A Hundred Count, Part 1

Me
Flanders, could you be a good boy and help me with the candles when you arrive tonight?
Flanders
Delighted! Who’s going to be at your event tonight, Rita?
Me
The Enos Jacksons.
Flanders
I thought they were separated!
Me
Not quite yet!
Flanders
  Oh, interesting! Only you would dream of serving us a couple on the brink!
Me
It is interesting isn’t it?
Flanders
Surely! Hey, where did you know Jackson?
Me
Through the Warings.
Flanders
Jackson is a rather doubtful person, isn’t he?
Me
Oh, well, let’s call him a very sharp lawyer.
Flanders
They tell me, though, he’s been gambling pretty heavily.
Me
Indeed! How about yourself?
Flanders
Me? I’m a bachelor. If I lose my shirt at cards it makes no difference. Who else is coming?
Me
Oh, Mark Lilly, you know him!
Flanders
I don’t think so.
Me
You met him some time ago, at Jen’s.
Flanders
Oh, yes, yes, of course, I’d forgotten.
Me
Mr. Harris, the Clubman, is coming in.
Flanders
Really! Cheers, then!  Are we going to gamble?
Me
Don’t tell me you object!
Flanders
Certainly not, however the Cheevers…
Me
Yes, they play quite a game.
Flanders
Yes, well, united they have an unusual streak of good luck.
Flanders
Oh, by the way, it’s Jackson, isn’t it, who is so attractive to Mrs. Cheever?
Me
Right, right.
Flanders
What a charming party!  But then, where does Mark Lilly come in?
Me
For dramatic interest. He’s in a desperate way financially.
Flanders
I? Of course I’m here to add the element of respectability.
Me
Of what? Don’t play innocent with me, my dear! Comic relief, more like.
Flanders
Planners!
Me
I apologize.
Flanders
It’s best that no one else, of course, knows who else is coming?
Me
No one!

(Later)

Me
“The Jacksons are late, Mr. Flanders. He was agitated when he phoned, apparently after another quarrel.
Flanders
They are at your door, dear lady. I always think he is the type that never loses his temper but causes others to lose theirs.
Me
 I must greet them, excuse me. Mrs. Jackson seemingly is fastened to her husband, isn’t she?
Flanders
One wonders what such a woman would do in a crisis.
Me
Well, well, now that everyone’s here, this is the order for the night: You can quarrel all you want, you can whisper all the gossip you can think of about one another, but everyone is to be amusing.
Me
Also, everyone has to help with dinner. Tonight will be fun; that’s the invariable rule of the house.
Flanders
Oh thank you for inviting us all.
Me
Dear, now my apron, tie please!
Flanders
Of course.
Me
Very well, thanks. Now just let me get my rings off and I’ll have you all ready to go to work.
Flanders
Such a lovely apartment.  Your rings are so beautiful.
Me
They are nice, aren’t they?  But there’s only one that’s very valuable: the Emerald.
Mark Lilly
Oh it’s beautiful, let me see.  Ah, it must be valuable.
Me
It cost a hundred thousand six years ago,  been my talisman ever since. For the moment, however, I’m a cook.
Flanders
You’re not going to leave the rings there!
Me
Why of course. Now I’m a cook. Mark Lilly you’re conscripted as a chef, and we’re all under your your orders, but you have to peel onions.
Mark Lilly
What? Heck no!
Me
There are no onions, actually. Under your hostess’s guidance all seven of you may begin to circulate through the room, laying the table, grouping the chairs, opening bottles, and preparing the material for the chafing dishes.
Me
Mrs. Kildare, please go in the kitchen, ransack the fridge and shred the chicken. (later)
Me
All right everyone, sit down. I’ll be right there.
Mark Lilly
Unusual party, eh?
Me
And a terrible one! The Emerald is missing! I remember putting a long straight pin through the three rings.
Flanders
Who has taken the ring?
Me
Each of my guests has had a dozen opportunities in the course of the time I was busy in the kitchen.

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