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About the Author: Robert Lopresti is a retired librarian and the author of more than ninety published short stories.

“I warn you,” Karla called from the kitchen. “Do not tell them about your dreams or I may get violent.”

Kevin, standing at the liquor cabinet in the living room, made a face. “It’s not dreams. How many times do I have to explain that?”

“Well, it sounds like it to me, honey. Would you get me a serving bowl?”

Her husband, in the middle of pouring drinks, gave his guests an apologetic shrug.

Paul said “I’ll help. Dinner smells wonderful.”

“Thank you so much, dear.” Karla pointed at the top shelf. “Any of the big bowls will do.”

“Here you go.”

“I got a little carried away on the salad. My bowl overfloweth.”

“Speaking of which,” Kevin muttered, and added another finger of Scotch to the glass he was pouring.

“Lovely,” said Peg, Paul’s wife, accepting the glass. She looked across the living room to the picture window. “I can never believe this view, Kevin.”

Since all but one of the people at the dinner party lived at the country club, none of them could complain about the scenery outside their homes, but Kevin and Karla, being among the first residents to buy in, had a spectacular view of the green.

“It is stunning,” Tamara said.

“Be more stunning,” said her husband, Christopher, “if they’d get the irrigation right on the seventh hole  over there. Today it’s a swamp. Last week, desert.”

“I believe,” Jeremy said, “this is what they call a First World problem.”

He was Tamara’s brother, thirty-something, which made him the youngest of the group by a decade. His pony-tail made him look even younger. Jeremy did something in systems analysis, a subject everyone else was vague about.

He was visiting from out of state, which was the reason for the get-together. Or the excuse, really, since Karla was always happy to throw a dinner party.

Kevin laughed. “You probably shouldn’t make fun of us for being comfortably well off while you’re drinking my whiskey.”

“Touché. It’s fine stuff.”

“Dinner,” Karla said.

The  seaweed and avocado salad was terrific and everyone had seconds.

When Karla went out to fetch the entrée—accompanied by Peg—her husband looked around the table with the air of a dog who had slipped off the leash. “How are you enjoying the  country air, Jeremy? Sleeping well?”

“Very much, thanks.”

Kevin nodded. “Speaking of sleep …”

“Here we go,” Christopher said.

Their host gave a look of hurt innocence. “What?”

“Karla warned us you were going to tell us about your dreams.”

“It’ll make a change,” Paul said. “What was it last month, Kev? Artificial rubies?”
            “Diamonds,” Kevin said, scowling.

“And before that,” Tamara said, “Thomas Jefferson’s cousins.”

“Nephews. A truly bizarre murder case.”

“You see,” Christopher told Jeremy, “being retired and filthy rich, Kevin has a lot of spare time on his hands.”

“And you can’t golf twenty-four hours a day,” Paul added.

“Sounds like heaven to me,” Tamara murmured.

“So he gets a new bee in his bonnet every few months and tells us about it till we beg him to change the subject.”

Kevin shook his head. “They exaggerate.”

“Do you still have those hummingbird feeders?” Tamara asked. “That obsession lasted longer than most, as I recall.”

He waved irritably. “I’m done with those little monsters.”

“Which monsters are those?” Karla said, entering triumphantly with a tray of braised beef ribs. Peg followed with fermented broad beans.

“Kevin’s pet birdies.”

This story appears in our MAY 2023 Issue
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