More from the Dinner Party
An excited murmur swept through the room. George Vernon remained unmoving at the head of the room, trying to stare down their host, Augustine Stiles.
House staff moved among the crowd passing out heavy parchment notecards and Meisterstück pens. Stiles’ concierge, Jasper, stood slightly behind his employer’s chair, an empty serving tray held in his white-gloved hands.
“My staff is distributing writing materials,” Stiles said. “Consider carefully what you want most in this world, or the next, and write your request on the cards. Jasper will collect them.”
Jasper stepped forward and began meandering through the room gathering hastily drafted wishes.
Vernon took a card and pen, but tucked them into his coat pocket, ignoring Jasper as he walked by him.
“Stiles, you’re full of shit,” Vernon said over the din of anticipation in the room. “Even someone as loaded as you can’t possibly grant every wish these morons can dream up.”
Mr. Stiles accepted another drink from one of his staff, swirling the amber liquid then inhaling the heady bouquet of the Amaretto.
“Mr. Vernon.” Mr. Stiles took a measured sip of his drink, nodding his approval. “I have resources you cannot begin to fathom. I assure you, I can, and will, efficaciously execute each and every wish.”
Taking out his supplied paper and pen, Vernon quickly scribbled his wish. Grabbing Jasper’s sleeve as he passed by again, he shoved the card at him. Mr. Stiles, standing for the first time that evening, swept over to Vernon, and took the card personally.
“What anomalous adjuration have you made, Mr. Vernon?” Stiles read the request, no hint of reaction on his face. “Do you want to add a codicil to further explain your wish, Mr. Vernon?”
“Oh no, you don’t, you sneaky bastard.” Vernon shook an angry fist at his host. “I wrote it just as I meant it. You said you could grant any wish.”
“And so I shall.”
I wish for the power to fly. Not like that wimp Superman, his arms stretched out like he’s falling. Wings. I want big ass wings, as big as my body.”
Jasper stood at Mr. Stiles’ elbow, the remainder of the guests’ cards filled out and deposited on his serving tray. Adding Vernon’s card to the pile, Mr. Stiles thanked his staff, then dismissed them from the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Stiles began, “I will peruse your requests and will contact each of you privately.”
Jasper ushered the guests from the library, leaving Vernon alone with Mr. Stiles.
“That’s it?” Vernon sputtered, spittle erupting from his lips in an angry spray. “You make this pompous announcement that you’ll grant our wishes like some sort of fairy godfather, and then you dismiss everyone just like that?”
“Mr. Vernon,” Mr. Stiles said. “I have every intention of fulfilling my promise, in fact, I shall begin with your wish.”
“Yeah, like you’re actually going to give me wings so I can fly.”
“By tomorrow morning, you will begin your transformation,” Mr. Stiles said. “In due time, you will have your wings and the capacity to wing your way anywhere you’d like.”
“And if I don’t?” Vernon said.
When Jasper returned to the library, Mr. Stiles dismissed Mr. Vernon with the wave of his hand.
The next morning, Jasper came into Mr. Stiles’ bedroom to open the drapes and bring his employer his breakfast. With the early edition of the newspaper tucked under his arm, Jasper pushed the food cart to the side of the bed.
“Has Mr. Vernon made an appearance?” Mr. Stiles asked, dabbing orange marmalade on his toast points.
“I believe Miss Alice found him along the garden path when she was there clipping today’s flowers.”
“Where is he now?” Mr. Stiles poured cream into his morning cuppa, stirring it into a swirl of white and tan.
“Miss Alice brought him in, wrapped in a fern frond, and gave him sanctuary in the atrium.”
“That is good, it’s warm and sunny in there, and he will be safe from natural predators,” Mr. Stiles nibbled on his toast, dabbing at a smudge of marmalade on his chin. “Please make sure he is supplied with adequate edibles. He will be ravenous when he emerges from his cocoon with his gift of flight”
“Very good, sir,” Jasper said, gathering the empty dishes and teapot. “Will there be anything else, sir?”
“Yes, Jasper,” Mr. Stiles tucked his pillows higher behind him so he could sit up with more comfort, “Bring me the other wishes, we must decide whose to grant next.”