Wednesday, June 2, 2004

by Jessica Delfino

I opened the can of refried beans and dumped them into a microwave safe bowl. The pasty lump slid out like an old family pet. "Merry Christmas", I said, and threw the can, empty but for the remaining layer of sludge lining the insides, at the wall on the opposite side of the room. The can hit the wall and then bounced to the floor, giving off a joyous clank. I opened the drawer and pulled out a fork. None of my forks match. Most of them are stolen from various restaurants and the homes of people who've had me babysit or hosts of miscellaneous dinner parties - Drew, who was celebrating his engagement to his new fiance, Lydia; Spence who hired me to walk his dog three times a week; Jay who fucked me three times and then never called me again. But who had the last laugh, Jay? Fork you, asshole! I specifically dug out the fork I thought belonged to Jay at one time and mashed up the can shaped bean mold. I wondered if Mexicans found canned refried beans to be an insult to their nationality or whatever, the way many Italians find offense at Olive Garden calling itself an Italian restaurant?

Digger was on his way over and I was still a mess. I hadn't showered or cleaned my toilet. The ring around the white bowl would scream at me every time I walked into the bathroom, but I would get distracted by a pimple or an article in my May 1999 issue of Good Housekeeping, and before I knew it, the toilet would stay dirty. I glanced at the clock on the wall which said nothing. My clock doesn't talk. It was 7:16 in the pm, and the news was blaring from the tv in the other room. "Spring has sprung today in the village of Temperdan, and with us we have correspondent Jeff Jingerson, to tell us about the flowers in bloom! Jeff?" The newscaster lady had a sing-songy voice that reminded me I wanted to punch her. I'd just been thinking it, before, and then I forgot, but was made aware of the fact again.

I'd met Digger at the post office a few days before. He was in line, holding a big, big box that looked very heavy. Dirt was leaking out of the cracks and it was bowing in the bottom from the strain of whatever was inside. "Your box is leaking," I told him. "Yeah, I know," he said. "Let's hope the post man don't notice nothing," he added. "Yeah," I agreed. "All we can do is hope." I had a few letters to send out - a Memorial Day card for my brother in the war, a letter to a friend in Germany who technically wasn't even a friend, a subscription for Reader's Digest, check enclosed, and my entry for the Ladies Home Journal home-made cookie recipe contest. I normally put my letters in the mailbox and flipped up the red flag to let the carriers know - Warning! Mail in here!

The recipe was a special one. It was handed down to me by my grandmother's friend. Ether. Ether was one hell of a lady. She owned 17 guns from 14 countries, she spoke fluent french, spanish and pig latin, and she had mis-sized feet - one was a 6 and one was an 8 and 1/2. She'd gone most of her life switching shoes in the boxes before she purchased them, you know, at places you can do that like Madley's or J.B. Mutt's. She said, "If you ever tell anyone about this recipe, I will gladly murder you in your sleep." I knew she wasn't kidding. But she had gone to heaven, though I doubted that resolved the evil in her heart.

This is recipe, as she told it to me:

2 eggs, shells included, you slut
4 whole walnuts and a few almonds
a cup of baking soda, don't fuck with me!
a half cup of water, shut up.
a bag of chocolate chips
a teaspoon of salt
a pound of butter, melted, for the love of christ!
a cup and a half of sugar, don't you talk back to me!
three shots of whiskey, Jim Beam or Jack Daniels if you got it, and
a full six ounces of cocaine uncut, you god damn whore!

I doubted that the cookies would be very good. As a matter of fact, I begged my grandmother to let me not taste them. But the two of them held me down and smooshed cookie after cookie into my young face, laughing all the while. I realized they were kind of good.

When I saw the recipe contest in Ladies Home Journal, it spoke to me. It said, "Do you have a recipe that's been handed down to you from a higher generation? How do you feel about winning one million dollars? Send the recipe in and you could be a winner!" I've never known what it was like to be a winner, and was excited at the chance to try it on for size. So, I dug up the old recipe that I'd kept hidden in a journal, I typed it out on a piece of pretty rose flavored stationary, folded it up and put it in an envelope, addressed it, stamped it, and decided for good luck, I'd deliver it to the post office myself.


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