This story is read aloud at: https://youtu.be/0H3wFBdfteM
Synopsis: Carla, a left bank mixologist, adjusts to a dull roommate.
“I know you can hear me. There’s no need to pout,” Carla said upon entering their bedroom. “I merely went to the San Angelo Standard Times to advertise my elixir for aches and pains. Then I picked up my delivery of brown-glass bottles and labels,” she continued.
It was a hot day in July of 1884. She hated that George was sulking because she’d left without his permission earlier.
And George was not well.
Yesterday, she’d found him wandering around the property, as if looking for shade.
She lured him back inside and gave him water. Carla was beginning to think that George was losing his mind. Why else would he feel the need to escape their hut near the Concho River? It is too hot to hunt, she thought.
And he was in no condition to do much of anything; a feral cat in the neighborhood had given him cat-scratch-fever two days prior.
Certainly, her elixir could fix George’s infection. If only she could convince him to drink it.
They say that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
Ah, but George was not a horse. He was her live-in friend of a few months.
“My dear, you know I seldom make errors, and even if I had made a mistake, there is no reason for you to slump. I know you will be well soon and fit enough to dominate your world,” she bellowed at the bedroom’s entrance.
She left the doorway to toil with her still. Her elixir was a secret recipe, handed down to her by her father. It required patient tending, as the temperature of the fire must be very accurate. She’d been collecting wood for a similar fire, months prior, when she happened to meet George.
Since then, they had been living together.
George was a great bedroom companion.
Her old dog, Juju thought otherwise. He had a habit of staring at George for long periods of time. This probably frustrated George. It is common for males to vie for a female’s attention, and George and Juju were no exception.
Carla made herself a cup of tea and read last Saturday’s newspaper. Her idea to have an advertisement for her elixir had been spur of the moment this morning. And her decision to leave the hut without so much as a word to George was, perhaps, unconventional in her mind.
As she rested on her chair, her aching feet began to throb.
“You know, I have to make this elixir for our livelihood. I know my craft takes a lot of my time away from you—what with the distilling, bottling, and labeling,” she shouted to the bedroom, as she began to inscribe labels at the little table.
Still no reply from George—
Is he asleep? She wondered, as she continued carefully writing on the labels.
“Someday I’m going to be so successful that I will have the labels printed at the newspaper office,” she said, as she began to mix water with powdered glue for the labels.
Still no reply from George—
Juju was napping on the floor beneath George. There was no attachment between the two males; it might even be that George and Juju hated each other. Carla wasn’t certain.
Later, Carla was gathering the alcohol for her elixir. She had multiple jars of steeped herbs and seeds on the shelf, as her recipe dictated. It came time to strain the concoctions and mix the liquids in the correct proportions with the booze.
“You know, I might have made a slight error today. And I mean a very slight fault by not telling you about my excursion this morning. But seriously, this pouting is boring me silly.”
She drank a spoonful of the elixir in her capacity as quality control.
“George, this batch seems to be my best. I feel like I can advertise it as healing warts and pink eye—as well as aches and pains.”
George was still silent. This frustrated Carla. How can I get him to quit being mad at me? She wondered.
“Well, I’m taking these filled bottles to the general store. I will be back shortly,” she eventually said, as she hoisted the wooden box of medicine on her hip. She sipped another spoonful of her potion from the bowl on the table. “Yes, this is my best batch ever,” she concluded.
“Now Juju, stay out of the solution while I’m gone,” she said. With that, she departed again.
When she left, Juju got up and went to the table to inspect the elixir. Upon licking some of it, he resumed his position on the dirt floor under George.
Juju thought, It is unlikely that George will ever forgive Carla for her blunder.
When Carla returned with some food from the store, she noticed that the table had been disturbed.
“Oh yes, you did it, George! You finally had some elixir. Did it boost your spirits and help your infection? I knew you’d come around to seeing that I’m just a woman who can make slip-ups. I promise I will always let you know when and where I go.”
Carla put away the flour, sugar, and bacon for which she’d bartered. Then she worked again with her still.
Eventually, she left word with the fellas that she was going to go to the mill to get more corn for her mash. Juju got up and walked her to the door.
“You are such a good boy, Juju.” She petted him.
“George, I love you and am sorry I made you so angry today,” she yelled.
Then she left.
The lizard, George, was still motionless in his box habitat in the bedroom; he hadn’t moved a speck since morning.
It seems Carla no longer had two animals to love. Because when she had left early that morning, Juju and George fought for Carla.
And Juju won.
Satisfied, Juju carried dead George back to the woodpile.
Carla will recover, he thought.