BY AL BRUNO III
Saturday November 16th 1996
The dining room was ready by midnight.
And what a dining room it was! It reminded Isobel of something out of Jane Austin with its long table in an even longer room. A fireplace filled the room with yellow light that set the facets of the low-hanging chandelier glittering. Oil paintings and old sepia toned photographs decorated the walls.
Hao and Warren had seen to it that the embroidered silk tablecloth was crowded with silverware, crystal glasses, wine bottles and lit candelabras. Helping her seemed to have taken Warren's mind off the whole mystery janitor thing.
Man. Isobel thought to herself, And I thought they pulled out all the stops when we got here.
When she, her brother and Galen had gotten to Laurel House the last thing they had needed was a fancy dinner. Instead they had been greeted with first aid, a change of clothes, and brandy glasses that were never allowed to be empty. After that is was off to a warm bed and sleep so heavy that Isobel didn't wake until the next evening.
Of course turkey and wine at this hour would most likely have the same effect. The chairs they sat in were high backed, soft and looked to be generations old; Angie was to the right of Isobel, Galen to the left.
Once again Isobel had to wonder, What is this place?
And why the hell was Bodivar cooking in the middle of the night?
She imagined it was whatever semi-divine force that had Hao standing by with bandages and booze over a week ago.
Magwier and Zeth were sitting near the end of the table, still chatting away like they were the only people in the room. Bodivar was cutting the turkey as plates of side dishes made their way around the table. Sig sat on the other side of Angie, he had taken an entire plate of cranberry sauce for himself. There had been some amused protests but everyone seemed to have expected it. Roxanne and Jack sat directly across the table, Roxanne's left hand was out of sight and every once in a while Jack would jump in his seat. Isobel didn't know what was going on but she decided that if she dropped her napkin she wasn't going to get it.
On the other side of Jack sat Hao, she had called Warren over to join her and kept him busy talking about mundane things. Again, it was just what he needed, Angie wondered why there weren't any girls like this on the outside world; her brother might have been a much happier man.
Then again if there were girls like her out there what would girls like me do?
“What are you smiling at?” Galen asked
“Oh,” Isobel said. “I was just thinking that's all.”
“I think that my brother and Hao are a little smitten with each other.”
Galen nodded, “It looks that way, but those kinds of feelings can lead to trouble can't they?”
“I don't-” Isobel stared at her plate but there were no answered to be found there, “You know, maybe after dinner we should take a walk or something like that?”
“I'd like that a lot. I know it sounds crazy but I miss your company.”
“You only really had my company once.” Isobel said, then added “But it was my full attention wasn't it?”
Bodivar sent the plate of turkey and sent the serving plate around the table.
Angie asked, “John honey, are you sure you don't want a drumstick?”
Sig looked up from his cranberry sauce, potatoes and stuffing, “Too cooked.”
Isobel said, “You haven't even tried it.”
“Oh don't mind him.” Angie passed the plate, “He's picky.”
“That's right.” He gave her a lingering look, “I want nothing but the best.”
With that said Isobel served herself then passed the tray along. Galen took double the amount she had. He said to her, “I can't imagine what you make of all this.”
“Nothing wrong with a late dinner,” Isobel said.
“I mean all of this... This crazy world I dragged you into. There are still a lot of things I still haven't told you,” Galen paused. “You see I'm... that is to say...”
“...is that you're not human? Is that what you're trying to say?”
“Uh… how did you…”
“You don’t think I might have gotten a little clue by now? Besides Hao told Warren and Warren told me.”
“Oh,” Galen said. “This kind of conversation is usually a lot more dramatic.”
“I guess you bring out the unconventional side of my nature.” She laughed
Bodivar grinned, “Jack, I think you should make a toast. Yes a toast. Does everyone have their wine?”
Jack stood and everyone raised their glasses. Roxanne could barely hold hers still because she was laughing so hard.
Jack said, “To new friends and absent ones.”
Glasses clinked this way and that, several calls of cheers floated around the table and one “Salud”. Isobel took an experimental taste of her wine, it was sweet and smooth. Her next sip was considerably longer. Magwier cleared his throat and added, “And to friends we have yet to meet.”
A few more cheers and clinkings worked their way along the table.
“And here is to Jack realizing his fly is open.” Bodivar added.