Salina was putting the finishing touches, with a little fortification from what was inside of her champagne glass with ” Groom ” stenciled along the side in frosty script, on her newly renovated garden when her neighbor trilled ” Toodles Girlfriend!” at her from the street.
” I thought I’d pop on by and see how you’re doing.”
Cally was the neighbor that inspired the eight foot tall fences and large black dogs ins spike collars to patrol them and at the moment she appeared at the edge of Salina’s property, Salina’s lovely Spring afternoon came to a crashing fiery mess all around her.
” I’m doing fine, I’m right in the middle of-”
” How did you do it, how could you cope with your world just, ” Cally threw her hands and tipped with her long bony fingers out to her sides ” exploding like that? You know. I get it. Men. Right? That’s what they do. It’s a shame though. I mean you were with him for 25 years. ”
Cally did not sound sorry at all. Cally sounded light and bubbly and slightly frantic.
Like a cheerleader on crack.
Salina took a breath and rolled her eyes so far back up into her head she would swear to you she could see her brains. ” I’m getting a dog. ”
Cally raced on just like Salina thought she would.
Salina could have said ” I’m getting a hit man and he’s going to take you out because right now I cannot take your crazy on top of the insanity that took up residence in my life before you opened your mouth” and Cally would have gone on babbling like a toxic river running wild after the sketchy factory squatting on it’s banks hocked up all of it’s guts.
” Well. Here’s the plus side, now that he’s gone you can get in touch with your inner Crone. Now you can be the woman the Goddesses intended you to be.”
” Yeah. The Goddesses.” Salina said biting her lip.
It was an odd enough response from Salina to get Cally’s attention for about five seconds. Not liking to be caught looking clueless or unawares for even one second let alone five she wondered if Salina was about to laugh or cry.
When one is in such a delicate state, one can never tell Cally knew.
Cally watched Salina hopefully, if not a little hungrily as she put her glass of champagne down on her potting bench and reached for her shovel. “Well. I’ve got to get to back to work, I have a few things left to do and then I’m finished so-”
Cally actually shut her mouth and her thin pale lips turned up in her version of a smile. ” You know, ” she said sounding surprised, ” Your flowers and herbs really do look nice. Especially around that- what is that? ”
” It’s a hitching post, it’s a horse’s head. My Great Grandfather brought it with him from England back in the early 1900’s,”
” Oh.” Cally said with the same kind of practiced smile that most mental health practitioners mastered before the ink was dried on their degrees. Not that Cally had one of those, she was just familiar with Mental Health services in general.
” Did he? You say he brought it all the was from England. ” I see ” Cally said as she made a beeline towards the recently deemed ” maybe ” hitching post.
” Hmmm, are you sure it’s a horse? Say, what is that smell? I smell, what is that? Apples. You don’t have apple trees do you? Where is that smell coming from? ” she stopped mid stride.
” It’s chamomile. See? I put enough down to carpet this area. When you walk across it, it gives off that smell. Nice. Isn’t it?”
Cally smiled her tight prissy smile. ” Yes. It’s very nice.”
” I must say” Cally said. ” You’ve done so much since your husband ran out on you Salina. That must have been hard. It must have been worse being he ran off with someone else.”
” You know what was really hard Cally? ” Salina dropped her shoulders, her hair fell into downturned face heavy with grief and pain. She even hiccupped a couple of times.
Cally drew herself up and smiled with sunshine literally streaming from her eyes.
She put her hand on Salina’s shoulder and then she patted it. ” No. What? What was the hardest part? I can imagine how terrible it was. I thought you were the perfect couple.”
Salina swung the shovel up and brought it down with enough force on the top of her head to bring Cally to her knees. ” The hardest part was digging that grave in front of the hitching post deep enough for two bodies. I never figured on three. Still.That was the hardest part Cally. The digging.”
Salina strolled back to the potting bench dropped the shovel against it. Then reached for her glass and with her face turned up to the now clear and not fiery blue skies she threw back the last few drops of her champagne cocktail.
When she was done she walked back to where Cally was crumpled up- and then a thought hit her.
A very important one.
What was that drink called again, Salina asked herself as prodded a clearly recently deceased Cally with her toe. Damn. What was this stupid drink called. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket and checked the app where she had found the recipe.
There it was.
That’s what it was called.
Death In The Afternoon.