One supposes it all started when Peg first looked down at her cat, lying prostrate on the kitchen table, and asked, “What are you doing today?” The cat, of course, was typically cryptic. But Dotty, sitting nearby sipping coffee, had nothing much going on that Monday other than feeling slightly still drunk and gaseous from the pizza consumed mere hours before the duo awoke.
Dotty had been unwittingly spending more nights at Peg’s apartment ever since her last heartache–though they were getting more difficult to keep track of. In fact, even Peg, who usually enjoyed monitoring Dotty’s romantic failings for the sake of her own personal comfort, was beginning to lose count of all the men Dotty seemed to be scaring away lately.
But Peg didn’t mind having Dotty’s company in the wake of her own recent breakup. They were both now approaching their late forties, at a time when it was becoming more and more acceptable for women to stay “on the prowl” past their expiration date. And, oh, how Peg and Dotty counted on this revolutionary attitude toward women. One supposes it was for this reason that they had stayed out late again at the bar and had found it essential to call out of their respective jobs. Luckily for Dotty, she had accrued enough sick days at the dentist’s office in Downtown Brooklyn where she had been a receptionist for the past five years, permitting her the luxury of impromptu absences. Peg, on the other hand, was already on thin ice at the metal bar she opened cans of PBR at in South Williamsburg.
Though she had been a “valued” employee there for roughly seven years, her performance and attendance of late had been quite displeasing to her boss, who, intimidatingly enough, drove a hearse around town–and not for ironic effect. But she couldn’t very well be expected to make it in for her twelve noon shift in the condition she was in. No, her and Dotty needed to do something drastic to get themselves out of their hangover and life funk. And since neither Vegas nor Atlantic City was in as close proximity as Hudson, the latter it would have to be. Peg had only been once before, but it was years ago and she had stayed more on the outskirts of the town for purposes of solitude a.k.a. taking drugs in a cabin with a group of friends.
Dotty, conversely, had no travel experience with the New York that is upstate. But she had long wanted to remedy that so as to be able to classify herself as a true denizen of the environs and not just another west coast hanger-on. And so, with coconut water, coffee and cigarettes in tow, Peg and Dotty sauntered out onto the sidewalk in search of where Peg had parked her vintage black 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood, one of the only good karmic rewards for being related to her shrew of a mother, a woman who continued to chastise Peg’s life decisions until she up and died of a pill overdose in her Boulder manor. That was six years ago now, and Peg and Dotty’s lives had known nothing but the pleasure of driving around Brooklyn since then.
However, Brooklyn has a tendency to grow stale when you enjoy it too much and people who really shouldn’t start to recognize you as a result of your “antics.” Yet, had Peg and Dotty known just how much they were going to stand out in Hudson, they might have gone somewhere else that made them appear less conspicuous–apparently all black ensembles were conspicuous in a place like Hudson.
Alas, after a two hour and thirty minute drive that turned out to be four hours thanks to random patches of midday traffic on the 678, it was too late to renege on their commitment to the Rip Van Winkle-loving town. As Peg turned the Cadillac onto Warren Street, the main and only drag, it was evident to Dotty that they had embarked upon a ghost town. Even so, the two tried to make the best of the overt fate of banality that awaited them by commencing at an antique furniture store called simply Warren Street Antiques. Peg was the one who had a greater sense of permanence about life, and was therefore more susceptible to the notion of buying overpriced furniture merely because it was dubbed “old.” Ironically and in contrast, the older a person got, the less valuable she became, Dotty couldn’t help thinking as she felt the texture of a not so smooth tapestry.
After making their way in the direction away from the Hudson River, they continued entering any and every available store that wasn’t closed due to the excuse of it being Monday. This also included Sideshow, a thrift store that Peg had high hopes for, only for them to be dashed when the denim jacket with a giant white tiger on the back turned out to be $500 rather than $50. Needless to say, they left empty-handed and suddenly ravenous from the realization that they had only consumed the coconut water, cigarettes and coffee they had packed for the car ride.
The diner a few doors over, Grazin’, had come highly recommended by the internet and was, of course, one of the only restaurants operating at this time of day (all of the Italian ones weren’t an option until five or six o’ clock). Though Peg and Dotty had both vowed to go on a diet starting this week–as they had been ever since about ten years ago–a burger was essentially the only menu item from which to choose. Figuring, fuck it, might as well order a drink, they asked the rotund waitress to infuse their milkshake with an adequate ratio of Jameson, which Peg provided her with from the recesses of her purse.
While waiting for their order, Peg and Dotty tried to rack their brains for something else to fill the day apart from the frivolity of largely disinterested shopping. When Peg went to the bathroom, Dotty tried to ask the waitress for advice. She said, “Well, you might wanna go to the Applebee’s over there on Fairview Avenue if you wanna keep drinking. I don’t usually really hang out in this part of Hudson.” It was then Dotty knew it would soon be time to make their way back to Brooklyn. She was starting to realize that the longer you stay in New York City, the more Twilight Zone-esque it feels outside of it. And maybe she was fine with the stigma of being labeled “the NYC broad”–the girl too “stuck up” and “self-important” to give other American cities a chance, even if they were still in the state of New York.
Leaving Grazin’ with the perfect drunken haze, Peg and Dotty made their way back past Sideshow, walking further on to John Doe Books and Records, which sold more records than books and was therefore named in a strange arrangement of words. It was the only thing left open to experience; and it was there that Dotty foolishly tried to be sentimental and buy some records for a bloke she had been, for all intents and purposes, dating, but who had yet to make a move on her or express genuine interest other than friendship. Peg, in fact, advised her, “You’re an idiot if you buy a present for a guy–even when he does give a shit about you.” Nonetheless, Dotty would never learn any kind of lesson regarding the apparent necessity of game-playing in straight relationships.
As they approached the counter, the quintessentially long haired hippie of a cashier–probably the owner, too–looked Peg and Dotty up and down and said, “So what happened? You guys just said, ‘It’s Monday, let’s go to Hudson’?” Peg and Dotty looked at each other sheepishly at first, then burst out laughing, admitting, “Yeah.” The cashier then mentioned he was playing a show at a place called Club Helsinki, though on the map it was listed as Helsinki Hudson. Perhaps they had gained more insider information about the town than they had bargained for, knowing what locals truly called their favorite haunts and all.
“We’ll be long gone by the time you go on,” assured Dotty. And, with thanks given from the cashier for supporting not just the music industry, but the fledgling Hudson business market on a Monday, the two left, headed toward the river for one final glimpse of what they really came for: the sweeping vista of the Hudson.
At the edge of the river, Peg took a Polaroid of Dotty near a statue of a woman with no plaque to indicate who she was. Dotty remarked, “You never see statues of two women together.”
Peg lit a cigarette, sighed and said, “That’s because they all found men to be put next to. We’re the only two women on the planet who are going to need a statue made with each other.”
“That’s fine by me. As long as it’s ‘erected’ in Brooklyn.”
“Maybe we ought to start saving money for it now,” Peg suggested, exhaling a plume of smoke.
Dotty looked out again at the river, letting the silence and tranquility imbue her. “You know, it actually wouldn’t be so bad to have the statue put up in Hudson.”
The more Dotty thought about it, the more she felt Hudson suited them–or rather, what was to be the immortalization of them in bronze. It was an abyss tailored for pariahs, welcoming for those who slipped through the societal cracks.
Upon apprehending this, the Cadillac Fleetwood rattled down Warren Street in one final blaze of smoky tailpipe glory. Peg and Dotty had left their imprint on Hudson, and were sure to join the nameless statue of a woman by the river any day now.