A Grand Spectacle
“You seem out of place here, friend,” the homeless man said.
I laughed, “I assure you, I’m in the right place. Are you sure you don’t need directions, though?”
He glanced about. “Nah, I’m right where I need to be.”
“Well, alright,” I said. I’m sure our host wouldn’t agree, but that was his problem. I left him and walked out of the ballroom, passing into the foyer. I marveled at the gala that Mr. Prospero had managed to put together. I felt underdressed, an emotion that I did not have a great deal of comfort with. There were dancers in one room: the world’s finest, I was assured. There was a veritable zoo in another, with lions and tigers and bears, oh my. The ballroom was filled with the highest members of society dancing to the dulcet tones of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, who were flown in especially for the occasion. Ice sculptures adorned every room. A few were still being worked on by the sculptors allowing guests to see the art come to life.
I looked for our host, but could not find him. Anthony Prospero had been born into the wealthy lifestyle, but he had worked his whole life in service to others. He hadn’t let the superfluous nature of money overtake him and by that token was much loved by everyone. He had a Gatsby quality to him that one couldn’t deny. It was as though Fitzgerald had traveled to the future and built his book right around this man. And yet, he was nowhere to be found. I made do with what company I could find.
“Helluva party isn’t it?” I said to a man dressed in the finest suit I’d ever seen. He was wearing a top hat and a monocle.
“Yes, quite. I must say, Anthony’s outdone himself this time,” he responded.
“Were you talking to me?” A horrendously unfashionable woman standing nearby fairly spat at me.
“Good heavens, no. I was talking to…forgive me, I haven’t gotten your name,” I said, turning back to the gentleman.
“Reginald Pennybags, sir. I am Mr. Prospero’s uncle. A pleasure to meet you.”
The woman walked on, muttering to herself.
“The pleasure is all mine,” I responded. “Would you happen to know where your nephew is?”
“I couldn’t say. Probably seeing to the grand finale.”
“Ah, that should be a spectacle. How does one top all this?” I said, more to myself than for his benefit.
“You’ll just have to wait and see, son. Oh, but it will be incredible.”
He saw someone he knew and excused himself to better acquainted company. For my part, I continued to browse the selection of extravagance with wondrous curiosity. ‘What could possibly happen next?’ I idly pondered while pretending to read a plaque by the lion’s cage.
Just then, a man with a pronounced jaw line and jagged features walked up to me with purpose.
“And what might you be getting into?” he asked gruffly.
“I’m sure I don’t understand the question, sir,” I responded.
“What was that?” he said.
“I said, I’m sure I don’t understand the question, sir.”
Another man, fatter and slower, puffed up to us, “This one giving you trouble, Johnson?”
“Nah, just another junkie, gakked out of his gourd on that new stuff.”
“Excuse me?” I interjected. “I am not a junkie. What are men of your obviously low station doing here anyway?”
They ignored me. I poked the first man in the chest, “I said…”
He grabbed my arm and whirled me around, “You don’t touch an officer, junkie,” he spat on the ground.
Junkie? What the hell was going on? Why was there a police car in the ballroom? And how had I not noticed it before?
Together they roughly shoved me into the car, “Wait,” I begged, “Wait, I’ll miss the finale! Don’t do this. You can’t do this to me!”
Anthony Prospero waved to me as we drove off, smiling while I screamed, “Save me Mr. Prospero! Don’t let them take me! I want to see the rest!” He just kept waving and smiling as we drove out the front door and into worlds unknown.