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Distilled Spirits: Ch. 8 — Glenn

September 10, 2013

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 2:  “Troubled Times”

Glenn

         Glenn tried again, and this time the call went straight to voicemail.

“Hey Sidney,” he said into his phone outside the busy, South Harbor soup kitchen, “give me a call back sometime will you?  I heard—I heard everything worked out with the rent.  Maybe I can help you find some work?  Call me back.”

His friend hadn’t answered a single call since Glenn convinced him to drop the video game project run by the racist.  It didn’t take much convincing—Sidney knew it was the right thing to do and, given enough time, the ‘right thing’ was what Sidney almost always did.

It’s what he usually did.

Glenn wasn’t sure how he had become the bad guy recently, but no one seemed to have time for him.  Caitlyn was never in one place for more than half a day and Geno wouldn’t even play Mario Kart, instead locking himself in his room and ‘practicing’.  And this was the worst practice that Glenn ever had to endure—the unknowable smells from the kitchen, the brass sounds and curses from his room, the stained and chemically treated pants left to dry on the windowsill had all turned the apartment into just a place to try and sleep.

‘Practicing’ used to mean Geno beating his best track time on Rainbow Road.

Something had gotten into Geno—he had this look in his eyes like he used to get when he added a new major while in university.

“You’re gonna burn yourself,” someone said, and Glenn looked at his hand.

His cigarette had burned to the filter and was warm between his fingers—he dropped it and stepped on it, then put the butt back in his pack.  A couple of homeless people loitering around the kitchen were watching, and laughed.

“You can take off, you know,” his coworker Molly said, leaning against the wall beside the entrance, “the lunch rush is over and today’s pretty slow.  It’s fine,” she added when he started to object.

Glenn had met girls in more than a dozen countries, and Molly might’ve been the most discordant and impossible to understand of them all.

And they had the benefit of a common language.

The lanky-looking girl could trip over her own feet, yet Glenn had seen her dancing on weekends.  She wore mostly black but her room was decorated pink.  She was a vegetarian while believing a bacon cheeseburger should be listed among the unalienable rights of man.

Molly hated anything that resembled work, and last week she had put in more hours in the kitchen than anyone else.

“Lighter?” She held out her hand.

“How long have I been out here?” Glenn asked, handing his over.

“Like twenty minutes, or something,” Molly said.  “It’s slow, I said—don’t worry.”

Glenn watched a homeless man pick up a drifting plastic water bottle and toss it in the recycling bin, and he remembered someone.

“You know who Crazy Man Joe is, right?”

“Yeah,” Molly said.  “Bamboo spear guy?”

Glenn nodded.  “You seen him recently?  I mean, does he ever turn up here?”

“A few times,” she said, handing the lighter back.  “It’s been probably three weeks.”

“I haven’t seen him in a while either,” he said.

She saw the look on his face.  “They’re called transient people for a reason, Glenn.  Christ, they don’t stay in one place.  He’ll turn up.”

“Or he won’t.”

“Or he won’t,” Molly admitted, squinting behind Glenn.  “Wouldn’t be the first time.  Um,” she gestured with her cigarette, “does that guy know you?  Cause he’s headed right for you.”

“Shit,” Glenn said, looking over his shoulder.  “I gotta go.  I’ll be in on Thursday.”

Caitlyn’s boyfriend was walking toward them, a few buildings down, and Glenn met him halfway.

“Have you seen Caitlyn?” Drew said when they were a few strides apart.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Have you seen her?  Caitlyn,” Drew said again, and glanced around like he had been walking without paying attention to his surroundings.  He was wearing nurse’s scrubs on his legs and some light-looking exercise shirt.

“We had a quick dinner together a couple of nights ago,” Glenn said, “but—”

“She’s not answering her phone,” Drew said.  “But it keeps ringing—it’s working.”

“She’s probably just—”

“That stupid—”

“What happened?” Glenn interrupted, steering Drew down the street.  There was a coffee shop on the corner that gave away one free donut per person every Monday—the owner had the facial memory of an FBI database.

“She’s dealing,” Drew said.  “She’s selling the morphine.”  He put his arm out when Glenn made to enter the shop.  “Sidney—Sidney won’t even let me in the apartment!”

Glenn hadn’t known almost any of this, and quickly put it together—where the rent money had come from.

“You’re mad—” Glenn started but was cut off.

“Damn fucking right I am,” Drew said, moving away from the entrance so a homeless woman could go in.

“About the mor—”

“About Caitlyn,” Drew said, clenching his fists.  “I’m worried about her.  Look, I’m not a bad person, Glenn.  You know me a bit.  We fight—me and her—who doesn’t?  I’m just . . . worried.  I need to find her.”  He leaned against the coffee shop window.  “I need to tell you something about her.”

“What?”

“She—she almost died once,” Drew said.  “She got some impure shit off the street and it nearly killed her.”

“When?”

“Six months ago,” Drew said.  “You were out of the country I think.”

“Shit—what?  Isn’t that—” Glenn pulled at the hair on the back of his head.  “Is that how you met?  You picked her up at the hospital?”

“That’s how we met, yeah.  It’s safer this way,” Drew said.  “I can control it and—well, I like the high, too.”

“How—”

“I can make sure she’s safe—I can,” Drew said, “but not if she ignores me.  If she tries cold turkey, or if she goes to a dealer, she could—”

“Okay,” Glenn said, deciding.

“Okay?”

“She worries me too sometimes.” Glenn said.  “But she’s not stupid, even when she acts it.  So here’s what’s gonna happen: I’ll text Sidney, and I’ll tell him that I’m giving his number to you.  I’ll tell him to answer your call, but he might not.”

“Why—”

“You should know something if you don’t already,” Glenn said.  “Sidney knows about all this.”

“He won’t if you don’t tell—”

“No, those two share everything,” Glenn said.  “Sidney knows how you met, but I don’t think he knows where the money came from.  That’s why I’m doing this.  Maybe the two of you can help her—she won’t listen to me.”

Drew thought a moment and checked his phone.  “Okay, fine, thanks,” he said.  After he gave Glenn his number, Drew started walking back in the direction of his hospital, and stopped. “You’ll text him, right?”

Glenn didn’t answer and stepped inside the coffee shop.

All of the old-fashioned donuts were gone and that was all wanted.  He left and went back to the soup kitchen—a few more hours of work, and not thinking about anything else, was exactly what Glenn needed right now.

END OF EPISODE 2

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