Love Medicine by Jennifer Anthony

Episode 45

8 November 2008

Love Medicine
by Jennifer Anthony

For quite possibly the first time in her life, Graciela was being very secretive and coy.
 “Just tell us where we’re going,” Roxie whined, as Graciela marched her four best friends marched through Chinatown in full cocktail dress regalia on a Thursday evening.
 Graciela stopped before an apartment building, brandished a key from within her small purse, and held a finger to her lips. “Follow me,” she said. She led them through an unmarked door into a bar.
 “Welcome to Apothéke,” Graciela said. 
 “Where on earth are we?” Allison said, staring up at the antique tin ceilings, upholstered walls, tile-inlaid wood floors, and dim yellow lights.
 “Apotheke means ‘apothecary’ in German.” A person who sells medicines or drugs. Here we will drinks medicines and libations, not drinks,” Graciela explained.
 “Well, let’s make tracks to the bar because I need some medicine for my feet. My dogs are barking,” Kyoko snapped, looking down at her pink Marc Jacobs reverse heels.
 “Serves you right for wearing something tan ridiculoso,” Graciela said. She pointed at her own black Guess slingbacks topped by rosettes and Juicy Couture Tiered Jersey Dress, and said, “Glamorous, and reasonably priced.”
 Noelle was feeling particularly beautiful, swathed in a Calvin Klein Cowl Neck Pointelle Sweater Dress and a glow emanating from Lance’s recent love confession. “Say what you will. I’m saving up for my first pair of Balenciagas. I will never forget that pair that Beyoncé rocked at last year’s American Music Awards,” she said.
 Graciela shrugged and led her friends toward the bar. “Noelle, how about an aphrodisiac, since you’re meeting Lance in a bit?”
 A smiling bartender stood before bottles, beakers, and distillers. “I suggest some absinthe from the south of France,” he said.
 “Très bien,” Noelle said, with a nod.
 “I’ll take that, too!” Kyoko said, eying a woman standing farther down the bar.
 “Anyone have a broken heart?” the bartender asked. “I’ve got champagne with an elixir of orange oils and rosemary.”
 Graciela raised her hand. “I suppose that’s me. I just broke off an engagement.”
 The bartender pointed at Allison. “For you, I’m thinking a cucumber/rose-water concoction would enhance your natural beauty.” 
 “Oh, stop it,” Allison said, blushing.
 The bartender turned to Roxie, who stood rolling her eyes and scowling at all the hocus-pocus. “And for you, I have a special bourbon infused with lemon and thyme that helps with headaches and other pain.”
 Frown deepening, Roxie said, “You guys get my drink. I’ll go secure us a couch.”
 “Poor Roxie,” Kyoko said. “Even when she’s happy, she’s still looks a little pinchy.”
 Liquid concoctions in hand, the women joined their pouting friend on a plush red couch.
 “So,” Roxie began. “We know that Noelle is making the moves on Lance. And Graciela is still dis-engaged. What’s the latest with everyone else?”
 “I stopped seeing Nerissa,” Kyoko said. “Turns out she had some weird food fetish.”
 “Well, I have heard it all,” Allison said.
 “You should talk!” Graciela said. “Throwing yourself all over the dog groomer.”
 “I did no such thing,” Allison said. “I slipped and fell. And it just so happened that his phone number fell into my hands on the way out the door!”
 The woman laughed, then stopped to take a sip of their beverages.
 “And you, Roxie?” Graciela prodded.
 “Oh, it looks like things are going to work out with Javier after all,” Roxie said.
 Noelle, Graciela, and Allison murmured approval, while Kyoko tracked the movements of the woman from the bar, who was headed toward the restrooms. As if bewitched, she held the glass up to her lips, drained her drink, and said, “Delicious.”
 “Should be, for fifteen dollars,” Roxie said, a little miffed that Kyoko seemed indifferent to her news.
 Kyoko didn’t seem to hear her. “Gonna run to the bathroom, ladies,” she said, and zipped away on reinvigorated feet.
 The remaining friends took more time with their drinks, supping and chatting until they, too, had finally finished their beverages.
 “Anyone up for another round?” Graciela asked. “I thought I’d wait for Kyoko to come back. But is it my imagination or has she been gone forever?”
 “I’m actually starting to get a little worried,” Roxie said. “She’s been gone for about twenty minutes.”
 “I’ll go check on her,” Noelle said, eager for an excuse to check herself out in the bathroom mirrors. She stood, smoothed out her dress, and strode to the bathroom.
 But when she pushed open the door, the mirror was partially obstructed by Kyoko. And the woman from the bar, whose lips were attached to Kyoko’s.
 Noelle let out an accidental giggle, and Kyoko turned at the sound. She pulled away from the embrace and took a step backward.
 “Girl, don’t mind me,” Noelle said, slipping back out the door. “Put those heels in reverse and continue what you were doing.”
 “It’s the aphrodisiac!” Kyoko called out, laughing.
 When Noelle returned to the table, her friends sat with furrowed brows. “Where on earth is she?” asked Allison.
 “Oh, she’s just fine,” Noelle said. “She’s feeling the effects of the aphrodisiac. And speaking of which, I’d better get on out of here before my drink wears off!”
 Allison, Graciela, and Roxie sat with mouths agape as Noelle fled. 

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