A Fresh Slice
You cut another slice from the orange and drop it into the gin. No vermouth left, no Campari, no ice: you’ve drunk your last negroni. Gin and a slice of orange. You press the orange slice against the glass to squeeze out some juice. The telephone hadn’t stopped ringing for days until you’d taken it off the hook. It seemed that way, anyway. Everybody had to call to tell you something: how they felt about it, how you should feel about it, what the neighbors, friends, cousins, people at church said about it. You regret giving everybody the number. For emergencies you’d said, but really, for loneliness, in case somebody might call. Nobody had called the whole time. But now everybody called and shared their feelings and it was too much. You cut a fresh slice, you pour another gin. It’s almost gone now. Your notebook’s on the floor. You’ve filled it, all but one page, but you’ll leave that last one empty. Most of what you wrote is borderline illegible, not to say unintelligible. None of it is about the peacocks that strut around the yard. They’d seemed novel at first, and beautiful, but now they might as well be pigeons or crows or magpies. The whole place is like that, really: it felt grand when you’d first walked in, and for the first week, and the second, but now the months have gone by and it’s just big and old and you’re sick of it, and the telephone ringing but you solved that, and gin but that’ll soon be solved too, and the peacocks and the notebook and the party’s pretty much over for you, pal. You cut one more slice of that orange and you dump the rest of the gin into your glass. It’s too warm and you’ve been here too long but your trunk is packed and when the gin is gone the long journey back begins. You’ll have to live with them again, and know for the rest of your life that not one word they say to you is the goddamn truth.