Friday, October 12, 2007

A Reception Dinner

A black wing bristling with tiny hairs reached out across the crisply-ironed linen cloth and with a prong-like claw at the end of the wing's span speared a cube of cheese.

"I love weddings," said Sakrular, the demon of spite. "Never thought he would get married."

The face of Grintyr, the wraith of disappointment, barely moved. Gazing at the remnants of food across the table and the empty bottles of wine with a hollow, dun-colored face, she merely nodded and said, "I am a little bit surprised. He seems happy."

Bodhidharma ignored the conversation and kept eating his meal, unaware of the crumbs that had affixed themselves to his beard. His robes were in tatters, but the ring through his ear twinkled in the ballroom's lights. He had not said a word the entire reception. He had been listening to demons for a very long time, and had nothing left to say to them except, "I know, I know." Silence suited him just fine in any case. Yet even Bodhidharma was growing tired of the human sitting across from him.

"Well, I don't want to say bad things about him, but the things I could tell you! They run the gamut. Since it's his wedding day and all and he found someone to put up with him, god bless, I'm not going to say whether the charges pending against him in several states are valid or not, I'll just ask you to look in his eyes and ask your heart whether you think he could be a mass murderer and leave it at that. I don't believe in spreading rumors because that brings negativity to me and I don't want that, no sir...."

It went on like that, but it kept her busy enough that the demons and ghosts at the table got extra servings of food, helping themselves to her plate as she talked on.

"Sometimes you have to think about the day and what's in the best interest of other people. For instance, god bless, he bears some culpability for the genocide that took place against the Armenians in 1915, indeed he was the chief architect, but I'm not going to sit here and talk about that because it brings negativity to me and it upsets our relations with the nation of Turkey and I am all about PEACE!...."

You get the idea.

"And never mind the genocide, did I tell you about the time he was late meeting me? Then he had the nerve to apologize for being five minutes late when he was really SIX minutes late. Just like him, to use an apology to cover up the true nature of his crime. It took a lot for me to even come here..."

Okay, okay! So. The reception had been going on for quite some time, people were dancing and laughing, the wine was fueling all manner of discussions between families newly united, and this one table in the back went about its merry business. Demons, wraiths, Bodhidharma, the Angry Woman, and a commanding presence indeed in a cloaked, hooded figure who sat quite still except for a habit of twirling his scythe in a bored manner. At one point, he had actually dipped the blade of the scythe carefully downward to spear an apple, and he ate it whole, core and all, but otherwise he simply sat there, twirling.

The Angry Woman asked him earlier in the evening, "So, you with the machete. How do you know the creep?"

The hooded figure inclined towards her slowly. Sakrular batted the air gently with his wings and said, "Oh - he goes back a long way with the groom." The hooded figure nodded and turned away from her, whereupon the Angry Woman shrugged and said, "Figures he had all these friends he never told me about. Do you know he waterboarded me once? Well, it wasn't technically waterboarding....he drank my water by mistake...."

At some point during the evening, a woman dressed with immaculate style approached the table. It was, as they all knew, the mother of the groom, and all activity settled and focused at her approach.

"We have never been introduced," she addressed the table with a smile, "But I know you are all longtime friends of the groom, my baby boy, and I wanted to be sure to welcome you all. The event would not be complete or real without all of you. Please eat, drink - ah! I see you have, that's good! - and know that you are loved and appreciated as is everyone else."

Soon after that, she left them to greet other guests. The beasts all looked furtively at one another, unsure what to say. The silence was finally broken by Death Himself, who uttered His first words all night in a voice that sounded like soil pouring from one pot into another. He said: "Nice wine."

And another man at the table who had not said a word all night smiled the most loving, baby-like smile, a smile that lit up his face like a thousand tiny suns, a bearded face that shone with love that was soft and relentless through his dark brown skin.

He said, "Thank you. I made it myself. Would you like more?"

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