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Distilled Spirits: Ch. 20 — Glenn [End of Season 1]

January 7, 2014

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 5:  “You Know I Cannot Lie”


     Glenn got the call thirty minutes ago while he was packing for his trip to Suriname.  He should’ve been headed to the airport, but instead he was crossing the bridge toward South Harbor in a taxi.

He hadn’t expected the police to call because he hadn’t stolen any fish for weeks.

As Glenn’s cab slowed for traffic, he checked his phone.  There was a chance he could still make it.  And there were probably more flights.

“We’re calling because of your business card,” the Sergeant had said.  “This is Mr. Glenn F. Pierce, correct?  You work at a soup kitchen and own a building?”

“You see, we picked up a homeless man on the beach last night.  He was unconscious—not that rare, I know, but he had your card in his coat pocket.  When he came to at the hospital, he asked for you.  Joe did.  Mr. Pierce, do you know him?  Some people call him ‘Crazy Man Joe’.  Are you family?  He’s not doing too well.”

Glenn had said ‘no’—that they were friends.

“Can you come to St. Anthony’s?  He might, uh, well—we have a few questions.”

Honking made Glenn look around.  The taxi hadn’t moved for some time.

“Some kind of accident,” the driver said, shrugging.

Meter ticking.

It was another thirty minutes before they reached the hospital.  Glenn went right up to the two cops waiting beside the receptionist’s desk.  Before they could say anything, Glenn handed over his identification.

“What were you up to last night?” the Sergeant asked.

“Getting drunk and playing Mario Kart with my roommate and, well, his girlfriend,” Glenn said.

The Sergeant nodded.  “You’re fine,” he said, but his eyes narrowed.  “Joe gave us a description of the kids who did it—what he remembered.  We’ll find the little shitfucks.”

“We know you’re all right,” his partner said.  “Joe likes you, and we like Joe.  He keeps the homeless in line.”

The Sergeant turned to the receptionist, “What room again?”

“#11,” she said.  “Upstairs.”

The Sergeant jerked his thumb toward the elevator and the two cops left, and in another few minutes Glenn had a visitor’s badge and was standing outside the room.  The nurses told him that Joe was awake, for now.

Joe’s eyes were open but that was the only part of him that moved.  His body was sunk into the bed, more gaunt and withered than Glenn remembered.  He had lost most of his grey hair.  A thick bandage was wrapped around Joe’s head and several tubes snaked out from under the sheets.

Someone had propped his bamboo walking cane beside the bed, still sharpened to a point.

“Hey kid,” Joe said, “you came.  You came.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Don’t gimme that,” Joe said, coughing.

“Okay, the cops called me,” Glenn admitted.  He found a chair and pulled it closer.  “You had my card.”

“I know I did.”

“What happened?” Glenn asked.

“Got jumped—blindsided me,” Joe said, touching the bandage. “I was just waiting for sunrise.  Fuckers didn’t even take my money.”


“In my pillow case.  Take it,” Joe said.  “Can’t trust these doctors.”

Glenn checked and could tell what it was just by touch—a rubber banded stack of bills in a surprisingly clean sock.  He pocketed it immediately.

“I always mail her my pension,” Joe said, rotating the ring on his finger.  “All of it.  She has a kid—it might be mine.”

All of it?  You could’ve—”

“I hit her once.  I hit her good, and couldn’t stop,” Joe said.  “I don’t blame the war.  I was always screwed up.  I had to leave.”

“Maybe if—”

Joe shook his head.   “Not enough money for everything, with the kid.  But a man always has a job—when he loves someone.  Make sure you get that to her.”  He gave Glenn an address and he wrote it down.

“I’m awful tired, kid.  I’m sorry,” Joe said, closing his eyes.  “They say I should rest, but I know the truth.  This ain’t your fault.  This is how it should be.”

Joe’s breathing became even and Glenn stood up, realizing that there was a doctor standing behind him.

“It’s pneumonia,” the doctor said, shaking his head at Glenn’s look.  “On top of his—well, every man has a right to privacy.  But we got his blood work back.”

“He has a wife,” Glenn said.  “I have an address for you so you can—whatever it is you do.”  He handed the doctor his business card with the address written on the back.  “Find her.  And let me know if something needs to be paid.”

Glenn’s phone vibrated with a text and he excused himself from the room.  It was a group text sent to three people.

DREW:  “Caitlyn’s been admitted to St. Anthony’s.  Room #36.  She overdosed.  Doesn’t remember the last 48 hours.  Please come.”

Glenn flew up two flights of stairs, breathing hard when he got to the open doorway.

“Glenn,” Caitlyn said when she saw him.  Her voice was soft.

“How’d you get here so fast?” Drew asked, standing over the bed.

“Get out,” Glenn said, walking into the room.  He tightened his fists.  “You know I can get you fired?”

Drew glanced between the two of them.  “I’ll have another nurse check in later.”

“You shouldn’t be in this hospital when Sid gets here,” Glenn said before Drew closed the door behind him.

“Where is he?” Caitlyn asked.  “Where’s Sid?”

“The job interview,” Glenn answered.  “It’s right now—his phone’s off.”

“Don’t you have a flight?”

“No,” Glenn said.

Tears streamed down Caitlyn’s face.

“I texted Sidney,” Glenn said.  “He’ll come.”

“I’m gonna be okay,” Caitlyn said.

“Are you?”

“The nurses told me, I mean,” Caitlyn said.


“It wasn’t his fault.  It was me.  It’s always me,” Caitlyn said.  “Using morphine, using friends, using you and Sid and everyone.  I’ve been terrible—empty—for so long and I’m so tired of it.”

“I want to show you something,” Glenn said, taking out his wallet.

“No.”  Caitlyn shook her head feebly.

Glenn took out a piece of paper that had been folded several times.

“Don’t think I didn’t also notice where you cut yourself,” Glenn said.  “You made me promise that if you ever tried this bullshit again, I’d show you.  It hasn’t always been this way.  It doesn’t have to be.”

“It’s time to stop doing what’s easy,” Glenn said, unfolding the note and laying it on Caitlyn’s chest.

Glenn had read it before.  After more than a year, curiosity became overwhelming.  He could visualize the handwriting as Caitlyn read aloud—the words got sloppier as it progressed.

The first real line looked like it was hastily scrawled last before she had passed out.



            You won’t remember this.  That’s why I’m writing it.

            You mixed liquor and morphine again.

            I need to write what happened.  What I’m feeling.  What Sid feels.  This warmth—it’s always warm, but I feel it through him.  See it.  When I touch him I touch memory.  Every part of him is a moment.  Every part of me.  The scar on his thigh from when I pushed him off his bike in 7th grade—still bumpy.  He held my wrist and we were back on the beach in high school when he pulled me into the ocean.

            The beginning—you made Sid take morphine.

            I’m lying next to him right now and we’re both naked.

            You didn’t have sex.  You’re not pregnant.

            There are no covers.  Nothing to hide behind.  We don’t want to hide.  He’s breathing beside you as you write.  His chest rises with mine.

            When he first touched your side, your whole body tingled and that spot still does—that little dip below your ribs.  Sid slid his hands down your back and sunk his fingers deep into flesh.  Everything connected.  Everything made sense.  Makes sense.  We lay with our bodies as close as they possibly could be.  Arms, leg, fingers, and toes curled into each other.  You rolled on top of him and everything aligned.  Your eyes.  Your ankles.  Like corresponding puzzle pieces—like that Postal Service song.  Our faces are language.  He cupped my breasts in his hands and said they were mounds of clay that could be anything we wanted.

            Sensual.  Not arousal.  Being high makes that hard.  Or not hard.

            Sex furthest thing from our minds.

            It’s two kids figuring out what the human body truly is.  Not knowing that there are rules.

            You kissed and it’s another way of talking.

            He talked and it’s another way of feeling.

            He said that if this is what it’s always like, he knew why I was addicted. 

            I cried.

            It’s never like this.  I didn’t know this was possible.  I don’t know what to do.  Is this what normal people feel?

            He’ll forget this.

            I need to.







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