“Hey, brother. How are you tonight?” Aatish said from over racks of wine. “Hey man, I’m doing alright. How you been?” Digby’s hand reached for a bottle that wasn’t there, his eyes to his small-talk with Aatish.
“Tsst!” Digby pulled his hand up, his knuckles scraped from slamming into an empty wood rack.
Aatish watched him with worried eyes, “You come in here a lot.” He grinned.
“Yeah, heh, uh, me and the girlfriend. We like our wine.” Digby’s attention darted between Aatish’s grilling, and pulling tiny splinters out of his knuckle.
“Don’t…uh…got the yoosh’. Lessee…” Digby bent down, his eyebrows furrowed, “what the hell did he mean by that?” He thought.
Aatish watched Digby from the other side, silently stocking the racks of Merlot. His brows furrowed too, “What is this man doing?” He watched a crouched Digby stare at a space between the rack and the floor, his right hand clutching and rubbing his left.
Digby eventually rose with a bottle of $10 Cabernet he’d never tried, the name “Twin Peaks” catching his eye.
“I’ve never seen your girlfriend.” Aatish smiled. He continued packing wine, watching Digby stare at him with growing confusion.
“What?” Digby snapped back, confused and losing patience with Aatish’s topics of conversation.
“You and your girlfriend drink wine, but I never see her with you.” Aatish clarified.
“I’ll have to bring’er with me next time.” Digby started towards the counter in a rush, flustered. Aatish watched him, his hands mechanically placing bottles into racks.
“How are you tonight?” Aatma, an older man, said from behind the counter, scanning Digby’s bottle and placing it in a paper bag. He had watched the entire scene between Aatish and Digby while he stocked snacks near the register.
“I’m uh…good, you?” Digby fumbled for his wallet, looking back at Aatish, who caught his eye and smiled at him.
“Have a good night, brother!” He waved, rolling a cart of boxes further down the aisle.
“You, too!” Digby turned around, happy that was over with.
“$10.79.” Aatma said, though he knew Digby’d pay by credit card—he always did.
“That guy, huh? He’s somethin’ else…” Digby said, his eyes focused on punching in his PIN number. There was no response, save a warm, mustachioed smile from Aatma.
Digby gave his money, took his change, and smiled, “Have a good night!”
“You, too.” Aatma responded. Digby lifted his bag from the counter, “I hope your life gets better.”
“Whu..” It was a low sound, an unexpected gut-punch. Digby looked back at Aatma, then to Aatish, who smiled back at him—as Aatma did from behind the counter. Digby turned around and walked out the door; shocked, confused, and a little pissed off.
“What the hell was that all about?” He said out loud, as soon as he closed his car door.
“I hope your life gets better?” he mimicked Aatma, out loud, “What the hell is that?” Digby turned his engine, and let it run for a moment while he collected his thoughts.
“Wow. What the hell, man.” He looked at the bag in his passenger’s seat. Immediately, Digby felt a rush of guilt come over his body and mind. His thoughts immediately turned on him, “You have to cut this shit out…” His brain demanded. “I know, I know.” He shook his head, put his car in drive, and pulled out of the parking lot. That night, Digby’d make it to 11 PM before he finally cracked, and uncorked the bottle. He poured his first glass, and grimaced as soon as it smacked and stained his lips.
“Ugh, Twin Peaks?” He looked at the bottle after his first chug: a pencil-etched outline of dual mountains. It tasted foul, like it was curdling in Digby’s mouth. The smell was awful, it made Digby’s stomach turn. None of this shit would’ve happened if they just had Pernini. Regardless of the quality, Digby wound up drinking half the bottle by 12:30. By 1:15 he was in the bathroom; where Digby’d eventually fall asleep, clutching his toilet bowl with dried tears, vomit, and wine stuck to his pale face.