I could hear the radio playing songs in the kitchen. She turned it up when she came in, it was one of her favorite songs. She was messing about in there for awhile, making a drink to cool the afternoon off. The clink of the ice going into the glass was unmistakable. I even knew what glass she was using, the tall one. She liked it because of the sound the ice made as she tilted it back and forth, she would swirl the cubes of ice around the bottom until they freed themselves and slid down the thin glass walls into her mouth where she chomped them gleefully for all the world to hear.
She must have been on her third drink when I got up and moseyed into the kitchen for a refreshment of my own. Standing there by the open freezer she melted an ice cube up and down her throat with her head leaned back. Eyes closed she rolled her head forward and pushed the ice around to the back of her neck then stopped momentarily to massage the ice in circles until it melted in her hand. Tilting her head a little as if to listen for a bird singing in the distance, she cracked her eyelids a smidge like she had just woken up, still rubbing her hand in small circles on the back of her neck.
Peering over at me she turned and walked to the sink, picked up a glass and rinsed it halfheartedly, shaking out the remaining drops of water in the direction of the plants in the window. Pausing briefly she walked back to the freezer. Rustling through the ice she filled the glasses unceremoniously and chunked them down on the table. The bottle was still sweating from the thick Carolina air on a humid summer afternoon as she sat down next to the radio and proceeded to twist off the cap. Filling the glasses she perked her head up and met my eyes with a look as if waiting for me to say ‘when’. I kept her gaze as the whiskey splashed into the glass ’til it was nearly full, then lazily slumped across the table to paw at her pack of cigarettes.
Pulling a single volunteer from the open box I leaned back and slid the ashtray closer to the middle of both the two of us. Her glass was a touch too full for the perfect ratio she had grown accustomed to, so she picked it up and took a long slow sip to get it just right. Reaching into the fridge, balancing her chair expertly like a cirque du soleil performer she produced half a lemon and the pitcher of tea. I struck a match and tossed the box on the table towards her pack of Camel Lights.
Inhaling with the depth and strength of a long overdue yawn I brought the match up to the tip of the Camel. You could hear the flame pulled into the cigarette, cracking and sizzling as the tobacco ignited. She filled the glasses the rest of the way with tea and squeezed the lemon over the top dipping it into the glasses to stir the concoction and sweeten the rim. We sat there sippin’ our “tea”, listening to the radio and smoking cigarettes ’til the pack was gone.
I got up to get some more smokes and start another round. As I was returning to the table she started fidgeting with the tuner on the radio and lo’ and behold she found a nice little station fighting static near the end of the dial. It was broadcasting from a small town not too far from where we lived and Billie Holiday was weeping out a soft tune when I realized the evening was setting in and a cool breeze was blowing the curtains gently out the window. Carrying a cigarette in her fingers she floated over to the window and leaned over the sink to get a better look at the summer sky, sighed and returned to the table sluggishly. Sitting down she took a deep draw from her smoke, held it straight up in front of her face and examined it before she reached for the ashtray and poked it around until it was nothing more than the filter.
Looking at me she lifted her drink to her lips and turned it up slowly to savor the last it had to offer. Setting it back on the table she moved her gaze from me to the glass, then placed her hand on the table and formed a loose fist with her index finger pointing out towards the glass. She slowly inched her hand across the table until the tip of her finger was touching the glass. She poked it once, it bounced as if somebody bumped the table. She did it again and it lurched forward a half an inch bobbling back and forth finally settling. She poked it one more time and it danced briefly rolling front to side to back to side, round and around. As it stopped she looked up at me and started to extend her arm pushing the glass across the wooden table. Returning her eyes to the glass she fully extended her arm and pushed it off the table, crashing to the floor, shattering into a million shards, scattering themselves across the kitchen floor. Eyes raising, she popped her eyebrows a bit and tilted her head to the side shrugging her shoulders as if to say “how ’bout that?” Leaning back she put her feet on the table crossed at the ankles and lit another cigarette triumphantly and proud.