Bottle job

The free hooch continues to roll in like manna from heaven.

I was out back watering the garden this morning when I heard my neighbor call out to me.

“Jeffrey,” she called from the other side of the fence. “Jeffrey,” she said again.

“Yeah?” I answered.

“Oh—hi, Eric,” she said.

She must be in her 70s, and I know her eyesight isn’t so great, but her hearing is just fine.

I can’t tell if she gets me and my partner confused, or if she just can’t see us and figures she’ll just start with one of our names and see where it takes her.

Between the slats, I could see her pink-and-blue housecoat rippling in the slight breeze. Our fence is too tall to see clearly who’s on the other side. Addy and her daughter, who lives with her, got the previous owner to add a little door about chest-high. We don’t want you to put up a big, tall fence so we can’t see you or talk to you, they told him. So now we have a little neighborly door, perfect for passing across a baking dish or a couple of eggs or of bottle of bourbon.

I unlatched the pass-through to find Addy standing there in her slippers, looking up at me,  holding up a box. It was a gift pack containing a bottle of Jim Beam and two lowball glass tumblers.

“Do you want this?” she asked. “We got this for Christmas, and we don’t drink it.”

Free liquor. It would be unseemly to appear over-eager. I don’t need a bottle of bourbon. I said, “Um. Well, yeah, sure. If you don’t want it.”

“Take it,” she said. “You’ll be able to use this right? You two have people over sometimes.”

I told her we were planning on having some friends over for Labor Day, which seemed to satisfy her.

“Yes,” I said. “We’ll be able to use it.”

“Oh, that’s good then,” she said.

Jim Beam


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