By DELBERT HORROCKS
I walked out of my office, down the stairs, onto the street where she was standing next to a limo, obviously waiting for me. The beatific smile you noticed first, then the long blonde hair and then the fact that she was built like an 800-meter runner, slim but strong, the gold standard of feminine shape. At my age that’s a lot to notice without getting a shortness of breath.
“Jack Proctor?” she asked.
“Even if I wasn’t, I’d still say yes.”
“Will you come with me?”
“My mother said not to take rides from strangers, but in your case, I’ll make a exception. Where might we be going?”
“I’m taking you to see God. Have you appeared in front of him before?”
“No, but with my first wife, I frequently incurred his wrath.”
I hopped in, made small talk, and racked my brain about how I might have offended the creator this time. Finally we stopped inOakBayat a Tudor mansion overlooking the water.
“God,” I said. “As in Father, Son and Holy Ghost?”
“You’ll be seeing the son, Zachariah.”
“Sure you’ve got the right guy? I scrupulously obey all nine commandments. That one about not coveting thy neighbour’s wife I have trouble with, but if you saw her, you’d understand.”
“This is not about you, it’s about your client, Roger at Alderlea Vineyard.”
“Ah ha!” I said, my usual response when completely in the dark.
She walked me into a large room overlooking the water, then left the room. In front of the window was a desk about as large as a pool table but with no side pockets. Behind the desk was a man, fiftyish, in a Tommy Bahamas shirt, white linen slacks, loafers, no socks. He was well tanned and looked wealthy, but I guess if you’re the son of God you’re pretty well set up as far as RRSP’s are concerned.
“I’m the son of God,” he said. “Also his director of communications. You can call me Zack. Thanks for coming.”
“Thank your attractive delivery service.”
“She was sent for a reason. We’re familiar with all your foibles. You appear to have a weakness for women.”
Oops! Don’t want to be headed in that direction.
“About Roger,” I said, changing the topic. “What’s he done this time?”
“Seriously annoyed Dad, that’s what.” He flipped on the intercom. “Jessica, would you bring in the Big Book.”
It came in on a wagon, and was turned to page 3046, Vegetation,Vancouver Island.
“If you look here,” he said. “God’s plan for theIslandwas for a variety of conifers, plenty of blackberries, some salal and the ever so hardy Irish Daffodil, also known as the dandelion. Nothing about grapes, which your client happens to be growing.”
I shrugged. “That’s Roger.”
Jessica left the room; both of us watched her undulate out the door, Zack whistling an old Johnny Tillotson song, Poetry in Motion, off key I might add.
“Love this posting,” he said, under his breath.
“What’s heaven like?” I asked, having just seen it sashay out the door.
His turn to shrug. “Torontoin the summer. Too humid.”
“Do you spend much time here?”
“Full time. Dad’s backed out of communication entirely. He used to do it all by burning bush, he’d gather people around, torch a tumbleweed, hold forth, but the environmentalists got on his case. To tell you the truth, he no longer fits in. I mean, He still wears robes and Birkenstocks. Last time he was down, a cabbie confused him with a hari krishna. Pissed him right off.
“But back to your client, in 2010 Dad decided to put a stop to all grape growing onVancouver Island. He sent a particularly crappy summer as a warning. Most vintners took note and complained bitterly about it. But your guy? He goes and produces a dynamite Bacchus and an exceptional Pinot Gris. And according to him, his reds, still unreleased, will be fine.” He drummed his fingers on the desk for emphasis. “Dad’s not impressed.”
I pulled out my all purpose shrug, the only defense I had. “I’ll speak to my client. I’m sure we can work something out.”
“It’s not that big a deal,” he said. “Dad just sometimes feels like he’s losing control and gets a little edgy about it.”
And then he leaned in. Looked first to the right, then the left. With the coast clear, and in a conspiratorial tone, said, “Say, did Roger make much of those whites?”
“Some,” I said. “Not a lot.”
“Do you think you could score me a couple cases each?”
“We’ll have to act quickly.”
“Talk to Jessica on the way out.”
“How,” I said, “could I not.”
(To contact the winery, 250-746-7142.)
Delbert Horrocks is the co-proprietor at the Mahle House restaurant in Cedar. For more reading try Delbert’s blog, Slightlycorkedandmore.wordpress.com