SHORT STORY: The Trappist Monk

I had often considered myself a man of the world, a gentlemen traveler and connoisseur of culture. I found myself on the night of 25 of August in the local inn here on Belleview Street. The merriment was a delight as I and the local townspeople celebrated another victory for the land of Lincoln. In the year of our lord 1863 it had become apparent the need for escape from the devoted wretches of Lee was reaching abysmal proportions. I myself had developed a permeating limp from the deliberate use of minie ball upon my right thigh. I had hoped to quell the concern with Mr. Franklin’s favorite refreshment. If God were to bless such a thing then it should be taken with delight and grandeur. As I sat upon the bar the innkeeper suggested upon me a new type of brew that hailed from the holy men of the European lowlands. If God were to bless this brew then I knew that I had nothing to fear and only awaited the delectable bounty that would soon fill my soul. Notes of fruit, the hops and even oak danced upon my lips. There was even another ingredient that could describe.

“What is this godlike nectar?” I cried out to the innkeeper.

The innkeeper smiled and wiped down the bar. My reaction must have been familiar because he began to pour me another goblet full. The goblet was necessary according to the innkeeper for me to experience this brew as God had intended. He claimed to only maintain the one because it was specifically made by the monk Seppe. The innkeeper expressed his love for the goblet as a reminder of his brother that had disappeared on his way to visit the monastery.

“The holy men in Belgium call it a trappistenbier or how their brothers in France say bière trappiste.

The innkeeper explained that his brother had once been a fond lover of beer in a way that no man could be without the divine. He delighted in each and every note of taste and was able to discern each flavor infusion down to the individual hop. He reasoned correctly that his brother was so taken with the brew that he led an ill-fated pilgrimage to the holiest of orders that brewed this special swill and it took him to the doorstep of the monk Seppe. However, he did not make it to the home of Seppe and was never heard from again.

As I listened to his tale about his ill-fated brother, I eagerly engorged myself on the second goblet and suggested to the innkeeper that I would like to partake in another. This nectar of God had coursed through my veins and beckoned to me to allow the remainder of the keg to join them. I again reached out and harkened to the innkeeper who at this time was servicing a fellow patron. Strangely only I was served this infusion and was pleased to know that was truth.

“Please, I implore you innkeeper that I may dwell within this palatable brew. If it is holy then I must continue.”

Again the innkeeper smiled and walked in my direction. This time however he was devoid of another decanter of Seppe’s concoction. He began to pour me a finger of whiskey until a placed my hand above the glass, spilling Pennsylvania’s finest upon the counter top.

“I’m sorry my friend. I am out of Seppe’s brew and I cannot obtain another drop more. You must go to the countryside of Liege if you wish to obtain anymore. Instead, please sit with my Irishman friend Johnnie for he is far from the battlefield and needs companionship.”

I pushed away the glass and stood from spot. A shiver coursed down my back to the tips of my toes and returned to me like a faithful dog. Without my knowledge I had become stewed. I decided to take my leave and return home. Upon my arrival I engaged in conversation with my neighbor regarding the merits of such a fantastic brew. I simply could not return to the inn unless it was for Seppe’s drink. I reasoned with my neighbor that the only solution was to obtain the brew direct from the source and to mimic its holiness.

I decided to leave the land of Lincoln to visit the monk Seppe in his monastery in the countryside of Liege.

I arrived in the port of Brussels nearly a month to the day of my departure from the land of Lincoln. The trip across the sea had been exhausting and without Seppe’s brew. I had become obsessed with it and I could still feel it within my veins. Surely God was at work here and dictated my desires to find this holy place. I asked around to the best of my abilities, I was ill-versed in the local tongue, until I learned of an ancient abbey known as Saint-Dahlen-Kloster. Upon hearing of my destination I left the city of Brussels without so much as a sip of water. I had never been to the lands across the ocean, but I needed to find the monk Seppe. I needed to find my salvation.

I arrived at the doorstep of the monk Seppe on the 23 day of October in the year of our lord 1863. A large wooden door lay before me and indulging in the monk Seppe’s brew. I ascended the enormous stone steps and rapped upon the door. I awaited Seppe’s arrival and continued to rap up on the door. Until finally and much to my delight a holy man opened the door and gestured for me to enter as I entered, and much to my surprise, he greeted me in perfect English.

“Welcome to the house of God, the St. Dahlen Monastery. You must be weary from your travels. It is not often that we welcome those from the land of Lincoln into this house. Come please.”

I bowed slightly and took his arm as he guided me into the monastery his robes no more than a simple’s friar’s. We walked the halls in silence until I inquired about the age of the monastery and asked his order, but my curiosities were met merely with nods and the sign of the Trinity. He led me to a small room with a simple bed and altar that faced the modest window. The day had since turned into evening since my arrival and yet I still did not have the monk Seppe’s brew.

“Find your oneness with the Lord and I will return.”

He departed from the room and I was left alone to ponder the word of the lord as he had instructed.

After what seemed like hours and many moments of agonizing over my desires. I had not reached the oneness that Seppe had requested of me. I had succumb to my desires, but wandered how could I not? If God allowed this holy man to put such an intoxicating brew then surely it must be part of his divine love for his creations. After all I, as with my fellow mankind, was created in his image. Again after what seemed like hours the monk Seppe came to my door and gestured for me to follow him once again. And once again as we walked I asked about his order, the monastery and of course his brew. As was the first time he maintained his silence until he led me to a dining hall. A magnificent room I was overwhelmed with its divine beauty. The stained glass ceiling depicted the crucifixion of the messiah and the wailing of his followers. It was surely and odd mix of horror, wonder, pain, and zeal when these were constructed. The blood that fell from Jesus’s wrist looked so real as if it I looked back and the monk Seppe had laid out before me a wonderful fleet of cheeses and wine, but as was before I did not see a single drop of his brew.

“Brother Seppe. May I ask for a flagon of your trappistenbier?” Before I could stop myself I realized I had not requested it in the proper manner. Seppe’s brew was to be from a goblet not a flagon, this was no common mead.

The monk Seppe smiled and nodded. He told me that a fresh batch was made nearly a fortnight ago and would be the best brew he’s ever created, but he wanted to give it a few more moments until he shared it. He began to talk about the history of the monastery and his life in service of the lord. He remembered his childhood and spoke of his abusive father and promiscuous mother. He toiled away in a never ending cycle between his parents until he saw the light. He learned his divine brewing methods through prayer and preparation. Then as soon as his tale had started his eyes illuminated and he arose from his chair and walked over to the door.

“I nearly forgot. For those who visit the monastery must sign the Lord’s book as a testament to their divinity and desire to learn of the history of this brew. Only when you sign this will I bring you a chalice of my brew. I find a chalice a much more suitable vessel for something from the divine than a mere goblet. That is what truly brings out the flavor.”

I scribbled my signature with great haste and without so much as a tertiary glance at what I had just signed. I just knew that I was one step closer to that enchanting, thirst slaking, holy nectar that had so intoxicated my blood. Even the cheese he had served began to takes of his brew. The grapes, the chocolates, the bread and even the wine all began to tastes as though the monk Seppe’s brew had blessed them all.

The monk Seppe walked into the dining chamber hold a large chalice. It was wonderfully and pleasantly adorned with the ancient language of the Gauls and was encrusted with picturesque images of the papal leaders of the Holy Roman Emperor. Such a chalice was only befitting of such a brew as Seppe’s. He placed the chalice before me and motioned for me to drink. I had been waiting for this moment for months. I had crossed a great ocean and traveled amongst foreigners all to satisfy my desire no my need to indulge in Seppe’s brew.

“What do you think my weary traveler?” Seppe asked me as I reached the pinnacle of ecstasy. I motioned for more and more as he continued to seek my true feelings. Finally after nearly two more chalices I stopped to thank him.

“It is simply divine. Thank you brother Seppe. You have no idea how long I have waited to just get a taste of your brew. God has brought us together and I thank him and you.”

The monk Seppe smiled and reached and grasped the chalice. He turned it on its hilt and looked back at me.

“What was your most beloved part? Tell me of the essences you relished”

I began to speak of the divine spark that uplifted me with each and every sip and that each sip was greater than the last. I noted the taste of various fruits, both known and unknown. I described the hops that had been painstakingly picked from the vine and even the fresh mountain springs that provided the foundation of the brew as it would the foundation of life. But then there was something I could not taste. Something I could not yet identify. It was all too familiar, yet so foreign.

“There is a most ingenious ingredient that I do not know. There is something contained within this infusion that I lack the ability to comprehend. It must truly be the secret that allows your brew to be held above all others.”

The monk Seppe no longer smiled, but rather something more sinister appeared to grow along his brow, something that a man of the cloth should not know and should not display. I nearly lept from my seat as he stood up from his chair until the look removed itself from upon his brow. I rubbed my eyes then remembered I had quickly cosseted myself with two large chalices of the monk’s brew. I reached for my seat, but a moment of faint was thrust upon me and fell to the floor.

I awoke in a chamber much like the dining hall but it was dimly light and I was befuddled by a foul stench that seem to hang in the air. A remembered the matches I had from the candle light room and lit the torch that was placed above the entryway and too my horror I was greeted with the remains of what appeared to be people then without warning the monk Seppe’s voice boomed down from above.

“It is also a great thing when one makes a pilgrimage to my home. I ask of you do you know what the last ingredient is in my brew? It is that of the host and since you are made in his image then you must be the perfect ingredient.”

My horror turned to fear as I watched as the roof descended. I gazed upon on the floor looking for an escape. The previous tenants of this hellhole were not sent away. No they were drained of their blood and added to the brew! I scrambled to the door and began to pound furiously away at the entrance. The ceiling was almost upon me when I threw the torch in a last ditch effort to delay my impending demise. The gears ground to a halt and again thrust myself upon the door. No mere rapping would facilitate escape and with a third thrust I crashed into the door and as if the Lord reached down it fell from its hinges. I spent no time confiscating myself from this dungeon and ran into the halls. It felt as though Seppe was nearly upon me. I could hear his breathing I could nearly feel his reach as I closed the distance to that great wooden door. He must have nearly been upon me but then…

The sun is warm and God is good, but be careful were you obtained your special brew.

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