Monday, May 7, 2012

Shine On Harvest Moonshine

Toby downed half his mug before he remembered he was supposed to make a toast. “To inter—intra—entry—intramural—entreprenatal—self-employment.” He tossed off the rest of his mug.

Kerr slipped his own drink more slowly, as if expecting his guts to catch fire at any second. When his guts remained flame-free, his swallows picked up speed. “This isn’t half bad,” he allowed.

“Wrong. This is damn good.” Toby leaned over toward his little five-gallon still to pour himself another round. “No drink tastes as good as the one you brew yourself.”

“Mine’s got a bug in it.”

“But no preservatives.” Toby spat out a mosquito without batting an eye. Two mugs of his homemade rotgut had freed him from squeamishness, and thought. “I don’t trust the big distilleries. Fresh spring water, my ass. It’s tap water, betcha anything. And who knows how long it sat on a shelf? This”—he raised his mug again—“came right from that spring over there, and we know how fresh it is.”

“Pretty good for half an hour old. Guess you’re right, aging wouldn’t improve it.” Kerr took a hefty swig. “Where’d you get the recipe? This is too good to be off the Internet.”

“It’s an old family formula. My grandda brought it over from the old country. One hundred percent Irish whiskey, both in authenticity and proof. Everybody in Killarney made their own booze. It was a point of pride.”

“Not from potatoes, I hope.”

“Hell no! No spud suds for the O’Mearas. Rye and barley all the way. They used to call it—”

“Pooka piss?”

Toby squinted at him suspiciously. “Yeah. How’d you know?”

“There’s a bit o’ the auld sod in these veins too, me boyo. I grew up on the legends.”

“Well, they weren’t real. The pookas, I mean. It was horses and horse-shifters. They used to break into the barn to steal the grain and the sugar. Then they’d get plastered. Those stories about phantom horses galloping over the moors? That was some horse-shifter drunk off his ass. Then they’d turn human and the horse would disappear and everybody thought it was a spirit. That’s where the myth came from.”

Kerr sipped his drink slowly. “You know about shifters?”

“I know they’re a pain in the ass when you’re trying to brew your own whiskey. Especially the horses. Damn drunk thieves with hooves. On the other hand, better them than the Feds. Talbot’s Peak doesn’t have any police horses, does it?”

“Not that I ever heard of.”

“Thank God for that.” Toby tapped the still for another round. Suddenly he broke into a smile that had nothing to do with the whiskey. “Hey! Rinty!”

Kerr looked around and almost overbalanced. “Hello?”

“It’s cool, bro. I know this ol’ mutt.” He reached out a hand to pat the German shepherd that came trotting into their hidden forest camp. The hand missed its target. The dog politely swerved to put itself in line with the hand again. Toby patted it cheerfully. “Rin Tin Tin’s a regular out here. None of my neighbors own a dog like this. I guess he’s a stray or something.”

“How come he’s wearing a saddle?”

“Where? Huh. Saddlebags. What happened, sport? Somebody put you to work?” He gave the dog’s head a sympathetic rub. “And a collar! Poor dude. Life’s all over for you.”

“Hey. Wuzzat stuck in his collar?”

Toby had already removed the folded sheet of paper. “Looks like a note.” He unfolded the paper and moved it back and forth until it came into relative focus. “Oh shit.”


“It says, ‘You’re busted.’”

When Toby looked up, the dog had turned into a naked man with a moustache. He took a badge out of the saddlebags he’d been wearing and showed it to Toby and Kerr. “I don’t need to take out the gun, do I?” he said.

Kerr swallowed heavily. “Nossir, Officer Gordon.”

Toby swung his unsteady stare over to Kerr. “You know him?”

“Yeah. He’s a cop.”

“You said Talbot’s Peak didn’t have any shifter cops!”

“I said they didn’t have any police horses. I forgot they have a police dog.”

“Shit,” Toby said again. “This is about the still, isn’t it?”

“I’m afraid so,” Gordon said. “In your favor, you haven’t been trying to peddle your hooch. You drink it yourself and you share it with friends. That’s why I haven’t busted you before this.”

“What gave me away?”

“This did,” Gordon said, tapping his nose. “And the fact Kerr’s been running around the Peak with mash breath and sugar highs for some time now.”

“You?” Toby eyeballed his buddy hard. “You’re a horse?”

Kerr shrugged. “What can I say? Horses, whiskey, stills, the Irish, we all go together.”

“Dude! I trusted you!”

“And I appreciate it, man. This is the best damn hooch I ever tasted, even with that crappy brand of sugar you use. I didn’t take that much,” he added hastily. “Just a bit here and there.”

“Aw, man!”

“I’m not going to arrest you,” Gordon went on, “this time. If you want to keep it up, you can get a permit for a microbrewery. Mayor Link encourages small business in the Peak, as long as it’s legit.”

“That takes all the fun out of it.” Toby glowered at Kerr. “And now I gotta hide my still from you and my so-called best bud here.”

“Sorry, man. Nature of the beast and all.”

“Think it over,” Gordon advised. “Now, boys, how about you dump out those mugs and take this thing apart?”

“Can I have the leftover sugar?” Kerr asked.

“Don’t push it,” Toby growled.


Serena Shay said...

Hot Dayum...I need that recipe and the deets on how to build a still so I too can be warned by nekkid officer Gordon! ;D

Pat C. said...

Don't forget his twin brother Tim, the minister. There's a whole series of fantasies waiting to happen.

Serena Shay said...

LOL...yep, I just went there. It's all Thorn Birds meets Lethal Weapon in my head now. Muahahahahah

Savanna Kougar said...

Dang, they need to get deeper into the woods, outta Talbot's Peak proper, so the good handsome Officer Gordon can't bust 'em.

Then create their own pony express delivery with other horse shifters, or just other shifters. After all, hooch is the next great energy fuel. You can run anything with an engine on alcohol with just a few changes.

Then, who needs the power companies?

Savanna Kougar said...

Oopsie, forgot to say. Loved your cleverness in this moonshine-fun flash. Especially the pooka.

Pat C. said...

What a great idea! Instead of hiding the still from Kerr, Toby should take him on as a partner. They can both join up with Dante for a lesson in the many uses of hooch (besides the obvious). If not Dante, there are others in Talbot's Peak fighting the good fight. Jim Gordon's best buds with a certain bat ...

Pat C. said...

Thorn Birds meets Lethal Weapon??? Great, I'm going to have that image in my head all night now.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, yep, moonshine energy for all who want/need it. And the real entrepreneurial spirit lives.