Bachelorette Country

Page 1:

Text: This used to be a Fleet Bank.
See, look at their drive-thru lane. See how the bricks still show through the adobe? If the sun hits that "Tender Juicy Steak" sign right you can see Fleet's logo beneath it.
It's all there if you keep looking. You're not looking, Brian says.

Image of a man shaded orange and burnt sienna, looming over a person with shoulder-length blonde hair, glasses, the tag on their shirt peeking out. It's a fast food dining room, sketched out. The angles feel wrong.

Text: He gestures with his finger. A horizontal peace sign glimmering with burrito blood.
It's a close up on the orange shaded man from the blonde's point of view. The blonde is eating a taco. The man's burrito looks like it might have hair in it. He's also got green on him, now. A goatee but scruffy. His glasses are pushed up and askew on his forehead. His large fast food cup is advertising "Cars 2."

Text: I've unwrapped parts of my soft taco only to press its tissue back in. Each time I do this, the creases lose their tightness. A warm, mysterious body part beneath. Crunch of anti-bones.
There's a bad vibe in here, I say. I bet it was robbed.
Text: It was a seamstress' shop before the bank bought it. Martha was on the cover of US Hemming's April issue. My grandmother used to bring pants, even upholstered furniture and Martha. Martha. Martha.
God's magic worked directly through those fingers. Pleats tighter than the factory. The tourists thought she was the cutest thing.
Couldn't get enough of her, the manager says.

The side of this page has a partial image of a nice, floor-length green dress with a waist belt.
Image of a boat on water against a murky green sky.

Text: If you ask me, that magic still exists in these walls. In our employees.

Image scrolls to show a shadowy figure sinking deep, deep into the water below the boat.

Text: The bank manager doesn't know that ten years ago we saw my husband's uncle drown in the bay. We never told anyone about that.
Text: In the painting above the manager's head there is a girl carrying cream from a brownish cow that appears increasingly worried about something that is about to happen.
The manager is creating small talk while my husband uses the bathroom.

Image: The manager has very gray-green skin and chunky, geometric earrings. She is sitting at a desktop. The cow painting described is just visible above her head.
Text: We had chartered a boat three miles out to catch stripers. I remember rain pouring into our beers. There was an argument. I don't tell the bank manager this story, instead telling her about how my toddler is going through a phase where she thinks she can read the minds of dogs.
Bachelorette party season is coming up, the manager says. 
Someone is crying in the lobby, I think.

There is an image of a scruffy golden retriever or terrier type dog with a long stare at the bottom of the page.
Text: We needed someone who'd trick rich housewives into three-year data contracts so we hired Erik Depuade who has a striking resemblance to a young Robert Redford.
Erik's family has a house just outside of Newport. He tells me he heard our T-Mobile was a Taco Bell before this and their bathroom was a hookup spot for tourists.

Image of inside the T-Mobile, window says "T gether" with laughing people looking at a phone (maybe taking a selfie together). Employees are dead-eyed, bored, one is probably Erik with a little mustache, green-tinted skin. The other is all red-tinted and looks a lot like the orange-tinted man in the beginning.

Text: Check under where the carpet splits in the breakroom, he says. You'll see the tiles.
Text: I like the way Erik's hair folds over his head like a book page. I like him but he isn't listening to me.
For a second I think I can smell the Taco Bell repeating as some washed up spirit but I know that's the Amy's non-dairy burrito Erik left in the breakroom garbage.

Images of the breakroom. A toaster oven and drip coffee pot sit on top of a cabinet. A plastic garbage can sits with its lid askew.

Text: No good actual food lasts in this town, I say. Erik tells me about wanting to become a police officer. Every plastic in here is pink, and it makes our faces pink, maybe permanently. I don't tell Erik this.
Image of a T-Mobile building that used to be a Taco Bell but it's on fire, burning down, the "l" and the "e" in "T-Mobile" have fallen from the building and also burn on the ground in front of it.
Text: It was a bridal shop at some point, I'm pretty sure. Something with dresses.
Helen kicks a piece of metal. Burnt unrecognizable.

Image of two seagulls on a pile of rubble, standing over a cracked and messed up toaster oven. The toaster oven from a few pages ago.
Text: Seagulls make witch noises overhead, circling over the rubble as if they were promised something. I write: CAUSE-ELEC.87% on my clipboard. There's still a smell like sirloin or hot sand or my daughter's boyfriend's Subaru Impreza after he leaves our driveway.

Image of two workers with clipboards atop a pile of rubble against a fiery red-and-orange sky.

Text: Pictures of the fire were posted all over Narragansette's Facebook community page. I describe how gruesome it was. Helen isn't listening.
Too bad about this place, I say.
Text: Not too bad at all, Helen says. With the new condos there'll be able to see the ocean from here. Whatever this was before, they couldn't see a thing.

Close-up on the workers of the last panel. They are both older folks, wrinkles, empty eyes. They wear blue AllState shirts. They are not smiling.

Travis Dahlke is the author of “Milkshake” (Long Day Press). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, HAD, Juked, Pithead Chapel, and The Longleaf Review, among other journals and collections. Find him at

%d bloggers like this: