Matrimony

‘Just shut the fuck up alright, you’re not helping.’ He slammed his palm against the tiles.
It made a soft thud. He turned back to look at me, it was a glare but it wasn’t meant for me. He just needed to glare at something, at someone. I stayed on the stone floor. The cold cut through my clothes and caused me to shudder. I stayed silent. Glenn turned to face me, he was visibly shaking. Tremors ran down from his gnarled shoulders, down his taut arms, his thin wrists, to his trembling, clenched fists.
‘I’m going to fucking kill him.’ His right fist thudded into the tiled wall.
He gasped in shock to see the blood trickle over his knuckle and down his wrist, matting the blonde hairs on his arm. I broke my silence.
‘What can we do?’
‘I don’t know, I don’t know but i gotta do something. I’ve got to do something, this can’t happen. They can’t do this to me.’
I looked at him with both sympathy and disdain. This gaunt shadow of a man stood like a macabre testament to his former self. Four years of regret and embitterment had gouged at his once proud frame. This is how Napoleon looked at Waterloo I thought; this is Hitler in his bunker. I took the bottle from his hand and swigged at the whiskey, I was used to it now. I didn’t cough anymore. I took his right hand in mine and examined the knuckle, it wasn’t deep but it wasn’t clean either. I imagined he couldn’t feel it, numbed by adrenaline, alcohol and anger. I took another swig and spat it back, over his fist. I was right, he couldn’t feel a thing. At least it was sterile now. He grabbed the bottle back and drank thirstily as though it was water. I rubbed my eyes and scratched my nose, catching sight of my watch in doing so. 4.37am. I wasn’t tired, we weren’t tired. I stood up. He let out a vocalisation, a kind of shrieking groan. The noise of agony. I took his sweaty body and held him close, his groan turned to sobs.
He rasped through his tears ‘what can I do? What the fuck can I do?’
I didn’t know. I held him tighter, his head on my shoulder, dampening my shirt. He broke the embrace and finished off the bottle. I turned to the sink and pissed. I didn’t even run the water anymore. I was beyond that. Glenn left to get another bottle from his bag. He’d come prepared. He’d planned this through. He didn’t want to be here, it was killing him. He had to be here. I kicked the empty bottle into the corner with the others. I splashed water from the tap over my face. I sat in the bath. It was warmer than the floor. Glenn re-entered, the bottle was already open.
‘You could raise a doubt’ I offered ‘you could be the reason why it shouldn’t proceed’.
He looked at me with his reddened, sore eyes.
‘Would it matter? Would it stop it?’
I didn’t know. I told him it was all we could do. We were guests. We couldn’t do any more than that.
‘I could do it’ he said slowly. He considered his words ‘I could tell her that I never stopped, I’ll never stop. I still love her. I still feel her, in my veins.’ He shook his bloodied fist ‘she’s in my blood. Fuck man, I love her.’
I smiled at him; it was half pity, half encouragement.
‘But that’s never mattered before. It’s never stopped them, it’s not changed anything. I’ve loved her for the last ten years. Six of them with her and the four without. She’s still with him. But I can’t let this happen. It’s so final’
He was right. Nothing would change but her second name yet somehow it made it concrete, it closed the door. It was as solid as the marble I lay upon. It was as clear as the bottle in front of my face, at my lips. We’d moved to vodka. I couldn’t taste the difference.
One ring was all it was, a thin ring and a second name. But it was permanent. It was real. We both knew this. We sat staring at each other. The sight of him was killing me. He coughed and winced. He hadn’t eaten. He looked like shit. Glenn lit a cigarette and shut the door. The sock on the detector would hold. Glenn took several short gasps of the cigarette and inhaled deeply. He closed his eyes and slid down the wall to sit on the floor. After a few moments he opened his eyes again and they met mine. The usually sharp blue of his irises was clouded, obscured by tears. They shone out in contrast to his pallid grey flesh. His wretched face told me more than any words could. We had spoken less and less in the last few months but we understood each other perfectly. His feeble hand stretched out to reach mine. I took the cigarette and drew heavily, feeling the hit from each drag. As a casual smoker I enjoyed the nicotine rush. He began skinning up. Evidently the straight hadn’t hit the spot. In complete silence we took turns with the weed, the other smoking the fag while waiting his turn. We finished and left the bathroom. Sunlight was pouring into the hotel room. I pulled the curtain over. 5.12am. We took to our adjoining beds for our four hours. A long day awaited us. I didn’t see the pills. I didn’t see Glenn ram fistful after fistful into his dry mouth. He didn’t wake up at 9. He never woke up.

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