“Pickles and Tarts” — Chapter 11

Chapter 11

“Wow!” Nicole said, “You’ve got a rough draft.”

“I want to type it up and then think about what I need to do to flesh it out,” Frank responded, “I’m going to think about what I was feeling when I wrote you and about the things that are happening. Today, for example, I opened a book I bought in July called And Everyday It Was Overcast by Paul Kwiatkowski and this particular passage struck a chord with me:

He sold ecstasy, heroin, acid, and coke to punk high school kids. His house smelled like Vicks VapoRub. Over and over I watched him single out the sad loner girls, get them addicted to opiates, and make them his until absolutely no one wanted them.

Frank cited this section of the book, because the entire book appealed to him. He was interested in the young girls and those days of his own youth, where he remembered how easy it was to attract and seduce. He was also drawn to the pictures from the book, because they haunted him. The kids were clearly drugged and isolated in a backwoods area and these excursions into drug-taking and sexual frivolity saddened him for the advantage the boys and men were taking of the girls—how one older woman was indeed so awkward and thin in her pictures that it didn’t seem like she would ever survive.

Nicole said, “I would hate to have that happen to me. Although I am talking to you, for example, and I get that you are a normal person, I kind of understand how someone lost could be taken by someone they needed to trust. But, I also know when it starts to feel uncomfortable and I just know I could tell that guy was going to take advantage of me and it’s not cool!” She was looking down at the screen and she could feel the predicament that the “Sad, loner girls” were getting themselves into. It pissed her off. She looked up from her computer and looked around her bedroom. Everything was in its place. Her family was in the other rooms doing what they did. Her father was at work. She felt safe. She didn’t have to go outside of her home to find safety.

The computer made that sound like a door bell and Frank looked up at the red medallion at the top right with all the other icons and it made him smile.

Another bong rang out with another statement by Nicole: “When I was younger, I met this guy in our neighborhood. He was lanky, kinda cute, and we messed around. I can remember him lifting my shirt and putting his hands on my stomach and then moving under my bra. We kissed a lot and he also touched me, you know where. I don’t remember what happened after that. The next thing I knew, he was the kid in High School with the drugs. He had a lot of girls following him around and I think they used to party at his parent’s house. He and his group were popular, but they also seemed strung out and there was an edge to them. I thought, I never wanted to be like that. I didn’t see the point.”


  1. I like this unexpected turn of the story. The issue of young girls or any women being drugged and abused by boys and men is especially worrying in our current society. Nicole was lucky to survive that experience without major consequences. At least, it made her realise this is not what she wants in her life. How can a person not remember what happened the night or the day before? If this is what alcohol drinking and/ or taking other drugs do to us why take them? The effect is not fun and strongly contradicts what many people say about having a great time with drugs and alcohol. That I think is the main argument you can give to high school students in a prevention program. I think we had someone in our school telling our students exactly this.

      • You are very kind. I am glad you like it. I spent a long time on it. I think it’s strength is that while I may not be able to see things initially, I keep coming back to the story over and over again, first writing what I think and trusting that, and then trying to say what I was trying to say but in a more straightforward way than initially. The style is a testament to the fact that each of us can communicate, as Lakoff argues in a language that speaks metaphorically. Science and all that stuff that seems to be above us is really just details. The world is as we see it. The hardest part is writing things down, doing our best to get the first impression of the idea and then keep coming back to it until we no longer sense awkwardness or noise. The New Yorker succeeds, I think, because it goes back and looks at the words until there is seamless communication and not interruption. This story has more chapters, but I cannot remember if it concludes well. I think, as Marta, said, that it really wants to be a novel. I want to continue to work on it until it answers the questions I want to answer. Thank you so much for reading and encouraging me. This is the kind of writing I like to do.

  2. In this chapter you mention a hard topic. But unfortunately it is current although I believe that this has always happened: the sexual abuse of men towards women, using alcohol or drugs.
    As a woman and the mother of a girl, I am very concerned about the lack of respect that some boys have towards girls.
    Perhaps the motive is pornography or books like ’50 shades of Grey’ or ‘After’ that makes them mix fantasy with reality. I do not know. But it seems we are going back to the neardenthal era.
    I would solve it soon, castration to all sexual predators. Maybe that’s how they thought about it before doing barbarities.

    I see that Nichole is trusting more and more in Frank, I hope he evolves into a beautiful friendship.


    • I am glad you brought this up Yolanda. One of the components the #MeToo! movement and feminism brings up is the fact that men can be this violent toward women. Why? I have always sought to get to the bottom of something as ugly as this. Jean Toomer gave the best description I have found in his 1923 book Cane, where he wrote: “What thoughts that leap into men’s minds at the sight of a pretty woman who will not deny them; what thoughts would come to you, had you seen her in a quick flash, keen and intuitively, as she sat there on her porch when your train thundered by? Would you have gotten off at the next station and come back for her to take her where? …Would you tell your wife or sweetheart about a girl you saw?” While not exactly my point given that the woman does not ‘deny’ him, I have argued that there is a perceived visceral righteous in men so moved by women. Just the other day this woman I am crazy about said that she likes a man, who knows what he likes and gets it. I don’t think she really means to ‘take’ it against her will; but where she is complicit, she wants him to make the move. But, there is a quality about maleness that is primal and predatory. And I believe it’s true that women really like to be taken care of and dominated. I see it all the time. The sneaky men usually get what they want and women let them, encourage them and men like me, simply stay away. There is a point at which, the consumption of women is out of my hands. But, I believe it is those women, who later come up for air who are angry at men in general and affect women’s attitudes toward all men. Men have this incredible insatiable desire that feels validated by its viscerality. I argue in my book A Man Looking At Women that their attraction is tender honesty underneath, but as Toomer implies that thoughts coupled with that a man is supposed to be strong both to get what he wants but also not to. Chivalry and such, implies that men should protect women even it is from themselves. And most men know full-well what they are doing. But, again, in slow or stupid men, the viscerality is their validation. They either can’t or think they are above the complication of empathy and truth. Yes, they are only Neanderthal. Not evolution, but evil.

      I think this friendship Frank has with Nicole stems from my underlying thesis, which is that men like Frank will go to their graves alone and unsatisfied if it means to protect the truth of what he knows and feels about Nicole. Men make decisions. While she may make her own decisions and is old enough to do so, Frank understands the probable outcome. Sex is a truth serum. No later than after the event, the future is made clear. Or perhaps it is time that reveals all things.

      I too hope that Frank does not veer from what seems like a beautiful friendship with Nicole. He is getting to the truth so far.

  3. Hey Mario, just wanted to let you know my blog is now private. You’ll need to ask for permission so I can grant you access, that is if you still want to read me. It’s easy, you’ll see.
    Hope to see you there.

  4. Awkward, love the turns in the story. So many issues. At first I thought this story would be a romance, but now I think I would call this a suspense or even horror. Frank might think he is a simple fella, but I believe he is so complex. Frank at first, I thought would be awkward around women, but as I read I feel a cunningness to him. Letting Nicole feel confident then as he gains her trust edges his way into her mind in such a way to make her feel uncomfortable. Why? I don’t know what he is playing at, what he wants to achieve? Obviously obsessed with her, maybe he is playing out the role of these men (drug dealers you wrote about earlier on in this chapter,) or fantasising! I don’t know what goes on in his mind. Men are strange creatures, and Frank even stranger. This chapter reminds me of the movies Dead Calm and Cape Fear. (I’m more of a movie buff) The fear he instills in Nicole is spine chilling. If Frank is a predator, love the way you make him exists in plain sight. Cheers.

    • I think this is what is the story is about. Every man is capable. And every action is based on a decision. The truth is what underlies everything. We have to see how far Frank edges off the cliff. We have to know him before we can decide. I hope by the end of the story that we have an answer. I love that you are getting all of this, and I love that you are a woman.

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