August 20, 2010

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After thirty years on the job, Ronald Jensen was stepping down as the head sommelier at Greenwich Gardens.  The Gardens, as the restaurant was widely known, was a favorite hot spot of the upper class.  A hamburger, if someone would even consider ordering something so common, would cost about as much as a working person’s weekly grocery bill.

For decades, Ronald had been serving wine to the elite snobs who frequented the place.  Most of the time, he ended up giving recommendations to the clueless nouveau riche.  Many of these clowns didn’t even know whether to order red or white wine with a meal.  Ronald was paid a livable wage for his work, and the tips allowed him to indulge a few of his hobbies and build a nest egg for retirement.

Ronald knew that he was luckier than some of the other employees at Greenwich Gardens.  While he was treated as a second class citizen by the wealthy patrons, most of the other staff was treated like dirt, as if they weren’t even human.  This had been the sad reality when the classes were forced together within the confines of the restaurant.  The working class served the rich, and the rich looked down their noses at the workers.

Ronald thought ahead, to his life after retirement.  He was moving away from the city, back near his old home town.  He had bought a modest cabin near the lake and would spend his golden years carving duck decoys and catching up on his reading.  He wouldn’t live an extravagant life, but he’d get by.

He heard laughter coming from a table near the back and glanced at the group.  They were kids in their 20s who had never worked a day in their life, and never would.  Trust fund kids with millions in the bank and nothing in their heads.  They spent their days dining on lobster and foie gras and enjoying the best wines in the world.  They had done nothing to earn their station in life.  There was truly no justice in this world.

Ronald smiled at that thought that justice would eventually be served.  Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.  Likewise, those who cruise through life eating, drinking, and being merry would also have these vices become their downfall.  The wine cellar at Greenwich Gardens had also been home to some of the most valuable and rare vintages of wine.  Indeed, a few dozen of the bottles currently in the cellar were very special indeed.

Ronald knew that it would be at least a year or so before the first of the special bottles was uncorked.  He wondered how many patrons would die before anyone thought to look at Greenwich Gardens as a source of the poison.  While the poison was quite lethal, it was also slow acting.  It could take a few days before the victims felt any symptoms.  With any luck, Ronald’s special vintage would continue to kill people quietly.  Just one victim every year or so, stretching out his silent legacy for decades.

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