Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 9 - Installment: i

        It wasn’t the first time he had woken up on the floor uncertain of where he was, but this time alcohol had nothing to do with it.

        The cobwebs cleared after a few moments and he put together that he’d fallen asleep sitting beside Carly’s fold-out bed. He had no sense of what time it was, but it was dark out. He had slept for hours. He’d be up all night now. Carly too if she woke up. She’d let go of his thumb and was breathing steadily. With any luck she was exhausted enough to sleep through ‘til morning. He, for one, had slept much more heavily than he expected once he’d finally got to sleep. Watching vigil over Carly had lulled him.

        Picking himself off the floor he went into the bathroom to relieve himself. Washing his hands he took a glance in the mirror.

        Could have been worse. His face was dirty. He had imagined blood, but none of the blood from the hospital had come anywhere near him. There were streaks down his cheeks where his tears had washed the film of dirt away.

        At least I still don’t look sick. That was the assurance he had really been eager for. For all of his certainty, the possibility that he might still be wrong was his greatest fear. Not only for himself, but for Carly and of course the horror that he had done the wrong thing when he took them both away from their quarantine. The bathroom light was bright, but his eyes were still adjusting – there was no pain. He wasn’t cold. No hunger.

        Satisfied, he moved into the main room. The kitchen clock read nearly seven PM in the glow of the television. Still no sign of Bev. She had said ‘late.’ That probably meant hours still.

        Sitting down in front of the television again he tried to glean what was the story on Can News Net without turning up the volume.

        The ‘VGH Outbreak’ as it was now being called was prominent in the scroll, but the talking heads on the main portion of the screen were inscrutable with the volume muted. He didn’t care to un-mute for fear of waking Carly, and before too long his attention wandered to the room itself.

        He soon realized that he was assessing Bev by her possessions – his detective instincts kicking in. Giving in to his habits he found a light switch and turned on the lights so as to better look at his subject.

        Her CD collection was appalling by his measure. Mostly chick-centric AOR. He counted four Sinead O’Connor albums he’d never heard of. The large number of Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco albums got him wondering if perhaps he had misjudged her sexual orientation.

        She never mentioned a boyfriend at meetings.

        Next the bookshelf – a perfect window into a person’s soul. A lot of classics. Austen and the Brontes, of course. Some Woolf. But also gothic horror. Poe – must have been a complete collection there. Stoker and Wolstencroft-Shelly – staples. Scott was unfamiliar with the oeuvre, but knew enough to pigeon hole her as a diehard genre fan by the Lovecraft. Chandler, Verne, Robbins, RandElmore Leonard!

        Well, she’s not simple.

        His eyes cast over various pictures, a couple of dying plants and above the kitchen cupboard a collection of dusty antique bottles.

        No. Not all antiques.

        One was of a design that was still in use by the Smirnoff Vodka company.

        Oh Bev. That’s a stupid way of practicing your control.

        He knew of other alcoholics who kept totems of their past life in arms reach. A defiant act of will that could only go bad one day.

        He climbed up on a chair and took a closer look.

        The bottle was covered in a thick, slightly greasy layer of dust, just like the row of antiques beside it. Gingerly he tested the cap. It was still sealed. Clearly the bottle had sat there for years. She wasn’t doing so badly. In a way her twisted success over herself was admirable.

        But now he had to get away from it.

        He got down from the chair and slumped back on the couch again, his detective voyeurism having lost its steam at the demon bottle sitting right up there on the cupboard.

        News Net was cycling through a sports update that was probably a few hours old by now. The Canucks had broken a road-game losing streak and the Lions lost their grip on Grey Cup contention in the Western Finals. Cursory highlights from the rest of each league and the NBA then back to the ‘All-Outbreak-All-the-Time Channel.’

        His own face and Carly’s were front and center. The banner read ‘Citywide Manhunt.’

        “God…” Scott laughed to himself. “…as it turns out, I could use a drink.”

        There it is. Acknowledged, and thus defused.

        But it wasn’t.

        Once it was said out loud, it wasn’t going away. Hell, it hadn’t been going away from the time his eyes found the bottle.

        Shit. I have to get rid of it. She’ll understand, won’t she?

        He was certain that she would. He didn’t have her control. He had to get the bottle out of the house.

        Out of sight, out of mind.

        He got back up on the chair and pulled down the offending bottle. He turned it over in his hands.

        It would be so easy to just have one drink.

        But it wouldn‘t be easy to have just one drink.

        He slid the French door at the back of the house open. He figured he could hit the alley from where he was. The bottle would shatter on the pavement. He could buy Bev another if she really wanted it. Perhaps she’d be happy to have it gone. She would understand.

        If I’m throwing it out anyway…just a sniff. Just a reminder.

        He broke the seal and unscrewed the cap. Lifting the bottle to his nose he breathed in the nearly odorless smell of the vodka. The alcohol tickled his nostrils more than any actual scent activated his olfactory nerves. So familiar. And kind of pleasant in a familiar kind of way.

        Okay. Throw it away. Just one sip. A slug for old times’ sake, then throw the rest of it away, just to prove how much control you actually have.

        He tipped the bottle to his lips and let a trickle of the vodka past his teeth and over his tongue. It felt so good. The knowledge that he had it beat was so empowering.

        He swallowed a mouthful. And another.

        He stopped pouring the vodka into his mouth and took a moment to feel the warm sensation of the liquor spreading down his throat, seeming to evaporate into his bloodstream before it even got to his stomach. It really was a wonderful feeling. He could see how he could have become so addicted to it in the first place.

        Okay. One more reminder, then out it goes.

        He swallowed down two more liberal mouthfuls and took in the sensations before looking down at the bottle. Must have been a fifth of it already. Impressive.

        An image passed through his mind of being a teenager and taking part in the time honoured tradition of topping up the bottle with water. It was kind of funny, really. He could do that now and Bev would be none the wiser, whereas if he bought a new bottle she’d notice. The thin layer of accumulated dust and ambient cooking oils was something that he could not duplicate on a replacement bottle. She’d probably notice in the interim anyhow.

        How stupid is this? It’s better to do the juvie top-up and leave the original where I found it, like a pimply faced kid in fear of Mom. How ridiculous.

        He went to the sink and ran the water. As he was about to pour the thin stream down the neck of the bottle he stopped himself.

        I can’t do this. I can’t have this vodka in the house. I’ll just end up drinking it at the worst possible time. Better to get rid of it in a controlled way.

        He turned off the tap.

        He opened the cupboard and found a glass.

        No time like the present.

     Chapter 10

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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.