guzzler

Reads: 38  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 2

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A wine that tastes too good to be true enthralls ketra and her friend ketsu as they try to grapple the struggles that is: senior year of high school.

(Be aware, The site fudged up some lines and sentences are cut off to the next line randomly, read at your own expense.)

I always hated the taste of alcohol, but the smell was a different kind of story. Malt liquor always tickled my nose and made me feel some type of way. But not the taste, fuck the taste of any and all alcohol, except for ‘Shatner’s Return’, goddamn was that the best tasting wine I’ve had in my entire life. It was of merlot variety that appeared randomly at Grooly’s one morning, not even Grooly himself could tell where it came from. Fifty nine bottles lined the shelves of what used to be the red wine section of the small corner store. Adjacent to it were the chardonnays, the sauvignon blancs, and a couple of pinot grigios to round off the end of the aisle, leading towards the craft beer section. I had first heard of this anomaly when I walked in to grab my usual coffee, decaf with three cups of sugar and a pump of pumpkin spice creamer, it wasn’t even autumn but Grooly had made the mistake of overordering thinking it would be a big hit. He was dead wrong in that sense, it was a big hit with three of his customers, myself included. The usual crowd of his store was into more of the normal types of coffee, french vanilla and regular cappuccino so underselling the pumpkin spice was an overstatement. 

I was getting checked out by Grooly when he said: “You ever hear of Shatner’s Return?” 

“No.. you know that Grools I’m not a drinker of any kind besides the spice” I winked and motioned my freshly filled cup towards him. 

“Well... I got a shipment of it, and hell I don’t know if the company who sent it had their own people set it up, but it's taken up all my space in the back.” He nodded his head towards the back of the store, it was a small store, but it had everything you needed to start your day or end your night, and in the very back I saw it, catching my eyes almost instantly. It was redder than you’d expect for any type of wine, more of a vibrant bloodred than the soft maroon wine usually is. I couldn’t tell if that was because of the glass encasing it or the fluorescent lights towering above it. 

“Mind if i check it out?”

“Knock yourself out kid, just be careful, they never sent me the price cards so I don’t know if it’s dirt cheap or gonna cost me a second mortgage on this place if any breaks.” 

“Alright, I’ll be careful, but why’re they gonna charge you for something they never even notified you of selling, could be an illegal front for something else.” I chuckled, I was spitballing with him as we made our way towards the back. I was the only person in the store this early, and usually would be as my schedule started about two hours before my fathers, so that we never had to cross paths until that evening when I got home. Grooly was always the type of guy to enjoy the community, and probably why he even owned the store in the first place. Twenty years of nonstop coffee smelling and selling candy bars and snacks to overindulged people would drive me crazy. But not Grooly, it was his calling in life I’d say, serving the members of Gracton well and worthwhile. He smiled at everyone who came in and even was on a first name basis with half the town, even me. 

“So what do you make of all of this Ketra.” Grooly laid that one on me as easily as the cylinders of glass had been laid on his shelf. Arranged in a symmetrical order and even though there was an odd number of them, they lined up perfectly. 

“Why do you think they chose you to be their frontman for something like this? I mean these bottles look fairly pricey and if they didn’t even give you the modesty of leaving the price cards, I’d say fuck em and charge whatever you want for it, if it’s good that is.” Grools scratched his ruffled beard, it was dark brown when I’d first met him but now it was waning towards a cheap grey, which seemed to fit him. 

“What if it’s some shitty wine?” 

“Well you gotta try it then. Only way you’ll know if it’s worth charging a pretty penny for it.” 

“Good point. I know you don’t drink but fuck it, wanna try it with me.” Grooly propped off a bottle from the shelf, pulled out a swiss army knife looking keychain, which had been fitted with an alcoholic’s best friend, a corkscrew, with little bits of rubber faded onto the spiral. 

“I’ll pass, I’ve got nothing against anyone who does but it’s just not for me.” 

“Aw come on Ketra, this could be a big moment for you me and you, the schoolgirl and the shopkeep get drunk on the job, I can already read the headlines!” 

“As great as that sounds, I don’t think drinking with you would be something to write home about, even if it’s just a sip.” Grools snickered at me before pressing his bombayish lips onto the tinted glass, he took a quick sip before he let out a sigh of relief. His eyes widened at me as he wiped his lips on his forearm. 

“Oh my god this is amazing, one sip of this shit and I already feel on top of the world. This ain’t one of them sit at home and sip while reading the books wine, this is something different.” He smiled as he handed the bottle to me, but I wasn’t going to budge so easily.

“I really don’t think some top of the line wine is gonna change my mind. But if you wouldn’t mind charging me fifty percent for all I bought today maybe I could try it.” 

“Hell if you take more than a sip of it I’ll give you everything for free.”

Free, free was the word that always got my attention, free coffee, free lunches, as well as free busfare until I had turned sixteen. Nothing in this world would stop me from getting something for free. 

“Fuck it.” I shrugged and accepted the bottle, tipped it towards my mouth and prepared for the monsoon that was about to engulf me. I was not prepared for the sweet taste of it, my dopamine sensors were damaged beyond repair thanks to the many years of bullshit my father had put me through, but the second that cherry tasting wine dropped into my mouth, I felt like a free woman. It didn’t taste like any of the wines I’d tasted before, and it certainly went down easier than any alcohol I had ever drank, and the aftertaste was minimal at best. I wiped my mouth and handed the bottle to him. 

“That was actually amazing, You think I could buy this off of you… whatever price you wanna charge.” I was a fucking idiot with those words, I take a swig of some wine to save money and now I was gonna end up having to pay probably triple what I even expected. 

“You sure about that kid?” Grooly seemed modest all of a sudden, he knew my father and what was expected at home so me even asking it was a shock of surprise. 

“I never drink, and who knows when you’ll  get some of this again I’m just in the mood for something different I guess.” The words left my mouth uncontrollably as it was some good wine, but not something I wanted to start a drinking habit out of. Nevertheless I wouldn’t be able to push back now and decline even wanting it.

“You know what, I know your father would raise hell if he ever found out about this, so screw it you can just take it. Makes me a crisp fifty eight on the inventory and if the jackheads who decide to come back and ask about it. I’ll just say it broke.”

“Thank you, Grools. I promise this won’t become a habit of mine but you said it yourself this may not be something that comes around here for a very long time. So might as well try it and have some fun with it. William will never know.” I sealed my lips and threw the ‘key’ at Grooly, who chuckled and opened his inner coat pocket, which was nearly as red as the wine itself, and hid the ‘key’. He checked me out and I stepped out of the store to my nose almost immediately being crisped by the chill that came with winter mornings. I fumbled for my keys as I headed towards my car, it was a 1997 civic, twenty years past its prime but just in time for the prime of my life. I opened the door and shifted into the seat and placed the already opened bottle next to me, if I was the cautious type I may even have put a seatbelt on it. But I was already going to be late to class and the idea of being tardy once again was not something I enjoyed keeping my mind on. I turned on the ignition and pedaled out of the small lot, passing by a white minivan and a barely running Tacoma, the usual two that always showed up after me. Usually I’d see them as I turned onto Singleton St, but today they served as my reminder that it was already later than I wanted it to be. 

School was nothing special, just your usual tomfoolery that high school is, I’d spent most of my freshman, sophomore, and junior years working my ass off like there wasn’t a tomorrow just to make senior year a breeze. To my enjoyment, it was. I had taken two study halls along with all the other prerequisite courses I needed to make it to graduation, I used my extra hours at study hall (god forbid I need an extra study hall for three classes) to socialize with Ketsu, who’d share the closest. 

“So what’s the big plan for the night Ketty?” 

“Get home, avoid William, maybe try some of this wine I got from Grooly today. Or maybe I’ll just smash the bottle.” 

“He gave you what?? What’s it called?”

Shatner’s Return, some real uppity shit. Tasted amazing too, nothing like any of the alcohol you’ve gotten me to try.” It was true, Ketsu loved getting me out of my comfort zone, much to my own dismay. Whether it be walking a couple blocks to her 7/11, or just forcing me to take down whatever liquor was in her parent’s cabinet that day. She knew I wasn’t the type to say no, but I wasn’t the type to ever say yes to anything either. 

“Woah you tasted it? Now I really wanna know what he did to make you do that, you didn’t even like Paramount and two swigs of that got me drunk off my ass.” Ketsu raised her voice towards the end, balling with some laughter. 

“Can you be any louder with that? Don’t want Mr. Seashells to hear you on that one.” Mr. Ido, or Mr. Seashells, as we call him, had been the study hall teacher for nearly twice as long as I’ve lived, or at least I used to think that. Maybe it was the job that got to him, having to constantly deal with all the boys who decided to be Peter Pan and never grow up, and making sure everyone else around them never did too. I could see it in his eyes, he was dead tired, or just tired and almost dead. Whichever fit him best, he was usually found at his desk near the study hall, sifting away at local newspapers, keeping them in business one issue at a time. His ears were a curved shape, and just slightly larger than you’d expect for a man beyond his prime, they dangled from the side of his head and would rise up instantly the second he heard someone mention anything about ‘youthful activities’ and would go on about a twenty minute tirade that would give Tolkien a run for his money. Swearing up and down that he had never touched or used a single secular drug besides the one prescribed by his doctor, Mike Harris. They had been on a first name basis as he says, lending him a grieving shoulder when his wife passed some odd years ago. But I won’t get into the melodrama that is his life story, I just had hoped Ketsu hadn’t been loud enough to wake the deaf man from his political slumber. 

You don’t even like Paramount and two swigs of that was all I needed to fall flat on my ass.” She snickered at me.

 

“Well when you put it that way, there’s no way in hell I would let you sip on this stuff, I took one joyous mouthful and I didn’t feel a thing but I want more.” I don’t know why I described the wine as such, it was good but not something that was joyous by any means. Joyous would be listening to Frank Ocean , specifically Crack Rockas I would bike away towards Ketsu’s on a cool summer day, and how I miss that so. But this wine was mostly calming, if not just a substance that brought a little extra to my today, but definitely not joyous. 

“Oh come on, you gotta let me have some of it Ketty, we can go to my place tonight and watch another episode of Shapeshifter at night, they just released a new episode and I know you’re dying to see it.” 

“Yes Shapeshifter at Night, you always had the key to my heart.” I winked at her, Ketsu always knew what would make my day even if that means watching some shitty teen soap opera about a man who’s always changing himself to get with a girl, then fails miserably every time. It had been running for six seasons now and I wasn’t sure if they were gonna be able to take it past two, but when money is to be made then seasons are to be made. 

“Okayyyy whatever you say, I’ll meet you at your car after this.” As if on cue the bell rung as the words left her lips. End of the day, finally. They’ve always felt a bit longer when I look back at it, but the end of the day was upon us. 2:25PM, I scurried to my locker quicker than I usually do, I couldn’t tell why, but I was in a hurry today. Tomson was perched next to my locker, his black hair drooping in front of his eyes, as he usually does. 

“Hey, you doing anything today?” 

“Hanging with Ketsu and watching some dumbass show, trying to just forget today if I can.” 

Shapeshifter at night right? I finally caught up with you guys so mind if I join?”

“We’re trying to keep it just us tonight if that’s okay.” I had told him that for the fifth time now, Ketsu let him hang out with us once and suddenly he thinks he can invite himself whenever. I never understood him or most of the guys at my school, but I didn’t make that a priority for myself, nothing against them personally I just found them to be fairly dull when it came time to talk about anything that interested me. I shoved Frankenstein, Healing the wound (a book on trauma Ketsu swore I needed to read, regardless of what I’ve been through), and my nearly unused notebook into my locker and rushed away with a quick goodbye to Tomson, which seemed to suffice him.

 

Damn Ketsu was already sitting on the hood of my car by the time I got outside! It had always been easy to pick out in the long lines of trucks and underused ‘premium’ cars that the folly kids at my school seemed to take a liking to. 

“What took you so long?” She snarked at me

“Easy for you to say, had a good run in with Tommy, tried to hang out with us again, sheesh.” 

“Come on you don’t like Tommy? He’s not too bad, he told me he caught up with us on the show.” 

“Ooooh, good for him. Maybe he can take a cue and change into someone more approachable than himself.”

“Yeah, maybe someone like Jojean or Mary, I bet they’d be fun as hell to hang out with.” 

“Yeah I bet.” Why hadn’t he asked her to hang with us, why me even? I didn’t care enough to ponder on that for much longer. I had already put my books in the backseat when Ketsu started to eye the bottle. I had put it in my backseat, nudged under a blanket I kept in case of ol’ reliable ever breaking down and me needing to warm up before a tow would arrive. That hasn't happened yet, but you always have to be prepared for situations like that one. She whisked it up from the blanket and proclaimed: “So this is it isn’t it, It looks beautiful!.” Was she trying to make another scene? It didn’t matter at this point, the parking lot was full of all our other chattering classmates as they too were free from their regular scheduled dread. Her hands kept caressing the creases etched onto the sides and shaft of the bottle. I hadn’t noticed them at first but they resembled dead flames, like a torch running out of cloth. Guess they weren’t anything special or atleast weren’t special to me, but Ketsu was enamored by it. 

“How did you manage to pay for this anyway, you always save your money, this must be some special shit then or did Grooly gift it to you.” She raised her eyebrows towards me with a grin slowly forming on her face. 

“Well he did gift it to me, but that’s not why I asked for it. I was willing to pay for it for some reason, it was like something else took control of my brain and I even offered to pay full price for the fucking thing.” 

“Weird.”

“I know, but like I said it definitely has something special to it. I was shocked Grooly would even give me it for free.” 

“Well why the hell would he even do that?”

“It apparently randomly appeared with him not knowing it was suppose to come, I told him it looked like some pricey stuff and then he tasted to know if it would even be worth selling. Then he told me I should try it, I said the only condition be that I would get half off my coffee, then he said if I tried it I could have it for free, and you know how I am with free shit---.” I was cut off by a white truck blaring it’s horns as it steamed its way through the parking lot, cars had been leaving for a while now but Jeremy Clemson always had to make either a grand entrance, or exit. I know for a fact he had been held back at least once, but I couldn’t tell you what grade that was, but his unkempt beard and hair told enough of that story for me. He chugged passed us as we sat in the car, waiting for it to get as silent as it could before I continued my nuanced tale. 

“Then he said if I tried it I could have my coffee for free, and you know how I am with free shit, so I chugged a lil bit of that bitch and it was just… heavenly.” I finished my sentence with awe as my lips watered as my sight continued to fester on the bottle in her hands.

“Well…” her eyes had wandered from the bottle to me, who was sporting some reddish cheeks to go with the nice chill that winter brings.

“Well what?” 

“Are you gonna let me try it or not?” She thought I must’ve said yes

before I could even answer, as she ripped the black tinged cork off of the bottle.

“WHAT THE FUCK are you doing?” I didn’t mean to raise my voice as loud as I did, but the look in her eyes was all I needed to know that I fucked up yelling at her.

“Sorry sorry, I’ve got no problem sharing it but do you really have to have some of it now? We aren’t complete dumbasses, wait till we get to your house ya lightweight.” I hushly said to her as we both got in my car. I motioned my hand outwards as she corked the bottle closed and handed it to me, I placed it back into it’s warm retreat and placed my bag next to it. I turned on the car with a blissful aw as it started to warm us up. “I have to stop at Grooly’s and pick up a couple things, anything you want?” 

“You already went there this morning, do we have toooo…” 

“Well I want to get myself a chaser in case this shit tastes worse the more you have it. I’ll get you something. Anything you want.” 

“Anything?” 

“Yes anything, as long as it’s not another one of those all the nut in the world.” 

“Oh come on, those weren’t even that bad. It’s not my fault they didn’t have cashews.”

“I know I know, but the fucking almonds, it’s like they ran out of all the good nuts and plopped those in there religiously.” 

“Well next time don’t send me in there to get the only nuts you like, find em yourself.” She stuck her tongue out at me, eyes closed. “Yeah yeah.” 

My hands scrambled for my phone as I connected it to the bluetooth of my car. It was a 1997 model but of course I’d try my best to make it up to current standards. I swiped through my dozen or so apps until I found youtube, searched up call out my name and played it for us as finally, my car had warmed up and was ready to leave the triangular shape that was our school’s parking lot.

 


Submitted: December 20, 2020

© Copyright 2021 J. Enko. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Isaac Johnson

i like it it's been well written

Sun, December 20th, 2020 11:34pm

Author
Reply

Thanks man, I appreciate it!

Sun, December 20th, 2020 4:11pm

Isaac Johnson

you are welcome

Wed, December 23rd, 2020 1:33am

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by J. Enko

Short Story / Literary Fiction