IN VINO VERITAS

Chapter 8

Dean was in a place which looked like a drugs den right out of the 1960s. The movie version of it anyway; he was certain he’d never experienced any of this first hand. Smoke was hanging thick in the air; partly due to all the candles, mostly due to the enormous joint in his right hand. There was a glitter ball hanging from the ceiling, table lights draped with scarves and even a lava lamp; a friggin’ sparkly one! Purple Haze was on the turntable; the laid back groove heightened by the pungent smell of patchouli and it brought back memories of a dozen high schools. Sometimes he’d sell dope to the stoner crowd, mark up the merchandise to make a meagre profit and go under the street handle Killer Bud. Dean chuckled at the memory.

The wallpaper in the room was a complete trip in itself; if he looked closely the pattern seemed to shift and move across multiple dimensions, so he concentrated on the posters tacked to the walls. The Great Escape, Psycho, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand LukeIt was like a shrine to some of his favourite movies. He wondered what happened to Fear and Loathing then realised it wouldn’t be made for another fifty years; which was a pretty major head fuck.

He was sprawled on a lurid brown couch; an equally lurid green one was right opposite. Between them was a wooden table with a huge glass bong in the centre and drugs paraphernalia scattered across it. Dean noticed he was barefoot, wearing flared jeans and a tie-die Steppenwolf t-shirt. He looked the part and that would definitely be useful later on; he could hear women giggling and squealing nearby.

Dean felt epic. More chilled and relaxed than he’d felt in… forever. It didn’t bother him that there were no windows or doors in the room and he certainly didn’t care how he got here. He was lost in the moment, digging the music and the ambience. He took a long toke on the joint and exhaled slowly; even the dope was friggin’ great and he rode the head rush for a few blissed out minutes.

When a man materialised on the couch opposite he felt no surprise. Appearing out of thin air was an amazingly cool move but it took several moments to recognise the crumpled suit and trench coat. Dean took another hit and blew a smoke ring.

“What do you know, it’s my attorney.”

Castiel was staring round the room, trying to take it all in. God only knew how this would look to an angel, especially such an uptight one. Dean made the peace sign.

“Welcome to the Mothership, man. Peace, love and random hippy crapitude.”

Cas seemed shell shocked. “Where are we? Who’s in the next room?”

“I’m going out on a limb here but I think it’s some chicks. They sound frisky.” Dean snickered and offered the joint. Cas looked at it blankly.

“Come on man, take a hit.”

Cas was visibly taken aback by his words. “Why would you want to hit me?”

Dean chuckled and took another toke. “This is some boss shit, man.” He examined the joint carefully. “Is this heaven?”

“We’re not in heaven.” It was the first time Cas seemed sure of anything. “This is unlike any dream of yours I’ve experienced before.”

Dean had to agree with him. “I must be loaded; can’t even tell which way’s up any more. You dig?”

“I don’t have a shovel.” Cas leaned forward and there was urgency in his voice now. “Dean, where are you?”

Dean gazed round the room. “You think it’s a scene from some James Bong flick?”

That was way more funny than it should have been and he burst out laughing. The joke went so far over Cas’s head it probably landed in the stratosphere, which only made it funnier. Cas waited for him to finish; he didn’t crack a smile.

“Are you done?”

Dean nodded, working hard to keep a straight face.

“Listen carefully; Sam sent me. You’ve been missing for two days and he can’t find you. Nobody can, not even me. You have to play Clue with me.”

“You wanna play murder mystery?” Dean was cool with that but Cas seemed monumentally confused.

“I’m not sure why I said that. Dean, you have to clue me in to your whereabouts.”

Dean struggled with the concept for a while, trying to pull together a few thought fragments from the real world.

“I don’t know, man. I think I’m chained to a bed with some hot English chick taking care of business. Know what I mean?”

“I believe at this point I’m supposed to remind you how reality is exactly the same as pornography.” Cas sounded sincere but his speech had slowed down and become very deliberate.

Dean grinned. “Now you’re talking.”

Cas looked totally baffled. “Why did I say that? I meant to say, you need to separate reality from pornography.”

“Party pooper.” Dean took another hit and squinted at the angel through the smoke. “I’m giving you the skinny, dude; straight up. There’s this savoury room with some bitchin’, full on nympho nurse bondage action and…”

Cas interrupted. “Why are you speaking in code?”

The six words seemed to stretch out infinitely and Dean gazed at him, mesmerised.

“I dunno, man. Why do you sound like a slowed down record?”

“Dean, where are you?” Cas’s voice was normal again and he sounded exasperated.

Dean frowned. “Now you sound like a stuck record.”

“Is there something you’ve seen, anything that might help us? Think hard.”

Dean thought hard and couldn’t shed the image which popped into his head. “That’s got me right back on the porn channel.”

Cas finally lost it. He strode round the table, pulled the joint from Dean’s fingers and stubbed it out on his foot. It burned but Dean barely felt it; he was more concerned with losing his prize possession.

“Whoa there, Terminator; you just smoked Aunt Mary.”

Cas reached down and slapped his hand against Dean’s forehead, harder than necessary. “Concentrate on what you’ve seen.”

The angel mojo helped him focus and Dean replayed a hazy montage of recent events. He sifted through the junk, trying to find something useful. One thing which stood out was the symbol on the ring which every one of his captors had been wearing.

“Rings.”

“Like Lord of the Rings?” Cas seemed pleased he’d made a pop culture connection.

“No Cas, like a friggin’ circus.”

The sarcasm was wasted and Cas’s expression was drifting back towards mystified. Dean tried to straighten him out.

“The assholes who’ve got me locked down wear ‘em on their pinky fingers; like pledge rings. There’s this symbol…”

He tried to picture the symbol. It wasn’t easy.

“What does it look like?” Cas sounded impatient and he shrugged helplessly.

“You expect me to explain?”

Cas waved a hand and pen and paper appeared on the table. Dean was no artist but he was willing to give it his best shot.

“Let’s see if I can do this.”

He put every spaced-out effort into the drawing but it didn’t turn out as planned. It was taking on the shape of a bong; then it began to look like a cross between the bong and a giant, distorted phallus. Cas looked over his shoulder, way too curious.

“Is that…?”

Dean screwed up the paper before he could see any more. “Uh, that came out wrong.”

He tried again. This time he managed to draw a rough representation of the design on the rings and he sat back, appraising his work.

“That looks… pretty far out. What is it?”

Cas shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ll make some enquiries.”

Dean grabbed his sleeve. The doped-up fog in his brain had thinned and for a moment he could just about think straight.

“This is for Sam, right? Tell him I’m locked up somewhere classy; might be a hotel but I’ve got a hunch it’s private. Outside there’s trees, like a forest and it rains all the friggin’ time. Not Forks, okay? They gave me drugged wine in a gold bottle with some kind of cat on it. It was called, uh... Casa de Concheta. That’s all I’ve got.”

Cas nodded curtly. “Can I leave now?”

Dean let go of his coat. The fog was rolling back into his head.

“Burn rubber, Cas. I don’t think there’s much time.”

Cas vanished. A part of Dean regretted seeing him go but he was way too stoned to dwell on it for long.

“Hang loose, man.”

He reached for the bong.



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