She smiled when asked if all her zippers were zipped. And she winked when I asked did she feel pretty, oh so pretty, witty and bright. 'Yes', she replied, 'but do you imagine I will be getting the key to the city?' I love when girls play along. Alas, there were no zippers present on her stunning white chiffon dress.
I skipped the tux, and went with the serious Autumn-chill John Barrymore motif:
The advantage was her small delicate hands constantly straightened the knot through the whole affair, and it meant no escape for her when I slouched to kiss her lips.
We agreed it would be marvelous if we stopped by to see if the Man With The Trumpet wanted to go to the gala. He did. He bathed quick, skipped the razor, seeing how he claimed a clean face made his sunken temples and cheeks quite eerie, and slipped on the one jacket he possessed. His trumpet was in a chair. I picked it up. It felt warm, and when I turned to him he was smiling at me with his hand outstretched. My date knew all along. She found he'd already been invited by the Grand Hostess. It was under his solitary table lamp:
Natalie kissed his cheek.
We arrived. At the entrance a rather confused Margaret Dumont kept bellowing, 'As Chairman of the reception committee I welcome you with opened arms'! We laughed as we could still hear her echo after we reached the ballroom.
Oh, the setting - the chandeliers, the smart miniature glowing table lamps, and the finest polished silver...so sparkling a good witch could unassumingly fidget with her hair.
And the tables of food; silver trays heaped and steaming, glasses of colored mirth liberally filled and refilled. I let the dead moth sauce pass on by. Once, after helping myself in the kitchen to the delicious burnt remains lining a pan (my favorite food!), I wandered off alone and found a small narrow cobwebbed door and forced it open. Uneven stairs lead to a cellar smelling of mowed grass. It was freezing cold, and shuddering to retreat I thought I heard movement like a scooting wood chair. I turned back and saw a white mist outline of a face. It whispered irritably, 'This is my place!' Although annoyed, there was a tone of relief in the voice as it could finally tell someone. I think I understood before I fainted.
I awakened in the smoke-filled library some unknown time later looking at a ceiling pattern with a small jelly glass of brandy to my lips. People were singing happy birthday off-key. I thought: how could anyone mess that song up? I sat up and it was a chuckling Vincent Price straightening my tie, looking mighty unconcerned about my well-being. I assured Natalie it was nothing after she tore him away from my throat. I told no one what I encountered. Did you see or hear anything unusual?
Well, Chet played wonderfully when the Gracious Host presented him with an introduction that made people weep with joy. After a few nodding whispers with the rotund piano man and a quick wave to the man with drumsticks tucked under his arm, he played and sang effortlessly, causing young barefoot dancer's hearts to ease, and yes, could've made the ghost in the cellar sigh...
The girl clutched close, and accompanied Chet and a milky-white full moon with a soft humming duet. It was a beautiful evening, I had a wonderful time at Willow Manor, and the girl was laughing.