TRES AMIGOSEvery Sunday for twenty-two years, Peter, Paul and Frank met for dinner and drinks. It was a reason play catch-up. It always turned into a reason to get "three sheets to the wind"!They were three friends, the "Tres Amigos" - Pedro, Paulo and Francisco, each with their own charm and specific diversion to drink. Pedro preferred the "Cuervo"; it's golden elixir cured his ailments. Paulo had a palette for cerveza preparada, a strange blend of beer mixed with tomato juice, hot sauce, or salsa.But Francisco kept his taste simple and his living clean. Frank was averted to Perrier water. It was of a different tongue both linguistic-wise and libation-wise! But he liked what he liked.Francesca liked walking in the Spring rain. She liked satin sheets and had a passion for the theater. She was exceptional at interior design. She... wait, did I just say she?Every Sunday for twenty-two years, Peter, Paul and Frank met for dinner and drinks. It was a reason play catch-up. It always turned into a reason to get "three sheets to the wind"! This Sunday, Frank's secret came out. And so did Frank! Salud Tres Amigos!
There were four of us. We lived in the same dorm; we took the same classes. We snuck champagne into graduation. We played bridesmaid Roulette, and, in my case not much later, check-in friend for eHarmony dates. Only Liz has kids, and they call us the fairy godmothers - descending unexpectedly on the house with books, toys, and offers of a quick run to Baskin Robbins. Now we are only three. We're sitting around my kitchen table. The table is covered with receipts and forms; I pushed them into a pile so we have room to rest our coffee cups. Liz is looking tired; Lee Ann is somber. We're all glancing to the fourth chair, half expecting to see Susan there. But she's not, and we are. "Do you think she misses us?" Lee Ann is looking into her coffee as she says this."There's nothing to do the missing." Liz is the practical one - she says that being a single parent beat all the spirituality out of her. She stopped believing in tarot cards, God, miracles.After her funeral, I could still see Susan - sometimes I'd hear the rattle of her car pulling into the driveway; sometimes I'd think that I'd hear her footstep in the livingroom, just coming around the corner. Now, I don't hear her anymore; I don't feel her in the next room. "I wish," I say, "that I could hear her footsteps, even if I couldn't see her.""Did you used to hear them, after...?" Lee Ann pauses. "I did, for a while."Liz adds, "I miss the smell of her nailpolish." Lee Ann and I groan - Susan was always polishing her toes - in bright, unexpected colors. Lee Ann says, "Even Jon," Lee Ann's husband, "says he misses hearing her singing." "Me, too.""That girl could sing," Liz says. She sounds sad, but there's a small smile at the corners of her mouth. "And that awful stew thing she used to make and freeze, I even miss that.""Yeah-""She left that white dress for Georgie to wear when she's older -" "That's just like her, isn't it?" "Remember that time -?" "Ha! I thought you didn't know about that!" "And then she laughed-"And as we talk over eachother, and into eachother, out of the corner of my eye, I see a mist. I see Susan, her hands on the red coffee cup I never use anymore. I dare not look full face, but I can just see her. She's smiling and stirring her coffee with her finger, just like always. And I think to myself, keep on talking, and so I say, "How on earth did she keep from burning her fingers -?"
I like that - is is so real.Marjory M Thompson