I quickly stepped out of the sitting room and into the main downstairs hallway and closed the door behind me. There was still a small chance that my darling Alexis might not get wind of my latest adventure.
The house, at the moment, was eerily quiet.
However, my burgundy colored brogues had no sooner sank into the plush antique fibers of a rather hideous Persian rug when I saw my beloved Alexis appear from a doorway further down the hallway. I quickly brushed off the shoulders and lapels of my cashmere sports coat and then waved my hands about, trying to dissipate the small cloud of white powder that my brushing motions had kicked up.
“Oh, hello, Darling!” I said, beaming at my curious Camelia as she hove-to alongside. I shot my 4-button cuffs casually and then applied a few fine adjustments to my silk tie, whose muted quail-beak-plume color was a nice counterpoint to the navy blue of my jacket.
She eyed me keenly for a moment, as she has a habit of doing sometimes, though I can’t imagine why.
“What is all that all over your clothes?” she asked, reaching out to run her finger along the sleeve. “And what was that gawd-awful racket I heard a minute ago?”
“Funny story,” I began, breaking into a smile as I crossed my arms in what I hoped was a casual pose.
“They usually are,” she said warily.
She, too, crossed her arms and then stared up at me expectantly. Though her stature is somewhat Lilliputian, she can still make a person quite nervous when she crosses her arms and taps her foot. Especially if that person is me. Some say it is her red hair. Some say it is her green eyes. Some say it is her Scottish heritage. I say it is all of the above, and then some.
“As you know,” I said. “I invited my good friend Herb over for a bit of billiards on my new pool table.”
“Yes?” she said. Her voice was still wary and expectant.
“Well,” I said with a short self-deprecatory laugh, as I prepared to correct myself. “It is not actually a new pool table.”
“Oh, how well I remember,” she said, as if she were quite aware of the pool table’s provenance. “It was some eyesore from over a hundred years ago and took a small army and a crane to get it upstairs.”
“It’s Edwardian, Dearest,” I explained, brushing a bit more dust from my jacket and slacks. “It represents Art Nouveau at its zenith. It is an inspired marriage of form and function and material. The table top is the finest slate. The top rails are inlaid marble. The legs are ornate lead castings encased in brass …”
“It could be made of Graham crackers,” she interrupted, for she was not a big fan of textiles as they relate to Edwardian parlor games. “But that does not explain all that noise. And why your clothes and hair are dusty.”
“It is simplicity itself,” I said placatingly. “It has to do with angles and moments of inertia and … um … other things.”
She started to step by me and open the door of the sitting room, but I moved to block the door.
“I wouldn’t go in there just yet, my Darling Delphinium,” I said.
“And why not?” she asked, her curiosity starting to take on the faintest tinge of impatience.
“Well, there is still a bit of tidying up I need to do.”
“Oh, you know. Just run a feather duster over a few things. Perhaps a bit of Hoovering.” I mimed pushing a vacuum cleaner back and forth for a moment to drive home my point, and then smiled at her.
At that moment, Herb came cantering down the stairs and sounding like a three-legged horse attempting to tap dance on a wooden stage.
“Ah!” he exclaimed, joining Alexis and me. “Here you are.”
“Here I am,” I said, for there was no sense in denying it.
“Well, when you disappeared, I thought you might be coming back up.”
“Disappeared?” asked Alexis, looking back up at me.
“He’s speaking figuratively, my Darling,” I said. “I did not actually disappear in a puff of smoke.”
“Not a puff of smoke, exactly,” said Herb. “More like a cloud of dust. Anyway, I thought you’d be right back.”
“Why would you think that?” I asked, a bit surprised.
“Because you handed me your drink and the bridge and said, ‘I shall return’.”
“I was merely quoting General MacArthur,” I explained.
“Will someone please tell me what is going on?” said my peevish little periwinkle.
“It was beautiful,” said Herb, pounding me on the back and causing another little puff of dust to fill the air around us. “Alice here …”
“Alistair,” I corrected.
“Alice grabbed the bridge and climbed halfway up on the pool table to take a simple shot …”
“The cue ball was in an awkward position,” I said, defending myself.
“You mean it was on the tabletop?” he asked.
“Anyway …” prompted Alexis to try and help move the story along.
“So anyway,” said Herb, warming to his story. “Alice here climbs up on the table to take his shot. And just then there is this gawd-awful ruckus, splintering wood and cracking plaster and then the pool table just sank, in slow motion, into the floor like the Titanic going down.”
Alexis might be described as wide-eyed under most circumstances, for her eyes are the most beautiful green one can imagine, but in this case, her eyes grew as wide as a waif in a Margaret Keane painting.
“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed, reaching out to grab my elbow with a grip strong enough to crush walnuts. “What happened?”
“I suspect the homebuilder used substandard lumber …” I began.
“It was beautiful,” continued Herb, hardly able to contain his laughter. “Alice here rode that table into the abyss like the captain of the Bismarck. I swear I think he saluted as he sank out of sight.”
My darling Alexis, whose eyes were still as wide as a very surprised Tarsier, turned to look at me. “And so … you mean to tell me … that that pool table that you just had to have upstairs in your study …”
“Yes,” I said soothingly. “It is almost assuredly a total loss. But not to worry. I’m sure I can acquire another …”
But she cut me off.
“You mean to tell me that that pool table is now down here in our sitting room?”
“Well … yes,” I said hesitantly. “Though I doubt it is in any condition for Herb and I to finish our game.”
“I think I need to sit down,” said Alexis in a trembling voice.
“Well,” I said helpfully, “I don’t recommend the sitting room.”
Copyright ©2019 by Biff Sock Pow
All characters contained herein are also Copyright ©2019 by Biff Sock Pow