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[Ongoing story of two brothers. Near the beginning when James’ girlfriend shows up and upsets the delicate balance between Merrill and James. Merrill here, the one recently out of rehab.]

I need to be alone. No one with me. And it makes me sad. The only way to be calm and sober is being alone. I liked having James here, sort of. I did. But now that’s he’s brought her into this, he’s no longer welcome. And that’s sad. After five years of not seeing him, it felt comfortable having a brother.

But I’m thrown off. They shut the door behind them and I’m left a mess here in my place where I need to feel good. What do I do now. Eat? I’ve already done that. And besides being upset doesn’t help my appetite. I could call my guy. I should. I will. But I’m too keyed up to sit right now.

I wander from the kitchen to the living room and back. Maybe I’ll vacuum. That will make me feel like…order. I need order. I drag the old canister machine from the closet. The guy who gave it to me was doing a favor, but it barely works. But that doesn’t matter. Plug it in the wall and it roars alive—and calms me. I rake the floor with the vacuum, back and forth and back and forth and I’m starting to feel better. I move to the living room which I’ve already gone over. This time I move the couch. Back and forth. Noise, I love the noise. Some babies are put to sleep with the noise of the vacuum. Me. I feel better. I move the couch back. Move the one chair. Back to the kitchen. The bedroom, I hit more things than I can really vacuum, it’s too small. But I change my technique. Little strokes, back and forth.

I’m done. I’m tired. I want to sleep. I want to crawl into bed and sleep. Like a baby.

An hour later I open my eyes to the ceiling of my bedroom but I feel better. I roll over slowly and let my feet hit the floor.

I call a keyshop and ask if they can change a lock today. Just one, I need three keys. In an hour, I’ve put a safety zone between me and James. Sorry, bro. But the girl was the end. No girls. Especially Jellie. She’s unreliable and I only knew her from that party in Oakland. She shouldn’t have been messing with me. His girlfriend should not have been messing with me.

I drink a glass of water at the sink and wait for the key guy to show up.

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