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Luke placed one sandwich in his lunch box and closed the lid, then put the other on a plate, adding carrot slices and potato chips. He put butter pickles in a shot glass so the juice would not make the sandwich bread soggy and put the glass in the center of the plate before tenting it carefully in Saran Wrap and sliding it into the icebox.
He reached up to the freezer for a tray of ice cubes, ran them under the faucet and yanked back the lever shattering them with a crack as they released. He dropped three into the martini shaker; more and the drink would be too watery, fewer and it would not be cold enough. He watched the gin rise. When it filled a third of the shaker, he knew he had four jiggers of gin. He stopped, uncapped the vermouth, and let a drop fall from the lip before quickly yanking the bottle back upright.
He enjoyed the icy rattle of the cocktail shaker and really gave it the business until the martini was frothy and cold, forcing his fingers to stick to the aluminum just enough to hurt a little when he pulled them away. He had to jump to reach the stemmed martini glasses on the second shelf of the cupboard. Setting the glass on the table, he climbed up on a chair to pour the drink into its proper glass. For the finish, he ran a twist of lemon around the rim before dropping it into the swirling center.
He smoothed his hair and tucked his shirt tail into his slacks. He placed the martini on a plate – they did not have a tray – and set the drink on the table beside the couch. Gayle sat watching the Today Show. She neither turned her head nor spoke.
Luke pulled a cigarette from the leopard print case, flicked the lighter and brought the flame to the tip of the cigarette. He enjoyed the surrender of the paper to the flame, reaching for it almost, and the feeling of hot, white smoke filling his lungs. He set the cigarette in the ashtray he had wiped clean last night and waited. Gayle did not take her eyes from the screen. He picked up his satchel and walked to the front door.
“Your lunch is in the icebox, mama,” he said.
“You be good in kindergarten today, son,” she replied, picking up the cigarette and drawing hard on it.
“I will,” he said and closed the door behind him.
published 4 May 2011
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