Sunday, September 10, 2017

This is what my grandmother taught me

Sit child sit, I want you to know
Nothing matters and nothing is nothing

Don’t let it fall, don’t let it go, all you make is all you’ll ever have
And the things you lose are the things that lose you
And the people who leave are just the leaves
Spinning on the wind

And don’t let it go, don’t fail yourself, your best day is still lost at sunset
If you want something go and get it
And if you find your chains, you are the cutter
And the best things you remember you probably missed

And son you are so loved and so love and so dreamt of
But you if you see the things you meant, what are the things you dreamt
And if you don’t get to the places you were going
Is the going so bad that the places really mattered?

Sit here beside me, sit my young grandson
This is the learning, this is the song, this is the place we find

And I’m dying my son, and my man will go next
And each of us will leave you with everything we loved
When we go, we will take the love with us you know
Your tears are good but they do not grow

There are people next to you who dream of more
There are waterfalls you can hear, dammed by traffic and
If you know it, if you know it, love it. Just love it. There is nothing more.
You can be the best. You are the best. Don’t think too much.

We loved you. We still love you. We won’t stop.
Go and tell them. They’re out there. They want to know, they need
You more than you are not. You more than you can dream.
Don’t worry too much about the things you didn’t do.

And sit son, and sit, and breathe, and this
Will pass if you let it

And can’t you just sing, can you feel
It’s a place to live, god, just to grow
When you’re old, your bones will know
You’ll know it all in the place where you laugh

Take faith, for a moment my boy, because there isn’t
No, there just isn’t. What is isn’t, and that is nothing too.
And usually people are worth it. Some are afraid
And some are sad and you. You are you.

And sit while I go. And I’m glad to have known you.
When you're gone, you are us. And I would.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Garbage Casserole

We did not have recycling, where I used to live with her. Sometimes the apartment smelled like the cat box, ammonia and flies. Did you know flies smell basically the same as death? That rotting dead-in-a-ditch smell. That’s not the deer mushrooming into rich dirt. That’s the flies. (Don’t quote me on this.) But the cat box could be cleaned at will, and in a few hours, the apartment just smelled like the coconut soap that never quite dries in the shower. So easy!

Everyone else in the apartment building packed their pepsi bottles and miller cans, emptied of toxic vanilla, the smell of exotic lands and long camel-driven trade caravans, and…whatever Miller doesn’t taste or smell like, into white plastic trash bags and would sent their children out in the morning to huck them into the creaky iron trash bin. Most of the children were too short and would simply drop the bags on the ground so that the bags could host a rat-feeding party. Rats smell just this side of better than flies. Like the thick sludge that builds up at the bottom of the trash can below the bag, that brown, catch-at-the-back-of-your-throat, watering mouth gag that reminds you to put the bag back in asap. On their own they smell better, but if you’re lucky, bonus, they bring flies.

I refused to play this throwing-away game, and not only because I had no children to conscript. I told myself that I could do better.

I would box up my recyclables for a few days, and ship them either to work, to my sister’s garage, or up to my parents’ house when I would pick up a box from Amazon, which I had delivered to them, because I had a tendency to change my address every 3-4 months.

But god help us on the days when the sun burned in through the windows for a few hours and I had forgotten to open them while I was at work. Take some caramel, smash it flat, mix it with gum and old wine and six different types of beer that smelled like grapefruit, but now are teaching me the smell of grape-ass. Salt, pepper, and then mix in the week old turkey that she thawed on the counter, but never cooked (and I don’t know why or how that got into the recycling.) Let the sun do its work, and when the vinyl starts to melt, be sure to lock the windows tight to seal in the flavor. Bake at 350 for four to nine hours. Garbage casserole.

Oh. But more. Maybe, ok, just like twice, I left it for two (certainly not three) weeks. That jar of mayo left over from thanksgiving, oh the star of the show in the chicken pasta salad, now abandoned for 11 months, and not closed well after rinsing. And of course it was the organic kind without preservatives, because why recycle if I’m not buying organic? The mayo grew a green rug that I was tempted to put in our entry way to scrape off the slush and salt, but instead threw out because it didn't match our color scheme. And ok, so I should have cleaned out the container better two weeks ago, and yes, when I walked into the room, I started to go a little blind in one eye. I bet you never knew going blind was a smell.

Two weeks was probably too long.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Same Horse's Song

Well we met on the doorstep where we both knew it ends
And you waved me inside, said welcome home my friend
I said I’ve been here before, I don’t want to begin
You didn’t have to speak with that Cheshire cat grin
You winked and you laughed and you held me in your hands
And you showed me your heart and called me your man
Took the horse to the race, where it flew up the chart
Fear is faster than a horse, and it pounded in my heart
If the doors were unlocked I couldn’t stay outside
I stumbled through the door, said you had to confide
You’d been down with the horses, running all the races
Against the fastest horse, you end up different places
I told you I’m not fast, I can carry great weight
Maybe a saddle horse can do what all those racers hate
When our feet hit the dirt, you pulled ahead fast
I knew in five seconds the race wouldn’t last
You’d hit the line soon, if I wasn’t first
And the faster I ran, the more that it hurt
You undid your wings, sailed away on the pain
Flew off the track with the birds in the rain
Didn’t know you were an eagle and a rainbow and a song
We were just using old plans all along
There’s nothing inside but our love while you’re away
Said you asked me to come in, but didn’t think I’d stay
You can’t run faster than the earth can turn
The world heaved and pitched while the empty house burned
You didn’t know yourself, didn’t know why you’d changed

No house, no race, no horse, no names

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oh hi nix 2014!

Oh hello end of the year. I suppose I should have done something since we last met.

I’m supposed to write and be productive and progress in my life, right? That’s what they tell me. Do you know how that works? Like, do you have a guide I can read? I know you’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have, and consider this my asking for some rookie help.

Oh well. That’s fine. I’ll just keep bashing my head on this wall then. I suppose I’ll see you again next year? Oh no. It should be totally different. I’ve got big plans! I’m going to write five times as much and have nine times more fun. And meet one hundred new people and have a thousand new and interesting experiences that no one has ever had before and other people won’t understand.

Yeah.


Oh, yeah, I know you’ve got a lot going on. Good work when you can get it, right? Ha ha. Ending the year and all. Ok. We’ll talk later.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

End Lesstin Kering 7 3/11/14

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Oliver's foot slipped in the mud, and he toppled backwards onto the slick bank. Lesstin grabbed the boy's hand without thinking, pulling him back from the edge. The older boy laughed as he dragged himself back toward stable ground.

“Nice grab Less!” Oliver said once he was safely atop the cliff. “I almost went for a swim!” He laughed again and kicked a fist-sized rock off the edge. They watched it fall and fall then splash into the river. “Hey, not too far, is it?”

Far enough down to make Lesstin feel ill. “I don't like it,” Lesstin admitted. As soon as he said it, he knew he shouldn't have. Oliver's smile changed from friendly to wicked. His mouth hooked down, and his eyes grew wide and happy.

 “Lessie doesn't like it?” Every word was punctuated with barbed laughter. “Is he afraid of the height?” He put Lesstin in a headlock and dragged him toward the edge. Behind them, Chase was laughing too. He always laughed when Oliver laughed. Today was supposed to have been different; they asked him to come along, and not because their mother had forced them to. But then Lesstin had to go and open his big mouth.

“Lay off Oliver.” The voice of a hero. Chase Million was the only boy who could tell Oliver what to do. Sometimes. “He just pulled you back from falling in the river.”

Oliver flung Lesstin onto the grass, and spun to face Chase. “So what? I aint fraid of the river. I'll jump off, right now. You think I won't?” He started fumbling with the buttons on his cuffs.

“Give over Ollie. Your pop would slap you purple if you came home with wet clothes, so aint the same with you stripping.” Chase offered a hand to help Lesstin back to his feet. “Crud, you ripped your jeans. Look at that Ollie, bet his pop will throw him through a wall.”

Lesstin's father would never do such a thing. His mom might click her tongue about the grass stains. But he was learning; he didn't say anything.

“Hey,” Oliver said. “Yeah, no deal, right?”

“No,” Lesstin said. The whole day had been a whirlwind. What had he done to make them want him along all of the sudden? He didn't know, and didn't really care. For once, they were glad to have him along.

Chase slapped Lesstin on the back, maybe a little hard. The voice of reason, maybe, but Oliver was his best friend, and the two were more alike than they were different. He laughed as Lesstin stumbled toward the cliff. “I know that look. We all got dads man.”

“He's a good sport, aint ya Less?” Oliver asked. He looked more relieved than cruel, but Lesstin stayed wary. The boy could switch from prancing to pouncing without notice. “I've always said so, haven't I Chase?”

“Sure have,” Chase agreed. Lesstin had never heard them say anything of the sort.

They turned and marched up the cliff side, toward the old train bridge. Rusting beams still connected the old cement pylons, but most of the suspension had been removed or collapsed long ago.

“We were thinking,” Oliver said, resting his arm around Lesstin's shoulder. “Some of the boys pick on you, don't they Lesstin? Call you baby, all sorts of stuff. Nah, nah, you don't need to answer. They're jerks. But Chase, me, our guys, no one says that to us. Do they Chase?”

“What?” Chase asked, as if he had never thought of such a thing. “If they said that, I'd pop them in the face, that's what I'd do. Did someone call you something Ollie?” Chase was the biggest boy boy in the sixth grade. Even the junior high kids left him alone.

“Nah,” Oliver said. “They know I'm too hard for that. But I was thinking, Lessie here, he might need some help. Cover from these...bullies.”

No one had ever talked to Lesstin like this before. He was the butt of the joke, the pincushion for everyone else's bad day.

“What do you guys want?” He asked. That big stupid mouth of his, running off again.

Oliver put his hands up. His cruel eyes were dancing, but his face looked insulted. “Hey now, we're trying to help you here.”

“You want to help me? Leave me alone.” He shrugged Chase's hand off his shoulder. He should have run right away when he saw them. They'd been following him for an hour now, but right then he had a chance to leave. He was fast and knew places to hide. He could have got away, but he had blown it. Stupid.
Chase grabbed Lesstin by the back of the neck. “Look runt, aint no one gonna leave you alone. You know that, smart boy.”

“Lay off Chase,” Oliver said. He looked friendly now. Lesstin had never seen that look before, and liked it less than the cruel dance by far. “We're not saying 'lets be friends.' But we're saying, hey, you got brains, and we got brawn. Mrs. Haden's watching us two close, so maybe we can't do much if you won't give us answers. But you want to, right?”

Lesstin hated giving answers to people, but it was better than getting thrown in the mud every day.

“I guess?” Lesstin said. “Why do I want to?”

“There's a clever one,” Oliver said. He grinned, pleased with himself. “Chase was telling me he doesn't like how Kib and Nate treat you. Weren't you Chase?”

“It aint right,” Chase said. His grin was wide as Oliver's. “But way I see it, they're only half the runt you are. I'll thwop them a bit, and tell em, leave Lesstin alone.” Chase pounded hand against palm.

“Course,” Oliver said, “you'll still have to help them pass. Call it tutoring or something. But you charge them, right? Like you used to, before everyone figured out you were a little twerp.”

Lesstin winced. He had come up with the idea the previous year, but it hadn't quite gone the way he had planned. “And you don't have to pay, right?”

Oliver laughed. Different than normal. This was more shock than deviousness. “Son, we don't pay now. No, you give us half what you get. And we're the muscle, see? Anyone doesn't pay...” Chase pounded his hands together again.

And for a moment, the idea seemed alright to Lesstin. “And you'd keep them from...” He couldn't say it. His big mouth had done enough work for the day. But Oliver understood. And his eyes glimmered, horrible as ever.

“We'd be in business,” he said. “I'm not saying we'll stick our neck out for you. Run to Lady Haden if you want. But you can sit with us at lunch.”

Oliver had thought hard about this. He sat with the nerds at lunch, and it only made things worse. If he could sit by Chase, that alone would save him most of his trouble.

“All right,” Lesstin agreed. Once again he wondered what he had done to earn their sudden friendship.

“Of course 'all right,' runt. Hey Chase, he thinks we're asking.”

“For a smarty,” Chase said, slapping Lesstin on the back of the head, “you sure are stupid.”

“But we aint doing this to just help a poor soul, profit aside.” Oliver picked at his teeth with a piece of paper. “See, Benny Gads made this bet with me. Said, no one would walk across the old track, to the other side. Fifty bucks even. Wave to Benny, Lesstin.” Oliver pointed to a figure on the far side of the cliff. Benny's orange hair marked him even at a distance.

“See, we figure, everyone knows you're a chicken-shit.” Chase guided Lesstin up the gravel hill toward the old rails. “So this helps.”

Lesstin's knees weren't quite shaking. He couldn't stop looking at how the rails ran out over the air, mounting the pylons. They were narrower than his wrist. Occasional wooden boards spanned the bridge, but over the seemingly endless gap between his side and Benny's, there were stretches with only the iron, and a rail at his side.

“So, you walk across,” Oliver said. “And we're in business.”

“What if I don't?” Lesstin thought he knew the answer.


Oliver's brow dropped, and his mouth twisted. This was the look Lesstin dreaded, the angry, and delighted grin of evil itself. “It's funny Chase. He thinking we're asking again.”

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

End Lesstin Kering 6 3/9/14

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Soon Maria was going to pay. She thought she could take everything from Lesstin. She had led him on for years, making him think she loved him. He had been happy, while she had been plotting. Scheming with other men on how to steal the money he earned, so she could live in luxury, with anyone other than him.

Entering the house had been easy. Maria hadn't bothered to change the locks, so Lesstin had simply let himself into what had been their winter home. Not that they had spent much time in it. After the long hot week when they had been visiting and she had fallen in love with the city, they had hired a realtor and bought the house that fall, only spending a few tired days in it before going home.

Walking the dark hallways brought up no memories or regret. This was a place he had no attachment to. But, in the living room, with its broad bay window and high open ceiling, there sat the couch they had spent days and weeks choosing. With its gold stained oak frame, and extra deep back, perfect for napping or sitting. Running his hand over the ribbed cloth filled his head with hot anger.

Oh yes, she would learn that nothing comes free. And for what she took from him, he would take the same from her.

Lesstin fingered the chrome plated pistol dangling in a leather holster inside his jacket. Hard and cold despite being tucked against his warm body. A sinister drain, it sapped energy from everything around it. Hopefully he wouldn't have to use it. And once he was done, he could cast it away.

He wouldn't hurt her. No, even though the scheming bitch deserved it. But what if he was with her? What if they walked in together? He imagined the laughing, happy and smiling, holding hands, talking about dinner, planning children, all the things they had taken from him, that they had lied to him about. He would pay if he dared show his face in the house paid for with Lesstin's money.

Oh yes.

Lesstin shook his head to clear the anger. It had become a madness, driving him onward in directions he didn't always understand. But he always realized what he was aiming for. Fairness. Equality. It wasn't about the money, he didn't need it, could live off the land if he needed to. But she had stolen the money and ruined the company on her way out. This wasn't revenge. He kept reminding himself, it wasn't about making her pay. Not in that way. He just wanted...

He never finished the thought, because a key clicking in the front door announced someone's return.
One question remained. Would she be alone? Or had she brought some new conquest? A toy to be used, then tossed aside when she grew bored.

Lesstin ducked into a bedroom, furnished with a bed and dresser he had meant for their children. Night's shadow cloaked him; she would not be able to see him from the doorway. He could hear her shedding her winter's skin. The shuffling of coat gloves, clicking heels on tile, and the heavy thud of the oversized purses she loved so much. Just one set of each sound, at the heavy metered pace of the tired or patient.

A pause, too long, ate away Lesstin's own patience. Was that a weary sigh? The first tones of a woman he still wanted to love? Or just-

“You may as well come out,” she said. Her voice sounded harder than he remembered. He didn't move. How had she known?

Another pause. “Howard?” She sounded uncertain, maybe a little afraid. Blood pounded in Lesstin's ears at hearing that name from Maria's mouth. HP. Howard. The instigator of betrayal. He would be dealt with in his own time. Justice came before pleasure.

“This isn't funny.” Strained, trying to control her emotions. This was the tone she had used with Lesstin after an argument. Footsteps away, toward that old door to the cold, lonely stone basement. Feet on tile made a return. Still he did not move. Sweat made his undershirt cling between his shoulder blades. This had been the plan, confront her, announce the return of reason and claim what he was owed. His feet were glued to the floor. Staying in the dark felt much better, if still unjust.

A creak from the first step. She would search the rooms and find him shortly. “Who is there?” Definite fear in her voice now. “I'm calling the police.”

“Don't,” Lesstin said. He sprang from the room, perhaps faster than he should have. Maria screamed, her eyes white-wide from the shock. “I'm not...don't call the cops.”

Maria placed a hand on her chest, and stepped down from him. “Lesstin.” Her words came out between shaking breaths. “You scared me half to death. How did you get in...oh right. You have a key. God. I thought you were Howard.”

“I heard,” Lesstin said. Were his cheeks flushed? Would she be able to see the anger in his eyes?

Maria backed down the steps, dodging the small puddle on the landing. “My socks are soaked,” she said. “I'm getting some water. Do you want some?”

“No, thank you.” This wasn't how she was supposed to react. Fear, maybe. Anger, certainly. Anger was fair, reciprocal. But not...what was this? Calm acceptance?

She vanished into the kitchen. “Howard keeps coming by, even after I told him to stay away. He was never a threat to you, you know that, right? Just...a lens, to see what we had become.” Did she sound suspicious? Concerned? A knowing accent tinted her words. Maybe it was the acoustics. They had loved the house's oddly shaped walls and ceilings, how they bent sound, isolating or enclosing.

But to Lesstin, it seemed she must have known why he had come. She knew her crime, and instead of pleading, crying or begging, she turned away from him, she offered him water. It was his water! If he wanted it, he would take it. And she dared, mocking him with that name, as if saying it more made the crimes less.

He could barely hear her words through the blood pounding in his ears. “Oh.” What else to say? She had already discarded his replacement. The gun felt heavy against his chest, a weight that would be lighter in his hand.

“Why are you here?” She returned from the kitchen. Lesstin still stood at the top of the stairs. When she looked up to him, her face went as white as his was blood-red. “Lesstin, why are you holding a gun?”

Had he drawn it? Or had it moved there on its own will? No matter. “They told me not to come here, when I said I wanted to.”

“Who did?” Her voice trembled. Fear at last. Somehow it did not quite offer the pleasure he had expected.

Lesstin waved his free hand. “The doctors! They kept shoving pills down my throat, telling me not to leave, not to do this and that. Not to live! They wanted it this way. Wanted you...to win.”

“Lesstin, don't come any closer.” To his surprise, he had descended the stairs. Which worked well enough. Talking felt less important, less real. The gun, the closeness, Maria, these were real things. These were justice.

“I just want...what you took. The money, the business. I want it to be Fair.” Fair. Harsh to say, but fairness had an oddly unfair manner to it. If one lose, all lose. If one wins, all win. “When one person has, and one has not, it isn't fair.”

“Lesstin, you...gave me the money.” She backed into the kitchen. A clanging sound of something tumbling, and a heavy thud. Her voice was shaking as much as Lesstin's free hand. “Don't come in here Lesstin. I am calling the cops. If you come in here, God help me, I don't know what I'm going to do. Lesstin...”


Of course there was no money. She had spent it on her toys. But it could be made right. “Justice.” He held it in his hand. Nothing else needed to be said.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

End Lesstin Kering 5 2/21/14

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A tiny goose honk of a horn startled Lesstin out of his day dream. Not that he'd really been dreaming. He did put his car into first and accelerate through the light even as it was turning yellow. He swore under his breath. He had failed all the people behind him at the light.

Other cars ran their merry dance around him, passing, turning, and merging badly. They didn't matter; he didn't see them. He had no real place to be. It wasn't even 10 yet, and he only had a handful of things to do. But it was great to get out of the house and enjoy the warm spring day.

An old favorite came on the radio. He turned it up, opened the windows, and beat out the rhythm on the door panel. Maria had always loved this song. He swore again and checked the clock. Almost an hour had gone by without notice. He went through the list again, just to keep busy.

“Hunting license.” He wouldn't need it for a few weeks yet, but better to be prepared. “Make reservations.” Either a lodge or just a good parking spot. He had slept in the back of a truck many times. Not the most comfortable, but it served. “And get my guns back from Adrian's boyfriend. I don't think he even used them last year.” He never should have let Maria talk him into loaning the boy those guns.

He slammed his hands on the steering wheel. “No, no, no!” The list wasn't working. “Later,” he said. Maybe if he acknowledged what he didn't want to think about, it would leave him alone. For a while. Just enjoy the weather. Feel the sun, hear the birds chirping, see the trees budding. “It's a wonderful day.”

He drove past a small restaurant, where he and Maria had celebrated their last anniversary. Maria. Always Maria. The memory wouldn't leave so easily this time. He approached the closet. Just storage in the guest room. It was mostly filled with old clothes, books from college, and Christmas ornaments. In the back, tucked behind old coats and shirts, was a box. It might have been opened days before. Or years.

Work. Yes, work would keep him busy. He'd just stop in to check. Bryant wouldn't be glad to see him, not on Lesstin's day off. But he's risk it. They might even need him for something.

“In and out,” he told himself. He spent just under an hour at work, checking in the with phone bank, meeting briefly with Bryant and with Jessica. She had actually needed his permission for a few purchases, which he was glad to give. Bryant didn't want the owner peeking over his shoulder all the time, but didn't complain.

The entire business was Lesstin's baby, and he had trouble not at least stopping by every day. It would have been easier not to see his wife for a week. His wife. A sour barb jabbed him in the chest. Everything was Maria. How had he never noticed that before?

The office had taken time, but it wasn't something he could linger on. He needed someone to talk to. Not about Maria, just about...life. It was almost noon. He hadn't felt hungry all day, but he called Tony, arranged to meet him for a meal.

The small box flashed through his mind. Rose petals were painted on thick stock sides. It smelled of perfume, and was full of hand-written letters on lined yellow paper. Every one was addressed to Maria, in a careful elegant script.

He pushed the thought away again. Letters.

He snapped to attention, parked at the restaurant. How long had he been sitting there? He hurried inside. It hadn't been work, but people that kept him busy. This would work. It had to.

Tony talked about his newborn boy, and how proud they were. This was the first time he had been out in weeks. Lesstin made appropriate reactions, saying how wonderful life was, how interesting new children could be. He even smiled at the pictures. He hadn't smiled in days.

They may as well have gone to a park and just talked. Had he eaten? Had Tony?

Maria, it's only been three days, but it feels like three years. I miss your ebony lilac-scented hair.

Once in his car, he rolled the window down. The wind blew in, cool and calm. He smelled flowers on it. Maybe there were indeed lilacs. He screamed, angry. It was unfair! How stupid of him, of Maria. He just wanted some peace, for a day, for a few hours. Business and friends and success meant nothing. He slammed his hands against the drivers wheel until his palms hurt, then slumped against the air bag. He wasn't prone to crying, but didn't try to stop himself as tears flushed the sadness out of his eyes, if not his heart.

If time passed, Lesstin didn't notice it. He couldn't stop thinking of the letters. He didn't remember much from his time in Iraq. Probably best that he forgot what happened during the Gulf War. And maybe he could have sent the letters. They sounded like him, sometimes, if he were trying to be sappy or trying to flirt with his wife. But the handwriting. That was not his.

I don't know how to explain it. Every time I touch your hand, your shoulder, it's like someone is tickling me with happiness. I can barely stop myself from laughing with joy.

He hadn't needed to read more, but he skimmed onward, feeling more ill as he went. At first he had hoped these were the letters of some lost love, the “one that got away” from high school or college. He could accept that. But the man, who only signed his name as HP, oh, cruelest of cruelties, he dated the letters. The first few came in a month or two apart. But the last ones, these were mere weeks. Sometimes days. The most recent was from last week. And he answered questions, so there was no doubt that she answered back.

A metal-on-glass tapping turned his attention to the valet the passenger side window. “Are you alright sir?” he asked.

Quickly, Lesstin pretended to drop his keys, as if he were digging for them under the wheel.

The kid didn't know anything about loss, about pain. But it was time to go. “Just...couldn't get to these,” he said weakly, jiggling his keys as he easily picked them up. “Thanks.” He didn't want for the valet to answer, just turned the car on and backed out.

He hadn't drank in years. Not since just after college, when Maria told him to drop it or she'd drop him. Well. This seemed the moment to try it again. Three drinks in had him feeling it. This was his fault. He knew that. Sure, the business was successful, but even those short daily drop ins were taking time from the marriage.

He'd heard people say things like “Love is work.” For him, love was bliss, a thing that existed and could not be stopped anymore than a hundred car train without brakes. It turned out, love was not all Maria needed.

Another drink.

Marriage was a full time job. And he had botched it. Forget the work, friends, life at all. He hadn't done what he needed to.

Another drink.

He knew about those stages of grieving. Denial, anger, that stuff. Which one was “getting piss drunk” and would it get easier?

His fault or not, the part that really hurt, was that Maria hadn't bothered to come to Lesstin with her problems. Maybe this HP had started it all, but Maria, instead of dropping it, instead of talking to Lesstin about their relationship, had gone to another man. It wasn't just betrayal, it was lack of trust. And what had he done to deserve that?

Another drink.

Well. He wouldn't hide his discovery. The only option was to ask her. If he didn't, then he deserved not to be trusted. Perhaps they could work things out. The business basically ran itself. He could take her out, spend more time at home, or with her. Yes.

Like the entire day, the trip was a blur. He didn't remember getting into the car, or driving, or anything. Maria dominated his thoughts, until the headlights closed in, too close and too large. Had he missed a red light? Or just had one too many?

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