International Writers Magazine 14% Proof Fiction:
came with the singing of insects, every little voice chirping and
wanting to be heard. Kelly was at home with a bottle of wine and
this was a sweet relief. There was sanctity in it. This was one
thing you could have faith in. People let you down. They were annoying.
But wine was a good friend, at least for awhile, at least while
you were drinking it.
She went ritualistically
to the store. They all knew her there, or so she felt. When she craved
a bottle of wine she would slink shamefully to the back, the old black
cashiers seeming to be watching her, judging her. She called it the
judgmental Kroger in her head. She would think, "I dont want
to go to the judgmental Kroger."
Sometimes she would go to the trouble to go a little farther, to the
other grocery store, where no one seemed to care if she came in and
bought wine late at night.
That was what she was- what she had become. A late night wine-o. Kelly
had a pretty face, or the potential for one, but the drinking had made
her slightly overweight. Her normally sharp features were blurred and
obscured, almost soft looking. She was tall, with unnaturally blonde
hair, pale, skin, and light blue eyes. She was gaining weight rapidly
around her once small hips.
Going to get the bottle she was nervous, antsy. It was kind of like
a terrible itch that came under her skin, a great restlessness. She
did not want to sleep when the dark of the night came upon her. She
felt the need to do, to be, to create. And all this creation, this celebration,
seemed to be magically encapsulated in a bottle of wine, a party in
a bottle. Suddenly, drinking her first glass, her restlessness, bitterness,
dispiritedness, began to fade away as a rosy glow fell over her. She
was happy. She loved everyone. She would sit and watch TV in a sort
of foggy bliss, eating something to counteract the acrid, distasteful
flavor of the wine. She wasnt drinking it for the flavor, oh no.
She was drinking it for the high. And high she became- so high indeed,
until she came, unavoidably, crashing down again.
On this night she had found a special bottle of wine- one in the back
corner of the store. Her Kroger had an unusually good selection of wines,
anything you could dream of, and even a special, pricey, sectioned off
room that someone had to open for you with a key. But Kelly never bought
the expensive wines. She went straight for the cheap stuff and picked
her wine on a whim, in a serendipitous fashion.
On this night she was scouting around for a bottle that might have a
fascinating name, or that might taste a little better than the others.
Her eye was somehow caught by a darkish, dusty bottle in the back of
one of the shelves. It was behind another bottle shed been looking
at called "Pink Pig." But the name of the bottle that captured
her attention was written in a fancy, flowery script and simply said,
"Drink Me." This label with its inscription was the only thing
on the bottle, besides a price tag on the bottom that said $5.00. At
such a good price, and with such an intriguing name, Kelly figured shed
buy the bottle, even if it turned out to be old and rancid. She dusted
it off and carried it to the counter. She was determined to imbibe it,
whether she liked it or not.
At the counter she saw a familiar late night cashier, an older black
gentleman, clearly gay, with a very dignified bearing, almost like some
old time English butler. He looked at her with his judgmental eyes and
did not ID her. He knew her. She was glad when the incident was over
and she felt the familiar relief of a weight lifted when the bottle
was in her car and she was on the way home. Mission accomplished.
Coming home, she immediately, impatiently went into her kitchen to open
the bottle. The cork was made of real cork, and when she had popped
it out the wine smelled strangely good, bittersweet, almost a sentimental
smell. She could picture old vineyards when she smelled it. She was
surprised because she never liked the wines she bought, and excited
because she realized she must have stumbled upon some treasure. Tonight
she was going to enjoy the flavor of the wine, not just the buzz. Pouring
her first very full glass, she sat down before the TV, ready to zone
out and reach towards oblivion.
The glasses of wine were delicious to her, and her buzz was fabulous.
Kelly could hardly believe it. Each glass went down so sweetly, so easily,
and with each glass she seemed to feel better, brighter, as the colors
in the room began to swim, and her cheeks got red. She spilled little
drops of the wine on the table and lazily wiped them up. Before long
she had drunk nearly the whole bottle. She looked upon her last glass
almost with sadness. At this point in her drunkenness she had gotten
hungry and popped a large bowl of popcorn which she ate in handfuls
as she savored her last glass of the wonderful wine before finally sitting
there in a drunken stupor, staring at the empty bottle, every drop gone.
She almost wished there was more.
Suddenly, to her horror, a black smoke or fog began to seep out of the
bottle. It flowed murkily out down the bottles side and onto the
table. Was she hallucinating? Was the wine shed bought really
rancid poison? It had tasted so good! Perhaps it had been some sort
of absinthe that somehow or other got mixed in with the wines, maybe
someones sick idea of a joke. She was so drunk though that she
couldnt feel too alarmed. She watched the seeping black smoke
with a bemused fascination- it was so thick and strangely beautiful
in a way, almost hypnotic. She stared as it seeped towards her on the
couch. Then strangely, the smoke seemed to be making a figure, or a
figure began to appear in the smoke, and suddenly there was a sprightly
little bald man with red cheeks sitting beside her, smiling. He looked
Kelly stood before him, her eyes goggling. "Who, who are you?"
she managed to gasp. "I, little lady am the wine spirit, the gin
of gins, or the spirit of spirits, if you like," he said, chuckling
at his own corny joke.
"But what are you doing here? Where did you come from?"
"You found me, my dear," he said. "Now come, dont
look so alarmed."
Despite the utter strangeness of the situation, and the fact that Kelly
knew she may very well have lost her mind, the alcohol coursing through
her made her calmer and she slouched down next to him, smiling. "Well,
I wasnt expecting a visitor," she said, "but make yourself
at home." If this was a sick, insane dream, she was going to play
along with it. Might as well.
"Only the most dedicated drinkers find the wine spirit," he
said, as though congratulating her.
"I wish there were more," she pouted, staring woefully at
the empty bottle.
"Why, but there is!" he said, winking at her jovially. Then
suddenly wine shot out of his index finger as though from a spigot and
refilled the bottle to the brim. Kelley clapped her hands with glee.
"More wine! You made more!"
"And theres more where that came from," he said proudly.
Kelley then knew she loved the wine spirit. At that moment he was her
best friend in the world. It vaguely occurred to her that the little
man himself was drunk, with his rosy cheeks, his shiny head, and his
bushy gray eyebrows. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp white shirt
with a little beige vest over it and perfect beige trousers to match.
His little black shoes shone. Yes, she decided as she poured herself
another full glass of wine- she liked him very much. This was a wonderful
She and the little man talked and laughed. They walked outside into
her back yard and sang songs under the stars. They drained bottle after
bottle until Kelley sat slouched in a total stupor, too drunk to move.
She watched the little man dance a strange sort of jig in the bright
light of the moon, and he himself seemed to give off light. He danced
and danced and gleamed, until he was only a dancing blur, dancing faster,
and faster, and faster
When the morning came the neighbors found Kelly in the yard, wine stains
on her lips, clutching the empty bottle in her hand. She had soiled
herself. They felt her pulse. She was dead. A smile of absolute contentment
was on her lips.
Gordon November 2008
stories from life
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