He’d liked his brandy sweetened.  He’d loved apricot brandy when it was “apricot brandy” and not just apricot flavored, and he liked it strong, at least eighty proof.  And he’d liked regular brandy too, sweetened with Grand Marnier.  And Armagnac, Clés de Ducs if possible; but he’d preferred Spanish to French brandies, especially Cardenal Mendoza, or in a pinch, Gran Duque de Alba.  But he hadn’t like it alone, after supper over coffee, he’d liked it with a bit of cheese, sharp cheddar if possible, and with an apple sliced with a paring knife, and with hot tomato soup.  And he’d liked it best listening to symphonic music, especially Beethoven or Bach, while he was reading, especially Tolkien, or researching religious mythology.  Especially with a roiling fire burning in a large hearth. 

Especially in a Normal-style castle, set on the highest point on a long island, set between a river and a small harbor, in a town named after cold springs.  In a castle with a gym and a football field and a baseball field, and with students and faculty members, and maintenance personnel, and a nurse, and retired military personnel who’d had adventures they enjoyed sharing.  A castle full of memories where new ones were made daily, at least for a while.

One would think those aspirations were unrealistic, unless one had lived them.  And relived them, over and over again, long after the castle was just a shared memory.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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