Chapter 2: Of Fried Bologna
There are certain things in life that we learned from a point so far back in our past that we can recall no memory of their formation. Chained to these habits we had no choice in making, be they of intellectual, emotional or physical nature, we continue to do them into perpetuity. This idea crystalized in my mind once years ago when making a fried bologna sandwich one evening for my son. For reasons that I cannot explain, I make a cut in the round slice of meat, starting at its center and straight out to the exterior. A radial cut, if you will, and if such a term is real. How many other people do this I would hardly be able to hypothesize. It is not a topic that crops up often in everyday conversations, and I have never taken a survey on the matter to give any type of accurate assessment. But I do remember both of my parents doing it. My ex-wife never made one, at least not in my presence. Francine does, bless her, but if this is for my benefit or not, I am not sure. I tend to think, though, that she had never had a fried bologna sandwich before, so had no frame of reference, and I corrupted the poor girl. Perhaps it is a genetic condition. Perhaps there is no difference in the taste between cut and un-cut. Being physically unable to break the bonds and try it without it being cut in that specific way, I will never know. And so we beat on, as Fitzgerald wrote, passing forth our habits such as frying little, meaty Pac Men, slathering them with mustard, and smothering them between two slices of bread.
Chapter 3: Milton and Martinis
We returned from the movie with some time to spare before the party. The movie, while altogether unremarkable, did contain a lot of action and some explosions. The plot was driven by a man on some sort of vigilante enterprise, and it was good escapist fun, but I dismissed it shortly after it ended, hardly giving it another thought.
In our living room we have a bar which I had installed in my single days. Really it is just a cabinet which contains a small refrigerator and an ice maker. A few bottles of different liquors and drink mixes are lined up at the back of the counter, and an empty decanter with scotch glasses on a silver tray sits in the middle of them. Inside the fridge are perishable goods and drinks, a bottle of Beefeater, a couple cocktail glasses and a shaker. I had hung only a mirror on the wall above it due to a limited imagination and for lack of anything else. Francine replaced it, however, with a painting of sunflowers she had found at a flea market saying that it brightened and softened the area, a point which I had to agree upon after seeing it displayed.
A person by the name of Gregory had painted it, but if this was a first or last name I cannot say, for there was no identifier on the canvas, front or back, other than the signature. He, or I suppose it could have been she, had placed a duck amid the long flowery stalks, hiding perhaps from some unseen hunter, looking a bit lost and worried. I felt a degree of empathy with the duck, though not for the imagined antagonist, but that he seemed to me to be so out-of-place. It was slightly confusing as to why Gregory had placed a duck amid a group of sunflowers, two things that I cannot say I would ever have related to each other. But the artist did contrast the yellows and golds of the flowers with the green and blues of the water fowl in an appealing way, compensating the odd subject matter with an agreeable palette. Francine named the duck Milton.
I stood, preparing a martini to steel myself for the upcoming festivities. Francine slid up behind me, touching my back has she reached to flick an ash into a tray on the counter and kissed me on the cheek. I finished mixing the drink and poured it into a chilled cocktail glass, the transparency of which was dulled by the frost that clung to it.
“Why do you like Martinis so much?” Francine asked, tracing circles in the small of my back with her fingertips.
I dropped an olive into the glass and turned to her. “I’m sorry dearest, how thoughtless of me. Would you like one also?”
“Oh, no. Thank you though.”
I took a sip and thought it over for a second. “I suppose it is because gin is such an audacious liquor. It makes no claims about itself, but is confident, perhaps boastful one might say, in its own prowess and abilities. Unlike others, such as scotch, or rum, or even vodka. Not that those are bad drinks, and each have their own unique qualities, but none could be called audacious. Vermouth, on the other hand, is so sympathetic, so forgiving. It holds a sweetness of spirit that stills the restlessness of the gin, and smoothes it so that together, regardless to a point of the ratio, as long as it is not above four to one, the two marry into a subtle drink that tempers the brazenness of the gin with the demure nature of the vermouth. The cold of the ice they were blended in preserves the two, and the olive revels in their company.”
“Hmm,” she said thinking it over. Taking a final drag from her cigarette, and extinguishing it, she put both arms around me. Looking up into my eyes she asked “What about James Bond?”
“What about him?”
“Didn’t he drink martinis?”
“Yes. Well, actually not a true martini. James Bond drank a vodka martini. Not the same thing. A true martini is made with gin. Hawkeye on M.A.S.H. drank them, I think. At least he did in one episode that I remember. Most of the time he drank moonshine with Trapper.”
“Do you like the Bond films?”
“Yes. Well some of them. Do you?”
“They are not bad,” she said pulling me close to her and giving me a soft kiss on the cheek. “A little repetitive, though, wouldn’t you say? And silly.” She pressed her body into me, and placed a gentle, lingering kiss on my lips. “Don’t you think they are silly, love?”
With Francine’s stimulating gestures, her eyes, brown and chocolaty behind her glasses, gazing into mine with a luring, deceptive innocence, I was finding it a little difficult to follow the conversation, but did manage to find the capacity to reply “Sure, they can be a repetitive and silly. How much so would depend on the film though.”
“Who is your favorite?”
“You look like him.”
“Really?” This comparison I was not prepared for, and, as if splashing cold water on my face, it snapped me out of the enticing trance she was placing me under. I could not believe such a statement. In making it a regular habit to study myself in a mirror at least once a day, normally twice though, once in the morning and once before bed, I could not recall a single instance where at any time, not for a single instant, I saw any similarity between myself and Sean Connery. I pulled back a little from her. “I look like Sean Connery?”
“No, no not him, the other one,” Francine laughed and my ego teetered on the edge. God not Roger Moore. “The newest one. What is his name?”
“Yes! That’s him. Daniel Craig. But not so vicious. Or so built.”
“Oh dearest, I just love your build. You are deliciously thin,” she said as she gently shook me at my hips. “And I just mean that I could not see you using a license to kill to drown a man, or shove his head into a wall, or shoot him without conscience. Your eyes are much too doe like and do not have that killer edge about them, and you have delicate hands. You understand, don‘t you?” she asked giving me a quick and playful peck on the cheek.
“Yes, I think I do.”
“Plus,” she added, whisking strands of my hair while examining them “I am not sure if he has grey hair. If he does, I am quite certain it is not as much as you” I drank down the last of my martini and turned away from her, trying to escape her musings on the comparative grayity between Daniel Craig’s hair and my own.
I heard her turn and leave the room. Moving down the hall she said “Would you mind taking Gates out for a walk while I get ready? You know how he gets so restless at night without his walk.”
Okay, being that both of these chapters are pretty short, I decided to post them under a single entry. This will probably be the last excerpt from Marcello’s Revenge I post, except maybe Chapter Five which sets up the main driving plot of the story. I am still working on OF 6209, but was not happy with the direction it took, and am now re-writing the next installment. I should have it ready by the end of this week (hopefully). Anyway, I know these are long posts, so my thanks to you who have read them.