Quelle Surprise!

For months sleep was elusive. Too many loose ends. Whom could I trust? My family? Probably. But there were the eighty guests invited to Mme. Le-Quoi’s surprise fiftieth. Not all of them could be reliable. Drastic action was required. Yet if I silenced everyone, then who would attend the party? Plus, I needed therapy after decapitating a pigeon my cat, Pétéraste, had savaged and abandoned. The feathers. The feathers. So mass murder would simmer on the back burner… for now.

An appeal to a higher power might be prudent. However, given that I’m still five-foot bugger all and my buff deux cheveaux has yet to transmogrify into a Quattroporte, the efficacy of prayer seemed marginal. The only option was to trust the Fates, and hope that nobody let the cat out the bag before the big night, or out of the closet during it, as this is where Pétéraste would spend the soiree. (Don’t worry, it’s soundproof so her constant mewling won’t disturb the guests). Still, as we entered the denouement, paranoia festered. Why had she finished decorating the hall? (Something I’d been nagging her to finish for years.). Why was the bare bulb in the lounge now concealed behind a stylish metallic shade? And why, oh why, was she getting a ‘professional’ manicure? Had vanity trumped my concerns over people trafficking, or did she know?

Many years before, the roles were reversed, and things didn’t fare well. My then partner’s little deceits, mysterious phone calls, lies and unnecessary lingerie purchases, were noted. As per, I was punching above my weight, and assumed she’d finally taken the advice of friends, relatives, passers-by and the librarian, and left me. Distraught, I disappeared, drowning my sorrows in a proper pub, with yellow distemper, spit and sawdust on the floor, a portrait of the Queen behind the bar and nary a thin glass in sight. Not an unpleasant way to wile away a day, but, unfortunately, I missed the surprise 21st my girlfriend had arranged. However, as all the attendees agreed, it was probably for the best.

Discovery wasn’t the only concern. Heaven forbid the booze would run out. The worst-case scenario, as my friends kept reminding me with more than a hint of desperation, not to mention Withnail. I may have over compensated. Once assembled, the myriad bottles and cans covered a table that could have comfortably accommodated the last supper, even if they’d brought partners and a couple of guys they’d met in the taverna earlier that evening. The party could easily continue well into the next decade, assuming the narcissist-in-chief didn’t instigate Armageddon attempting to summon a coke bearing flunky, leaving just the number of guests to worry about.

Were too many people invited? Who knows? After standing in the lounge for hours on end failing to ascertain a comfortable capacity, I had no choice but to once more put my faith in a higher power. Perhaps paganism was more reliable. Unfortunately, my knowledge of heretical rituals was limited. Limited to seventies horror movies. And, as much as I wanted sunshine, a blazing wicker man, stuffed with local pets and a virgin – assuming one was available – was sure to annoy our only neighbour on speaking terms, and rouse Madame’s suspicions, plus my inevitable detention would put a dampener on proceedings, or, given past experience, probably not.

So, what happened that fateful night? Well, thankfully, nobody let the cat out the bag, and Mme Le-Quoi was ecstatic, although, in the spirit of full disclosure, someone who’d prefer to remain anonymous did let Pétéraste out of the closet. However, as for divulging details, if you didn’t go, you don’t need to know.

Words: Monsieur Le Quoi

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