Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Out of the question 3

Colonel Makepeace squatted in the depths of his rhododendrons, his dress trousers around his ankles, his whole being wracked with intestinal spasms. He stared balefully up at the moon and, between rectal convulsions, brought down esoteric curses upon his wife and her patrician attitudes.

“It’s quite out of the question, Potts,” she had said that morning. “I’m sure you understand.”

Mrs Potts, their irreplaceable cook and housekeeper, had requested the evening off. Her son had been posted overseas suddenly. She had just this one night to say goodbye.

But the Bensons were coming for dinner, and the Oordes; prominent members of the community and not to be put off with some cold collation. Mrs Makepeace was adamant.

That evening, about ten minutes after the consommé, Colonel Makepeace found himself charging through the French windows towards his rhododendrons, Mrs Oorde having wedged her fat self in the downstairs convenience and his wife having commandeered the upstairs bathroom.

Mrs Benson had given up begging Mrs Oorde to evacuate quickly (in every sense) and had scrambled frantically into the herb garden. Colonel Makepeace could see the moon glinting on her diamond earrings, amongst rosemary and thyme. She appeared to be thrashing her head from side to side.

Above his own imprecations, he heard Commander Benson and Sir Reginald Oorde, ensconced in the gardenias nearest the house, exhorting the Almighty in their extremis.

Deirdre Makepeace held on to the toilet seat for dear life. Realising her current discomfort was nothing to the social ostracism that awaited her, her groans echoed about the upstairs landing.

Mrs Potts hummed a little tune as she cycled down the lane, towards her son’s farewell do in the King’s Head. She’d left the rest of the meal on hotplates on the sideboard. They’d just have to fend for themselves.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Out of the question 2

“If I made an exception for you, sir, I’d have to make an exception for everybody.”

“Come now. Consistency is a principle valued only by forgers and serial killers.”

“It just wouldn’t be fair to other patrons, sir, would it?”

“Exceptional people require exceptional service. Why do you feel this questionable need to be fair to the rest of humanity?”

“Why, sir, do you feel the need to eat in this restaurant wearing neither trousers nor underpants?”

“Simple. I wish to dine al fresco.”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Out of the question 1

Hampton had paid a thousand dollars for his place at the Open Dialogue Forum’s Gala dinner in Manhattan’s most august hotel. He’d invested in a new tuxedo and an exquisitely subtle haircut from his uptown barbers, along with an equally discreet manicure. He’d sent his wife and daughter off on a long weekend to Aspen in case he had to invite some influential fellow diners back to his club for further deliberations, and not return home till the early hours. He’d spent long hours studying all economic and political turbulences impacting upon the Forum’s concerns and activities. Two interns from Harvard had briefed him comprehensively on any issue that might arise during loaded interchanges following the keynote speeches.

The room was full of money and influence and opportunity. Hampton was prepared for any eventuality except for a former Secretary of State sitting in his allotted space, crumbling bread rolls into his lap in senile abstraction. The diners sitting either side of the misplaced political heavyweight refused to meet Hampton’s imploring eyes. Any social aberration here could destroy careers and fortunes.

“Mr Secretary,” Hampton began cautiously.

“Chustsom zoup,” the eminent dotard cut him with a peremptory flick of a skeletal hand. His voice retained the heavy Mittel-European cadence of all those famous newsreels.

“I’m not a waiter, sir!” Anxiety broke over Hampton in waves.

The Secretary glared at Hampton through his trademark heavy horn-rimmed spectacles, “Zoup, you moron!” he barked in a surprisingly loud voice.

The Gala dinner turned in itswell-heeled totality to see what solecism had taken place. Hampton scurried away to the kitchen to find a bowl of soup.There was no other option. The old man had bombed large portions of Asia back into the Stone Age; Heaven knew what connections and occult power he still possessed.