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December 04, 2023

Vodka Martini

By Michael W. Clark

Inspired by a reading of
the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story,
The Lost Decade.

"It makes me nervous." Jay smiled at her in the way he did with his mother. His mother was different than Daisy though. Daisy was blonde. Daisy was thin. Daisy never smiled at him. His mother always did.

Daisy's expression now was astonishment. "A vodka martini? How could that make you nervous?"

"I, ah." Jay knew his face was showing his embarrassment. His face was hot and he was starting to sweat. "It. They fill it to the edge. It will spill. It always spills." Jay did something he did with his mother. His mother only. He giggled. "The glass is too tall. The tail is too long."

"The tale? What martini tale? Its history?" Daisy pulled her blonde hair back over her ears. It seemed too fine to pull it as hard as she did.

"History? Uh?" Jay pointed at the martini glass. "Oh, not tale, this, its, ah, stem. It just wants to fall over."

"You drink to stop being nervous. Once you drink enough you spill. You have things back ass 'round." Daisy grabbed up the martini, of course it spilled over the edge. She drank it all at once. She licked her fingers. "Spilling is one of the best parts." She flipped the glass over. She wanted to see if there were any drops left as a self-evaluation. She contemplated slamming the glass on the table. Jay could see it on her face. It made him more nervous.

Jay was transfixed by Daisy's outrageous behavior. He always had been. She might break glass. She had broken glass. He knew his mother drank vodka, but she was always discreet. She didn't like gin. She couldn't have liked martinis. He never saw her with a martini. He knew it wasn't because of the oddly shaped glass. "You like martinis."

Daisy slipped on her seat. Her dress was pale silk. It had such a shine, it had to be slick and slippery. She held onto the bar with her left hand to sit up. He could see her face. Her eyes were a blue that could be confused for another color. She twirled the martini glass in her fingers. "So, the not-tail but stem, is long to regulate heat. So, your hot little hands don't ruin the chill." She quivered. It was a real chill. Her skin rippled with bumps of the goose.

His mother drank her vodka in a water glass full of ice. His father referred to it as a mixed drink. Scotch on the rocks was his mixed drink. His mother would deny the vodka. Ice water was all it was. Liquid and hard together, just water. 'Just a change in texture.' His mother's phrase for so many situations. "You like gin then?"

Daisy closed her eyes strongly and then snapped them open. "What is jinthen?" She lifted her head and then ran her hand down her neck. "That some middle eastern wizard or something?" Her neck seemed to shine like her dress. She looked around the ceiling. "It could be hotter in here." There was a slight tremble.

Jay had never heard his mother put it that way. She was just cold. "Gin. Do you like gin?"

She pointed at the conical part of the martini glass still dangling from her clear nail polished fingers. They were blonde fingers, very blonde fingers. "Made it wide for the gin to evaporate more efficiently." She pronounced the last few words with precision.

Jay had met her in the bar. She had the martini sitting on the bar when he got there. He had known her since university. She called him Count since then. She could always count on him. He would be where she required him to be. "My mother said gin tasted like a Christmas tree." Jay giggled again. He always thought about his mother when he was called to Daisy's side.

"Ha! Cheap gin. Jinthen. Ha!" Daisy sat up straighter. "The cheap stuff, ya just have to drink it faster. Chug that jinthen." Her breasts were just the right size and shape. She sat the martini glass very carefully on the bar top side down. The bar tender immediately took it away. "It could be hotter in here. My nipples show it."

Jay burned. He wanted to, but he didn't turn his head.

"Good ole FDR and his fighting 21st. The Amendment that keeps on giving." Daisy slipped on her chair again. This time she fell onto Jay. He grabbed her. Of course, he would. She looked up at Jay. "Never thought I would be toasting the Constitution of these here United States." She pulled herself slowly up Jay. "The Depression is so depressing, isn't it?"

He had dreamed about her pulling at him. As if she desired him. "You never went to New York."

She stopped pulling herself up. "The Big Apple. Ha! No better than Cleveland on a good day." Cleveland had done well during Prohibition. On the other side of Lake Erie was Canada. No prohibition there. Just a boat ride away. There was always liquor in Cleveland.

"But you have talked about it since college."

"Went to Western Reserve to get a husband." This was the first time he had seen her smile. She laughed all the time but not smile. At least, not smile at him.

"You failed." Jay responded too quickly. It sounded almost cruel.

Daisy sat back. She stared at Jay. "I got my degree."

Jay saw the hurt on her face. It was a rare event. "No. I know. I meant the husband." Jay held her hand. It was shaking. "But about New York. I was asking about New York."

Daisy squeezed Jay's hand. Still, she trembled. "Neah, New York is only a place to dream about. Go there? It would spoil it." She shook her head. "Myth is better. Myth is better. Don't mess with the myth."

"A myth statement of fact." Jay laughed. "I finally understand. You are living the dream. Ok. I get it."

Daisy smiled at Jay with a warmth he had never felt. "Living to dream. Yes. Living to dream." She quivered over her entire body. "It could be hotter in here."

"But it is Cleveland." Jay laughed. 'But it's Cleveland' was the family rationalization. "And vodka helps." His mother never said it, only lived it.

"Vodka Martinis. Have to have some class." Daisy pulled on her hair. It was fine and blonde with a sheen. It would curl initially and then relax eventually to straight. It was as if her hair would fall asleep. It was curled now.

"Your hair is awake." Jay wanted to touch it just to make certain.

Daisy shook her head. Her hair curled tighter. "It had better BE. The night may not be young, but it still has miles to go." She wiggled her fingers at the bar tender. He was shaking it already. "Never stir a martini. It melts the ice. It waters them down."

Jay never drank. His family had drunk more than enough. He didn't smoke either. He drank water on the rocks as his mixed drink. Like his mother would have wanted. But he was there for Daisy. Living to dream. She could count on it.

Article © Michael W. Clark. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-09-27
Image(s) are public domain.
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