Moving to the ‘Big Apple’ was a huge move for Patrick, even at the age of 32. Growing up in a small town in Canada was great; he loved the town, the people there, and his family and friends. However, he needed a change after ending his engagement to his ‘high school sweetheart’ Rachel. Patrick started dating Rachel the summer before going into the ninth grade. They had both been at the same birthday party and got to talking. They had been sort of friends since the start of high school, always being in the same class, but now with all of his friends talking about girls a lot more and getting girlfriends, Patrick felt like the odd man out so he asked Rachel out on a date and that’s how they began their relationship. About seventeen years later, here Patrick is in New York City, single once again, and in need of a job.
Patrick’s move to New York was pretty easy because near the end in the small town he grew up in, he hated his life. He barely had any friends anymore, having all but pushed them all away, he hated his job that Rachel’s father got for him, and he was lying to his parents and himself about being happy with who he was and his life, which made him hate himself even more. He wasn’t fulfilled in any aspect of his life.
* Two months ago *
“I don’t understand what’s going on right now, Patrick,” Rachel said to him. It’s usually the first thing she says anytime he’s broken up with her in the past. Their relationship has always kind of been split, with both of them ending it at one time or another, apart from the last couple of break ups, those were Patrick’s doing.
Patrick sighs, he doesn’t want to be a dick, she doesn’t deserve it, but he’s getting so frustrated having to repeat himself. He told her that he hasn’t been happy in years and that it has nothing to do with her or that he found someone else, it has to do with himself and he just can’t be with her anymore knowing that they are not making each other happy. So he tried again, “Rachel, this isn’t working- it hasn’t worked for years.” Rachel’s shaking her head so he said, “Don’t do that, don’t make it seem like it’s only me who sees this. You know that this-” he gestured between them, “hasn’t been working, and I can’t even remember a time that it has.”
Rachel has tears running down her face but ultimately she nods in agreement. “You’re right, I know that you’re right-” she breathes in trying to regain her composure, “I love you, Patrick, you’re my best friend, ever since we were fourteen years old. I don’t know what I’ll do without you,” She said through her tears.
Patrick’s own tears are slipping down his cheeks. “I love you too, Rachel. This is going to be so hard, for both of us, but it’s what needs to happen for us to be happy in our lives. I’m not happy, I haven’t been for- I don’t even know how long, and I know you’re not happy, I see it in your eyes every single day. I don’t want to be the reason you aren’t living a happy life. You deserve a happy life, Ray Ray,” He said using her pet name he coined for her early in their young lives together.
Rachel covered her eyes with her hands and cried a bit harder into them. Patrick moved closer to her where they both sat at the edge of their bed. He put his arm around her shoulders and she moved her body into him, crying into the crook of his neck, her arms wrapped around his neck. They sat together like this for God knows how long, until they both finally settled down from their tears. Rachel pulled back from the embrace, looking into Patrick’s eyes she asked, “What now?”
Patrick takes a big breath in and then out. He’s thought about this- about what he would do when he finally ended it for good with Rachel. “I’m going to New York,” He told her.
“A new beginning,” Rachel told him with the tiniest of smiles, but a smile nonetheless.
Patrick gave her a smile in return. “For both of us,” He said.
Patrick got all the necessary steps done to complete his move to New York. He obtained a working visa, he found an apartment (the tiniest studio he might have ever seen in his life), and he closed the final chapter of his small town Canadian life. His parents were extremely sad to see him move far away but ultimately they were happy that their son was taking that step to being happy, wanting this and much more for their baby boy.
Now all Patrick needed was a job.
Moving to New York was a no brainer for David. David comes from a very wealthy family; the Rose family. Johnny Rose, David’s father, built a video empire called ‘Rose Video’. Moira Rose, David’s mother, was a soap opera star on the hit soap ‘Sunrise Bay’. And David’s sister, Alexis, was definitely a “popular girl”; she hung out with the jappy, bitchy girls and the jocks.
Education was very important to Johnny Rose. He made sure that his children got good grades. He wanted them to have a good education despite them coming from a wealthy family. He wanted them to learn the value of work. David went to the Toronto School of Art after graduating from high school. Once he graduated he worked in a few art galleries in Toronto trying to make it there before ultimately realizing he wasn’t happy working for someone else and decided to move to New York City to open his own art gallery where he can create the space he wants and choose the artists he wants to display the works of.
David was definitely an “art freak” in high school. He was also in the theater group at school and spent most of his time drawing. David didn’t have many friends. He had Stevie, but that might have been his only true friend. Stevie was also kind of an outsider in school, not really fitting in with any crew, but she made up for it by sleeping around, or so she said. So did David. The two of them bonded over being sarcastic and rude, and for their high sexuality.
David is pansexual; he figured that out pretty early on. At first he thought he was bisexual since there wasn’t much knowledge for him on anything else. He knew that he liked girls and that he liked boys. As he got older he realized that it didn’t matter what their gender was but that he liked who the person was. After doing research, he found that he is pansexual.
Stevie didn’t go to university. She started working at her aunt’s run down motel at the edge of their small town in Canada, but when David told her that he was moving to New York and to come with him, she said yes immediately, not wanting to be stuck in that dump for the rest of her life, already wasting almost ten years running the place.
David and Stevie have been living together in a two bedroom apartment in Midtown for the past five years. David opened his art gallery a few months after moving to the city, with the help of his parents. Stevie became a bartender and works at one of the best clubs in the city, the tip life is the good life. She was able to get the job because of David’s status. Everyone knows the Rose family. Also, he slept with the owner of the club once and owed him a favor. It turned out that Stevie was one of the best so it was a win-win situation.
David’s finishing up his work week at his art gallery, ‘Rose Gallery’, when his receptionist, Kami says, “David, there’s a bit of a problem.”
David walks over to her desk and looks over her shoulder at the computer. There are a bunch of reviews stating that Rose Gallery’s patrons have been bought to buy the art at the gallery, that the entire business is a sham. “What the flying fuck is this?!” David says loudly in the quiet space. He can feel himself starting to spiral into an anxiety attack but tries to stay calm until he figures this out.
Kami looks at him and says, “I come on every day to check the reviews to see what people think so I can write notes for you on how things can improve based off of the clientele’s opinions-“
“Yeah,” David says in a loud screechy voice.
Kami continues, “These just started coming in today. I don’t know who’s saying it; they’re of course all anonymous, fucking trolls. I’m so sorry, David.” She looks up at him with her big green eyes, full of sadness. Kami is the only person he trusts in this city, apart from Stevie. They met at an art exhibition when he first opened Rose Gallery; their mutual ‘friend’ was the host of the event. They hit it off instantly and he asked her to come work for him. She was an art major so she knew everything that she needed to know with working in an art gallery. She also has a lot of great connections to artists, helping David out with whom to choose in displaying their art in his gallery.
“What the fuck am I supposed to do now?” David asks flailing his arms around. He moves from behind the desk to start pacing in front of it. Kami just sits there and watches him spiral. She hasn’t mastered bringing David back to a calm state. She’s tried many times but more often than not she just pisses him off more so she stays quiet. “I need to call my dad,” David says digging his phone out of his pocket.
“Do you want me to stick around?” Kami asks.
David sighs and gives her a weak smile. He says, “No, its fine, you can go. Enjoy your weekend.”
Kami nods. She logs out of the computer and gathers her things. She squeezes David’s arm before giving him a reassuring smile. “I’m here for you, call me if you need me,” She tells him before heading out. David locks the door behind her and calls his dad.
“David! It’s nice to hear from you,” Johnny says when he picks up the call, in his most cheery voice.
“Wish I was calling for a good reason but something terrible is happening. Internet trolls are saying that my patrons were bought off to buy the art in my gallery. They’re saying my gallery is a sham!” David says growing more in hysterics as he explains what happened.
Johnny’s quiet for a beat before he says, “What- what do you mean? Who’s saying this?”
“I don’t know! People on the internet! They’re anonymous,” David says still pacing around the gallery, anxiety coursing through his veins.
“What’s going on, John?” David hears his mother’s voice in the background. His father must put his phone on speaker because then he can hear her louder saying, “David? David, what’s wrong?”
“People on the internet are calling my art gallery a sham. What am I supposed to do?” David asks. He doesn’t usually like to ask his parents for advice because his mother can be very dramatic and turn the situation around to something going on with her, and his father goes off on a tangent which is entirely unhelpful.
“Supposed to do about what, dear?” Moira asks him.
“About the people on the internet saying that someone paid off my patrons and that’s why my business is successful,” David says more clearly. He then asks, “That can’t be true. Who would even do that?” His parents go silent and David gets this gut wrenching feeling. He says softly, “You didn’t- please tell me this isn’t your doing, that it’s all lies.”
There’s a beat of silence before David says, “Oh my fucking God.”
“David-” Johnny starts but David interrupts with, “What have you done?! You just tarnished my entire brand! My entire livelihood! My reputation!”
“David, please, let your father explain,” Moira says calmly.
“Explain what?!” David yells. He can’t contain his anger, why would they do something like this.
“David, we wanted to make sure that you were doing well in New York, that you didn’t leave Toronto to open your own gallery for nothing. We wanted you to succeed, son,” Johnny tries to explain.
“You wanted me to succeed by lying to me? By making me believe that all the hard work I’ve put into my gallery for the past almost five years was actually all a lie? That the people who I thought loved the art I displayed in my gallery and bought them for the high prices they sell for were actually bought by you two? I- I can’t believe you would do this to me,” David says laying on the guilt. He’s completely blindsided and betrayed by his parents, he wants them to feel bad for what they did.
“David, we’re sorry, we didn’t think that-” Johnny starts to say when David says, “You didn’t think that you would ruin my name?! Make a mockery out of my art gallery, out of my life?”
There’s a beat of silence before Johnny tries again, “We’re so sorry, David.”
Moira says, “How can we make this better, dear?”
“Stay far away from this as possible. And stop paying people to buy the art I display. I-” David sighs. “I gotta go,” He says before hanging up.
David closes his eyes bringing his fists up to his eyes. He lets out a loud scream before trying to compose himself. “What the fuck?” He says to himself. David makes sure everything is ready to leave it for the weekend before grabbing his things and locking the door behind him.
The walk from his gallery to his apartment is about twenty minutes, which is nothing in New York City, but he doesn’t feel like going home. There’s nothing there to go home to. Stevie is definitely already at work so he decides to head there instead. Kami opens the gallery Monday to Friday at nine and usually works until five o’clock. David usually comes in around noon and stays until closing at eight o’clock. It’s past nine when he gets to the club that Stevie works at. It doesn’t open until ten but he texted her saying he was there so she came to get him.
“What’s going on?” She asks him when they walk into the club together. The workers are setting up for the night. Friday night, it’s always busy. Stevie walks around the bar to continue cutting up fruits and limes.
“My life is a fucking lie, that’s what’s going on,” David says with a deep sigh as he dramatically sits on the barstool in front of her.
“What happened?” She asks curiously, not sure yet if she should be worried, David can be very dramatic for no reason, he is his mother’s son.
“So the internet is talking about my gallery being a sham and it turns out it is!” David exclaims.
“What do you mean your gallery is a sham?!” Stevie asks, definitely worried now. She stops cutting fruits in favor of making David a drink.
“My parents are my patrons,” He says simply.
Stevie looks at him confused. “What?” She asks before setting the cosmopolitan on the bar in front of him.
“Thank you,” He says taking a big sip then he explains, “They have been paying people to buy the art at my gallery. The people I thought were my patrons, who loved the work I displayed, are not actually patrons. They were being paid to pretend to like the art I displayed because my parents paid them to.”
Stevie looks at him wide eyed. “Wow,” She says. “That is so-”
“Fucked up? Ummm, yeah!” David finishes her sentence. He finishes his drink and pushes the martini glass back towards her. She tops him off. “What am I supposed to do now?”
“First, we’re going to take a deep breath,” Stevie tells him. He sits back and lets her lead the way. They breathe in, one two three, breathe out, one two three. They do this three times. It’s sort of been a small coping method Stevie uses to help David un-spiral from his anxiety attacks. “You know that I think your gallery is great, that you are very smart and talented and will figure something out to fix all of this,” Stevie says. David closes his eyes and nods. He opens his eyes when she says, “But for tonight- stick around here, I’ll ply you with alcohol and there will be plenty of good looking people in here in an hour or so. We’ll come up with a plan tomorrow. Sound good?”
David’s nodding, “Yup. Mhmm, sounds good. Tomorrow we’ll figure something out,” he says.
Stevie nods and gives him a reassuring smile. “Don’t stress,” She reminds him when she sees that he’s still nodding his head.
He realizes and stops, picking up his drink and downing it.
David wakes up with a pounding headache. He groans trying to get away from the sunlight seeping through the curtains. Did he not close them properly? He peaks one eye open and sees a mostly naked woman in his bed. David sits up and instantly regrets it, his stomach now doing flips. He looks down at the woman and can’t remember who she is. He gets out of bed, slipping into his black joggers and a white t-shirt before leaving his bedroom and the naked woman in his bed.
“Mornin’ sunshine,” Stevie says too chipper for someone who didn’t get off work until after three in the morning. “Or should I say afternoon?” She’s pouring herself a cup of coffee in the kitchen when he joins her, taking a seat on one of the three stools on the other side of their kitchen island.
David looks at the clock on the stove and sees that it’s almost two in the afternoon. “What the fuck happened last night?” He asks. Stevie drinks a bit on the job, only when people buy her shots but half the time she just pretends to take the shot. If she got trashed every time she went to work she wouldn’t make it back to work. “And who is in my bed?”
Stevie chuckles, she says, “Um, so I don’t really know. You left the club with some random people saying you would see me at home. You ended up coming home at like six am, crashing into the walls with your lady friend. I saw you two make it to your room and shut the door so I went back to bed.”
David groans again. “Fuck,” He mutters clutching at his head.
Stevie makes her way to the bathroom and when she returns she has two extra-strength Advil for him and a big glass of water. David thanks her before taking the pills and chugging down most of his water. The way David is feeling right now is a clear indication to him that he must have done a bunch of drugs because he only feels this bad after mixing hard drugs and alcohol.
The door to his bedroom opens and he hears footsteps. The woman who was naked a few minutes ago now has on her clothes from the night before and her hair tied into a high ponytail. She comes up to David and kisses him on the lips in a brief peck. She says, “I gotta go, I’m super late, but thanks, I had fun,” before walking out of the apartment.
David and Stevie look at each other and start laughing. “Ow,” David says after that hurts his head some more. “Can I get one of those?” He asks her pointing to her mug of coffee.
She pours him a cup, only because of how terrible he looks, and the events from last night. “Thank you,” He tells her in a soft tone when she hands it to him.
“So I had an idea for your predicament,” She says simply.
“Which one? My life is kind of a giant predicament right now,” He says before taking a sip of his coffee.
“About the gallery,” Stevie says. “How about hiring a business manager? Someone who can help turn things around. Seeing that your parents were your patrons, now the people who used to buy the art won’t come so maybe if you hire someone who studied business they can help you figure out the best way to move forward and bring in new clientele. People who will actually want to buy the art you’re displaying, and not just buying it because your parents paid them to. Also, your brand is kind of effed right now so maybe someone with knowledge in business can help you figure out a way to help redeem your image.”
David considers this and says, “So I’m not hating this idea but how would I even go about hiring a business manager?”