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Awakenings Chapter 2: Realizations, Page 5

The next morning, Joe was in the winery office catching up on some filing when the phone rang.  “ Gambaro Wines, this is Joe speaking.”

“Hi Joe, this is Ed. Some strange things have been happening.  The other day you told me to call you if I had any concerns.”

Joe quickly thought about the strange feelings he had felt while at the Etoile Rouge Winery.  “Of course Ed, what’ve you got?”

“Frankly Joe, some things are bugging me.  I don’t want to talk about this over the phone.  Perhaps we could meet someplace?”

“I need to find some unusual books.  I plan to go see Simone later today.”  Joe avoided actually naming the Wine Witch Shop on the phone, sensing that whatever was bothering Ed might have resulted in a bug or wiretap on Ed’s phone.  The black sedan and the bodyguards to the Chinese wine tasters came to mind.   “How about at Simone’s at 3:00 PM?”

“Thank you Joe, I will be there.”

Joe spent the rest of the late morning and early afternoon catching up on winery business.  This being a Wednesday, the wine tasting room was not open.  Simone had ordered two cases of the Gambaro Zinfandel for her business and Elise was scheduled to teach an aerobics class at the Town Hall several doors down from the Wine Witch so Joe was able to drop Elise off and park on the street near the Town Hall.

Joe grabbed the first case from the back of his SUV and carried it to the front door of the Wine Witch.  He discretely glanced up and down the street as he used a couple of fingers on a hand holding the case of wine to pull the door open.  Propping the door with his foot, he stepped inside to see Simone helping some customers while Ed sat at the wine bar. He also glanced at the rack of crystals and noted that they did not move as he walked by.  He set the case down on the counter by the cash register.

Ed glanced up and with a very serious look asked Joe, “Would you like to try some of the Toyon Ridge 2002 Barbera?  Simone has a bottle open.”

Joe sensed that Ed was tense and nodded, pulling one of the bar stools out so that he could sit down. Taking a first sip of the wine that Ed poured for him, he asked, “What’s on your mind?”

Ed glanced over at Simone talking to her customers. “I called Bert’s cousin down in Big Sandy, you know, east of Madera”.


“The Fairchild Group has not been buying any Zin grapes from those vineyards.  His cousin has a friend who has a friend who works at a railroad freight terminal in Fresno.  Lots of grape juice concentrate is getting transferred from refrigerated tanks in shipping containers into tanker trucks.”

Joe felt a twinge of dizziness as he recognized one his earlier dreams. “Where are these tankers hauling the juice to?”

“I don’t know, but I think Etoile Rouge is one of the destinations.”

Joe glanced over at Simone, who had opened a display case and was showing sets of tarot cards to her customers. “Where do you think the juice is coming from?”

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