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Distilled Spirits: Ch. 11 — Caitlyn

October 1, 2013

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 3:  “Drought at the Fountain of Youth”

Caitlyn

            Painting was as fun as Cait remembered.

She’d had classier clientele than the homeless of New Portsmouth, but not many.  Usually the more money someone paid, the more boring a painting they requested.  Like the flowers that some South Harbor apartment buildings wanted so they could reprint and plaster their hallways.

No one noticed that the blooming flora often resembled the female reproductive system.

“Thanks for this, Glenn,” Cait said.  “Just—thanks.”

“It’s the city’s money,” Glenn said.  “I can hire any ‘professional painter’, or so the fine print says.”  He was sitting on a stool beside her, lazily mixing some paint.  There hadn’t been a big crowd at the soup kitchen today.

“Professional?”  Cait paused with her thick brush an inch from the wall.  “I haven’t sold a piece for years.”

“Well, sometimes the city feels guilty,” Glenn said.  “They spread the money around during the holidays and elections.  When someone wants to look good.”

“Isn’t this illegal?” Cait asked, turning around.  “Like, nepotism?”

“Cronyism,” Molly said, walking up behind Glenn.  The tall girl—a bit shorter than Cait— had taken off her latex gloves to watch them paint, still wearing a stained white apron over her black shirt and jeans.  “You two aren’t related, right?”

Cait smiled at her.  Everyone who worked at the kitchen had treated Cait like a friend since she started painting.

“Thanks for helping,” Molly said.  “No one’s bothered you?  Some guys here can be a bit pushy when it comes to women.”

“No,” Cait said, “but—hey, Glenn, did you see Crazy Man Joe earlier?  He didn’t look well.”

Glenn frowned.  “What—what’s wrong?”

Cait put her brush down and wiped sweat from her forehead.  “He was leaning on that cane of his—had a pretty bad cough.”

“You still worried about him, Glenn?” Molly asked, glancing behind her.  The few homeless in line were being served by the two other volunteers.

“He worries about everyone,” Cait said.  “He can’t help it.”

Glenn sighed and stood up, reaching for his cigarettes.  He walked outside without a word.

The wall that Cait had been painting was pretty much done.

“He showed me your book,” Molly said.  “I liked the message.”

“Bit different than this,” Cait muttered, jerking a thumb at the wall.  She stretched her back. “What time is it?”

“Time for you to go home,” Molly said.  “You got here before me.  Have you eaten?”

“Eaten?”  Cait thought, rubbing her eyes.   “Yeah, I think a bagel or something.”

“Go home,” Molly said, and then she smiled.  The pure smile looked funny under her pierced nose and black mascara.  “Thanks again.”

Cait nodded and mentioned that she’d be back on the weekend to finish.  When Cait stepped outside, the low sun blinded her, and she slipped a sweatshirt over her paint-splotched shirt.

“Christ you look tired,” Glenn said.

Cait blinked.  Glenn was leaning against the covered bus stop and Cait sat down on a nearby fire hydrant, reaching her hand up.  Glenn took the cigarette from his mouth and handed it to her, lighting another one.

“No one wants to know they look tired,” Cait said, exhaling.  “Girls, especially.”

“You look pretty,” Glenn said, grinning around his smoke.  “You should get a purse to match your jeans.”

Cait glanced down—a couple of pink paint droplets trailed down her thigh.   “I like pink sometimes,” she said.  “In school, living in the Feminazi Compound—I know people called our apartment that—guys, I liked when guys bought me dinner, you know.  I still liked when they opened doors for me.”

Glenn didn’t have an answer, and they smoked in city-silence.

The 19A rounded their corner and Cait flicked her smoke, mumbling a ‘thanks’ to Glenn.  She sat by herself toward the back of the bus and let the conversations meld together without listening to one.  As she crossed the bridge, Cait was reminded of a song, and then couldn’t get it out of her head.

I spent the afternoon in cars,” she sang quietly to herself.

Cait blinked, and she was at her stop.  A figure was waiting in front of her building—Drew was early.  It was his day off, but he still looked professional in his slacks and button-up shirt that was tucked in for whatever reason.  His sleeves were rolled up and his shirt was tight across his chest.

“Waiting long?” Cait asked, keying open the door.

“A few minutes,” Drew said.  He followed her into the lobby.

On the third floor, Cait heard her apartment door close above them—Sid was leaving.  He nodded as he passed them on the stairs, slipping a jacket on.

“Hey guys—good timing,” Sid said.  “I’ll be out.”

“Why don’t you join us?” Drew said.  Even standing a step above Sid, Drew’s head was level with his.  “Tune out for a while?”

Sid’s eyes flicked between the two of them.  “Ask her,” he said, “about the one time I tried it.  I’m meeting Eri—have a good night.”

Cait watched him descend the stairs but he never looked back.  She wasn’t sure how many times he had gone out with Eri, but they were definitely sleeping with each other.  He sometimes came home reeking of sex.

“What did he mean?” Drew asked.

Cait swallowed.  “Oh.  I got him high one night—before I met you.  Things got weird.”

“Why are you grinning?”

Cait climbed the last few steps with heavy legs.  The door was unlocked and they went inside.  She dropped her bag of brushes and Drew was on her right away—hands enveloping hers, pressing her against the door.

“We have the place to ourselves,” Drew said after a kiss.

“Wait, I’m exhausted,” she said, “I feel—”

“How ‘bout the couch?”

“What?”

Drew glanced at the couch that faced the fish tank.  A couple of the fish were pressed against the glass.  “Why not?  We’ve never done it there.”

“Sid bought that.”

“So?  Who cares?” he said, letting her hands go.

Cait wrung her fingers behind his back to scrape off dry paint.  She needed a shower.  “Can we just use my room?”

Her room was as warm as her skin—she had left the heater on.  Cait threw her sweatshirt off and cracked the window above the record player.  Drew’s arms easily wrapped around her body, squeezing her close.  He had taken off his shirt.  Cait’s hips grinded against his by reflex before she stopped herself.

“Drew, wait.  Can we—”

“You know you want it,” he said.

His fingers trailed down her stomach and he undid the button on her jeans, breath hot on her neck.  Drew took her ear lightly between his teeth—he knew what to do.  It wasn’t fair.  He never needed much training.

“Can you—can you grab me two?” Cait asked him, gesturing to her bed, and the pressure was immediately gone.

Cait tried to count the grooves on the album that she had listened to that morning.  She dropped the needle as Drew handed her a glass of water and two tabs of morphine.

The sky is blue most every day,”—Track 4 began mid-song.

She tried to give a tab to Drew but he shook his head.

“No,” he said, looking away.  “It makes it harder for me to . . .”

“Fuck?”

“I lose feeling,” he said.

“That’s the point.”  Cait tossed the tabs in her mouth, chewing one.  “We could—we could just lay together.”

“No, I need this.”

“Lonely as a cloud

in the Golden State.”

Cait took a long drink of water.

“Okay,” she said.  “Do my zipper.”

He unzipped her jeans and she shimmied out of them.  He kept his hands on her hips—it felt like he could toss Cait across the room if he wanted to.

“You own pink panties?” Drew said.

Cait smiled, eyes following the curves of his shoulders to the visible lines of his stomach—the strip of hair that forced her gaze lower.  Sometimes she didn’t mind shorter guys.

“Surprised I’m a girl?” she said.  “Why are you still wearing pants?”

Drew leaped across the room and flipped the lights off.

“The only substance is the fog

and it hides all that has gone wrong.”

Before Cait’s eyes adjusted, Drew picked her up and tried to lay her on the bed but she gripped his back, pulling him on top.  He was naked—everything pressed against Cait like a heavy blanket.  They kissed and their fingers locked.

Be still this old heart.

Be still this old skin.

Drink your last drink.

Sin your last sin.”

Drew’s breath coated her body—he pulled her shirt up and kissed his way down her stomach.  He gripped her panties, tongue circling her naval.

“No, skip that,” Cait said, grabbing a fistful of his short hair and pulling his head up. “Just hold me down and fuck me.”

Cait’s body sunk into the mattress and she closed her eyes.

“Four seconds was the longest wait.”

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