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Dispatch from Sonapanoma
Day One
By:  Bastardo

Yes, the mustard has been mowed, but so what? Now the jasmine is in bloom, leaving a lovely perfume lingering in the air that makes every breath a pleasure here in the town of Sonapanoma. Bree greeted me warmly upon my arrival late yesterday afternoon, and K-J, K-mus and Turdley were all over me as well. The Dobermans are normally more restrained, having been trained well by their master, but many hours spent together in the same kennel has created a bond between us that will never be rent asunder.

I came to pick up a cache of exotic cult wine that no one will deliver to me, due to vagaries in the shipping laws and the resulting paranoia. True, there are many other fine wines I can buy right off the shelf in Day-twah, but I simply cannot stand to be without my Mystery Ridge or my Moon Seduced.

The drive up from SFO was hell. It took twice as long as it should have, in midday traffic that made rush hour at home seem like a Sunday drive through Muscatine Park. Either these people have to stop having babies, or more of them need to migrate to Portland and Seattle, where I understand they are welcomed with open arms and loaded weapons.

Bree seems to be doing well in his new location, a spacious compound with several acres for the lads to run off their excess nervous energy. He never returned to Cloudy Bay after the Overborg Incident, instead choosing to settle near the scene of the crime. He sometimes has a haunted look in his eyes, but then he spent more time under the thrall of the fiend than we, and none of us were left unscathed by our forced dependence on the Borgundy.

We spent a pleasant evening, drinking a succession of wines, enjoying a little virtual Smurf bowling and just renewing old acquaintances. We started with a Dillinger Chard-o-nay, which helped ease us into friendly conversation and some cynical gossip regarding a few of the more manic characters in the online community where we loiter. Then we moved on to a lovely Rocky-rolly Penal Noir. Both of these wines are Russian Ruler State Sponsored bottlings, and showed their pedigree well, with deceptively soft demeanors that belie the heavy hands that made them.

From there, we moved on to a Kay-moose SS, a big authoritarian wine that was the perfect accompaniment to the rub eyed steaks and pygmy portabella mushrooms that Bree expertly fried up in a pound of butter, using his favorite Teflon pan. It was a culinary delight.

Finally, we were breaking into a bottle of Surly Dead Vines Zinfandole and making plans for the tasting the following evening. Bree had pulled a complete vertical featuring every vintage produced of that most esoteric of collectable wines, Parker Muscatel. There would be many of our friends, as well as some new faces that we only knew by name in Cyberia. He was telling me about the menu that he had planned, which included gourmet weenie-tots and hard boiled goose eggs, when we heard a commotion coming from outside. The lads had been put in the kennel for the night, but something had roused them into a frenzy. My host retrieved his stun gun from his small arsenal, expecting nothing more than a rodent, which he would torture briefly for amusement, before letting it loose having learned the lesson of not trespassing where it did not belong.

I was tending to some toiletries when I heard his scream. I zipped up quickly with a nasty little pinch and rushed out into the cool night air, where I was stopped in my tracks by the sight I saw.

Waxy Winged Shape Shifters.

Three of them had Bree in their grasp and were already hoisting him over the wall of the compound with an ease that was unlikely, if not seemingly impossible, for the forms they had taken on. They looked every bit like the prissy, vested wait staff of some high toned overpriced bistro such as, say, Chez Guevara. He was fighting valiantly, zapping them again and again, but with no effect. Before I could take five steps to his aid, they were gone, with his wail of pain and fear becoming fainter as they made their escape and the stun gun buzzing impotently on the ground.

Not knowing where else to turn, I reentered the house and did what I always do in such emergencies. I cranked up the internet and rang up Madame LíPour on ICQ. (She had remained at home this trip, because as she so delicately put it, "Some people have to work for a living.") I told her what had transpired, and asked her what I should do. Even over an impersonal electronic medium, her concern was obvious.

"This is one case I canít help you with. But I think I know someone out there who can."

"Tell me whom," I asked frantically.

"Youíll have to ask the Wine Bubbas," she replied.

More laterÖ

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