story #18

L and wine
Today I was looking into renting wine storage in SoDo with my wife when we unexpectedly bumped into L. Turns out he owned the joint: cavernous, spacious, white table, brick walls, electronically controlled temperatures kept at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. He’d never met my little lady (she’s such a saint) and took a keen interest. Apparently they have a lot in common when it comes to spirits and palates. I told L I was surprised to see him—not his usual digs, you know: industrial Seattle is cold, gray, rainier than hell any day of the week. He ignored me while stroking my wife’s hand, staring intently in her eyes, rhapsodizing about Pinot noir and the method by which he inventories every bottle stored with him, photographing the labels front and back then barcoding them in boxes so they can be read and tracked and computerized and scanned and such. He even has an online app. Quite impressive but then that’s to be expected with L.
            After paying for the storage (easier than backing out at the last minute–parting with money is the least of your troubles when you deal with L), I tried to explain to my wife with whom she had rather shamelessly been flirting. She wouldn’t hear of it—at first.
            I said, “I mean, that space is a dungeon, really. A torture chamber I’d bet anything after business hours.”
            “It was minimalist chic industrial,” she said.
            “You sound just like him.”
            “He speaks so beautifully. I could listen to him for days. Weeks.”
            “You know, I’m willing to bet half those wine cases aren’t even filled with wine.”
            “With what?”
            “Souls, naturally.”
            “You do know what L stands for, right?”
            “I didn’t, no. Maybe it doesn’t. He said he was in finance before this. In New York. Not collecting the damned.”
            “Well, yeah, he stopped first in Wall Street. A lot of his client base is from there. It’s only natural. I guess he burned out on it.”
            “Too fast-paced.”
            “Too breakneck, bleak, and false. What’s money but a lot of meaningless paper? Meaningless numbers on a screen.”
            “Not meaningless, darling. Abstract.”
            “Fine. But it’s the same difference. Not something tangible. Not something you could really sink a hoof or claw into. So he decided a change of scenery was in store.”
            “You really think he was flirting with me?”
            “I never know with him. Was he looking at your tits or your soul? It’s hard to tell.”
            “I bet he takes pictures of the damned just like he takes pictures of the bottles. And inventories them the same way.”
            “Yes, yes. Gluttons in aisle two, bin four.”
            “Surprisingly nice, isn’t he?”
            “Quite charming. Too charming. Once tried to sell me stock in Apple. I passed. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I figured. So I passed on it. I fucking passed.”
– Thomas McCafferty
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