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2nd

Apr

THE HOUSE THAT HELL BUILT

9 am … Monday, and your hero Cino Noir, private wine investigator for hire was heading straight for jail. Now fear not good citizen for it was investigation not incarceration awaiting me.

 I was breaching the entrance to Batongaville state penitentiary, a maximum-security stronghold so morally bankrupt and bereft of hope that it had acquired the chillingly apt name ‘The house that Hell built’. This was home to some of the most heinous gutter punks and hell rats my beloved city had to offer, and it was maybe its most infamous inmate who had summoned me there today.

Eduardo ‘The Butcher’ de Stefano was facing the death penalty in 48 hours for crimes I carefully chose not to find out about. ‘The Butchers’ love of succulent fillet steak was well known, however, his perverted penchant for slicing and dicing meat did not just stop with beef and veal.  For his last meal Eduardo de Stefano had requested a medium rare 12 oz fillet of beef with pan-seared foie gras, pomme mousseline and Madeira jus. It was my task to source the perfect red wine from the cellars of Cork’s Out to accompany this last supper.

Sitting in a stale, clinical room in front a sheet of glass, I waited as the manacled butcher was escorted out in front of me.  Eduardo slunk into view, lifted the receiver to his ear and spoke without feeling.

“Where is the wine?”

“Patience Mr de Stefano, I would like some time to explain my choice” I spoke passively.

“Time is something I don’t have, now hand over the wine, I’m sick of the sight of you already….. Cino Grigio” the offender roared, lionized by my cat-footed nature.

With whitened knuckles and through gritted teeth I leaned in close, “the name is Noir … Cino Noir”.

I gathered myself, delved into my Corks Out bag and plucked out the wine.

“This is Purple Angel by the Montes winery, I figured where you’re going, you may desire some angelic guidance.”

Eduardo emitted a low frequency growl, obviously he did not share my catholic concerns.

“This wine is as divine as the name suggests, a premium blend of Carmenere and Petit Verdot from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  The broad shouldered style of the Carmenere will stand up to your beef fillet with conviction, as the cut throat acid will slice through the fatty foie gras like a switchblade through warm butter. The mid palate is a riot of dark, black fruit and spice. Tannic structure is anchored with generous, fine oak leaving you with a wine of distinction that you will remember for the rest of your natural life.” I said with a smirk, taking full advantage of the screen dividing us.

“Enjoy a glass whilst strolling down the valley of the shadow of death” I mocked as I opened the drop box and deposited the wine for the guard to retrieve.

Eduardo’s spat out his last lines to me with pure, unadulterated vitriol.

“The only people worse than the law are those who think they are above it. I have no respect for a cold blooded mercenary, masquerading as a vigilante. When I am returned to hell, I’ll be waiting for you….. Cino Grigio!’

‘GOD DAMN IT, DON’T CALL ME THAT!!!’ I erupted.

As Eduardo’s guards dragged the monster away, his demonic laugh haunted every corner of this desperate room.

But it was I who would have last laugh.

De Stefano’s legal representation had insisted that the wine came with a screw cap closure, knowing that due to the twisted nature of their employer, a corkscrew would not be permitted.

This was a detail I had deliberately overlooked.

Satisfied that Eduardo ‘The Butcher’ de Stefano would be delivered to hell without the touch of a purple angel, I mimed my farewell.

”See you in hell tough guy, I’ll bring the corkscrew”.

Justice is a dish best served medium rare.

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