Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some Mighty Fine Wine by Phil Temples

Tom's friend Jerry is not in a talkative mood in Phil Temples' joke story.

"Yo! Jerry! It's Tom!"

I shouted at Jeremiah through the door I had just unlocked. I placed the key back under the small planter on the porch.

Stepping into the vestibule I spied one of the many great wines Jeremiah kept in a small rack near the entrance to the kitchen. After studying a couple of candidates, I selected a 1940 Madeira Sercial. From bartendering, I knew that it sold for around $200 a bottle. It wasn't the most extravagant member of Jeremiah's collection. But it wasn't too shabby, either.

I spied Jeremiah in the living room.

"Hey, man. Howzit goin'?" I asked as I entered.

Jeremiah let out a long, low groan - a typical Jeremiah response.

"Suzie's back in town," I said, matter-of-factly. "God knows who she's with now. Sure as shit, it isn't Hull anymore."

Susan was my former girlfriend. Unknown to me at the time, Susan had set high goals and expectations for herself. It took me many months to realize that I - a would-be writer, moonlighting as a waiter/bartender - simply did not fit into her long-range plans. Susan had merely toyed with me for awhile until Hull came along.

Hull was higher up the socioeconomic ladder. I heard that he worked as an architect for one of the large firms in New York City but a mutual friend confided to me that Hull was not rolling in dough, either. Apparently it didn't take Susan very long to discover this fact. Susan had returned to Boston to troll for even larger fish.

"Hhuuuuhhhhhhhhmmmmm," replied Jeremiah.

"Yeah, my thoughts exactly," I said.

I removed the cork on the '40 Madeira Sercial. I was rewarded with a satisfying "pop" as the cork finally evacuated the bottle.

I poured the wine into two very fine crystal pieces. I assumed the crystal had been passed down through his wealthy family for many generations - possibly from the 18th century. Jeremiah sat on the couch staring off into space. I set one glass down next to him.

"L'Chaim!" I exclaimed, taking a sip of the Madeira.

Jeremiah continued to stare into space.

"Damn, this is good stuff, Jerry," I exclaimed.

I continued, "So, have you taken your daily swim yet?"

I could see that Jerry was even less enamored today than usual with small talk. No matter - I could talk a blue streak. Friends have accused me of monopolizing many a conversation.

"Yesterday, my mother asked me if I was ever going to finish my first novel. Can you imagine that? My own mother! She really annoys me sometimes. I swear! It's not like I'm a Stephen King or a Patricia Cornwell. It takes me a while to get the creative juices flowing."

I flipped on the stereo. He had a vinyl album left on the turntable. The stereo blared out the song "Never Been to Spain" by Three Dog Night. Jerry and I are both big fans of their music.

I glanced over to Jeremiah. He was no longer gazing into space. Instead, he now seemed to be studying me intently. After a moment, Jeremiah made a burping noise. Then he winked at me. He still hadn't touched his Madeira.

"I'm working on that story. You know that I am. I sure as hell don't want to spend the rest of my life working as a bartender." I belched, too, to underline my point. I detected the slightest hint of a smile on Jeremiah's face.

"Hey, whaddaya say we order in a pizza, maybe call up a few of Suzie's girlfriends and have them over? Live it up a bit."

Jerry was not one for getting out very often, but we'd had some great parties at his house over the years.

"Hhuuuuhhhhhhhhmmmmm," replied Jeremiah.

I took that as a "Yes."

You see,

"Jeremiah was a bull frog
He was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him a-drink his wine
And he always had some mighty fine wine."

5 comments:

  1. I enjoyed the voice of the story very much, and the dialogue came across as very natural. I could have done with a bit more action and narrative but, then, that wasn't really the point.

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  2. Nice bit of whimsy. Insightful view of girl friend.

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  3. Sharp little story!

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  4. I laughed out loud too! Cute!
    A.D.Nohr

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