Milk & Cookies

With a booming rhythmic whine, the washer had shimmied halfway across the basement laundry room. Sam raced downstairs to investigate the racket, falling halfway down. Cold sudsy water from the slop sink sprayed his face while he wrestled the white behemoth back in place. Dripping wet and black and blue, Sam knew he was a loser. Sam had been a cute kid, charming and precocious. Next he morphed into good-natured , aimless teen stoner. After his fifteen minutes of college, Sam wandered from job to job, mostly sales, IT, restaurants and bars, until he got sick, lost his apartment, and ran out of sofas to surf. On his last fumes, Sam pulled up into his grandma’s driveway.
Most grandmas are like Mrs. Claus, rosy plump cheeks and cozy bear hugs. Nanny was less milk and cookies and more box wine and Pall Malls. Crowded to the rafters with pillows and paintings, rude knickknacks and cacti, his grandmother’s house always smelt of weed. After a tense showdown on the porch with Sam, puppy dog-eyed, holding his life in two trash bags, and Nanny, arms folded, blocking the front door, she let him in.
Since the bedrooms were filled with Nanny’s treasures, his grandmother made space for Sam in the side parlor. She set Sam up with an air twin mattress and a old timey storage trunk. At first Sam felt as if he was the unwanted roommate of a giant bird of prey. Gradually he grew comfortable with Nanny’s western saloon meets Woodstock decor. He got a couple of shifts as a bar back at The Squeaky Wheel started a course to be a bartender. Nanny introduced Sam to Bessie Smith and and Sam returned the favor with Cardi B. They bonded over Dateline.
He mopped the laundry room floor and carted the wet laundry outside. Nanny liked the smell of linens dried in the sunshine. She was getting too old to reach up and hang the sheets. Sam pulled the sheets tight with the wooden clothespins. Sam and his cousins used to zigzag through the laundry playing It. Touching the old padlocked barn door was home. Remembering when he was happy and hopeful, Sam looked over at the barn.
The door was wide open. Sam did a double take. Nanny was napping in her room. No one else was around for miles.
Concerned, Sam investigated. The first thing he noticed was fresh cold air blasting his face. The barn had a clean cement floor with drains. Well lit, the room was filled with wine racks loaded with liquor bottles. They were very nice liquor bottles.
There were bottles of Macallan and Dalmore single malts. Each one was rare, a collector’s dream. Sam cradled a lovely bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle 20 year old bourbon in his arms. He didn’t drink whiskey much but he knew this bottle went for $50,000 all day. His hands shook. There were foils of different labels, cleaned old bottles in drying racks, a hand crank sealer, and a brand new Apple MacBook Pro where someone was browsing eBay. A plate of homemade sugar cookies and glasses of milk sat on a lacquer tray by the laptop.
Sam had done a little hacking mostly pranks, but he knew a well constructed con operation when he saw one.
“I start with Glenfiddich bourbon or an Aberfeldy 16 and then create the taste profile from there. Luckily most wealthy jackanapes wouldn’t know a good whiskey from dog piss and are merely chasing the scarcity. I work in the grey market. The secret is never get too greedy or trust a complete stranger,” Nanny said leaning against her walker near the wall by the barn door.
“I want in.” Sam was giddy as a baby. “There are ways to sell online without leaving a trail. Let me show—“
“Oh Sammy, you’re already in. Why else would the door be open?” She slid the door shut.

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