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Distilled Spirits: Ch. 18 — Geno

December 27, 2013

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 5:  “You Know I Cannot Lie”

Geno

Someone was knocking on the door on the day after Christmas and Geno wasn’t expecting any late packages.

“Door!” he yelled from his bed.

Geno rolled over and looked at his phone—11:37 AM.  He hadn’t missed any texts or calls.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

He had no responsibilities this day and nobody was expecting anything of him.   His gifting was finished.  He bought Sidney an original Super Scope 6 a week ago and Caitlyn never wanted anything.  Glenn would pick out a charity that Geno could donate to, or maybe they’d “volunteer” together somewhere.

“Door!” Geno tried again.  He groped the bed-stand for a glass of water but it wasn’t there.  “Where the fuck is Glenn?”

The two of them had walked home from the bar last night.

That’s when Geno’s memories stopped.

KNOCK KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK

Whoever was out there was intent on ruining this day.

Geno tossed his covers off, found the undershirt that he wore yesterday, and stumbled through the living room in his pajamas.

KNOCK KNOCK—

“Okay!” Geno yelled, throwing open his apartment door.

It was like looking into a distorted mirror—a shorter, pudgier, and slightly more sad version of Geno stood there.  The man wore a wrinkled suit that nevertheless fit him perfectly.  With a few buttons undone and a missing tie though, and a gym bag thrown over one shoulder, Geno’s dad didn’t look like a practicing lawyer.

“Why?” Geno said, rubbing his eyes.

“Can I come in?”

“You didn’t even call this time,” Geno said.  “How did you get here?”

“I took the train,” his dad said.

Geno waved him inside and closed the door.

“I thought it’d be a good idea to spend time with you,” his dad said.  He dropped his gym bag beside the couch.

“What happened?” Geno asked.  “Did you get fired?”

“No, of course not,” his dad said.

“Then go back to work.”

“No,” his dad said.

“Then go back to Mom.”

“Are those my two choices?”

Geno tried to flatten his hair as he walked into the kitchen.  “Did you get kicked out of the house?”  He flipped a switch on the coffee maker and couldn’t remember how old the grounds were.  There was a note written on the fridge in Glenn’s handwriting.

“I was asked to leave for a bit,” his dad said.  “It’ll be fine in a couple days.”

Geno squinted at the note—“Crazy Man Joe was spotted across the harbor, gonna see if I can find him.”

The coffee maker gurgled to life.

“I hope I’m not in the way,” his dad said, sitting on the edge of the couch.  He kicked a pair of jeans on the ground.  “Still living with Glenn—not seeing anyone?  How is he?”

Geno processed the questions.  “Glenn’s the same.  No, I’m not seeing—well, sort of.”

“Do you think I can stay here?” his dad asked.  He started testing the firmness of the pillows on the couch.

Geno spilled the coffee as he poured.  It dripped, dripped, dripped while he carried it to his dad.  Geno grabbed a second mug when someone knocked on the door.

He decided he was imaging it.

He just needed coffee then everything would make sense.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK   

Geno gripped his mug tightly.

The coffee machine choked out again.

“Wait in the kitchen,” Geno said to his dad while walking to the door.

After a breath, Geno opened it and blinked at the short girl, feeling a cold draft in the hallway.  Scarlett wore a long coat—the kind female lawyers wore on Law & Order in the winter.  The neck of her coat was open to two bare scoops of flesh that met, pale against grey fabric, and curved out of sight no matter how far Geno leaned.

“Is that my present?” Scarlett asked when Geno didn’t say anything.   She grinned and stepped forward, one finger pointing.  “You guessed my size.”

Geno glanced down and quickly turned around, fumbling with the buttons on the fly to his pajamas.

“You’re, uh, here too?” Geno said.  “What’s going on?”

She raised her eyebrows and Geno tried to stop his gaze from drifting.

He needed to find his pants.

“Merry Christmas to you,” Scarlett said.  “Is someone else—?”

“Did we make plans?  No, forget it—let’s get out of here.”

“Who is it?” Geno’s dad called.  “I can make breakfast.”

Geno turned and yelled, “Stay in the kitchen!”

Scarlett folded her arms.  “Who the fuck is that?”

“Nobody,” Geno said.  He spotted his jeans next to the couch.  “We are literally the only two people here.”

“You look like shit,” Scarlett said, watching Geno hop and try to jam his pajama’d legs into his jeans.

“Listen, I need to get out of here,” Geno said, pushing Scarlett out the door.  “Like, now.”             He ducked back inside: “I’ll be back later.  You can—don’t break anything, Dad!”

“Your dad’s here?” Scarlett put her hands on her hips.  “Wear a jacket at least.”

Geno reached inside to grab the first coat off the rack and slipped it on.  It was army surplus jacket that some homeless person probably died in.

“What’s the deal with your dad?” Scarlett asked.  She followed Geno down the stairs.  “You’re just gonna ignore him?”

“I can stay at your place,” Geno said.

“You can stay at my place?”

“Can I stay at your place?”

“I don’t let every guy who flashes his cock stay over,” Scarlett said, buttoning her coat up a little higher.

They stepped outside just as a bus rolled past.

“Taxi,” Geno said.  “Let’s get coffee—across the water.”

He grabbed Scarlett’s hand and led her to the corner.  They didn’t have to wait long before a taxi stopped and Scarlett joined him in the back of the cab.

“Over the harbor,” Geno said, and their driver headed for the bridge without a word.

He glanced at Scarlett and found himself hating the last button that she’d done up.  The coat was cinched tight at the waist making it seem like parts of her wanted to burst out.

When Geno had to change how he sat to be comfortable, he knew what he had to do.  At least it would shut Sidney up.  Geno told himself that he’d done this countless times—in bars, concerts, bookstores, and once at a Destroyers game.

“Listen, S.  Scarlett, what if . . . I mean,” Geno stuttered and stopped and Sidney’s stupid, encouraging face hung in his mind.   “Fuck it, why don’t we just go for it?”

“What are you even talking about?” she said.

Geno caught a glimpse of the driver shaking his head in the mirror.
“Are you asking me out?”  Scarlett smirked and leaned closer to catch Geno’s answer.  “Or are you afraid of girls, like Sidney says?”

“I’m not afraid—”

“Yeah, okay, he never actually said that,” Scarlett admitted.

“Let’s date,” Geno said.

“What?”

“Let’s date—like, be official.  Facebook status.  Implied plans on weekends.  Everything.”

Scarlett looked out the window and ran a hand through her short hair—it was getting longer.  Long enough to pull.

Geno swallowed, and their eyes met in the window’s reflection—she was blushing.

“Fine, all right,” Scarlett said, still turned away.

“Are you—?”  Geno forgot that thought when his phone vibrated once and he checked the text.

SIDNEY: “Cait’s gone.  She left her phone.  Think she’s with Drew.  Halfway done with game—gonna look for her tonight.”

“Shit,” Geno said.  He showed Scarlett the text.

“Do you know where Drew lives?” she asked.

“Caitlyn’s a big girl,” Geno said.  “Sometimes she needs space.”  But it didn’t feel right.  Like an outdoor cat, Caitlyn would disappear for days and sleep wherever, but she had stayed home the past ten nights.

He sent back a quick reply—“Lemme know if you need me”.

Scarlett crossed her legs and the bottom of her coat rode up.  She wasn’t wearing any stockings.  “Aren’t you freezing?” Geno touched her calf and she pressed against his fingers, and his hand slid up to her knee.

Geno glanced at the driver’s mirror.

His hand trailed further, down her thigh until he hit lace.  “Are you not—?”

Scarlett shook her head.

Geno felt her side, trying to determine how much fabric was under her coat but Scarlett pushed his hand away.

“How’d you know I was going to ask you out?” Geno said, taking out his phone.

“If you didn’t, I decided I was just gonna jump you,” Scarlett said.  “You know I haven’t been with—what’re you doing?”

“Texting my dad,” Geno said.  “Telling him I’ll be late for dinner.”

The cab suddenly stopped—Geno realized they’d crossed the bridge without him noticing.

“Where abouts?” the driver asked.

Scarlett quickly gave her address.

The cab made an illegal U-Turn and sped through a light just as it turned, the driver whistling an upbeat tune that Geno didn’t recognize.

____________________________________________________________

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