One evening after an early supper Lori was upstairs sewing when Harvey came into the room and asked,
"Hey, Brat, what do you think about me refinishing that desk of yours now?"
"Sure, that would be great--is there enough room to work up there? I know we've been shoving stuff up there ever since we moved in--"
"No, I looked earlier, I think I can do it, but I'll have to open the window and use the fan to keep the air circulating. Especially if I paint or stain. Do you want it to look the same--I mean use the same color paint? Or can I just strip it and stain it or maybe give it a distressed look?"
"If you're willing to do this, you can do it any way you want, sweetie. Probably it would be better stained anyway. When we put the cribs away and get them beds eventually I had planned on sticking to a natural wood tone. But if that's too dull, go ahead and experiment."
Heading up to the attic Harvey looked over the desk and the area around it, plotting his next steps. He spread newspapers around and next he would take out all the drawers. He had already emptied all the papers, and other items out of the desk at her mother's house and put them in boxes for Lori to sort. At the same time the drawers were put in the truck separately just to lighten the weight as he and Gareth moved the big desk, but once it was in the attic he'd put the empty drawers back in place. It was simple and quick to remove them again now. But he hadn't worried about the little secret cupboard drawers; they weighed next to nothing, but they had to come out so he could strip and sand everything. It was when he opened one of these little cubbies that a small envelope fluttered out from underneath the drawer. It had evidently been taped underneath the drawer; there was still tape on it that was no longer sticky. As he bent to retrieve it he realized a photo had fallen out of it. The photo was upside down and he turned it over curiously.
It was a photo of a man. It took Harvey a moment to recognize him because his hair was different and he was younger, but it was definitely Brian Ottomas. He knew Lori had once had a thing for him when she was sixteen, she'd told Harvey about it back in college, but she'd claimed he had never returned her feelings. So how did she come to have a photo of him?
Harvey stuck it back in the envelope and put it on the desk next to some decorative boxes stored there. She might still want it; certainly it was her property. He tried to focus his mind back on the task at hand, but he could not. Finally he took the envelope and went down to Lori's sewing room where she was still working.
She'd heard him come down from the attic and, without looking up, asked,
"How's it going?"
He laid the envelope down on the sewing table beside her.
"I found this in your desk; or it fell out of your desk, anyway. Thought you might want it."
Lori looked at it and had a momentary sick feeling. She recognized it and she knew what was inside.
Chapter where teenaged Lori takes Brian's picture HERE
Chapter where she hides the photo in her desk HERE
"Open it," Harvey suggested.
His face showed no expression and there was nothing to do but pick up the envelope and slip the photo out. Of course, it was the picture she took years ago at the Arcade; the one Brian had posed for only reluctantly. She had actually forgotten about it even existing. The last time she'd looked at it was when she came home for a visit during college; right after she'd run into Brian at Goth's.
University Update where Lori runs into Brian and tells Harvey about it HERE
Then she'd tucked it back into the envelope and taped it back in its secret place in the cubby. How stupid of her. How incredibly stupid. She should have destroyed it at the time because by then she knew she loved Harvey and they were talking marriage. Now she barely glanced at it before putting it back down on the table. She stood up, looking into his eyes so he would know it meant nothing.
"Harvey, I just forgot about it being there, you must know that. I haven't even thought about it in years. It was just..."
"I know the whole story; all about how you thought he was so wonderful, but he was older and didn't care about you. What bothers me is that you kept it."
"I didn't really make a conscious effort to 'keep it'; I just forgot it was there."
Harvey's face was still expressionless as he told her,
"Well, now you have it back again."
"I don't want it," she whispered then added in a stronger voice, "Please don't make this into a big thing. It's nothing. I was just a kid. I'll tear it up."
"Oh, I know you were just a kid," for the first time he showed some anger, "You were just a kid when you got it but what about when we were in college--why didn't you throw it out then?"
She had no answer for that but she pointed out,
"Well, obviously I haven't even looked at it until you gave it to me, not in years. That's why it was still in the desk. If I'd wanted it why would I have left it there?"
He thought about it and relented a little.
"Yeah, I guess. It just...took me by surprise. You told me about him after you saw him that time, but I thought of the guy as this old man you chased after and who didn't feel the same way about you. That's what you told me. I mean, he still dresses like a biker...or a drug lord or something. In that picture, though, he doesn't look so threatening so I guess I can see how you could have been attracted, even if he was a lot older. You're always so dramatic, it would have appealed to you. The thing is, he posed for you, didn't he," it was not a question, it was more of an accusation, "I mean, he knew you wanted a photo of him, knew that's what you were doing. If he didn't care about you that way and wanted you to leave him alone---which is what you kept telling me--why would he do that? It's more like he was at least a little involved with you."
At last Lori didn't know what to say. Brian had posed for her, that was true, and he'd done it to please her...knowing that she was crazy about him. She dared not tell Harvey that Brian had taken a photo of her, too; in fact, she'd just recalled that with a jolt. Of course, he had probably gotten rid of it when he left town that time along with the cell phone that--but never mind about the cell phone. That was another can of worms she didn't want to open. Now that she thought about the whole thing through an adult's eyes, it was admittedly odd behavior for a man who was bored by a teenager running after him. Especially if he was trying to get rid of her.
Harvey was remembering,
"Now that I'm thinking about it in retrospect, you were up there by the band at the block party, right next to him practically. Like a dumb groupie--even though his wife was right up there, too. Or didn't you care?"
"Harvey...I..." she stammered.
"When the dance was over I was with Gareth and Mel and I looked over and you were having what looked like a serious conversation with him."
"But it didn't bother you then--"
Harvey's face showed irritation and embarrassment,
"Yes, it did, I just didn't want to admit I was jealous."
Block Party update where Lori talks with Brian HERE
Oh, fine, Lori thought. All this time he's been upset about this. What do I do now? I can't bear to have Harvey angry with me; I never could.
She looked down at the picture again, suddenly hating Brian for the moment. Nothing, nothing, nothing had ever really even happened yet he kept coming back into her life one way or another...and causing problems when he did so.
"Well, this is just stupid," she said in disgust.
Quickly folding the photo she tore it in half once and then again and chucked it in the wastebasket by the table.
"There. All gone. I'm so sorry, honestly, I just didn't remember that I even had it," she apologized.
"You didn't have to do that," Harvey began.
"Oh, yeah, right," now she was the one who was irritated, "I like some guy when I'm sixteen years old who never even held hands with me, he goes away, I don't see him FOR YEARS and when I do, the first time it's in a public place and the second time, I'm with you and you can see everything. Yet, I'm facing an inquisition. Yeah, I definitely did have to get rid of it."
Harvey looked ashamed suddenly and Lori was instantly sorry she'd said it that way.
"Harvey. Honey. I don't care about the photo. I don't want it. Especially if it made you feel bad. Because I love you--more than ever--and I never want to hurt you.
Don't you know that by now?"
She slipped her arms around him and hugged him and he responded as warmly as ever. Then his lips met hers.
So that was an end to it, Lori thought with relief. Everything was back to normal.