CH. 28: My Brother's Keeper

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When Trisha Selfridge got the troubling call from her brother at one in the morning, she was just settling into bed, ready to dig into a juicy crime novel or, if the mood struck her, break out the seven inch Velvet Rabbit, crank that vibrator to eleven and really work the day's stresses away. If being able to psychically link to machines was good for anything, it made operating a mechanical dildo one hell of a ride. But, alas, the peaceful night was not to be.

"I'm at a bar."

Those four words from Gregg's mouth were like a gut punch. There were a lot of behaviors a person could forgive in Gregg Selfridge, but drinking was beyond consideration. Not because it loosened his control on his pyrokinesis. Not because of the days-long M.I.A. benders from which he would return bloody, bruised and blackout amnesic. Not even the sheer capacity the man could imbibe and its effects on his health. If for no other reason, it was that when Gregg Selfridge drank, Gregg Selfridge was one mean son of a bitch.

Trisha walked into Pete's Saloon and pulled her leather jacket tight around her body against an imagined chill. The drunken sweat and heat emanating from the packed house crowd had to have the temperature in the nineties, but then again, that could've been Gregg. She saw him seated at the bar and she weaved between barely clothed college kids macking on each other and pounding shots of her family's liquor. How many times, Gregg? Trisha thought. How many Goddamn times did I pick you up off the floor, put you in my truck and get you home? How many times did I cover for you with Dad? With you wife? Alcoholics aren't the only liars affected by alcoholism. It's everyone who cares about them. Lies to family. To friends. To themselves. It's a shared sickness of which Trisha had thought that she and her brother had finally gotten well.

Yet, here he was. Hunched over, giving the bar's back mirror the thousand yard stare. A cocktail, like a loaded gun, was set down before him. Four years. Potentially gone in one swallow. And if he took that drink, maybe, just maybe he'd be lucky enough to go back to square one. But more likely, Gregg's life would become an ellipsis. A void spiraling outward toward oblivion.

She pushed her way over to Gregg and crammed between two bros and stood before him, hands in her pockets. The music seemed to fade, the crowd noise with it, until it was only him and her. He seemed to take no notice of her, only looking through himself in the mirror.

"Well?" Trisha said and bar's celebratory cacophony returned full tilt.

Gregg didn't stir. A brunette reached over his shoulder and collected a beer from the male bartender, bumping Gregg, but still nothing. It wasn't until Trisha withdrew a hand from her pocket and punched Gregg in the arm that he finally acknowledged her.

"Oh, hey," he said absently.

Trisha gawked. "'Oh, Hey?' The fuck are you doing here?"

"What's it look like?"

"It looks like you're throwing four years worth of good work down the fucking toilet."

Gregg reached out and took the cocktail from the bar and brought the tumbler full of pinkish liquid to his lips. Trisha snapped out and grabbed his wrist. Gregg looked from the drink to his sister then shook his hand free, spilling a splash of the drink on the bar.

"Relax," he said. "It's a cranberry and Sprite."

Trisha's brow furrowed. Gregg again brought the tumbler to his mouth and again Trisha snapped out, this time wrestling the glass from his hand. This time, he didn't put up a fight. She sniffed the drink then sipped at it to find it sweet and sugary and non-alcoholic.

"I should get you home," she said. "You look terrible."

"Feel terrible," Gregg agreed. "Vanessa made me punch myself in the nuts."

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