Opening the Doors of the Earth

They are rioting over the wine. Noah slips his way through the crowd, avoiding eye contact, wineskins heavy under his robe. It’s a year’s salary, if he makes it; his life, if he doesn’t.

They flip a car over a block up and some of them climb on top of it, raise their arms and bellow their victory to the sky. He fills in the details, obscured through the smoke and dust: the black bandanas, the scabbed knuckles, the fence posts, the pipes, the two by fours. Another mammoth slain. He turns a corner before they begin dismembering the corpse, before the fire starts.

Down an alley, through a basement, up a firescape to home. He unstoppers one wineskin, the smallest one, the oldest one, pours a scant thumb’s worth into a glass jar. It’s uncut. He can hardly believe his luck, or his danger. Dark as a bruise, fruitful as a unplowed field. He’s never seen wine so strong. He dares to take some in his mouth, and the world opens up before him.

Small blasts rock his building, and plaster coats his little jar. He swallows the rest quickly, summer burning down his throat mixed with mud.