A Young Vintage. Short Story.

Stanley sat down, dinner should be good. Cooked, slowly and to perfection. A chicken breast, carefully fried, with sautéed mushrooms and onions, covered in a thick, creamy sauce. String beans steamed to a perfect crunch along with some carrots and broccoli. The candles were lit, the table was set, all that was left was pouring the delicious beverage that would accompany the meal. he uncorked the bottle and wafted the scent under his nose, deep and full of promises. The flavour of this one should be good, it was fresh and fresh was always best. He poured some into his wineglass. It was slightly thicker than normal, but, sometimes that happened. He brought the glass to his lips and swirled it once, enjoying the smell. Then slowly, delicately he brought the glass to his lips. He swirled his tongue around them once, coating the red, plump lips in a sheen of saliva in preparation for drinking, his tongue thick and almost obscene as it played across his lips. Finally, the glass reached it’s destination. The first sip was the most important, the one you held longest as the flavours danced and played across your tongue, deepening and allowing you to fully appreciate the flavour. The glass tipped lightly upwards allowing nothing but the meagrest quantities to fall from the glass.

The flavour hit him instantaneously, full and unpleasant. He left the drops on his tongue momentarily before giving them an experimental swirl around his mouth. The taste was like the liquid, thick and coating. He spat it into the glass, then, taking the glass and bottle, went to the sink and tipped the contents down the drain. He still had the taste in his mouth, it was cloying, almost meaty. Feeling undignified, as there can be no dignity retained during the act, he leaned forward and allowing the tap to unleash a full torrent of cold, cleansing water he opened his mouth and allowed the water to rinse it. Repeatedly, fill, rinse, spit, repeat. He washed out his mouth three times, then, a fourth. The taste seemed to have finally left, and, standing again, he looked at the empty bottle. It was supposed to be fresh. He had always trusted Frank and Frank had never steered him wrong. He would need to have a few words with him.

Sighing, he went to the fridge, and rummaging around the back he found what he was looking for. His secret stash. He kept a bottle stored here, just in case. It was of a particularly fine vintage. He had bought 8 bottles of that one, though they were quickly consumed.

He knew that storing it in an ordinary fridge probably wasn’t the best storage method, but it suited him fine. He knew the snobby connoisseurs he sometimes saw would turn and leave in disgust. Still, it would taste perfectly fine and that was what was important. The flavours would be dulled, as would the scent as it had not been allowed to come to room temperature, nor allowed to breathe. But beggars could not be choosers. Dinner was still on the table so that wasn’t a complete loss. He would like to start the ritual over again, but with the liquid cold it wouldn’t be the same. Sighing, he returned to the table, and pouring another glass, he noticed a few amber drops from when he had spat out the liquid. He shuddered at his poor manners. He was, of course, alone and a bachelor but one should never ignore manners. First go the manners, then cleanliness and then only god knows what next. Morals one should think would quickly fall with that kind of attitude and where would that leave you? He didn’t like to think.

He poured out the bottle and settled in to enjoy his dinner, carefully cutting each bite before skewering it with his fork and daintily popping it into his mouth, he would chew at least thirty times, allowing the food to roll around his mouth, allowing the flavours to combine. He would occasionally sip his drink, adding its flavour to the mix. When he had chewed enough, he swallowed and moved onto the next. Each meal time was a time for solitude and reflection, most meals took him at least forty five minutes to eat, if he was taking his time and enjoying each mouthful it could take double that. But why should he rush? There was no one to nag him, only himself in his house, free to do as he pleased.

Finally finished with his plate of food, he brought his plate into the kitchen. Now it was time for dessert. Opening the oven, he carefully took out the pastry that he had made fresh just today, inside its soft, pillowy folds it contained fresh fruits, cooked to splendour, a few dashes of vanilla. It was covered in powdered sugar, just a sprinkling, like the first snow, barely covering the ground, but enough to know it’s there. There were a few interspersed granules of sugar which would add a nice crunch. Oozing slightly from one end was a thin trickle of the sauce. Placing the plate onto the counter, he went to the fridge and took out some cream, also spiced up with a hint of vanilla, specks of vanilla bean stood out in the cream. Carefully it was drizzled on top, then a sinful scoop of ice cream was added, though it was also vanilla, he had carefully shaved some chocolate and mixed it through. Taking his dessert he went back into the dining room and settled in with fresh cutlery. It was an extravagant dessert, but it was a special day. It was his anniversary today. Ten years today. Really, it was astonishing so many years had passed. It felt like only yesterday.

He began to slice at the pasty, taking each bite and slowly chewing it. Really, it was quite exquisite. He was mildly annoyed and disappointed by the drink earlier, but then everything else was perfect, he even had a back up so that worked out okay.

He was free’d ten years ago today, he raised the glass in a mock toast, “To you dear mother, may you rot in hell”, he tipped it towards the stuffed body of his mother before bringing it to his lips he drank the blood, it staining his teeth red, really, it was quite delicious. It had time to warm up and now that it was room temperature he could appreciate it fully. It was thick, irony, slightly salty but with a slight twinge of sweetness.

It was a young vintage of course, the younger it was the sweeter the blood.

He gazed at his mothers corpse for a moment, really it was quite extraordinary work. The stitching was barely visible. He believed that most people, at first glance, would believe her to be still living. Except of course, for her eyes. It was the final taunt. Her ever seeing eyes had been replaced with black orbs, chosen as they were far to dark for her to see through.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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