Every drink has a tale. What’s yours?
Too much of what drink made you throw up in the bushes?
Which one gave you your biggest hangover?
Many people, all over the world, have a tale to tell of this drink – of their indulgence, whether it was entertaining or painful.
In the spirit of National Orange Blossom Day, the characters from one tale has been brought to life…..
FICTION OR TRUTH?
No one knew I hid in the bushes that night. Nobody bothered to question me. I could have told them what happened but they didn’t think to ask lil ol’ me.
Two hours earlier, I had poured a heavy dose of father’s gin and vermouth into a metal canister and topped it with a bit of the orange juice mother had prepared for tomorrow’s breakfast. I’ll just tell her I got thirsty in the night.
Worthy of a cuff upside the head and a belt whipping from father for arming myself with some of his bootleg, what with the new law and all, I crept from 403 Alvarado Street, giddy as a school boy. Which I was. My swagger kicked in mid-way up the road, feeling more like a grown up with every step.
That silent film director lived a few more houses over. Tony, Tay something. I didn’t care about names. I only cared about the interesting goings-on in that house.
I passed by here everyday on my way to father’s hardware and bicycle shop where I stocked, dusted, swept, helped customers, well, you name it, I did it. Father didn’t do much of anything except read the daily news.
Today, I had seen Fatty Arbuckle’s name blazed across the top. Probably something about his murder trial. Poor Fatty. I say he was framed.
I didn’t dare try to read the whole headline. Father catches me slacking off and I’m liable to getting a kick in the arse. Believe me, he can kick pretty damn hard. Last week, he sent me flying down the aisle into the bicycle parts.
Father always lingered over those articles about the pretty film starlets, looking all innocent with their big doe-eyes. Let me tell you, they aren’t so! I’ve seen things.
And most of it from the bushes at the side of that famous man’s house. It has a great view, what with the window that reaches the second floor.
Young ladies prancing about with barely a stitch of clothing on, kissing each other, touching and fondling. Some nights, they swim naked in his pool right after the sex. The bushes got a little more than a watering on those nights.
Once in awhile, he had full blown parties and everyone danced to the music on his gramophone. Tonight was like that. When I arrived at my usual spot at the bushes, someone had been kind enough to leave behind a full glass of some orange concoction, right there on the table. Lucky me, within reach. I knew by the smell it would taste the same as what I carried in my canister. So I downed it.
I settled on my haunches out of sight and waited for the festivities to begin.
One of the guests dumped out something from a small bag onto the glass table by the chesterfield and handed the lady next to him a tiny spoon. All the ladies took their turn. Things got wild after that!
Not three weeks ago, I had my first taste of these Orange Gin Blossoms, or so mom called ’em.
I was on my way home that day and two lovely ladies half-stumbled, half-skipped down the hill from the golf course towards me. Well, they sang at the top of their lungs, something about oranges and gin. And they skipped right past me.
“Afternoon, Ladies,” I says to them because they were awfully pretty and I sure fancied the younger one.
Didn’t she stop and ask me my name. I told her. Then I told her how sweet and lovely she smelled.
She swatted at me and blushed. “Oh, that’s the Gin Blossoms, lil Freddie. They’re all the craze! Here, try some.”
I couldn’t help but stare at her bosom, when she let me sip some straight from her pitcher. Those beauties were close enough to touch and I thought about giving one a quick squeeze. Before I found my courage, the other lady tugged at her friends’ sleeve.
I licked the delicious juice from my lips, watching them zigzag up the road, laughing and singing when a car pulled over and the driver got out. The older lady squealed and threw her arms about the man’s neck, so happy to see him.
That night, I had leafed through the crisp pages of father’s bar book of cocktails until I found it. Orange Gin Blossom. Mom was right and now I knew how to make it. Father’s cabinet in the parlor contained all the ingredients. Ever since then, I’ve been helping myself to it.
I suppose he will be looking for me but I ignored those thoughts.
The Director’s party, in full swing now, did not disappoint. The ladies dragged and pushed the furniture back to the walls so as to clear some space to dance the Charleston. The only two men at the party took a front row seat, on the wing chairs, to enjoy the bouncing and jiggling.
I reveled in their breasts, free from their brassieres, some of them small and some not so small, while I sipped from my canister. Patient as a Saint, I waited for the sex. And it came. Ladies first then the men joined in.
My own urges took over and, now that it was dark enough, I could drop my drawers and go at it until the bushes well-watered for the night.
By then, the party started breaking up. One of the ladies cursed at The Director and left. Finally, only one lady friend remained. Or so I thought.
The Director mounted her upon the chesterfield.
My heart pounded and the tingling down there started again.
The urgent sounds of the lady’s cries reached all the way out to where I hid. If he didn’t finish her off soon, I would have to have another round, too.
With a loud holler, he slumped over her, panting and dripping sweat. I adjusted the crotch of my pants and stood to stretch.
He put his trousers back on and helped her dress. Envious of their closeness to each other, of his ability to touch her soft, delicate, pale skin, I slugged back a huge mouthful of my orange cocktail.
They went out the front door to her waiting car. The driver tipped his hat to The Director and drove off.
Back in the comfort of his living room, he ignored the filth-encrusted tables, the empty crystal glasses and brassieres scattered throughout, and poured himself what looked like Scotch or maybe it was Bourbon.
It didn’t seem fair that everyone else wasn’t allowed to hold stores of liquor in their own homes but this man, rich and famous, could keep their collection for all to see.
He didn’t see the lady come up from behind. The lady with the revolver. It all happened so fast, I had no time to warn him. To call out, behind you, or watch out! That familiar hair, I knew her from somewhere. One of the neighbors, perhaps.
The Director sensed her presence too late. She was so close, close enough that when he turned, the barrel dug into his rib cage.
I heard no words but knew, from the long pause, that they spoke. He remained calm but stiff. Her lips moved in a frenzy of words. Her free hand wild with gestures. The scowl on her face apparent even from where I huddled in the darkness. Then the gun went off.
The Director slumped to the floor.
The murderess woman stood over him a moment, as though trying to decide what to do, shrugged then went to pull a coat from his closet. She put it on and wrapped his muffler round her neck and topped her head with a plaid cap.
She slid open the patio door, nearest me, and stepped out.
I scrambled back into the shadows, knocking over my canister and spilling the rest of my cocktail. She headed down the side path towards the street and encountered a nosy neighbor, who had come out to see what the noise was all about.
They had a quick exchange and the woman hurried off.
No sirens could be heard.
I followed the woman dressed up as the man she had just gunned down until she slipped around the back of Miss Charlotte’s house, my neighbour.
Back down the road, a few people mingled about the front of The Director’s house so I didn’t go back. They would have smelled the booze on me. They’d throw me in jail on account of breaking the law. Or worse, father would find out I took his booze.
I staggered home. No one knew I had been hiding in the bushes tonight so no one would come to question me. I could have told but I wouldn’t. For my own safety. This secret would have to die with me. Though it drives me crazy keeping it in. There, I’ve let it go. God help me if my father finds this.
In her great great grandmother’s trunk, she found this letter, this confession of sorts, tucked within the pages of Tony’s Bar Book, 1903 Edition. It bookmarked a cocktail by the name of the Orange Blossom. She folded the brittle pages and returned them to their hiding place.
How to Make The Orange Blossom Cocktail:
Gin – 1 oz
Sweet Vermouth – 1 oz
Orange juice – 1 oz
That’s it! Easy-peasy!
Published by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on February 10, 2021