I’ve started working with this newly started lit mag Terror House, with likely book releases of mine to come as well. Their aim is to publish edgy outsider writing, and they’ve embraced the material I’ve got to offer. Today I had a short story published there at https://terrorhousemag.com/alcohol-drought/, one I’m including here as well.
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon; Linda is standing outside the red wooden cottage where John and company are inside sleeping, not having awoken yet from last night’s party. She starts to get a taste of the anxiety she experiences almost every day after she’s woken up: she needs something!
“Where the fuck can I find alcohol out in this goddamn wilderness?” she mumbles to herself. “Why did I even tag along out here?”
Then she remembers the deal John might land with the other guys.
If they buy that camcorder, we’ll get a $50 provision for the sale. Hector’s birthday is coming up and I don’t have any money for a present otherwise. But what do I do about this awful feeling I’ve got right now?
As she looks around the scenery, she spots John’s car, an old light blue Volvo, somewhat obscured by shrubbery, its front facing this way. After a moment of contemplation, her eyes lock onto the windshield wipers. She walks up to the car and tries to open the door on the driver’s seat, but finds it locked. Now that she’s there, she has a closer look at the windshield wiper.
You press that thing inside the car and the alcohol sprays out of that orifice, she remembers.
Linda looks around for a moment for an object she could use to pick the lock, but then the thought of John hitting her again comes to mind.
As if the pain isn’t bad enough, we’ll have even more problems with child welfare if John goes to prison for assaulting me again. I’ll have to find some other way.
John is still sleeping. He keeps the car keys in his jeans pocket.
She turns towards the cottage again and steps inside. The interior is very old-fashioned, probably from the end of the 19th century. One member of the company is completely passed out face-down on the floor, one arm underneath him, the other straight out over his head. Looking down at his head, she spots a bit of saliva on the floor underneath his mouth. Stepping over him, she comes across John’s pants hanging over a sofa in the living room. There’s a bulge in one of the back pockets, which she realizes is his wallet. Reaching into the other pocket, she comes across John’s key ring, which she grabs and then starts to walk outside. She’s amazed at how quiet it is. At a time like this, other people might take a moment to enjoy the solitude, but Linda hastily proceeds to get back to her original plan: getting some liquor out of the windshield wiper.
Outside, she walks over to the car again and unlocks the door. Then she climbs up on the hood, stretches her arm around into the side of the car, over the open door, and reaches for the spray button. Fumbling for a moment, she slips off the hood and slams her head into the car door. Grinning in pain, she recovers for a few minutes while lying on the ground, then gets back to work. This time around, she makes sure to have a better idea of just where the spray button is before she gets up on the hood. Then she climbs back up again, places her face near the spray opening, stretches her arm around the windshield, and opens her mouth. At first, she only nudges the button, which makes the spray undershoot and end up on her shirt instead.
“Oh, is there anything in my life that doesn’t go wrong?” she whispers to herself.
Then with a bit more force, she presses it down completely and gets a jet of alcohol into her mouth, devouring it voraciously. Linda keeps drinking up the alcohol, even though quite a bit of it spills on the windshield instead, and some on her shirt. For a while, she thinks she’s in Heaven, until suddenly the spray dries out.
But I need more! This wasn’t enough.
It doesn’t take her long to notice the alcohol on the windshield.
Hmm, this windshield is dirty…but what do you do?
She licks up the remainder with her tongue until she finds herself reasonably satiated, proud of her sudden stroke of genius. After she’s done, she locks the car door, walks back inside to put the car keys back into John’s pocket, and decides to pretend nothing has happened.
An hour or two later, the company start to wake up. John gets up out of bed, stretches his arms into the air, and proceeds towards the living room. There he puts on his pants, spots Linda, and addresses her.
“I need you to tag along as we make a side trip here, a guy called and said he had moonshine to sell,” John says.
They both walk out of the house and sit down in the car, with John driving and Linda in the other front seat.
The only way out to the cottage is a dirt road, which is quite soggy after a couple of days of rain. As John speeds out on the road, he finds dirt keeps splattering up onto the windshield, and turns on the wipers. Then he presses the button for the wiper fluid and finds nothing comes out of it.
“What the hell? I filled up that thing the other day,” John says.
“That liquid runs out fast,” Linda says as she turns her head away from him and looks out the window.
“But it’s an airproof container, it can’t just evaporate or something,” he says.
John turns towards Linda. As he looks at her shirt, something seems odd about it. John grabs it and finds it’s soaked. Leaning towards her, he realizes she smells heavily of alcohol.
“What the hell? You didn’t drink the alcohol out of the windscreen washer?”
“How can you think something like that of me?”
John lets go of her shirt and punches her.