Welcome to the legal theft project, a continuation of a standing challenge existing between Building a Door and Apprentice, Never Master, now issued to a number of different bloggers. The premise is simple enough: We each write a short story and send the first lines to our thief lord, Gwen. Gwen assigns a different first line to each of us, and we have at most 12 hours to complete a second short story using the first line assigned. Tomorrow the short stories to which the original lines belonged will be posted on our individual blogs. This process should repeat every 2 weeks if all goes well.
The first line of this particular piece was thieved from Gwen of Apprentice, Never Master. The piece also owes some inspiration to Kate Kearney at More Than ½ Mad, who gave me Connell’s profession when prompted.
Drunk didn’t look good on Connell. It never had. The liquor spotted his cheeks and forehead with red that made his skin look milky, especially against the dark curls. He looked like he had a deathly fever as he sprawled on the kitchen tile, back against the fridge and whiskey glass, tipped and empty, in his fist. He was asleep, his closed lids hiding the red of his eyes but not the bags beneath them.
Marian had come home to find him like this, had flipped on the kitchen light to find his tableau: “Drunkard” she called the piece in her head.
An assistant curator at a local modern art museum, she was used to finding things that some would describe as morbid or disturbing as beautiful and moving.
Connell drunk was not such a piece.
He disgusted her in the way that some people were disgusted by Sandy Skoglund’s “Spirituality of the Flesh.” It was an installation in decay, brief maybe, but poignant.
Marian was tired of coming home to the rotting installation, as tired as Skoglund must have become with the rancid smell of beef as she constructed her image and had to clean it up. What had she done with all the beef? What would Marian do with hers?
For now, she took down the spare blanket from the linen closet. She went to her husband and she wrapped the blanket around him, carefully tucking in the corners. She took the whiskey glass from his hand, and he moaned softly in his sleep as his fingers closed over the woolen blend instead. The putrid, sickening stench of consumed alcohol clung to his skin in sweat. She should wipe his forehead, dampen his curls, but she couldn’t bring herself to touch him again. She turned on her heels and left the room instead.
In the bed that they would have shared, Marian sat awake, staring at the ceiling in the dark, where the street lamps cast an orange glow.
What would she do with Connell?
She was tired of him. She was tired of his drunkenness, but he was her husband. He had fallen on hard times. His job was freelance, and he rarely had work. When he did find work, it was often very profitable and provided for them well for several months. But it had been several months now since Connell had been called upon.
He needed a job.
She needed to find him a job.
Yes, that was the way to break him of his drinking. When he had work, he didn’t drink, he didn’t have time to drink, tossed all the alcohol down a drain of his own free will saying that it clouded his sharp mind and hampered his much-needed coordination. He spent a few days shivering, locked in their bedroom and emerged the adventurer whom she loved, bright-eyed and alert. He brushed a hand across her cheek as he emerged, kissed her lips.
If she didn’t see him much when he was adventuring, well, at least she knew he was happy.
She would talk to Maalik. Maybe he would have something he needed. Maybe he would employ her husband.