It has been a while since I’ve done this. But I had so much fun last time that I’ve been just itching to get back to it! Here is my latest go at Flash Fiction, using the app Flash Fiction on iPhone.
I’ll give you the screenshot of my required pieces at the end. See if you can figure it out as you’re reading.
“Now I’d like to try the Sauvignon Blanc.”
“But sir, you’ve already tried that one.”
“No, I haven’t. I purchased a full flight of samples and you’re not going to screw with me, my dear.”
The blonde, slightly pretty woman, pouring the wine, I’m sure she calls herself a sommelier, was getting antsy. In my line of work, we have decisions to make that are much bigger and much harder than whether or not to keep serving a drunk. But I was interested to see how this woman, skinny, overly tanned, in her early thirties, would handle this character.
How did I find myself here? A vineyard in Michigan— Michigan, of all places! Who the hell knew that wine was produced in Michigan? Whatever. I kicked back another swig of my vodka. That’s right. Vodka. I can’t take wine— never could. Always either too sweet or too pretentious, but it never failed to taste spoiled to me.
Since I have to be here and keep track of this maniac, I have to fit in. And do you know what a person that is touring wineries but not drinking does? That’s right: raises suspicions. Luckily, the bastard finally chose a winery that had other things to offer. I wasn’t so sure about vodka distilled from grapes, but it was going down smooth so far. A hell of a lot better than the hard cider they plied me with at the last stop. I watched as the woman poured a small sip of Sauvignon Blanc into Harold’s cup.
“A little too sweet for a Blanc,” he said as he swished the wine around his mouth. A little drip escaped from the very far corner. His too-white tongue slipped out to retrieve it. “Blanc is supposed to be crisp. Refreshing. Tart. I’ve had some Blancs take me right back to the worst moment of my life… which was also the best moment of my life, in a sad way.”
The woman rolled her eyes. Harold didn’t notice, thankfully. I’ve been spying on him for almost three months and he doesn’t take too well to perceived rude behavior. While I’ve mentioned it… yes, I’m a spy. I don’t like that word— don’t like it at all, really. Just the thought of “spying” implies that I’m up to no good. In reality, my work for the United States government just kept people safe. Harold was responsible for actions that are unspeakable to an audience like yourself.
“So, the best and worst moment of your life? You mentioned it, so I’m assuming you want me to ask,” said the woman.
“What’s your name, anyway?”
“Bariana. With a B.”
“When did the world go crazy and start coming up with all these damn names?” I admit. I had to agree with Harold.
“OK. You got my name. Tell me your story— best and worst moment in your life,” said Bariana.
“Well, I was flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas on January 19th, 1997. The stewardess had just brought me a Sauvignon Blanc. And then there was a huge crashing sound. The plane shuddered. She hit the ceiling, because we lost altitude so fast.”
“What the hell happened?”
“I’m getting to it, pippy. Settle yourself,” said Harold, in his southern slur, which I could barely understand when he’d had this much to drink. “She crawled to her seat. The pilot made an announcement about malfunctioning controls and an emergency landing in Fresno. Then, we just dropped. Everyone was screaming. Drinks were everywhere. I saw one of the beverage carts go flying toward the back of the plane, hitting people on the head on the way.”
“How in the hell are you even sitting in front of me?” Bariana’s mouth was open wide in amazement as Harold told his tale. She poured him the Pinot Grigio. He ate a cracker to clean his palate.
“Oh, we made it to Fresno. But as the pilot landed, the plane shifted to the right. The wing clipped the ground, and then we summersaulted down the runway. There was luggage flying everywhere. And then body parts. There were lots of body parts. But when the explosion happened, that’s when I couldn’t handle it anymore. The smell was beyond comprehension. And the heat. The heat. I said a prayer and knew that I was living my last moments.”
“But you’re here.”
“I woke up thirteen days later in St. Mercy Fresno. The lower half of my body was completely covered in burns— just the legs— that’s important. Other… uhhhh… parts… are fine.” Bariana rolled her eyes again. Harold was focused on twirling the swallow of Pinot in his glass. “Then the investigators came. They asked me all of the usual questions— and I told them what I knew. But I could only go as far as the flames. That’s when I blanked out.”
“How many people died?”
“You mean how many survived? Just me. Harold Koenig. Sole survivor. That’s what I mean— it was the worst day. But, I lived. I lived! So, no matter how terrible it was, it was also the best day ever.”
My phone, sitting on the table next to the shot glass, buzzed. I picked it up and read the text. Showtime. “M’am? Do you mind taking me outside real quick? I’d sure like to see the grapes that produce this vodka,” I called out to Bariana. She held up her finger to Harold and walked my way.
“Sure. Let’s go. Be right back,” she shouted across the empty room to Harold.
We were walking across the stone parking lot, towards the grapes the winery left to entertain and educate the visitors.
She saw it first.
“That plane is awfully low.”
“It is,” I feigned surprise. “Damn. It’s coming close.”
Bariana had a look of interested horror on her face. Does that make sense? She wanted to watch, wanted to see what would happen, but was too distraught to look. The plane appeared as if it would clip the tops of the grape vines, it was so low. I grabbed Bariana by the shoulders and threw her to the ground with me. We covered our heads as the loud popping of an explosion shot through our bodies.
“Jesus Christ! It was like that plane was heading right for the winery,” Bariana was trembling, tears streaming down her face. We stood to look behind us. The tasting room was unrecognizable, engulfed in flames. Bariana looked at me and said, “thank you. You saved my life. But that man. That man was in there!”
I grabbed Bariana and restrained her as she attempted to rush towards the wreckage. “It’s too late. Harold is dead. He’s dead. Not the sole survivor of this one.”
Bariana turned her head faster than Paula Deen looking at a stick of butter. “How did… how…” she trailed off.
“Just a good listener, hon. Just a damn good listener.”
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