Page 61 - Litteratteur Redefining World December issue
P. 61

Litterateur redefining world                      December 2020

               Of  course,  rustic  turned  out  to  be  an  understatement.  It  was  sixty  kilometres

               from the nearest town. There was no electricity, the power only working when
               the generator was running, and that would break down every other week. Forget
               about the internet when the generator was kaput. There was one phone, but it
               was in Roberto’s bedroom. During the spring storms the phone line had gone
               down for a month. William had spent the days of late winter and spring pruning
               and preparing the vines in the raw wind and rain. At night he would huddle in
               front  of  the  sputtering  fireplace  inside  his  sleeping  bag,  reading  by  firelight.
               Roberto would sit next to him in his shirtsleeves or sometimes a pullover, an
               open bottle of spirits on the floor, staring at the popping fire.

               Approaching the final slope to the vineyard, William crunched down the gears
               once last time, the engine dragging the truck up the hill. He piloted the truck
               through the gates; two timber pillars that bisected stone walls on top of a ridge.
               The vines stretched away from the road that divided the property, the limestone
               ground dry and parched. Despite the heat, the grapes looked full and burnished
               under  the  sun,  promising  a  fiercely  flavoured  vintage.  The  truck  kicked  up  a
               plume of dust as he drove the last stretch of his journey, heralding his arrival.

               He’d been to town to collect some irrigation pipes, some things for the kitchen,
               and of course the generator that had been repaired, yet again.

               Roberto  was  waiting  to  meet  him  outside  the  machinery  shed.  As  William
               alighted from the truck, Roberto was upon him, his meaty body pressed against
               his side, thick arm around his neck. His boss smelt as he usually did by this
               time of day, a dense male smell: perspiration, dirt, and something underneath,
               something hormonal and quintessentially Roberto, like an animal. William knew
               better than to recoil. If he did Roberto would pull him closer, yanking his neck
               into the crook of his elbow, bringing pain and causing embarrassment, if not
               more of the smell.

   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65   66