Page 61 - WTP Vol. XI #3
P. 61

 that he’s back in a program. Maybe it will stick this time. “It was Hayes, Dad. I had to come.”
“Yeah, Hayes... one of the good ones, that’s for sure.” His eyes flick to Lukas and register heartbreak. And she knows that no diplomas she accrues will com- pensate for the pain caused by her brother’s down- ward spiral.
“When are you going back to Boston?” her father asks.
“Sunday... I’m planning on Sunday.”
“Call me beforehand, Juliette. Maybe we can catch up.”
“You too, Lukas.” “Sure.”
Their father wanders to Melany and starts making small talk about her twins. And at the guestbook Juliette sees a vaguely familiar man signing in. And then she remembers: he was the boy she traded shots with the night before her father left, the boy up in Melany’s bedroom when she was drunk on Hayes’s Hurricane Rum Fun.
“Ready to leave?” she asks Lukas.
“About two days ago. Let’s go to Blue Heaven.” “Where?”
“You’ll see.”
In a neighborhood of auto-parts stores interspersed among new little restaurants with space heaters
and lights strung over sidewalk tables Heaven is an upscale tavern specializing in elaborate custom cock- tails. Past the crowd of business-casual professionals at the bar, her brother finds a table with two high stools in the rear. A solemn waiter presents them with leather-bound menus of drinks ranging from standard Manhattans to a cocktail concocted with turmeric tea and sweet potato shochu. Nothing costs less than twelve dollars.
“The Beowulf looks good. But so does the Crab Apple Toddy,” she says. Across the table, her brother looks lost. She calculates—she’s not as bad as he is; she can drink and still function. But Lukas can barely breath.
He gives a vague wave toward the bar crowd. “Isn’t
this great, Jules? I mean it’s so frickin’ cynical, it’s genius.”
“Cynical how?”
“Christ, Jules, you’re the smart one. Look at this place. Wanna know how they get away with charging twelve bucks for a frickin’ highball? By camouflaging what they’re really doing, that’s how... so all these pathetic deluded boozehounds can tell themselves they’re
just having a little something after work... no big deal. They’re not drunks... no sir. Drunks go to dive bars, not Blue Heaven. Drunks don’t pay twelve bucks for a frickin’ highball... frickin’ genius. They should have a course in it in business school, don’t you think?”
“I wouldn’t know... I’m in law school.” “Right. I know that.”
She orders a Great Brandy Alexander. In her pocket, her nails rake her palm. Now, her vanished twin surfaces only when she drinks. No matter how far
she slips—sleeping with her Con Law professor, her roommate’s fiancé, the best man at their wedding— Portia remains her secret safety valve, a chromosomal red light she trusts to stop her before she becomes as lost as Lukas.
Their drinks come and he raises his glass. “To Hayes.” “To Hayes.”
“How’s the drink?”
“I gotta get away, Jules. I gotta get outta here.”
She doesn’t know if he means the Blue Heaven, or Baltimore, or life. Whichever it is, she knows his destination: that sweet spot where reality fades into
(continued on next page)

   59   60   61   62   63