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Splash    A Spousal Abuse Tale
            “A splash, dammit. I said I wanted a splash of vermouth.” He handed the martini glass back to his wife. “Make me another. A splash of vermouth is all I want. Did you hear that? Just a splash. I want an extra-dry martini. Do you understand? You are wasting a lot of my good gin.”
            She handled the glass carefully with both hands and retreated to the kitchen. She put fresh ice cubes in the mixing glass. Carefully she measured an ounce and a quarter of gin in the shot glass. She tossed it over the cubes and gingerly picked up the vermouth bottle. Trembling slightly she measured an eighth of an ounce. She stared at it measuring glass for a second and then threw the contents into the mixing glass. She picked up the long handled spoon from the sink and began to stir briskly.
            “Enough, enough!” her husband yelled from the living room. “Quit stirring for God’s sake. You are bruising the gin. How many times do you have to be told?” He paused for a moment listening for sounds from the kitchen. “My first wife made an excellent martini after only a few days of instructions. You have been screwing up my martinis for six months. Hurry up with that martini. “My throat needs an extra-dry superb Bombay martini.”
             She quickly discarded the old martini into the sink. Picking up the strainer, she strained the martini from the mixing glass into the martini glass and added an olive. She picked it up and started to the living room.
           “Remember, I want a lemon peel, not an olive.”
            She stopped, reversed her steps to the kitchen counter. She used her fingers to pick out the olive and throw in the trashcan. She dropped a lemon peel into the martini. She started to the living room.
            “Did you run the lemon peel around the rim of the glass?”
            She turned around and went back to the counter. She wiped her nose with her finger, fished the peel from the martini, ran it around the rim, squeezed the peel and dropped it into the martini.
            “I’m thirsty. My throat is like parchment.” He kept his eyes on the football game. “What are you doing? It can’t take that much sense to make a decent martini. Hurry, it will soon be halftime.”
            She stood beside his chair, her hand wrapped around the glass.
            “Don’t ever hold my martini like that. The heat from your hand warms the gin.” He took the martini and held it at eye level. “I want my martinis well chilled, not lukewarm. Do you think you can remember that? My first wife brought it to me on an antique tray along with a few cocktail napkins.” He swirled the liquid gently, then brought it up to his nose. He closed his eyes and sniffed. A frown appeared. “I think I detected the odor of an olive.” He looked at his wife and took the tiniest sip. His face wrinkled into a grimace. “I did! Why did you put an olive in my martini? You know I hate the taste of olives. My first wife didn’t even keep olives in the house.” He paused and handed the drink back to his wife. “Do it right this time. I’m getting awfully dry.”
            She took the glass and walked back to the kitchen. She placed the glass in the sink and got a new martini glass from the cupboard. She put ice in it to get a nice chill. She rinsed the mixing glass, added ice cubes, measured an ounce and quarter of gin, poured it in, added a splash of vermouth and stirred gently for four seconds. She threw the chilling ice into the sink, poured the well-chilled martini into the glass, and rubbed a fresh lemon peel around the rim. She placed the martini in a small plastic tray. She stared a few seconds admiring her handiwork. Nodding her head and smiling, she carried the drink to her husband.
            A slight grin formed as he took the martini from the tray. He went through the usual ritual; visual inspection, aroma inspection and then the swirling of the liquid. He looked at the drink for a few seconds and then began the final inspection; taste.
            He took a very short sip, just enough to wet his tongue. He frowned and took a second, longer sip. “You’ve screwed up again. You are supposed to use Bombay gin, not that cheap domestic junk made in Baltimore.” He handed back the drink with a disgusted look. “My first wife used nothing but the best Bombay Sapphire gin. Try one more time. If it’s a failure, I’m going to the nearest bar. Remember, just a splash. Don’t ruin the taste of the Bombay gin.”
            She opened the Bombay bottle. She got a fresh glass, put ice cubes in it, put cubes in the mixing glass, measured the Bombay gin, poured it in, measured the vermouth, poured it in, tiptoed to her cabinets and retrieved a small brown bottle hidden behind a support. She held the bottle close and stared at the skull and crossbones.
            “Just a splash,” she whispered.