Bryan finished his Solo red cup of Pinot Noir and set it down. He poured some more in it, stood up, and walked to the sliding glass door that stood open. “Follow me dude.”
I grabbed my own red cup and stood up. One thing about wine: you need to pace yourself. I felt the world tilt a little bit, and a thought occurred to me. It was a bit like weed. All of my thoughts seemed suddenly important. Unlike with smoke, they needed to be shared loudly.
“Where to? Where we off to now, Bryan?”
Tellesco and Sean turned around from the grill to see why I was shouting.
Bryan shouted, “Shhh! You’ll wake the kids.” Then he disappeared inside.
I followed him.
It was getting dark out, and inside, I discovered the dining room table with a sharp blow to the penis. Normally, when one uses the words “Blow” and “Penis” in a sentence, it is not in reference to a painful event.
Wine splashed all over the table, the centerpiece of wilted flowers, and onto the floor. I fell against the table in the interior gloom of the house, and when Bryan flashed the lights on, I looked like I had been shot in the chest. Wine was everywhere.
I groped my penis and moaned. Again, not an enjoyable phrase to utter, here.
“Will. What the fuck you doing?”
“Nuttin. Just enjoying myself.”
I rolled onto the floor and lay in the puddle of wine.
All covered in wine, a sort of baptism in the wrong way, I followed Big Bryan down the hall to the secret door that led to a heaven below.
“Dude, how the hell did you find the cellar?”
“I stumbled upon it by accident.”
Now I don’t know about you, but when I heard him say that, I knew he was lying. You don’t stumble across things by accident when you are snooping in someone’s home.
You find things. It doesn’t matter if you say that you found what you were looking for.
When you are snooping, you are not searching for a thing. You are instead looking for anything.
So I asked him, “What were you looking for?”
He turned back and said, “The porn stash.”
I had no idea what he was talking about, as I staggered along, using the walls to steady myself, still a bit bent over from my throbbing penis.
He smiled and then turned away, walking down the hallway towards the bedrooms. “Every old man has a secret porn stash.”
“Hah?” I quickened my pace to catch up.
He went on. “You know what’s interesting? The more buttoned-up a man is, the freakier the porn stashes. You see a grubby, dirty man, well, he has his shit laying around for anyone to see, and that shit is pretty tame. But when you see a polished up dude, well, he has shit to hide. And if he hides it, then it is shit that should be hidden.”
“What the hell you talking ‘bout?”
“Will, I figured that this old dude must have some freaky porn. Still haven’t found it. Yet.”
Bryan pressed against a wall panel. It clicked, then popped open a little bit. Bryan pulled it all the way open, and there was a doorway that led into darkness.
He turned to me. “Do you care to enter Hell with me?” He began to laugh like Vincent Price as he disappeared.
He lit the stairwell with the flick of a switch and told me to close the door behind him.
We went down.
This stairwell took a couple of turns on the way down, and along the walls were wine case labels plastered here and there, along with wine glass boxes hanging among them, and cork screws from various countries, according to their handles.
It was a bit overwhelming. This was the entrance to a lair owned by a true oeneophile.
It was not something that should be hidden from anyone. Unless, of course, to prevent a crowd of unruly punks from invading and depleting the whole expensive stash in a drunken melee, which is a French term used to describe “a really good time.”
The stairwell ended below in a small alcove, where we came upon a thick wooden door held in place with black iron hardware.
Bryan whispered, “I half feared, half hoped to open this and find sex prisoners all bound and gagged.” He smiled in an evil way. “This is much better.”
He swung the door open and flicked on the light switch.
There were aisles of shelves. Bottles lay in their nestles with their top ends below their bottoms, to keep the corks moist with their contents so as to not dry out.
When you taste vinegar, it is because the cork has dried out, and let air in. If you ever break a cork trying to pull it out from the neck, then the cork is dry.
Stop there, and return the bottle as it is to the wine seller, and tell them to stop storing their wines straight up. If you need to tell them this, then you should not be buying your wine from them.
Bryan grinned. “There must be a thousand bottles in here.”
It was almost cold in this cavern.
From upstairs echoing down the old wooden stairwell, we could hear many footfalls. The band had showed up.
The bottles had been turned. Not a one was covered in dust on only one side. They probably had been turned gently and frequently, and set with cork up periodically so as to keep sediment at bay, which showed true care.
Along one wall were stacked tiny cases. Upon inspection, these were cigars, in humidors. These were in varying stages of aging.
Tellesco's parents were on another level of life's pleasure. One might surmise that they had not gone on a Love Boat-style cruise, but instead, cruised to countries to purchase more of these sorts of goods.
Sean had these folks all wrong.
I would eventually find that he had every thing wrong.
That is at the end of all these tales I have been telling you.
You have already read the start of the end of this long tale.
But we have many more chapters to explore before we reach the end.
Thank you for following along all this time, my friend.
The band showed up with a bunch of other folks in their own vehicles, and they worked to get set up. Bryan walked along the aisles of wines and cigars, stopping to read labels and such, but I was getting a bit thirsty for some more of what was inside those bottles.
"Bryan. Let's crack another one open."
He stopped and pulled one from the shelf. "This one is from 1937. Let's check it out." He pulled a corkscrew from out of his pocket and plied it to the bottle, fucking thief.
I reasoned that as long as I didn't open any of them that would make me not a thief.
Of course I was full of shit on that count.
Bryan read the label to me after he got the cork out. "Shatow Brain Can't Knack Margox Bordox. Hmmm. Lot's of X's. Must be a sexxxy wine here."
He dumped some into my plastic beer cup and then fixed himself up. Somewhere in France, an angel fell to Earth.
We chugged and burped, which echoed loudly throughout the tomb.
It was damn fine, which called for some more. We finished that bottle and another one.
Bryan struggled to get the third one open.
I shlurred when I shpoke. "A veddy fine wink o' the widdle, if you get my finesse, wink wink, nudge nudge ehh?"
Bryan laughed and grabbed a couple more from the same shelf. "Fuck it. Lesh head up and shee what's sshappening on the earthly planet above, shall we *hiccup*?"
We should have eaten some ribs before visiting the tomb.
We couple of drunk assholes burst out of the wall panel and Bryan swung around to close it, but he fell. The two bottles crashed onto the tile and made a mess.
I stumbled over to him and helped him brush broken glass from his arms, and I couldn't tell if he was bleeding or not.
He smirked and staggered to get up. We slipped a bit, but we made it to the sliding glass door, which was not open anymore.
The sound of Bryan smacking his forehead against it made me laugh my ass off. Bryan sat on the floor in the previous puddle of wine from before, and he said, "Thish housssse ish going to kill me."
That set us both laughing again, and when I finally got the door slid open, all sorts of people watched us crawl out onto the deck on our handsh and kneesh under the deck lights.
We looked like we had just come home from work at a slaughter house, all covered in reddish-purple fluid.
Folks stepped back from us in shock. I had an idea. "Time for a rinshh, Brayion. Foller meee."
To the heated pool we went.
It was lovely. The pool water became pink from the wine we wore, in the light of the underwater wall lamps, and I felt like going to sleep.
Warm, tingly, floaty, sleepy, cozy are dangerous words when you are immersed in water.
All of a sudden, my underarms burned as I was wrenched from the pool.
The cement felt cold and hard under my back, my head.
I wanted to crawl back into the warm blanket from which I had been pulled.
I heard a voice from far away.
"No! Don't go back in the fucking pool!"
I was dragged across the grass to the much softer surface of the wooden deck.
Someone propped me up on a deck chair, and someone else smacked my face with their hand.
Then I heard a stranger's voice say, "Here. Make him snort this. It will wake his ass up."
And that is how we began the evening of the first day of the three day party.
Join me next time for what followed, if you like.
God Help You.
God Help Us All.