This is written as an assignment for Studio Thirty Plus and the Weekly Writing Prompt.
This week's prompt is, The Do Over
Did I forget to mention that comments and criticism are welcome?
So, you wanted to know about the wine? I think it was Monaco, could have been Cannes. No, silly me, it was Monaco. I remember my gorgeous Valentino gown. But who cares? The 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam was to be uncorked, and that was what mattered. Philippe had brought it up from the on-board wine cellar, saying he had been waiting for just the right occasion to crack it open. If ever there was a fitting occasion, this had been it. But Philippe did not know it was a replacement, one which I had purchased, at great expense and effort.
Philippe was two years single that day, having parted company with Scylla, may she rot in Hell. Cruel? Hah! My dear, I am not being cruel. She was horrid. My nickname for her is cruel only in the injustice it heaps on the original monster. Scylla, or Lady Elizabeth Evangeline Cressida Gotwolt, if you insist that I use her purported name, was little more than a psychopathic murderess, disguised as a woman. Imagine one of those Gargoyles from the Galerie des Chimères, at the cathedral of Notre Dame, and then imagine that it had flayed a woman and donned her skin as a suit. Now you have a kinder vision of this...thing...this heinous imitation of a woman. If Hell has a dungeon, and that dungeon has a crypt for the worst of humanity, she will be sent below it to dig her own pit and crawl inside!
But, yes, the wine. That glorious, sanguine elixer! Dear Philippe wanted to open it in memoriam and in celebration. He was proud, because he had bid so well for it. $98,000 U.S., yet the day he came home with it, that harpy had told him he must never open the bottle. As if she knew anything about wine, or anything, for that matter. Philippe had wanted to open it on their first anniversary, but she had denied him the pleasure, as she always did. Given her background, it was astonishing that she knew less about giving a man pleasure than she did about wine (or fashion, or who her own father was). Oh, she claimed to be from an aristocratic line, and made an effort to affect the mannerisms inherent in good breeding. But we all knew, from the moment she lumbered into our circle, that she was just another wharf doxy, bent on securing wealth through one of our own. One cannot simply fake good breeding. Stupid, illiterate shrew!
Oh, but pardon my wandering mind! The wine, of course. We started with an admirable, but conventional prosecco. Philippe loved the stuff, and we could never convince him to leave his taste for it behind. It is still one of his cutest idiosyncrasies, and I've secretly enjoyed allowing him to indulge his tastes. I will admit, it was bright, dry, and snappy. We opened it just after ten (the "Main Event" would be opened at midnight), when the lights from the city were glimmering on the water and the orange-flushed Moon had just peeked its face above the hills to watch over our celebration in the harbor. The breeze was light, and tangy. Donald was there with Christine, and Flora had brought that delightful brother of hers - the gay one - Geoffrey (or is it Mitchell)? He had been the first to comment on my gown and, for a moment, I thought he might strip it off of me right there on the fantail of the Gossamer Fleur and run off with it! Abel and Katherine were arm in arm, still looking the happy newlyweds. Braden and Sophie, as if mandated by the Gods of Revelry, were always at our parties.
However, it was Archard who had captured my immediate attention. Arriving late, as usual, he had come...alone? No, there was his companion du jour, the enticing Brazilian actress Maria Bettencourt, coming up the gangway behind him. Apollo and Aphrodite in the flesh, and what flesh it was! A pity I wouldn't be able to have him all to myself. Those endless eyelashes, and the deep cocoa eyes themselves, oh my! I decided on the spot that I would be willing to make the sacrifice and share him with Maria that night. Perhaps she would turn out to be a good sport and play nicely. She was new, and I wondered if she was aware of his "proclivities". As I stepped over to greet them, I quickly thought of what I could say to guarantee at least his cooperation with the idea. It turned out that he was a step ahead of me. With the grace of a leopard, he fluidly pulled his lighter from his coat pocket and lit my cigarette for me even before I realized I had propped it up for him. Maria simply gazed blithely at Archard, and then at me, introduced herself as "Mar", and extended an exquisite hand. I took it, felt the youthful, firm grip contrast with the silky skin, and held it longer than necessary while I leaned in to give Archard a kiss on the cheek. He responded in kind, and whispered, "I know what you're thinking and I approve.".
My darling, you have let me stray again. Please, please forgive my deviations! You wanted to hear about the wine and I'm going on about everything but. Some say that Mouton Rothschild has been inflated in the esteem in which it is held. I cannot agree with them of course. One must truly taste it in the company of others who appreciate its pedigree. The 1945 is especially ravishing, perhaps in light of its historical context, but no matter. It is more than wine. It is a living sacrificial liquid, still growing and forming, ever changing in the bottle, and ever changing those who consume its immortal essence.
It had touched my lips only once before, exactly two years earlier, and also on board the Gossamer Fleur. That time I had dared only a forbidden, secret sip, before bringing it to Philippe and Scylla. Of course they had no idea what wine was actually being served them. It would have been unthinkable to announce that I had opened the "Blood of Christ" in her presence. Philippe would have suffered the indignities of her vile, insane rantings. I could not do that to my poor brother. So I quietly dismissed the galley staff and stewards - they suspected nothing, as it was my habit to frequently let them off early (part of my generous nature). I then emptied a Bordeaux of relatively close vintage, opened the Jeroboam, and poured three glasses, dispensing the remainder into the empty bottle. Her glass, of course, had been prepared in advance, and, knowing her peasant taste, she would never detect anything out of the ordinary. It was so precious of her to supply the "additives" herself. The foolish thing had recently begun using a combination of illicit prescription and street drugs, supplied by a "friend" in Bruges. The Nembutal and chloral hydrate I secreted from her cabin would do just fine. No one would suspect a thing, her addiction being known to many already. Just a tragic overdose and drowning. I giggled to myself: like Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood combined! I placed the glasses on the serving tray and went up to the salon.
Did I tell you she murdered my Napoleon? She murdered him as surely as I sit here with you. He was such a sweet tempered, tiny fellow. All Yorkies are sweethearts. My baby. He could Moonwalk, you know. I taught him when he was not quite six months old. He could Moonwalk across the floor, and when he did, he had the most amazing look of pride on his little face. Napoleon knew he was a star and everyone loved him so. My friends would give him little treats, which I had to approve first, of course, and he would dance for them, happy as could be. But she killed him. She was jealous of the attention he received and waited until I was away at clinic for a therapy session (of course you know about my migraines, which require such special care). Then she murdered Napoleon! She said that he ran away while the Gossamer Fleur was docked in Valetta. Liar! Bitch! Whore! Napoleon would not run away, except from her. When I returned from Lyon, he was simply gone. Philippe tried to console me, telling me that perhaps Napoleon was just lost. He had posted notices in Valetta, and left our contact information should anyone find him. But it was no use. I knew what Scylla had done, and that night, two years ago, she received her repayment.
Oh, it was quite good wine, I assure you. Even though I took only the one sip, it was marvelous. I watched as Philippe and his courtesan drank theirs, she slurping greedily, as if a thirst-starved Egyptian slave. Philippe's was drugged too, of course. Much less so than hers, but enough so that I could go about my business with the whore without interruption. Poor Philippe! He would miss her, I thought, at least for a little while. Not as much as I missed Napoleon, but he would be lonely for a few weeks, and I would have to comfort him.
I will spare you the details, but everything worked as I imagined it would. They were both asleep within the hour, and fifteen minutes past midnight, Scylla slipped beneath the surface of the harbor. I was right, as usual. The coroner determined, two weeks later, when they had dragged her pathetic, bloated corpse from the water, that she had died by drowning, after taking an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. And, as usual, the authorities wanted no headlines splashed across the newspapers or internet, so there would be no further investigation or questioning. If they do one thing right in Monaco, it is keep their secrets very secret.
And there we were, two years later, in the same harbor, on the same beautiful yacht, drinking the wine that my dear, dear Philippe had waited so long to taste, or so he thought (thank you, Sotheby's!). His friends around him, his loyal sister by his side, his lonely nightmares a thing of the past, he was finally going to drink his 1945 Jeroboam. That night, I could have swum an ocean of it! I was in bliss, feeling the light of heaven radiate from me, knowing that all was right again, and all would be right from now on. I would have Archard that night, even if it meant having Maria as well. He would be the dinner, and she the dessert. Now, a lady does not give details of such passion, but that night saw the three of us reach the heights of rapture!
I regret (for her sake, naturally) that Maria decided to stay on board when all the others departed, and cruise with us that entire month. She had wanted to rest from the rigors of film shoots and modeling for a short time, and Philippe had insisted she stay with us for the summer. If only she had gone back to Brazil! Silly, foolish Maria. And now, she has gone and fallen head over heels for my Philippe! Why do women behave so? I do what I must now, if only you would please discharge me and allow me to go back to the Gossamer Fleur. The migraines have passed, and I feel completely well. I promise! You know that I must protect Philippe from her. You agree, no? And you know, as I do, that she has no addictions, as Scylla did. But this time I will do it differently. You see, it's like a do-over, and I can change the little details, so no one will connect the two. I so love the do-over! We can use them to become better and better each time.