Monday, April 15, 2013

The M.S. Conspiracy

Here's the first chapter of a Pulp Fiction novel starring the HoseMaster that I first published on September 29, 2009. Written in a strange style that's sort of a cross between Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane, the form is the perfect platform for one-liners and outrageous plots. I wrote fourteen chapters of this very shaggy dog story, and never concluded it. But, man, they were fun to write. Here, from the Golden Age of HoseMaster of Wine, long since past, is The M. S. Conspiracy.

A HoseMaster of Wine Pulp Fiction Classic

Chapter 1 Strange Path

I'm a dick. A private dick, but a dick nonetheless. I make a living as a dick, if you call digging through people's trash for private information about them living. You should see what people put in their garbage. It's disgusting. You can tell a lot about a person sifting through their garbage. You see everything that fills their rotten insides, all the filth and refuse they fill their lives with. In fact, life is like a garbage pail, you fill it with useless and stomach-turning stuff and then pay people to haul it away. But not before the putrefying smell of it sickens everyone. I'm the dick who gets paid to sift through life's disgusting garbage. Which is how I got involved in the worst case of my career, a case that nearly got me killed, a case that led me to depths of inhumanity I didn't know existed, which is like Sean Hannity discovering a whole new level of stupid. I thought I knew about garbage, about conspiracy, about evil. But then I got involved with a group that changed me, that filled me with a loathing for people I'd never felt before. Where do I begin?

I don't know how these people find me. I've got a rundown shithole of an office in the sleepy little wine country town of Healdsburg, a town so dull the main hobby is going down to the local hospital to watch folks having contractions. And those are at the proctology ward. Healdsburg is a tourist town now. Once upon a time it served the farmers in the community, now it serves expensive wines and fancy meals. Healdsburg has more tasting rooms than Dick Cheney has condos in Hell, but I like it here. The landscape is beautiful, and when the urge hits me it's the easiest thing in the world to find a drunken tourist in a see-through cotton dress to come home with me and learn how to spit. I see it as a public service.

I'd just wrapped up my recent case involving the Illuminatti, the Freemasons and the Osmond Family, having successfully foiled their plans to prove Michael Jackson was married and had fathered several children and primates and that the titles to his greatest hits were actually an anagram of "Diana Ross is Mary Magdalene's daughter with Thomas Jefferson," when she walked into my Healdsburg office. She smelled dangerous with a pinch of crazy, but I like that smell. It's like Ann Coulter farted on Lou Dobbs--you get the same smell in a good vintage of Silver Oak. But she was gorgeous--blonde and busty with the kind of legs you get in Tokaji Essensia--long and oily. I've seen puttonyos before, and she was way more than five.

"Are you the HoseMaster?" she asked.

"Sure," I said, "how can I help you?"

"I'm told that you know people in the wine business, important people." I was having trouble looking her in the eye. I hadn't seen jugs stacked that high since I bought my wine at a gas station.

"Yeah, I know some important people. Who is it you're looking to meet? And don't say James Laube. I killed him two weeks ago. It was self-defense. He threw his 100 point scale at me--it was banged up, utterly useless, but it damn near killed me. So I plugged him. Just heard they're giving me a James Beard Award for it."

"No, you misunderstand." She sat down across from me and when she crossed those legs I'm pretty sure I got a glimpse of the Sacramento Delta and most of its tributaries, but it was hot enough to be Lodi. "I want to hire you to help me join the secret society of M.S."

I'd heard those evil bastards were going to be in Healdsburg. Recruiting. Their rituals, their "tests," were secret, and they were very careful about who they allowed to pass, who they allowed to join their putrid ranks. But I'd heard stories, horrifying stories, stories that revolved around ritual disemboweling, waterboarding, and Evan Goldstein lectures. Why would this babe want to be an M.S.?

"From what I know, Ma'am..."

"Call me Veronica."

"From what I know, Veronica, the Master Sommeliers don't like women, don't really want women in their ranks, make the whole thing a nightmare for a woman to join. And that's if I can even get you in the door. Do you have the faintest idea what it's like to be an M.S.? Do you really know what evil those people are capable of?"

"I know more about it than you can even imagine, HoseMaster. I have no fear of them, I know exactly who they are and what they stand for. Now, can you help me or not?"

"Oh, I can help you alright, but it comes with a price."

"My friends and I are willing to pay any price to penetrate the M.S. society. Name it."

I paused, took another sip of my Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, noting the lovely Musque fragrance. Or was that Veronica? "Let's just say I want to dredge the Sacramento Delta when all this is through."

"You're a strange one, HoseMaster," Veronica said, leaning over my desk and giving me a view of the Cote Blonde and Cote Brune, making me think of Guigal and his Bodacious La-La's, "but I like you."

To Be Continued

Or Not.


Unknown said...

Being fairly new to your blog, I always enjoy seeing some of your 'classics' from the past. Always nice to start the day with a good laugh, thanks for posting!

Unknown said...

Unknown is Steve Pinzon, sorry bout that

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, and thanks for identifying yourself. Takes guts around here.

I like the reruns, mostly because it lets me off the hook for a week. And I know that I have a lot of new readers who haven't read the old stuff, because who the hell goes through the archives of a wine blog? What kind of idiot would do that? Even I hate doing it--on my own blog! Man, what a load.

Charlie Olken said...

Still good after all these years. Classic and in great need of further exploration.

Marcia Macomber said...

Second to Charlie's remark. It's as fresh as the first time around! So are you going to finish it now...?

Samantha Dugan said...

Another old timer here, what fun it was to relive this one My Love. Man, was I jealous of Veronica back then, good thing I've matured and I can just see her for the made up bitch she is. Okay, maybe I'm still a little jealous. (Wink) Like I said, this was fun to return to and I love you so!

voice of reason said...

I can't remember the first posting of yours that I read in "the old days", but if it was this one, that explains why I am hooked.

I look forward to following this story...

Cris Whetstone said...

I really enjoyed myself. That 2nd pic kept's some entertaining writing there. Yessiree. I think I'm going to research river deltas.

Anonymous said...

Recently found in a dusty old crate of '69 Cockburns Port at Sotheby's, the lost beginning of Chapter 2- 100 Points of Revenge finally comes to light:

While contemplating Veronica's depth and mouthfeel, reality came crashing through my window like a zin from Lodi. Something hit the floor and exploded into a million tiny shards like the buttons on a Jay Miller blazer, only slightly less less violently.

By swirling my head over a now spreading puddle of inky purple, I detected unctuous notes of blueberry pie, pain-grille, and graphite. This could only mean one thing; someone was sending me a message to back off.

Turning to a visibly upset Veronica, "Your trip to the Beaune will have to wait," I said as I pulled the brim of my hat close to my eyes. "The Hosemaster has a job to do..."


Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hi Gang,

It's been a long time since I wrote this, but I got very attached to a few of the characters who ultimately appear in the later chapters--Avril Cadavril (love her), Tiny, and, of course, the legendary Larry Anosmia MS. I think I had an idea of making it a little like "The Da Vinci Code" but that didn't play out. I decided to do it as a sort of improvisation, let the plot go wherever my weird HoseMaster brain took it. I never really knew where it was going, but I didn't care. It's just nuts.

So I had an idea this afternoon. Maybe I'd leave this Chapter One as it is, but start a new Chapter Two. I haven't gone back and read Chapter Two, and I won't (I hate to read my old work--really hate it), but I could take a second fling at this premise, at the sexy Veronica (though the HoseMaster is a loser, and is never going to get lucky with a Babe like that--part of the genre, and the comedy) and at The MS Conspiracy.

Thoughts? Pleas? Threats?

Anyhow, thanks for indulging the rerun. I kinda miss this old gang of characters.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I started Chapter 2. I tried to keep the pulp vibe. Do with it what you will you dirty little somm.

Charlie Olken said...

Hi Ron--

I am tempted to simply say "do it", but I would like to lay down a marker and see if you will go for it.

There is a brilliant beginning here, but like all good stories, it needs to be given some forethought before preceding.

The free flow of ideas won't be hurt by plotting out a bit of direction and some character development, and maybe it will not begin to bore you in the later chapters.

And you do not necessarily need to make each chapter a series of brilliant double entendres, verbal site gags (the delta, etc) and those chapters do not need to appear like clockwork.

This first chapter is some of the best comedy ever, but it is also full of setup lines can lead somewhere for the characters (as I think it did pretty well for Larry for several iterations).

Seems to me that your friends and readers would like to see you give it a try if you can see your way to it.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Man, that sounds like way too much work. I'm the living embodiment of the late, great Maynard G. Krebs. "Work!?"

I've started two Pulp Fiction stories, and I get bored about ten chapters in. I'm afraid that years and years of writing in short, comedic formats has ruined my brain for anything longer than 1000 words. So if I continue, and I feel a slight urge to, I'll do it the way I always have--winging it.

Maybe it's Jonathan Winters' death that has me drawn to this stupid improv again. That makes some sense.

The Sommeliere said...

Hose, you are better at professional dick-dom than Robert Parker. Not the Robert Parker of post Wine Advocate fame, but the late, great Robert B. Parker, mystery writer.

Charlie Olken said...

Ron, I think I may shed a tear.

Anonymous said...

Definitely take Olken's advice: his posts are real page-turners. You might consider an earnest, ravenous, diary-keeping wine consultant femme-fatale who writes you dirty letters. Or is she in there already?

Dean Tudor said...

You are worth more than 35 cents, Ron -- hope you finish off the book, put it in PDF and sell at 99 cents (inflation over 35 cents).

Anonymous said...

I post here for validation, tell me my story was good.

Chris / 'Knurd

Rogue Wino said...

Give it another go. I'll be reading. Your description of Veronica was genius.. but aside from that, being young and female, I could use some "alternative" ideas on how to tackle this MS club thing

Ron Washam, HMW said...

High praise, but I'm an amateur when it comes to dick-dom. Is that like fem-dom?

One suspects you'll get over it. I waste too much time on this blog as it is. If I have to think about it, I'll never survive.

I like the idea of a femme-fatale who writes me dirty letters. Oh, you mean in The MS Conspiracy. Never mind.

It was always meant to be a shaggy dog story, though at one point I think I actually knew the ending. Hard to remember. So, just like life, I'd know the ending when I got to it.

Chris Darling,
Your story was good. Nicely done. Write me a whole chapter, send it to me, and we can co-ferment together. Sorry to have left you unvalidated. I love having you around.

Rogue Baby,
I always had a thing for Veronica, though it's a later character, the coroner/butcher Avril Cadavril, that I truly love.

It's hard to become an MS without a bunch of money laying around, a lot of free time on your hands, and the willingness to have your hat size quadruple.