One for the road

David poured each of his guests a glass of wine, the last of which he handed to James. He then filled a glass for himself, raised it in salutation, and wished "Good health and long life to you all."

Wine is not my preferred drink and I simply held the glass without drinking it. As I glanced around the room, I noticed James sniffing at his glass. I know connoisseurs check the bouquet of wine before drinking it and perhaps James was a wine-buff. I watched to see his reaction to tasting the wine. He took a very tiny sip, appeared to sluice it around in his mouth as if he were at a wine-tasting, but then, to my astonishment, spat it back into the glass. Could the wine be so decidedly unpleasant? Although I am not keen on wine, his reaction seemed far beyond what I, or any decent person, would ever do.

I now became fascinated by James and his wine. Was he going to drink it or just stand there holding a full glass? An embarrassing problem for James, I thought to myself.

A minute or so later, I noticed him easing slowly toward the back of the room. He continued to face inward and from time to time added his voice to the general conversation. Suddenly, he put his glass behind his back and tipped it into a pot plant.

As he placed his empty glass on a tray, David offered him a refill. James declined, saying he must leave as he was not feeling well and had already had too much to drink but the wine was "Very, very good."

"I'll see you off," I said to James, putting my glass on the table. As I said, I don't really care for wine and this gave me a way to avoid drinking it.

When James was about to drive off he wound down his car window and said, "That wine, for God's sake, don't drink it."

"Why not?" I asked, astonished at the perturbed tone of his voice.

Ending 1 | Ending 2

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