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The Fortunato Curse
You do not know why you are down here? Why there is no light? Why your father’s friend shackled you here? Well I’ll tell you my story. Maybe it’ll make more sense to you.
“Everything was bright. The colors, the food, the people, even the smells could be called bright. It was carnival. The time of year when everyone can be released from their austere selves. They could drink as much as they could. Eat until they exploded. Dance until their feet fell off. Be free for a month of celebration. And I was happy to be a part of it. Ate what food I could and drank the fabulous wine that was served. I danced with too many women to count. After all, what women wouldn’t want to dance with a rich and famous connoisseur such myself? When I spotted his familiar face, I had already finished my fifth glass. His dark roquelaire made everything above his knees into a bottomless pit. But he wouldn’t have dressed in anything brighter. I stumbled over to him, making a lot of racket with the bells on my jester costume.
“Montresor! You have come to enjoy the festivities! I knew you couldn’t stay brooding in your mansion for all of carnival.” He smiled and grasped my hand like it was a prize to be won.
“My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkablely well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”
“How? Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!” How could he possibly get Amontillado at this time of year? Amontillado! He went on and on about how he didn’t want to miss a bargain but he still had his doubts about the bottle. All I could answer with was “Amontillado!”
“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi,” The mention of that fool cut my reverie short and made my blood boil to the point of exploding. “If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me—“
“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.” I spit at the rat’s name. How could my friend think of consulting him?
“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”
“Come, let us go.” I was going to taste the Amontillado and confirm its identity. After a few worrisome comments and my sharp replies, he proceeded to put his black mask on and drew his cloak closer to himself. He took me into his vaults, leading me by the arm. The alcohol had diminished my sight and my walking abilities. I was lucky that the torch he gave me did not fall out of my hand. I could hardly make out the white globs o the wall that Montressor said were nitre and the bones that I knew were there. I should have been more worried about my health. A small cough had me in its grip since the week before. But the thought of Luchresi tasting the Amontillado instead of me kept the pain in my chest dimmed to insignificancy. Montressor, however, fretted constantly about how I should go back to the surface. I reassured him that I was fine. The Amontillado was to be mine to confirm. He opened a bottle of Medoc of my choosing to “defend us from the damps.” I made a toast to the dead that rested there. He, to my long life. I took his arm and we continued on.
“These vaults are extensive,” I complimented the catacombs.
“The Montressors are a great and numerous family.” Ahh, family pride.
“I forget your arms.”
"A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel." Interesting.
“And the motto?”
“Nemo me impune lacessit.” Very interesting.
“Good.” I replied. Maybe he is one? He made another comment about my poor health. I said just another draught of Medoc would do. He opened and gave me a flagon of De Grave. I emptied it. Now a test. I laughed and threw the bottle upwards with the gesture of the brotherhood. He stared at me in curiosity. I did it again just to clarify with him.
“You do not comprehend?” Didn’t he say the key words?
“Then you are not of the brotherhood.” I withdrew into myself. How could I have been so ignorant? Of course he’s not a mason. He pestered me until he I asked for a sign. He brought out his trowel for an answer.
“You jest. But let us proceed to the Amontillado.” We continued on. Past dark caverns ad arcs. Past the crypts of the unfortunate dead. Past dripping stone walls covered in white skin. Then we stopped at the most remote crypt where there appeared to be a less spacious cavern. I lifted my torch, in, vain to try and pierce its dark depths.
“Proceed herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchresi—“
“He is an ignoramus.” I interrupted. So close to the fine wine. So close. My unsteady feet almost betrayed me, but I made it inside the chamber. I shuffled forward two more steps but found my path blocked by a stone wall. Then I heard the clink of chains and felt something heavy around my waist. I was too astounded to listen to my comrade speak, but I heard the evil in his voice and at last I got my say. “The Amontillado!”
“True. The Amontillado.” He stepped out of my new-found prison and began to stack bricks up to make a wall. I began to cry out for him to release me. Struggling to release the bonds. Nothing mattered now. I couldn’t even focus on the words coming out of my mouth. Get out! Get out! But as the space closed and the last brick had yet to be put in place. I stopped. I would not die a beggar. I slumped against the wall and fell into an eternal sleep.” Now you know why you are down here my son.