Demerara, muscovado, granulated, icing… “WHERE’S THE CASTER SUGAR?” Wolf roars.
Red stomps into the kitchen, looks in the cupboard, points.
“It’s right THERE!”
Walks off, muttering, “Bloody men can never see what’s right in bloody front of them.”
Wolf pours sugar onto the scales. “95, 97, 99 grams, 103 FUCK FUCK FUCKIT!”
He adds the too much sugar to a small pan of water. He enjoys the way the sugar melts into the water and thickens it, turns it gelatinous like albumen. It makes him feel like a scientist, not a redneck guy who can’t give his girl what she wants. A chemist in heat-proof gloves holding the pan handle as if it’s graphite, irradiated and dangerous. He stirs the mixture and imagines he’s spinning the best bits of him and Red together, alchemising them into something that might become his son, his daughter.
When the sugar water is cooled, Wolf adds a tablespoon to the cocktail shaker, the one Red’s grandma bought them as a wedding gift, even though she was dead set against the marriage, even though she did her best to talk Red out of it. Wolf would have liked to gobble her right up there and then.
Next Wolf adds:
Two fingers of bourbon. He favours Wild Turkey, the name makes his stomach growl.
Half an egg white. Everything’s about eggs nowadays: unfertilised eggs, fertilised eggs, harvested eggs, over-easy, scrambled, sunny-side up, sad-side up; he walks on eggshells, she eggs him on.
A squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of angostura bitters. Red was sweet when he met her, so gentle. Years of disappointment have turned her sour; they argue more and more. Her tears, when they fall, are large and bitter and endless.
Wolf shakes the mixture, a dry lump in his throat, his hands clammy.
He’s the big bad wolf, the barren bad wolf, the big barren wolf, the bad barren wolf. He bets Red’s regretting falling for a bad boy now.
He adds crushed ice, shakes again, pours the cocktail into a tumbler.
Red doesn’t drink anymore. The doctors have told her not to. Wolf remembers when they met, their cocktail fuelled passion that seemed bottomless. Beauty and the beast. They couldn’t get enough of each other, wild nights in the forest, howling at harvest moons.
Wolf lights a cheroot, leaves it to smoulder in the ashtray. He loves the earthy smell, the forest floor, but Red won’t let him smoke it, mutters something about motility, morphology, counts. Wolf chinks the ice resentfully against the glass, swirls the liquid in his mouth, lets it scorch his throat and settle.
Red appears at the kitchen door, the red bulb of a thermometer throbbing in her hand. Wolf lets the resentment settle. He’ll follow Red wherever that may lead.
Maria Thomas is a middle-aged, apple-shaped mum of two. During daylight hours she works in technical control in financial services, a subject so mind-numbingly dull that she spends the witching hours writing. She has had work published by EllipsisZine, Funny Pearls and The Levatio.
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