01 September 2012

The Night the Gin Froze - Part VII


Oh Shit, the Orange Blossom!” Thomas yelled leaping up from the couch. Puzzlement passed through the room.
“The Orange Blossom!” Thomas said, making agitated hand gestures.

“Saying it at a higher pitch is not clearing anything up,” Alan said.

“The Orange Blossom tradition – we haven’t done it yet.”

The others let out a collective “ohhhh.” All except Brittany, who was again left out. Charlene leaned forward to explain, “We have this silly tradition of drinking an Orange Blossom whenever we get together. It is tres importante.”

Brittany, leaning as close as she could without falling, nodded while thinking that kissing Charlene might not repulse her.

“But it has to be done in a certain way.” Janie said. “First, it must be served in one giant glass,” she slurred.

“A pint glass,” Paul assisted, being nicer to Janie.

“Right. A pint glass. And we all drink from the same glass. That’s the important part – that we drink from the same glass.” Janie’s eyes fluttered with fatigue.

“Well, the glass, and that it’s an Orange Blossom and an Orange Blossom alone.” Charlene echoed loudly but without slurring. She was a much more practiced drunk.

“Oooohhhh.” Brittany dragged the word out to show how much she appreciated the sacred quality of this information. “You drink a flower?”

“Gin and orange juice.” Thomas said placing his hand on the couch for stability.

“You see,” Alan began. “We were out on one of Janie’s witch hunts…”

“GHOST hunts.” Janie corrected. She turned to Brittany. “I don’t believe in witches.”

Paul stared at her. “Because there is a real chasm of difference there.” He mumbled.

“Oh for Christ’s sake – we were lumbering though the woods hoping to get laid.” Thomas jumped in.

“We were looking for Janie’s latest ghost and being led deeper into the forest that lay off campus.” Charlene continued with a silencing swipe of her hand. The others deferred to her out of tradition. “We had blankets, which the ladies thought were for picnics,” she said raising a brow to Thomas. “and some pittance of food, much like tonight, and the only alcohol we had left was a bottle of gin and some orange juice. The evening wore on a bit,“ at this, she rolled her eyes as the others nodded in agreement. “We rather got on each other’s nerves. Someone sniped here, another there and before you knew it, we were practically duking it out, pitch of night, in the middle of some haunted forest!”

Brittany nodded slowly but her face wore a look of utter bewilderment.

“Things came to a fevered pitch when the ghost that led us there saved us. We all saw this beautiful orange blossom tree.” Janie said wistfully. “It was illuminated as if the ghost had found a shard of sunlight and shined it directly on the tree.”

Everyone looked at Brittany. She took in each set of eyes and said, “Yeah, I still don’t get it.”

“Orange Blossom; an Orange Blossom is gin and orange juice – exactly what we had. And here was this completely misplaced Orange
Blossom tree in the middle of Sleepy Hollow. It was a sign.” Thomas said.

Brittany narrowed her eyes and nodded knowingly – she had stopped caring some time ago.

“The Orange Blossom!” Thomas shouted as he pushed off the couch to assist him walk.

“So what happens if we don’t drink this orange thing?” Brittany asked Alan.

“Orange Blossom – have some respect, Brit.” Alan said leaning back against the couch.

“Sor-ry.” She said like a child. She was finished with Alan’s indifference.

“If we don’t drink the Orange Blossom, members of our party will drop off one by one.” Charlene said in an affected spooky tone.

“Thank God! Count me out.” Paul said waving his hand.

“OK, none for you. Britt?” Thomas said.

“Yes, darling. I would love some.” Charlene said with her back to him.

“You’ve never met a drink you’ve passed up, dear,” Thomas said.

“Give everyone a drink. It’s tradition, after all,” Janie said.

“Jesus, Janie. Don’t you ever get tired of refereeing?” Alan said rubbing his temples.

“Back off, Alan.” Charlene said glaring at him.

“You have no sway over me, Charlene. It’s no use.” He said back.

“Oh damn!” Thomas said from the kitchen.

“What?” Janie asked.

“The gin is gone?” He replied.

“What?” Charlene said incredulous. “There was some left last night.”

“Look!” Thomas said holding up a frozen bottle of gin with nothing in it.

“Why the hell did you put an empty bottle back in the freezer?” Charlene asked.

“I don’t know, Charlene. Maybe I just like frozen, empty vessels in my life.”

“Well we all know you’re first in line to fill them,” Charlene said slowly.

“I think we need that Blossom now,” Brittany said coming to Charlene’s side.

“It is just a silly sup – superstition, Brittany. Don’t assume your inclusion in everything.” Paul said.

Alan stood abruptly. “When are you going to shut the fuck up?!” he asked Paul.

“Get off my back, Alan! You don’t know shit so stop acting like you do.” Paul said turning sharply.

“I have suffered your superiority long enough, you rapacious prick.” Alan growled.

“Why are you after me? I’m not the one sniffing after your flavor-of-the-month.” Paul said.

“Paul, pleazzzz… “ Janie said grabbing his arm.

Brittany giggled. “I diddin think y’all knew how t’cussss.”

“Shut up Brittney!” Paul snapped again.

“It about time somebody put you in your place, Doctor.” Alan took a threatening step forward.

“Alan, stop this nonsense! The only thing you are going to break is your hip.” Charlene said rising. Janie had leapt up as well.

“Concern yourself with your own world, Char, or do you intend to simply buy a new one?” Alan said glancing at Thomas.

“Perhaps I can shop at the car show?” Charlene volleyed, glancing at Brittany.

“I would advise it, they don’t tend to leave the road when left unattended.” Alan said coolly.

“Unless the road leads to Mt. McKinley.” Charlene hissed.

“It’s like two cocks readying for the ring.” Thomas broke in.

“Cocks are your specialty, aren’t they Tommy Boy.” Alan said without taking his eyes off Charlene.

“STOP IT!” Janie screeched.

“No, you stop it.” Paul said turning to her. “Stop trying to protect everyone. Who cares if they tear each other apart? You have this
bizarre fucking notion that it’s your job to protect people. Jesus, you protect these assholes from each other, you protect Alexander from… everyone, you protected your mother from that monster she married, you protected that drunk who lost his bought-and-paid-for position at the university – you, you lower every bit of you to some subterranean level so that what? So that you can… what? Why must you play the idiot to protect everyone from… everything. Jesus, Janie… YOU ARE NOT MOTHER FUCKING TERES… “

The wind cracked against the back wall with such force it shook the kitchen window and sent a plate clattering to the floor.

“Oh my… holy shit.” Thomas said from the kitchen.

All were silent.

“There IS gin left. It’s… frozen.”

“What?” Alan asked.

“Gin can’t freeze.” Paul added curtly.

Thomas held up the bottle on its side and turned it upright for the group. A thin, clear layer of frozen gin slowly collapsed onto itself inside the bottle. The image was barely perceptible but everyone saw it clearly. Silence deafened the room.

“It’s like a gin slushee.” Brittany finally said.

Charlene reached out for Brittany’s hand. Brittany took it, her heart racing. Charlene said, “Perfect, darling. Let’s start a new tradition – Orange Blossom slushees.”

Relieved smiles broke through their battle masks. Returning to their seats and a tentative calm, each took a long, slow drink of the air around them. It was no longer charged with electricity; a reprieve had been given, a pardon granted. The wind continued to howl outside; inside, only a gentle, warm breeze passed over them.

For tonight, the group dynamic would restore to camaraderie. The truce’s longevity, like all else, was unknown.

No comments:

Post a Comment