The Party Planner

A chill ran down her spine as she pulled up to the huge wrought iron gate. She rolled down her window to hit the button on the call box, but while she was reaching toward it, the gate opened inward without a sound. She slowly pulled her arm back in her car and drove forward.

The driveway was so long that she hadn’t caught her first glimpse of the house yet, but judging by the neighborhood, this was shaping up to be her fanciest gig ever. The Craigslist ad she’d answered to get it was enough to guarantee that it was certainly the strangest.

One person needed for dinner party prep. No catering or cooking required. 12 guest table. $2000 flat rate compensation. Only serious inquiries, please.

She gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and let her foot off the gas as she rounded the last curve and the house came into view.

The mansion.

The castle.

It really almost looked like a fantastical medieval castle, turrets and crenellations and all, only lacking a moat, but the small black BMW convertible parked in front of the entrance ruined the authenticity. Still, it remained a glorious sight.

The engine knocked, nearly stalling, and she shook herself back to the present and stomped the clutch. She was a hair too late, so she restarted the car and cruised up to park behind the BMW.

She pushed the button to pop the trunk and snagged her messenger bag from the passenger seat beside her. Without grabbing anything from the trunk, she headed for the front door to see if she would ever need any of the supplies she always carried with her as a professional party planner.

She crossed her fingers that the door would open as mysteriously as the gate had before she was presented with the dilemma of knocking or ringing, and she was not disappointed. The massive wooden door swung inward to reveal a small, clean-shaven man in a navy suit and tie.

“I apologize for not meeting you outside, Ms Clark. You will not be needing any of your own supplies and may either latch your trunk or disregard it. I assure you that your equipment is quite safe here.”

He gazed softly, expectantly at her until she made up her mind to close her trunk. She didn’t know whether or not the trunk light would drain her battery, and as her mother always said, why take chances, Suzie Q?

She pushed the trunk closed and trotted swiftly back to the door, where the mystery man had remained, waiting for her.

“This way, Ms Clark,” the man intoned, turning on his heel to lead the way.

She followed.

“As it is now two o’clock precisely, you will have four hours to completely set up for tonight’s festivities,” the man briefed her as they walked the empty hallways.

“You have complete creative freedom in this endeavor. Our employer’s only request is that the decor remain tasteful. Toward this end our employer has acquired any and all supplies you may possibly need in the two pantries adjoining the dining hall. This way.”

They turned left and entered a gigantic dining room. The crystal chandelier hung low over the dark walnut table, and five chairs were evenly spaced along either long side of the table, with the remaining two neatly placed at the shorter ends. Ms Clark gasped at the opulence, overwhelming even in its simplicity.She couldn’t wait to see what supplies lay in wait for her to make this space even more inviting.

She followed the still unnamed man around the table and into a room beyond. Shelves on all four walls were packed chock full of tablecloths, vases, and napkins. The next room contained nothing but tableware: flatware, dinnerware, and glassware of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

She reached to run her fingers over some of the most impressive, but was startled by the man clearing his throat. He extended a check to her, and she took it, quickly verifying that it was indeed for $2000 and made out to her. She didn’t recognize the signature.

“My duties are fulfilled here, Ms Clark. I trust you will not let our employer down. Have a good evening.” And with a slight bow, he turned and left as silently as ever.

She shrugged and began inventorying the precious goodies that surrounded her. Food or no food, this was going to be the most beautiful party she’d ever set up.

She still wondered about the host…and the guests. Maybe it was a cult meeting and they were forbidden to eat? She laughed the silly notion off, but the chill returned to her spine as another idea hit her.

Maybe it was a dinner party for ghosts.

dinner party