In Vino Veritas

Another snippet, one I wrote a while ago.  I’m still working out where and how this comes into Silence, but come in it does.  I’ve lived too many scenes like this myself to ever leave it out:

Connor pressed himself as deeply into the corner as he could. The shadows around him, the bottle in his hand, the worries and fears that he wouldn’t live to see the sun come up again—it was like being back dockside. He could all but hear Oz asking him just how fucked up did he plan to get?

“What the hell are you doing out here, Connor?” a voice asked. He knew that voice. He knew it, but it didn’t fit. Not with dockside, not with the memories.

He looked up. It was Matt. Innocent, earnest Matt. Poor foolish, naive Matt. The one who still believed in…anything.

A move of his hand and he offered the half-empty bottle. “Sit down and have a drink. I could use the company.”

A hesitation as Matt looked at the cold, wet ground before he sank down with a small shrug. He took the bottle and sipped cautiously. “Holy…what the hell are you drinking? This could strip paint from the walls.”

Connor laughed, then, with more than a hint of pain and bitterness. “Good ol’ fashioned shochu. Makes me feel young again. Y’all don’t get this kuso around here, so you don’t know what you’re missing.” Connor knew he should be careful about his speech, about letting dockside slip back onto his tongue, but he just couldn’t muster the energy. Or the care.

The bottle came back to him and he took a long, long drink.

It really was kuso, but he needed that particular burn from the harsh liquor. The burn of memory, the burn of forgetting. For a time.

“It’s, what, ten degrees out here? Are you insane? Why the hell are you sitting in the darkest, coldest corner in this whole city?” Matt asked, his voice full of care…and of the emotions and tells that Connor could so easily use.

No. Not this time.

Matt wasn’t a kamo, wasn’t someone to read and scam. He was a friend. That was all, just a friend.

Connor hadn’t realized just how much he needed a simple friend until he met Matt. Hopefully he wouldn’t kill this one.

Stop it, Connor, Oz said in his mind. You didn’t kill me. You did what you had to, and the price was paid. That’s how it works. Shit, I thought I taught you better than this.

The silence said Matt expected some kind of answer, so Connor obliged. He could laugh, and did, but he couldn’t stop the bitterness, not tonight. “It’s an old habit. If you’re in the corner, you only have to watch in front of you. Safest place to be. Of course, that means it’s also the place everyone wants. I’ve seen kids knifed for their little spots in the corner.”

A look over and he could read the shock and dismay on Matt’s face, even in the dark.

Fuck it, in booze lay honesty they said. Or something like that. Another pull at the bottle, then, “I saw my first murder when I was eight. This…this carnival you call civilization, it’s a sideshow. I know the truth behind it all. I know the blood and pain it’s built on. My pain, and my brother’s blood.”

“What the…” Matt stuttered, completely staggered, at a loss. He very obviously did not know what to make of Connor’s little speech, so he focused instead on the smallest of the details. “Brother? I thought you were an only child.”

Connor thought about that for a moment. “Some families you’re born into, some families you choose. Oz meant more—means more—to me than some random aho who just happens to share my genes.”

 

“Come pick me up from the night
From the hands of the dark
From the things I didn’t know
That would simply break your heart”

“Have Mercy”, The Gaslight Anthem, Get Hurt, 2014, Island Records

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