Destiny told her to come to the Finger Lakes and work at her aunt and uncle’s winery. When her aunt had asked her to move here and help out, Sydney had just ended a relationship and her catering job wasn’t producing enough income. Now she was learning more about wine than she ever thought possible. Memorizing all the wine in this region wasn’t necessary, since their winery produced only a few varietals, but she believed she should possess as much knowledge as she could.
Allenwood Winery was located on Route 14 on the west side of Seneca Lake. Working here could lead to better things. This new life will have to be better than her old one, serving ungrateful customers food that she slaved over. She worked all hours, every weekend, for a wonderful moment when a spoiled debutante or clueless hostess gave a smirk of approval. After discovering catering didn’t satisfy her passion for food, she tried other jobs, and after the break-up, her aunt told her she was opening a winery. Aunt Marianne, along with Uncle Frank, had been successful real estate agents, took a risk and asked Sydney her thoughts. Sydney, who dabbled with astrology and Tarot told them to go for it. This would bring them many fortunes and much happiness. The cards didn’t exactly say this. The planets were not in the right houses, predicting confusion and turmoil. That damn Tower card always turned up. Never a good sign but Sydney reasoned that starting any new business was risky. Persuading her aunt that the cards recommended she should hire her was bending the truth; but being two months late on your rent allowed her to stretch the truth.
When she remembered this it upset her. She didn’t want to take advantage of her relatives, or anyone, but her desperate situation caused her to take risky actions. After parking her car at Allenwood, she spotted one corner of the “NOW OPEN” banner on the front of the building flapping in the breeze. Last night’s grand opening party was her idea. From a marketing perspective, such a party told the world and convinced the owners they were ready to run a business. She secured the banner and went inside. Cleaning up glasses, napkins, food and plates, she prepared for the day ahead. She thought about the night before when guests were all having fun. Bravo, she thought to herself. The party was a great success, in spite of what the cards had said. While clearing up the wine bottles she noticed three were lined up on the table where her Uncle Frank had been sitting.
After filling up two trash bags she dragged them to the back of the building. She didn’t mind this task. The best view of the winery was in the back. Besides the endless rows of grapes, a hill lay beyond where the sun shone across the vines. In the distance the rented cottage created a picture perfect postcard for her reverie during troubling times.
The birds were out unusually early. They crowded around the vines, congregating in the front area, where the vines began. After placing the trash in the bins, she walked toward the vines, eager to see what all their fuss was about. The sun’s rays made her squint so she used her hand for shade and kept walking uphill. It appeared the wind knocked down a scarecrow.
Funny, she didn’t recall it being windy last night. Then she remembered Uncle Frank hadn’t set up the scarecrow yet. He had planned on doing it for days. When she arrived at the spot where the birds were stirring she would no longer see this as a tranquil postcard. In fact, this image of death and evil so plainly visible jarred her more than any scarecrow could.
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