Thirteen

Meditation is a way to be narcissistic without hurting anyone.
Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms 

Zero has me caught up in meditation, first thing before coffee, again in the late afternoon. She’s into chi, with which I am familiar from my time in the Far East. I never gave it much thought, more Orientals caught up in superstition. Zero says it’s not superstition, chi is nothing more than life force; like gravity, it’s all around us, in us, in everything.
After our morning hour, over coffee, I ask, ‘You believe you can access chi, as a personal force?’
‘I have no idea, but I won’t find out without trying, by that I don’t mean effort, I mean opening us up to the possibility. Our sitting is nothing but opening the mind and waiting for something to drop in.’
‘The site says we have work.’
‘What’s the message?’
‘Name, address, car, license, even a photo this time, look.’
‘Cripes, what a sleaze, half a head of greasy hair, stupid skinny moustache and scraggly goatee. He must weigh all of one forty fully clothed, with boots. He needs to cut back on the meth. You look him up yet?’
‘No, I thought you might enjoy searching. He doesn’t look like the social media type, but all kinds of dorks have Facebook pages.’
She taps around, ‘This dork doesn’t. Let’s see….okay, busted for selling meth, a few other companion drugs, Fentanyl, heroin, another for assault. Who gets assaulted by him, a ten year old?’
‘Guys get hyped up, think they’re invincible.’
Zero, ‘Got a few tats, common crap, this loser is what’s at the bottom of a public toilet that hasn’t been flushed in a week. Let’s get moving, don’t get paid until he’s daid, like my rhyme?’
‘You going for first nine year old rapper?’
‘I imagine there are kids all over the projects practicing, maybe I’ll get a do-rag.’
‘Why do they call it that?’
‘What black people wear after a hair-do, do, get it?’
‘Why do you even know that?’
‘I got my learn on, brutha, now we got to get a plane so I can bust a cap in that skinny nigga’s haid.’
‘I don’t think that’s politically correct, or is it cultural appropriation?’
‘Fuck do I care? Besides, I am getting a do-rag, good for disguise, ghetto fashion, like a hands-up-don’t-shoot hoodie, instead of a longshoreman’s watch cap.’
‘White kids wear watch caps.’
‘A geek thing, nerd skully.’
‘I’ll call the airline.’
‘I’ll scramble eggs, toast okay?’
‘Sure.’
I make a call while I watch her cute tush wiggle around between the refrigerator and stove. She’s wearing a t-shirt that appears spray painted on her, black knee socks, and nothing. She bends over the stove, the shirt rises up for a half butt view. Looks over her shoulder at me, grins. When she stands straight, the thing stays at half-assed, she makes no effort to pull it down. Another reason to be glad I’m not blind.
‘We leave at nine tomorrow, only an hour in the air, no time zone changes.’
‘I want to carry my own pistol.’
‘Which is why I got you a fresh crispy G43. Same ammo we use in the others, five in the magazine one in the chamber. Light, slim, and deadly, like you,’ I hand her the gun.
‘Eeeek, just for me, my own baby?’
‘Yep.’
She jumps in my arms, ‘You are the best possible perv pal for the hottest possible perv girl,’ she kisses me on the lips, no, a kiss, not a tongue swap, squeezes her legs around me, ‘I’m getting squishy,’ giggles.
Slides off, checks the weapon as she’s been coached, ‘Beautiful, and maybe I get a chance to break it in soon.’
She feeds a bullet into the magazine, inserts it in the grip, racks the round. Then pulls the slide, bullet is in the chamber, pops it out, ‘So far so good.’
‘I fired a few rounds, no problems. Now it’s yours to care for.’
‘Why not put six in the magazine and add one to the chamber?’
‘It can screw up the slide. I avoid the problem by not adding the extra bullet.’
‘I better actually cook the eggs, you can butter a few slices and toast them. I’ll take cranberry juice.’
After breakfast, our day is normal, she’s got studying to do, I collect the Roombas and take the bags out and replace them. Then onto changing the sheets which leads to laundry duty. Last is scrub the bath, toilet and vanity counter.
Zero comes along, ‘Get the fresh sheets, I’ll help finish up that little bit anyway. Soy smoothies for lunch, chicken cordon bleu for dinner.’
‘What’s your afternoon schedule?’ 
‘After lunch, rest, yoga and tumbling, pile up on one end of the couch and read.’
‘The Buddhist guy?’
‘Yeah Suzuki, maybe I’ll get enlightened, usher in world peace.’
‘Who do we kill when there’s world peace?’
‘Hadn’t thought of that, okay, just enlightened then. Is there such a thing as an enlightened assassin, Buddha with a bullet?’
‘Ought to be a book title, or a movie, or a book made into a movie.’
Zero brightens, ‘Damn, you are onto to something. I’m going to write a book.’
‘When will you find time?’
‘An hour a day, it’s not like I have a deadline.’
‘Do you want a desk, office chair?’
She thinks, looks around, ‘No, I like our minimalist décor, I can crank it out on the island or the couch with the laptop.’
We sip smoothies, she keeps us in soy powder, add cranberry juice, plain yogurt, frozen berries, and ice to the blender, voila. Zero finishes, goes to the bed, takes off her top, lays on her back. I hear the drawer open, then I hear the soft buzz of her toy. I walk over and sit on the bed facing her, she likes an audience. 
The toy teases the surface, then it’s inside her, after ten minutes or so of squirm, she gasps, squeaks, and shivers. The toy goes in her mouth, slow slide over her lips.
‘I am gourmet gorgeous, vanilla lavender today,’ she hands me the toy, ‘clean it and stick it back in the drawer, nasty man.’
‘Yes ma’am.’
Then we lay together, I’m dressed, she’s dressed in knee socks. Curls into me and falls asleep. I thought to just zone out for a half hour, but I fall asleep. When I wake, there’s a slim leg over mine, her hand is resting…you can guess where.
She smiles up at me, ‘Somebody’s happy,’ giggles, gives it a squeeze and rolls off the bed, ‘time for yoga, you can appreciate me while you’re on the treadmill.’
While she pretzels, I do splits and stretches, then on the machine. I thump along at a good pace while she does amazing things with her body, then she tumbles back and forth across the mat, flips and handsprings, handstand and hand walk around the mat until she collapses. I’m impressed by her toughness and determination. 
‘Get the liniment and do your duty.’
She lays on a towel, I slather her with dit da jow and massage thighs, tummy, shoulders, and arms. She turns over and I do calves, hamstrings, butt, and back.
‘You are a brick.’
Zero flips over, ‘Do it all again. My skin is smooth as glass, flawless, I know, I’ve checked.’
I’m massaging her feet. ‘I’ve double checked, you don’t have so much as a mole.’
‘I want you to take photos of me posing around the house, and video the next time I do yoga. After we have a couple hundred photos, you can put it on the computer and hook it up to the flat screen. It will give meaning to your life and I’ll have a record of me as I grow up.’
‘As you wish, dear one.’
‘You have a hot bod, all shaved and smooth, maybe I’ll take photos of you before you degenerate into a wrinkly old man and are just a degenerate.’
‘Thoughtful of you.’
‘Don’t worry, I’m only a tease, if the early signs are right, I’m going lesbian, or bi maybe. There are gorgeous girls on porn sites, and they do the most interesting things to each other.’
‘Turn you on?’
‘Yep, I don’t care about the fuck sites, I have enough hunky muscle boy right here.’
‘I’m honored.’
‘And I’m shameless and proud of it.’
‘Nudity at home isn’t a crime, whole families go to nudist camps, girls, boys, mom, dad. They even post pictures. Makes me wonder why teen girls get crazy when their so-called boyfriend posts the tit pics she sent him.’
‘If I had that happen, I’d go to school, strip in the hallway and let everyone stare. The solution to feeling shamed is to be shameless. I suspect some of those girls secretly like it, but feel compelled to put on an act for the benefit of parents who would go ballistic if they knew precious Sparkle loved her body on display.’

Fourteen

Nothing for a few weeks then, it can’t be all play, time to resolve another conflict, we touchdown at ten fifteen, dump our bit of luggage in the back seat of a tan Chevy Mediocrity, built to attract the GED grad, a favorite among Dollar General and Home Depot employees, it can locate any Waffle House within a fifty mile radius, you can add a Cracker Barrel finder for an additional twenty bucks.
Zero, ‘Five miles on, take a left on Route fifteen. Ray’s Auto Body is on the right. He’s not Ray, he’s Nobody, paints fenders for a living.’
‘Somebody’s got to do it.’
‘You mean Nobody’s got to do it.’
‘Good point.’
‘Ray is going to need another greasy sleaze to paint fenders before long.’
I spot the shop, not a great achievement, it’s the only corrugated tin hut on this stretch of road. A front door next to an open garage door, cars in various states of mangle parked around. 
‘Separate building in the back, that will be the paint shop, has to be sealed well to keep the dust out, ventilated to keep the painter alive.’
‘I’m going to ventilate him dead.’
I laugh, ‘One bullet to the head and get gone. Not sure if we can even take him here. The positive is the body shop itself is fairly noisy. The negative is half a dozen employees and Ray, if there’s still a Ray around.’
‘There’s nothing behind the paint shack. If you drive past and pull over, I can go through the trees and sneak to the rear. It will be noon in a half hour, lunchtime.’
‘I’ll keep an eye on things, if I see anyone heading your way, I’ll call you, turn the volume to mute, make sure all notifications are off. You will have to check it visually. Never sneak or go for a target with the damn phone on, never forget. It’s no different than checking the chamber to see if a gun is loaded, always, every time.’
She pulls out a case, opens it and retrieves an earbud, ‘I have Bluetooth, sounds come through the earpiece, not the phone.’
‘Duh me, of course, smart girl.’
She adjusts her phone, snaps on latex gloves, pulls the Glock and racks a round, opens the car door, I caution, ‘Be invisible, pay attention.’
A nod, then she’s off through the trees. I scope the shop with binoculars, nothing out of the ordinary, a car comes out, trunk and one rear quarter panel is new but unpainted. Guy parks it next to the paint shop, returns to the body shop. 
I get a text, ‘across from paint, nothing yet’
Reply, ‘ok’
It’s straight up noon, two men come out of the body shop, get in a pickup and drive off. Apparently the rest either brought lunch or they’re all on Weight Watchers. Peer through the binoculars again, the interior appears empty of people, maybe a break room, Coke machine, coffee, couple of tables and chairs.
The door to the paint shop opens. Our target comes out pulling a dust mask off and parking it in his pocket. I can’t see much inside the room, I doubt there’s anyone else in there, paint work seems like a one man show.
Greasy pulls a pack of cigarettes, pumps one out, light’s up. I see Zero emerge from the left, behind him. 
She strolls up, Glock out, then a man comes out of the body shop, another smoker. 
I flick back to Greasy, Zero is nowhere to be seen, Greasy is still standing. My Glock is loaded, I stretch on gloves, wait.
Another text, ‘in paint shop text me anyone but target coming in’
‘ok also text if he returns’
‘ok’
Good, she keeps it basic. All she needs do now is watch the phone and wait.
A man comes out of the body shop and starts to the paint shop, it isn’t our target.
‘someone coming, not target’
‘ok’
OK? OK what? If he sees her, she has to tap him, then there’s a body in the paint shop, then what?
The man goes in, two minutes, three, I wouldn’t hear a shot from here. Was she found before she could get off a round? Frozen because it isn’t our target?
Before I need to leap into action, the man comes out and walks to the body shop carrying something metallic, a cylinder shape.
Text comes, ‘all good’
‘got it’
Five minutes, I text, ‘you ok’
‘good’
Five more, ‘target approaching alone’
‘ok’
Greasy goes in the door, then a text, ‘coast clear to come back’
Guy with the cylinder leaves body shop, walks to guess where.
‘sit tight, man approaching’
I don’t wait for a reply, I’m out of the Chevy and down through the trees, I slip across to the back of the paint shop then down the far side. The man takes a last drag on his cigarette, drops it and stomps it out. I whack him on the temple with the butt of my Glock. I’ve done this bit when I was a Ranger, have a decent idea of what will knock a person out without killing him. If he’s on the verge of an aneurism my practiced technique is worthless, but he was going to pop sooner or later anyway.
I open the door to the paint shop, ‘It’s me, let’s go.’
She comes out from under the car, good hiding place, she’s small and slim, scoots right out. It’s a paint shop, the floors are kept grease free for obvious reasons.
‘Let’s get to the car and gone.’
She sees the guy I clobbered but has the good sense to move and not question.
We drive to the highway, ‘You did well, now you know these things aren’t always a matter of sneak and shoot.’
‘Good to have a second set of eyes, I could have gotten spotted, or worse, captured.’
‘I should have covered it earlier, if you get caught and can’t escape, say nothing. Cops come, say nothing, as in nothing.’
She grins, ‘You mean like Zero?’
‘Exactly. You get a phone call, call me, I’ll deal. Cops are not your friend, no matter how nice they seem. Woman cop, male cop, you say nothing. Cops are rewarded for making arrests and bullying a suspect for a confession or to rat someone out. They will use a soft approach, cooperate and it will go easier on you, or the hard approach, bullshit about years in prison, being tried as an adult, any damn thing to get you to cooperate. Cops don’t impose sentences, they have no control over what the DA does, or if there’s a trial, what a jury will do. All their talk is crap.’
‘Will do, the man on the ground, is he…’
‘Shouldn’t be, I tapped him hard enough to lose consciousness, but that kind of thing is dicey. One guy conks out, another is just irritated at being hit on the head. If he moved, I’d have bopped him again.’
‘Seems simpler to shoot him.’
‘We’re paid to kill the target, an extra body gets messier. Generally speaking, if anything is general about the murder for hire business, the fewer bodies the better. If you have no alternative, like the extra party is armed, or if he or she has seen your face, take them out.’
It’s just one, I could call Blue Sky and we’d be in the air at five, home for six thirty. I doubt they’d pay much attention to the quick turnaround, I’ve done a one day before, but considering someone was murdered and a second man assaulted, better to play it ultra-cautious. 
‘How far is the next decent sized town with an airport?’
She fiddle with the phone, ‘Hundred miles, there’s a municipal airport.’
‘Good, two things, call Blue Sky, get us a plane for nine tomorrow, we’ll be home before lunch. Then find a hotel, use one of the corporate accounts to make a reservation. Something nice, we’ll chill, go out for dinner if you want, or do the supermarket thing, up to you.’
She makes the plane reservation, then clicks around on the phone and makes a hotel reservation, ‘Got a suite, Jacuzzi, private balcony, king bed, no kitchen, the other stuff though, microwave and refrigerator.’
‘Good, I want a coffee, then to the hotel.’

Fifteen

Zero is bubbling away in the Jacuzzi, she said she’d rather stay in. Perhaps you’ve noticed, Zero isn’t a people person.
The bathroom door is open, I hear, ‘Come wash my hair, then give my back a good scrub.’
I perform as ordered, then rinse, dry her, blow dry hair.
‘You know you spoil me.’
‘You spoil yourself, I aid and abet.’
She smiles, so adorable, I’m helpless, which she knows and cunningly exploits. On the other hand, it is a pleasure to serve her, maybe we exploit each other to the benefit of each.
I strip, get in the shower and let the warm do its thing. Step out of the shower, Zero is waiting with two towels.
‘You’re too tall for me to dry your hair, you do it, I will dry the rest.’
She does, and yes, she dries the man bit too, even lifts the shaft to pat underneath.
‘It’s starting to swell,’ she wraps her hand around it.
‘That’s what happens when it’s fondled.’
‘Does it pop-up when I walk around naked?’
‘Sometimes, you are pretty, beautiful even, and I’m not dead yet. The hormones excite with or without my permission.’
She releases me, runs a finger along the underside of my now fully erect penis.
‘I like that I get you…worked up, now I’m squishy,’ she squeezes her legs together, ‘come watch.’
We lay on the bed, me on my side with my head propped on my hand, she on her back.
‘Got your toy?’
‘No, but I have fingers.’
She licks them, then begins.
I sit up, turn and face her, she wants to see me see.
She goes slowly, then opens her legs wide, gently stroking, shiver, squeeze legs together, bites lip, more shiver.
‘That was…, I’m hyper-sexual, I read about it, the shrinks say it’s a mental illness and sometimes precedes bipolar disorder. I think they’re full of it. I do look at lesbian porn and get off. And I love being nude. You aren’t going to fuck me, that’s not what this is about.’
‘You experiment, kids do.’
‘And I’m hot, your eye candy.’
‘Hardly a secret.’
‘What’s for dinner?’
‘Any preferences? There’s a Chinese place a mile away, we passed it coming in.’
‘Perfect, get something, I’ll stay here so I don’t have to dress.’
Out and back in a half hour, won ton soup for two, one chicken in Szechwan sauce with broccoli, a second jumbo shrimp in garlic sauce with snow peas and water chestnuts.
‘Take your pick.’
‘Some of both,’ she tastes the soup, ‘still hot, we can have this then nuke the entrees in a bit.’
It’s quite good, one of those Chinese restaurants that do mostly takeout, hole in the wall with a couple of tables and plastic chairs. I’ve found those have some of the best food.
Zero grins, ‘That was good, I was hungry, we wiped it out.’
Nothing but empty containers, I stuff them in the bag they came in, knot the top. The room won’t smell of sauces when we get up.
I throw a blanket over the couch, ‘I don’t trust hotels to keep the furniture sanitized, if you ever want to sit on the carpet, put a blanket or a couple of towels down first. I’m a bit rigid about cleanliness, personally and in my surroundings.’
‘You are always clean and shiny, when we come back from the range or have a hard workout the first thing you do is shower. Me too, I want all the parts fresh.’
‘Look up Thymes Filigree on Amazon, it’s a perfume spay and I think they have body lotion. It smells like heaven, light, ultra-fresh, made for you.’
She types, ‘Amazon only has body lotion and bath gel, but the Thymes website has the perfume. I’ll get one of each. Since I am your angel, it’s right that my scent is heavenly.’
I surf TV channels, can’t get into what’s available, ‘When you’re done ordering, see if there’s anything you want to watch. If not, I brought a book, I can read that.’
‘Skip TV, I have the Suzuki book with me and another one by J. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. It came up when I was searching Buddhism books.’
‘Is he Buddhist?’
‘No, at least I don’t think so, I haven’t cracked it open yet but there’s no mention of Buddhism on the back cover. Get the couch situated, maybe a couple of pillows from the bed, I’ll make you a drink and my spritzer.’
Rather nice, she’s stretched out, head on a pillow in my lap. We read, the room is silent, after a while she gets up, refreshes her drink and brings me another.
‘Thank you, how’s Suzuki?’
‘Zen is rather interesting, listen to this story, 
A man asked Yakusan, who was sitting in meditation, ‘What are you doing here?’
Yakusan replied, ‘I am not doing anything.’
‘If so, you are sitting in idleness.’
‘Sitting in idleness is doing something.’
‘You say you are not doing anything, but what is this anything you are not doing?’
‘Even the ancient sages know not,’ replied Yakusan.’
‘What does it mean?’
‘I do not know, he says these stories and koans are to make us face a blank wall, nothing makes sense, but it’s on purpose, to take us out of our everyday mind.’
‘Ah, like what is the sound of one hand, or what was your original face before your parents were born.’
‘Exactly. And when the student gave an answer that showed he was stuck in thinking and logic, the master would whack him with a stick.’
‘The point?’
‘There is no single correct answer, and many wrong ones. Or something apparently confusing, the student asks the master about the true nature of Zen, the master asks
did you eat dinner yet?, the student says yes, the master says then go wash your bowl.’
‘So if you can define Zen, you don’t understand it.’
‘Precisely, like what is this anything you are not doing. In the end, Zen is about seeing directly, without description. Krishnamurti said, the description is not the described, the word is not the thing.’
‘That seems obvious, but it isn’t. By sticking a word on something, we limit ourselves to a narrow view. Tunnel vision so to speak, missing everything that the tunnel obstructs.’
‘I think that’s right,’ she stretches, long legs near to the end of the couch.
‘You are having a growth spurt, up at least couple inches over last year.’
‘I ordered new jeans, my tops are okay, and dresses and skirts are shorter, but I don’t mind that, less means more of me.’
I laugh, ‘You going to start dressing around the house?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous, you would just pout all day.’
‘That’s a relief.’
She laughs now, ‘And I would miss the warm fuzzy I get when your eyes roam,’ a yawn, ‘I am tired, come along.’
In a few we’re in bed, her usual spot, one satiny lengthening leg over mine, blonde head on my shoulder, hand on my chest. If I had my way, she’d never grow up.
She snuggles in, ‘Sometimes I wish I would never grow up, I like me like I am.’

Sixteen

A month passes, no work but we took a couple of trips to the range, Zero is getting dangerous with the Glock, hits a small target at fifty yards, always dead center at twenty five. I had her on a Ruger Mini-Mag, a rifle that uses .223 rounds with a ten round magazine. It’s scoped, I showed her how to adjust for a longer distance, but for our purposes a hundred yards is plenty, we aren’t snipers. I did that in the army, it’s not as simple as portrayed in movies.
She still has us up early most days, consistent about our hour of meditation morning and afternoon. I’m disciplined from my army training, Zero makes me look like a slacker.
‘I booked us a cabin in Canada. It looks like a cabin, but inside it’s relatively modern, dishwasher etcetera. We fly into Banff, rental SUV, about thirty or forty miles to the cabin.’
‘We have privacy?’
‘Nobody within a mile or two. I was specific with the agent, it isn’t an unusual request for summertime tourists. Ski parties want the group thing, ten people to a three bed cabin or condo. We have a one bed, A-frame, it looks like a triangle with a front porch. It’s on the water, about thirty yards from the shoreline.’
‘Get cold at night?’
‘Cold enough, days are mild though, it has a real wood fireplace, I doubt we’ll be trekking through the woods at midnight.’
‘How long are we there?’
‘Ten days, if we don’t care for the woods thing, we can get a flight home.’
‘We won’t return early, it is the alone we are going to explore, continue to explore, as we are usually alone here at home.’
‘Do you want more privacy? More alone time? I can add a room, your personal space.’
Zero, ‘Not what I mean. We are alone together, how much do we interact with,’ waves her arm, ‘out there?’
‘Hardly any.’
‘Exactly. I think of us as one, not two.’
‘A you and a me isn’t two?’
‘Not if we drop the idea of a separate you and me, physically there are two, but psychologically, mentally, there is one. That’s what the meditation is for, effortless exchange of chi, energy, to merge the contents of one mind with the other.’
‘Ah, I see, I’ve felt the stirrings. You never expressed it that way. I should try to be receptive then?’
‘No, that wouldn’t help, it would hinder. Trying means you know what you are after. We are more than our imaginings, to try is to assume we know what the result will be, a goal. We are not seeking, chasing a goal or an idea.’
‘And to look for a specific outcome is just more seeking.’
‘You catch on quickly.’
What’s she doing disguised a nine year old? Then again, I’m dissolving into a swamp of idea, how a nine year old should be. Why should age matter? It doesn’t, I live with the proof. Is she exceptional? Yes, unfortunately. Most, almost all, kids are caught in the net of parents’ and friends’ prejudices and biases. Trying to fit in, even worse, trying to fit in to a world of illusion and confusion, unable to do so unless they acquiesce to the illusion and confusion of others.
Socialization is merely induced conformity, don’t be different, it makes them nervous. They call it education; color, but stay inside the lines, and why is the sun blue? Those who wander past society’s comfort zones end up ostracized, cast off but not ignored, rather a target. It works okay until the target decides enough and becomes the predator rather than the prey; that’s when the gun comes to school, you know the rest.
It’s time to prep for Canada, we bought sturdy hiking boots, broke them in on the treadmill and wore them around the house. Zero looks cute in her boots and nothing, like a Goth that forgot the rest of the costume. We’ve been collecting photos of her, clothed, well one of her soft t-shirts anyway, to nude. ‘When we get to Canada, you can photo me in the wild, and we’ll do a couple of test videos, I’m bringing my toys.’
She’s collected two more vibrators, neither huge, the latex things, one knobby, one smooth. When she’s in the mood, she stretches out on the bed or couch and has at it. I know what she’s doing because we live in one big room. 
‘You are enticingly evil.’
Sly grin, ‘True…. And hot, don’t forget hot.’
‘Let’s get to the airport, Satanica.’
We do, and a few hours later pull up to the cabin after a stop to fetch groceries.
Zero, ‘Christ this is exquisite. You, me, and nobody. I didn’t think to ask, what if there’s a conflict to resolve?’
‘It waits until we return, or we fly there first, then home.’
‘I’ll get the kitchen organized, you get the clothes arranged, how about a fire?’
‘When it’s cocktails. We can have wine on the porch until we get too cold.’
We go about our respective tasks, then Zero hands me a glass of cabernet, this time has a half glass herself, no seltzer.
‘Skipping the seltzer, this is good wine, you bought upscale based on the price.’
‘It’s our vacation, we drink more than acceptable Mondavi at home. I’m no wine expert, but I read that Baron Rothschild, owner of one of the biggest wine conglomerates in the world, who sells three thousand dollars bottle of wine at the top end, said that anyone who pays more than twenty dollars for any wine is wasting his money.’
‘Get out!’
‘That’s what I read, there’s nothing in it for him to lie about it. On the other hand I have no clue if the quote is accurate, I suspect not but I tend to agree with the sentiment. I’d say, with no expertise, there is little point in a wine over, say, a hundred bucks. My palate isn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate subtle distinctions beyond that.’
‘I like the wines you buy at home, this one is really good. Your bought Champagne too.’
‘Yeah, like I said, vacation. I got us four bottles, one for fifteen, one just under thirty, one at forty five and one at sixty. You can see if you taste much difference. Did you put the bottles in the refrigerator?’
‘Yep, we can try the first one tomorrow.’

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