Saturday 27 June 2015

'Teddy's Little Secret' by Laurence Sullivan

Oenophillia: not just the love of wine, actual devotion to it. Thusly, this term 'oenophile' best describes Teddy Grohman, husband to the long-suffering Margaret. 'Little' Maggie (a diminutive he often employs when addressing her) has never been allowed to know of this lust Edward has for the grape. Of course she's aware that he likes wine, but she is blissfully unaware that the reason they holiday at their son's house in Devon – instead of cruising the Caribbean – is because Teddy has a fetish for fine wine.
It all started twenty years ago after the happy couple got married, they celebrated on their honeymoon with a rare vintage Grand-Puy-Ducasse circa 1940, a gift from the family and the start of his addiction. Since that day he's hoarded at great expense to himself and his suffering spouse. This reached a climax when he decided his wine wouldn't keep well in the attic and so he sought out a plot to purchase, all under his wife's nose.

He had found himself the perfect place, practically a hovel but with an extensive cellar – just the right temperature and humidity. The best feature was its supreme seclusion, practically no one knew where it was and the only record of its existence were a few papers buried in the county archives.

Teddy had told Maggie that he was going on a fishing trip, despite its horribly clichéd status and the fact he hated fish, she still seemed to buy it. So, he loaded his car full of his bottles hidden away in fishing-labelled bags, the cacophonous clinking of the glass only getting a slightly raised eyebrow from Maggie. After a peck on the cheek goodbye, Teddy drove away from 'Little' Maggie.

Alone. Quite alone. After an hour of unpacking his wine, he was standing totally still amidst his perfusion of precious liquids. Practically drunk off his success, he scarcely knew where to begin, by country, age or taste? A sudden blasting sound arrested his contemplation. The trapdoor, his only method of ingress (but more importantly egress) had slammed shut.

Fumbling to the ladder, Teddy bashed against the door but it wouldn't budge an inch, it was seemingly locked rock solid. As he furiously pounded harder and harder, the creeping realisation that there was no way of calling for help spread insidiously throughout him. Desperately he searched around his beloved cave for any sort of sturdy tool or implement – a frankly fruitless effort.

The only thing he found was an unusual bottle of wine, one he had never seen before that seemed oddly shaped – even in the darkness. Placing his hand on the vessel to lift it closer to the light, his fury immediately melted into curiosity and then froze straight into fear. Under the glow of the single shadeless light bulb, the text on the label was revealed to him:

'The Merry Widow


Aged twenty years with a bitter aftertaste'

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