|My 100 Point Babevril|
Chapter 8 My 100 Point Babe
I’ve been a dick for a long time. I passed my test to be a dick a long time ago. Yeah, that’s right, I passed the WSET. I met Avril Cadavril on my first murder case. I’d been hired to find out who had killed a famous local winemaker, not that he hadn’t deserved it. He’d produced a series of wines that had received 100 point scores from critics, so everyone hated him. 100 point wines are supposed to be perfect, like priests, or all you can eat shrimp, if there’s a difference. Only problem is, the palookas who judge these wines are famously old, their olfactory skills needing a walker while their taste buds wonder where everybody went. Someone had stabbed the guy 100 times, one puncture for every point. He’d have been better off with the Davis scale. Which would be a first. Those critics had killed him just as surely as they’d killed the pleasure in drinking wine with their hypocritical scores and limited vocabularies. They’d gotten away with it, but their time was coming to a close. Soon they would be replaced; most of them now at the Old Wine Critics’ Home, alone and unwashed, reeking of alcohol and fecal matter (“Must be Brett,” wink, wink), babbling on and on about Brix and yields and clones. So business as usual for them.
It was Avril who had showed me the winemaker’s corpse. He had more holes than an M.S. meeting. He was a meat piñata, a 100 point voodoo doll, and it was Avril who laughed when I lost my lunch. I hadn’t liked her that first day. She’d expressed a butcher’s admiration for the carving job done on the winemaker. “He deserved it,” she said. “He made twenty different single-vineyard Pinot Noirs.” She had a point.
But my dislike for Avril turned into a grudging respect. She could handle meat like a Congressional page. Whether at her day job as butcher, or as coroner, Avril was a wonder. Is a wonder. Wherever she was.
It was when she dropped a lot of weight that I fell for her. Yeah, the HoseMaster, jaded and broken, a tired old dick trying to clean up the miserable wine business he so desperately loved, his heart open to no one, like a cult wine mailing list, only one that no one cared about any more, Bryant Family or Merus—the HoseMaster had fallen in love with Avril Cadavril. The way she smelled like a great vintage of Côte-Rôtie—all I wanted to do was Landonne her meatiness. The way she kissed me the first time we kissed, her mouth opening up like a great white Burgundy, giving me a raging Corton. The way she looked in the morning, fragile and transparent, like Riedel’s planned obsolescence. She was perfect--my 100 point babe.
Avril wouldn’t marry me, I knew that. No one marries wine connoisseurs, not knowingly--they're pale and marinated, and they only screw clockwise. Those who do marry a connoisseur live to regret it, like joining a Wine-of-the-Month Club. You keep expecting to be turned on, but it’s the same old tired crap month after month until you wake up and cancel your membership. So I bought her a bracelet. I thought it was a choker, but the neck on a butcher/coroner is impressive. So it’s a bracelet. And there it was, right in front of me, on Mallory O’Lactic’s arm. Not Avril’s. I had to find out how it had gotten there. And where was Avril? I didn’t care about who’d killed Larry Anosmia, or Crystal Geyser. I didn’t care how many more M.W. candidates would die. The world has too many idiot Masters of Wine, like it has too many political pundits and cable channels and wine blogs. It’s the noise I hate, the ignorant, unfeeling noise, the sound of too many people talking about crap that doesn’t matter while the crap that does slips away. I wasn’t going to let Avril slip away.
“Crystal’s dead? No. NO! Tell me you’re making that up.” Mallory was awake and slowly putting her clothes back on. I’d been forced to search her while she was passed out. I thought I’d lost my lunch again. She didn’t have it.
“I wish I were making it up. Damned bloody, heartless wine business. I’m tired of all the death, of all the lies, of all the know-it-alls and experts with letters after their names, of winemaker dinners and tasting rooms that look like whorehouses, even if they are whorehouses. I’m just tired, dammit, and I want Avril back.”
“Avril?” Mallory whispered. “Do you know Avril Cadavril?”
She looked scared. I didn’t think Avril had frightened her. Maybe it was my little rant, but, dammit, I was tired. Tired like ten-year-old Santa Barbara Merlot; tired like a Blinky Gray opinion; tired like another pulp fiction parody. But I was about to get a long rest. Mallory wasn’t scared of me. Nope. She was scared of the guy standing behind me.
The guy who pistol whipped me into next Tuesday.