“Are you all right?” Herman asks and leans forward, looking truly concerned.
I sit back into the uncomfortable couch, relax my throat, and take a slow deep breath. No, I haven’t been poisoned, but something’s definitely up with this coffee.
“What the heck you put in here?”
“Good heavens, I didn’t even think to warn ya. I make my coffee a little strong.”
“Do you add a few drops of water to a bag of coffee grounds or something?”
Herman belts out a laugh. “No, no, you don’t have a problem with alcohol, do ya?”
“Only if I can’t get enough of it.” I raise the cup again and take a whiff. “It’s certainly not whiskey.”
“No, it’s not whiskey. Can you keep a secret?”
I’ve kept more than my share, old man. “Sure.”
“It’s moonshine. My own special blend. I make it in that ol’ wooden shed behind the garden. I think I poured in a little too much this time though. Didn’t even think about it when I offered you some. It’s just how I prepare it.” He laughs again. “I should figure that not everyone drinks their coffee this way.”
“Coffee brewed in part with moonshine? Works for me. You’re full of surprises, Herman. Your name is Herman, isn’t it?”
“Well, Herman—here’s to moonshine and gardening.” We clink coffee cups and each take a healthy gulp. “That’s some potent stuff.”
“It’ll do the job, all right,” he says with a grin.
Herman may not be as religious as his late wife, and his role in the church may have mainly been to pacify her, but he doesn’t exactly strike me as a killer either.
“So, do you have a secret behind the success of your garden too?”
“No, I’m afraid I can’t take too much credit for the nice produce it yields. I just do a little maintenance. My grandson—he’s got the green thumb of the family. He’s the one who prepared the soil and planted all the seeds. Did all the early care to make sure the crops would thrive. He still comes by to check on it from time-to-time, plants new seeds. I just tidy up and pull off fresh produce.”
“It sounds like he’s the one I should be talking to, eh?” Looks like Kenny Black will have to pay this little punk a visit.
“That’s right. I’ll have to introduce the two of you some day. Say, would you like some of his fresh tomatoes?”
Tomatoes grown by the aid of human flesh—I’ll pass. But once again, I say, “Sure.”