: Last Rites :

an excerpt by Don Waters


Billy’s mother’s wine cellar was in the rear of the second kitchen, down a helix staircase.  Every time we went it was like entering a secret cave, expecting to discover in the damp, semi-dark nook special treasure or ordnance.  We whispered amid green slotted bottles, so many, and on such fine, tall shelves that the place reminded me of a library. 

On that day Billy stood at the shelves, carefully considering his choices.  Each bottle’s long neck accused like a finger.  Over the past six months he’d emptied the shelves, one and then another.  I watched him fist two bottles with red labels.  He gave them to me and pulled out several others. 

This should last a night,” he said.