Into You (Part 4)
It's unconscionable to me that such a tiny thing can be sentient. How could it be? It's the equivalent of a slug. Still, I try to reconcile its existence into the framework of the world I've come to know. I run through a list of impossibilities, dismissing each one in turn. I'm going to need some help with this to figure out anything. Perhaps… Gerald? Then I'd better get dressed first.
Before I stand, I put a little extra muscle into screwing down the mason jar lid as tight as possible. With it set safely in the basin of the sink, I take time to tidy up the bathroom. My ‘tools' go back into the drawer. The towel goes onto the rack. My gardening clothes go into the hamper. The knife and the broken wine glass come to the kitchen; the glass deposited in the trash, and the knife replaced into the utensil drawer.
It doesn't take me long to find some comfortable clothes. A long cotton summer dress with big bold flowers that's not revealing, and—for now—a bra and panties that don't show through. Open-toed sandals, a couple of wrist bangles, and a turquoise butterfly necklace are enough to round out the ensemble. I brush my hair, to keep it from being unruly after the shower, not because I'm trying to impress Gerald. I peek in on the strange gelatinous creature on my way to grab a clutch purse and my car keys. Still in the jar; considerably more subdued than before.
I run through my mental checklist before leaving the house. Everything in order, other than the fact I'm carrying a blob that has a mind of its own. I lock up and walk over to the front of Gerald's house.
Standing on the front porch, I ring the doorbell. I hear it echo inside. Through the panes of glass in the upper third of the door, I see shadowed movement. It's only a moment before Gerald swings open the door and stands looking at me, confusion running rampant on his features. His countenance is at least as busy as the vibrant Hawaiian shirt atop his pleated khaki Dockers.
'Lynne?' It's the only word he seems able to muster.
'Gerald.' I play the game, giving as good as I've received.
'Um… To what do I owe this pleasure?' He shakes his head and waves his free hand as if to erase the words. 'Never mind. Come in, come in.' His countenance is a jumble of emotions, yet he ushers me in. I step inside, cradling the jar in such a way it's unobtrusive.
His home is darker than mine, its paint scheme and wooden accents tending to more somber colors. He guides me past a small living room at the front, appointed with a hodgepodge of different furniture styles. We step to the rear of his home, into the kitchen. He points to a small veneer table with four straight-backed chairs.
'Make yourself at h— Make yourself comfortable.' He fidgets and glances around at his living space, perhaps wondering what I think of it. I slide onto one of the chairs, keeping the jar by my side, balanced on the edge of the chair.
'Thanks,' I say. 'Can we talk a bit? I may need your help…'
'What? You want to— Yeah. Sure.' He glances around the room again, furtive birdlike movements, perhaps his mind racing to how this meeting will play out. He seems to snatch at an idea. 'Hey, do you want something to drink while we… talk?' I see a tiny flush of red creep over his cheeks as he second-guesses the choice of his words.
'That would be nice.' He starts to head for his fridge, but I intervene. 'Gerald.' He stops and turns back to face me. 'Do you have something stronger than water, tea, or soda?'
He shakes his head like he's trying to get water out of his ears, and his consternation has reached its limits. He takes a step in one direction, stops, takes a step in another, and then halts. I think he may have blown a fuse, because he stands mute, his eyes openly giving away that he's calculating all manner of things inside his head.
'Gerald?' I give it a second, then try a second time. 'Gerald? I'm not here on a social call. I need your input on something… out of the ordinary. I was thinking a stiff drink might make the ‘reveal' a bit easier to take.' He furrows his brow and I can tell my words are starting to impinge upon his conscious mind.
'Yeah… Yeah, I've got some JD… or some brandy… that I've been saving for…' He peters out and looks at me. He shrugs and asks, 'Which would you like?'
'Just a little JD. That'll be fine. Save your brandy for the special occasion.'
'Yeah. Sure.' He turns toward a pantry, then turns back. 'Gimme a sec.'
'We have all the time in the world, Gerald,' I say, then whisk him along with my free hand.
I watch him gather two small tumbler glasses, put a couple cubes of ice into them, and head for a black-labeled bottle on the far end of his kitchen counter. Bottle in hand, and balancing the two tumblers, he comes to the table and distributes everything between us.
'Lynne, you know, I didn't even ask. Do you take ice in your whiskey?' He generates a pained expression, as if it was a major oversight and faux pas.
'With the June heat we've got going, that's a wonderful idea.' He beams with pride at getting it right. 'But I normally take mine neat. So that you know.' He registers it, and I see him mentally filing away the info, for future use.
Gerald pours the amber liquid until there's a thumb's depth of it, barely making the ice float off the bottom of the glasses. With his fingers near the base of one tumbler, he slides it toward me. He cocks his head left and squints at me.
'So… Lynne… What kind of ‘out of the ordinary' stuff did you want to talk about?' He lifts his own glass to his lips, peering over the rim at me.
I pick up the tumbler in front of me. With deliberate slowness, I take a small sip. There's liquid heat on my palate, in my throat, and spreading through my belly. In only a moment, I feel the slightest bit askew, my vision getting a hazy peripheral fuzziness that feels comfortable.
I place the jar on the tabletop, and push it midway between us.