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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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The Invention Of The Banana Daiquiri
“Anesthetized”, Lincoln spoke to himself just above a whisper, hardly audible above the sound of the sea breeze rustling the leaves of the palm trees between which his hammock rocked. The sea breeze and the sound of a gentle surf caressing this smooth beach.
“Anesthetized” he repeated more softly as he rocked towards the nap he craved. Needed, really, because sleep so constantly eluded him. As drowsiness climbed like the rising tide his last conscious thoughts of his friend Eddie became the first strands of dream.
“Humans”, his new friend Eddie had pontificated, “Having been anesthetized by a morphine drip of peace, lurch spasmodic when drenched in withdrawals of war.” Lincoln knew the ‘war’ to which he referred was big war, total war, war unconcerned by a few measly extra thousand deaths here or there or some silly nonsense over ‘collateral damage’ which might involve, oh, maybe several thousand insignificant civilian deaths. Not a scuffle that brought a few dozen families to grief, a few thousand humans scarred physically and emotionally, a scuffle in which society for the most part danced blissfully unawares, numbly forgetful. No. Total war. Annihilation. Entire populations - soldiers, civilians, men, women, children, pets, and houseplants - wiped clean from existence with extreme prejudice. No dancing and no possibility anyone left alive would ever forget.
Lincoln dreamed and heard Sherman say, “War is Hell”, and “The more terrible it is the better because it reminds us why it is worth avoiding in the first place.” And Lincoln believed that. Had no doubts about that. Had grown fond of the scrappy little redhead that time him and Grant and he killed a couple bottles of whiskey up in the residence against Mary Todd’s shrieking objections. Lincoln knew from endless hospital visits, from trips to battlefields after the fact, from the ghastly photographs his son fixated over, he believed he knew how horrible total war was. But Lincoln was still not prepared for what he saw when he went through the fallen Petersburg defenses to Richmond in April 1865.
What Lincoln saw now, now half-dreaming, now half-awake in the hammock by the sea, was a series of bloated, mangled corpses floating in the mud like so much flotsam, bloated corpses with astonished faces if one remained at all, faces with huge, round open mouths and bloated lips, bloated cheeks, bloated eye sockets empty of human life but saturated with human pain, corpse after corpse after corpse in a soup of mud and garnished with pieces of flesh, appendages, arms, legs, bare feet, skulls, torsos. Then once past, the dessert that appeared out of the rubble of Richmond, the living skeletons so happy to see him, to touch the cuff of his pants, the hem of his coat, to let their calloused fingers reverently stroke the top of his mud speckled boots. So happy to see him and crying with gratefulness as though God herself had descended among them. Starving, emaciated creatures who credited him with their freedom.
No, Lincoln had not been ready for that. Not ready at all. “You had been anesthetized by peace”, Eddie had told him, “And now you lurch spasmodic”.
“Anesthetized”, Lincoln repeated, now fully awake once more, unable to sleep through the memories that engulfed him. “Yes, I need more of that”. And sure enough, there was his friend Jefferson holding a mug.
“British grog, sir”?
“I recon so”, Lincoln said, “And will you please stop ‘siring’ me”?
“Yessir,” Jefferson said.
Grog. The British Navy issue of four parts water to one part rum. Eddie had just returned in his yacht, anchored now in the Admiralty Bay, with fresh casks of Jamaican rum. Jefferson had sweetened it with sugar and lime juice. Lincoln took a gulp. “Why,” he commented, “It’s surprisingly cool, Jefferson!”
“Indeed, sir” Jefferson told him, “Prince Edward has returned through Canadian ports with a treasure in blocks of ice, a piece of which now rests in yonder hut.”
Lincoln smiled. Trust ol’ Eddie. Likely there were additional luxuries on board which would emerge later, not the least of which would be the whiskey he craved.
Jefferson leaned closer to him and whispered, “A lady accompanies him, sir.”
Lincoln smiled at that, too. “Anything to eat about?”
“All I have presently are a few bananas,” he said.
“Help me to one,” he asked and held his arm out. Jefferson helped him swing out of the hammock and they walked barefoot to the hut and the table in the shade outside, the sand squishing between their toes. The hut served only as convenience for Lincoln’s daily excursions to the beach. He had a much larger house a fair piece back in the Bequia hills, near an even larger one Eddie had secured for himself. Lincoln sat in a chair at the table, pulled a banana off its bunch and peeled the skin back. “Have you seen Eddie about?”
“The Prince and his lady passed by this way earlier,” he said, “And left rum and the ice I bespoke of. He sends his salutations and invites us to dinner at his abode this evening.”
“He hates it when you call him ‘Prince’, Lincoln reminded him.
“You hate it when I call you ‘sir’.”
“Yes, but he is, after all, a real prince,” Lincoln said, “And he actually gets what he wants.”
Jefferson said, “Yessir.”
Lincoln took a nibble from the banana, then another gulp of the grog. The flavors of both mingled over his tongue. He had a thought. He sipped the grog again; its coolness had already begun to wane in the warm Caribbean air. “How much ice did Eddie leave us?” he asked.
“Not a lot,” he said, “And it will melt quickly.”
“We shouldn’t let it go to waste then, should we?”
“No, sir, we should not.”
Lincoln drained the grog. “Tell you what – take this mug, get one for yourself, and chip off enough ice to fill each about three-quarters full, okay?”
Jefferson’s eyes twinkled. “Okay, sir.” He loved it when Lincoln got ideas. He disappeared into the hut, Lincoln heard the distinctive sounds of metal whacking against frozen water, then emerged again with both mugs and placed them before Lincoln. “Back with the rest,” he said and returned to the hut. Lincoln broke the rest of the banana in half, then crumpled each half into chunks and dropped them onto the ice in both mugs. Jefferson returned with limes, a bag of sugar, and a carafe of rum. He seemed to know what Lincoln had in mind. He halved, then quartered each lime. Lincoln shook out sugar over the banana in each mug, then squeezed the lime quarters into them. Finally he poured rum over it all and swiftly stirred both with a spoon.
They sipped and smiles broke out across both faces. “Oh, my!” Jefferson said as Lincoln allowed himself a sense of satisfaction, the deep lines of his face which emerged with each troubled dream, softening a piece.
“We’ll have to share this with Eddie before all the ice melts,” Lincoln said, thought a moment and added, “I wonder if he thought to bring Strawberries?”
“I shall certainly make inquires, sir.”
Both men happily drank again. Lincoln said, causing Jefferson to look away because he was always uncomfortable when Lincoln brought up past associations, “I should send this recipe to Seward.”
Contact in any way, shape, or form with his friend, and conspirator, Secretary of State William Seward, was forbidden.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.