“I think Tom likes you,” Stephen insisted as he mixed Tom’s nightly martini, made with Alexi Vodka.
“The last time I drank Alexi vodka I made a promise to the Lord that if he got me through that most horrific state, I would become as John the Baptist and never drink again.”
“Tom always buys Alexi vodka and has just one martini made from it each night. Maybe that’s why his mind is so sharp and why, at eighty, he has a body of a fifty year-old. If only Jose and I would have just one cocktail a night. We’ve been drinking heavily lately. I’m having those pains in my back again— I just hope it’s not liver-related. Anyway—when we get out of New York, Jose and I plan to cut back on our drinking considerably. I’m going to miss my boxes of wine though—you know that in Vieques such modern conveniences have yet to catch on, although I’m sure there will be no shortage of inexpensive rum there.”
After pouring Tom’s martini from a silver, bullet-shaped cocktail shaker into a frosted, crystal glass from Tom’s walk-in freezer, Stephen licked his fingers as if it were a sin to waste even a drop of the cheap vodka.
“Here—why don’t you walk this downstairs to Tom? He’ll like that,” Stephen insisted.
“Who is this?” I asked, pointing to a statue sitting in the alcove between the dining room and living room.
“That was Tom’s father. The one from whom all Tom’s financial blessings flow. Tom talks to it sometimes. You should hear him—you’d swear he was still a child.”
“Looks like Alexander Hamilton.”
“Come look at this painting,” Stephen said as we entered the living room and made our way across a well-worn, but obviously rather expensive oriental rug. Two camelback sofas were positioned face-to-face directly in front of the fireplace hearth, as if staged for political arguments following lavish dinners. The sofa legs and frame were of carved mahogany or perhaps redwood. Curtains of red velvet were secured open, threaded through giant rings of brass that graced the green walls of Tom’s living room. The windows were at least nine feet in length for I felt that if I were naked walking around in there, I could stand in the window and appear as a mere piss ant to anyone looking in from the tree lined streets below.
Stephen pointed to a painting of a fisherman above the mantle. I glanced up, being careful to spill any of the martini that had been filled to the rim.
“Tom may one day freak out and decide to sell this panting—if Paul Levine, his broker continues to be so stingy with Tom’s stock market investments, that is. Tom said the cost of insuring it is a rip- off, considering he does not have a lover to gaze at it with. It’s worth a half-million or more. I don’t even know who the artist is. Tom insisted that Jose and I take it upstairs to our place and keep it, because we are under the same roof and insurance would cover it. I absolutely refused to take the painting to our place, insisting that my chain smoking would ruin it. There is an entire insurance file in the file cabinets in his office with documentation relating to the authenticity of his various precious works of art. There now, you better go downstairs now before Tom’s martini gets warm. Just take it to him on his bed, but knock on his bedroom door first—he may be watching “The Bigger the Better” again.”