Monday, July 13, 2009

Entry #107

House Red
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.”

19 comments:

Laurel said...

Nice characterization of Harold and beautiful description of the bar. It makes me wonder about his dad...

JR's Thumbprints said...

All these flashes, all these poured glasses of wine, and now we have our first story from a bartender's pov. Good job.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I like the non-alcohol bar.

Loren Eaton said...

That ending feels almost mythic, B. Nicely done!

laughingwolf said...

cheers!

Catvibe said...

I especially like the metaphorical implications of the last two lines. Finding one's one way in the world. I also enjoyed the visuals this piece had. Nice piece, original.

Hoodie said...

The reflective bartender appeals to me. Beautiful descriptions. Sounds like the kind of bar I might frequent.

B. Nagel said...

Hey thanks, guys! There are some pretty fantastic pieces out there. I just wanted to show that wine holds more that capital-t Truth.

Aniket said...

His determination to make his own ground is profound and addictive.

A different and excellent take on the prompt.

Beth Harar said...

Very good job describing Harold. Interesting guy.

Aerin said...

This is way too intellectual for me, Betty. Mythic, I think the Boss said? Very much so, in a profound and deeply beautiful way.

BernardL said...

Lyrical tale but I wonder about the Father shooting himself twice. Did he shoot to wound the first time. :)

pjd said...

I wonder about the line, "Harold, focused, needed only one." I took that to mean that Harold needed only one shot. Or did it mean he needed only one glass and did not have the unquenchable thirst his father suffered? It must mean that. Or perhaps it meant that if he ever felt the need to shoot himself, he didn't want to be so drunk that it took more than one pull of the trigger?

Any of the interpretations (or perhaps they are all the same in the end) is terrific. Very nice writing.

B. Nagel said...

Wow! Such great comments from such great story tellers.

@Laurel, Oh, his dad was a treat.

@JR, somebody has to pour the wine and keep the stories.

@Leatherdykeuk, I would love that bar.

@daBoss, Thanks!

@laughingwolf, bottoms up!

@Catvibe, I wanted everyone to see the sun shining peeping through the morning windows and sliding along the top of the bar. I hope my words didn't cloud your vision.

@Hoodie, You, me and leatherdykeuk are applying for the post of regulars!

@Aniket, He's had to strive very hard to get where he is.

@Beth, He's a character. ;)

@Queen, I melt.

@Bernard, There's a lot of different ways the father went about destroying himself, but in the most literal sense he was so wasted that he screwed up the first gunshot.

@pjd, YES! I was specifically referencing a gunshot, but I wanted some ambiguity.

Chris Eldin said...

This was different and quirky, to me---really liked it!

Patsy said...

I felt he was constantly testing himself amid all that temptation to prove he was stronger than his father.

JaneyV said...

nice descriptions and interesting story.

B. Nagel said...

Thanks Chris, Patsy and Janey. To know that my different take on the prompt was interesting to such lovely ladies as yourselves makes it all worth while.

jason evans said...

Very rich setup. Much depth and complexity. Great effect for the word length.

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