Friday, 31 August 2012

Poetry as only Bridget does poetry.

My kneesocks don't match my dress and I've hardly brushed my hair today. It falls in a mass of bedheaded waves, curling underneath my chin. I did stop and put on lipstick but it turned out to be a muted red so I look like someone's fetish today. Ankle boots. I look like a doll, like a plastic doll. My teeth hurt and I'm starving too, but that has even less to do with anything so here, a bunch of stuff for all.

Lochlan's Courage At Will method of getting things done has proven to be effective only in one way, or maybe it's a complete coincidence but I have not seen Caleb all damned week. Probably a good thing as he would level judgements about my appearance and then I'd feel weird and unsophisticated and childish and we're just the opposite of that these days.

We're not?

Kidding, I knew that.

It's the final day with the kids home with me alone (or as much alone as is possible with boys coming and going). Monday everyone will be home since it's Labour Day, tomorrow is the big birthday party and I found Mexican Coca-cola at the corner story this afternoon, which is sorta neat in of itself. They say it's better. I still can't finish a whole bottle or can by myself so really I wouldn't know. Pop Shoppe I can finish. Smart/vitamin water I can finish. Pure soda spins me into a cyclone and I can't finish. Surprise.

But you know what? I feel sorry for my children today. The anticipation of a whole summer stretching out before you in which you can daydream to your heart's content is far more glorious a feeling then the last few straggler-days of August (the month, not the boy) in which school supplies and clothes start to trickle in and total strangers will ask that dreaded question, Looking forward to going back to school? and you realize that soon your mind will be too busy trying to wrap itself around textbooks, locker-combinations and bagged lunches to daydream, the weather will grow cold and the days short and you'll long for the endless summer heat and accompanying ennui, the list of things you planned to do but never got around to and the dreams you didn't even start on yet.

That's what I'm thinking about today. Also, one kneesock is really loose and keeps falling down and I'm really fucking annoyed by it.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

One more time.

A whole post in italics means it's not for you.

(He stood in the kitchen doorway for a good twenty-five minutes while I fussed around cleaning up breakfast, getting progressively louder as I slammed things around and generally found ways to drag out my chores, pointedly ignoring him.

Twenty-five minutes in, he shifted his stance, putting his arm up on the doorframe, If I say I'm sorry would you notice me? He's trying to be serious but he's succeeding in being resplendent instead and I'm trying my best to not cave in.

You humiliated me in front of the others.

No, I didn't. They think way worse on a regular basis.


It's true! Jesus, Bridget. Every one of 'em, an animal in disguise.

So you just walk around dripping contempt on all of us, do you? Are we beneath you?

Hell, no. It's the other way around. I don't deserve this sort of stability or luck and I buckle at the extent to which I have changed my life. For you. For us.

Did you come in here to be resentful then?

No, Bridget! I came to apolofix (long story, made up language) and you're twisting it all around.

I stop slamming because I can't hear him and stand up straight, waiting.

I think things would be a lot easier if I didn't have to put my life to a vote every time I want to take a piss, that's all, peanut. I just want to go back to having only two people to take care of, you and myself.

That doesn't fly when you have a daughter, Loch.

I don't mean it like that. I mean when it comes to you.

Jake tried to lock things do-

I don't mean like that!

Then why don't you tell me what you MEAN, then!

Can you hear us? What are we doing? We fall in love, build it all up and then tear it all apart. It's a vicious cycle, Peanut. It's fucking stupid is what it is.

Where are we now?



I withdraw. You disengage. I don't know. We aren't together and then we drift back somehow. It's agony in between and I would spare both of us that.

Maybe that's just the way we do things.

We shouldn't. Not now. Now we have to make an effort.

I'm not the one who showed up drunk!


I dropped the towel on the floor and just stood there. He was so loud and so honest right there. Loudly honest and honestly loud and completely unconcerned with being overheard.

Of what? What are you scared of? (Oh please answer me for once. Pleasepleaseplease.)

Not getting you back. Ben. Caleb. Batman. Myself. Pick something. I'm scared of it.

You're the one who keeps giving me away.

We don't work..together. We don't seem to have-, I don't know, it seems to be short-lived and then we're fighting and I don't want it to end. I get so scared and everything gets so dark and I can't breathe.

Me neither.

Then let's keep the lights on. Please, Bridge.

He puts his hand out across the counter and I take it eagerly. He squeezes my fingers tightly and I know we're both going to kick the lightbulbs into a thousand fragments before we find a way to circumvent the past. Too much too soon. Too little, too late. Too bad, so sad.)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Princess and the Philistines.

This morning's family meeting was a farce. Ben was absent. Not sure if he forgot or didn't care (did you notice too? Yeah, he lets a hell of a lot of things slide sometimes), Caleb sent his last-minute regrets, citing another one of his miserable headaches, and PJ opted to make the whole thing into a litany of Things Caleb is Doing that makes them worry about me. Daniel abruptly said he thinks its time he rejoin the workforce and John pointed out that since he is new to the household, should he have brought his checkbook to pay me for all the chips he ate the other night, or did I maybe take debit?

I turned around and gazed at him for a very long time before realizing he just defused the entire situation in pointing out we really never schooled him on the house rules, so everything he knows is completely skewed and anecdotal.

Lochlan made some crack about stuffing my card slot and then keying a secret number into my pin pad and losing one's shirt in the process. Oh well, WOW. Someone's still drunk this morning. Told you he couldn't hold his liquor worth three pennies. I don't know why he was drinking anyway.

Oh, right, I do.

Caleb's mid-life crisis, which has really picked up speed with incident after incident and events that we should not be having to deal with and general fucktitude that simply isn't warranted at this stage of the game and they're all sure it's just some sort of stunted maturity because he went straight from moody, driven teenage boy to millionaire lawyer and they don't know quite how one would reconcile that anyway.

At least they're debating the reasons instead of simply piling on.

I might be the lone holdout. With few startlingly vulnerable exceptions, Caleb is still pure evil and I'm pretty sure the only reason he actually didn't show this morning was because he probably saw Ben leave for the studio very early and knew he wouldn't have many fans left in the room otherwise.

PJ said he expects things to get a lot worse before they get better, since we are now counting down six months to Caleb's fiftieth birthday and I'm supposed to somehow engineer a miraculous change of heart and drop everything to be with him in exchange for his net worth.

Somehow I don't see that happening.

Lochlan isn't sure and makes a few more humiliating comments directed squarely at me. He is dismissed by Schuyler, the only true gentleman left, it seems, and one of the few not afraid to call Lochlan on his bullshit, since Lochlan still mostly rules the household and everyone in it, though if you ask him he claims to be a part of nothing solid or permanent whatsoever and leave him the fuck out of it, thankyouverymuch.

We ignore him when he gets like that. He has some issues. He gets up and leaves and it all works as planned anyway since we had a different event to discuss. The big Long Holiday Weekend Birthday Extravaganza because Ruth and Lochlan's birthdays are two days apart.

(I know. Jesus, I'm so special. I did that all by myself. Here's hoping Lochlan takes the next week and sobers up for the sake of his daughter. You don't turn thirteen (!!) and forty-seven every goddamned day. 47. FORTEE SEVENNNNN. When the fuck did that happen? No, seriously. Please tell me. I missed it. And for the record he has incredible genes and does not look a day over thirty-three.)

We hammered out plans and ideas and special things and organized the schedules a bit so everyone in both houses will be around. I will look after getting Ben there and Caleb does not need to attend, of course, but otherwise I think we're almost ready. I have a lot of baking to do. A very big whole lot. Oh God.

The meeting broke up with everyone going their separate ways. To work, back to bed, whatever the usual schedules are for Tuedays which aren't as bad as Mondays and I went to reload the coffee maker so that the late risers and still-drunks could have some when they need it.

John stopped me in the hall, his hand on my elbow.

Bridget, I didn't mean to cause any problems but that was fucking funny.

I glare at him until he disintegrates.

Sorry. I should really go tell him off for being such an ass in front of a lady and see if he need to talk or something. Get him sobered up and back to himself. I really hate it when he's like this! (By the end of his remarks, John was pretending to be me, clearly and misses absolutely nothing here.)

Oh, you're just fitting in wonderfully, John.

Heh. Thanks? I think.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Once in a while you get what you deserve.

I can't touch you but you feel so fucking fine
Let's just stay like this and waste some more time

Once in a while, you get in my way
Once in a while, you know I've got to say
I love you ninety-nine percent of the time
Ninety-nine percent of the time
Ninety-nine percent of the time
Ninety-nine percent of the time
With the darkness comes the doubt. Back in 1983 the moment the beauty of the sunset faded I was scared, homesick and weirded out by everything from the day. Lochlan called it Sensory Overload and would give me small sips of whatever he had to drink until I was sufficiently distracted or unwound and then he would breathe a sigh of relief, his arm locked around my head, breathing fire into my hair, keeping me close or I would fall asleep hyperventilating.

Now it's not so easy. (It's also EXACTLY THE FUCKING SAME.)

We should have shot the fucker. Lochlan's own doubts rise with the moon as we snuggle down in the Adirondack chairs on the patio to watch the stars from home. He has something in his cup. It's not tea or coffee or pop, I'm guessing it has a proof number and a warning label. He holds it out to me. I take a sip and burst into flames.

Lochlan should have a warning label. I can't reconcile his actions.

How would you feel if he said the same thing about you?

He has.

I mean now. Today. Maybe you're just coming down from all the excitement. Maybe it's all just total bullshit. He's killing time and so are you, waiting for Ben to implode or me or whatever and you all feel like you're gaining ground with every nod of agreement from me or every side I pick in every argument and then you lose ground when I side with someone else and I don't actually play favorites nearly as often as everything thinks I do, you know that?

He takes a long drink from his mug. You done?

. I take a big breath and let it out. He's still as pragmatic as ever, as he was when I was just as afraid and all I want to do is feel his arms close around me as I close my eyes and put my head down against his shoulder but tonight he is just out of reach, on the other side of that label, up to his neck in regret and self-doubt and maybe fear of his own.

Why do you do this?


Fall apart in the bottom of a bottle when you're so together every other time.

He winks. Everybody cracks, peanut.

You don't crack. You're in charge!

I don't think I ever was. Didn't feel like it. I just kept to the manifest which was to make you happy.

Uh-huh. You wanted to make me miserable.

How did I do that?

I had to go to bed at eleven. And you made me eat vegetables.

You were ten fucking years old, and for the record, you didn't eat your vegetables. That's why you're only three feet tall now.

I was twelve! And I'm five feet tall, thanks.

Again, you done, Bridgie?

I grab the cup and take a big drink, choking on the flames. Yes.

Because we're going in circles tonight and I'd rather not if it's all the same. Even though it's your specialty.
He winks as he says it, to soften his dismissal.

Leave the mug if you're going in. My stubbornness reveals itself. Alas it's no match for him.

I'll neither leave the drink nor the girl
. He stands and holds out his free hand. I raise my hand for the mug and we have a standoff, of sorts. I lose after three minutes. I knew I would lose so I take his hand as offered and he pulls me up out of the chair, hooking his arm around my waist. Bingo. I get my hug by default.

And for the record, you play favorites whenever the mood strikes you. Don't deny something as plain as the eyes on your face.

Now you're saying my eyes are plain? Oh, and by the way, drinking to solve your problems is a bad idea.

I'm not drinking to solve anyth-...Jesus Christ, Bridget. This is why you're not allowed to stay up past eleven.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Value calculations.

Sober Duncan is doing great after an eighty-minute bubble bath (Twilight Woods has another convert over here) and a good nights sleep. He asked for roast potatoes and tea, which was a very Jacob-like maneuver. (I made it for him and watched as he picked up his plate and took it to his room to eat while he caught up on emails and reading. Jacob wouldn't have done that.) Duncan also expressed surprise that the kids grew so much in the month he was gone and he was glad to see Ben doing better since he left tour early.

He was not, however, very impressed with the way Caleb ambushed Loch and I out in the middle of nowhere but he was proud of the way we handled it.

Yeah, me too, Dunk, but I'm really glad you're back

Certain people just serve to make the whole mood of the house a little more laid-back and even-keel. Duncan is one of them.


Who was that? I saw a tall blonde with a briefcase leaving the boathouse just before noon today. My curiosity spills over so I call Caleb and ask him.

A counselor. She comes highly recommended.

A what?

A counselor, Bridget. To help me get over you.

How did it go?

It's going to take a while. Years. She was astounded when she took my history, to say the least.

I don't doubt it.

She might want to meet with you at some point.

Leave me out of this.

I think it would be beneficial to her to have the whole picture, instead of just my side.

We'll see.

That's all I can ask.

What will we spend our days doing when you're all fixed up and perfect again?

I don't know how to answer that, Bridget.

I'm...well, I'm proud of you for getting help.

I shock him so much he doesn't know what to say, and after a strangled silence, he says he'll let me go now. I fail to realize he means from the phone call and tell him he should have done it years ago. Why every single word has to be weighed down so heavily, I don't know. He gracefully avoids correcting me and says goodbye. When I hang up I instantly want to place a bet on how long this lasts and what end this is a means to, but instead I go and ask Duncan if he's hungry again yet.

Because Duncan is never ever evil and usually always hungry.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Slam Dunk.

Gage is over, we are standing by the patio door discussing boots, as he broke a boot lace and I just happen to keep laces for Docs in the utility cupboard in the hallway, along with things like emergency glow sticks, hockey sticks, fishing rods and camping supplies. Gage is surprised and I tell him I like to be prepared because Ben never is. He points out my tendencies toward minimalism and I laugh and explain the difference between having what one needs and total excess.

(Excess is Ruth, who on a recent trip to Bath & Bodyworks, bought one of every fragrance in body mist and hand sanitizer and now has a stockroom instead of a bedroom and uhhh..I blame PJ. He can't say no to her. He also likes the Twilight Woods shower gel, but I didn't tell you that.)

So I found some laces for Gage and just as he is trying finagle a lunch invitation on top of the boot supplies, we hear a massive commotion in the front hall. I go running. I never know if two of the boys are fighting or if someone's breaking in or if Henry has slipped on the stairs or what. I book through the kitchen, down the hall and into the front hall.

And there is Duncan. Back from the dead. Or at least from tour, which is a fate worse than death, if you can believe me when I tell you it's true. I hardly recognize him after a four-week absence, even though I talked to him just about every day up until a week ago when he dropped off the radar just to white-knuckle it through the hard part, which is when everyone is tired, hungover, fed-up and overly-anxious to get home.

So he crashed into the front foyer and threw his bags on the floor and sprawled out face-down, arms outstretched, prostrating to the cat who sat inside the window beside the door, licking her paws and waiting for him for the whole month long. I heard him say Hiya kittycat and then he laughed in relief that he made it back in one piece, but barely.

I run in and he looks up at me and says Bridget, Jesus, thank you God, as he rolls over. His eyes are bloodshoot, pupils dilated, he has a full beard, and he smells like he just...I don't want to know and I think I'll be burning the luggage, sort of like I wanted to do with Ben's before PJ had the great idea to pressure-wash it out in the driveway.

Gage leans right over Duncan and smiles. Rough day? Duncan rolls his eyes closed and asks me to remind him of this moment the next time he feels like hitting the road. I tried already, I tell him sweetly. You just didn't listen.

I'll listen, Mom, he says sagely. I frown. I hate it when he calls me Mom. He's drunk. He stands finally and I get a huge, breath-stealing hug, not like the kind you would give your mom at all. When he lets go there is his little brother Dalton, and five or six of the others waiting to greet him and I stand back to get out of the way and realize I have to burn my outfit now too.

Safe and sound is my favorite place for everyone to be. He'll sleep well tonight, and probably most of tomorrow too.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Candy from strangers (Buttered up and squeezed in).

(Sorry for the distractedness as of late. A)Things are still kind of weird. B)Daniel has discovered Radiohead. I think we're going to need an intervention because I'll kill him if he plays How to Disappear Completely one. more. time. C)Ruth starts HIGH SCHOOL in a week. *head implodes*. We need a little more good news for a bit. Are you up for it? Good, because I am.)

PJ has lovingly divided his living space, giving up his 'office' in order to give John a bedroom.

They will share the bathroom, it's not fully ensuite so it won't be any problem (except for John, because as I said before, PJ flatly DENIES that he is nearsighted and blames the pee drops on the floor on me. Um. Ick. I'll get back to him when I first learn how to pee standing up). They both snore, so really it's serendipitous at this point to contain them both downstairs, the filthy animals that they are.

I'm kidding.

How awesome it will be to have John back close by all the time. John used to be our second-closest neighbor after Jacob when we lived in the castle and wow, writing that made me feel as if possibly a few million words have flowed through my fingertips since those times. I would look out the window and call him on the phone, telling him he should park closer to the curb and also nice ticket and then I would watch as he ran outside in his bare feet in the snow only to see there was no ticket on his car.

Because I'm a terrible, horrible, no-good friend.

Then we had some rough times after Jake left and John deferred to Lochlan a little more than me and then he worked for Caleb for a time and then I got him back and deprogrammed him and basically we're back where we started.

And yes, ladies, this handsome lumberjack is still single. Line forms to the left.

So happy he is here now. He brought me a candy bouquet to thank me for having him. I pointed out this was all PJ's doing and John looked PJ up and down and told him not to expect any gifts. PJ shot back that he'd better use the fan when he shits or all bets are off and he's out on the street.

Ahhh. Brothers by choice. Isn't it beautiful?

Soon we'll all be wearing name tags and holding nightly Meet Your housemates cocktail parties just to keep things more familiar. We're all so formal and reserved these days. Snort.

(Yes, Ben ate the candy already. Wrappers too.)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Part 2: Coup de grace (the part I'll probably be sued for).

From the hotel satellite
Don't look like you're living right
Here's a deal you can't refuse
You ain't got as much to lose

Can you tell your troubles to
Someone who won't laugh at you
It's all right
And as I watch you walk away
Hope a part of you would stay
It's all right
He passed it to me carefully. I snatched it out of his hands and he put them up.

Be careful. It's loaded.

Don't play games with me. Not like this.

Bridget, this isn't a game.

Why are you here?

So you can follow through
. He takes my hands and carefully wraps them around the gun and then he pulls my hands up until my elbows lock with the gun resting against the center of his forehead.

Tell my son I love him and know that I love you. Slay your demon, Bridget. I try to let go of the gun but he won't let me. Instead he roars at me. JUST DO IT!

I scream back. I don't want to! I am suddenly terrified beyond belief that the gun is going to go off and he'll be dead.

Caleb drops his hands from mine and presses forward, whispering. Just do it, Bridget. Do it for what I did to you. Get your payback. End your nightmares.

My hands begin to shake. I don't like this gun. I don't like this moment. The twelve-year-old me is screaming to DO IIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT PLEEEEEEEEAAASE and then I see Loch walk into the light. He drops the bags with dinner on the ground and I can see the confusion in his eyes but he's here. He's here on time. Help me. I tell him. He swears and lunges forward, removing the gun from my hands and his rage explodes as he ejects the clip.

NO MORE FUCKING GAMES, CALEB! Do you really think bringing a loaded weapon here would fucking fix ANYTHING? You know what? You should get the fuck out of here before I kill you you myself.

Caleb considers this for a whole three seconds and then lunges for Lochlan. Lochlan says my name so quietly I feel rather than hear him. He throws the gun to me and suddenly the tables turn and I am afraid for all three of us.

And so I do what I do best. I take off running, clutching the gun to my chest. Bad idea bad idea bad idea.

I run and I run and I run. Caleb is behind me but I'm small and fast and when I reach the edge of the clearing I throw the gun as hard as I can into the woods. Caleb cries out, smashing into me and we go down into the grass. Lochlan is right there, shoving him away. Jesus FUCK, just LEAVE US ALONE!

If you can't kill me, can you forgive me, Bridget? Caleb's voice is faint.

Lochlan's volume is fixed on thirteen and I flinch.

Lochlan throws his arms around me, pushing his forehead down against the side of my head. I lean against him hard. If you want me to end this, just say the word. Even with my bare hands, Bridget, just give me the word and I can-

He can screw up but he's still here. I'll take that over anyone else being d-d-de-. I can't say the word dead though and it comes out like a consonant wrapped around the blade of a knife. Cut in half. I push away from Lochlan and walk to where Caleb sits waiting for his execution. He stands.

I don't want you to die.
I say it loud and clear. I didn't know that until now. So maybe instead of all the dramatic stunts we can all just go home and live quietly and be nice to each other. There's nothing else for you. Or me. Or anyone. So stop. Please. You get another gun and we're gone. I'm gone, Henry's gone. Everyone's gone. You need to stop playing with our lives. Including your own. Enough. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

I'm not sure where I found the bravery to yell at him in the woods in the dark but Lochlan said it looked pretty magnificent to see me standing on my tiptoes, fists balled up at my sides, face right in Caleb's face and then to watch him disintegrate in response.

I don't think I was magnificent. I'm ashamed that it happened at all and I have no confidence that anything will actually change.

What did that night accomplish? We got rid of the gun (which was subsequently retrieved and Caleb has since relinquished it through the proper channels) and Lochlan finally found his Courage switch. Even if I realize now that I can never avenge my twelve-year-old self, all I'll ever have to do is say the word and he will.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Part 1: Coup de main (Angels in a cage).

(Back to the present for a wee spell. And don't worry, everything's okay.)

Every night while we were away Lochlan would head down the road to a take-out restaurant and come back with dinner. We don't go out. All he wanted to do was talk. All he wanted to do is be alone together. All he wanted to do was sort out why I dissolve so easily into mush when I profess to understand that I am stronger than I feel.

He moralized, evangelized, and taught. I sat and nodded, taking small bites of whatever dinner that was chosen for me each evening, swallowing his teachings with no salt for flavor. He reminded me to take a drink, passing me the glass. He forgot that some nights mirror the past, reflecting overinflated, frightening moments as only a child understands. We fell so easily into old routines, the worn wrinkles of time spread smooth with our fingers, the same frays and tears fussed over with promises to fix now, and if not now, soon.

So one night when the knock came on the door of the camper ten minutes after Lochlan set off foraging for our late supper my heart fell out the bottom, cleaved in half, black and rotten to the core. Twelve-year-old Bridget shrank back against the cupboard, frozen in fear. Adult-Bridget talked her out of such silly, unfounded fears. It's probably the campground operator needing something, or maybe a remote and unprepared neighbor needing a bottle opener. Maybe Lochlan forgot his wallet. It's been known to happen.

Adult-Bridget took five steps and opened the door, outward, into the night. Twelve-year-old Bridget screamed and hid under the table. She knows better. Always has, always will.

Because there stood the Devil, just as he stood in 1983. Only now he needs to shave every day and he has dark circles under his eyes matched only by the years of evil under his belt.

Forgive me, Bridget, but I'm going to fix this once and for all.

And he pulled out a gun.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

My fierce, inebriated sea.

Streets are filled with broken glass
You get buried by the past
Give me just a little taste
Lay this mess to waste
Take me home

My mind is racing take me home
My body's aching so alone
I'll make you want to stay with me
Befriended by the enemy
One more time

Every little thing about this tells me
Nothing out there is ever gonna help me
All these words that I hear spoken
Just promises broken

Looking outside from a window sill
Throw another coin in my wishing well
Never find what you're looking for
Fifteen miles
Your dim light shines from so far away
Your sad smile is all I see when I say-
A year and a half into being married to Cole, Lochlan sent a letter, registered mail from Atlantic City.

Renew your passport and come do this with me. Leave one madness for another.


That was it. Two sentences and his initial along with a hundred dollar bill to get me there. I started packing instead of eating the lunch I had just made for myself. I got on a bus and I went. I was twenty-four years old and I knew enough to pack everything I would need to stay for a while.

I should have packed that lunch. When I arrived Lochlan was busking for cash on the street. He was pulling in three or four hundred dollars a day as long as he began by nine, moved around a lot and kept it up until midnight with very few breaks. The day he started after lunch and finished up early he made forty-two dollars. Eight hundred dollars in he realized how unsustainable it was, and add in the fact that I did not want to pass his hat for fifteen hours a day in the sun, having walked away from a perfectly good job in air-conditioning where I made ten dollars an hour guaranteed. You ain't got nothin' if it isn't guaranteed.

Nights we would have a late dinner in the same dive bar each time and slow dance to the music over the PA. Soul Asylum was big back then, or maybe they just put them on when they saw Loch. His strawberry blonde hair was so long now it was almost straight. He looked like Dave Pirner, but shorter. (Loch is much, much shorter than Dave, as I found out later in life.)

Promises Broken was a favorite song for keeping us in line with each other at this point. I was married, he'd moved on (whatever that means) and we liked to slow dance and talk and daydream to pass the time while we waited to hear about the actual opportunity I had been summoned for, this one in New York with the show. This was not small time carnival anymore, it was full-on freak- and sideshow, be your performance, breathe in a madness of a different sort indeed, day in and day out.

Off we went up the coast. We thought it was legit. It was, in a way. In one way it was a dream life. Nomads. On the road again together. Best life. No rules. In another way it was a muted, corrupted nightmare and we never should have gone back down the road we did. We need rules. We need anchors. We need the security that doesn't exist out there. It isn't safe. It isn't fair. It isn't the same.

We were propositioned regularly. We were offered other jobs, far outside of what we knew, in the seedy underworld of unspoken entertainment and beyond. We saw things small town people shouldn't see, and at night we split a pint of whiskey so as to keep our wits while we slow-danced to that same damned song.

Loch was playing that song this morning and lamenting just a few more poor decisions we (Or I, to be fair) have made since then. Took me two days to find him down on the beach with a guitar, a pick and an untouched sketchbook, no pencils in sight and an empty whiskey bottle bigger than a pint, though I couldn't smell it on his breath when he kissed me. When I checked his body language for cues he caught me and explained that he poured it into the water, that he found what he was looking for and it wasn't in the bottle or the water. It showed up two days late and then heard the song and stood with her arms crossed, fighting off memories that he had no business bringing back to her now.

It's a zero-sum game now, Peanut, he said, and smiled and he tipped the very last drop onto his tongue. And you're not very good at those.