa! Can you imagine?” Léo and I shake our heads. “She’s not even using anymore. She started taking vitamin supplements and stopped taking prescription pills. And those are good for you!” During exams you could always find Karen chewing Ritalin like gum. She would be doing lines of Adderall off her laptop in the library. She would put her notes in a crack pipe and smoke them. She would be hooked up to an IV drip of coffee, redbull and vodka.
Karen wanted to be a musician, but she was in English. I wanted to be a writer, but I was in physics. I haven’t enjoyed writing for school since I got in trouble for writing a book report on Steven King’s Pet Cemetery in the fifth grade. Karen and I would sit on my teeny tiny balcony and call out walks of shame with a megaphone until Lucky would come in and scream at us to shut the hell up, we were making a racket. I can’t believe Karen would just pack up and leave.
“What’s her dad going to say?” I can picture Becky, Karen’s mom, purring with happiness. She’s a business exec who always has traces of purple lipstick on her teeth. Karen’s dad is in jail, but I can picture him discussing the scandal with his drug dealer and everyone assuring him it’s “just a phase.”
“She called her dad, apparently,” Lucky says. “She left me a note. Two years together and all I get is a fucking note.”
“This festering isn’t healthy,” Léo says. Léo is the kind of guy who can say words like “festering” outside of essays without getting shot.
“Do you want to go to the strip club?” I ask. “I think Kimono’s working tonight.” Strippers belong in medical journals as a cure for broken hearted depression.
“It’s Wednesday, so it’s Mercedes,” says Lucky. “Remember that time Karen and Mercedes made out? I don’t. Got a picture of it tough. It was the background on my computer for awhile.”
Karen and I had sex once. It was after Lucky and her finished their final exam. Lucky drank too much and passed out before we even left for the bar, so Karen and I stayed out all night blowing our trust funds on champagne and doing coke in adjacent stalls in the women’s washroom. I ate a tube of her lipstick before I drunk drove us home. That isn’t a trick, or anything. It was just the kind of logic we had: if the cops pulled us over the breathalyser would just pick up lipstick. Then we were still too psyched up to go to bed so we danced around my apartment drinking rosé before we had sex. She was mad at me the next day for eating a thirty-dollar lipstick. Who pays thirty dollars for a fancy crayon for your face? I completely forgot about my calculus exam that morning so I slept through it. But I emailed my professor and told him I mixed up the dates so he let me write it on Monday instead. I was too hopped up on meth amphetamines to really care.
Lucky wipes his face with the back of his hand. “Fuck it. Let’s go. I think Steve and Tyler want to go out tonight anyway. Or whatever.”
I stand up. “Bathroom break, bro.” I don’t really have go to the bathroom. But I do have a couple pills to take that I don’t want to share and maybe try to grab a pair of Karen’s panties. I go to the bathroom and take my pills before I see a piece of paper with water splatter patterns on it. Like a crime scene where Karen metaphorically slashed Lucky’s heart open and you can see where all the metaphorical blood landed, but it’s tears. Wow, you’re high as fick. I say. You’re talking to yourself again, I add in a chiding voice.
I glance at Karen’s note. A lot of stuff about how its “what she wants” and how its “best they don’t talk.” This is the kind of bullshit Lucky should roll up and smoke. I can’t believe Karen doesn’t want this life. This is the good life. We study and plagiarize essays during the day and imbibe narcotics at night to obliterate the damning shame of our overwhelming guilt, waking up too hung over to care. We have fun. We are the result of the nuclear family exploding. We are the result of those who struck gold. We are the future.