The Russian, the Brut and the Wedding
Napa Valley Private Eye P. Noir in: Farewell, My Cuvée.
The Iron Horse gang is back in town. That's going to go about as well for me as red wine with fish. All three siblings, too. The Russian. The Brut. And Jiminy “The Wedding” Cuvée, who earned his nickname after a habit of offing his business partners led to a string of bad “’till death do you part” jokes. I was one of those business partners.
I’d been hired for him by the Russian, Jiminy’s beautiful half-sister. I remember, with a real share of fondness, watching her walk through my door, thick through hips and lips in exactly the right way. Elegant, but with a presence; she damn near sparkled. I remember her perfume, too, and what it did to me … grapefruit and hazelnut. Her lips the shade of a ripe red apple, but if memory serves they tasted more like mandarin orange. And memory served just fine, perfectly aged and complimented by some poached shrimp with remoulade.
Anyways, she’d come on behalf of her brother, hiring me to find an allegedly missing three bottles of top shelf 2008s. I was to investigate the Woot Cellars, searching for them, and oh yeah, I was to bring her brother the Brut with me.
I remember the first time he walked into my office too, but not as fondly. He was a classic, old school heavy. He had the edge of a Pinot, the style of a Chardonnay, and a cork for brains. Grapefruit and toasted nuts for breakfast, violence and extortion for dinner. Nice hat, though. Fedora, with a fancier band than mine. Sonoma born and bred, just like his brother.
Which brings us back to Jiminy. For all his evil, he’s a vibrant guy. And rich. Brought up right, never wanting for anything. Probably never experienced a temperature below 62 or above 65 till he left his parents’ house to embark on a life of crime, and maybe not even then.
They were quite the family, and they had quite the scheme. They didn’t actually want me to find the three missing bottles, which of course they already had in their possession, being the owners of the vineyard it came from… they just wanted everyone to think it’d gone missing so they could drive up the price. And if some no-good shamus like me got corked looking for it in the Woot Cellars, well, that only made for a better story. I managed to slip their scheme, set them up against the mean old miser who owns the Cellars, and they ran for the hills.
But they’re back now. I should leave town. I should run for my worthless little life before the Brut stomps me like a grape. Hop on the 101 and head south, all the way out of wine country and into a bold new life free of hangovers and heavies. But that’s not what a detective does. No, I think instead I’ll just pay the Iron Horse Gang a visit. Find out what they want.
And maybe, just maybe, get another taste of mandarin oranges…