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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 30 page 08

.../

Matt raises an eyebrow, a real are-you-kidding-me-how-dramatic-can-you-get eyebrow.

“It was. I didn’t. I didn’t participate. He. It was. He.”

Joni dissolves into a sort of sobbing that leaves her face perfectly still and dry but her whole body convulsing.

Matt stands up and covers his face with his hand and starts pacing. Suddenly he stops and looks back at her. “You’re sure? You’re sure that’s what it was, I mean.”

Joni just looks at him and he nods. Knows. Already knew.

“Can I...I’m sorry, but can you tell me. Who?”

The shaking stops. Joni’s face clouds over. “Can’t you guess?”

“I’d rather not.”

“It was. It was.”

“Joni I can’t help you if you don’t...”

“Derrick.”

Matt lets out a long breath and shakes his head and excuses himself and slides the door open. A few minutes later she hears him cursing quietly in the admin cubbyhole. Then he is back.

“You know, he’s working tonight.”

Joni nods, “Isn’t there anything...”

Matt holds up his cell phone. “I can’t do anything. You understand. I can’t interfere with his work hours. I’m not entitled to. Unless...”

Black spots. Blackness folds into the place where the room had been. Joni slumps back in her seat and in that blackness is the night it — fuck. No.

The room slides back into focus and she winces to find her own hand pressed into the bruises on her wrist.

Matt hasn’t noticed this. Or won’t. “You have to call the police,” he says. “Press charges.”

Joni is a fish, mouth gaping open and closed with no words participating.

“Hang on. I have to check something.”

The sound of the door sliding open and shut like a zipper, and in the space between she can hear the sounds of the other servers arriving, arranging things, finding the things she’s supposed to have done before they arrive. Not done.

She hears Matt mumbling in the cubbyhole again. He holds up his cell phone again when he returns.

“I’ve called, I mean, a trusted source. To ask. What they would do.”

Joni nods. A difficult position. Sure.

“Could you tell me what happened? In detail.”

Joni’s mouth is open and she closes it. Then it won’t open again. And then it does and some sound comes out but there is the hand on her wrist. Dragging her. The cocaine. A short bark of a laugh comes out when she remembers she’d gone over there to make sure he was OK. His ex, they we’re engaged. He’d always expected. And him fixing her a cocktail. Oh fuck. Then black, does that mean...And then, that time months ago she’d had only one drink at the usual after-work bar and then blackout and she’d known that she’d been drugged but how lucky to be there with a friend she could trust to take her home.

“No. Oh my god.” The panic was surging and everything was sliding out of focus. She was aware, distantly, that she wasn’t breathing properly but the room was closing in again.

“Joni, I’m sorry, no, you don’t have to...I, uh.”

The room slides back in again and there is Matt. Hovering. Hand reached out like he wants to touch her arm, thinking better of it. Leaves it hanging in the air like it might be of comfort to her there.

“Sorry.” Her eyes aren’t working. Focus sliding all over the place. Is her head lolling? A bit. OK.

“No, I’m sorry. It’s just, my confidante has said that I was right about working. I mean, I can’t suspend him unless there is a report. Trust me. I wish...”

Joni nods. Doesn’t process the words.

<CONT...>