Chapter 11



Will chose his wines for taste and price.  The Argentinian Malbec had a faux French label to appear authentic and the Shiraz had a large black turtle on the label.  Both were under ten dollars and did not taste like varnish.  That pretty much made them his wines.  In what now had become a ritual he swiped one of each off the shelves and went up to the counter.  After setting the bottles down next to the register Will stepped back three steps and picked up a half pint of ginger brandy, elixir as he called the drink, and tossed the bottle hand to hand as he stepped back to the counter.  Will knew what the total would be before Dennis, the cashier, rang the bill up.  Will reached into his pocket and pulled out two twenties and placed them and the ginger brandy next to the wine.  Dennis bagged the bottles and slid them across the counter.  Will did not wait for Dennis to ring in the twenties.  Will scooped up the bag and muttered goodnight as he turned to the door.

Will’s walk back across the street was direct.  His thumb punched the button to the handle of the passenger door and as the door swung open he pulled himself inside.  Will set the bag on the passenger side floor of the truck.  Immediately he reached for the ginger brandy.  He cracked the top and poured some down his throat.  A jolt shot through him.  He cringed.  His body tightened up and then went loose as he shook off the initial bite.  A numbing quiver crept up his spine.  Will put the bottle to his lips and took another drink.  This one went down smooth and brought him momentary euphoria.

Will slipped the brandy into his inside coat pocket, shut the door to the pickup, and then headed to the Tavern door.  Stepping inside Will went right to the end of bar, waved over Jodi the bartender, and ordered a beer and a sidecar of whiskey.  While waiting for his drinks Will said hello to some fellow locals at the bar, undid his coat, and proceeded in small talk with Terry Enders.  The talk was automated though because all Will could really think about was getting the beer and whiskey.  A beer and a shot were part of the formula that would calm his nerves and steady his hands so he could get back to work on the urns.  Urns that were Bellen urns only if they were made by Bellen hands.  This was all part of a ritual.

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