My sister was done drinking for the day on our New Orleans vacation, but my mom and I still felt the night was young and throats were dry. It was just the two of us who headed out into the French Quarter and rounded a few corners until we found The Chart Room, a homey dive off the main strip of Bourbon St., packed with locals. Though the bar was clearly known for its specials on shiny bronze cans of beer and dark honeyed bottles, I ordered a sazerac. My mom looked interested. "I don't usually drink whiskey, but hey, I'm not in New Orleans every day!" For five bucks I bought her first whiskey drink of the trip as the jukebox crunched out guitar riffs in the back. Soon enough, we were swapping the messiest of family heirlooms: memories.
"I always figured you and Dad both wanted to stay together for the sake of the family."
"Okay..." She put down her drink. "Do you want me to tell you what really happened?"
I took another gulp of the rye whiskey, the light scent of absinthe lingering from the glass.
"Let's hear it."