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Better With Age
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Better With Age
A young couple enjoy their new home, and a barrel of brandy...
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|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (12)
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Better With Age
With the sun peeking shyly over its nest of trees, Mark Duvall pulled his dusty Buick into the driveway of his and his wives new home. He got out of the car and was greeted by the sweet country air as it rolled by.
"So," Danielle Duvall said, stepping out of the passenger's side door. "This is the place, huh? It's huge!" Mark walked around the car and put his arm around his wife.
"Yerah. Beautiful, isn't it?" he said.
"It's gorgeous." They gathered up the few belongings they'd stuffed into the back seat and went into the house.
After dumping off their baggage in the room that was to be theirs, Mark led Danielle on a tour of the house, showing her the numerous bedrooms and bathrooms and such. Danielle hoped to have a big family someday, and Mark had found a house that he thought should be big enough for them all. Eventually, Mark thought with grin.
They came to a door at the end of a long skinny hallway.
"This is my favorite place in the house," he said.
"Ooh, how exciting," replied Danielle. Mark took a key out of his hip pocket and popped open the lock on the door. He opened the door and pulled a small chain that hung directly above them. A bare bulb illuminated a musty smelling cellar.
"Why is it your favorite?"
"Hold on, I'll get to it," he said, smiling. Danielle followed him down the stairs and into the cool of the cellar. Mark went over to the corner and yanked open a door that stood there. Once inside the room, he pulled yet another chain and the room was flooded with light, revealing five or six barrels.
"You see," he said pointing to the light bulb over head, "this place was just recently rewired. About a month ago this place didn't have any lights at all."
"The whole house, or just the cellar?"
"The cellar. The house has had electricity since the thirty's or so, but it was rewired also about ten or twelve years ago."
"Ah," said Danielle, feigning her interest in the subject. "So what are those?" She pointed to the barrels behind Mark.
"Oh, right. They're the reason we're down here," he said, and flashed her a grin. "Most of these, all but one I think, were tapped and drained before I got here. But this one," he indicated which by resting his hand on it, "is full of brandy. Completely full, judging by the weight of it."
"Well, how do you know it's brandy?"
"Because I tapped it and drank some," he said with a laugh, indicating a small tap near the bottom with his foot.
"You dog," Danielle said with a laugh of her own. Mark told Danielle to stay put and went upstairs. A moment later he came back with two wine glasses. He filled them both from the tap on the bottom of the barrel.
"How romantic," said Danielle. "Nothing like sharing a glass of brandy in a basement with the one you love."
"Cellar," corrected Mark.
"Whatever," she drank from the glass. "Wow, this is actually pretty good!"
"I know," Mark said. "And it's probably hundreds of years old, too."
"Are you sure we should be drinking it?"
"There's nothing wrong with it," he said and downed half of the brandy in his glass in one gulp. "Might as well."
For the next couple of weeks as the movers delivered their belongings and filled their new home, they drank from the barrel of brandy. They even offered some to the movers, who accepted it gratefully.
When the moving was done, and everything was in it's place, Danielle suggested that they throw a party.
"I think it would be fun, plus we could let people sample our delicious brandy. That way people will like us," she said.
"And it's a must that we be liked, isn't it my little socialite princess?" Mark said.
"Oh yes, most indubitably," she said and laughed.
"A party would be good. Be a great chance to meet some of the people that live around here." With that they called the few people that they had met previously and told them to bring with them anyone who wanted to come to the party. By eight o'clock that night their home was filled with people, only a scarce few familiar.
A young woman Danielle barely knew as Helen came up to her. "Nice party, Danielle was it?"
"Where can I find this brandy your husband so graciously poured for me? I seemed to have gone dry." The woman indicated the apparent dryness by turning her glass over and laughed drunkenly.
"Um, I think it's out here." Danielle led the woman out to the back yard, where the brandy had been placed by the movers. Danielle motioned to it with a wave of her hand. "Help yourself."
"And you just turn this little handle?" the young woman asked, holding her glass under the spigot.
"Good deal." She turned the handle but nothing came out. "What gives? You're all out."
"Hmm, hold on a minute." Danielle went back into the house and pulled her husband away from a group of guys he'd been talking to.
"Having some problems with the spigot thing out her, hun."
"Let me see it," said Mark. He went out into the back yard where the young woman was still crouched beside the barrel, still waiting for the brandy to come pouring out into her cup.
"Watch out," he said and the woman moved aside. Mark twisted the handle himself but nothing happened. "It shouldn't be empty, feel how heavy it is." He tilted the barrel and felt a thump from inside.
"What was that?" Danielle said.
"I don't know," Mark replied. "Hold on, I'm gonna go get something to open it up with."
When Mark left the young woman, Helen, turned to Danielle.
"I hope it's not a rat or nothing. That would be gross."
"Thanks for that, Helen," Danielle said sarcastically. "And it's 'I hope it's not a rat or anything', not nothing. That's a double negative."
"Um, sure." The woman turned and left, forgetting all about her drink.
Mark returned a few moments later with a hammer and a chisel a few minutes later. He pounded around the edges of the top of the barrel with the chisel until it gave with a pop. He grabbed the lid and dropped it to the ground beside him. He peered into the barrel.
"What the---" He pushed it over and out tumbled a shriveled corpse that reeked of brandy.
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