Lá Bealtaine [open thread, come one come all]
#1
(Just to elucidate: This technically occurs the night of the April 30th and throughout the day or night of May 1st. Everyone regardless of Tribe would be invited, kin or wolf.)

The farm sits off-center on nearly 60 acres of lush green farmland. The light early summer air is filled with the smell of roasting meat and the brown wetness of the creek that curls just off the back of the large two story farm house. Tonight it's cool and breezy with the tang of freshly mowed grass, of flowers and damp earth. The celebration is held away from the stables and the other animals that live on the property in pens and the barn. It's close enough to the rushing creek that the sound of the water against the rocks and rough earth is a soft dirge beneath the lull of crescendo and the subsequent diminuendo of conversation.

The Carey family is never still. From Sarah who is moving through the crowd asking how the pig is or the beef, or the special brew of Carey moonshine to Aidan and sons who are mindful of the wood and the fire, keeping it stoked and alive and not giving it a chance to weaken at all.

The newest arrival at the Farm is a minikin young woman with a head full of wild dark hair and pale skin with a spritz of freckles across the bridge of her nose. Her eyes are keen and curious and stay but a beat on each person present to judge whether or not she actually knows them. Maybe she's waiting on someone. Maybe she's just a people watcher. Whatever the case, she doesn't stare long enough to be considered rude. Just watchful.

Some may have heard her name mentioned by the Carey's. Cate. Catherine. Nora. Bird. All of those names applies, and if anyone calls her by such she'll answer with a polite smile and no more. Currently, Nora Catherine is manning the keg filled with another kin's special brew. She's sitting in a chair with denim covered legs drawn up and her thumb nail unconsciously in her mouth.

listening to music..

Because there's definitely music. There was no need to tell the guests to bring instruments. Those that were gifted in the musical arts would know without thought that it's a celebration of Beltane, music is a must.

The youngest Carey son is playing his uilleann pipes, weaving a patchwork of songs that create a rousing melody worthy of at least the tapping of toes. All in all, the back half of the property is alive with bodies and conversation, food and drink. Chairs are in abundance and tents are provided for those that wish to stay the night rather than risk a stagger-walk home (because it never seems that far when you're drunk) or a run in with a ditch or tree from driving inebriated.

The hosts of the bonfire will insist on two things: drink and make merriment.

that is all.
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#2
[all right, this kinda turned into a way longer post than intended. read from the star onward if you're in a hurry; everything before that is basically a solo post. will shorten it up from here on out!]

It's a two and a half hour drive from the White ranch to the Carey farm, and half of that distance is covered on endless arrow-straight country roads slicing across northern Colorado. It's a long time for five large men to spend crammed into a single crew cab, and longer still when the three men in the back -- ranch hands and distant cousins all -- are too meek, too bored, too sleepy or too wise to pipe up.

As for Calden, he's just too damn worn down to even bother. Most the way there he drives with one hand on the wheel, the other elbow propped against the edge of his window, fingers kneading his brow. Most the way there his father sitting in the passenger's seat is the only one talking.

First it's the weather.

-- If this winter bullshit don't stop soon, we can kiss the calves goodbye. There's still no grass on half the range, did you see? Didn't I tell you to bale up extra hay last fall? You never listen, boy, and now you get to watch your stock starve. Hah! Well, at least we won't have another drought year. I told you back in '09 to dig that reservoir deeper. Didn't I? Then last summer you're running a garden hose into a pig trough, putting poor Jimmyboy on watch there with a cattleprod to make sure all the cows get their turn. Hah!

Then it's the drive.

-- Six hours round-trip to go to some goddamn neo-celtic shindig. Who still celebrates Beltane nowadays? What is this, the Stone Age? You gonna put up some standing stones when you get home, boy?

Thought it'd do you some damn good, Calden says wearily. Get off the ranch, see some faces old and new.

Should've kept his mouth shut. His father's instantly energized by the opposition. Revs right up. -- What? And who the hell do I know all the way down in Castle Rock or Colorado Springs or wherever the god-damn you're driving us?

It's the Careys, Calden grimaces. Sarah and Aidan? One of their nieces once removed or something married one of Uncle Donovan's sons last year, remember?

-- And that's reason enough for you to drive six hours round-trip to see them, and drag your father and your three cousins with you? Boy, you are some piece of work.

Calden doesn't answer this time. In the back seat, Jimmy's staring uncomfortably out the window. Ian's asleep, head tilted back, mouth wide open. Paul wisely has earbuds in.

-- God damn, this country goes on forever. Good land. Your great-great-grandfather did the best thing anyone's ever done for this family when he bought up that plot of land. You wouldn't be where you are today, driving your fancy truck and living in your fancy house if it weren't for him. 'Course now the country's going to hell and you right along with it. God damn liberal fag-lovers--

Christ, Calden snaps, your son is gay.

-- Bah, he's just making up an excuse to run around Paris. Surrounded himself with all that French pussy and you still think he's gay? Hah! Boy, you are dumb as a brick. Pull over, I need to take a piss.

What?

-- Pull over. I need to take a piss.

Sitting the truck, Calden fumes silently while his father takes a stand at the side of the road. After a moment, Paul pulls his earbuds out and claps a hand on his shoulder.

I don't know what the hell to do with him, Calden says. Can't take him anywhere. It'll be a straight-up miracle if he doesn't get his teeth knocked out tonight.

As if you'd let that happen, Paul says. Not to mention, he's a sly old fox. He never mouths off like that to anyone he knows will take him up on it.

What the hell are you saying? That I let him, so he acts like this?

Paul shrugs.

He's my dad. I don't let him do anything. He just does whatever the hell he wants.

A little later Rory White climbs back in and buckles his seatbelt. No one looking at the two of them would mistake them for anything but father and son. The same large frame, the same strong bones. Rory's a good four decades older than his second-youngest son, though. His hair's gone white. There are liver spots on his temples, and his hands tremor when he isn't paying attention. Calden looks at his father and feels a great squeeze of pity, of revulsion, of love, of disappointment. He looks away.

-- So who was that woman, Rory begins.

Don't even start, Calden snaps.

*

They arrive a little after sundown: a charcoal-grey Silverado truck pulling up wherever everyone else has parked. It's a nice vehicle, just a couple years old, the paintjob still gleaming, the interior still redolent of new leather. The four doors wing open and the passengers get out -- five men with the smell of horseflesh and cattle still on them.

We'll see you inside, says Jimmy, and the three ranch hands amble toward the growing crowd. Calden doesn't blame them for getting away from his father as soon as they can. Or for heading straight for the pretty girls with their best bowlegged swaggers. All three of them are in fancy tooled boots and big belt buckles. Jimmy's wearing a white Stetson. Paul's opted for chocolate, and Ian's got a flat-brimmed buckaroo hat on. Not a single one of those hats or boots have seen a single day of work. They look ridiculous, Calden thinks fondly.

He lets down the tailgate on his truck. There's a haunch of venison back there, spiced and seasoned, tied up in twine, wrapped in foil. He drags it to the edge.

Wanna help me carry it? he asks his father.

-- Nope, says the elder White, walking off. Calden watches him go, too. Watches his father pull himself up straight, go to greet Sarah and Aidan Carey, the owners of the farm; watches his father turn on his old charm and his old manners, turn back into the man he remembers adoring as a boy. He wonders which is the real Rory White. He decides it hardly matters now.

Calden hoists the haunch of venison over his shoulder. He slams the tailgate on the truck shut. Alone now, a tall broad-shouldered man in jeans and a red-checked shirt, he carries his offering into the Bealtaine gathering.
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#3
"You're not going to the bonfire, are you?" Late evening, a few days before the actual event. Éva knows it as nothing more than that. Clarifies a moment later, " - at the Carey farm." when Chris glances at her, framed in the half-open doorway to his corner office. It is well after nine p.m. and the sun has set and the offices are quiet and dark. The janitorial staff spread out through the building, pushing their carts, separately recycling out from the trash in the trash cans, turning off lights and coffee pots.

He looks up, over his reading glasses at her, writing notes longhand on a yellow legal pad in the center of his desk. Quirks a half-smile. "Nature and I don't get along." The gleam of the barristers lamp smears yellow over the lenses. "Anyway, we have trial next Monday. They'd settle for fifteen, but no way it's going to. Stevens told me he'd rather pay us one hundred thousand dollars than give Reggie one red cent."

She makes a noise in the back of her throat; lifts slender shoulders in an eloquent, wordless shrug. They will take Stevens' one hundred thousand dollars, if he insists. A matter of pride or principle.

"Do you think it'll stay PG rated for the first hour or two?" Her voice is quiet, her eyes dark and steady. Precision threaded through it, wrapped in a cage of quiet humor - a private sort she shares with him through habit of long association. His brows rise, and he's ready with a retort when she explains the inquiry, in four words. "Ellie wants to go."

"If you need a sitter, I'm pretty sure Kim's available."

"She's not going?"

"We told her we'd offer matching funds equal to whatever she saved before her trip to Europe this summer."

--

The night of the celebration, a hybrid Lexus sedan - dark, unremarkable - is parked fallow field designated by the Carey family as guest parking for the evening's festivities. Mother and daughter emerge. They have each other's look: both dark-eyed and dark-haired, with a stillness about them that can easily be read as reticence. The little girl's skin is duskier than her mother's. Several shades darker, and there's more black than brown to the swing of her long straight hair.

Impatient, Ellie waits while her mother delves into the trunk for the huge Tupperware serving tray of pastries they bring as offerings to the gods, or at least the hungry crowd gathering. The trunk closes with a distinct click, and a moment later Éva is crouched on the soft, sinking soil of the front field in front of her daughter. Going over the rules.

What time is it. Seven-thirty.
When do you check in. Every half-hour.
When are we leaving. ten thirty.
Stay within sight of the house.

Ellie goes off, then, running up ahead of her mother, searching through the crowd for her friends, ponytail jouncing in her wake. Éva follows behind, carrying the big tray in two hands, looking for the refreshment tables to offload it. Sarah Carey's there, flushed from sampling the home-brew, gleaming with pleasure at all the guests on her family's land, the brightness of the festivities. When Éva hands over the tray, Sarah claps her hands together and unlatches then lifts off the like, exclaiming over the triangles of baklava and slices of apple štrudla.

From Rozsa? Sarah Carey inquires, and Éva confirms. It was rhetorical, of course. Thank her for me.

Oh, no need, assures Éva. She'll be over later. As soon as the sitter arrives.
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
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#4
Sie sind besser als dieses!
You are better than this.

Helga came to be on the 4 To The Royal ranch after Emmett's dad's first stroke. Dishes became harder to clean, cooking became dangerous and doing laundry was next to impossible. If Tom Metzger, Emmett's older brother, hadn't demanded that Helga be allowed to stay and help, who knows what might of happened or how things could have turned out. Even after Tomas Metzger Sr. passed away, Helga stayed. She must have saw something in the broken youngest son that she recognized. A need for assistance that Fenrir are always too proud to request.

But now, as she cleaned up his mess and ranted about what a good man his father was, Emmett just shook his head and limped up the stairs of his home to his bedroom. His fingers moved across his cell phone and he eased back to sit on the bed.

"Tom? Yeah, no..what? No...everything's fine. Why do you think something's always wrong? Jesus Tomas. Look, just listen ok? Are you going to this Carey thing over in Castle Rock?" He rubbed at his useless leg, scowling in disapproval at the constant ache that filled up his bones.

"Oh right..yeah. No, I...no that's fine, no you don't have to go. I'll go ok? Go to the meeting. No, it's cool, I got it."

The phone is flipped shut.

There is no real thought put into what he might wear: military spec navy colored BDUs, black Wellco tactical boots and a dark loose sweater. His eyes don't even pass over his appearance in the long mirror hanging on the back of his bedroom door. He isn't too concerned with appearances.

The Metzger property is managed by Ulrich, not a Metzger but a Foerster - his dead mother's nephew. Ulrich is 3 years younger than Emmett but he's the kind of man you'd pay double wages to just to have them working for you. He drives, Emmett holds Helga's famous German Potato Salad. They talked about the ranch or this and that.

What they didn't talk about was how silly Emmett looked holding that large flower print bowl full of potato salad.

Ulrich climbs out of the truck and waits near the rear while Emmett climbs out with his cane and that bowl, refusing to let his cousin help him at all.

Emmett is on the tall side at 6' and a solid 220 pounds. His body has gotten softer than it has in twenty years, and his dark blonde hair is longer on top than his barber (and Helga) prefer. The beard he wears is neatly trimmed and ages him considerably, making him look every bit of his thirty five years. The limp he moves with is faint but noticeable, the cane he uses is even more so.

He approaches Sarah with a genuine smile and nods, handing over the potato salad and accepting a hug from the older woman in return. Yes, he's fine. Of course Tomas is doing well. Helga is ...well Helga. She leaves him soon after to go put the side dish away and Emmett drifts toward the girl at the keg, offers his best smile and nods toward her, "You should have a tip jar here." He says offhandedly to Nora while waiting for his share of whatever is in the keg she's serving from.

His eyes turn toward the festivities going on all around him and he doesn't even consider joining in. He'll stay only so long as not to be rude and then he'll quietly request that Ulrich give him a lift back home. His joy at life and birth had backed up inside of him, kept within by some essential clog and he saw no reason to free them just yet.
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#5
"You're looking well, Emmett." Éva does not speak until she is at least in Emmett Metzger's peripheral vision. The crowd is too boisterous and lively for there to be other tells that might alert him to her presence - the soft footfall on the tender spring grass, the faint creak of her leather jacket. Perhaps even the hint of perfume in the air around her. It is a Tuesday night and unlike so many of the kin who have come here tonight, she does not live by the rhythms of the seasons, but by the artificial downstroke of a professional work week. Tomorrow is Wednesday, and she will be up at five a.m. to go running in the early light.

If her schedule allows, she will take Elise to school. The girl yawning sleep from her eyes, still glowing from the very adult pleasure of staying up so late the night before. The festivities, the strangers, the down-home exoticism of the Beltane rite on a wholly American farm. Andris will not start kindergarten until next year, so Ellie will have her mother to herself for those twenty minutes.

Here is something: she is not insincere in the remark, though perhaps she means, Good to see you out of the house. Or perhaps she does not have the same opinion that Helga and his barber do about the length of his hair. Maybe she thinks it suits him.

Her voice is quiet and crisp and low. She does not ask after his brother. And as she draws abreast of him, she puts a companionable hand on his shoulder. It is not a human gesture. The contact lasts a second or two, no more and is instinctual - animal - awareness, acknowledgment of presence, not reassurance or anything so damn patronizing.

"Have you met Cate. Catherine, correct?" a winging glance between the lovely, wild looking girl with her legs drawn up, chewing her thumb, stubbornly quiet, who answers shouts of her name with no more than a polite smile, and the bearded Fenrir. The Shadow Lord continues, supplying further explanation, "The Careys' niece."

The girl has no particular reason to remember Éva, who is uninterestingly Adult. Merely somewhat apart from the rest. Another face is a constantly shifting crowd of new acquaintances, all of whom seem to remember Nora, Bridie, Catherine, Cate, few of whom are memorable to her, yet. They are not wolves, but they are wolf-blooded: the girl, the man, the woman. "This is Emmett Metzger."

Then Éva excuses herself, quietly, leaving the two to capitalize on the introduction or not as they will. She was not waiting for the home brew - just passing by for the moment. Headed for the coolers full of spring water and juices set out for the children present.

No matter the insistence of the hosts, she is not drinking tonight. It is not just that she prefers a different sort of burn in the back of the throat than home-brewed ales and ciders, whatever sort of corn or rye-liquor the Fianna of Colorado brew up year to year. Her daughter is here. There are wolves about, and music threading around the bonfire with the driving beat of a racing heart.

In circumstances like these, the Shadow Lord will remain perfectly, entirely sober.

[Making a few assumptions even though we've not played out any retro-scenes yet! But I thought it worked, if not FPM me and let me know and I will edit. Smile OTHER PEOPLE JUMP IN.]
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
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#6
[sorry! i was waiting to hear from people about stuff, but the timing's all off. i'll just vague it up!]

Someone told Sam about the impending celebration the day she made her introductions at Cold Crescent. It was mentioned from politeness, surely. Who would expect a Glass Walker to be this far from the cold concrete and press of humanity of the city?

Never the less, the diminutive young kinswoman is at the farm, her blue and white Mini Cooper parked between the dusty trucks, a dish containing her mother's pecan pie lost among the other foods and treats and delicacies (good, but not great, Shelly Evans has a knack for baking that her daughter simply doesn't share). Where everyone else knows each other, is blood tied in some cases, Sam is an outsider, a stranger. That doesn't stop her from striking up easy conversation whenever it finds her.

And it finds her fairly quickly. A pretty, friendly, young new face with a charming smile, Sam soon enough has a small collection of young admirers. She makes conversation for a few minutes before politely excusing herself to find something to drink. When she sees the group gathering around the keg she detours, altering her trajectory to the tables laden with food. There she grabs herself a paper plate and hesitates, deliberating over the variety.
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#7
Calden is over by the table. Or at least near it. After asking around a bit -- he's brought an uncooked, spiced haunch of elk, after all -- someone's pointed him at a cooking pit with some spare room. Someone's found a usable roasting rack to put over it. Grimacing at the smoke and the heat, Calden crouches down to tear a small vent-hole in the foil wrap, and then heaves the entire haunch of elk over the fire. Almost immediately, the scent of heating herbs and spices begins to waft up, but it'll be a couple hours before it's ready.

Which is fine with him. This isn't his first Beltane shindig. These things go all night and sometimes half the day after, and people will get hungry at the oddest hours. They definitely don't stay PG-rated either, but he imagines the kids will be ushered off to nap in the farmhouse or something when things get a little more ... unhinged.

Dusting his hands off on the seat of his jeans, Calden stands up. There's already an impressive array of food and drink laid out. There's a young woman deliberating over the choices and Calden, making an effort to not let his dad get under his skin and ruin the night for him, calls out to her.

"Stay away from the haggis," he says. "I'm Fianna through and through, and I don't even touch that stuff."
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#8
Sarah is a woman full of genuine smiles and embraces. She greets everyone that arrives and approaches her with both and makes no apologies for either. Aiden is off with his eldest son, filling his older (but still strong and quite capable) arms with wood to carry back to the fire. He keeps an eye on Rory, that sly fox, and only half grumbles when his wife of thirty years has cheeks that redden modestly as Rory White turns on the charm. The woman who cares very little for the random stray hair of her (still) auburn hair or the fact that she wears no make-up touches a hand to her head to tame that stray lock and considers briefly that maybe (just maybe) she should have put on a little rouge. Perhaps that is the man that Calden admired once. Or maybe that's the one that he can't stand.

Catherine smiles that same stoic smile at Emmett, not committing to conversation with the older man but not shunning it either. One shoulder lifts in a shrug as she drags herself from the chair, feet beneath her, and sees to his drink. Éva introduces them - Emmett to Cate (Catherine?) and Cate to Emmett. She gives Éva a smile that might be considered slightly more thoughtful before casting her attention to the bearded kinfolk. "Hello Ms. Illésházy, Emmett."

"I gave you the good stuff. The other is..." And she shrugs once more, her tone of voice falling to something more private. "made for them..." And she flicks a finger toward one of the known Garou with a lift and fall of her dark brows. Cate drifts back to reclaim her plastic throne and draws her legs up once more, arms wrapping around them and her eyes refocusing on the gaiety at hand.

Calden is assisted with his haunch of spiced elk. He's got plenty of room to cook and a roasting rack that Sarah herself has set him up with. She pats one of the kin's broad shoulders and smiles, shakes her head at some private thought and hurries off to see to another guest considering food.

"Oh, don't you listen to Calden dear." Says Sarah to Sam, a hand patting her arm considerately. "'tis no different than what you get in the grocer with your hot dogs. At least with our Haggis...you know what you're getting." The older woman winks at the younger and pats her arm lightly once more before wandering off to do something somewhere else.

A kinfolk is talking to Éva. Talking her ear off about one legal matter or another. It's Sarah who interrupts and shoo's the talkative male off. "I'm real happy you came Éva, you know that your girl has a safe place in our home whenever she's tired." Nodding, she moves away again this time with a hand holding the small of her back.
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#9
Sam is studying the tables, trying to figure out where to start, when a male voice calls out a warning to her. Brows lifting in surprise, she turns her head toward Calden.

"Why, what's wrong with the haggis?" she calls back. Sarah comes over, but her tone, that wink, and the comparison to hot dogs do little to satisfy Sam's curiosity before she's off to make her rounds. Using her plate to wave Calden over, the corner of her mouth lifted in a crooked grin, Sam says, "C'mon, you can't say that and then at not at least tell me what I should be looking out for. I'm guessing something vaguely hot dog-like, but I don't really see anything hot dog-like over here." There are sausage shapes, of course, but that doesn't exactly narrow it down for her.
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#10
Beltaine is a holiday among those in the calendar that would, of course, be considered rather Bacchanalian in nature and content. Eating, drinking, being marry and throwing one's carnal inhibitions to the wind are practically part of the itinerary for most Beltaine events. Thus, one would imagine that it's a no-brainer to see Children of Gaia present. And indeed, to be sure at least one a child of Unicorn makes her appearance known, showing up a bit too early to be considered "fashionably late" and yet too late to be on-time.

She had found out about it through her uncle, who mentioned it as a place where she could get introduced to some of the local Sept members...since, he noted with a slightly pointed tone, she had failed to get herself out there. Keisha countered that she had been a bit busy getting herself settled in and registering for her sociology classes at UC-Denver to start socializing. Still, she agreed with him as she stocked the frankincense in said uncle's little occult shop off the beaten path in Denver. Beltaine would be a perfect opportunity for her to start meeting people.

The Gaian does not cut a particularly intimidating figure as she walks up to the farm, having parked a ways down the road. Enough people were going to be there and taking up parking space; she doesn't mind walking. The first thing anyone would distinguish about her profile as she walks up the road is the staff. Six feet long (which is six inches taller than Keisha herself) and made of white oak, the ends of the staff are capped with metal and a wrapping of leather is just a little bit down from each cap. It is held in her right hand as she walks along. It doesn't appear as if she needs it for mobility purposes; she's walking fine on her own.

It takes Keisha a bit longer than she expected to get up to the gathering, and the light mocha skin has the faintest beginnings of a sheen of sweat. The Gaian normally dresses in a contemporary manner; she's a teenager of the modern era, after all. For Beltaine however she goes more traditional...because if you can't be traditional on one of the Sabbats, when can you? Granted, when we're talking about May Day, "traditional" isn't synonymous with "conservative" and while she doesn't dress to impress, she's not wrapped head to toe in a ceremonial robe either. It's a simple, long, double scoop tank dress with a large, full ruffle that curls a bit at the edge, made of hemp and organic cotton that is dyed the color of green apples. Knee-length soft leather boots, laced up through eyelets on the side of them, complete the outfit.

Her dark auburn dreadlocks are hanging loosely and she sweeps them back with a single motion of her hand as she comes up, sliding the military surplus-style backpack off her shoulder. With a few words of greetings to the hosts, a quick introduction and thanks for having her, she opens up the backpack and withdraws her contributions to the gathering:

* A single red wildflower to add to whatever flower collection is present to celebrate the birth of summer
* A couple of bottles of cinnamon wine--because, as her uncle had wryly noted, "You can never have too much to drink for Beltaine."

With those placed in their appropriate spots, Keisha sets the mostly-empty backpack out of the way behind the food tables. She smiles a little when she hears Sam and Calden's exchange, including Sam's question about what it looks like.

"Let me know when you find out. Never seen it before, but I know what's in it so I'd rather just avoid it." She gives a slightly rueful look at the tables, realizing that she probably should have brought something vegan if she'd wanted such as a food option. One cannot subsist on alcohol alone, no matter how hard some people try.
"The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."
"Good men don't need rules. And today's not the day to find out why I have so many."
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