by B. Nagel
Harold Gordon wanted to own a quiet bar, so he cut the house red with cranberry juice and wouldn’t serve beer or straight liquor. The lads smoked enough that they couldn’t taste beyond the fuzz in their mouths and the sugar of the juice encouraged them to line-up and boast sophistication. The girls knew the secret but liked the lads un-drunk, so they kept it under their hats.
Harold drank straight juice from a cut crystal goblet: to push the product and keep up appearances. You can’t have a teetotaling bartender. But Harold never drank, except in the dawns after closing. As the rising sun prismed the cleaned glasses above the wiped down walnut stretch, Harold scratched his words into journals and poured dusty bottles from his private cellar, but never more than a single glass. His father George had shot himself, twice, under a sea of absinthe.
Harold, focused, needed only one.
“In vino veritas, intones the priest of the vine, the sheep-herd, the spiritual peddler. ‘Enter paradise and dance to the rhythms of the stars. Eat of the fruit and it is good. Drink of the fruit and be God.’
In the drunk man’s grasping hand is also lust and joy and anger and love and lies. In wine, entwined.
I drink the wine of my father, and my father’s thirst is not slaked. I will slake the thirst with my own wine, and find my own hydration.”