Archives for the Date July 7th, 2021

gotham-ruaidh:Little Bit Better Than I Used To BeThis story takes place during the summer of 1987….


Little Bit Better Than I Used To Be

This story takes place during the summer of 1987. It’s the time of the Cold War, and heavy metal, and Just Say No.

Ten chapters, each with a specific song as its soundtrack.

I’m so excited to finally share it with you.

Catch up: Chapter 1 (Starry Eyes) || Chapter 2 (Save Our Souls) || Chapter 3 (Dancing On Glass) || Backstage ||| Also posted at AO3


Chapter 4: Merry-Go-Round

It’s not easy puttin’ on a smile // You’re alone, lost and found // She waits at home just to love him // Through the night thinkin’ // He’s been gone so long now // Is he coming home…

Soundtrack: “Merry-Go-Round,” Mötley Crüe, 1981 [click here to listen]

Claire hunched deeper into her cardigan as she turned the corner into the dining hall. The thin mountain air was chillier than Boston at this time of year, and she’d have to speak to someone about getting more clothes. Gail, bless her, had shoved just a few days’ worth of essentials into the bag that she’d brought to the intervention – how she had gotten access to Claire’s apartment to pack, Claire didn’t even want to think about – and there was no telling how long Claire would stay at The Ridge.

Addiction was a tricky thing. It would never go away. So – how could she ever be cured?

“Hey!” Claire looked up to see Marsali waving from one corner of the dining hall. “You gonna be helping us out?”

Claire shrugged. “That’s what I was told. I don’t have a clue what I’d need to do.”

Marsali laughed. “I didn’t, either. And Jamie certainly didn’t – he said on his first day that he hadn’t set a table or mopped a floor in years.”

“I heard that!” Jamie popped up from behind the island at the other side of the room, setting down a package of unopened Sterno fuel cans. “Hey, Claire.”

“Hey, Jamie.” She rubbed her arms – from the chill, from discomfort.

“Well, I could use you over here, for starters.” Marsali gestured to a pile of placemats and a rack of glasses. “People pick up their own napkins and silverware when they help themselves to food – but it’s nice to have a proper place setting.”

Claire rolled up her sleeves and soon began laying out the placemats across the six rectangular tables, careful to ensure they were all straight and evenly spaced. Marsali was at her elbow, gently placing one tall, empty glass at the top right corner of each placemat.

“For water, of course,” she smiled. “How are you doing, Claire?”

Claire set down another placemat, not meeting Marsali’s eyes. “I still don’t quite know where I am and what I’m doing.”

“That’s normal, you know. For at least the first week.” Gently she set down another glass. “There’s so much to process. First and foremost, that you’re an addict. None of us would be here otherwise.”

Claire darted up a quick glance to see Marsali smiling kindly. “You didn’t know?”

Marsali snorted. “I’ve always liked to party a bit – even after my son Germaine was born. I thought it’s what adults did – Fergus and I were so young when we had him – and I didn’t think anything of it.” She paused. “Germaine is six. One morning I’m making him breakfast, hung over like you wouldn’t believe, and he asks me if I’ll be having wine with my eggs.”

“I take it that that had been an everyday occurrence?”

“I thought it happened only occasionally. But once my little boy said that, my husband just looked at me.” She set down another glass, and gently held onto the back of a chair. “That’s when I realized I needed help. I can’t do that to my son. Thank God Fergus had done some work for Dougal, so it just took a phone call to get me here.”


“Dougal MacKenzie – he’s the director of his place. Heroin was his drug of choice – he was real active in the jazz scene twenty, thirty years ago. He OD’d, almost died, and decided to get clean. Learned so much that he decided to open this place.”

“And he’s Gillian’s husband?”

Together they walked to the next table, and Claire began setting out more placemats.

“That’s right. Together they’ve helped so many people. And I really, really want to get better, Claire. I’ll lose my marriage if I don’t. And my little boy.” A beat. “Do you have a family of your own? It’s totally fine if you don’t want to share anything.”

Claire clenched her jaw.

“It’s all right. There’s not much to tell, really. My parents died in a car accident when I was five. I was raised by my uncle, who thankfully is still alive and enjoying his retirement as a professor of archaeology. I was married, to a man who I thought loved me but who seemed to love his students more. And one graduate student in particular.”

Gently Marsali touched Claire’s elbow. “I’m so sorry. That’s terrible.”

Claire shrugged. “It was the divorce that put me over the edge. I was so angry at myself – I felt so blind, and that I’d wasted so many years. So I just wanted to numb it all out. That’s where the pills came in handy.” She paused, smiling sadly. “I wrote out the prescriptions in the name of my ex-husband – and then I’d take them to the pharmacy myself. I used my old driver’s license that had my married name, to say I was picking them up for him. The pharmacist never knew.”

“That’s kind of brilliant.”

Claire set down the final placemat. “Yeah. I thought I was pretty smart. Though clearly it brought me here today.”

Marsali set down the final glass. “OK – next we’ll go check in the kitchens. We’ll bring out the food and set it up on the buffet. Ready?”

Claire nodded.

They walked toward the kitchen door, and passed Jamie – heaving a metal tray of tomato sauce.

“Spaghetti Wednesday again!” he exclaimed.

Feeling a sudden chill, Claire followed Marsali into the kitchen.

American lawyer is sentenced to prison in Hong Kong after scuffle with police officer

American lawyer is sentenced to prison in Hong Kong after scuffle with police officer: lovinghk:

(source: washington post | 6 jul 2021)Samuel Bickett, 37, was ordered to serve four months and two weeks behind bars after being convicted and denied bail…

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