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Distilled Spirits: Ch. 2 — Geno

July 27, 2013

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 1: “Distilled Spirits”



Like some young professionals, Geno has a handful of part-time jobs.

Like very few of them, he likes it this way.

Like many kids born in the 80s, Geno has no idea what society wants of him.

Like a surprisingly large amount of them, he’s pretty sure it’s everyone else that’s weird.

Expectations and decisions.

High school counselor and college advisor suggestions that were forgotten by lunch.

Geno can do a lot of things, but every day he sees people he never wants to be.  Like the kind of person who wakes up on time for work.


“You’re gonna be late,” a shape on the couch said when Geno stumbled out of his bedroom in a towel.  Glenn was in a different country and there shouldn’t have been anyone else here.

“It’s 7:50,” the shape—Caitlyn said, uncovering her head and slender shoulders, long, brown, and tangled hair spilling out.    A pile of clothes sat beside her.

“Are you naked?”  Geno looked away and saw the apartment door was locked, the heavy bolt drawn across.

“This blanket felt sooooooo good last night.  It was like—it was like part of me,” Caitlyn said, staring at the ceiling and hugging the pillowy white blanket.

Geno tugged his towel tighter and walked into the kitchen.  He read the note on the fridge for the millionth time—‘Back in early August’—then opened the fridge just to hear the machinery hum.  The apartment was too quiet when Glenn wasn’t around.

Taking out orange juice, Geno found the bread and dropped two slices into the toaster.

A high countertop separated the two rooms and he could see Caitlyn wriggle deeper into the couch.    Geno wasn’t sure if she ever hid in his apartment when no one was around, but she probably did, and he hoped no one else knew the trick to the door.

“Want anything?” Geno called.


“Wanna talk about it?”

“Don’t tell Sid I stayed here,” Caitlyn said, yawning.  “He’ll just worry—okay?”

After the toast popped and Geno buttered it, he grabbed the remote from the fruit bowl and carried it all into the other room.  He laid the plate on the small table next to Caitlyn.

“Put some Netflix on,” he said.  “I gotta take a shower.

*          *          *

When Geno got out and dressed, Caitlyn was sitting up in her bra and held the blanket to her stomach.

She looked at her phone.  “ 8:10—are they gonna fire you?”

“It’s freelance,” Geno said, grabbing his camera bag from beside the door.  “So, I don’t know, actually.”

Caitlyn nodded but her eyes were on the TV that hadn’t been turned on.  The orange juice was half finished and only nibbled toast crusts remained on the plate.  Geno opened the door but before he left he tried to get Caitlyn’s attention.  “Shower and stay as long as you want.”

She wouldn’t be there by the time Geno finished the job.  Even now, her boyfriend was probably waiting for her to come back.


The breeze carried an ocean chill—just the way Geno liked it.  He didn’t like the dive-bombing seagulls as much, but affordable rent kept him in the Inner Harbor.  Glenn practically owning the building also helped.

Geno could’ve called a cab and he was pretty sure a bus route shadowed his path, but both would’ve gotten him there too quickly.  Being late to work was an important aspect of what he considered a form of performance art, though others called it laziness.  He walked a fine a line, and any misstep could mean one of two things:

  1. He might be fired
  2. Worse, he might be promoted and given more responsibility

Ever since Geno dropped out of college, he’d successfully avoided either disaster.

The pier he was working at today was only a twenty minute walk away and after stopping for some street coffee and a doughnut, he was only forty-five minutes late.  The lawyer was still waiting for him when he arrived though.

Cigarette butts littered the ground.

“You see that big tug at the end—the blue and white one?” the lawyer asked and pointed for a greeting.

Geno nodded.

“That’s the one.  The Daisy or something—some girly name.”  The lawyer glanced at Geno’s coffee cup and rubbed his hands together.  “You got everything you need?”

Geno nodded.

“Good.  Get shots of the dock—that’s what caused the damage.  And you’re not getting paid for any artistic bullshit this time.”

When Geno left the lawyer and went down the pier, he took out his camera and the seagulls left their favorite spots like they were camera shy.  Or hated him.  There weren’t many people like Geno to hate—he was the only freelance maritime law photographer in the city.  The other two had joined local firms, and last Geno heard, Smith, Smythe, and Smithers was thinking about hiring him.

That would mean regular hours.  And more of them.

Geno popped the lens off and knelt, judged the light, and sighted along the pier edge.  A small seagull had perched atop a jagged wooden chunk that poked out over the water.  The bird cocked its head just as the sun broke through some low clouds-–click.

He glanced at the picture and adjusted his settings.

According to the e-mail that the lawyer had sent, the Daisy was actually called Dazai—the smallest tug in a small tug fleet operated by a Japanese family—and when Geno got to the boat, he noticed a number of things.  But noticing things wasn’t his job so he quickly forgot that the tug was tied too closely and unevenly to the dock, and that her bow extended beyond the designated berth.  After all, the tug boat family was the lawyer’s client, and the lawyer was paying Geno money.

He had gotten in trouble in the past for not knowing which side he was on.

Geno happily snapped away, edging closer to the 100 pictures that the lawyer requested, but he wasn’t sure what the last 85 would be.  After the first 15 documented all of the superficial damage that the aging dock had caused to the Dazai, he had to get creative.

  • 15 were unnecessarily close-up recreations of the first 15
  • 10 were all shots of the same jagged dock piece with different things in Geno’s pocket used for scale
  • 3 shots depicted the dollar bill that he had used for scale as it sadly sunk into the water
  • 7 documented the trials of some ants in search of food on the dock
  • the next 8 were wide angles of the scene that might’ve had shadow-puppets visible on the edge of the frame
  • 13 were in black and white while Geno spoke to himself in a Detective-Noir voice
  • 9 were serious shots again, because he was running out of ideas
  • and the last 20 were divided between seagulls that arguably had part of the tug or the dock in the shot
  • 3 more were thrown in—repeat attempts of his better ones

Always give a client more than they think they need.

Geno strolled back down the pier, whistling a nameless tune, and the seagulls returned in force to reclaim their territory.  The lawyer had paid him for three hours and the job was done in thirty-five minutes.

The Chinese place on the way back was selling two dumplings for $1 and a nearly empty fridge waited for Geno back home.  He only had a $10 bill and Han hated making change, so Geno called the apartment to see if Caitlyn wanted some but no one was there to answer.





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