L.09.1 – It Is Risen

I shall start by saying that I am a man who enjoys his drink.  I have traveled the world in the service of various nations/corporations and in my travels have found that nothing defines a region quite like the local quaff.  The tale of the one that inspired me most begins in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee.

I was surveying the land as part of a commission I am not at liberty to discuss.  Room and board had been provided by a family by the name of Hartridge.  The accommodations were spare to say the least, but a tar paper roof and solid wood plank to lay my back upon are all I need to feel at home.  Now, the popular media has painted a picture of hill folk that could not be farther from the truth.  The Hartridge family were the kindest, gentlest group of inbreds you will ever meet.  I have never felt more accepted or welcome than when they looked at me with their crossed and beady eyes.

Their son, a hairless, shirtless six foot man-child named Horatio took a real shine to me and I confess the admiration was mutual.  I took him on as a kind of protege.  He could never quiet grasp the proper use of the surveying equipment and was often distracted chasing small woodland animals, but he was helping in his heart and damned if he didn’t lift my spirits.

One night, after calculating the blast radius of 1 ton of dynamite on the mountainside, Horatio and I sat on the porch, enjoying hand-packed pipes of local tobacco.  The stars were stunning.  When one spends too much time in the city, he can forget how truly vast and overpowering a starry night can be.  The moon hung high and full and the only sounds for miles were the crickets and the sound of night owls screeching at their prey.  It was as close to perfect beauty as I have experienced.  I confessed to Horatio that I was feeling a bit parched.  He clapped his hands giddily and hurried around to the back of the house.  I had seen a still in the yard when I arrived and had secretly hoped to sample its nectar.  Horatio returned with a crude clay mug filled with a milky colored, viscous liquid that burned my eyes as soon as it was within five feet.  This, I will ruin the surprise, was not the drink that most inspired me.  I closed my already watering eyes and brought the mug to my lips.

Two weeks later, I came to in the swamps of Louisiana.  Horatio had fashioned a leather leash for himself, and I had apparently been leading him South by foot for the duration of my “lost fortnight.”  Within an hour, I used my survival training to find trademark signs of life in the swamp.  I led Horatio to a small camp housing  five men.  I introduced myself, and judging by their shifty and unreliable introductions I inferred that these men were poachers, seeking the skin of the rare albino alligator with which to make boots.  There was Lefty, ironically the only one of the group who was not a southpaw; Harry, the one with the eyepatch;  Gregor, a well-to-do Norwegian dandy; McGill, who bore the unmistakable scent of a seafaring man; and Jonathan, who was wholly unremarkable in any way.  We chatted around the campfire until the small hours of the night, telling tales of adventure and unsavory deeds (Horatio entertained himself drawing nude women in the mud with sticks- he was quite talented, really).  We each happened to have a bottle of our favorite liquor, and around 3am decided that the only way they could be appreciated was if they were combined.  We took a large pot and each added our poison: Lefty- a 12 year old Laphroaig, Harry- a well-aged bottle of Absinthe, Gregor- the purest vodka I have tasted to this day, McGill- a stunning port, and Jonathan- an unexplained bottle of blue curacao (perhaps the lad wasn’t so unremarkable after all).  I threw in my trusty flask of gin and we mixed the brew well.  It came out and odd blueish-purple color, not unlike the blood of the well-bred.  We doled it out and came to an agreement- it was the worst thing any of us had tasted- like drinking charcoal strained through an old woman’s stocking.  Still, it had that certain kick that we needed and was gulped down graciously.

We lost track of time and kept our campfire burning into the daylight hours.  This, naturally, drew local law enforcement to our location.  They recognized the poachers and threatened to haul them off straight away.  Horatio, bless his soul, feared for our unhealthy concoction and buried it in the fire pit lest it be confiscated.  I quietly pulled the police chief aside and introduced myself.  I wrote him a check for a sizable amount of money and told him that the men were working undercover for the US government.   He said he would have to check and left us to our own devices, giving us strict orders to stay put.  As soon as the police had left, the group started packing.  I informed them that we had earned the constable’s trust and he did not deserve to be disappointed.  We stayed at the camp, restlessly awaiting his return.  Three days later, he arrived and told us that he had no record of undercover government agents in the area, but my check had cleared and we were free to go.  As a celebration, we dug the pot of potion back up from the fire pit.

Perhaps the inbreeding had replaced some of Horatio’s missing chromosomes with voodoo, brought out by the nights spent in the bayou.  Perhaps the damp swamp ground had bred new life in the alcohol.  Or perhaps we were still reeling from the bite of the aged absinthe three days prior.  Whatever the reason, the drink had changed.  It had been turned a deep blood red and gave off the faintest of glows.  I cautiously took the first drink.  My palette exploded with flavors I don’t even know how to describe.  Fruity, meaty, sweet, earthy- it was like all of nature, indeed all the world itself, had been reborn inside my mouth.  Each drink expanded my mind and brought me closer to complete understanding of the nature of things.  We agreed to keep the drink a secret (an agreement I have kept until this very moment) and drink of it only on the occasion that one of us should die, in order to celebrate their life.  We dubbed the drink Jesus Christ, as it rose after three days to inspire the world (and frankly, is a much more believable messiah).  This offended Horatio’s Christian sensibilities and he called us all blasphemers.  To appease him, we renamed it Zombie’s Jubilee- the drink to raise the dead (though when the simpleton is not present, we never use this name).  The rest of the world can just stop drinking now, as it will never find a finer beverage.