Deluxe Luxury Cruise Voucher
My spouse and I were at dinner, sitting at our lonely table for six with only the captain, who spoke no French. I spied a couple of old maids at another table and went over to them. They were discussing The Addams Family, so I plopped down in the extra chair at their table and said, "Can I join you? I loved that show! Lurch!" They both looked delighted and all brightened up at the prospect of my company.
"And Pogwort!" one of them put in. I drew a blank. One of the sisters made a gesture of brushing long, disheveled hair away from her face.
"Her sister clapped her hands. "Cousin Itt!"
"No, no! Pogwort, you know. Not Cousin Itt."
I began to feel like an imposter. And I wondered how my spouse was feeling, my having abandoned her. I searched my mind for the character Pogwort— did she mean Uncle Fester? But he was bald.
Just then, my spouse came over. I leapt to my feet. "Oh hon, these are Greta and Gerta —"
She smiled and shook each of the sisters by the hand, and invited them back to our table, from which the captain had fled. "Perhaps some Bridge?" she asked.
As we played, a waiter in tuxedo came over bearing a tray with a pot of coffee and four lovely china cups. "This is your coffee," he said with a bow. A few minutes later, he returned bearing another tray. "This is your milk." He put it down with a flourish.
"Is there sugar?" I asked, at which he frowned. "Never mind," I said.
Next a woman carrying a large shoulder bag.
"Oh! You've brought your uke!" I said.
"Yes, and if you can play a few chords, we'll be the best musicians here," she said. I remembered that I had invited her earlier, and implied that I had some talent in the stringed instrument area.
"Wonderful!" I said. "Do you play Bridge?"
Then a foreign looking gentleman arrived, having heard that I was interested in the local archaeological research. Our table was getting quite crowded, and my spouse seemed to be fading farther and farther away from me. By now, the polo team had dropped in, still in their jodhpurs, smoking cigars and passing around a flask of brandy. That was quite enough! I stood up and asked them all to leave. This was our table, couldn't they see that we were playing bridge with the Pogwort sisters? They roared with laughter and slapped me—a bit too hard—on the back.
"Fine fellow, fine fellow" they said.
I escaped to our suite, where my wife was waiting impatiently. "At last," she said. "Some privacy!"
There came a knock on the door soon after, at an importune moment. "Sshh," I said. "We'll pretend we're not here."
We heard an official sounding key turn in the lock.
A bellhop was letting a crowd of very tall businessmen into our suite!
My spouse drew up the blankets to her chin, and I jumped up, grabbed my trousers, and fled for the bathroom, from which I emerged seconds later with shaving cream on my chin and cheeks.
"What do you mean bursting into our suite?" I asked, drawing myself up as tall as I could manage.
"Well, these gentlemen here just wanted to see it—"
"Get out this instant!" I shouted, waving my soap lathering brush in their direction.
The bellhop turned sulky. "They just wanted to see it." He paused. "It's in your contract, you know."
"What?" I said. "It's in our contract that you can burst in here—"
"Yes," the man said. "Dinner at the captain's table, playing bridge, ukuleles, etcetera."
I could see now that he was not a bellhop, but the captain himself.
"But you don't speak French!"
He smiled. "This way gentlemen, the bathroom has a marble tub as well as a shower…"
Mary Beth O'Connor recently retired from twenty years of teaching in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her writing has appeared in The Southeast Review, Minerva Rising, Passager, Sliver of Stone, Blast Furnace, The Penduline Press, Painted Bride Quarterly, Fiction Daily, Prick of the Spindle, Massachusetts Review, and others. Her prize-winning chapbook Smackdown! Poems about the Professor Business (Teachers' Voice) was reissued in 2010. She has just finished writing a novel and is trying to learn watercolor painting. Her story, "Inheritance," appeared in Issue #35 of The Cafe Irreal.