Quit Wine-ing (2nd Place)

April 5, 2017

Dionysus hummed a jaunty little tune to himself as he walked down the street. By the gods, it was wonderful to wake up from a long nap to a world like this - a fledgling country soaked in alcohol, his greatest creation. The last time he had a nice long nap was when he’d moved to France in the year 380, helping them out with their fermentation techniques. He’d woken up to a revolution, which had been so terribly messy that he’d gone straight back to sleep. He needed his beauty rest, after all. Now, the mortals called it the year 1925, and the other Olympians had long since moved on from Greece to the New World: America. And how amazing the New World was! Everyone was far more casual, the most notable difference being shorter hair for women and the lack of corsets.

Furthermore, the mortals worshipped alcohol in special places with exclusive entry (he’d been denied entrance at quite a few places, to his anger and amusement). Dionysus reminisced fondly on his prowl for wine, and how he’d finally had to coerce a doorman into letting him in (oh hush, no lasting damage was inflicted). The speakeasy had been filled with thick smoke and girls who were apparently called ‘flappers’ singing and dancing, knee-length skirts bouncing with their every move. Dionysus remembered breathing in the atmosphere, enjoying the liquor-glazed looks on the patrons’ faces. There were so many new types of liquor that he’d never even seen! It seemed that in the absence of his influence, the mortals had moved further from wine and into the realm of other alcohols - namely, gin and whiskey. The wine god was served a glass of opaque honey-colored liquid known as “The Bee’s Knees”, as the server informed him. It was deliciously sweet, though the honey tasted a bit odd mixed with the gin.

Now, a day after his first speakeasy encounter, he was ready to try his hand at it again. Dionysus had been ushered out with the other customers last night after his first drink in years, something about ‘Prohibition’. He didn’t quite understand what it meant, but it couldn’t be too bad. After all, this country loved alcohol!

“This is a disaster,” Dionysus moaned an hour later. He clutched a bottle of clear alcohol that tasted like death (he would know - Ares had once dared him to lick Thanatos’s arm).

“Hear, hear, brother.”  A man of considerable width managed to slide into the seat across from him, squeezed uncomfortably in the booth.

“Bacchus.” Dionysus sighed. “Of course you’re here too.” He looked up to face the fat man, who wore a tiger-patterned silk shirt under a slick black suit. Bacchus waved at him cheerily from his new seat, a bottle of suspiciously murky alcohol in hand.

“Hey bro!” Bacchus smiled, his great chin wobbling dangerously. “Finally woke up, Sleeping Beauty? Oh wait, you were asleep in 1697. Darn!”

Dionysus tilted his head, confused but soon dismissed it as one of the Roman god’s usual antics. The other wine god took a swig of his drink. Some of it splashed down onto his shirt, and Dionysus eyed the resulting stain with distaste. “What in the name of Zeus are you drinking?” He finally asked his Roman twin. The bottle was starting to alarm him.

“Well, it’s Jupiter, actually,” Bacchus corrected with a huff. “And I actually have no clue, bought it off a lovely lady in that speakeasy you stumbled out of. Instinct tells me it’s probably wood alcohol-”

“WOOD ALCOHOL?” Dionysus was livid. “First a bottle of ‘Bathtub Gin’ is foisted on me, now they’ve got something called ‘wood alcohol’? I thought the mortals were creative; I didn’t think they were suicidal!”

“I know, right?” Bacchus commiserated. “And what’s up with Prohibition? I mean, alcohol’s not bad for you!” Behind Dionysus, a man keeled over with an empty bottle in hand. “Er...”

“I thought I had finally woken up to a decent time period,” Bemoaned Dionysus. “But the mortals don’t worship wine, or even some of the less artistic liquors; no, they fill their bellies with barely drinkable trash! And all because some people decided that drinking was bad. If they didn’t drink themselves stupid, they’d know that it’s all about moderation!” Dionysus thunked his head on the table, his fedora slipping off.

“Whoa, whoa, don’t you rag on these liquors. They do the job nicely: I’m feeling a little buzz myself.” Bacchus defended, taking another drink of wood alcohol.

“You’re always buzzed, Bacchus.” Dionysus mumbled, his voice muted by the table. Bacchus shrugged, unable to deny the accusation. “Ugh.” The Greek god raised his head, lay down gracefully in the booth, and put his fedora over his face.

“Uh, I hate to interrupt, but what are you doing?” Bacchus asked, nudging Dionysus with a socked foot.

“Wake me up when Prohibition ends,” Came the muffled reply.

Bacchus let his mouth drop in horror. “What! Just like that, you’re giving up?” The fedora twitched. “Hey, I know we’ve had our arguments over who’s the better wine god, but for once we’ve got to unite and bring wine back to the mortals!”

Dionysus sat upright. “Brother, I think you’re onto something! Quick, do farmers still grow grapes in this gods-forsaken country?”

“Yeah, California, but what-”

“I have the perfect idea.” Dionysus said, a crazed gleam in his eyes.

***

“You want us to what?” The Californian grape farmer was skeptical.

“Look, I checked with the officials and everything.” Dionysus lied. He’d actually had to trick the official, but that didn’t matter. “You’ll make more money selling blocks of grape concentrate with this-” He produced a piece of paper with a flourish, handing it to the stunned farmer. “With this label.” Bacchus nodded along with him.

“Well, I suppose I could use the extra dough. Thanks fellas!” The farmer looked up, but the two gods were gone. “Hmm.” He read the label.

After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, DO NOT place the liquid in a container away in the cupboard for thirty days, because then it will turn into wine.

 

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