“Maggie McCoy, I’m on the list.” She stared the doorman straight in the eyes and tucked a stray lock of her long blonde hair behind an ear. “Would you mind either checking the list or stepping aside, please?” She raised an eyebrow at him, because he still hadn’t moved.
“This is just perfect,” she muttered to herself, as she took a deep breath and prepared to duck around him, but he finally lifted the clipboard into his field of vision. She let out the breath and smiled, much more pleasantly this time. The smile faded abruptly as he dropped the clipboard back down the the desk before him.
Maggie fumed. “This is ludicrous,” she began. “You know as well as I do that I’m here at least twice a week to pick Kat up, and I come to every one of these parties that she throws, whether they’re once a month or every day for a week straight. You’ve worked here about four years now, and it’s always the same–“She broke off in shock.
The doorman turned to open the door for the person who had walked up while Maggie was ranting.
Maggie was too stunned to move, and as soon as the doorman stepped back in front of the entrance, she kicked herself for not ducking around his sorry ass when she had the chance. I won’t waste the next one, she promised herself. Someone else will be along any minute.
“As I was saying,” she continued, “It’s always the same thing. You won’t let me in even thought you have to recognize me by now, and so you check your stupid little list, and I’m on it, so you let me in. Every freaking time. So tell me, why is this time any different?”
The doorman looked through her. Jeez, talking to this guy was like talking to a hologram or something. Maggie tried taking a half step in the direction that he seemed to be making eye contact, but she guessed wrong.
“God, what is with you, man?” Maggie stomped her foot like a child. “There isn’t even one of those stupid parties tonight. There’s nothing going on! Maggie McCoy, here to see Kat Sanders, 312, how hard is that? Let’s get a move on, dude!”
She was so mad that she didn’t even notice at first when the doorman slid aside to let another resident enter. It was only as he was moving back into her path that she realized that she’d missed yet another opportunity to dodge this jerk.
What was the deal? None of this was like her. The impatience, the throwing an actual fit, berating this poor man on the street like a savage! Maggie took another deep breath. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I’ve forgotten my manners. I’d like for you to let me up so I can visit my friend Kat. Thank you.” She waited, hopefully.
The doorman continued to ignore her.
Maggie was at her wits’ end. She started to take yet another deep breath, then realized that she was hyperventilating over this whole situation, and struggled to breathe slowly and normally. Eventually, it worked.
The doorman didn’t bat an eye.
Maggie burst into tears, and at that exact moment, a cab pulled up to the curb and Kat stepped out, dressed in black from head to toe, with red eyes and a tissue in her hand. The doorman slid aside, inclining his head respectfully towards her.”I’m terribly sorry for your loss, ma’am,” he said.
Maggie’s jaw dropped. No one recognized her. She was here to see Kat for their weekly toast and tea, and Kat wasn’t even home?
Something weird was going on.
A thought struck Maggie. No one was paying any attention to her. Kat wasn’t home. Kat didn’t even see her. Kat was sad. Kat had a loss.
“I’m a ghost,” Maggie said. “I’m a freaking ghost. Isn’t that just perfect.”
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.
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.
“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.
Today, street. This happens to be my street. If you look closely, you can see our inflatable ghostie keeping an eye out for candy. He’s wearing his witch hat and holding his jack o’lantern candy bucket.