“It’s almost poetic, isn’t it?” Drake leans forward and opens the cooler. All the ice has melted, but the water is still cold. He dips his glass inside and pours the cool liquid down the front of his shirt. “100 degrees on the first day of summer.”
Melanie peels dry skin from her bottom lip. “I’d agree with you, but it’s been 100 degrees for three months straight.”
“Kinda makes you wish you didn’t vote yes for that drilling referendum.”
“At least we have power now.”
“But at what cost?” Drake suddenly coughs from deep within his chest, and it burns, like someone sprinkled dried hot chili peppers down his trachea.
“You should go inside.” Melanie pats his back and hands him her glass of water. “This heat — it’s hotter than it was yesterday. It’s not good for your lungs.”
Drake gulps it down, water dribbling from the corners of his mouth and down his chin. “I’m fine,” he says then clears his throat. “Just a little choked up is all.”
Across the street, their neighbor’s screen door slams. “Hi ya, Meladrake!” Yonni calls. He skips across the yard holding a frying pan, a heavy Harris Teeter grocery back slung over his shoulder.
Drake and Melanie each take a handle on the cooler and carry it down to the curb.
“What’s on the menu today?” Drake asks.
Yonni begins to lay out the ingredients in the street. He cuts a thick slice of butter and drops it in the center of the pan. “New York strip, roasted potatoes and green beans.”
“I never thought I would live in a place where I’d be able to cook in the street,” Melanie says.
“It has it’s advantages. This way I won’t have to turn on the stove, and my house stays cool . . .” Yonni twists his mouth and shrugs. “Relatively.”
The butter in the frying pan quickly melts. “It doesn’t bother you? It’s so hot you can actually cook a steak,” Drake says.
Yonni rubs salt and pepper on the meat with his index and middle fingers, lays the strip in the pan. It sizzles immediately. “I guess the time to worry is when I’m able to boil water.”
“Interesting.” Drake flips open the lid on the cooler and sticks his fingers into the now warm water. “It won’t be too long.”
Yonni shakes his head. Using a spoon, he scoops up butter from the pan and drizzles it over the steak.
“Let’s just focus on dinner tonight,” Melanie says.