the plentiful field
(originally appeared at HIP Literary Magazine 3/13/2013)
Earl put down the bible and thought to himself that there were a lot more people mentioned in it than there really needed to be. Not everyone that Jesus bumped into needed a compete biography. With that he felt the familiar pressure in his throat and he grabbed one long last gulp of air before the purple liquid began to pour from his mouth. When it was done he reached over and took a cork from the big bowl full of them and plugged up the bottle.
2013. A very good year.
The first time it happened he immediately walked out to the in-ground pool in the back yard and stepped right into the deep end. There was a brief moment of surprise when gravity thrust him down into the water but he was never one for crazy flights of fancy so he wasn’t surprised. He hauled himself soaking wet from the depths and immediately eliminated being the Son of God from the list of possible causes. There was a bit of relief on that one due to the fact that he had always been agnostic … although he would admit to being quite fond of some of Buddha’s thoughts on life. The whole “no one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path” bit. There was also a good one about the truth but it eluded him at present.
John 2:1-11. Jesus turned water into wine. It did not help explain to Earl why every time he complained a bottle of wine would suddenly erupt from his mouth. Very good wine apparently. He had never been a wine drinker himself so he wouldn’t know but when he finally was prepared to catch the discharge it looked and smelled enough like wine that he clandestinely served it to a few friends without telling them where it came from and they raved.
2011. The first year he started to sell his wine. He called it “Whine” and the public couldn’t get enough of it. By the end of the year he was spending 10-12 hours a day complaining and bottling his special spirit just to keep up with the demand. All of this done in his basement in secret and away from the prying eyes of his competition. Try as they might they were unable to locate the vineyard where this intoxicating drink was harvested.
You would think after thousands of bottles he would run out of things to grumble about. Nope. If Earl had one gift, other than being able to create wine at will, it was his ability to bitch and moan. His next bottle was always gripe on the vine.
Investors were always on about expanding and taking his product global but then he’d have to explain the source of his beverage and he had little doubt that the market for a wine that was vomited forth from a human mouth would be nonexistent. So he disappeared into his basement every day and came back up with a few crates that were already stamped and ready to be delivered to their final destination. At $200 a pop he was making himself quite the little fortune considering overhead amounted to one glass bottle, a label and a cork.
He had begun to asked himself more than a few times “What would Jesus do?” but considering that the wine that Jesus whipped up was non-alcoholic it really wasn’t apples-to-apples so he never bothered to answer the question.
Now Buddha on the other hand would have quite a few things to say on the matter, as he did on most things, so he avoided asking himself what the big guy would make of it all. All he knew was that if he ever ended up being completely happy his success would dry up and he couldn’t have that … so grouse was on the menu every night.
Isaiah 65:8 says “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.”
Earl rolled his eyes and wondered what the heck all that nonsense meant as he reached for an empty bottle.
Then he remembered the thing about truth. “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.“
“We’ll see about that fat boy” he said to himself as he put the bottle in the crate and began the short walk up the stairs to his luxurious living room. He clicked the stereo remote and 99 Problems began to blast from the speakers.
He hated Jay-Z and quickly dashed back down the stairs to get another empty bottle.