Sara Corris

Lacking

Mr. Dawes had just died and I still needed to get Mrs. Singh her water when Owen presented me with the lollipop. 

“I hear somebody missed out on trick-or-treating,” said Owen’s punchable face. He held out a shitty little kids’ lollipop. “Just our way of saying thanks, Kelly. To you and all the other nurses.” 

“Yeah, I’m not really in the mood for a goddamned lollipop, Owen. We’ve been surrounded by nonstop death for over a year, no time off, no pay increase, understaffed, and anytime we complain, nothing gets done. And you’re offering us lollipops? Rethink that. Also: I suspect you wouldn’t have said that shit about trick-or-treating if I were a man.” 

I turned away before Owen could respond. Owen’s admin, so there shouldn’t be too much fallout. 

As I pulled into my driveway that night, I realized I never got Mrs. Singh her water.

***

I can only watch horror movies these days. I find them soothing. Movies meant to cheer people up make me feel stabbier.

I get home before Tom and turn on Murder Moose:

The cyclists awake to find their bicycles gone. Lindsay screams and points upwards: their bicycles are twisted around the highest branches of the pines. 

“Can a moose even do that?” Lindsay cries. “Are we sure it’s not a human–” 

Brandon rolls his eyes. “Of course it’s the moose! Who else would target cyclists, Lindsay? Everyone loves us. We’re not cars.” 

“We’re gonna die out here,” Trevor whispers.

Todd slaps Trevor. “Don’t say that.” 

“Oh yeah? How the fuck do we escape without our bicycles, Todd?” snarls Brandon.

“I’m nothing without my bicycle. Nothing,” whimpers Lindsay. 

“We’ll hike out.” Todd tries to sound confident.

“Are you out of your fucking mind?!” screams Lindsay.

“It’s not so different,” Todd protests. “We’ll still be using our feet, just for walking instead of pedaling–” 

They attack Todd all at once:

“That’s not the same!” 

“You’re talking crazy!” 

“I’d rather fucking die!” 

I got reamed out by my supervisor today. 

“That isn’t the way to raise safety concerns, Kelly. The hospital has protocols in place for this.”

“I tried raising my concerns through the protocols. It didn’t do shit.” 

“I understand you’re upset. But social media is never the answer.” 

Last week, they announced we’d be re-using our PPE by flipping it to the opposite side, like in the early days. Two years ago. 

So I posted about it, along with the chronic understaffing-slash-overworking. I was careful to make it about patient welfare. People don’t give a shit about us, not really. All we get are claps and lollipops. 

“Am I fired, then?” I rose from my chair. “No. Because there’s nowhere near enough staff as it is. You’re not going to suspend me, and you’re not going to change anything around here. So let me get back to my work.” I turned and left, not at all sure I wouldn’t be fired.

The cyclists are trying to hike. They’re still wearing their bicycle helmets, for some reason. 

Lindsay takes a few wobbly steps and falls to her knees with an anguished cry. 

“This will never work,” she moans. 

“You just need to get your stepping legs back,” coaxes Todd. 

Tom walks in and watches me watching TV. 

Murder Moose again?” 

“Mmm.” I don’t look up at him. It hurts my neck to look all the way up at him. Tom is 6’2”; 6’3” when drunk. 

“Can we pick up the pace, Trevor? I can still see the spot where we slept last night–” 

“No shit I’m going slow, Todd! ALL walking is maddeningly slow, once you’ve had a taste of the bike life!” 

“C’mon you guys, we should just give up,” Lindsay says. 

“I’d be in Mexico by now, if I had my bicycle,” growls Brandon. “I fucking love using a bicycle as my primary means of transportation. It’s so fast and efficient, yet environmentally friendly—” 

“Honestly Brandon, how is this helping?” asks Todd.

All this is from the moose’s POV beneath the lake’s surface. The cyclists being wholly ignorant of moose biology, they are unaware that a moose can stay submerged underwater for minutes at a time.

The cyclists are turning on each other:

“No, I didn’t bring a compass, Todd! I also didn’t pack an abacus or a water-divining stick!” 

“Compasses remain useful and relevant in the present day, Brandon!” 

Brandon rolls his eyes.

“Fuck walking. I’m gonna swim across this massive lake,” says Trevor. “I was MVP of the water polo team four years running. I’ll be outta here in no time!” 

Tom sits beside me on the couch. “I told my family we’re coming for Thanksgiving.”

“Cool.”

“You sure about this? There will be kids there. Mostly teens, but Jack’s kids are still small–”

“It’s fine.”

“We don’t have to, you know. I’m ok with that. But, it’s a four hour drive. If you decide you don’t want to be there, I’m not jumping up to drive you home–”

FINE. Can we not talk about this during my movie?”

Silence, then a disgusted sigh. “Sorry I interrupted your movie, that you’ve seen a hundred fucking times.” 

I hear him lumber off to the liquor cabinet. Tom’s 6’3” most nights now. I don’t say anything.

“Aw what the fuck, these things can swim?!” screams Trevor, glimpsing the antlers cutting through the water. 

“You got this, man!” Brandon shouts from the shore. 

“Glurrrgh–” Trevor splutters as the moose pulls him under. Within seconds, the clear blue waters are turning red. 

“Trevor! Trevor!” Lindsay shrieks. 

Trevor’s empty helmet bobs to the surface. 

“We’re fucked,” wails Brandon. “If Trevor couldn’t outswim the moose, no one can!” 

I should feel bad for Tom but I don’t. I only feel the lack now. That, I feel all the time. I’m endless exposed nerve, set screaming by every little thing. Everything is a reminder; everything is personal.

Todd, the last survivor, hears the ding of a bicycle bell up ahead:

Ding! Ding! 

“Fellow cyclists!” Todd cries. He runs towards the dinging. 

Ding-ding! Ding-ding!

The moose steps out from behind a tree, smiling: it is he who is dinging the bicycle bell. 

Ding-ding, rings the bell as the moose’s smile widens. 

Dingdingdingding–

The screen cuts to black. The film’s instantly-iconic score of EDM tracks layered with moose sounds swells up as the credits roll.

I also feel anger. I have an ever-growing list of enemies. 

Moms are my enemies. Pregnant women bitching about pregnancy are my enemies. Doctors are my enemies. Hospital admins are my enemies. Contract nurses who make shit-tons more than me, yet are too good to deal with bed pans are my enemies. Happy people are my enemies, and women who get knocked up no problem then don’t even want it are my enemies, and people who go ‘have you considered adoption?’ like it’s soooo fucking easy and there are free orphaned babies lying around everywhere are my enemies, and women who’ve been through this but have made peace with their lacking are my enemies … 

***

The living room was a sea of uncles. 

“Why are all these billionaires going to space?” asked Uncle #1. “If Ihad Bond villain money, I’d go to one of those private islands where you get to hunt people–” 

“That isn’t a real thing!” Uncle #2 screamed. 

“Oh, and the ‘moon’ is?” sneered Uncle #3. 

“The moon is absolutely real!” shouted Uncle #2. 

“Why is a priest here?” Kelly hissed in Tom’s ear, her eyes on the quiet man lurking by the curtains. 

“That’s my Uncle Peter.” 

“You have a priest-uncle?” 

“Yeah. So?” 

“Nothing. They’re only the two creepiest categories of adult male, is all.” Kelly continued to eye him warily. This was the closest she’d ever been to a priest. 

Uncle #3’s wife rushed to her husband’s defense: “Stop twisting his words! I know we’re all idiots to you, but we do believe in the ‘moon.’ It’s the landing on the ‘moon’ that–” 

“Why are you using air quotes around moon?!” shrieked Uncle #2.

Uncle #2’s adult daughter wandered in, waving burnt sage. “Ooh, are we talking about the Taupe Mega-Moon? If anyone’s experiencing technological difficulties, you know what’s up! But it’s also the most auspicious Mega-Moon, according to the indigineous–” 

“THIS is your science-fearing progeny?” Uncle #1 roared at Uncle #2. 

“YOU’RE the ones afraid of science!”  

“Why?” demanded Wife of Uncle #3. “Because we dare to question it, because we refuse to be its bitches–” 

“The moment you stop believing in something, it ceases to hold power over you,” intoned Yogic Cousin. 

“That nonsensical yoga-babble isn’t true of science, you insufferable twat,” groaned her father. 

His daughter waved the sage more vigorously in his direction. 

Kelly left the room. Tom watched her go.

***

“Yuh-huh?” Kelly popped her head into the kitchen after hearing her name.

“Oh. Not you, Aunt Kelly,” said a collegiate niece. “I was talking about the latest Kelly O’Kelly film, The Maple Game. I’ve got tickets to an advance screening tomorrow night, WITH O’Kelly herself doing Q&A after.” 

“Wait–Murder Moose Kelly O’Kelly?”

“Are you a fan?” asked Collegiate Niece. “I’m a huge fan. Which is crazy, because I’m not a maplegore type–Canadian sausagefest much?–but O’Kelly’s movies actually say something. You know?” 

She seemed to expect her Aunt Kelly to say something. Kelly rummaged through her brain.

“Oh?” 

“Like Murder Moose. It’s not about a literal moose; it’s a metaphor to examine Canada’s treatment of its indigineous peoples. Like, expropriation of their lands.” 

“Ah. Wow. I … never thought of it that way.”

“The cyclists represent everything terrible about white people.”

“Well, yeah. That I got.”

“What do you like about it?”

“I like how it’s funny and they all die.”

Tom staggered into the kitchen. “Hel-lo,” he sang. 

He went to lean against the garbage can and nearly fell over. “This garbage can is unreliable,” he muttered.

“What’s up?” Kelly snapped.

“Me and my cousin Jack are gonna go to a strip club,” Tom slurred. No need to lie. Kelly was fine with strip clubs, and judged wives who weren’t.

“Fine. Wait–who’s driving?” Jack’s license was suspended more often than not.

“S’me. I am.”

“The hell you are. How tall are you?” 

Tom’s eyes blazed. “Six-three.” 

“Nope. Get an Uber to drive your drunk 6’2” ass.” 

***

“It’s fucked up, right? I want kids too. But it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen. Kelly would be enough for me. But she won’t be happy with just me. I’m allowed to be hurt, right? When she’s basically saying every day, you are not enough?”

“I get it, man. Dina’s the same, always on my case about something. Nothing I do’s ever good enough. Fuck ‘em, right?” Jack laughed.

Tom frowned. He was pretty sure Jack didn’t get it. He tried again:

“And it’s never her fault, when she treats me like shit. It’s the hormone injections. Then she’s mad at me about that. How unfair it is, that she’s the only one sticking herself with needles, wrecking her body … but she’s the one who wanted the treatments! I said years ago, once we couldn’t do it the normal way, that we should focus on adopting. She said she’d be fine with that. But there’s always some reason why she wants to give whatever doctor or procedure another try. And now we’ve sunk tens of thousands into this with nothing to show for it, and guess what, we don’t have the money for an adoption! And that too, is my fault–”

“Don’t think about that shit now, man. You’ve got the night off! You’re gonna love this place. It’s not like a regular strip club. It’s in the den of this house out in the suburbs. There’s a bunch of sofas, and TV trays with bowls of chicken wings, any hour day or night–”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Trust me, you’re gonna love it.”

Tom went. He did not love it. He sat by himself on a ratty sofa, painfully sober and worried about Kelly. Jack had disappeared with one of the strippers almost immediately; Tom looked around for him, in vain. It occurred to Tom that Jack may have brought him to a brothel.

“Another one?” asked the buck naked waitress-stripper, gesturing to the dregs of Tom’s shitty well drink.

“Uh, yeah. But could I get it with Smirnoff–”

“Nuh-uh. We don’t do anything like that.”

“You got any beer–”

“Nope.”

“Another vodka-soda, then. Thanks.”

“That’s it?” She cocked her head. “You don’t want anything else?”

“Uhhh … could you take the wings away? They were here when I sat down.” Tom handed her the sticky bowl of congealed wings. “Thanks.”

Kelly seemed to be doing ok this trip, so far. But she was like that sometimes. She’d seem to be having a good time, like the old Kelly. Then something would set her off. She’d drag him aside, begging to go. Tom almost preferred the last couple years, with Kelly refusing to go anywhere there might be children. Or parents, or pregnant women. Even if it meant not seeing anyone at all. No friends, no family. But now Kelly wanted to try reconnecting–

Tom got up to leave. He didn’t want to be here, whatever this was. He went searching for Jack. 

Tom found him down another subterranean level, on his knees, eating out a stripper’s ass. Jack’s back was to him, but he had both arms extended out to his sides, hands in a thumbs-up gesture. 

Tom left.

***

Tom woke up Thanksgiving morning to a new text from Jack: 

Hey man. Me and a couple of the strippers are headed up to Philly for the weekend. Cover for me. 

Tom stared at the message. “What the fuck?!” 

“Wuzzit,” mumbled Kelly.

“My idiot cousin. He took me to some weird suburban bordello last night, and apparently he never came home–”

“Mmmphf crazy,” Kelly muttered as she rolled over. Tom wished she’d been more alarmed by the bordello bit.

“How was your night?”

“Fine. I’m going to the movies with your niece tonight. Advance screening of The Maple Game. She invited me.”

“Oh?” Tom tried not to worry. “You’re sure you want to go?”

“It’s a movie, for fuck’s sake. How broken do you think I am?”

***

Looking around the dinner table, Tom wondered why more people didn’t choose adoption. Everyone has seen their gene pool in action at some holiday gathering. It’s not an inspiring sight.

“No phones on the table!” someone commanded sundry nieces and nephews. 

Looking around the dinner table, Kelly wondered which uncle was the priest-uncle. He wasn’t wearing his collar today. It could be any of them, she thought to herself. 

“Where’s daddy?” asked Jack’s four-year-old, barely visible beneath her homemade pilgrim hat. 

“Daddy’d rather be out gorging himself on treifpussy, than sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with his kin,” slurred Jack’s wife Dina. “I’m sorry sweetie, but it’s time you knew.” 

“I’m secretly 6’3”,” Tom confided.

Dina knocked over a bottle of Chardonnay. 

“My phone!” screamed a nephew.

“This is classic Taupe Mega-Moon,” observed Yogic Cousin. “We can expect lots of tech mishaps over the next 72 hours, along with enhanced fertility. Ancient Aztecs recorded the phenomenon–” 

“The Aztecs had a word for taupe?” barked an uncle. 

“Excuse me,” murmured Kelly. Tom watched her go.

***

I settle into my seat beside Tom’s niece as The Maple Game begins:

An old grizzled detective surveys the crime scene with his new partner, a rookie who arrived straight from Mountie Academy moments earlier. 

“There’s blood everywhere. It’s still sticky,” observes Rookie Mountie, looking at the floor with distaste. 

Non. C’est ne pas blood,” says Old Grizzled Detective. “C’est syrup.” 

He kneels down, touches the floor, and brings a finger to his lips. “Grade B,” he whispers. 

It’s hard to focus on the movie. All the usual thoughts are racing around my head. 

The detectives review the kills to date: “We found the first three bodies seated in a row,” Old Grizzled Detective says as he slaps photos down on the table. “The first with a tap in the carotid artery, the second with a tap in the femoral artery, and the third with a tap in the aorta. Maple buckets placed beneath all three taps.” 

Rookie Mountie pales. 

“I knew you weren’t ready,” snarls OGD. “You think THAT’s bad?” 

He thrusts more photos before RM. “He exsanguinated his next victim, then replaced the blood with syrup.”

I can’t fully focus on anything anymore, outside of work. I’m always at a distance. 

The detectives go to Quebec’s maximum security prison to interrogate Jacques Bonaparte, the notorious syrup smuggler. Bonaparte is serving 30 years to life for crimes against FPAQ.

“Well, well. It’s been une minute,” Jacques Bonaparte says to Old Grizzled Detective. 

Rookie Mountie turns to his partner: “You know this fils du chien-féminin?” 

“I’m the one who locked him away.” OGD leers at Bonaparte. “You were good, for a while. The best. What was it–300 successful border runs? But in the end you got sloppy-cocky, like the rest.” 

OGD turns to RM. “These sugarbush farmers can sell their product in America for ten times what they’d get here. Makes a man reckless. We caught this assclown when he tried passing off his Canadian swill as Vermont product. You thought the Vermont palate wouldn’t notice the difference, merde-for-brains?”

The detectives shove a picture before Bonaparte. He whistles and looks away. 

“You know him?” 

Bien sûr. But it would be better for you, if you did not. He is the most dangerous man in all of French-speaking Canada.” Bonaparte leans across the table: “This man runs the beaver trade for the entire province.” 

RM frowns. “I thought the beaver trade dried up in the 19th century?” 

Bonaparte snorts and spits on the ground. “Where’d you find the Rook?”  

OGD squeezes his eyes shut as though in pain. “‘Beaver trade’ is Québécois slang for sex trafficking, imbécile,” he hisses. “What the merde did they teach you at Mountie Academy?” 

I’m exhausted all the time. By the loop of thoughts I can’t stop. By scary waves of hate and anger. And obviously, by work itself, which has been beyond anything these last two years. Sometimes I worry I’m going to collapse right there in the hospital corridors; I don’t know how I can do it another day. But when I get home and lie down I’m overwhelmed by all the thoughts I can’t be alone with. It’s no good until I’m back on my feet again, flinging myself into work. 

There’s a long flashback to the joint American-Canadian sting operation that brought Jacques Bonaparte down. OGD’s American counterpart was some Vermont lady-babe. They kept it professional, despite their obvious mutual attraction, until they had Bonaparte in handcuffs. But then: 

Young-OGD takes her in his arms. “Now THIS is what I call a sappy romance!” She groans, but fucks him anyway. 

A series of moments between the lovers ensues. In one, she shows young-OGD the Vermont sugaring way: 

“That’s more than enough for today’s breakfast. Take too much sap, and you sap the tree’s strength.” 

OGD’s younger self looks around. “Where is your sugar shack with the industrial-size vats?” 

She laughs. “We don’t need vats for this non-commercial amount! We’ll boil it right on the hearth.” 

They set it on the hearth and by the time they’ve finished making love on the bearskin rug, the sap has boiled down to precisely the right amount of syrup for their oatmeal. It is the most delicious oatmeal he’s ever tasted. 

Young-OGD shakes his head. “Throughout my Canadian boyhood, I was told that American maple farmers were capitalist pigs, who only cared about extracting maximum individualized profits. We were raised to believe that our collectivized way of working the sugarbushes was more humane … I’ve been a fool.” 

Time passes. The lovers are quarreling: 

“Please do not return to your ancestral sugarbush,” she sobs. 

“Barb. These weeks with you have been the most joyeux of my life. If this was about turning in my badge, there would be no question. But c’est ne pas that simple. I’m also a 13th-generation Québécois maple farmer. And my people have a saying: blood is thicker than syrup.” 

“What the shit are you talking about, that’s not even true,” Barb wails. 

I find the flashback interlude boring. It’s an excuse for gratuitous nudity. Barb’s got a bangin’ bod.

The present-day detectives rush to the latest scene: the vic’s been boiled alive in a syrup vat. 

Mon dieu. What a terrible way to go,” gasps Rookie Mountie. 

The coroner shares her observations: “Your perp’s an insider. Someone familiar with the highs and lows of the sugaring season. Who’s experienced firsthand the olfactory overwhelm of a sugar shack in springtime, when the vats are boiling 24/7. Who KNEW that the heady perfume of 5000 metric litres of boiling sap will mask any smell–even the stench of human decomposition.”

Old Grizzled Detective storms out of the sugar shack, visibly shaken. “This country’s nothing but snow and lies,” he roars. “We all pretend that Canada’s this polite and boring paradise. But there’s another side, the one we don’t talk about. The Canada we never let the world see.”

It’s funny, my head is swimming but when I’m 1:1 with a patient, it all goes away and I’m just there with that patient. Work is my only rest, actually. This is not sustainable.

A flash of false hope: a victim is found alive. The detectives rush to the scene. The officer laughs in their faces: “Oh sure. You’s can talk to him all ya want, for all the good it’ll do ya.” 

He leads them to the vic, restrained beneath the tap of a maple tree, babbling idiotically. 

“They gave him the ‘ole, ahhh, whatever’s the non-offensive word for Chinese Water Torture. ‘Cept with maple sap instead of water. Yup. He’s insane.”

More bad news: their sole informant goes missing. He’s later found dead, subjected to the foie gras-making method of gavage with maple syrup. ‘He got a taste of his own médecine,’ reads the note attached to his corpse.

The detectives return to the station. A mob of protestors awaits. “Why haven’t you found the killers?” shouts a woman bearing a PAS DE SANG POUR SIROP sign.

There is no way to be in this world and avoid reminders of children. From friends. Family. Strangers with kids. Strangers asking if I have kids. Commercials, movies, books. Words like “family” and “school” sting. Nowhere is safe. Not out of the house, not in it. I don’t know what to do.

Old Grizzled Detective confronts Jacques Bonaparte: “You sent us on that wild beaver chase to throw us off! You’re the one running things, even now!” 

Bonaparte sneers. “You think a drop of sap flows in this merde-y province without a oui from me?! Maintenant who is the merde-for-brains, eh?” 

As guards drag him back to his cell Bonaparte shouts, “You believe this will stay within the semi-autonomous borders of Francophone Quebec?! The streets of Ontario will run reddish-brown with blood and syrup before I’m through! Global markets will crash!”

OGD is running and shouting into his phone: “We need every Mountie hauling cul to Laurierville NOW. Special protocols governing Mountie powers within Quebec be damned! The Reserve is under attack! I repeat: The Reserve is under attack! C’est ne pas une simulation!”

***

“Here she is, The Maple Game’s writer, director, AND producer, maplegore’s reigning queen, Kelly O’Kelly!” 

The audience is on its feet, clapping, stamping, cheering, and whistling. O’Kelly, seated onstage opposite the interviewer, doesn’t look up from the flask she is struggling to unscrew. 

The interview is awkward from the get-go. 

“If I’d known how attractive you are, I wouldn’t have agreed to appear onstage with you!” The lady-interviewer fixes O’Kelly with a passive-aggressive smile. 

“Right? It should be illegal for me to wear clothes,” O’Kelly replies. “You should see my snatch. Guys seeing it for the first time, they’re like, ‘Whoa! Have I discovered a heretofore unknown Georgia O’Keefe masterpiece?’ And I’m like, ‘surprise, it’s my pussy!’” 

Appalling silence. 

O’Kelly clears her throat. “Please! I’d kill for your boobs.”

The interviewer fake-laughs. “I have to ask: is Kelly O’Kelly your real name, or–”

“Why the actual fuck would I give myself such a stupid fucking name? Obviously it was my cunt mom; so happy she’s dead.” O’Kelly succeeds at last in unscrewing her flask. “Next question.” 

The interviewer’s done with the fake-laughing. “We have a surprise for you tonight: I’ve received an advance copy of your Times profile out this Sunday–”

O’Kelly looks up. “I haven’t seen–”

“–and I’m going to read some excerpts, and get your thoughts, mmmkay?” The interviewer dons reading glasses and proceeds before O’Kelly can respond: 

“‘She’s a fucking bitch,’ said a former member of O’Kelly’s all-female MGMT cover band, Vulvacular Spectacular. ‘Don’t believe the feminist hype. She hates women. She blew my boyfriend. Right in front of me.’” 

The interviewer continues: 

“‘O’Kelly is, without a doubt, the worst human being I’ve ever encountered,’ confirmed Rita Brooks, her onetime roommate and current Chief Justice of the ICC. ‘She fucked my husband. On Christmas.’” 

“First off, Rita’s Jewish, so I don’t see what Christmas has got to do with anything–”

“But do you deny the substance of what these women are saying?” 

O’Kelly shrugs. “Do I personally remember sucking and fucking these dudes? No. But I might have done. Sounds like me. And I believe in believing women.” 

“You believe in believing women,” repeats the interviewer. “That’s your take on these allegations?” 

“Uhh, what now?” 

The interviewer reads on:

“‘She’s truly sick. She slept with my ex-husband. Who also happens to be her brother.’” 

Gasps from the audience. 

The interviewer removes her reading glasses. “That’s from your former sister-in-law. Would you like to respond?” 

Even from my seat, I can see O’Kelly’s gripping her flask so hard her knuckles are white. “I won’t dignify that with a response. Beyond mentioning, my former sister-in-law is in a vicious custody dispute with my brother, and will stoop to any low to hurt him. Next question.”

The interviewer opens her mouth, but O’Kelly resumes talking:

“You know what? Yeah, I’ve fucked a lot of women’s husbands and boyfriends. And I’m gonna keep on fucking other women’s husbands and boyfriends. Why? Cuz I like it. Sex is dope. I’m glad this is happening now, actually. It’s been exhausting, pretending to be a nice human. Not to mention boring A.F.” 

O’Kelly takes a swig from her flask. 

“Seriously: I’m the one to blame in these situations? I’m not the one cheating and lying; I’m not the one shitting all over promises and vows I’ve made! Women supporting women, my flawless ass.” 

She goes for another swig, but the flask is empty. O’Kelly tosses it over her shoulder. 

“Most of the time, with these men, I can’t stand their bitch wives. That’s not ever my main motivation for fucking a dude, but it is an added bonus. They’re usually spoiled princess types who expect perfect marriages, perfect lives. If I get to chip away at that happiness, good.” 

The audience rumblings are growing.

“I like fucking hot dudes. I don’t care if they’re single or not. But, honestly? It adds a little something, when he’s in a committed relationship. I must be damn hot, if I can turn him. And before you think to yourselves, ‘what a sad, sad woman with low self-esteem!’ lemme just say, soooooo many dudes do the same thing, for the same reasons, with other men’s wives and girlfriends, and no one pathologizes the shit out of them.”

O’Kelly is addressing the audience directly now.

“I don’t care if you watch my movies or not. I don’t care if you hate me. I love my ugly thoughts. I know there are people out there who get this. The ones who get it, I hope what I’m saying makes you feel less alone. The rest of you can fuck off into the night.”

O’Kelly rises and exits the stage.

***

Collegiate Niece is apologizing.

“I had no idea the kind of person … she must be going through a mental health crisis, or … I’m so sorry–”

“Don’t be,” Kelly cuts in. “I loved it. This is the best time I’ve had in ages. She’s awesome. Consider me an even bigger fan.”

Tom can see them through the glass as he waits outside in the cold. He’s annoyed until he sees Kelly’s face. She’s smiling and laughing, really laughing.

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