The Gripes of Wrath
This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrine du Corbieres noticed the faint, faraway sounds first.
On this sweltering day in 1765, one of the hottest in south-west France, though still more than a kilometre away the tumbrel's creaky, squeaky-wheeled sounds carried far.
Using her hand to shield her eyes from the glaring sun, Corrine picked out and focused upon the distant plume of brown dust rising languidly in the still afternoon air, staining the otherwise clear blue sky. A moment later, she grunted in satisfaction as her supposition was confirmed: He - de Bergerac - was here.
Corrine stepped out of the long wooden trough of ankle-deep, half-pressed red grapes, and onto the dark, fertile soil, which stuck thickly to the juice-slicked soles of her sun-bronzed bare feet.
Usually, upon stepping from the trough, lackadaisically Corrine would stand with her back to its rough outer planking and rub the soles of her feet against it in a well practised up and down movement. By these careless make-do means, expending minimal effort to the tedious oft-repeated endeavour she would dislodge what bits of damp clumpy soil she could before stepping into her thrice passed-down, extremely well-worn sabots ... But not this time.
By now all eleven other female grape crushers had also ceased their labours. Just like their forewoman Corrine, they too were looking avidly across the vast vineyard's regimented rows of grapevines at the slowly approaching and gradually clarifying two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle ... and its single standing passenger.
Corrine's sister grape pulverisers too now stepped out of the slightly canted, knee-high, long wooden grape pressing trough.
And neither did they customarily (halfheartedly, indifferently, carelessly - the soil would soon dry, and then most of it would fall dustily from their soles anyway) rub their feet against the trough's rude exterior boarding to free the gist of the clingy nutrient-rich terroir that stuck stubbornly to their juice-wettened soles.
Standing together in their land workers' tatty threadbare attire and in their dirty bare feet, enmity emanated from their sweating sunburned faces as with their arms folded in a disquieting display of decidedly discomfiting demeanours they beheld the slowly approaching tumbrel.
The twelve weather worn, work-hardened, attitudinous young women made a formidable-looking reception party.
Gilles de Bergerac - owner of appellation-supreme winery Chateau La Feete - was expected.
Driven by a People's Committee appointee detailed to oversee Civil Punishment and Reparation proceedings, the horse-drawn rickety wooden cart arrived at last and came to a stop.
Standing unbowed and proud, splendidly attired in his powdered wigged, blue frock-coated and silver-buckled shoe finery, stood Gilles de Bergerac.
And, grandly accessorised about his person with lavish appurtenances boastful of comfortable living and great wealth, the flaunting of such riches and symbols of status only served to further antagonise the ever smouldering and readily flammable belligerence of his rabidly envious employees.
At being thus humiliatingly presented - and with his hands restrained behind his back, another grievous insult to his esteemed station - portraying great umbrage but betraying no little trepidation, he stared down at the perspiring sun-seared faces of his all-female workforce.
The all-female workforce he had criminally wronged - according to the findings of the Judiciary of Appeal. Upon their having received, assessed, considered, and finally passed judgement upon the formal complaints and sundry allegations submitted to them last week by his forewoman Corrine du Corbieres:
Doubled this year the rents of his workers' on-premises wretched hovel shack dwellings.
Reneged on promised bonus payments for working flat-out through long weeks of middle-of-the-day heat.
Withheld their wages for weeks at a time.
Behaved towards them in an indecent and shocking, licentious manner, grossly inappropriate in an employer/employee relationship and discomfiting in the extreme to the delicate sensibilities of respectable and well-mannered, etiquette conscious ladies.
And - most egregious and grievous of all - short measured their daily claret allowance.
Gilles de Bergerac stared down at the sullen and resentful grape crushers' baleful gazes; at their hard done by, hostile, pitiless faces ... and knew he could expect no quarter. Not that he would have asked for any; his aristocratic pride would not permit it.
His acute anxiety at his unthinkable predicament was obvious - he was perspiring profusely from more than the mid-afternoon heat - yet still nonetheless, defiantly and disdainfully he projected proudly toward them his inbred air of upper-class superiority.
He jutted his chin at the lower-class females he so disdained and disparaged ... but who, now, as never before, were staring right back at him, eye to eye.
But, not just unflinchingly ... brazenly.
And, not just brazenly, but insolently.
And not just insolently.
Apparently, behind their land workers' protective shield, they were all feeling safe and secure from him - unconcerned now after being assured of the almost non-existent likelihood of any unpleasant comebacks.
Their land workers' protective shield: The single reason, accounting for their newfound flippancy - their brazen confidence and their air of authority-defying challenge.
He knew what was coming: Well, let it!
Above all, he pointedly pointed his goatee-bearded chin at his twenty-five-year-old Head Grape-treader forewoman - confound her!
Corrine du Corbieres, who even as a small mark of due, proper respect after all he had done for her, flatly refused to make curtsy to him and would not call him Missueur. Either when he summoned her up to the house to report to him, or whenever he paid a surprise call on her and her heathen team in the fields, to chivvy the slacking, chin-wagging, morally bankrupt wenches to greater productive efforts.
And now, to cap it all, falsely and foully accusing him she had lodged all of these maliciously fabricated charges.
In achieving her abominable aims, she was assassinating his character. Blemishing his untarnished name. Throwing mud at his high-standing unsullied reputation - of which inevitably some of it was bound to stick.
Didn't his ungrateful hireling understand his standing? Did she have no appreciation of his prestigious persona? Of his societal status?
His scurrilous, scandal-mongering forewoman actually seemed to disdain him - as well as despise him.
Corrine did not care if her malevolent, dreamed-up untruths damaged him. It was nothing to her, should her vicious, vile inventions result in his societal ostracism. It was no skin off her nose if her wicked, envious engineerings ultimately ruined him.
He was now realising, that, if she could stay sober long enough to dream up some sleazy, sordid scheme to bring it about, without a doubt and to the maximum of her ability, spurred on by her envy and jealousy Corrine would extract his assets and drain him dry of his considerable wealth and worth. As efficiently and as thoroughly and as compunctionless, as she crushed and squeezed the last drop of juice from his full to bursting grapes under the soles of her trampling dirty bare feet.
He didn't doubt her intelligence, her ability - and certainly not her will - to bring her forty-year-old master to his knees.
But Corrine's failing was that she thought only of today.
She thought only of spoils in the short-term - in the immediacy: She wanted them here, and now - in the here and now.
So thanks to her claret-loving character flaw, at least the worst and most far-reaching of Corrine's wicked ambitions were likely to remain realised only in the deep, dreamy delirium of her wine-induced sleep.
The rest of the wanton wine-guzzling wenches thought only of today, too.
Wine was their opiate: the cheap and readily available ameliorator of their dissatisfaction-with-life conditions.
Against his better judgement, several times now he had given in to their importunate demands and increased their daily wine allowance. But they were never satisfied.
Always they badgered him for more, sometimes coming up to the house in the late evening and bothering him and distressing his lady wife - and even the meekest and respectful and most introvert of them could be very forthrightly confrontational, when well into their cups.
And, speaking of wanton wine-guzzling wenches, where would those flighty young tarts Celene, Anne-Marie, Yvette, Silvie and Nicole be, without him? Whoring in the streets for wine money and sleeping off the excesses of both in the gutter - that's where!
He'd saved them all from that; from their dissolute downward spirals into the gutter. By offering them well-paid work and putting them up for just a pittance of rent in his attached workers' chalet accommodations, he'd saved them. But where was their gratitude? They were as unthankful as Corrine - another of the uncouth common bonds of the sisters in shame.
Not to mention those slips of things hussies Simone, Collette, Martine, Minette - it was common knowledge that for the price of a glass of cheap dregsy bottom-of-the-barrel claret they also would drop their knickers at the drop of a hat.
They were just a motley collection of drunken, debauched, dregs of society street girls - incorrigible, good-time-girl harlots. But he was making honest women of them.
In fact, all twelve of them:
The ne'er-do-well, nothing-but-trouble females, who trod his famed and fabled red grapes. And for doing so were accommodated comfortably, paid weekly, and more than amply provisioned with his estate's fine claret, daily.
The immoral, libidinous women, who stepped down from his grape press on to the rich dark soil and then carelessly shoved their cursorily cleaned, still dirty feet into their old, hand-me-down, worn out clog-like wooden shoes. To trudge to their mid-day meal; their open-backed sabots slapping with their each and every step against the bottoms of their dirty bare heels. Or to shamble home, slap-slap-slapping away to their on-site compact homes at the end of another day's gainful employment.
The unprincipled, stop-at-nothing, stoop-to-anything females, who unthinkingly washed their dirty calloused feet in his precious grape juice. And treating his cherished grape press - albeit inadvertently and unconsciously, for such inelegant slatterns as they would not be appreciative of such sophisticated, luxurious high-minded refinements - as their exfoliating foot bath and mineral-rich health enhancing spa.
Gilles de Bergerac had no problem with giving his workers a good deal. It ran in the family. He and his predecessors had always prided themselves on providing an excellent employment package - offering better than average pay, working and living conditions, and wine allowances.
But the appointees of the newly formed Department of Social Justice, moral crusaders biased absolutely and unequivocally on the side of the disadvantaged and underprivileged - the unprotected, hardworking impoverished peasantry - were righteous far beyond the point of maniacal overzealousness.
There were a lot of wrongs for them to start putting right - and urgently. And they were embracing their moralistic, avenging-angel mission with the unrestrained fervour of those who knew they had right on their side.
Nationwide, the local People's Committees were on watch, and would not allow dirt-poor salt-of-the-earth land workers to be underpaid or overborne by their wealthy, profit-greedy, advantage-taking landowner masters.
But, as with the introduction of any new governmental system aimed at improving the straitened circumstances of its less well off citizens, there were always those who would seek to take advantage ...
And hence, now this disaster: The credulous fools on the People's Committee had actually taken his forewoman Corrine du Corbieres' scandalous outlandish fabrications seriously.
They had taken Corrine at her word - over his! Hers - and they'd also swallowed hook, line and sinker the backup pack-of-lies testimony of the readily available, highly reliable and much-ridden village bicycle, Nicole, who she had taken along for moral support.
Apparently, the gullible doddery old cretins on the People's Committee had been a pushover and had foolishly fallen for the dishonest double-act - had been hoodwinked and won over by his exceedingly comely forewoman Corrine's coy eye and Nicole's shameless coquettish flirting.
Alas, the country was going to Timbuktu in a tumbrel.
Gilles de Bergerac wished to heaven he could be rid of his slovenly female grape-treaders.
Disown and dismiss the whole damn disrespectful, dishonest and disreputable, dipsomaniac knicker-dropping lot of them.
At times like this, he was sorely tempted to do so.
His competitor vineyards were undercutting him by investing in more modernised grape presses - and had been for years.
It was a simple question of economics: Less labour - more yield. Lower wage bill - higher profit margin.
From their weekly Wine Association dinner meetings he knew that his grape-growing peers regarded him and his pressing procedures as behind the times: Him, eccentric; his de Bergerac tradition methods, antiquated.
But his father, grandfather, great-grandfather - in fact, all of his viticulturist forebears - had all sworn down the years that female grape-treaders were accreditable for imparting his family's wine's distinctive, attractive bouquet notes, and responsible for its immensely appealing delicious and delectable flavours.
And the best vintages of all, it was their steadfast emphatic opinions, had been when their grape harvests had been trodden by predominantly eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds.
For his wine craft predecessors and now himself, it was a question of quality over quantity.
Chateau La Feete, a sumptuous full-bodied red of astonishingly soft tannins, first titillated the taste buds and excited the mind with a tantalising exuberance of gorgeous flavours, and then luxuriously prolonged the discerning claret drinker's delight with its more subtle, silky smooth, long and lingering palate-pleasing finish.
Chateau La Feete red's bouquet was seductive.
And, once tasted ...
Wonderfully appealing to both male and female tastes, many, down the years, had been enchanted by its irresistible allures.
That was the de Bergerac family's jealously protected secret: Grapes, trodden one hundred percent exclusively by female feet.
So, even after ... what was imminent, he would not think of losing a single one of them: girl grape-treaders these days were in such fiendishly short supply.
If they chose the work option at all, female workers of such cut and calibre as his usually preferred to go into domestic service.
Given the opportunity, they would rather opt to live in with all found at one of the big, well-to-do houses where servants far outnumbered the pampered to the nth degree family members - albeit working hours were notoriously very long and demanding.
As they would soon find, there would be no shortage of swank pot, spoiled-rotten monied and manicured guests for them to eternally wait on, hand and foot, catering to their soiree circuit, Champagne-swilling, late-night partying lifestyles.
But it was better than treading grapes every day.
And the work wasn't without its pleasurable bonuses.
In the evenings, when expensive fine wines were flowing as freely and abundantly as water down a stream in flood, those luscious longed-after liquids didn't just inundate the cut-crystal glasses and find their way down the discerning cultivated throats of the beautifully dressed lovely ladies and the handsome, sexy gentlemen. No - not a little of it, found its way down their own, throats, too.
And, if a girl wasn't backwards in being forward with her favours ...
Damn them all - Corrine and her slovenly string of claret-craving cohorts.
But he needed them!
Every ungrateful, impertinent, impudent, inebriate, sluttish one of them.
By order of the People's Committee of Bordeaux, he was bound to pay his forewoman Corrine du Corbieres and her team of grape treaders a sum of francs, and a quantity of de Bergerac estate claret, the equivalent to quadruple of what Corrine had claimed they were owed.
All of their remunerative monetary back dues and some of their other added compensations had been duly appropriated from their employer Missueur de Bergerac and delivered to them now, in the tumbrel.
But also, under terms set out in the Confiscation Charter as now read out by the attendant People's Commissioner, to avoid forfeiting his vineyard - the low-yield, high-quality varietal vineyard his family had run so prosperously for generations - to show remorse, he must willingly suffer a 'Punishment to Fit the Crime'.
At the People's Committee appointee's prompting to step from the tumbrel, the ankle-deep juice from the half-pressed red grapes soaked through the back of Gilles de Bergerac's trousers, frock-coat, and his powdered wig, as compliantly and as directed he laid himself supine in the midsection of the slightly tilted long wooden trough.
His hands now temporarily unbound, he placed his arms along by his sides - where he must on all accounts keep them, lest his declared acceptance of and compliance with his sentence be adjudged false and insincere (and therefore null and void) by the scrutinising attendant People's Committee appointee.
His head lower than his feet, he craned his neck to look up at the staring down faces of his twelve-strong all-female grape-treading workforce ... and then sank back again, resigned to his fate.
Judging from the unpropitious looks - the avid, anticipatory, aggressive expressions - on each of their deeply suntanned, older-than-their-years faces, his first impressions were not only dismayingly corroborated but emphatically substantiated: Now, they had him! He would be shown no mercy; given no quarter ... made to pay dearly.
Very well, then, he thought, glaring back up at them all, one by one, admonishing them with his eyes as the red grape juice soaked through his clothing to his skin.
So be it!
He would comply with the law: He would demonstrate his 'contrition'.
But his nagging thought was: What about from now on?
This would be just the start, he feared.
Only the start.
The beginning, of the loosening of his albeit kid-gloved disciplinary hold over his fundamentally flawed female workforce.
Because they had been duped, by Corrine, those imbeciles on the People's Committee had told him they were on to him - so he had better watch his step, from now on.
It had been made very clear to him by the government empowered Watchdog that any such future exploitative transgressions reported to them by Mademoiselle du Corbieres would warrant repetition tariffs. And recidivism, would mean that harsher and more humiliating penalties and punishments would have to be considered - and, that once again, his forewoman would get to have a say in their manner and means.
Corrine had contended to the People's Committee that, in both a financial and a figurative sense, he had been walking all over his all-female workforce - trampling them all underfoot.
And so, in both a retributive and literal sense, to suffer a People's Committee adjudicated 'Punishment to Fit the Crime', demonstrative act of sorrowful sincere regret, reluctantly but of necessity he had consented to his all-female workforce walking all over him - and to their trampling him underfoot.
As successfully petitioned by Corrine.
As set out in the Department of Social Justice's 'Reparations for Mistreated Land Workers' mandate, and as duly enforced by the local People's Committee, witnessed by an appointee of said committee he must now satisfy the second condition of his employees' due recompense.
They had their gripes with him.
Now he would face their wrath.
And as the grape pressing trough was about five times his body length, there was sufficient room for all twelve of his female grape-crushing crew to administer his People's Committee prescribed comeuppance as one.
Corrine du Corbieres did not want any of her grape treading sisters to be having any second thoughts, and getting cold feet.
She did not want them to be reluctant or reserved, nor hesitant or inhibited, in the matter at hand, restrained by a lingering, nagging fear of being subject to reprisals.
She did not want any of them to be fretful of incurring retaliatory comebacks, from their master, for having what he would surely perceive as their sheer, unmitigated gall. Having the temerity, the audacity - the unspeakable disrespect and dishonouring - of literally as well as figuratively putting the first foot forward, and initiating his humiliation.
Though Corrine felt assured and had faith in the land workers' protective shield, she could understand why some of her younger underlings might still have some residual, second-thoughts concerns, and so might not share her confidence in the authorities' promises and proclamations to stand by their word and uphold it.
So, leading by example, Corrine (who would probably have claimed the privilege anyway) was first to step back into the knee-high, slightly inclined long wooden grape pressing trough: She, herself, would put the first foot forward to initiate their stuffed-shirt employer's Punishment to Fit the Crime sentence.
Much to the chagrin of Gilles de Bergerac - who, as his attractive dark-haired forewoman's bare bronzed right foot descended to splash down through the ankle-deep grape juice to the trough's wooden baseboards with a resounding thud, he felt the resultant reverberations right along the length of his spine at the jarring impact.
Corrine wasn't overweight - none of his grape-treaders, were: they were big drinkers, not big eaters. But, big bosomed, big boned and well-muscled, she was no lightweight either. Moreover: even more so than her most contestable, contradictory and confrontational of underlings, she was attitudinous.
From his worm's eye perspective, as he looked forlornly up to her Corrine looked impossibly tall. And unspeakably dominant as with a meaningful, gleeful glint in her eye she looked down on him. Her silent message was crystal clear: How the tables have turned, Missueur!
He said nothing in response to his forewoman's unspoken goading jibe, and - as he on all accounts must, kept his arms by his sides - offering no resistance and uttering no remonstrance as Corrine proceeded to kick his ankles apart to the trough's full width.
Behind her, at the head of the by now impatient queue of 'retributive' tramplers, was eighteen-year-old Minette. And now with a helping hand, Corrine assisted the first and the youngest of her younger underlings Minette Minnervoir into the grape press ... Thud ... thud.
Then came more resounding thuds ... and he watched as, gaining courage and confidence from Corrine's inspiring self-assured lead, with barely controlled restraint the rest of his grape-treading team likewise began stepping into the trough after Corrine and Minette.
Despondently he watched, as listening to their uncontainable squeals and shrieks of eager, anticipatory excitement at the incredible realisation of what was actually about to happen and at what they were all going to do, each of his remaining ten minions' sun-browned, mud-caked bare feet came over the side of the grape press. Thud ... thud ... thud - to plunge and splash down through the ankle-deep grape juice to the rough wooden baseboards; though thankfully at least now the spine-jarring reverberations from their thudding dirty bare soles was diminishing with their accumulating weight.
As one after another his squealing with glee grape-treaders' summer-suntanned legs came over the side of the trough with practised ease - their easeful access and egress facilitated by their practical thigh-high cutoff dungaree-style workwear - he watched Corrine make room for them, sloshing the short distance towards him at the midsection of the grape press. Minette, her eyes big with wonder, right up close behind her.
Corrine intended to stretch this utterly incredible, out-of-her-wine-induced-dreams moment, right out - to milk it.
Savouring her anticipation, her heavily lashed dark-brown eyes all the while focused upon his, Corrine came slowly, steadily ... inexorably.
There was a light in Corrine's, no longer thinly veiled eyes that disconcerted Gilles de Bergerac.
This was the real Corrine.
Frank and undisguised, Corrine's glittering eyes were hiding nothing of her fiery frustrated, life's unfairness feelings from him. Nothing.
He could read everything, in her eloquently expressive eyes. Everything.
This was her moment - the moment she was going to milk.
The moment, she had malevolently and maliciously machinated.
The moment, that was going to change everything.
In seconds all twelve of them were in the trough and, each of them holding the waist of the girl in front, approaching him in a tight conga line.
Looking down on him, both metaphorically and literally, Corrine's eyes remained disturbingly fixed upon his, her message crystal clear: Look up to me - you worm! Today, you will look up to all of us!
With deepening dread, he watched his disgruntled, dissatisfied-with-life dozen come.
Never before, had they been so happy to get into his grape-pressing trough. His forewoman Corrine leading the way, they swayed rhythmically in a dance of diabolical delight.
Dancing ... towards his reckoning.
Because he had wealth and status - and they did not. Because he lived an easeful, comfortable life - and they did not. Because he could afford to buy and enjoy the best of everything - and they could not.
He knew life wasn't fair - not everyone could be born with a silver spoon in their mouth. It wasn't his fault that in the Cards of Life, he'd been dealt a Full House to their 7-high.
But he played fair by them!
Gilles de Bergerac had learned of his 'Punishment to Fit the Crime' sentence five days ago. And he'd hardly had a wink of sleep since.
In his miserable middle-of-the-night musings as to the nightmarish gamut of humiliating distresses and disgraces that might possibly ensue from these Corrine du Corbieres petitioned, People's Committee prescribed, punitive punishment proceedings, he had thought he'd imagined the worst.
But now he had to think again - as with a look of such absolute gleeful gratification on her face Corrine placed her dirty bare right foot on his crotch and, brazenly staring down into his eyes, stood on him full weight.
He bellowed his profound indignation: To hell, with demonstrating his sincere contrition! Confound, evidencing his sorrowful regret!
How dare she! How could she do this? After everything that he had done for her!
He was a wealthy, well-respected landowner; he held a prestigious societal position; he was privileged and looked up to ... This shouldn't be happening!
Yet while outraged and furiously thinking all of these things, he kept his arms along by his sides - as he knew that on all accounts he must, to avoid confiscation of Chateau La Feete by the Crown.
Then he wailed his distress; his horrified repugnance and mortification, as Corrine raised the sole of her left foot and gleefully showed him, all dirty and dripping with muddied grape juice from the bottom of her heel, the twin of what she was - not inadvertently, but very deliberately - standing on his manhood.
Jubilantly, Corrine rocked on him. Rhythmically. To and fro, in a parody of pleasuring. Triumphantly, she looked down on him. Her unspoken provoking taunt, crystal clear: So ... what do you have to say now, Missueur?
Gilles de Bergerac didn't know what galled and pained him most: the unspeakable humiliation; or the sensitive-skin pinching pain itself - as with the sole of her dirty right foot his pathologically envious and malevolently vindictive forewoman rubbed him up the wrong way.
But even worse ... to his amazed, horrified realisation, he felt himself getting enlarged. How could this be? How could this be!
Corrine noticed, too; she could hardly fail to become aware of her money-bags master's member coming to lustful life under the sole of her dirty bare right foot. Well, well, well ... the frivolous fatuous fathead was human, after all.
He saw Corrine whisper something to Minette ... and to his further horrified dismay he knew that his forewoman was instructing Minette to pass the tacky, trashy titbit of information on down the line.
Staring triumphally down into her master's miserably beseeching eyes, Corrine, with expert, knowing manipulations, brought him irresistibly and helplessly to full, lustful arousal.
"No, Corrine ... no ..."
The simpering sound of the well-funded fathead's pathetic pleading voice both pleased and antagonised her. It warmed the cockles of her heart, while at the same time making her blood boil.
"Oui, Missueur! Oui!"
Standing full weight on his rudely awakened manhood, imperviously Corrine listened to his groans of grievous discomfort as none too carefully she adjusted her position. And then with all the strength she could summon of her work-strengthened leg muscles and spiced with the motivations of her many smouldering resentments, three times in quick succession she slammed the bottom of her dirty bare right heel down into his protuberant overfed guts; the sight of which never failed to infuriate her ... Stamp-stamp-stamp!
Corrine turned to look meaningfully at second-in-line Minette: There. You see? That shut him up. Look at him ... after just a few little, flab-flattening stamps. Those little love taps I just gave him would hardly have made an impression on an ordinary hardworking man. But look at him - the big tub of lard! And he's completely at our mercy! I did it: You can do it, too!
This time, breathless as well as agonised, their miserable master, bright red in the face and all teary-eyed, was unable to emit a sound whether of cowardly complaint or pathetic plea.
Though in truth, to Corrine, who didn't know her own strength, the sight of his ponderous potbelly with its highly disagreeable classic cuisine accustomed connotations had so aggravatingly annoyed her as to lend considerable added impetus to her hard-heeled devastating downward deliveries.
Minette held onto Corrine's hips to steady her, as disbelievingly she watched her forewoman then take another step forward - onto their master's pain-wracked, air-deprived face.
Minette gasped, astonished.
In thrilled, incredulous delight Minette watched her forewoman Corrine planting her dripping wet, dirty soles to either side of Missueur de Bergerac's handsome aquiline nose - which with his mouth, barely cleared the sloshing about, ankle-deep dirtied-up red grape juice that for seconds at a time was cutting off his air.
Corrine had never known such a feeling of exhilaration. She was standing on top of his face - and on top of the world!
Corrine stood there, like that, for long, indescribably satisfying seconds, looking down on him.
She looked down into his eyes ... which were averted. Averted, but from the way he wouldn't - no, couldn't - look at her, she could read everything in them. Everything!
To describe her tumultuous, heart-soaring feelings of blissful fulfilment at that moment was beyond words: He - de Bergerac - was lying under her dirty feet. Beneath her feet!
And now, beneath contempt.
What did it matter, that she had filed false allegations against the pompous pig to bring him to this sweet, sublime situation? What were just one or two little white lies, when the ends so justified the means? This was her idea, of social justice!
From now on, things were going to be different. Oh, very different!
Oh, he might well avert his eyes! How could he, after this, ever look her in the eye again?
Curtsy to him? Ha! Call him Missueur? Ha!
No - from now on, the shoe would be on the other foot!
It was a precarious balance; her muddied, grape juice slicked purchase, always threatening to slither free. But Minette, sensing whenever her feisty forewoman's powerful toe-grip was about to slip, held her steady and sure upon her fabulous facial foothold.
Fearing his face would cave in, that his fragile facial bones would fragment; crack, collapse and crumple like an overstressed eggshell under his Head Grape-treader's full and prolonged head-standing weight, Gilles de Bergerac stared up at Corrine - at her ecstatic, exultant expression. Her unspoken taunting question was crystal clear: So ... who's in control now, Missueur?
"Corrine ... please," he said beseechingly in unspeakable wretchedness through his distorted lips. "I'm ... I-"
Corrine said nothing but raised a wry eyebrow at the revelation: the word 'please' was in his vocabulary, after all.
Well, the big bag of blubber could beg her and the other girls all he wanted - but it wouldn't do him any good. Not a bit of good. Today they would bring the frivolous fat fool to heel - or her name was not Corrine du Corbieres!
To his further alarm and distress, he then felt an added downward pressure of Corrine's grape-juice wettened, gritty, dirty soles on his already intolerably stressed facial features as, emboldened by her confident forewoman's unhesitant and uninhibited example, her hands pulling down on Corrine's hips for leverage Minette brazenly hopped onto his stomach.
Unrecovered yet from Corrine's three vindictive and vicious heel stamps, his maltreated midriff muscles protested anew as Minette, repeatedly switching from foot to foot, unhesitantly and uninhibitedly - and now, with undisguised relish - unrestrainedly and mercilessly pummeled his rotund, gourmet meal fed stomach with her dirty bare soles.
He then heard giggling.
The giggling was mischievous, sly, mean.
He couldn't see her. But he would recognise, anytime, anywhere, that huskily chuckling voice, syrupy with sexual innuendo - Nicole.
Nicole: Corrine's backup, mendacious, falsely testifying friend-in-deed provider of moral support.
Third-in-line, Nicole Noir - snidely, maliciously, malevolently sniggering - began kicking him in the testicles. Not very hard - but hard enough, and repeatedly - with the tops of her toes.
Though it was not prescribed in the People's Committee adjudicated punitive punishment proceedings itinerary, this was an opportunity that Nicole wasn't about to pass up.
The thin summer-weave material of his trousers was scant, inadequate protection from this new affliction delivered with unerring and anguishing accuracy by Nicole, and a terrible, almost unendurable dull ache began to spread throughout him in radiating waves.
Nicole's wicked, malevolently measured ball-kicking exacerbated the other pain, from Minette's enthusiastic and energetic stomach stomping, beyond all proportion.
Abruptly the persistent, devastating ball kicking stopped ... but promptly resumed: Chuckling, Nicole was now kicking his balls with her other foot.
With each successive, perfectly placed little kick, the awful dull ache deepened, seemingly taking up residence in every cell in his body.
Nicole was hurting him terribly. Expertly administering and cruelly forcing him to undergo a kind of pain he was fortunate enough to have never before experienced.
The more he moaned and groaned in anguish and agony, the more Nicole chuckled and tittered in delighted amusement.
Such hideous, heinous torment!
Unabating, the anguishing agony went on.
He was right to be wary of Nicole. To feel threatened by her.
To fear her.
Of all of them, he knew that Nicole - who, frequently, whether by word, deed, or look, openly disrespected and dishonoured him - would be the least reluctant, the least hesitant, and the least inhibited, in the matter at hand.
He expected Nicole to show no reserve. To show no restraint, in playing her part in his Corrine du Corbieres petitioned, People's Committee adjudicated, Punishment to Fit the Crime sentence.
He was not in the least surprised that she had gone along with Corrine to the People's Committee.
But how could she do this? How could Nicole treat him like this? When he was doing his best to rehabilitate her!
Straining his eyes to his left - he couldn't move his head; under her full standing bodyweight Corrine's grape juice slicked dirty soles were still pinning it immovably to the trough's splintery baseboard - he could see the avidly watching People's Committee appointee.
"You will allow that?" he demanded disbelievingly of the attendant official as best he could through his squeezed up lips in a strangled, distraught voice he hardly recognised as his own. "Missueur!"
The People's Committee appointee merely looked on, implacable. His unspoken message was clear: Your sentence will be duly carried out.
"Missueur! Missueur! It is beyond!" he further pleaded, futilely.
There was no sympathy, to be found there! No hint of an intervention. No likelihood of a rescue. Not a hope of reprieve - from what was beyond!
To his immeasurable relief, Corrine then stepped forward, off his face.
Having led by example, his Head Grape-treader Corrine now sloshed her way through the ankle-deep grape juice to the lower, bung end of the slightly inclined long wooden trough.
But his relief was short-lived ...
Minette now took up the vacancy on his juice slicked, mud-smeared, tear-streaked face; Nicole hopped jauntily onto his painfully sore stomach; while the fourth-in-line of his grape-treaders promptly resumed Nicole's ball-kicking lead. He didn't know who his latest ball-kicker was; he couldn't yet see her face, but he suspected she was Silvie de Sancerre.
Minette now looked down on him ... and he barely recognised her face.
Of all of them, Minette Minnervoir was the most wouldn't-say-boo-to-a-goose, meek and mild. Demure, in fact, by her peers' standards.
Her properly curtsying, unstinting respect for him, the bowed reverence with which she held him - her complete subservient acceptance of his absolute and unchallengeable authority - was akin to awe.
Or, at least, it had been.
Because now, as Minette took her turn at standing full weight on his head, Nicole holding her steady and sure upon her fabulous facial foothold, Minette regarded his face - the face, now so incredibly trapped and distorted beneath the soles of her own, juice slicked, dirty bare feet - with serene equanimity.
There was no fear, of him, he realised, on Minette's work stained, toil-sweaty face.
Unflinchingly she looked down on him. Brazenly she stared into his eyes.
Now, Minette showed not the slightest inhibition.
No reserve. No reluctance. No restraint. No hesitancy.
And no respect.
And as Nicole continued to hold Minette steadily in place, perched barefoot upon his upward facing, losing-face face, he watched Minette's expression slowly change, reflecting the actual, stunning depths of her newfound contemptuous scorn for him.
No longer, was she intimidated.
Minette was, now, he knew, liberated: Free, of his albeit gentle hold on her minion-meek mindset.
Never again, he knew, would Minette make right and proper, respectful and reverent curtsy to him. Or call him Missueur. In fact, from now on the shoe would be on the other foot.
It was painfully obvious to him that Minette now shared the flippant, bold as brass - the attitudinous - demeanour of the rest of her grape-crushing colleagues.
He felt totally emasculated.
Of all of them, if meek and mild, wouldn't-say-boo-to-a-goose, demure (at least, by the relative standards of her peers) Minette, could so easily cast off and throw away the key to her mental, reverential restraints ...
Never, ever, he knew, would he live this day down.
But this was only the start, just the commencement, of his humbling comeuppance: His Corrine du Corbieres petitioned, People's Committee adjudicated, Punishment to Fit the Crime sentence.
As Minette continued to stand on his freshly tearing up face - crying again, she realised, because he couldn't bear the thought that she, of all his girls, could so utterly humiliate him this way with such absolute unconcern for the consequences - she scolded herself. Rebuked herself, that she'd ever paid mind to the miserable mouse of a man ... The idea, that there would be any repercussions - from him!
Long moments later, demonstrably free of her respect and reverence and awe of him forever, in a pantomime of triumphal liberation Minette Minnervoir finally stepped down from his face.
Underscoring her newfound sense of freedom and emphasising her newfound disrespect and disdain for the weasely wine merchant, Minette demonstrated the depths of her scorn for the ridiculous unlikelihood of any sort of retaliative, reprisal-style comeback from him - fluff-face!
Giggling girlishly, hesitation and inhibition and concern for consequence now happily consigned to her past, carefully Minette repositioned her dirty bare right foot inches above his face. And from the tips of her tauntingly wiggling dirty-nailed toes, she directed fat droplets of the dirtied-up red grape juice into the just-greying hairs of the fatuous fathead's facial folly.
Her heroine Corrine was right: She could fix the frippery-fond fat-faced fathead, too!
And as frolickingly she splashed her way through the grape juice behind his head to join Corrine, her sister grape-treaders laughed delightedly at seeing the scummy wavelets of dirty grape juice she generated with her joyously capering feet slosh over his mouth and nose, causing him to splutter and choke.
It occurred to him then that no way would this be the end of it: his twelve-strong team of grape-treaders would be back to walk all over him again, in reverse order ... Corrine, performing the soul-crushing coup de grace, final insult.
Nicole distracted him from these unpalatable and worrisome thoughts of what Corrine might possibly cruelly inflict upon him in the imminent future, as now in the immediacy she, herself next took up barefoot perch of his upwards-facing, increasingly losing-face face.
Nicole stood on his face, just as if she had every right to do so - just as if she really was, in truth, an aggrieved retributive participant in his so-called Crime to Fit the Punishment sentence.
And, she, he fumed - her, Nicole Noir - she was the one who had instigated his testicular torment: Set the precedent, for the malicious, wicked, non-itinerary ball-kicking cruelty, that was beyond!
But for her, he thought, staring up at Nicole's sun-darkened pixieish face as she looked down on him, it might not have become what now undoubtedly would be the terrible trend.
His second, as yet unidentified ball-kicker (but he was increasingly convinced she was Silvie de Sancerre) now moved right up behind Nicole to stand, feet slightly apart, upon his chest, which compressed his lungs and straight away made it harder to breathe. It didn't help, when laughing joyfully (confirming his strong suspicion she was Silvie!) she began jiggling and jumping about, further depriving him of the ability to draw air.
The next in line grape-treader eagerly took up position on his sore and tender belly and immediately began bouncing up and down on his already groaning guts, exacerbating his breathing difficulties. Now he was finding it impossible to draw anything like a full breath; the unrelenting barefoot pressures on his chest and stomach, both expelling his air and inhibiting his lungs' ability to reinflate.
Yet a fourth 'retributive' grape-treader moved forward, to stand with both feet over the crotch of his pants, and immediately she resumed the rhythmic, to and fro, expert and knowing sole-of-the-foot manipulation of his manhood. Which, to his horrified shame and unmitigated mortification, he realised that his mischievously mauled and marauded member - even now, still fully erect; engorged and pulsing and throbbing with his involuntary spontaneous arousal - must be entirely evident to his tormentors, its outline and dimensions discernible under the thin summer-weave material of his trousers.
But at least he was grateful for any small mercies: he had a momentary ball-kicking reprieve.
Held steady and sure at the waist by Silvie, Nicole, picking her spot with careful precision, placed the centre-bottom of her dirty, grape-juice wettened bare right heel on his handsome aquiline nose ...
Knowing what was coming; understanding, just what Nicole intended, imploringly he begged, "No, Nicole ... no ..."
... And, confident at last as to the exactness of her heel's placement, enjoying the sound and glorying in the futility of his persistent pathetic pleas, Nicole balanced herself upon the bony gristly protuberance, full weight.
Staring up at the undersides of Nicole's inches away dirty, red grape juice wettened toes, seconds passed ... then suddenly he felt a sharp, mind-boggling pain, and a galaxy of bright, coruscating lights danced in front of his now copiously tearing up again eyes.
Gilles de Bergerac had heard a soft crunch, and thought he'd felt something give ... and he wondered if Nicole had done him some long-term, even permanent, damage.
He was tormented, by the thought.
Tormented by the notion, that one of his peasant grape-treaders - especially, such a brazen, drop-her-knickers-at-the-drop-of-a-hat floozy as Nicole, the local sex siren who opened her legs as often and as easily as she opened her foul, offensive, expletive-laden mouth to sup cheap dregsy bottom-of-the-barrel wine - might have harmed him so grievously.
Tormented by the fear, that Nicole Noir might have ruined, for good, his gifted, cultured olfactory ability to appreciate to the full the delectable seductive bouquet of his widely acclaimed wine.
Perched sure-footed upon both sides of her now irrevocably disempowered master's distraught, tear-drenched face, Nicole tilted her alluring pixieish head back and emitted a long-sustained peal of dark delight ...
Nicole, too, evidently, had heard the ominous, soft crunching sound, and had felt the unmistakable, cartilege-collapsing give, right beneath the centre-bottom of her full-body-weight-bearing dirty bare right heel.
Just as Gilles de Bergerac knew they would, this time in reverse order his disgruntled dozen wanton, drop-their-knickers-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, envious vinous female grape-treaders came again.
As per his Corrine du Corbieres petitioned, People's Committee adjudicated, 'Punishment to Fit the Crime' sentence ... walking all over him.
In turn, separately and personally, thereby insinuating a little something of their personalities for him to faithfully remember them by, they had stepped over his tear-swept distraught face and stood on his chest with their back to him. And after torturously toeing and cruelly pinching between their big and second toes his swiftly and darkly bruising and rapidly swelling broken nose to defeat his railing resistance and overcome his stubborn noncompliance, each member of his twelve-strong female grape-treading workforce had made him taste his grape juice as he had never tasted it before. Lick and lap it up, direct from the jubilantly proffered soles of their dirty bare feet.
And now, he knew, that after separately and personally humiliating and humbling him, inextricably linked, each and every one of his attitudinous wine-addicted floozies' different and distinctive feet, along with their own, individual and unique signature traits and personalised hallmarks of cruel expression, were indelibly etched into his mind.
He knew with certainty, that, permanently and irremovably filed away in the forefront of his memory in graphically visual, shocking and stunning crystal-clear clarity, all of those mind-scarring images and soul-crushing experiences at the dirty bare feet of his 'retributive' female minions, were sealed up inside his head for good.
Sealed up inside his head for good:
Shocking and stunning pictorial memorabilia, disturbing and distressing in all of their jubilant and dominant, intimidatingly up-close-and-personal, subjugative in-his-face, horrendous minutiae of detail.
And, just as he knew she would, his forewoman Corrine du Corbieres performed such a grievous final insult coup de grace, as arguably - depending upon whether he valued most his sense of smell or his sense of taste - superseded Nicole Noir's own callous contribution to his future life-enhancement limitation.
Holding onto Minette's shoulders for steadiness, Corrine carefully placed her dirty bare right heel in the middle of her irrevocably emasculated master's goatee-bearded chin, and stood on it, full weight. And completely ignoring the overfunded fat-faced fool's instant outbreak of panicked inarticulate pleading, Corrine began to rock, and jounce, until ...
His Corrine du Corbieres petitioned, People's Committee adjudicated, Punishment to Fit the Crime sentence now duly served, Gilles de Bergerac was again aboard the tumbrel.
His mind was in a whipped-up whirl; in a mega-maelstrom of confusing and confounding and contradictory thoughts.
But something was starting to sink in.
With his hands again tied behind his back, and with his wig, his trousers, and his bright blue but now maroon-coloured frocked-coat dripping dirtied-up red grape juice, he once again stared down at his twelve-strong all-female workforce.
The twelve-strong all-female workforce, that his Think-only-of-today-and-let-tomorrow-take-care-of-itself envious vinous malicious Head Grape-treader forewoman Corrine du Corbieres had falsely alleged him to have wronged.
As barefoot they made their rude preparations for their red wine oriented revelry, their old, hand-me-down, worn out clog-like wooden sabots scattered carelessly about them, he stared down at their sunburned, workworn, hard done by, older-than-their-years faces.
And they stared right back at him, eye to eye. Brazenly.
But not challengingly: Corrine and her team of grape-treaders had thrown down their challenge. And they had won.
Literally and metaphorically trampling him underfoot, they had all heel-stamped and face-trod and balls-of-the-feet bludgeoned and ball-kicked their begrudgingly beholden benefactor.
Now, staring up at him, but looking down on him, they regarded him without regard. But with contempt: Disrespectfully. Disparagingly. Disdainfully.
And why wouldn't they?
Each, and every one of them, in their grape juice wettened, dirty bare feet, had gloried in their undreamed-of turn at standing on his face, full weight.
And, one by one, separately and personally, by abominably toeing and wickedly taking his broken nose between their big and second toes and humiliating and hurting him hideously and heinously, they had defeated his resistance and forced his compliance to lick dirtied-up red grape juice direct from their gleefully proffered dirty bare soles.
And, at some point, during his punitive punishment proceedings, they had all kicked his balls - not very hard, but hard enough, and repeatedly - with the tops of their toes.
He knew he would never forget; never be able to expunge from his memory, the humiliating warm-fleshy feel of each and every one of his malicious minions' dirty-juice wettened soles, pressing down into his face under the terrible prolonged pressures of their full standing body weight, as jubilantly they'd looked down on him.
He knew he would never erase; never eradicate from his mind, the soul-crushing, never-to-live-down humbling, of being so cruelly coerced to lick dirtied-up grape juice direct from each of their triumphantly presented dirty bare soles. And cajoled, upon threat of further persuasive agonising nose-toeing, to firmly lick and lap, upwards, from the undersides of their downward pointing toes to the bottoms of their heels. There, to more fully concentrate his profoundly humbling efforts, tonguing the juice slicked, rough-skinned, terroir-gritty foot flesh of those symbolically subjugating round prominences.
And that's not to mention the ball-kicking: the Nicole Noir instigated, extra-itinerary torment, that was beyond.
All of those appalling nightmarish scenes were replaying over and over now, in his mind's eye.
He couldn't seem to stop them.
Recurring most frequently of all, and recalled most vividly and forcefully and in the minutest of detail, were featured the shockingly up-close-and-personal, stunningly in-his-face images of the dirty bare soles of each and every one of his twelve-strong female grape-treading team's diabolically dominating and cruelly punishing feet.
How could he ever forget the looks on each and every one of their triumphant, milking-their-moment, 'revenge'-taking faces, as they'd looked down on him?
How could he ever disremember the exultant expressions on their faces, as with jubilant, gleeful eagerness they had taken their turn to stand barefoot on his upper chest with their backs turned to him, preparatory to 'making him pay dearly'?
After all of that, after everything they had done to him and put him through - after they had all so ravaged and ridiculed and reduced him - how could he, ever again, look any one of them in the eye?
Even the youngest of them, eighteen-year-old Minette Minnervoir?
Meek and mild, wouldn't-say-boo-to-a-goose, demure (at least, by the relative standards of her peers) Minette.
Or, at least, she had been.
Things were going to be different, from now on, he realised.
Corrine du Corbieres had seen to that.
Corrine had made sure of it: Made sure, that from now on the shoe would be on the other foot.
His Head Grape-treader forewoman Corrine had, with her odious falsities and malicious machinations - ably aided and abetted and morally supported by the mendacious, ever-available highly reliable and much-ridden village bicycle Nicole Noir - brought him to his knees.
And, after everything that he had done for them!
Now all twelve of his grape-treading nemeses were sitting, in apparent comfort, upon the few scraps of rough matting they'd thrown down on the muddy ground, and leaning their backs against the length of his slightly canted, long wooden grape pressing trough.
The still hot westering sun was turning to the most glorious golden hues their bare, work-toned, deeply sun-browned legs, that were outstretched towards him.
Though he willed himself to look anywhere else, Gilles de Bergerac, feeling as though powerless to do otherwise, could not prevent himself from beholding the mystifyingly but unquestionably erotic sight before him ... The well-remembered and now readily recognisable soles of each of his twelve grape-treaders' individual and distinctive, juice wettened, dirty bare feet.
Try as he might, he could not deny, could not dispute, could not disclaim, and could not disavow, their sudden, unfathomable attraction.
Try as he might, he could not repudiate, could not refute, could not renounce, and could not reject, his inexplicable newfound ... appreciation.
In particular, his eyes were drawn to their toes, wiggling and scrunching pleasurably.
Wiggling and scrunching in pleasure, as now his envious vinous drop-their-knickers-at-the-drop-of-a-hat employees prepared to partake of their perfidiously procured bounty:
Filling their wooden drinking beakers to the brim from the first of the ten magnum-sized earthen jugs full of his Chateau La Feete red - the first consignment, of their 100-magnum back due/compensatory settlement, as awarded to them by the People's Committee - they began their bout of gross overindulgence.
Though on a subliminal level, he knew they would all be too hungover for him to be getting any work out of any of them tomorrow, his mind was otherwise preoccupied along other, more attention-grabbing tangents.
Gloomily, knowing that his life was irrevocably altered, he watched them drink.
Disconsolately, knowing that the power balance had now indeed shifted - that from now on the shoe would be on the other foot - he watched his undiscerning, envious vinous disgruntled dozen drink, scrunching and splaying their toes in pleasure.
Scrunching and splaying their toes in pleasure, as mockingly they regarded his forlorn defeated figure:
Regarding his forlorn defeated figure, as, acutely aware of the whys and the wherefores and thereby completely comprehending the full fabulous extent of the resultant, shoe-on-the-other-foot repercussions and ramifications of their victory - their complete, comprehensive conquest - mockingly they raised their 'glasses' to him in a sardonic toast.
Corrine du Corbieres crossed her shapely ankles and, scrunching and wiggling her slightly chubby medium-long dirty toes, immediately captured and refocused, the aroused, avid and undivided attention of her irrevocably disempowered employer.
It had all been so easy, after all, mused woman-of-the-world Corrine, contentedly sipping her wine. If only she'd known earlier ...
In this respect, despite the luxurious trappings of his wealth and status, and for all of his richly garbed, frippery-fond affectations, underneath it all, the overweight, overfunded fool was really no different from some of the ordinary hardworking men of her own personal acquaintance. Who, from the lack of another outlet, were obliged to turn to the sex-for-wine-money, dregs-of-society street girls to satisfy their 'special' needs. Well ... from now on, the overindulged and overfed frivolous fathead would have to turn to his own, 'special' girls.
Corrine raised both of her toe-scrunching feet to divert her vanquished employer's riveted focused attention and, as though to seal their 'agreement', raised her 'glass' to him.
His Head Grape-treader forewoman Corrine du Corbieres' gesture was not lost on him: You have something we want, yes. But we have something you want, just as much ... if not more. And so from now on, Missueur, the shoe will be on the other foot.
From the still rampant, entirely evident bulge in his pants that just wouldn't go down, Gilles de Bergerac knew, acknowledged, and now conceded, that Corrine was correct, in her unspoken assertions.
Glumly he watched the first signs of their dissatisfaction-with-life condition amelioration opiate taking effect, mellowing their ornery moods and softening their hard-faced features and blunting some of their sharp edges.
And as the soothing and uplifting inherent properties of the smooth as silk, seductive and addictive Chateau La Feete red coursed through their bloodstreams to warm the cockles of their wine-addicted hearts, sardonically they raised their 'glasses' to him.
One of his other contentedly imbibing grape-crushing crew then crossed her ankles, and - without needing first to check her face to confirm her identity: instantly recalling her foot-file from his mental pictorial library - he knew with certainty to whom those petite, prettily scrunching and toe wiggling sun-bronzed feet belonged: Nicole Noir.
Upon noticing his longing lost look of absorbed fascinated interest, Nicole - the readily available, highly reliable and much-ridden village bicycle - raised her 'glass' to him.
At the sound of the People's Committee appointee's clicking tongue, at a slow walk, the horse set off, heading for town. Where he, Gilles de Bergerac, owner of widely known and well-renowned appellation-supreme winery Chateau La Feete, would be duly paraded through the crowded streets of haranguing, verbally abusive rotten-tomato throwers to complete his day of shame.
As he stared back at the slowly receding sight of his twelve-strong, all-female workforce's dirty bare soles, and at their toes, wiggling and scrunching in pleasure, he wondered ...
He wondered, if Corrine, in deliberately dislocating his jaw, had done him long-term, even permanent, damage.
That, no longer would he be able to enjoy, to the full: to be able to roll the Drink-of-the-gods liquid right to the back of his mouth and there, savour, with his oenophile's discerning tutored tongue - to be able to pleasurably 'chew' his Chateau La Feete red wine.
The wine, that, wonderfully appealing to both male and female tastes, was seductive.
And, once tasted ...
Which was why Gilles de Bergerac was distraught at the thought, that deliberately, maliciously and vindictively and with cold-hearted calculated cruelty, his peasant forewoman - the falsely accusing, green with envy, wine-addicted Corrine du Corbieres - might have irrevocably ruined his gifted cultured ability.
That, on purpose and purposefully, Corrine had deprived him, permanently, of his life's most cherished and ineffably rewarding pleasure.
As the rickety two-wheeled horse-drawn cart slowly bore him away to his shaming parade through town, he continued to stare back at the slowly diminishing sight of his hard-drinking disgruntled dozen's dirty bare soles.
No longer willing himself to look away, he stared at their toes, wiggling and scrunching and spreading in pleasure, luxuriating in contentment as insatiably they quaffed more and more of his widely renowned award-winning wine - their first, 10-magnum instalment, of their 100-magnum 'compensatory back-dues'.
He could still plainly hear the unladylike and unlovely sounds of their raucous, salacious, getting-tipsy laughter.
He could still clearly see their raised 'glasses', as sardonically they continued to toast his slowly departing vanquished figure:
The slowly departing vanquished figure, of their now more generous provider of fine claret.
Gilles de Bergerac again replayed in his mind a penis-hardening medley of his just endured face-standing, body trampling, dirty bare sole licking, and extra-itinerary ball-kicking torments.
And finally, he came to understand and acknowledge the whys and the wherefores and to comprehend, that, he too, now, had been seduced, and had succumbed, and was helplessly and hopelessly addicted, to an 'opiate' of his own.
And, that he had, in his midst, in the form of his attitudinous twelve-strong all-female wine-addicted workforce, the cheap and readily available ameliorators of his 'special needs' condition.
Upon considering the inevitable consequential repercussions and ramifications of what undoubtedly lay ahead, such was the force of his mental upheaval that he now barely registered the persistent, ever present awful throbbing pains.
The ever present awful throbbing pains, from his Nicole-Noir-inflicted broken nose (which soon, would more resemble that of a woefully unsuccessful pugilist than that of an outstandingly successful wine producing aristocrat). And from his Corrine-du-Corbieres-occasioned dislocated jaw (which, once reset, would be fully mended, and his wine 'chewing' ability completely restored).
Things would be different, he realised, from now on.
It would be a give and take, something for something, symbiotic relationship.
But there was no question about it.
From now on, the shoe would be on the other foot.
This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to email@example.com