archive - issue 18
The Winemakers' ManifestoBy Ross Fleming
They were on a guided tour of a temple of Dionysus. The guide went on in a monotone, about "Dionysus, the Greek God of wine, women and song." They stood before a statue of a young man with long hair and a casual stance. His sidelong glance, fixed through twenty centuries of the artist's impression, seemed to be watching Lucy through veiled eyelids. She sneezed and the tour guide moved on. As she delved in her handbag for another tissue, she heard the voice droning on about this citizen of the Ancient World.
"The worshippers of this God would become drunk on wine, dance around this temple," he indicated backwards with an expansive hand, "in a fertility ritual, finally going on to ..." How boring and irrelevant, she thought, and in her misery coughed like a drain. She thought how she was definitely not enjoying this. The whole trip was an act of rebellion against Cecil. She had been bucking against his disapproving ways since they had first met. Now she was nineteen and he was in no way relenting. He still looked down on her spontaneous nature and disdained her efforts to bring him out of his shell. Oh just for once to see Cecil misbehave, she thought.
"The Ancient God of carefree living, Dionysus's worshippers, when possessed, were held by strong urges," the guide's English working-class accent paused, meaningfully, "largely due to the wine they imbibed."
Her thoughts drifted towards her endeavors to liberate the dear sweet Cecil, and how it seemed that he was too set in his ways to respond. He was now back in Cape Town, spending the holiday amongst his collection of butterflies.
Returning to her hotel room, she kicked off her shoes and blissfully lay down on the soft counterpane. A breeze blew in off the Mediterranean and gently wafted her from wakefulness, and within a minute she was asleep. The next minute there was a knock at the door, and she opened the door to find a waiter with long, greasy hair. He offered a bottle of the local stuff, a red wine of dubious vintage.
"Compliments of the management," he said in a thick Continental tone. "We hope it is to your taste."
"Leave it on the sideboard," snapped Lucy, tired and irritated at this interruption of her sleep. The man obliged giving her a cheeky sideways look that raised her bile. He had heavy eyelids and a sensuous, swarthy look that she found strangely disturbing. When he was gone she called the airport to confirm her flight home the next day. What a relief to get out of this sticky country, she thought. Dear God, where is the Cape South Easter when you need it.
Hmmn ... Next to the wine was a book called The Winemakers' Manifesto: a Guide to Dionysiac Liquoring.
"Absolute New Age rubbish," she thought, but, never one to turn down a free offer, she popped it into her bag.
Back home, Table Mountain stood proud to the skyline and Lucy felt somehow protected as she gazed out of her kitchen window at the sleeping giant. Often she would take a Sunday stroll along the paths of the mountainside, perhaps taking a hamper of food and her companion, Cecil. They would walk until they were exhausted, then find a warm corner and devour their picnic meal. Of course Wilbur, her Alsatian puppy, would accompany them, a caution against muggers and a cheerful presence between the two misanthropes.
It was a warm spring day when they set out as usual to explore the mountainside. They took with them a hamper with sandwiches and a bottle of red wine, one she had brought back from Greece, in fact the bottle she had obtained from the wine-waiter. Cecil looked disapprovingly at the bottle of wine as if it would bite him.
"I daresay the fellow was trying to steal something out of your room!" he said dismissively when told about the incident, but glanced at the Winemakers' Manifesto and tucked it into the basket.
"Come on Wilbur," she whistled at the dog, and slipped the lead around his neck.
It was a still corner where Lucy and Cecil came to rest with their picnic. They spread a rug and set out their meal in anticipation. Below them the Atlantic stretched out blue and idyllic in the spring sunshine. Lucy thought in passing of the aquamarine Mediterranean so many miles away, as she finished a chicken roll and the last of the wine. Afterwards, bathing in the sun with a certain twisting in her stomach, she felt the lightness of the breeze on her cheek and felt herself drift off. Once again she found herself in the room where she had been during the Greek excursion. Once again the knock at the door. Automatically she opened it. But now the Greek waiter was no longer a greasy-haired Neapolitan, but the Greek god Dionysus himself, and behind him were the green fields of Southern Greece. He gave Lucy a sidelong glance under soft eyelashes that she had seen somewhere before. She discovered that she was clad in a loose, flowing dress that outlined her graceful figure, and she willingly danced out onto the hill covered in long grass that swayed in the wind. She found that she was being pursued by this handsome Greek god and playfully she fended him off. He was all around her, and as she ran he turned into ... Cecil?
It was Cecil who was chasing her now and Cecil who had a knowing grin on his face. Cecil the abstemious, Cecil the pompous, Cecil the disapproving nerd who had no right to dictate a damn thing to her. He was in the process of trying to stick his tongue in her ear when Wilbur started to lick. Now Wilbur, or his predecessor, had licked her before, but well, never quite like this. It reminded her of her ride on the Shetland pony at her eleventh birthday party, thrilling, scary, wanting more.
Itchy, tousled and aroused, she sat up to see Cecil looking at her through veiled lids in a way she had seen somewhere before, long ago and far, far away. The Winemakers' Manifesto was propped up against a projecting protuberance that boded well for the future of the afternoon. Hmmn, she thought, and leaned over ...
Ross Ian Fleming devotes his days to testing Telecoms software, satisfying his wife’s need for fast food, and educating his three kids. At night, however, he dreams of Poetry. He has written six small volumes of poems, all available on Amazon Kindle
Although occasionally inhabiting an imaginary land beyond description, in reality he lives in Cape Town, South Africa, the next best thing in the chain of being.
He has published work in Itch and New Coin and has won 3 online writing competitions at the SA Writers College over the past 10 years. Also see Slipnet for more.