The Adventures of Hannelore Watersmith
- This is a work of fiction.
- There is no such thing as fiction.
Life is an unedited first draft filled with plot holes. In all that is served up in this moveable feast of the soul, it is for us to choose what we savor, and what we spit out.
~ M. S. Petroshius
Checkpoint 68: The Angel’s Share
The process of aging scotch yields a minute but unavoidable dip in volume as it matures. This wee disappearing dose is called “The Angel’s Share.” The portion lost ensures that what is left to savor is all the more dense, complex … divine.
Hannelore tapped the window in hopes of getting Angus’s attention. He was blocking her view of the Sainsbury’s delivery vessel that was docking across the channel at the Fionnphort terminal. She was hungry and it would be more than an hour before her grocery order would be loaded onto the smaller postal shuttle and shipped over to her on Iona. She did not want to nibble on the bits in her cupboard. She craved a fresh, hot meal.
As if by design, with all that she’d lost in the chaos of past decades, and all she’d let fall away, she was somehow left with only those things that got her truly high. In this moment she was riding a wave of ravenous desire to cut into seared red meat. The anticipation alone was a full-body experience to her.
Hannelore’s mind wandered.
In the safety she’d created after decades of disorder, she enjoyed how freely she could explore ideas. Years ago, she could not see how much her life of fear and duty kept her thoughts, desires and talents entrapped. Her mind, now unleashed, was an endless well of new avenues.
She had clumsily hacked her escape from chaos, driven purely by instinct. Survival was her only goal. But the way it all unfolded miraculously freed a dormant spirit and opened a portal into a second life, better than the first. This accidental by-product of trauma is a gift; it is granted to those who humbly seek out the meaning hidden in pain.
The fire in Hannelore’s belly sparked by tiny sips of Glenturret single malt brought on a ripple of warmth and quietude to the oft-cold feet that poked up from under a tattered quilt.
No one gives scotch exact directions on how it must develop. There are too many variables inherent in the distillation process. The raw ingredients have agency despite being launched into a carefully engineered series of steps. There is always some inherent play in the effects of enzymes, yeasts, and time. The barley will age as it sees fit.
During her years in California Hannelore had tired of the over-fortified, hyper-manipulated wines. The chemistry formulas that controlled how each vintage evolved were not designed to give voice to the grapes; they were designed to attract buyers with broken, sugar-bruised taste buds. Other-focus dilutes. Other-focus paints a veneer. Other-focus masks the beauty of the raw, the unique, the natural.
Master distillers trust in the purity of Scotland’s midland springs and the lay of the lye pipes to do all the work.
Hannelore had avoided scotch for years, consuming it only at tastings or tourist venues. It was too much to comfortably consume at parties or social events. Over time, however, she’d found she could enjoy fine whiskeys in slow sips… when all was quiet, taking it in with reserve, rather than in enthusiastic gulps.
She’d learned to take in humans in kind, both the gems and the buggers. Hannelore had suffered for years with a permanent hook in her lip by which she could be reeled-in to others’ chaos. It took years of massaging her thoughts before she could unmoor from old habits and regain ownership of her mind.
She was now grateful for all the joy as well as all the troubles and even some of the abuse. In the animal kingdom there is no room for idealism. Only survivors.
Animal instinct and dogged determination were the blunt force weapons by which she’d broken free. But the better parts of fate did not take wing until she was able to lift her hands off the controls. When she learned to grip her inner divining rod more loosely, to sense its vibrations and follow their direction, her mind and body found flow and she began living in harmony with her innate desires. In this new, nimble mode, from the moment she awoke each day, she was laughing from within, consumed at once by pleasure, purpose and peace.
Fate somehow sniffs out the moment wherein you finally start laughing on the inside, when you lift your head up from battles against personal injustices and simply begin to play.
That is when fate introduced her to Reid.
Reid fit into the jigsaw puzzle of her new life effortlessly. She felt no need for tethers, nor wedding officiants, nor legal agreements. She craved no “all” and no “none.” His visits to Iona, and her departures to join him on yachting adventures and train travel journeys, followed a natural cadence like birds who just know when to fly south, and when to return home.
~ ~ ~
Out the window Hannelore sees the Sainsbury’s ship chugging away from Mull’s shoreline. Behind it the small postal shuttle has begun its slow puttering path toward Iona. It will be at least another half hour before it arrives. Her tummy rumbles. Her iphone vibrates.
She clicks on the text message and reads.
~ ~ ~
“Hoot hooooooot.” The grocery delivery vessel announces its arrival. Hannelore must collect her bags at the end of the dock before the gulls dig in. Her feet, however, feel heavy and sink deep into the cushioned ottoman at the end of her chaise.
It appears Kurt was shot at an ATM outside a casino in a place called Sochi. He is no longer.
Hannelore looks out the window. The skies are dimming. Angus is resting in the shadows beside the house. The plastic handles of her grocery bags are flapping about in the breeze.
The text message alludes to some drunken kerfuffle over gambling losses; the way it was written suggests that questions of blame could enable Hannelore and the kids to bank a large payout if they were to pursue a wrongful death case against the shooter.
Ellis, Buck and Abby all have jobs, loves, and lives of their own. Hannelore did lose more in the twisted divorce than she’s since regained, but wants for nothing.
For all she’s been through, and for the part Kurt played in it, she could see no gain in wasting her minutes or interrupting her new peace for even a day.
Whatever way he died, and whoever might be to blame, it was done. There was no victory in trying to even out archived balance sheets. In the new life she’d carefully curated, she tastes only warmth and richness, the yield of all that comprises her past.
Her tummy grumbles for the rare ribeye that awaits at the dock. She leans forward in her chair and places her feet solidly on the ground. As she stands, she grabs her phone, highlights the text, and swipes to delete. She breathes in deep.
There is no making sense of such a distant, quiet noise. It is the death of something that was lost before it was found.
As she steps out the front door of her Hebridean abode, she pauses at the threshold and looks Angus in the eye:
“There is nothing more we must do.
We need only say farewell,
and consider him
…the angel’s share.”
- This is the final, but first-published, chapter in a series, one of several works in progress. It is being formatted for e-book. A preview is being housed here to give it legs.
- I do what I want with my commas.