Feast of Famine Page 6


Feast of Famine - Page 6

People began to knock things over in their nervousness

And still the food came. It came in buckets, in pots, and impaled on swords; it seeped from the ceiling and oozed from underfoot. It burst into the room in the arms of sweating servers, whose ties hung brokenly from their throats, and whose cummerbunds were stained with grease. The guests shifted anxiously. Surely there couldn't be much more; surely the end must be coming soon. But the courses were now oddly timed; there had been aperitifs in mid-meal, and that sherbet thing, with the sticky bits of grapeskin, hadn't that been a dessert? Or was it the tapioca? They looked at their plates and their glasses, filled again. The waiters closed the windows.

People began to knock things over in their nervousness, spilling salt and glasses of burgundy. Food and dishes hit the floor, causing the waiters to skid and overturn their trays. Entire platters spilled onto the guests; women's hairdos were ruined.

By the time the pastries arrived on wheeled carts, the waiters were naked. They used ivory tongs to offer cakes of a thousand layers to the patrons, not waiting for a reply before placing two, three, or four selections at each place. Some guests wept and pushed the cakes onto the floor. The waiters replaced the pastries, piling meringue with berries and chocolate and cream and sauce and spice and crumbs and sugar and honey and syrup and molasses and mincemeat and mocha and preserves and cashews' and mangoes and figs, and then left, saying, "Enjoy your meal."

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