My Women's Day Present

• Chapter 9

Nail narrowed his eyes fishily and nodded. Then he went somewhere fast. Any normal person in his place would have definitely sneaked out, but he was back five minutes later with a bottle of something dark covered with a chili pepper. 

“This is my father’s liqueur. The family recipe!” He winked and put the bottle on the table with a bang. And before my mom could open the mouth, he uttered rapidly: “It’s a serious drink. Only for tough men. You better not try it, because you’ll zonk out after the first sip.”

What did Nail do? He just challenged my mom. She, as a security guard, was absolutely ready for that. His disbelief about her ‘alcoholic abilities’ probably mortified her pride. Having flushed with anger, she grabbed the first available glasses and uncorked the bottle… with teeth. Really! She pulled out the pepper with them!  

This gesture must have made his blood run cold.

“The first to give up is the first to lose!” This desperate woman poured the full glasses of loopy juice. My eyes were watering, even from its smell! “My daughter and Mikey don’t drink. Their gentle souls will not sustain a battle.”

    “It’s not interesting to play just for fun…” Nail hesitated, but I saw the man was surely bluffing. What he’s really up to?

“If you win, my husband and I let you marry our daughter. If you don’t – we take her north with us,” she suddenly replied. Such bargaining for a human being not only pissed me off but also made me shocked. They’re not only deciding my fate but also threatening to give some stranger in marriage!

 “Mom?!” I exclaimed, being confused. What’s happening looked more like one of those dreams made me wake up in a cold sweat. My relative pounded at the table, and Margot sat on my shoulder. The warning: ‘to be quiet’ was understood without further ado. I kept my head down but didn’t put up with it.

“Look at me and look at her. If I want to take her back, I will!” She said Nail very strictly and grabbed the glass first. “We need no-drama guy so he could stand up for her! You know, there are lots of cowards and wimps nowadays… And if you are the one – stay out of the way!”

“All right,” Nail shrugged indifferently, but he didn’t realize how much vodka the liver of my mom could convert. “But If I win, you’ll go home and leave us alone. Don’t get me wrong: you are the most amazing mom I’ve ever met, but your daughter, I doubt she will agree to have the wedding under such conditions…”

Since I was a child, I remembered that drinking a bottle of counterfeit vodka was as easy as winking for mom. That’s why everyone in jail respected and was afraid of her. Just when my mom heaved in sight, everything sunk into silence. And now her victim was Nail. Did I feel sorry for him? More likely, yes, than no. 

The only good thing was that after such an acquaintance with the mother-in-law, he would escape even quicker than frightened Snowflake will crawl out from under the bed.   

The first glass surprisingly gave no results for both of them! Then came the second one. Nail was drinking as if it was a juice, and mom already got sweat over her face. This belly-wash wasn’t the royal one.  

“Miss,” Mike whispered, and I turned around and flinched. When did he get next to me? Having looked at the bottle of alcohol, he asked quietly: “Could I get some? I feel I’ll freak out if I don’t…”      

Received my permission for some reason, Mike tiptopped to the bottle and poured a shot himself, having grabbed a shot glass out from the open cupboard. Nail and mom were too busy to notice something around. But after the guy had downed the drink, he got drunk immediately and hardly got to the sofa. 

“Boy, aren’t you afraid to get to a hospital? I don’t really care about myself. I’m the one who’s seen a lot, but you’ve got your whole life to live on… To have children!” Having wrinkled slightly, she casually moved the glass aside and started small talk. Was it for real? Was it possible that she gave up?! “Just think of the future, son-in-law.”  

Having downed the second glass easily, Nail put it on the table and threw his hands up:

“And that’s exactly all I can think about now! Will you finish your glass? Otherwise, your daughter will be late for the class reunion.” Having puckered her lips, mom reached for the glass again, and Nail suddenly said to me: “Can I talk to you for a second? One-on-one.”

“Just don’t take her too far! Where I can see,” mom babbled. I was so surprised by her condition that I dragged myself along behind Nail as a string puppet.

We stepped into the hall, and the man closed the glass door carefully. In that way, mom could see our silhouettes, but couldn’t hear our conversation. About what? I could only guess…

But time passed, and Nail was quiet. Checking his watch, he was like waiting for something… And I had a question, giving me no peace. The prison director, my father, and even prisoners couldn’t out-drink mom. It could only mean one thing…

“Nail, are you a heavy drinker?” I asked sympathetically, cautiously looking into his eyes.

You should have seen the man’s face… I got the feeling that I asked a surgeon whether he sells people for organs. 

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Sandra Bouchard

Edited: 18.10.2020

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