December 20, 2010 by The Citron Review
by Mark Sutz
Constance and Everly were peeling oranges in the kitchen when the hailstone came through the roof of the Buick. She was supposed to bring the drinks to the first church social of the season. People were getting religious. And thirsty. Everly thought it was just another tree falling down. They were doing that more than usual that year. Especially the walnut trees. Everly said, Just another tree, when Constance looked up at him from the orange in her hand. Everly was worried, the rictus of Constance’s mouth that the doctor said to be aware of, the most obvious sign of too much excitement. Do you need a nitroglycerin, he asked. She shook her head no and pointed with her knife toward the yard. Everly checked, came back in with the hailstone, set it on the table, nestled it into the pile of peeled rinds. Grapefruit, she said. More like a basketball, he said. The storm had only peppered the roof for a few minutes, the sun never even disappeared from the window. They moved chicken breasts and boxes of Neapolitan to the sides of the freezer, rolled the hailstone in, finished up the oranges.
The hole in the roof of the Buick made the ride from home to Our Sister’s Replenishment a bit breezy. Constance spooned her left hand into Everly’s right for the silent length of the drive. They were first to the church multi-use room. Everly had the hailstone rolled tight in an afghan and stuffed inside a potato sack. He unwrapped it and put it in the crystal bowl on the center table. It was cloudy as a diseased eye but about as perfectly round as anything he’d ever seen. Constance poured the punch, Hi-C and seltzer, pineapple juice and chockful of oranges, over the hailstone and waited for Everly to ask her for the first dance.
Big Band Numbers
Water three times. When you return home from work as a fragrance model, water twice. The man at the nursery said the Stargazer would complement your demeanor. When you lose your job, keep watering as scheduled, but peek out your window and check on the lily once an hour. You will find that not working gives you an experience that working did not allow. You and the flower both, bending, weaving, moving in the sun. Cats rubbing along the growing stalk, oblivious of its toxicity to felines. Coffee in your pajamas at 11:30 in the morning. Passersby below your apartment marveling at the color of the flowers as you prune, cut, transplant and fashion an oasis pot by pot. Children and parents alike point and think your balcony must be an incognito movie star’s lair. When you see a man gaze at your flowers two days in a row, on the third day go to that crazy thrift store you’ve always passed by, throw together an Audrey Hepburn outfit with an Italian Riviera (circa 1950s) pair of sunglasses. Sit on your balcony with a bottle of beer and the first cigarettes you’ve smoked since you were twelve and got smacked across the face with the back of dad’s bony hand. Find that last oldies station on the radio, the one that plays big band numbers and sounds like your grandparent’s humid porch in the summer, the station so low on the AM dial it’s past an inch of static. Prop the radio in the windowsill and let the crackle of a band huge in the 30s fall out the window, over you and your balcony of lilies and let the gazing man on the sidewalk wonder why he never found a creature as lovely as you.
Mark Sutz writes with hunks of charcoal on large slabs of pavement. He resides on the first floor.