Tripp lifted the Merlot at arm’s length into the late afternoon sun stream for closer inspection. The swirling nectar burned with burgundy intensity, deep and luxurious. He was wholly delighted by it. The contoured bottle felt good in his hands – comfortable. He enjoyed the balance and heft of it. Only a superior quality wine would allow itself to be captured in a sleek vessel like this, he reasoned. He placed it prominently on the table beside him. Vivian would be home soon and he wanted her to see it.
She arrived shortly after and found him there on the veranda, grinning.
“Drinking again?” she sniped. At least she was acknowledging him now.
“I’ve got something for you,” he calmly countered. He displayed the wine for her review.
“Merlot?” She locked onto his gaze with her bad smell face. “Just so I expected. You know I like Pinot.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Well then…, can’t you do anything right?”
Before she could feign interest, Tripp smacked her square between her battle-wearied eyes with the bottle. The strike rang true, and she crumpled in a lifeless heap to the patio tile. This time, her response was a trickle of blood trailing from her left nostril. He settled into the Adirondack chaise and coaxed the cork from the thin neck, filling the fermented liquid generously into the wineglass. He sipped it lightly then poured the contents onto the ground. His smile returned.
“Vinegar,” was all he said.
Silence offered the only reply.