Darin Gibby The Vintage Club

ISBN 13: 9781938467653

The Vintage Club

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9781938467653: The Vintage Club
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Can wine really make you live forever? Yes, if the grapes are an ancient varietal---or so the members of the Vintage Club believe. Made up of some of the world’s wealthiest industrial magnates, the club conducts secret scientific research to discover what has eluded humans throughout history: the elixir of life.
 
Their quest hits a snag when scientist Walter Trudell is murdered. The prime murder suspect is his godson Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney whom Trudell once saved from a life of poverty in northeast Washington, D.C. As soon as news of the murder spreads, Reggie goes into hiding---soon after his wife and son disappear.

After being chased by mysterious assailants, beaten unconscious, and planted with a bug, Reggie must come to grips with his own private demons while figuring out how to save his family. The Vintage Club is a thriller that both explores the ancient Christian symbolism of wine and imagines ways that modern nanotechnology could be used to discover the fountain of youth.

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About the Author:

Darin Gibby is the author of Why Has America Stopped Inventing? He is also an internationally renowned patent attorney and has been featured in a wide variety of publications as well as TV and radio shows, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Leonard Lopate show, Yahoo! Finance and To The Best of Our Knowledge.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
As they reached Andalusia between the Guadalquivir and Guadelete rivers, the soil turned chalk-white, the humidity soared and the mostly treeless landscape undulated gently as far as the eye could see. They were now near the ocean, in wine country, where the Phoenicians had first brought the fruit of the vine nearly a thousand years before. With its gentle dews, hot summer temperatures and alkaline albariza clay capable of holding vast volumes of water, this region was the perfect place to grow grapes. Not just any grapes, but white Palomino grapes, which careful cultivation by the Tartesians turned into the first wine. By 35 A.D., when Tiberius ventured into Andalusia, the Romans had a full-fledged commercial wine-making venture under way, nicely complemented by the production of olive oil and sheep’s wool.
It was mid-September, the grapes hanging plump and heavy on the vine. Slaves toiled between the rows, carefully clipping clusters of the fruit and gently setting them in baskets, then hauling the baskets to winepresses where more slaves, five or six at a time, barefoot and grasping hanging ropes to keep their balance, stomped on the grapes to extract their juice. The juice collected in vats, then drained into casks where it would ferment, its sugars transformed into alcohol that would preserve the wine for decades to come.
Though not as strong as it was in August, the sun was still scorching, enough to dehydrate a man in a few short hours.
“It’s jobs like this that make me wish I’d studied law,” Didius said as he rode alongside his friend Catus, a junior captain. “I should be making laws, not enforcing them for the emperor.”
“Lawyers,” Catus snorted. “The empire’s got too many of them already.”
“At least I could be in Rome spending my nights with Justina.”
Catus and Didius, the latter mounted on a black Andalusian horse, led a contingent of ten foot soldiers in tunics, mail breastplates and helmets, each equipped with swords and daggers.
“Ha! You know you love a good fight as much as the next Roman, Didius. March for glory—isn’t that your personal creed?”
“This won’t even be a skirmish, and it’s a tale likely to ruin my career—yours too. Can you imagine our report to the Senate? They’ll laugh us out of the room.”
“I know, I know,” Catus sighed. “Don’t we have better things to look out for? It’ll die just like Christianity, perhaps with a little help from the lions. What I would give for a day at the Coliseum!”
“Rome never gives up when there’s a deserter. Especially when the story is so sensational.”
Catus patted the Andalusian’s neck, admiring the sheen in his black coat. “Agreed, but this guy disappeared more than a hundred years ago. No Roman has ever lived that long. Nobody’s ever lived that long. His bones are already bleached, if they haven’t disappeared altogether.”
“‘Unconfirmed reports’ by our chroniclers say otherwise. Fools! They’re just trying to spark sensation, and in the process they’re binding me to my fate.”
“True, Captain. Rome loves a good story. That’s all the Senate needed to follow this legend. And you and I get shoveled the dirty work of proving it false.”
“We can’t win this one. The fellow’s dead and gone. And even if we were to find someone who fits the description, as soon as we haul him back to Rome, our reputations will be as good as your horse’s stinking manure. ‘What’s it like looking for a ghost?’ ‘That man, a hundred and fifty? Sure, and my wife is still eighteen.’ I can hear it already. We’ll be mocked all the way to Mongolia.”
His companion hesitated. “But what if it really is him?”
“Come on, a glass of wine isn’t going to make you live a century and a half!” Didius’s horse was plodding; he swatted the animal’s rear to get him to pick up his pace. “You know how many glasses my father had before he left for the gods?”
“That’s not what the Christians believe,” Catus said. “Two days before their Jewish messiah was crucified, he gave his twelve followers wine—a very magical wine, they say. And if you believe the tale, that wine made it possible for them to live forever.”
“Obviously it didn’t work,” Didius said. “We know for sure that at least nine are already dead—and the others are most likely dead. One of them even killed himself.”
“Yeah ... what was his name?”
“Judas. Hung himself from a tree for a measly thirty pieces of silver! No wine will stop death from a good hanging, no matter what the vintage.”
“Or from being crucified upside down.”
Didius swatted a fly from his horse’s mane. “But if nobody intentionally kills them and they don’t kill themselves, then what? Will the wine save them—make them live forever?”
“If so I’d like to get my hands on it. Anything for a few more years of revelry back in Rome!”
“I believe our Roman deserter had the same idea. You know, they say Jason bought the fermentation secret from Judas himself.”
“I thought Judas was paid to betray Jesus with a kiss.”
“He was and he did,” Didius said. “But Judas also sold the magical grape seeds, along with the secret wine-making process—both necessary to make this alleged elixir.”
“How do you know that?”
“Common knowledge... Even the soldiers who were at the crucifixion knew about it. To mock him, they doused a sponge with vinegar—wine gone bad—and gave it to Jesus on the cross. ‘See if this’ll make you live forever!’ they said. Is this the new wine you’re going to drink with your apostles?”
“But then the rumors of a resurrection...”
“Uh huh, spread like wildfire,” Didius said. “And Jason was foolish enough to swallow it all, hook, line and sinker. Jason knew Jesus personally and was a follower of his. After the crucifixion, it was rumored, he fled as far as a stowaway could sail—here to Iberia. Unfortunately for him, in Iberia he was still under Roman rule.”
Didius jerked up on the reins, breathing deeply. “I can smell it from here, a good vintage. There, up on that hill. See the house, and the vines with no grapes left? Looks like a winepress off to the right. I’ll bet twenty denarius that it’s full of half-crushed grapes.” He spun his horse around to face his men.
“Soldiers, your orders: Take your prisoners alive, at all costs. First, tie them up, then chain them together. Do not destroy any property or parchments. If they try to escape, do all you can to protect them. Rome is watching us carefully on this one. Don’t disappoint our emperor.”
Catus pulled a script from his saddlebag, unrolled it and passed it to the first footman. “His name is Jason. Here’s what we think he looks like. Note the scar across his left cheek—and he’s missing the third finger on his left hand. If he’s here, it’ll be impossible to miss him.” The parchment was passed among the men, each studying it in turn. “We want him alive. Got it?”
They nodded in unison.
“Forward!” Didius prodded his horse.
The soldiers turned up the hillside toward a single-room stone-walled structure with a roof of rough-hewn logs. There was a window covered by a brown cloth that flapped in the breeze, and a heavily sun-bleached wooden door. Wisps of smoke purled up from the stone chimney. Moving single file, between two rows of recently stripped grape vines, their sandals sinking into the alkaline soil, the men strode forward, first double time, then triple, just short of a run.
As the company reached the end of the row Didius motioned them forward. Instantly the ten fanned out, five flanking each side of the abode. Except for a few brown leaves from a lone oak tree scooting across the dirt, the yard was barren. Didius and Catus dismounted and approached the only door.
A few steps away when he heard a creaking sound, Didius halted and grabbed his dagger. A gust of wind swept down and the door moved on its rusty hinges. The captain looked to his left, then right, making sure his men had the area secured. Then with a nod to the others, he delivered a swift kick to the door. It flew from its hinges, crashing to the floor and kicking up a cloud of dust. The first thing he saw inside was a woman, a woman with long black hair streaked with gray, a large baby at her breast, cowering in the back corner, behind a small wooden table strewn with bowls. Then a blackened kettle hanging over a dwindling flame. A few blankets, in a crumpled pile. A single chair, a stool, really. Even before the dust settled, the child stopped his sucking and let out a high-pitched cry.
“Where is he, woman?” Catus demanded. Not waiting for an answer, he lunged forward, flung the table on its side and pointed his sword at the child’s head. “You want your baby alive?”
She whimpered, clutching the child. Her bony frame was shaking and sweat glistened on her wrinkled skin.
Catus leaned forward, the tip of his blade only a few inches from the baby’s throat. “Now!”
“Please, I don’t know who you’re talking about,” she said with a lisp, through her missing front tooth.
Didius spat on the floor. He strode over to the fire and tipped the kettle with his dagger, sending a stream of liquid onto the embers. A mist of steam shot up. “Personally I like babies, but if I must—”
“I swear I don’t know what you’re talking about! Please, I beg you, don’t hurt my baby.”
Didius gritted his teeth. “That’s it. Baby stew.” Then he took two steps and reached out for the child.
She held the child tighter, but that didn’t stop Didius from wrestling the baby from her. With the squawking child dangling from one arm, Didius walked over to the cauldron.
With a hysterical scream, the woman dropped to her knees and began scampering toward the fire on all fours, her progress hampered by her long dress. “Please, I beg you, don’t kill my baby!”
Catus, coming up behind her, stepped on her hem and halted her advance. Didius suspended the baby over the boiling water and started lowering it head first until he was just a few inches above the rising steam.
“He’s under the floor,” she sobbed with outstretched arms.
“That’s more like it,” Didius said, handing the screaming child back to its mother, who clutched him against her chest and bent over him, sobbing.
Catus shoved his sword back in its sheath, grinning.
“Works every time,” Didius said dryly, studying the wooden planks with a focused gaze. It was his Roman discipline—he would not allow himself to be distracted from the job at hand.
Catus joined him, kicking away the ragged blankets and testing the floor with his sandal, running it over the wooden planks until his toe caught a raised edge.
He crouched down, dusted the boards with his hand, stuck his finger into a knot hole and, looking up at Didius, winked. “Not so clever.” With a single jerk he popped loose a trapdoor, barely wide enough for an adult to slip through.
Catus reached down and helped him slide it aside. “Out!” he shouted into the darkness.
The man who emerged looked not a day older than twenty, half the age of his wife. He had curly dark hair and a bushy beard that only half covered a scar jetting out of the facial hair and up the left temple.
“Hands in the air!” Didius snapped. “We have orders to arrest one Jason, follower of Jesus. Are you that man?”
A loud thud came from behind them and Catus turned to find the woman collapsed like a rag doll onto the floor, the screaming child now furiously wiggling to free himself from her clinging arms.
The man refused to speak.
“They say you are one hundred and forty-seven years old,” Catus said. “Hmmmm, that would make her ... wife number four? That must be hard when they get old—and you still so young. Maybe it’s a good thing to die.” Catus turned to his fellow Roman. “Can you imagine getting nagged for a hundred years by four different women, Didius?”
For the first time, a thin smile broke across Didius’ face. “You know death is the penalty for desertion,” he said to the captive.
Though he kept his hands in the air, the man refused to acknowledge this threat.
“So that’s how it’s going to be?” Catus stepped toward him, grabbed the back of his coarse woolen shirt and yanked so hard that the man lost his balance and stumbled. Still clutching his garment, the Roman pulled him out the front door, away from the squawking kid, and across the dirt to the oak tree.
Five soldiers appeared from behind the hovel, soon followed by the others. A man with broad shoulders and a bulky chest approached Didius.
“No prisoners, Captain. The wine vat is full of must. And we found a cellar,” the soldier said, pointing toward the back of the abode. “Here, we brought you a bottle.”
Catus flung the prisoner to the ground and plucked the bottle from the soldier’s outstretched arm.
“How many?” Catus asked.
“Two full racks. Four hundred bottles?”
“One for every day of the year—with a few to spare,” Catus said, nodding to Didius. “Eternal life from wine. Now we shall see.” He popped the cork and raised the bottle his nose, inhaling the rich bouquet. “Not like last night’s. This one is magical!” he said in a sarcastic tone.
“No!” the man on the ground cried, breaking his silence and gazing up at the Romans with imploring eyes. “I command you not to partake of that wine. It’s sacred.”
“Command, Jason? I didn’t know you had a commission,” Catus chortled. “Get me a cup.”
A soldier strode forward, earthen cup in one hand and a bottle in the other. Catus grabbed the cup and let the soldier fill it with a blood-red wine. “To Jupiter!” he cried, raising the vessel high to cheers from his men.
""And Bacchus!"" another cried.
“Drink, and condemn yourself!” the winemaker exclaimed. “As God is my witness—”
A soldier stepped forward and spat in the man’s face. “That is what we think of your god.”
The prisoner stood silent as the spittle slid down his cheek, slipping over his scar and nesting in his beard. Grunting, Catus brought the cup to his lips and took a long draft. He smacked his lips and cocked his head, judging the taste. “Almost as good as the wine in Rome, maybe even better.” He turned to his men. “Tonight we celebrate! Tomorrow, we bring it all with us. To Rome with the prisoner!”
The men erupted in dance and song, calling out for the bottles and kicking up clouds of white alkaline dust with their sandals. But before Catus had time to join the celebration, his breath turned short and beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. He went down to one knee in an attempt to maintain his balance, to stop the world from spinning. “Ahhhhhh!” he screamed, clutching his throat. “The bastard poisoned me!”
The Roman captain toppled over, face first into the white dust, writhing in pain, tearing at his throat while the boisterous crowd fell silent and gathered round. As trained Roman soldiers, they stood at attention until Didius, the next in command, gave them their orders.
“I warned you,” the prisoner said, staggering to his feet. “Did you think this was the wine of our Lord? The wine from the Tree of Life that makes one immortal? Oh fools. It is the forbidden fruit, the blood of the grape of which our first father, Adam, was commanded not to partake.”
“You dog—you lie!” Didius punched the man in the nose, drawing blood that flowed down into his mouth and stained his front teeth red. “Tell me what he drank, before it’s too late.”
The prisoner spat a mouthful of blood onto the parched soil. An arm’s length away, Catus had gone into spasms, jumping and twitchin...

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Book Description Koehler Books, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Can wine really make you live forever? Yes, if the grapes are an ancient varietal---or so the members of the Vintage Club believe. Made up of some of the world's wealthiest industrial magnates, the club conducts secret scientific research to discover what has eluded humans throughout history: the elixir of life. Their quest hits a snag when scientist Walter Trudell is murdered. The prime murder suspect is his godson Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney whom Trudell once saved from a life of poverty in northeast Washington, D.C. As soon as news of the murder spreads, Reggie goes into hiding---soon after his wife and son disappear. After being chased by mysterious assailants, beaten unconscious, and planted with a bug, Reggie must come to grips with his own private demons while figuring out how to save his family. The Vintage Club is a thriller that both explores the ancient Christian symbolism of wine and imagines ways that modern nanotechnology could be used to discover the fountain of youth. Seller Inventory # APC9781938467653

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Book Description Koehler Books, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Can wine really make you live forever? Yes, if the grapes are an ancient varietal---or so the members of the Vintage Club believe. Made up of some of the world s wealthiest industrial magnates, the club conducts secret scientific research to discover what has eluded humans throughout history: the elixir of life. Their quest hits a snag when scientist Walter Trudell is murdered. The prime murder suspect is his godson Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney whom Trudell once saved from a life of poverty in northeast Washington, D.C. As soon as news of the murder spreads, Reggie goes into hiding---soon after his wife and son disappear. After being chased by mysterious assailants, beaten unconscious, and planted with a bug, Reggie must come to grips with his own private demons while figuring out how to save his family. The Vintage Club is a thriller that both explores the ancient Christian symbolism of wine and imagines ways that modern nanotechnology could be used to discover the fountain of youth. Seller Inventory # APC9781938467653

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Book Description Koehler Books. Paperback. Condition: New. 326 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 6.0in. x 0.9in.Can wine really make you live forever Yes, if the grapes are an ancient varietal---or so the members of the Vintage Club believe. Made up of some of the worlds wealthiest industrial magnates, the club conducts secret scientific research to discover what has eluded humans throughout history: the elixir of life. Their quest hits a snag when scientist Walter Trudell is murdered. The prime murder suspect is his godson Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney whom Trudell once saved from a life of poverty in northeast Washington, D. C. As soon as news of the murder spreads, Reggie goes into hiding---soon after his wife and son disappear. After being chased by mysterious assailants, beaten unconscious, and planted with a bug, Reggie must come to grips with his own private demons while figuring out how to save his family. The Vintage Club is a thriller that both explores the ancient Christian symbolism of wine and imagines ways that modern nanotechnology could be used to discover the fountain of youth. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781938467653

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Book Description Koehler Books, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Can wine really make you live forever? Yes, if the grapes are an ancient varietal---or so the members of the Vintage Club believe. Made up of some of the world's wealthiest industrial magnates, the club conducts secret scientific research to discover what has eluded humans throughout history: the elixir of life. Their quest hits a snag when scientist Walter Trudell is murdered. The prime murder suspect is his godson Reggie Alexander, a patent attorney whom Trudell once saved from a life of poverty in northeast Washington, D.C. As soon as news of the murder spreads, Reggie goes into hiding---soon after his wife and son disappear. After being chased by mysterious assailants, beaten unconscious, and planted with a bug, Reggie must come to grips with his own private demons while figuring out how to save his family. The Vintage Club is a thriller that both explores the ancient Christian symbolism of wine and imagines ways that modern nanotechnology could be used to discover the fountain of youth. Seller Inventory # LIE9781938467653

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