Soirée.

An afternoon nap dream:

It is night. I stand outside a mountaintop villa. Parts of the villa hang over the slope and are supported by broad stainless steel beams. The walls are mostly floor-to-ceiling glass, and reveal a well-lit, simple modern interior. No one is inside.

The hosts, a married couple of bankers, had given me a piece of paper with the entry code. I punch in the code, the door unlocks, and I walk in.

I wander around the main room. The bar is set up, hors d’oeuvres have been laid out, but I don’t touch a thing yet. Art that I wouldn’t call art adorns the walls. I wander from picture to picture and with no one there to explain to me why I don’t get it, I fail to appreciate any of it. I assume the hosts like it since they bought it and that’s good enough for me. I sit down in a low-backed chair with no arms.

A line of 15, 20 people, presumably the hosts’ friends and coworkers, arrive and let themselves in. I have never seen any of them before. I stand and tell them that the hosts gave me the code. They walk in a line from the door to me, and after some awkward introductions they continue the line to the bar, the food, and into another room.

The difficulty is that most of the new guests speak with foreign accents so thick I can’t make their names out. Between them trying to explain their names and me trying to explain mine, the queue to the bar/food/other room develops some big gaps.

An older woman with a shock-white crew cut and a deep French accent says to call her something that sounds like a gasp for air. Her name isn’t even “eh.” When I say it back to her, I somehow get it wrong and she spends a good minute or two correcting me before I direct her to the bar and tell her to enjoy herself.

A short black man says to call him “one sixty two.” I ask him to repeat himself. He says “Yep,” and continues to the bar.

A Nordic-looking man with blonde buzz cut and heavy black-rimmed glasses shows me a business card with a strange symbol on it: a circle with two right-facing parentheses attached, one at the top, one at the bottom. I ask what it is. He says it’s his name. From then on, I just pretend to get everybody’s name the first time.

I sit down and wait for the hosts to arrive. Somebody opens a door and lets out the hosts’ border collie, which runs around the house. No one pays it much attention.

Somebody opens another door and lets out the hosts’ pet elephant. Again, the other guests don’t pay it much attention, but I am shocked at seeing an elephant. Then the shock of seeing an elephant is superseded by that of seeing an elephant indoors, which is superseded by that of seeing an elephant indoors on top of a mountain, which is superseded by that of the strange appearance of the elephant. It is the skinniest elephant I’ve ever seen, thin enough to easily fit through a standard interior door, though it has to duck its head down to do so. It looks like a gigantic greyhound with a narrow elephant head instead of a dog head.

The dog picks a play-fight with the elephant. He jumps at it, he rolls around in front of it, and the elephant goes easy on him, clearly aware of the difference in size and power. After a few minutes, the dog gets the elephant to chase him around the room. The elephant is faster and nimbler than I expect. They knock nothing over and disturb no one. The other guests barely notice and chatter away.

The dog leads the elephant into a narrow hallway, then stops and cuts back between the elephant’s legs and into the main room. The elephant turns too quickly and bangs his head on the wall. The building shakes.

The guests hush. It takes a second or two for the pain to register, then the elephant cries and mopes and stumbles into the main room. He flops over and again the building shakes. There is no blood, but there’s already a bump on his head. He whimpers as the guests rush over to him and pet him.

The dog wanders over, ears heavy with guilt, and checks on his friend. The dog starts licking the bump on the elephant’s head. The elephant stops crying after a while, but stays on the floor and basks in the attention.

The hosts have still not arrived.

No idea.

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