Containing too much Chianti.


Diana, Myrine and Lily had the night off. Nothing much was going on at the Portland Building or Waterfront Park, and others were on patrol duty, leaving the residents of Amazon House to sit up late over a bottle of Chianti in the kitchen. A few lonely gourmet tortellini from an Italian deli inhabited one pot and a smattering of garlicky tomato sauce another. Between the two was a grater and a block of real parmesan. Candles provided the only lighting aside from what was coming through the door to the living room.

The three women had decided to spoil themselves. There was no particular occasion, they just all felt like a little atmosphere and slightly in need of comfort. Roxana's accident had shifted the emphasis from the political to the personal just before the bombing of Tripoli had gone and taken the wind out of their sails. The women of Portland were eclipsed by an immature act of revenge and forced to the realization that the American public was ultimately fickle. What was more, their political disappointment was spilling right back over into the personal. It was a vicious circle.

Myrine summed up the major cause of discontent in one simple, three-letter word. "Men," she said. "You can't live with 'em and you can't live without 'em."

A tape of an old, melancholy Janis Ian album provided the appropriate background music. Diana swirled the wine around in her glass and looked up across the table at Myrine.

"Well, it looks like we have to live without them for the time being," Diana said. She had pushed her chair back from the table and sprawled there, glass in hand, one ankle propped on her knee, the supporting leg moving rhythmically back and forth. It irritated Myrine, the way Diana never seemed to be able to hold still.

"Not you, Di," she said, her elbows on the table and her back straight. "A week at the most and you've got a new one."

Lily laughed convulsively.

"You seem to have forgotten we have a strike going on," Diana reminded her. "Besides, I'm not that insatiable. Once the strike is over I have no immediate prospects, and I don't plan to look for any."

"I've heard that one before," Myrine said and took a sip of her wine.

"So we're all in the same boat," Lily said, raising her wine glass in a rather tipsy toast. "At least the company's good."

"You've broken up with Wes for good, have you?" Myrine asked Diana.

"Not in so many words, but he seems to understand how I feel."

"You haven't said anything to us in so many words either," Lily said, a hint of accusation in her voice. "I haven't hidden what's been happening with Adam from you guys."

"We knew before you did," Diana said with characteristic lack of tact.

"Don't remind me." Lily finished off her glass of Chianti with a flourish and poured herself another.

"Wes wasn't any big deal anyway." Diana shrugged. "Not like you and Adam. It never really got off the ground."

"But why not?" Lily asked. "I thought you thought he was cute?"

"Oh, sure he's cute, but it wasn't very satisfying after a while. It was just a bed episode."

"That's what you always said about Adrian," Myrine commented.

"Distance works wonders," Diana said, putting her wine glass down and spearing one last cold and lonely tortellini. "You can't get tired of someone as fast who lives so far away," she explained, and popped the tortellini in her mouth.

"Like Matt?" Myrine asked sarcastically.

Lily laughed. It was beginning to sound on the drunken side: the explosion was less well-defined and the giggles lasted longer. "What is the deal with you and Matt anyway?" she asked. "You haven't been very communicative either." Her tongue tripped over the "communicative."

"Matt, in his infinite idealism, doesn't quite get the gist of what we're trying to do here."

"So what?"

"He doesn't want to go along with the strike," Diana interpreted for Lily.

"I still say--so what?" The "what" was given involuntary emphasis by a hiccough. Lily covered her mouth with her hand and giggled.

Myrine shrugged. "I guess we were getting to the point anyway where it wasn't what it used to be."

"We certainly are a housefull of catastrophes at the moment, aren't we?" Diana said. She didn't sound very convinced or convincing.

"Well, you know the old saying," Myrine contributed. "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

"Troubles, tragedies, break-ups--everything comes in threes," Lily said, punctuating her statement with hiccoughs.

"Three's a charm," Diana added.

"Like your men?" Myrine asked.

Diana frowned at Myrine from underneath her bangs. "I don't have three men."

"Your troubles are all tied up with three."

"I don't have any troubles."

"You know, Di, I really admire you. You don't do things in a small way. Most women would be content with heartache because of one man..."

"Like me," Lily said, laughing and hiccoughing simultaneously.

"...but you, you had to go and get scrambled up with three," Myrine continued.

"I'm not suffering from heartache. And I wasn't involved with all of them at the same time." Diana threw her bangs back with a rebellious gesture.

"Almost," Lily pointed out.

Myrine smiled. "I'm not criticizing, Di. I think you're one of a kind. Our troubles are all so mundane in comparison."

"Repetitive," Lily added. The hiccoughs had finally been vanquished, and she returned to her standard mode of punctuation --inappropriate laughter.

"The business with Wes wasn't important," Diana insisted.

"And the business with Geoff?" Myrine asked. "That should finally have made you happy. He came back, after all."

"Yeah, but not to me."

"And you have no one to blame but yourself."

"I know that. I'm not worried about him either."

"What then? Adrian?"

"What is this, a cross-examination?" Diana laughed abruptly. "If anything's bugging me, then it's the chance we missed to get national coverage. And no more news teams in sight."

"Then the daily practice sessions will only have been for the birds--and me and Lily, of course," Myrine said.

"Do you mind?"

"Only when it begins to sound like a broken record." Myrine raised her plucked eyebrows pointedly.

Lily laughed yet again. It sounded as if she were crossing the border from the drunken to the hysterical.

"It wasn't that funny," Diana objected.

Myrine shook her head. "Why the long face? Why all the disappointment? I thought you were happy as a journalist?" The question hovered in the air, looking to the parmesan and the tomato sauce for an answer. Diana had eaten the last tortellini.

"So did I, until I saw that television crew roll out without a clip of us," Diana finally said.

"So you'd rather be a singer after all?" Lily asked.

"That's what it feels like."

"And Adrian was right."

"Don't give me that shit, Myrine."

Myrine shrugged and smiled. "I always give shit."

"I know you do," Diana said affectionately. "And you were right anyway. Adrian was right."

"You weren't tired of him now, were you, Di," Myrine stated with the authority of long acquaintance.

"No, I wasn't tired of Adrian," Diana agreed. "It was a long-distance relationship, remember?"

"I still think you were crazy to let that guy go," Myrine said, shaking her head and leaning back in her chair with finality. "Even though I doubt if any man is worth regretting."

"Maybe, maybe not," Diana said, a noncommittal response which could have been applicable to either of Myrine's observations.

"You must at least have learned that in the last couple of months," Myrine insisted.

"True enough. Now I can hardly believe how long my infatuation with Geoff lasted."

"Look at it this way," Myrine said philosophically, gesturing with a half-empty wine glass. "You couldn't start anything decent with anyone else until you got Geoff out of your system."

"Oh, he's out now alright. I've just got someone else spooking around in my head."

"You always want what you don't have," Lily admonished Diana drunkenly.

"I know," Diana said. "But I think I really do still want Adrian. He's so gorgeous. And we love the same things."

"Then why don't you go out and get him?" Myrine asked sensibly.

"I may want him, but I can live very well without him, thank you."

"You lucky devil," Lily said, trying to pour herself another glass of wine. She emptied half of it on the table next to the glass and laughed. "We need another bottle," she pronounced, lifting the empty bottle and peering at it critically.

"You do not need another bottle," Myrine insisted. "Should we take the glass away from her?" she asked Diana.

"Aw, be nice, Myrine. Lily's got more problems than you and me combined."

"That's right. Lily's got big problems," Lily said, toasting herself.

"Is it really that bad, Lil?" Myrine asked, laying a sympathetic hand on her friend's forearm. "I know you've been with Adam since the day before forever, but he's been pulling stunts like this on you for just as long. Maybe you're better off without him."

"Of course I'm better off without him. I'm just miserable," Lily said, slurring the words, and began to giggle uncontrollably.

"Do you think we should really open another bottle?" Myrine asked Diana.

Diana shook her head. "Not for me. I know when I've had enough. I think I'm going to bed." She got up and headed for the bathroom to brush her teeth. "Good night."