Lunch with Basil Raven, Thespian and Wine Fancier
From the journal of Foster Unction
Unwilling to submit my expensively cultivated derma to the ravages of direct sunlight, I sit ensconced beneath an umbrella by the pool. I have just polished off my ‘Terrinadi Salmone Conuova in Camicia’ as the place card suggests (Terrine of salmon with poached eggs) with a drizzle to the side of Salsa Verde and an espresso of Fazenda Santa Ines from the gentle Slopes of Minas Geraiz, Brazil. I believe it costs somewhere in the vicinity of $50 a bean, or something.
The Amazonian wonder that is my better half, Dympha is emerging from the pool wearing nothing but a smear of Lycra to cover her strategically exfoliated loins. As always, Trudy Festival, both my assistant and my best friends’ daughter, is hovering discretely in the shadow of the portico. She is a dear girl, but seemingly without an ounce of wit. I sometimes worry about the child but what to do? Dympha, dripping and sun glistened, reclines on the pool lounge and sips her morning flute of Krug. As she lights one of her ghastly cheroots I hear the phone ring faintly indoors.
‘Who the fuck could this be. It’s barely nine thirty.’ I said. ‘Tell them I died in my sleep last night, would you Trudy.’ However, she appears beside me a few seconds later.
“It’s your sister, Shana”
“Never heard of her…O yes Shana,” I said irritably.
“What is it Shana?”
“It’s Christian, Foster, he’s disappeared. I haven’t seen him for a week”
“So what’s new?”
“He was in a particularly poor state last time I saw him, I fear for his safety….please Foster you must help….he is your brother in law and IT manager, after all”
“You have just noted the two attributes he is least qualified for, have you looked at my web-site lately, bloody thing looks like somebody photographed a pile of rancid peanut butter. For god’s sake Shana, I have one of my lunches today. Basil Raven will be seated at my table by midday. What the fuck do you expect me to do? Make an Oscar award winner wait on the porch until I return; I can’t leave Dympha unchaperoned while he’s extant; he is an outrageous pants man.”
“O dear, I’m at my wits end. I know he’s an incorrigible drunk, but I do care for him Foster,” she said. There is a pause, where I fleetingly hoped she might have died, when she started up again. “Is Basil Raven really coming to yours for lunch? I loved him in that sword and sandal’s flick. What was it called now….?”
“Terror of the Coliseum’ Look Shana I think I know where the dreadful old soak will be. I’ll get back to you.” I hung up before she could regale me with horror stories of her drug addicted children. “Trudy, ring your father’s house would you; I suspect the idiot brother-in-law is there. Your old man is far too kind for his own good but I know from experience that Christian will be approaching the avenue of least resistance.”
Come midday my famous guest has crossed the threshold screaming on his cell phone.
“Look it’s Basil Raven, put that fucker on now or I swear I will come down there and break your fucking chicken bone of a neck, you fucker” Pause. “You don’t know who I am? I see, well you will shortly find out you rancid little…..Hey!…Hey!” There is a sharp shattering as the phone collides with the wall opposite. “Fuck me, fuck, shit, cunt. “ After making it abundantly clear he is an aficionado of several reproductive expletives, Raven red-faced, somewhat paunchy and sweatier than a warm piece of cheese at a school dance, pulls out an object from the inside pocket of his leather bomber jacket. It’s a soft foldable case he opens to reveal several phones. He selects one, waits for the tell-tale chime of life and drops it in his side pocket.
“G’day Foster, sorry about that.” I am still staring at the pile of shattered phone pieces on the floor. Fucking shit-bird kid. That was my agents 7 year old’ How come nobody over the age twelve answers the phone anymore?”
“I’m afraid I cannot say Basil,” I lied.
“Ah….Trudy” and pointed at the mess.
“Crikey, you’re a fine looking wench,” he said. Raven gave Trudy the once over as if she were a prize filly, doubtless reprising his role in the execrable ‘Earl of Huntington’. Trudy stared back enigmatically. That is to say her expression could be construed as either one of revulsion or ironic confusion and I feared the former.
“Come and sit down Basil, you are clearly overwrought (I nearly said overweight). Look, Racine has prepared a little something as an appetizer.” A platter of thick, homemade tortillas were stacked in a cylindrical tower filled with squash, eggplant, mildly salted manchego cheese, and crisply fried greens. A trio of asparagus spears tilted against the tower. A soupcon of fine vine arête, lapped in a tiny bowl beside the dish. We began to dish portions of this miracle onto our plates and Basil was about to make a full frontal attack on it, when I signalled to Trudy at the sideboard.
“Wait!” I said. Trudy approached warily with a napkin shrouded carafe and poured us a glass each of the deep red nectar. “Tell me what you think this is Basil. You know your wines I’ll give you that, but I’d wager my firstborn, you will be hard pressed with this one.” He sniffed at his goblet and his eyes lit up. He swirled and took another careful inhalation. I actually thought he was about to swoon and he’d not even tasted it yet. At last he sipped, sucked it alarmingly through his teeth, rolled it on his tongue like an anaconda savouring a marmoset. I was thinking this behaviour was literally evil when his Oscar winning smile spread like a rash, his eyes actually twinkled; his concentration on the flavour was palpable.
“Mary, mother of God…it can’t be but I’m sure of it…it’s… “The Blood of Christ” A.K.A. Château Lafite….and its, I know it’s preposterous but I do believe it’s 1787.”