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Distilled Sprits: [Season 2] Ch. 23 — Sidney

March 4, 2014

What is Distilled Spirits?

Episode 1: “Icing Over a Secret Pain”


Note: Sidney’s updated Season 2 image is delayed until I get home and can take the picture


10:45 AM.

Too early for lunch.

Too late for a third coffee break.

Sid kept scrolling down his Facebook newsfeed, not reading the words.  A half-second glance at the pictures—he stopped at one fun memory.

“Wow, look at her,” David said, standing over Sid’s shoulder.  “Can you introduce me?” His voice gave no clue as to whether he was serious.  Sid didn’t know if that was a New York thing or a Jewish thing.  Or maybe just a David thing.  “Are you two friends?”

It was a picture of Cait in a bathing suit on the beach, taken maybe when they were both sophomores.  Sara Powers had uploaded the image and Sid couldn’t remember who else was there that day.  Even then, Cait was starting to lose weight, a year or so into her addiction.

Sid CTRL-W’d, closing Facebook.  “Not your type,” he said.  “She’d tell you to fuck off, then tell your wife that you tried.”

“Speaking from experience?” David said and laughed.  He stretched his back and walked in circles, avoiding his desk.

It didn’t really matter—they had already finished their ‘co-op mission’ and the Project Manager didn’t need them for a few hours.  They would be alone in the small, two-person office until after lunch.  All over the no-where-near-waterfront, downtown building, the same scene was playing out, scattered across thirty-five floors.  Wherever Shinrad Company could lease space.  It sounded like some new age way of running a business—teams spread around, sharing work through their cloud—but Sid was pretty sure it was just the cheapest way to do things.

“Does anybody think that pun is funny?” Sid asked, opening up the plot-tree for their current project, an Action RPG.  “I mean, Shinrad?”

David sat back down, spinning in his chair.  “Jason was six when FF7 came out.  He’s the same boss who thinks calling our partnered jobs ‘co-op missions’ is hilarious.”

Sid glossed through the Act and Scene list, selecting something they had already edited.  “Are we really sure about Act 1, Scene 4?”  He looked at David who started up a Goldeneye ROM.

“We already did that one,” David said, choosing ‘The Facility’ level for another speedrun.  “Christ, the grammar they gave us.  I wanna anonymously e-mail them a treatise on semicolons.”

“No,” Sid said, watching David start the level, “I mean, are we sure about the Marcus character.  Why kill him before the player really knows him?”

David paused the game.  “We already talked—”

“Why are we killing him off before the player really cares?”

“Because the Senior Writer is a childhood friend of Jason’s?”  David continued his game.  “You know, I still have no idea where Jason’s family got all their money, and I’ve been here for three years.”

Sid didn’t say anything.  He listened to David blow through Russian soldiers while staring at the script.

*          *          *

David was on his fourth or fifth attempt at the level when Sid’s phone vibrated.  He wasn’t sure how long he’d been staring at the same few lines of dialogue.

“That the boss?” David asked, pausing and taking a sip from an old Subway soda cup.

“No,” Sid said.

“We’re in the lobby.”  It was Geno.  “You gotta get us past security.  You’re able to get us lunch, right?”

“Down in a sec,” Sid said.  He had forgotten that he promised to give Geno a tour of the building today.

“You’ll be back for the 1:30 conference call?”  David scrolled through his emulator’s ROMs.

“Yeah,” Sid said, opening their office door.  “If you can’t find a good game, why don’t you double check our work?”

The 17th floor was a maze of hallways and closed doors.  Unoffensive paintings hung on walls and potted plants were spaced out like they were part of the architectural plans.  Ringing most floors of the building though, was a wide walkway with great views of the city.

Sid stepped off the elevator.  Geno and Scarlett were waiting beside the security desk—Jon was working today and had already turned back to his thick Tom Clancy novel.

“They’re with me,” Sid said.

Jon waved them toward the elevator.

Sid asked Scarlett, “No class today?”

“Taking the day off.”  Her eyes took in the high-ceilinged lobby, the passing suits, and the more casual executives like she was at a zoo.  “Geno said you’d get us free lunch?”

“Yeah,” Sid said as they got into an empty elevator, hitting ‘30’.  “It’s Mexican today.  Free for anyone in the building and guests.  I checked you guys in yesterday, but no one really cares.”

“There’s a pretty good bar around the corner,” Geno mentioned as they shot upward.  “You ever go?”



“Sometimes after work,” Sid said, “with David.  He’s, uh—you guys’d probably like him.”

“Your partner?” Geno asked.

Sid nodded.

Scarlett hummed to stock elevator music.  “Geno said you work with the same person every day?”

“They make everyone do it,” Sid said.  “Except senior staff.  It’s like—like the buddy system for adults.  He’s all right though.”

“They hiring any part-timers?” Geno asked.

“What would you even do here?”

“Well, I, uh, maybe I don’t write as good as you, but . . .,” Geno trailed off as the doors opened on the 30th floor.  “Yeah, I don’t know.”

There wasn’t much of a line in the cafeteria.  They had timed their lunch in between the power-eaters who rushed back to their desks, and those who genuinely forgot that their bodies needed food.  After grabbing some tacos, they found an empty table with a view east—the buildings got shorter and shorter until a massive highway seemed to mark the edge of New Portsmouth, though it technically continued further.

Only a few bites in, Sid knew Geno had something to say.

“So, when’s the last time you saw Caitlyn?” he asked.

Sid chewed slowly.  “Glenn’s tenant party a week ago.  The one he threw for those who actually agreed to stay—even with the homeless.”

Geno nodded.  “You know it’s not your fault she moved out.”

“Who said I thought that?”

“Glenn.  There’s nothing you coulda done,” Geno said.  “Shit, Caitlyn always does her own thing.”

“I’m not angry at her.”

“Then why aren’t you with here?”  Geno said, stabbing what fell out of his taco with a fork.

“What do you mean, ‘with her’?” Sid said.
Geno opened his mouth and then winced, rubbing his side.  Scarlett took a long drink, staring out over the city.

“I mean,” Geno said, scooting a few inches away from Scarlett, “why aren’t you hanging out with her anymore?”

Sid took the last bite of one taco.   “You said it—Cait does her own thing.  If she wants to, she will.”

Scarlett muttered something under her breath.

“Well,” Geno said, “are you coming over for Mario Kart this weekend?”

Sid shrugged.  “I hear there’ll be a crowd?”

“Glenn turned one of the empty flats into the tournament room,” Geno said.

“And Cait?”

“She lives in the building,” Scarlett said, piling her trash on Geno’s plate.  “Where else would she be?”

After they ate, Sid killed as much time as possible.  There were some weird art installations a few floors up that Scarlett rolled her eyes at, and Geno pretended not to enjoy.  They ended the tour just above the lobby—the building’s bar was staffed from 11 AM to 10 PM, and every week something was added.  A pool table, recently.

Before he saw Geno and Scarlett out, Sid promised to show up for the weekend tournament.

When he got back to the office, David was playing a lazy game of Tetris.

“Did you show them the communal ball pit on 13?” David asked, not looking up.  “That’s a hit with visitors, but I swear someone peed in there last week.  Fucking kids.”

A couple of empty soda cans were next to David, but otherwise nothing had changed.

“You using Dr. Peppers as a mixer, or chaser?” Sid asked, locking the door.

David coughed, and didn’t rotate his line piece in time for the slot.   “Wha, what?”

Sid rolled his eyes.  “Dude, your burps smell like Altoids and whiskey.”


“I know you’re a drunk, David.”  Sid reached behind the fire extinguisher in one corner and pulled out a bottle of Stinger Whiskey, a local liquor.

David nodded slowly a few times.  “Great,” he said, fishing out a second cup from the bottom drawer.  He held out his hand for the bottle and poured a small drink, pushing it toward Sid.  “Now I don’t have to hide it.  How’d you figure it out?”

“You were in the bathroom and texted me for emergency toilet paper,” Sid said, downing his cup and pushing it back.  “I forgot where we put it and checked everywhere.”

David smiled, and something flashed on his computer.  He scanned his newest e-mail.  “Shit.  Shit.  They want us upstairs.  Like, a physical meeting.  No conference call.  Thirty minutes.”

Sid eyed the half-full bottle.  “You got more Altoids?”





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