Monday, February 9, 2015

Farewell, My Laundry



I’m a dick. I think it’s safe to say I’m considered the most famous dick in the wine business. I wasn’t always a dick. I’d begun my wine career as a sommelier, but, really, that’s dick-adjacent. Eventually, I became a private dick. Which was hard. Spending your life bearing witness to the seedy and corrupt, the constant exposure to the dark and evil side of human nature, days spent in the company of avarice and prevarication—hey, you try dealing with winery sales reps. I fled that sommelier life for the life of a dick, a private dick in wine country—far less corruption. You’ve probably heard of me. I’m the HoseMaster.

The wine business sells romance, like a high-end hooker. Give me a hundred bucks and I’ll show you a good time. You get to attach your own fantasy to the transaction. The fantasy that you’re drinking the product of vines lovingly tended, vines that convert the caressing rays and warmth of the sun to fruit, fruit gently harvested and coaxed into liquid seduction. The fantasy of a wealthy jackass realizing his dream to use his immoral acquisition of money to live off the land, grow grapes, and feel good about himself because he produces a $175 bottle of pedestrian Cabernet. The romance that a wine was created untouched, unsullied by the intervention of man, intended by God to deliver us pleasure as proof that He loves us. It’s hogwash, romantic hogwash, but hogwash. God doesn’t love us. He made us in His image because He loves Himself. God was the first winemaker and the first critic. We’re all rated on the Cosmic Hundred Point Scale. We get fifty points for just being born. And if your score isn’t more than 85, we don’t talk about you. You’re failure personified. Less than that and we wish you were dead.

Yes, the wine business sells romance to fools. And God created nothing but fools. Romance is a dangerous game for those who think they know the rules. There are no rules, except one. Never fall in love. Romance and love go together like white wine and skin contact—it might seem like a good idea, but you end up with something volatile and bizarre. Romance is the death of love—not just in life, but in wine as well. Romance causes most of the problems I deal with as a dick, and most of the problems I deal with as a man.

Avril Cadavril--Coroner
Avril Cadavril…best not to think about her. Or skin contact.

When you live in wine country winter is your favorite season. Spring is spectacular, the vines sending out their buds like adolescent girls waiting for an audition with Dr. Huxtable. Summer brings the crowds, the zealots making their annual pilgrimage to Mecca, only on their knees on the way home. Fall is harvest, the cacophony of Mexican music set against the loud cries of the wealthy for tougher border control. But winter brings quiet. We get our town back from the wandering herds of bachelorettes that overpopulate the rest of the year, herds we’d like to cull, and mount their tiaras over our fireplaces, stuff and mount them like their intended would have, put them on the Endangered Feces list. Winter is the time we rest, join the vines in their sublime dormancy.

I was sitting in my Healdsburg office contemplating the foolishness of romance when she walked in. Every miserable story begins with a dame. And this one had trouble written all over her, which made for the ugliest designer dress I’d ever seen, and maybe the shortest. Her legs were longer than a Wine Spectator Grand Award Wine List, and I knew that if I had the chance to spend an hour with them, I’d come up with a First, Second, and probably Third Growth before I was finished. There’s an old saw in the private dick biz—the hotter the dame, the rougher the game. And if that were true, my life was about to get rougher than the finish on an Uruguay Tannat. They don’t go down easy. I was hoping she might.

“Hello,” she oozed, “are you the HoseMaster?” I was visually thumbing the table of contents of her Grand Award winning legs. I’d ended up with a Red Beaune. Though I wish it had been from Lyon. I’m a big fan of Lyon Red Beaune.

“Yes,” I quipped, “may I help you?”

“Oh, I hope so. My name is Cora, Cora Vin. I need you to hide me, to protect me. There are some very bad men who want me dead. I don’t know where else to go, HoseMaster. You’re my only hope.”

Cora had used the words every private dick is unable to resist—hide and protect. We’re all knights in creaky shining armor, and she was packing a pair of WD-40’s. A damsel in distress is my ’47 Cheval Blanc anyway, I dream of the chance to put one in my mouth, and Cora was offering me a case. And even from the beginning, I was pretty sure it was a fake, like most of the ’47 Cheval Blanc around. I should have listened to that small voice in my head. Damned Jon Bonné.

I got up from behind my desk, damn near broke that Red Beaune on the corner, and quietly shut the door behind Cora. I stifled the urge to nuzzle her elegant neck, mostly because I didn’t have a footstool handy. The fact that there was “Trouble” written all over her was more arousing than worrisome. Trouble always finds me, like a horny hog finds a truffle—welcome to the swine business.

“I can hide you, Cora. And I’m pretty sure I can protect you. But you’re going to have to tell me who the people are who want you dead, and why.”

The look on her face went from beseeching to fear. I fought the urge to kiss her. I made a mental note to my assistant Lo Hai Qu to buy a goddam stepstool. Cora’s lower lip began to quiver, and then the waterworks began. Another mental note to Lo--more Depends for my waterworks. Even scared and distressed, Cora was breathtakingly gorgeous. This was going to be bad.

“And what if I can’t tell you right now who’s trying to kill me?” Cora whispered. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell you, maybe it would get you killed as well, HoseMaster. And what if I also can’t tell you why? Why they want to kill me for what I know. Wouldn’t you still hide me, protect me?”

“I might, Miss Vin. I’ve done a whole lot stupider things. I bought Bordeaux futures. I subscribed to PUNCH online. I went to a Wine Bloggers Conference. So, yeah, I might. But you need to give me something to go on. I can’t hide you forever. I’ll probably need to catch these people who are hunting you, stop them from doing whatever it is they’re doing that’s so immoral and evil, put an end to it all, or you’ll never be able to live freely. Give me something, Cora, some place to start.”

Cora seemed pensive, chewing over what she might reveal to me. I waited patiently, but deep down I was hoping she wouldn’t tell me a thing, that she’d give me an excuse not to take her on as a client. We’d been standing quietly for a few minutes when the door opened rather abruptly, which told me at once that it was my assistant, Lo Hai Qu, who was barging in on us.

“Oh, I’m sorry, HoseMaster, I didn’t know you had company. Wow. Who is she? Oh, man, HoseMaster, she’s gonna eat you alive and shit MW’s. Hi, I’m Lo Hai Qu, the brains around here.”

“Hi, Lo—oh, that’s funny!—Hi, Lo, I’m Cora. Cora Vin.” Cora seemed genuinely pleased to meet Lo Hai Qu. Which gave me an idea.

“Lo,” I said, “Miss Vin needs a place to hide while I work on solving her case. You’ve got a spare bedroom, don’t you?”

“Whoa, wait a minute, HoseMaster, you want me to take this bombshell home? She’s gonna cramp my style. I meet some hip young sommelier and bring him or her home, you think I want her stepping out of the other bedroom? Seriously? Suddenly I go from looking like grower Champagne to looking like cheap Prosecco. Tie a ribbon in my hair and I’m the fucking It Girl, Glera Bow. No, thanks. If I want to look unattractive I’ll borrow your stylist.”

“I’m sure it wouldn’t be for more than a few days, right, Cora?”

But Cora was gone. And all that remained was a credit card receipt she’d dropped on the floor. A receipt for a lot of money. I couldn’t read the signature, but whoever it belonged to, they’d dropped a lot of money at the French Laundry. And I thought I’d done stupid things.


jock said...

Lyon Red Beaune is my favorite.

Don Carter said...

So many great lines ... it's like you're on a mega dose of simile viagra. Can't wait for the next installment.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Yeah, that's a groaner.

Thanks. This is my third Pulp Fiction Classic (see "The MS Conspiracy" and "Dial MW for Murder" in my Compost Heap). I haven't tackled this schtick for a while, and I just love the format for comedy. Plus, my wife loves these Pulp Fiction posts, so there's that.

And my favorite character name, Avril Cadavril, comes from the series, as well as the now legendary Larry Anosmia MS.

Longtime common taters know not to ever expect a conclusion to a Pulp Fiction Classic. They're always just an improvisational shaggy dog story.

Charlie Olken said...

Heaven forbid that you should ever finish one of your Pulp Classics.

I am making a collection of them and will give them to my grandchildren when I go toes and tits up.

They will have my permission to publish them as the "Long Lost Unfinished Works of the Legendary Hosemaster", whom no one will remember until he is brought back to life posthumously and finally becomes famous.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh, man, I thought I was already famous.

One never knows, maybe I will finish "Farewell, My Laundry," but it seems unlikely. I barely managed Chapter One. One day, "Laundry" will fold.

Charlie Olken said...

"Oh, man, I thought I was already famous."

Well, of course you are, but the circle of fame is far smaller than what it will be when the world discovers you posthumously.

In fact, I think you should not only have unfinished Classics, but maybe some unpublished Classics as well. Just think how famous and rich you will be then.

Don Clemens said...

Ron: You've done it again. You had me at Lyon Red Beaune.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I've always wanted to be posthumously rich. First things first.

Thanks, that's a pun I'm particularly ashamed of--which are always the best ones.

Mike Dunne said...

When some smart tour company signs you up as a guide - not cruise line - we'll be there.

Marcia Macomber said...

Love it! Can't wait for chapter two! (But I know I'll have to...) Each time I read one of these HoseMaster pulp fictions, not only am I transported to the original material, but another favorite - the Girl Hunt Ballet ( Also written by an old dick. Can't wait for more!

Quizicat said...

Loved it. I admit to reading the genre, this reminded me a little of the voice of Firesign theater which is not a bad thing. Lyon Red Beaune is a classic.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Firesign Theater! Man, I hadn't thought about that comedy group in a really long time, but you may be right, there's a touch of them in here. But spoofing the hardboiled dick novels has been done by just about everyone who's ever written comedy. I just think the mix of that genre with the silliness of wine writing kind of works.

Thanks for chiming in.

Jef said...

Oh, Nick, you're such a tool.

Everyone knows Lyon Red Beaune only plays in the key of C. But you, my darling, totally own B-Sharp!


Betty Jo Bialosky

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Very nice! Obscure Firesign Theater references. You can be my new Proctor.