NGW: Chateau Lalande Listrac-Medoc 2009   3 comments

Do you believe in the power of curses?

1.

The sun was hot and sweat was trickling down the small of his back.  Felix spotted the young woman, Marcela, in the puny town square one late summer afternoon.  His family, owned much of the farmland surrounding the village and as such he had rank and privilege.  She was brown-eyed and raven haired– but just a girl, really.  Born to a poor family, her eyes spied on him from behind the strands of dark hair that fell across her sun-stained face.  Though she was but 14 years of age, she looked spectacular to him.  And she was smitten, though he was in his mid-twenties.  

As the aristocrat son of the landowner, he did not need to ask permission to court the girl.  In time, she bore him two children, both girls, Merin and Evangelia.  Because of his status, Marcela’s parents Tomasa and Juan, did not interfere.  Girls were married off young then and if she was to be with Felix, at least her station in life would be elevated.  But there was to be no marriage.  And though he did not need her parents’ permission to bed the girl, his parents were not so pleased with the union.  Exercising the power of the purse, they prevailed on him to withdraw from the relationship and he soon went into hiding.  Had he refused, he likely would have become a Latino Ivanhoe: disinherited, poor, excommunicated from the family.

But a line had been crossed and Tomasa, driven by protectiveness of her daughter and perhaps by seeing that her daughter’s status and by extension her own standing in the community, were dissolving right before their eyes, became enraged.  But she could not strike out at the landowners– at least not physically.  They were too powerful.  Instead, she knelt under a large tree and in the presence of Felix’s mother prayed that his family would be denied the sight him just as Marcela had been so deprived.  What she meant by that, no one really knew.

Merin and Evangelia, grew to be pretty girls, much like their mother.  Felix’s family, while never disavowing the girls, did not interfere in their upbringing. 

2.

In time, Felix emerged from hiding and he and his Brother Pedro courted and then married two sisters, Guita and Belica, respectively.  Theirs was a tight-knit relationship and the brothers and their brides moved into two homes that lay next to each other.  Felix and Guita in one and Pedro and Belica in the other.  They were family; but more importantly, they were best friends.   

During the week, , Felix would rise in the morning and after washing with some rough handmade soap, he would shave with a straight-edged razor with a carved bone handle, its finely honed edge scraping off the previous day’s stubble.  He would enter the kitchen where Guita would have his morning cafe con leche, piping hot and sweetened, just the way he liked it, waiting for him.  He would nibble on a buttered soda cracker, gulp down the sweetened elixir and energized, go off to work.  Pedro would similarly do the same in the house next door.

In the evenings, the two households would gather for a meal and talk of the day’s events.  The food was typical– platanos maduros, arroz con habichuelas, carne de cerdo, asopao de pollo, mofongo, arroz con gandules, bacalaitos, ropa vieja.  This was not a light cuisine and despite their daily regimen of work, the brothers were beginning to put on weight.  The sisters, were happy to see it and be part of it.  All that was missing was children.

Guita, of course, knew about Felix’s two children with Marcela.  Didn’t everyone?  That notion that Felix had two children, albeit illegitimate children, in close proximity, weighed heavily on Guita.  Felix’s past life cast a shadow on the house.  Merin and Evangelia were also potential heirs. 

Moreover, in this community you were defined by the number of children you had.  This was also the only real form of social security at that time.  And she wanted desperately to have her own in order to secure her future well-being as she aged.

At nightfall, the two couples, bellies full, would retire to their respective homes, undress, make love and slip into marital slumber.  In the warm tropical air, the mosquitos would arrive to draw out their daily allotment before flying off to feed their own larvae in a dark pool of still water.

3.

Returning home early from work, one afternoon, Felix thought he would surprise Guita and spend a little quality time with her.  They did not have children, though they hoped to start a family soon.  As he approached the house, he thought that perhaps today would be a good day to make more progress on that domestic project.  Ever since he had broken off the relationship with Marcela, he did not really see that much of his two girls, Merin and Evangelia.  And he felt this void in his life.  It was a wound in his life that had not quite healed and now he was hoping that he would have a second chance to heal himself by having a child with Guita. 

As he entered the house, he heard Guita’s voice in the bedroom.  “So, she speaks to herself when I’m not home,” he thought.  Hers was a delicate voice, her laughter was lightly carried aloft as if on hummingbird wings.  He opened the door, and entering the sleeping chamber, he heard a familiar man’s voice.  A stunned silence fell on the room.  Two figures, entwined and frozen by the harsh light of discovery.  Their mouths went arid as the weight of the moment began to crush them.

Felix’s heart sank.  There, before him, Pedro and Guita lying in a nude embrace, their tanned bodies in bas-relief against the freshly laundered taut white sheets.  Of course, he had seen each of them nude before.  But not like this.  The unwanted smell of human perspiration was lingering in the tropical air.  To be a cuckold was shame enough for a man of Felix’s stature and nature.  To receive the horns at the hands of his own brother was impossible to accept.  It was a double betrayal by the two people he loved the most in the world.  He walked over to the tall dresser where his shaving mirror sat on its mahogany stand.  He gazed at his own face– angrily sanguine.  He reached down and picked up the bone handled straight razor.  It felt smooth in his hand.  He gripped it tightly and his knuckles turned white with waves of loathing and nausea.  Guita, looked at him and begged for mercy, but she was too frightened to get off the bed.  She had never seen this expression on his face.  Pedro, swallowed hard and offered a stuttered and hollow excuse as he started to rise from the bed. 

Felix stared them both down for what would perhaps be the last time.  Then overwhelmed, Felix fled the room, tears streaming down his face and a scream choked off in his throat.  He had to get out of that house.  He made his way down to the creek that Pedro and he used to play in when they were younger– images of water fights, skipping stones, fishing for minnows, talk of local girls ran through his head.  And of  Guita– what could she have been thinking to let this happen?  

Arriving at the water’s edge, his heart beating wildly and short of breath, he became aware once again of the shaving tool he held in his hand.  Unfurling the blade from its bony shell, the glinting edge caught the blinding sunlight as it reflected off the water in the creek.  He stared at the blade and a strange smile came over his face.  He pushed the blade into the flesh on his wrist, tearing at the tendons, slicing deeply, the skin opening up, exposing his veins, in a wide red smile.  Warm liquid poured out of him, but he felt nothing except an emptiness.  Sitting on the edge of the creek he watched as the crimson liquid spilled out of him, staining his slacks and streaking down the muddy brown bank, before trickling in and mixing with the current for its downstream journey.  Alone, he let out a small sorrowful cry.  It was the last sound he ever made.

4.

After they interred him, the family never saw Felix again.  They had probably forgotten Tomasa’s words, even if Tomasa and Marcela did not. 

However, now that Felix was beyond anyone’s grasp, the two families settled their old differences.  Marcela and Tomasa agreed that Merin, would be taken in by Felix’s family and raised as one of their own.  Marcela would continue to raise the other daughter, Evangelia, in relative poverty.  However, the girls would continue to see each other and there is no doubt that this benefitted Evangelia as well.  It was a way to acknowledge, Felix’s paternity, which pleased Marcela and Tomasa.  But it was also a way for the Felix’s  family to catch glimpses of Felix’s spirit in the children they should have acknowledged from the start. 

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

There is not much off a segue between this story and today’s NGW, other than to say that it provided some inspiration as the words started to flow.

This one shows that there may still be good values out there in French wines even from the 2009 vintage.  This has a Cru Bourgeois designation which in a great vintage like 2009, may actually mean something.  Pay attention to your labels.

Chateau Lalande Listrac-Medoc 2009 ($14).  Lovely aromas of crushed berries.  Red and black fruits intermingle with an herbal quality.  Minerally and a little grippy with 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot.  The finish tells us this can age for a few more years with no harm.  It over delivers at this price.  Rated ***

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Posted August 22, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

3 responses to “NGW: Chateau Lalande Listrac-Medoc 2009

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  1. Great post, as always. I was curious what the segue would be (red blood flowing into a river by the vines, etc……but you got me…;-)

  2. Pingback: NGW: Pares Balta Ros de Pacs 2011 « sybaritesauvage

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