Welcome to Three Word Thursday #7. This week, joining the quondam word-list, we have bacchante, queachy, & jibber. We also have a whole list of perspicacious writers. If you enjoy reading my story, leave a comment then click on the names of the other players and go see how they used the words. You’ll be entertained (and possibly educated) all at once.
The Best Laid Plans
Chianti Sangiovese wore a form-fitting, black velvet evening gown. A gold choker glittering with diamonds encircled her throat. On her feet she wore strappy gold sandals with 4 inch heels. Her hair was piled high and held in place with jewel crusted combs. Tonight she would preside over her first festival – and she was ready! Everything was going to work out just as she’d planned.
To make certain she couldn’t get lost, the novice bacchante used Google Earth’s mapping feature to plan her driving route to the party. She’d been assured that all the libations would be provided, but just before she took the freeway exit heading south, she stopped at a special little shop near the end of Main Street and picked up a couple dozen bottles of a very special wine – and one extra-special cocktail. No one was leaving her Bacchanal coronation sober – and one person wouldn’t be leaving the party at all.
Chianti reached across the seat and felt for her purse. She fumbled it open and caressed the special purple vial inside. Tonight she would drink one last toast with Stephan. She would tell him that she wished him well in his new life, and wished him happiness with his new wife. Then he would sip from his drink and understand that she was really wishing him good-bye.
The map showed a road crossing the freeway about seven miles outside of town. She was to take a right there, and five miles later another right, and a mile after that, a left should put her at a lovely little boat club on the edge of a private bay beside Barbaresco Lake.
It was a pleasant mid-summer Friday evening. Chianti manipulated the automatic windows until they allowed a nice fresh breeze to enter the car, but wasn’t so brisk it ruffled her hair.
She was surprised so few cars were on the road, and even more surprised as she made the final turn to discover no clubhouse in sight. Still, the parking lot was filled with cars, and spotlights illuminated a big black banner advertising the Bacchanal in letters of red. She parked the car, grabbed her purse, and followed the noises of revelry.
Despite the bright moonlight, she found walking a challenge. The dirt path was strewn with pine needles, tree roots and other natural disasters waiting to trip her up. Branches and brambles tugged at her velvet dress. She wished for sturdier, flatter shoes. Why had no one told her she would have to hike in? And how much further was it?
The trail pitched steeply. Chianti’s sandals found little purchase on the slick pine needles covering the trail. She slipped, arms flailing, and crashed to the ground, sliding several yards downhill before she came to a stop.
Shakily, she got to her feet. Her gown hung in dirty tatters. Her hair tumbled about her shoulders, the jewel encrusted combs were lost somewhere in darkness. Her palms bled – and she had no idea where she was. She listened for the party, but only the whisper of wind through the trees, and the sound of water lapping against the shore came to her ears.
The moon still shone brightly, but she could discern no trail. Perhaps, she thought, I will find it if I climb back up the hill. She took off her sandals and reached for her purse – but it was gone, lost in the darkness, or a bush, or just too far from the trail to see.
Perhaps I should just go home, she thought, her mind all a jibber. Nothing was going as planned. But she couldn’t leave without her purse. It held her car keys – and the purple vial. Chinati remembered again why she’d made her plans. Stephan had first introduced her to the Bacchanal. They’d participated in the drunken parties five times each year, during all the years they’d lived together. It was Stephan who urged her to become a priestess, and then, during the few short weeks she was away training, he’d met and married another woman.
Her resolve to continue strengthened, Chianti left her shoes where she had fallen as a landmark, and searched away from them in ever widening circles, but she did not find her purse. Had she dropped it at the top of the hill? Had it continued tumbling down the slope? In either case, Chianti would have to walk out of sight of her shoes to find out.
She left one silver sandal where she’d fallen and carried the other sandal down hill several yards, and then put it down, planning to again use it as a landmark to help her find the first shoe. That’s when she saw her purse. It had gone over the embankment and tumbled onto the beach. Chianti carefully crawled down after it, leaving bits of her expensive velvet gown on the underbrush as she went.
The embankment was queachy. The wet ground soaked her to the skin. Mud oozed between her toes and collected in the tatters of her pantyhose. Never had a sober Bacchanal priestess looked so disreputable.
Suddenly the embankment gave way. Chianti rode the wave of mud on to the beach and crawled to her purse. She clutched the leather to her chest and staggered to her feet. Clapping and cheering filled the air. Flood lights lit the beach. Someone yelled, “Our Priestess is here! Let the party begin!”
A drumroll echoed and the crowd started chanting, “Chianti! Chianti! Chianti!”
Chianti stumbled to the bandstand. A microphone was thrust into her hand. She stood muddy and bloody and tattered. Her hair hung in a tangle. She had never looked worse, and still she laughed. She grabbed a bottle of wine, held it high into the air with her right hand, and holding the microphone in her left hand, encouraged the crowd to drink and enjoy in celebration of Bacchus.
And suddenly Stephan was at her side, pressing a wine glass into her hand. “You said we would share a drink,” he said. “No hard feelings.”
Chianti tried to smile. Things weren’t going at all as she’d planned. She was supposed to have approached Stephan, drinks in hand, looking beautiful and elegant and cool. Instead she looked like something that washed ashore in a storm. Still, her revenge was salvageable.
A drink. She needed a drink to help her collect her wits and reconstruct her plan. She accepted the one from Stephan’s hand and sipped gratefully. “So,” she asked, “Where is your — wife?”
“I didn’t want to introduce Sherry to you until I was certain you planned to be civil;” Stephan answered.
Chianti took another sip — champagne. “Of course I plan to be civil. Isn’t that what I told you on the phone?”
“Hmmm,” Stephan answered. “But after seven years of living with you, I know that what you plan and what you actually do are rarely the same. For instance,” he put his hand on her shoulder and turned her to face the parkinglot, where she could clearly see her car. “Why did you climb up and over the hill instead of just walking down the beach?”
Chianti realized that the spotlights on the Bacchanal sign had obscured her view of the beach. “It sounded as though the party was coming from behind me.” She said aloud. “How could that be?”
Stephan smiled. “It isn’t an unusual phenomena around water.” He talked while refilling her champagne flute. “The breeze from the lake carries the sound up the hillside and it echoes back down.”
Chianti wondered why no one had tried to stop her, but before she could ask, Stephan directed her attention to the beautiful blond woman who’d just stepped up and taken his arm. The woman’s bright, dimpled smile and sparking green eyes were familiar. Chianti covered her confusion by drinking from her champagne glass. She knew this woman – this woman who must be Stephan’s new wife. How was it that –?
While Chianti was trying to put the puzzle pieces together in her suddenly foggy mind, she finished off her second glass of champagne. Stephan slipped the flute from her fingers and tucked it in his coat pocket, then he and his new wife took her by the arms, one on either side, and walked her back to the spot where she’d tumbled down the embankment. “Wha –. Whad are you –“ Chianti’s eyes focused on the woman – Sherry? – Stephan’s wife. “I know you!” She exclaimed. “You –“
Sherry held up a little purple bottle just like the one in Chianti’s purse. “I sold you a poison that can’t be traced when mixed with alcohol. And I doctored several dozen bottles of wine with a special sleeping potion.”
Stephan lifted Chianti’s purse from her unresisting hands. He removed her car keys and her purple vial. “You won’t be needing these,” he said. “But I’ll return the keys anyway, after we’ve passed out your special wine. No sense letting it go to waste, besides, we’d just as soon nobody remembered too much about tonight.” He handed her purse back.
Chianti’s fingers didn’t seem to work properly. The purse fell to the ground. She sat down heavily beside it.
“You’ve had a good dose of the sleeping potion,” Sherry said.
“That was the first drink,” Stephan said. “I put the poison in the second one.”
“Nothing ever works out like I plan it to,” Chianti said, and fell backward into the sand.
Three Word Thursday #8:
Every Thursday I will give you three new words. You have until the following Thursday to compose a story using all three of the words. Then, on that following Thursday, post your story. After you post, come by here and sign in in the comments. Then, just like up above, I will put your links up for all to visit.
The Week Eight words will be: propinquity; susurrus; nescience
Got it? Good! In that case: Your story is due on: April 2nd, 2009
No bacchante were actually murdered in the writing of this story.