Beware the Pear
Strangers Bearing Brandy
Eve basked by the bonfire, fascinated by Dario's tales of his world travel. She sipped away on the glass of William's pear brandy he had offered her. He told her of driving in the French countryside, where he saw the sun glinting off something in the orchards. Drawn to the glistening bottles, he visited the orchard and learned they put bottles over the budding pears on the tree. The pears grew inside and were harvested together.
Eve was mesmerized by the pear inside the bottle. "It must be very expensive!" she said.
Dario grinned. "It is, but I always keep several bottles. It reminds me of traveling through Europe. I love to treat my good friends to nice things." He smiled at her and winked.
"Well, thank you, Dario. I appreciate being spoiled. But we've just met; I'm not sure we're in the good friend category quite yet," Eve replied.
Dario reached for her hand. "But we will be Eve. I can sense it." He uncorked the bottle and refilled her glass.
Eve snatched her hand back. "Whoa there, I'm a woman who likes to know people a little longer before I commit to calling them, friends."
Dario laughed. "Relax, Eve, I'm not suggesting we start a passionate love affair. I collect friends from all over the world. I enjoy learning new things about everyone I meet. Tell me, how did you wind up here in this park in Thunder Bay, Ontario?
Eve took a chug from her crystal tumbler of pear brandy. "Damn, that's good! Why do you have crystal tumblers when you're camping? The rest of us use Solo Cups."
"Philistine!" Dario scrunched up his nose. "You can't drink eighty-dollar Brandy from a red plastic cup! Are you a madwoman?"
Eve downed the rest of the brandy in her glass and stood up. "Well, excuse me, this Philly-whatever woman is going home."
"Wait, I'm sorry, I was joking! Please don't go, I'm enjoying your company. You haven't told me why you're here." Dario refilled Eve's glass.
Reluctantly, Eve sat back down. "I need to be going soon, but I am curious about your story, so I will share mine; then it's your turn to spill."
"Spill?" Dario looked confused. "Why would I spill my drink? What good would that do?"
Eve smacked her head with her palm. "Sorry, obviously we don't have much in common. Spill means to tell me your life story, no holding back."
Dario nodded, so Eve took a sip while she considered where to start. She began, "I found out my husband was cheating on me, I don't like big scenes, so I just left. My friend, Jan, has a trailer here and told me I could stay since she's not using it. That's it, that's all, no biggie! Your turn."
"Well, that's certainly the Cliff's notes version. I think you should elaborate, but I will keep my end of the bargain." Dario shrugged his shoulders and cracked his neck. "Okay, well, my wife disappeared. We had a place in upstate New York. She went out one night and never returned. She left a note saying that she was moving back to France and don't try to find her. She's never contacted me or anyone else since. I was heartbroken. I thought the best plan would be to close the place and hit the road. I bought this motorhome at a place in Niagara Falls and just kept driving northwest. I loved the scenery and the rugged terrain of Thunder Bay, so for now, this is home until the park closes for the winter."
Eve was stunned. "Didn't that seem suspicious? I mean, what if she was kidnapped or something? Surely the police must have been involved? Her family must be frantic too!"
Dario frowned. "The police were involved, of course. I gave them the note. They had the handwriting analyzed. It matched Gabrielle's. She had no living family members or at least none that I knew about. Her parents left their estates to her. She had the funds to go anywhere and disappear."
While Eve pondered the information Dario had shared, he refilled her glass again. He said, "Okay, we've delved into each other's dysfunctional marriages. Let's move on to more pleasant things. What are your plans for the winter?" He held up his glass and clinked it with Eve's.
Eve took a big swig, then set the glass down. "Do you mind if I use your restroom? If it's a problem, we'll just call it a night."
Dario jumped up, "Oh, please use mine." He held open the door to the Motor Coach.
"Wow, this is fancy!" Eve said. "Dude, you are not invited to my humble rental trailer. Jeez, you even have a full-size freezer in here. You definitely have to invite me to dinner with this kitchen setup!"
"No problem, you are officially invited. The restroom is past the kitchen on the right. It's a beautiful night; let's get back to drinking by the fire."
When Eve used the toilet, she realized she had the spinnies! Obviously, it was time to go home. She wobbled her way back to where Dario was waiting for her. He was standing by the door with a fresh, frosty bottle of pear brandy in his hand.
Eve laughed. "You, sir, can just put that bottle back to chill. I am done for tonight. I'm going home." She walked past him, gingerly making her way down the steps.
She wobbled back to the fire pit and picked up her purse. She saw a golf cart stop, and Sue, the park's busy body, shouted out. "Hey Eve, can I give you a lift home? It's kind of late. We've got a pickleball tournament, tomorrow girl!"
Dario protested. "That's okay, Sue, she's good. We are having a nightcap. I'll make sure she gets home okay."
"No, Dario, I'm done. Thank you for the evening, but Sue is correct. We have a pickleball tournament to win. I'm off." She awkwardly climbed in the golf cart, and they bounced away from Dario's RV.
Dario threw a bucket of water on the bonfire, collected the glasses and the bottle of pear brandy, and headed inside. He opened the freezer and poured himself a chilled vodka. Dario put the pear brandy and vodka back in the freezer beside several other bottles and a large plastic bag. He left the lid of the freezer open and raised his glass.
"Well, sunshine, it's just you and me again tonight! Cheers Gabrielle. I think we need to be moving on. I had such hopes for this place. Eve looks a lot like you, don't you think?"
About the author
Mary Haynes splits her time between a romantic old sailboat in tropical waters and a beach home in Ontario. A wanderer, by fate, she embraces wherever she roams! Mary recently completed her first children’s book, “Who Ate My Peppers?”