For my second installment of Matchbook Fiction, I chose a smoky, aged whisky matchbook distilled in 1934 by Hiram Walker: Canadian Club Whisky. (Yes, whisky spelled without an ‘e’.) The matchbook offered a free drink recipe booklet called “The Essential Guest.” All you had to do was “Mail 3¢ stamp” to Hiram Walker in Peoria, Ill. Does that seem free? Stamps used to be 3¢?
Canadian Club whisky has been called the “unofficial” whisky of prohibition. Between 1920 and 1933, prohibition gave birth to a profitable bootlegging and smuggling enterprise.
Canadian Club was produced legally just across the border from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Its geographic convenience made it perfect for smuggling into the United States. Rumor has it Al Capone padded his criminal portfolio and wallet by smuggling his favorite whisky for all the eager, parched Americans. [Source: Beam Global]
If you would like to read the first ever Matchbook Fiction: The Cigarillo Man, click HERE.
History lesson and matchbook memoir out of the way, this Strike a Prose! tale is a sorrowful 369 words. Please enjoy responsibly.
Shadows in the Corner
Alone with her defeating thoughts, Clara lingered in the darkening parlor. She dreaded the twilight. The wilting sun, the emerging shadows, the taunting silence. Her willpower evaporated with the final glimmer of light.
She turned from the window to face her demon. It tempted her with its curvaceous, glossy lines; called out to her in a silky, sensuous voice of persuasion. She approached it cautiously, with an eye of contempt and admiration for its wickedness and power.
Wrapping her slender fingers around the long neck of the whisky bottle, Clara closed her tear-filled eyes and imagined the searing, supple liquid coursing through her body. Her mind caught in a snarl of addiction. Intoxicating thoughts devoured her.
She jerked away as if the bottle burned her palm. It toppled onto the oak floor with a thud.
She slumped down, her lacey dress splayed around her, and scrutinized the bottle. She longed for the liquid like a distant lover, but her rational self sent a message of doubt. She knew it was not hers to possess. The bottle had jilted her, left her empty and confused one too many times. She had cherished it and forsaken all others. She had paid the ultimate price.
The rattle of the locked front door yanked her from her reverie. She bounced from the floor and retreated into the dim corner, ashamed of her vulnerability.
The man entered the parlor and flicked the wall switch, flooding the room in harsh whiteness. She felt exposed, naked in a way that sickened her. She tried to blend into the flowery wallpaper and furnishings.
A cursory glance at the overturned bottle of whisky and a quick scan of the room told him Clara was tormented again tonight. He picked up the bottle and placed it back into the liquor cart.
“Oh, Clara,” he whispered, “My spirit in search of spirits. I wish I could save you from this rerun of nightly agony, but I don’t know how. It’s been 75 years. I’ve told you it is okay to rest in peace.”
He shook his head in defeat and exited the parlor. With mournful eyes, Clara took a last look at the enchanting elixir and vanished into the wall.