When Grapes Taste Finer Than Wine


In the life of all, we play roles. Comparatively speaking to a role of an actor or actress. As much as you may loathe the idea, we are all actors and actresses. After a carton of cigarettes and many cases of beer, this is just a story. Within this story there is no dialog. You’ll just have to take my word for it that everything you’re about to read happened as such as I tell the story. Even though it is entirely and utmostly fictional. This is my ode to the role you’re now playing. Perhaps, even in my life.

The Book

Five years ago, to date. A waitress, dark, short and thorough placed a chilled glass and a bottled of beer on the end of his table. Jack Powless, a twenty-nine year old writer and Groom Porter at a casino in Reno, reached across the table and poured the beer into the glass. The last time he drank a beer was ten minutes before then while in his hotel room. He thought to himself how the beer, he drank ten minutes before in his hotel room, and the beer brought by the dark, short, smooth waitress, seemed to taste different, as he sipped its cold body. There’s something about service. There’s something about food. Theres something about wine. Most of the things he thought about revolved around how terrible love and life tasted. He sat alone in a low lit, quite restaurant drinking his beer out of a cold glass, again, alone. As he sat, waiting for his sirloin steak and shrimp scampi pasta dinner, he was frivolously writing away. Tenaciously writing a story about a man sitting in a low lit restaurant drinking beer writing a book which was known for the title Huntington’s Best. A novel about a man whom George Huntington had diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease in the late 1800’s. Honestly, it was about love. And food. In this story, the man whom Huntington diagnosed was fictitious to say the most, more importantly, he was a man who loved a woman who didn’t seem to have a chance. In the sense they never had the time to learn everything they could about each other. She loved to eat. At first, Jack wanted to name the book Grapes of Wrath but that story belonged to John Steinbeck. So he was calling it, at that time, Grapes Under Fire. It wasn’t until the late Winter of 2012 he was calling it Grapes Taste Finer Than Wine. However, the Summer of 2012 he renamed it The Grapes Taste. A professor, however, at the University of Nevada later renamed it Huntington’s Best. The waitress visited him, yet again at his table. This time, she brought his dinner with an appropriate glass of red wine. A Cabernet Sauvignon.


Out of all the men in Reno, Jack was known for being the town lush and slick card handler. I’m not going to say he was or wasn’t. I always knew he was more than that. Although, he could hustle any poker pro out of Sin City for all the cash in their pocket. I was by his side when he walked out of The Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, whom is the bitch to The Eldorado Resorts Casino and where he spent most of his time, with more money than I make in a month. Actually, thats where he worked. I still cant believe he did that in one night. I’m suspecting he raked in over $4,500 dollars, that evening. The only problem was, to a pro, that’s chump change. So you can see how that would fuck with anyone’s self esteem. All in all he was a great card player and handler. The thing he was absolutely terrible at, was writing. But he loved it. He wasn’t terrible at it because he was retarded or because he didn’t get grammar. He was terrible at it because he would tell those who he loved the most about what he was writing before publishing the piece. I recall him working on a story called Moon Lit Land. Before he had written any script for the story he elaborately told one of his best friends, Bret Easton Ellis, about the piece. When I say elaborately, I mean Jack basically handed him all his notes and research. The book was about a brilliant satirical mock-autobiographical horror story that explores the writer’s psyche, and other intertextual spaces. We all thought it was genius. Later that year Bret published a book called Lunar Park. It became a best seller in 2005. Now in my opinion, I guess the titles were always Jack’s problem, they were always wack. Just terrible titles. But good enough for Bret, I guess.


The first time I met her was right after the fair had about packed up for their summer tour in 2006. You see, in our small town, in South Western Old PA, Somerset, there were only a few jobs you could choose from. The median income for a household in the borough was $29,050, and the median income for a family was $41,831. Males had a median income of $28,339 versus $19,492 for females. With that being stated, the five of us, Jack, Love, Jack’s older brother Luke, Jake and myself wanted to move out West to look for better job opportunities. We didn’t know that everyone else in the country was doing the same thing and that we’d have to alter every aspect of our lives in order to make ends meet. In any case, Jack told me about this girl who he loved, her name was ironically Love. When we arrived out West, Jack and Love were inseparable. Well, all of us were doing our own thing. Luke started dealing the Marijuana. I personally don’t smoke, anymore, I’ve learned to smoke for a specific purpose. But he was good at it, dealing I mean. Jake became a yoga instructor. And everyone we knew and met wanted him to teach them. He had a knack for it. I started to play music, in between working at a local restaurant in Santa Monica, CA. But you know, it really didn’t matter what Love and Jack did. The love they had and made made anything they did so easy to accomplish. I almost hated their relationship. We all suspected once we were in California, though, their new love, puppy love, would dissolve. But it didn’t. It was their year. The year of grapes.


Jack was everyone’s favorite. We all lived together just south of the LAX Airport, in a part of Los Angeles called Manhattan Beach. When we were deciding where to go in California we were looking at a map to decide where to go, Luke chose the area based on the name. He said it was the closest he’ll ever get to New York City. He hated the East coast. Luke called it the hair gel capitol of the world. I don’t know if I agree with him. Coincidentally, I think they call that New Jersey. Jack held an illegal poker room in the spare bedroom of our house. Everyone loved him. I thought he was very cynical. Even though he and Luke had every right to be. Their dad died when they were both young adults and had to work hard at to young age to help out their mom. She died several months before we made our way to the West coast. It was weird understanding the vocabulary of the Californians. “Sick!” seemed to be the word of choice for something that was just tits, or cool. We all started using the term. We were having the time of our lives. We were making more money than we thought we would, experiencing new things we had never experienced before, making new friends, we were really making wonderful lives for ourselves. It wasn’t until the late Winter of 2008 everything changed.

Dance With the Devil

After everything has happened I still don’t know what to believe. It just doesn’t seem right. Besides Love and Jack, the other three of us were just taking life as it came. The two of them were really planning a great life together. I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people. It wasn’t the chilly nights, in Southern California, that were as cold as hell. It was the news. It was the chilled air we all felt when she told us. Love, twenty-nine years old, being a year younger than Jack, came through that door and spoke some words and iced the place. It wasn’t her fault. It was just the cards she was dealt. I’ve never seen Jack that angry before. He broke almost everything in their room. She left. He stayed. We left. After getting back from the bars Jack looked like he had hit the bars several days in a row without a break. He looked like he had been crying. It looked like he had danced with the devil.

Times Are A Changin’

That has been the last time I saw Love. She walked out grabbing her green overcoat and coach purse. I miss her company. I think the hardest thing about life is the unexpected negative events that change lives forever that you could never prepare for. I never did really listen to Bob Dylan. After everything that has happened to my friends I don’t think I’ll ever hear that man sing and not think about their love. You know, Jack is the best man I’ve ever known. After all that terrible news finally settled in in our lives he never blamed god or laid down to the beast in the form of fortuitous events. He loved her. I’m know he still does. I knew he loved her when she brought home some dinner, from an Italian restaurant by the peer in Manhattan Beach, CA. Mangiomo Ristorante and Bar, and he sat with her and looked at her with the deepest eyes I’ve ever seen any man look at a woman with. I’m not sure if he looked upon her like that because she brought home a great dinner to him or because he really appreciated her taste in wine and food. Actually, I know why. She told me once with all the guys she’d been with he got her the most. Understanding has a powerful way of drawing people together. More importantly, two people. After that he always had really nice wine for her to drink. She loved food. And wine.


Winter, 2007. So they say, Titanic failed based on the unexpected. Whatever that means. I think it sunk because of pride. Maybe the unexpected and pride are the same thing. I mean, I know you can’t predict the future so maybe they aren’t quite the same thing. I’m sure how you react before something catastrophic happens can be a matter of playing god. I guess all I’m saying is the events surrounding us, more importantly Love and Jack, were too unexpected for their to be any kind of pride involved besides their love. Now that was something to be proud of. After Love left, Jack closed the doors to his underground gambling ring and spent hours and hours at the Powell Library, on the UCLA campus, while spending hours and hours at a large wooden desk within that building. I saw a couple of books he brought home. They were all related to Huntington’s Disease. I hear if you spend a thousand hours studying, or practicing, a specific topic you become a professional. Well I’d consider Jack an expert on the topic of the disease George Huntington advertised more than anyone else in history. He was fortunate considering the Hereditary Disease Foundation was founded in Los Angeles providing him more research if he’d been back home in PA. Jack was a Titan, though. And he was going to figure something out, I had more faith in him than the builders of the Titanic had in their ship and voyage.

Iron Sharpens Iron

After that night, the last time I saw Love, all of us kind of disbanded. Jack’s older brother, Luke, stopped dealing Ganja and now deals real estate in LA to celebrities and who not. Jake changed the direction of his teaching to television. He now has a show on a national network teaching how to live your life in Harmony. I think the show’s called Barefoot, or something like that. He’s doing well. Love moved to Alaska and started a dental instrument distribution company and a first ever underground (literally under the earth) winery. And I’ll tell you about Jack and I in a minute. Looking back on what has happened makes me really understand how wonderful it is to have friends that are like minded. I’ve heard iron sharpens iron. I guess Eleanor Roosevelt was right when she said something about great minds discussing ideas, or something like that.

Get It? Got It? Good!

After Jack had dinner he finished writing his thoughts, in that book I mentioned at the outset. You know, The Grapes Taste. He didn’t finish with THE END he finished with ITS END. As uncomplicated as this may sound, he had discovered the cure for Huntington’s Disease. That night, when Love made her announcement, she told the four of us for the first time, including Jack, she had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. After that night, and all those nights, Jack dedicated his life to find a cure. The only difference between this and all the other books, and studies, Jack built his life around he never told anyone what he was doing. I kind of figured, but he didn’t even tell me. After the last word was written down and he put some money on the table he was sitting at, in that dark quite restaurant, he stood and yelled how he just figured it out. He hugged and touched strangers as he started to run for the door and then to his car. Understanding. He had it.


Something typical of Jack’s books and studies were they were taken and published under a different name. Discredited for all the work he did based on his wanting instant gratification, I could only presume. Except this time, he received full credit. His book, The Grapes Taste was published in the Washington Post and New York Times under the name Huntington’s Best. A professor at the University of Nevada read his book before it was edited and published before which endorsed it. He then sent it to HDSA, Huntington’s Disease Society of America, to see if his research was conclusive. It was. Jack had found a cure for HD. The world was about to know about his discovery. But more importantly, the Love he had left to save would be there to love. Currently, Jack and Love are living in Alaska together with their two kids. Jack is the most famous man in medicine, considering he didn’t even graduate high school. And Love is alive and well. She’s the best mom I know. Jack doesn’t hate love anymore. He’s actually really pleasant to be around. As far as me, what you’re reading had been on the best sellers list for five years now… Smiles.



Written by Blake Byers

©2012 Blake Byers All Rights Reserved


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