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Distilled Spirits: Ch. 19 — Caitlyn

January 5, 2014

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 5: “You Know I Cannot Lie”


(Note: This chapter comes in 1,613 words, making it the second chapter to break the 1,500 word limit.  Moving forward into Season 2, I might allow one chapter per episode to break this cap.  Potentially this would allow me to expand on particularly important moments.)

          Cait opened her eyes in darkness.  She was in bed.  Her tongue felt around a dry, chalky mouth and a metallic taste rose in the a back of her throat—her whole body clenched, muscles locking up as she forced it back down.  She threw off a damp sheet, vaguely aware of the sleeping body beside her.  This wasn’t her apartment.  Through the blinds, Cait could make out city lights far below.

The metallic taste seeped into her mouth again and Cait found the closest door, fumbling for the light—towel rack, toothbrush holder, cabinet—she gave up, but the white porcelain shone in the dark.  She retched and dry heaved—again, again—the vile flavor coating her mouth.  Cait spit into the toilet, reaching for the sink tap.  She pulled herself over the running water and splashed her face, cupping her hands and rinsing until the taste was gone.  Water dripped down her face and chest and she shivered on the cold tile.  Cait could only see the outline of her pale, naked form in the bathroom mirror.

Something hung from the towel rack—some kind of necklace.  Her hand reached out, this time finding the light, and her eyes focused on the object.  It was a hospital nametag for CRNA Blanks.

Cait’s eyes took in the immaculate bathroom—the cleaned electric razor, no loose hairs anywhere, no toothpaste stains.  It was like a hotel.

“Drew,” she said.

She heard only shallow snoring.

“Drew, is it morning?” she said louder.


“It’s morning, right?”  Cait forced saliva into her mouth.  “Not nighttime?”

Drew checked his phone.  “Morning—Caitlyn, it’s morning.  Jesus, my shift is in two hours.”

“I shouldn’t be here,” Cait said to herself, turning the light off.  She leaned against the doorframe.  “Did I call you last night?”  She repeated the question, louder, when there was no answer.

Drew groped for the bedside light and flicked it on.  He sat up, eyes red and bleary.  “No.  No, you just came over without saying anything.”

The lamp cast light on the table on Cait’s side—crumbs of crushed morphine tabs littered the top.

Drew saw her look.  “It was your idea,” he said, squinting at her.  “Christ, have you been eating?”

Cait wrapped her arms around her stomach.  Something old was on Drew’s face, something from the hospital when they first met.  Not the lust from last night or the jealous desire from parties.

“Caitlyn, what happened?”  Drew pointed.

This was Nurse Blanks—an examination without the anonymity.

Cait glanced at her forearm.

She had wanted to see if it was the same.  If it felt like it used to.  The little cut was only an inch long.  It wouldn’t scar.

“Did you do that?” Drew asked.

Cait nodded and covered the cut with her palm, feeling suddenly ashamed of her naked body.

Drew was out of bed in an instant and at her side.

“No,” Cait said when Drew tired to hold her.   “I can’t do this anymore.”

She was standing on her long-sleeved shirt and picked it up, slipping it over her head—she hadn’t even bothered with a bra yesterday.  It felt like she had been shrinking for weeks.  Something moved in the corner of her eye and Cait caught a glimpse of herself in Drew’s full length mirror.   Her bare legs dropped from narrow hips like a spindly puppet’s, ready to collapse under the slight weight when the strings were let go.  Cait’s skin, soft and shaved, was part of the costume of a loving girlfriend, a role she had played for nearly a year.

Addicts are predictable—they’ll do anything to maintain the status quo, as long as the status quo includes getting high.

“I used you,” Cait said, pushing past Drew and finding her jeans with her underwear still inside.

It felt good to say it.

Drew looked so defenseless as he stood in just his briefs.

“What we had,” Cait said, speaking words that had been in the back of her mind for months, “it was never real.”

“You never felt anything for me?” Drew asked.

Cait shrugged.  “Maybe at one point—something.   I don’t really know anymore.”

Drew looked away as Cait struggled into her jeans.  They were loose on her waist.

“I always thought it was just the drugs,” Drew said.  “How distant you are.”  He made a gesture between the two of them. “This was all just to get high?”

Cait thought for a moment.  “Almost all of it.”

“Do you ever feel anything, at all?”  Drew asked, sitting down on the bed.

Cait slipped her shoes and sweatshirt on.

“I liked fucking,” she said, walking to the bedroom door.  “I won’t be back.”

Drew hadn’t even raised his voice.  The worst part was that he didn’t get angry or swear or break something or throw anything.  He didn’t follow Cait through the large loft or to the elevator.  For each floor that she dropped, Cait tried to imagine Drew’s face receding further away.  His stupid, patient, and disappointed face.

By the time Cait got outside, his face was the only thing she was thinking about.

Cait walked east for blocks, the sun climbing in front of her, and gradually the face in her head changed into another’s.  The only person who could answer Drew’s question.

It was another couple of blocks, on the outskirts of downtown, before Cait found a pay phone.  She dug through the contents of her pockets, fingers closing around some change in one hand and six tabs of morphine in the other.

Drew was useful one last time.

As she inserted the quarters, she broke one tab in half and swallowed it.  She dialed, Sid’s number burned into memory.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hey, Cait, shit—where are you?”

“Sid . . . have I ever—am I cold?”


“Tell me,” Cait said.  “Do you think I’m cold?”

“Are you on your way back?  We’ve been worried.  My interview’s in two days.”

“Drew said—”

“Fuck Drew.”

“—that I don’t feel anything.”  Cait swallowed and ran a hand through her hair, breaking a few knots.

“Where are you?  I’ll come get you.”

“Sidney.  Have I ever loved something?  Have I always been this way?  Before . . . when I was young?”

She only heard his breathing.

“No,” Sid finally said.  “You were different.  Before.”

With just a few words, Sid would come find her and bring her home.  And Glenn and Geno would help take care of her, forgetting whatever else they had to do.  They had in the past and would in the future.  Cait depended on them.

She used them, she realized.

Cait let the phone drop and swing, and the world around her gradually returned.  She reached for her sunglasses but they weren’t there, instead pulling out the other half of the tab and quickly chewing it.  She walked with no destination in mind, legs growing heavier, and nearly ran into a young couple headed out of a squat building.  It was a cheap hotel—the kind where rooms could be rented by the hour.

It was perfect.

Cait stepped inside the dim lobby.  There was a fat, balding man sitting behind the counter flipping through a dirty magazine.  Mesh wire separated him from customers and the cash register looked like it was from the 1950s.

“I need a room,” Cait said.

“Now?”  The man checked his watch.  “It won’t be clean.”

“Whatever,” Cait said, pulling out her wallet.  “Just gimme five hours.”

The man put his magazine down and leered at Cait in open appraisal.

“Maybe we can work out a discount, you know if—”  The man stopped talking when he saw the disgusted sneer on Cait’s face as she threw down some cash.  He slid the key through a small gap.  “#21.”

The room was only a little larger than the bed—space for a small desk and chair.  The sheets were a mess and Cait chose to not check the contents of the waste basket.  Enough light came through the yellowed curtains to see.

An ashtray with a few crushed butts explained the smell.

Cait was methodical as she got everything ready.

First she filled a glass with water from the bathroom and placed it next to the bed.  She adjusted the heat so it was comfortably warm and emptied her pockets on the bedside table—wallet, coins, and morphine.      She opened the only drawer in the room and found the Gideon bible, using it to crush one tab.  With her debit card, she arranged the white powder into an organized line.

That would be the kicker.

Cait popped another tab in her mouth and chewed it immediately, washing it down with water.

She couldn’t remember how many she had taken today.

Laying back, Cait felt the familiar warmth spread to her toes.  The muted colors of the drab hotel room faded further.  Stretching out, she thought about taking her jeans off but the pervy man downstairs would probably be the first to find her.

Cait thought about all the people she had used over the years, everyone who came into her life and exited when she no longer needed them.  None of them would cry over her.  She wouldn’t for them.  She couldn’t even remember the last time she cried.

Probably some stupid, drunk fight with Sid.

He’d cry, Cait knew.

She slipped another tab beneath her tongue.

Sid deserved to know why.

In her mind, Cait composed a fond farewell that no one would ever read.  She wanted to get up and find a pad and paper but her limbs had grown very heavy.





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