Ella and Vince were due at the Wesley’s place at Little Cove by 5pm for ‘The Soirée’. The event initiates what has been a sacrosanct island holiday for the same seven families for the last twelve years, and it was strictly dinner wear. Ella and Vince, a little younger than most members of this established coterie, had met Lionel Wesley after a minor skiing collision in Gstaad a few years earlier. It took a brief hospital visit to separate Lionel’s scrotum from Vince’s boot buckle, but there were no hard feelings. Lionel suggested they join them for the weekend and meet all their old friends - “You guys are just gonna die when you meet Suse and Jim! You’ll love ‘em.... And wait til you meet my son Nate, he’s killer with a club in his hand, just lethal. Oh and Ella, Nate seems to have a strange effect on women if you know what I mean haha… And my wife Leslie! Of course! I can’t believe you haven’t met her yet!”
Ella and Vince, were both a little harried by a stressful week at work, and Ella was silently emitting a less than enthusiastic skepticism towards Lionel’s general creep. As a result they weren’t altogether unified in their approach to packing for the weekend. “Vince, why on earth are you taking three suits for the weekend? You know the seaplane only allows one case for both of us” complained Ella. “Well, I need the oil blue for lunch on Saturday, the navy for dinner on Saturday and the light grey birdseye three piece for Sunday lunch. Aaand my tuxedo for this evening. So actually that’s four suits Ella, four, look, ooone, twooo, threee, fooooour….” He counted on his fingers patronisingly. “But you’re wearing your tuxedo now you idiot” Ella calmly pointed out. “Oh yeah” Vince mumbled. Needless to say the weekend was off to an average start. Ella went about meticulously folding her camel suit, tobacco suit, glencheck suit, black suit, ivory duppioni silk trousers, black and ivory check jacket, brown microsuede maxi skirt, ivory silk maxi skirt, a black and a white cast off knit vest, camel overcoat, alpaca overcoat, beige herringbone overcoat, plaid trench and a dozen other stop-gap items (all the while cursing seaplane engineers for omitting clothes racks).
On the plane in her chic black velvet Corta jacket and matching maxi skirt, Ella dozed off efficiently, head against the glass. Vince sat stiffly, sweating and shuddering in his tuxedo (he wasn’t a good light aircraft traveller, and he’d also made a mess of his bowtie - stressful stuff). He tried to steady himself rehearsing his business pitch for all the potential financial fodder on the island. In his hazy anxious fog, thoughts shifted in and out of his head, “...killer with a club”...”just gonna die!”...”just lethal.” Lionel’s razory smile flickered through his subconscious. His plisse front had glued to him by the time they’d landed, the pilot exclaiming “that was lucky kids!” - moments before Ella woke up yawning, oblivious. At the dock they alighted, Ella wrapped in an all-enveloping glistening black cashmere coat (Vince wondering when and how that made the wardrobe list amongst the four other overcoats). A distressed looking porter lugged the bursting luggage up to their lodging.
The now more amicable and excited pair glided up the stairs where they were greeted by the most strikingly carved-out young man wearing a double breasted shawl collared pure silk tuxedo. “Hi, I’m Nate” the bronzed figure said. “You must be Vincthe, and heeellooo you musth be Ella. Hmm, my father wasth right...” he collected Ella’s hand and raised it to his lips giving it the gentlest of plucks, his icy blue eyes fixed on Ella’s. Ella now molten with blush, quickly diverted her gaze towards the ground. Taking attention back, Vince assertively thrust a bottle of 90’ D’Yquem into Nate’s grip: “Lovely to meet you, Nate. I hear you’re pretty good off the tee?”. Ella chuckled a little too enthusiastically - “yeah I’m sure you’re really good... I mean really good, at golf, heh heh heh”. “Yesth, I am very good” stated Nate plainly “pleasthe, follow me, let’th find Lionel and Lesthlie, they can’t wait to sthee you bothth”. He turned robotically and led them up the stairs, the couple trailed a few meters behind. Ella’s formerly gooey disposition had transformed into an urgent and uncontrollable desire to burst out laughing. Doing her best, she whispered to Vince “...Leslie Wesley, seriously, you think you would’ve taken the double-barrelled option at the registry no?” Vince wheezed out a repressed laugh, eyes watering trying to contain total dissimulation. Nate took a suspicious quarter-turn backwards before he continued up the stairs; a lifetime spent vigilant to laughs and snickering over his unfortunate lisp. It was a blemish to this otherwise immaculate totem of masculinity and class.
“Mother, Pleasth meet Vinc’th and Ella” announced Nate. Leslie Wesley was resplendent in a crimson gown, hands on hips, knees pitched daintily together in a glamorous pose, wearing what looked like a pound of pure Belgian bling around her neck. “Oh finally how wonderful to meet you both! Welcome to the island and our little soirée. You’re our very special guests and you’re going to have a very special weekend”, Leslie then leant in towards the couple and whispered shielding her mouth,- “You may have noticed Nate’s little impediment, he is rather sensitive about it, hence we use ‘Nate’ not ‘Nathan’. He can get a little fired-up the poor boy”.
So unfolded an evening of portentous introductions, conviviality, reminiscences, tales of adventure (and endangered testes), little gossips dressed as truths, a few tactical vomits, a rustling hedge row and some weird cousin on cousin stuff amongst the kids. All the while, Nate’s hair didn’t move once. This deeply irked Vince. Under the gauze of 6 generous martinis Vince found himself again having fleeting visions of Lionel’s smile and snaky eyes, swinging golf clubs and Nate’s perfect hair and hollow eyes. “He can get a little fired-up….” rung through his head. Vince’s paranoia was compounded by Harry Busby’s emphatic and mocking laughter at his failed bow tie.
To be continued...
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