The Unexpected Guest

Six of us, guests of the friend hosting the dinner party, were playfully jostling for seats at the table when our jovial cacophony was hushed by a rapping at the door.  The door was located such that when our host opened it all could see the, as it were, rapper. She said she was named Eve Visapicos, that she was known by us all, and inquired if she might be asked to join us. Every one of us agreed we did not know her, yet we were equally agreed as to her seeming somehow familiar. Wills, the host, (whose family name is Oscar, and whose parents, thinking themselves too amusing by half, named him for Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, but in reverse, minus the Wilde, which is the only time they edited themselves), who abhorred an unevenly occupied dinner table, opined that fate had saved our party from ignominy and invited Eve in.

With a (somewhat familiar) stranger present we were a bit slower than usual in reaching our accustomed level of irreverent frivolity, but Eve seemed at her ease with us, and this, coupled with her seeming never to say anything controversial or likely to give offense, soon put us at ease with her.

It was during the cheese rather than the salad, for instance, that Wills’ boyfriend Grant began inserting politicians’ most outrageous statements of the week into lines from the film  “Cold Comfort Farm.”  All eyes were on Grant as he tore through several hilarious versions of the classic opening line––“I saw something UNAMERICAN in the woodshed,” I saw something MARRIAGE-KILLING in the woodshed,” before moving on to “darling, a hundred pounds a year will hardly keep you in stockings, fans, and crème caramel-flavored condoms,” and “everyone should have a plane,” when we were suddenly silenced by the sound of shattering glass.

Eve stood on the granite slab of the fireplace amidst thousands of shards that had been one of three crystal decanters from the tantalus Wills inherited from his beloved great-grandmother. The shards glistened wetly from the whisky the decanter had contained even as a final drop fell from the stopper still held in Eve’s hand. Wills opened his mouth but no sound escaped. To his beseeching eyes Eve responded, “Your bottle has fallen from my hand. It has broken.”

Wills is not one to overreact to a perfectly common accident, and as there was other scotch in the house after not too long a time at all our eightsome was as congenial as ever it had been such that seven glasses and a plastic tumbler were raised in a toast to friends old and new. Then, before most of us had even lowered our glasses from our lips, Eve tossed her tumbler in the fireplace, leaped into Oliver’s lap, and began kissing him on the lips––with tongue. Glass shattered for a second time that evening when Oliver’s wife went rigid with shock.

I was in the guest room helping Grant as he cleaned and dressed the cuts Eve received from Caroline’s ring. No one had said a thing as we pulled Caroline off Eve, but now the others filed into the room, except for Caroline who was in the kitchen icing her fist. In unison, as if we had become the chorus in a classical Greek tragedy, we demanded an explanation. “A man has been sexually assaulted,” Eve replied, “and a woman has been insulted.”

Then Naoki, who was in back of the group thus still partly in the hallway, said, “what’s that smell? Is it smoke?” We all moved quickly into the hall where we saw smoke pouring from around the bathroom door. Grant got on the phone to 911 and ordered us all out of the house as Wills ran for the fire extinguisher. While still on the stairs we heard an explosion from the direction of the smoking bathroom. Before we could even turn back to look for them we heard Grant and Wills yelling and at us to get out as they joined us in controlled rush down the stairs, through the kitchen to collect Caroline, and out the back door.

Samira made us line up so she could count to assure all were safe. I don’t remember if she told us to, but as we stood beside one another facing the house, watching the flames consume it as the distant whine of sirens became audible, we held hands.

I was near one end of the line with my right hand in Eve’s left, and we all turned our heads as she began to speak. “A fire has been started in the house,” she said, and then she let go of my hand to reach into her pocket. She brought forth a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and lit a cigarette. After one drag Eve placed the glowing cigarette carefully on the lawn. As she turned and began walking away she said, “The name your were given by me is an anagram and a fire has been started on the lawn.”

Spoiler alert: If you’ve not yet solved the anagram go back, the following contains the answer and helpful information about it.

http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/passivevoice.html

Comments
One Response to “The Unexpected Guest”
  1. Clare Keller says:

    Well that was fun! I had to cut out letters and move them around. When I realized I could use the first name, it fell into place.

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