It seems like I'm always the dick that gets caught in the zipper. I'm alone in a ritzy hotel room with a sexy brunette who's deader than a Matt Kramer opinion and the Chief of Police walks in. She doesn't say anything at first, she's just surveying the room, taking it all in, like I wished Lorna had. My head was still pounding and I kept hearing a high-pitched noise that sounded like Julia Child having an orgasm. I knew enough not to talk or move until Chief Jokes was done checking out the crime scene. Besides, I love Chief Jokes, I always have. I just wanted to watch her for a while.
Jessica Jokes and I had gone to high school together, so, of course, I'm quite a bit older. Jessica had always been an overachiever. She had been Head Cheerleader, Prom Queen, Valedictorian, and a semi-professional sword swallower. She'd started out on pocket knives and worked her way up. I'd been in love with her since the eleventh grade, but she wouldn't give me the time of day.
"Hey, Jessica," I said when I thought she was done eyeballing Lorna, "you have any idea what time it is?"
"None of your fucking business." See.
Jessica gave me a contemptuous glance, and then slowly walked over to where Lorna lay on the cushy Les Mars mattress. Jessica flipped back the bedspread, squatted down, the pants of her cop uniform clinging tightly to her pear-shaped buttocks like Saran Wrap on a new French oak barrel, and examined the mattress tag. "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law," she read out loud. "Well, at least they weren't scofflaws."
"Did you happen to see a really ugly midget leaving the hotel when you arrived, Chief?"
"I'm going to ask the questions here, HoseMaster. What the hell are you doing in Les Mars Hotel with a dead M.S. candidate?" Just like high school, Jessica had done her homework. Though it turned out the hotel was filled to capacity with candidates for M.S., the exams were coming up. Where did these morons get the money to stay at Les Mars? This whole thing was starting to stink. Or else someone's intestinal cuvee was having sulfur issues, and it wasn't the Prom Queen with a badge.
"So you don't think I killed her?"
"You?" she said scornfully. "You can see that someone broke her neck, and a wimp like you can barely unscrew a Stelvin much less unscrew a woman's neck."
"OK, you're close. But I wasn't trying to unscrew her." The patter was getting a little snappy for my taste, like it had been written by some amateur comedy writer.
"You didn't answer my question, Hoseapoppin.' What are you doing with her, who is she and what the hell did you have for lunch?"
So I told Jessica the whole story, beginning with Veronica and ending with the ugly midget, exit stage left. Jessica seemed intrigued by the midget, thought he might be an ex-cop in a small town, but then she remembered this was a murder investigation. She had called Healdsburg Forensics, which was a winery lab rat with a tape measure, a bad yeast infection and a refractometer. Lorna was dead at 17 Brix. Not very sweet.
"So," Jessica mused, "give me one good reason why I shouldn't arrest you, Hosescum."
The thought of her putting me in handcuffs got me kind of hot and didn't help my sulfur emergency, but I needed Veronica's money, I wanted to find Fugly, and whoever had hit me on my Melon I wanted to kick square in the Baga. "Because, Chief Jokes, this case is somehow about wine, about the thugs at the M.S. Society, and I know a lot about wine and you don't. You're going to need me. I can get to these guys, I know how they think, I know how they take advantage of the young people who come to them, I know how they make shit up about wine in order to steal their money. And Veronica is somehow part of this and she trusts me. You know I'm not leaving town, I'll be around if you want to arrest me later. Just give me some time."
"Bite me, Hosebanger."
"Not give me the time, give me some time. Sheesh. To work on this case." Man, she'd become hardnosed since she'd become Chief of Police. Her nose was harder than a Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet. I could see the gears working as she thought about letting me go. She knew I was right, but she didn't want to admit it.
"So, if the midget didn't snap her neck, and my little Hosepussy didn't snap the victim's neck, who did?"
I finally got up from the floor of the Les Mars hotel room, my cheap suit covered in "Service Animal" fur and the stink of money. I walked over to take one last look at Lorna, shoving aside the Forensics guy, who for some reason had his pruning shears out, looked down at her young, beautiful, deathly still face, a face that had puckered and spit more times than a Congressional page, a face that had turned more than a few heads and ended up with a turned head of its own, and oddly, she looked more beautiful than when I had met her in the Healdsburg Square. But, then, I'd learned, some look better dead. I swore that I'd find the midget, whoever had murdered Lorna and the sonofabitch who clobbered my Melon.
"I don't know who killed her, Chief, but I do know one thing."
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."