73 - One of William's Parties

Submitted by Ken Watts on Wed, 05/02/2007 - 09:31

Danny Albright—the homeless kid I sent to Kels—was passing a tray of rumaki among the crowd on William Hogan's deck.

It's a small world.

Danny moved carefully, and with a certain grace, offering his tray to the guests, who stood, or sat, in small groups, chatting over the combo that played quietly in the corner.

He couldn't believe his good fortune. A few weeks ago he had been homeless, jobless, broke.

Then he had met that crazy old man, not thirty feet from where he was standing at this very moment, and that had led him to Kels, who had not only given him a job, but helped him generally to get on his feet.

He had found a room to rent from a friend of Kels', and had actually impressed Kels with his work. And here he was, on a catering gig for Mr. Hogan, right back where it all started.

He wondered what had happened to the old guy who gave him the jacket.

He offered the tray to Mr. Hogan's sister. She was talking to a self-important fellow with a deep voice, who kept his chin pressed to his chest. She took one, and popped it into her mouth. The self-important character waved him off, and continued talking.

"Caterer's?" he said, "At one of William's parties?"

Mr. Hogan's sister nodded, her mouth full.

* * * * *

In the kitchen, William was attempting to direct the caterers. He spouted instructions in every direction, but was being completely ignored by the workers—who knew their business in the first place, and had their own boss to answer to in the second.

This, however, did not discourage William in the least.

"I want the glasses kept full," he shouted after a waiter who was carrying a bottle out to do just that.

And keep those hors d'oeuvres moving," he said to two more as they scurried past him with a tray in each hand.

"I want them eaten before they get cold," he shouted after them.

He stepped into the path of the next waiter, and sampled from his tray.

"Aren't these a bit salty?"

The waiter shrugged.

"You want to send them back?"

William considered.

"No," he said. "No. Go ahead. Nick! Nick?"

Nick materialized at his side.

"Why don't I take over in here," he said. "You've got enough to do."

William nodded.

"You're right. I need to see to my guests."

He stopped another waiter, and tasted a tiny quiche.

"I can't get caught up in these details, got to keep my balance."

He picked up a second quiche and thrust it at Nick.

"You think this is too dry?"

Nick put the quiche back on the waiter's tray and waved the man outside.

"'Cause you know," William said, "I'm really on a roll this time. I can feel it. Everything's just spinning along. I've just got to just keep the balance going."

Nick followed the waiter to the door.

But William called after him.


Nick turned and waited.

"Has my lucky pen come back?"