“Dike, Goddess of Thigh,” Kristina Stocks

Mar 10th, 2021 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I found my roommate on Kijiji. The ad read:

Basement Apt- Seeking Roommate.
Fully stocked kitchen, stumbling distance to bars and restaurants. In a great area.
Definitely not the Ritz. 400/month. Please don’t be too sketchy.

Clark had me at “Please don’t be too sketchy”. There were no pictures of the place, which should have alarmed me, but did not. We texted for a little while. He finally sent pictures. Not the Ritz, but cute and economical. I asked to add him on Facebook to ensure he was not a serial killer. In retrospect, I bet Ted Bundy would have had a very endearing internet presence.

Clark is a criminal defense lawyer. He has dark brown eyes and a receding hairline. He buys his suits in Chinatown and more than once has ripped the sleeves thin material during trial, arms flailing in indignation.


It is a Tuesday evening and I have invited Erin over for dinner. I had bumped into Clark over lunchtime. He was wearing robes and his thin hair was in tufts, uncharacteristically cagey and nervous, snapping as he uncorked a pen and ink splashed on his thumb, the cheap plastic making a crack as he flung it across the room. He was headed to court. I asked if he would like to join Erin and I for stir fry.

“Is it you or Erin cooking?” He asked, scrunching his nose like there was a right answer.


Later, my stir-fry is burning. “Oh for fu–…”  The kitchen is cramped and hot, no bigger than a sauna. As I am trying to toss the charred bits and make them salvageable, Clark walks into the kitchen, turns to Erin and flexes.

“I ripped my suit again today.” He is pumping his tattooed bicep through torn fabric and grinning. He then looks at me, “Kind of smells in here – maybe you should have let Erin cook.”

“Okay—” I say, “Out. It’s almost ready.” Erin rolls her eyes.

Erin grabs our cracked Dollarama dishware, opens crooked drawers, and sighs in frustration as she tries to find a serving spoon. Erin has a low tolerance for messes. Clark and I operate well as roommates, partly because we have a very high tolerance for messes. I watch the vein in Erin’s forehead nearly explode as she knocks over a series of cans on the counter: chickpeas, diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts tumbling on the floor.

I motion for her to sit down. I grab the first thing I see (a mug) and ladle the chunks of vegetable and noodle on the plates. I set the meal in front of them. Erin smiles wanly and brings the black veg up to her mouth. Clark chews, looks at me and says, “It tastes like sand.” He holds up a piece of broccoli and taps it against his plate. Parts of the head fall and materialize to dust.

Clark’s major rant this evening focuses on the B he got in an undergraduate Philosophy 300 class seven years ago.

“You do not understand,” he bangs the table, “I deserved an A.”

“Clark,” I say, “People get Bs.”

“Why?” Erin asks.

“I had a thigh tattoo done for my final project.”

I choke on my wine, “What do you mean, a thigh tattoo?”

“The project was for my final grade. It was meant to creatively emphasize what we had studied– some wrote flowery essays on Kant, Plato. One girl did a painting of what Augustine’s City of God would look like. I got a tattoo. Of Dike,” He is pronouncing the name as it is spelled. I would later learn that the proper pronunciation is Thee-key, “The Goddess of moral order. Of Justice.” At this, Clark pumps his fist in the air like he’s talking about a rock star, not a deity.

Clark sighs and begins to unbutton his dress pants. He stands up, and the pants fall to his ankles. He’s wearing briefs. He slams his left foot on the dining room chair, hand pointing to his thigh. The tattoo is in the faded style of the nineties: cartoonish, exaggerated features, revealing a busty woman, wearing robes and holding the scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other. There is a murky green in the background that suggests a cloud, or maybe an ethereal slime.

“Dike lived during the Golden ages when men lived in peace with each other. However, men became greedy and Dike, enraged, decided to go to the sky. Of course, Greek mythology isn’t considered philosophical, but my professor was an unrelenting feminist and I was certain she would grade me positively for it.”

I am totally unclear about how this has anything to do with philosophy, or feminism. From where I am standing, a B looks generous.

“What’s the green stuff?” I ask.

“It’s symbolic of breaking away from the chaos of man.” He shrugs.

“Okay…” Oh, god. “Well, the justice scale makes sense, but the sword?”

Clark scans between the two of us, and after a pause says, “I just thought the sword looked cool.”

We laugh a lot that night, punctuated by moments of discomfort where Clark takes a joke too far, or bends at the wrong angle (he refused to put his pants back on).

At one point he says to me, “Is Trump really so bad?”

He invites Erin and me to his annual Bacchanalia party and says, “There are no rules – none.” And then, after a pause, deepening his voice,I am being intentionally suggestive.”

He belabours the benefits of psychedelic use,

“DMT is the single greatest hallucinogen you will ever take in your life. Your life! Don’t you want to meet God?”

By the end of the night, the three of us have faint pinkish stains on our teeth from the red wine, and I bid farewell to Erin and wash my face.

Clark has put his pyjamas on (baggy sweats and an Adventure Time t-shirt), and the buzz of a social evening has worn off. His shoulders, which were held theatrically high as he told stories, have relaxed. He’s loading dishes into the dishwasher and examines the charred pan from my burnt stir fry.

“I’ll get that,” I say. He declines and says, “I downloaded West World and have been waiting to watch it together. Let’s do that instead, we can get the rest of this tomorrow.”

As we let the dishes soak and flip on the show, I am met with an overwhelming gratitude for my friend.

I like Clark best in these moments, the comfortable ones, the ones without pretense.

He smiles, reaches over, and shakes my knee affectionately.

Then he burps.


Kristina Stocks is a researcher and writer living in Edmonton, Alberta with an unreliable herb garden and a Siberian Husky that hates the snow. She has been published in The Quill, Hive Avenue Literary Magazine, and has a forthcoming short story called “Bees” appearing in Drunk Monkeys Literature + Film in 2021.

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