by Jeff Hall
The Dinner Party
Cedric tapped his foot impatiently. He detested tardiness. This was, after all, a feast fit for a king.
It bothered him not a bit that others had done all the work. He would vent his frustrations on his inconsiderate guests as if he had painstakingly prepared each morsel.
He began to pace, fretting and muttering to himself about the lack of manners these days.
What was that? Was it her? Was she here, finally?
No, it was those two buffoons, Beauregard and Sinclair, making a valiant effort to appear nonchalant as they slunk to their customary places, avoiding Cedric's stern looks.
As he prepared to scold them Cedric detected a delicate aroma, a sweet scent that he associated with…her.
She was here, at last! Gloria!
Time stood still as she magically appeared, elegant in her fur coat, the moonlight playing in her eyes.
Suddenly, everything came to a screeching halt.
Gloria had a companion.
Who is he? Cedric hurled the question at Gloria in a single, pained look.
Oh, the nerve! How could she do this to him, after he had arranged such a banquet, all for her.
He swaggered towards them, locking eyes with this new, unwanted guest. They both refused to look away, battling in tense silence.
He had to admit, the newcomer was handsome, and young. He was probably stronger than Cedric, too. But there was a certain decorum to be observed. A hierarchy existed, and he was willing to risk personal injury, if need be, to preserve his honor.
Cedric forced a smile in an attempt to convey suave self-confidence. His opponent, obviously unnerved by the resultant ghastly leer, relented and looked away. The others released a collective breath.
Sniffing with disdain, Cedric sauntered back to his place at the head, confident that this impertinent fellow had been put in his place.
With a slight nod he signaled for the feast to begin.
As the evening progressed, Gloria grew restless. She fumed over Cedric’s boorish behavior. After his fit of jealousy she could not resist the opportunity to further antagonize him. Catching her companion’s attention she winked an invitation to sneak off. He hesitated for a moment, then followed her.
Over her shoulder she could see Cedric’s stricken face as they walked away. The sight of his pompous ego deflating was too much for her.
She began to giggle. Soon her chuckling became contagious laughter. Her companion joined in and she thought she could even hear Beauregard and Sinclair cackling. Their combined yelping echoed across the savannah.
For a moment, Gloria felt sorry for Cedric. But, no, he deserved it. He had always thought he was God’s gift to hyenas.