Most people with any sense were either home or at some party to celebrate, probably up in the Heights, but not me. Eva and I were at a diner with the cook and two winos nursing a bottle in the corner.
Eva sat on the stool next to me, her head pillowed on her arms, a step away from sawing logs. I wasn’t much better.
I scrubbed a hand over my face, trying to chase the fatigue away, but it didn’t do much good.
Cookie plopped down a pot of joe between us. I raised my eyebrows in thanks.
I poured myself a cup, then added the cream. One of Eva’s arms fought its way free to grab her own mug, then slid it in the direction of the coffee.
When I didn’t pour for her, she clanged it once on the counter. “Fill the cup or I will cut you,” she whispered.
She will, too.
I filled the cup, adding a generous pour of sugar. She liked it sweet. One of the concessions to our arrangement is that I would get the coffee when it didn’t matter. Mostly at the office, but Cookie was good with us, and the winos certainly didn’t notice anything.
She raised her head with Herculean effort, brushing black hair from her face before wobbling the cup to her lips. She drank the still steaming mug without care. I could never understand how she avoided burning her lips and throat, but she preferred her coffee a step removed from lava.
I sipped mine gingerly.
Cookie rang a bell, but when no food showed up, I looked at him questioningly.
“Happy New Year,” he gave me a big smile.
A moment later and we heard the cheer from the speakeasy across the street.
Won’t be long, now.
Eva pushed her cup at me, and I raised the pot again.
“Not that,” she said.
I nodded and pulled out my flask of bourbon, adding the booze to her cup and mine.
“Cookie? Care for a belt to ring in the New Year.”
He grabbed a mug from a stack behind him, and held it out. His hands dwarfed the cup, and I could see scars from cuts barely visible in the black skin.
“Happy New Year,” he raised his cup.
“Happy New Year,” I said.
“Ugh,” Eva added, but she did the same.