Supper Party

Yvonne Nosegay by Gordon Purkis

Doctor Nosegay had created a veritable fountain of youth in a special elixir he distilled. It worked — it made him stay as young as he was the day he met his wife Yvonne and maybe even before that. While most couples grew older together, the Nosegays proceeded in opposite directions; with every year that passed a little more of his youthful beauty returned while she, admittedly still an extremely attractive woman, had begun to show subtle signs of aging, although nothing that diminished her loveliness in any unpleasing degree.

The unfortunate side effect, however, was that his nocturnal nature resembled little of his daytime self; strange beastly mannerisms and animalistic cravings overpowered him. His skin looked like those of a fish or lizard. His hair grew long and beastly, snarling in dramatic coils.

At first, when his side-effects developed, Doctor Nosegay simply roamed outside all night, trudging over the fields and staring up at the night sky. His wife lovingly questioned him as to where he had been all night and his protestations that he could not remember were interpreted as a way of telling her to mind her own business. Frustration developed slowly over time, as Yvonne struggled to maintain her patient equilibrium under these circumstances. After a time, Yvonne was forced to endure his maniacal ravings and over-impassioned carnal advances. She was not in a place where she could understand or endure them; though she would not desire to ever subdue his passions, given the brutality of such occurrences, which grew more and more frequent, eventually he was forced to spend the evenings out of doors in a large canvas tent. If he were to sleep, it would be there, not beside his wife. If he was to roam, he would do so, although the townspeople warned him and armed themselves against the threat he represented. No one knew what he might do — attacking livestock or even worse, people, were their greatest fears. When it became his fancy to roar into the house and accost his wife, in defiance of the agreed upon limit, she was forced to enact physical restraints against him, triple-locking the doors and shuttering up all the windows, even those on the uppermost floors.

Despite his affliction, she loved him and behaved like a loving and affectionate wife. During the day he was a calm and reasonable man, though he remembered little if anything of what happened once the sun set. Matters between he and his wife were such that there was little she could do to persuade him to seek a method of reversing the elixir’s effects and any attempts, subtle or otherwise, were sternly rebuked.

“Just a side effect, I’m afraid,” the somewhat delusional doctor would grumble.

In the morning, his wife had to sit with him and have tea while he ate his breakfast. They sat and talked about the news of the day in a civilized way, as respectable couples do. The good doctor was rather of poor vision and had to view his beautiful wife through a special monocle (unfortunately, the elixir did nothing to cure his perennially bad eyesight). She also had to speak up — yell almost — so he could hear her, often having to repeat herself and use cupped hands and shout. This was only made that much more difficult due to her voice being naturally soft and not intended for such abuse.

The Nosegays were quite comfortable financially. They had a fine maid and a distinguished butler who had held several eminent positions in his time with wealthy and illustrious landowners and elite men and kept women of Society. His name was Jameson, simply Jameson. No one really knew his entire lineage, his air being so distinguished that no one dared question where he came from. They just knew him as Jameson and called him Jameson when they begged his opinion on countless trivial and even sometimes personal matters.

So much had been expected of the Nosegays, being lavishly and fancifully married in the spring fourteen years ago. They had a wonderful ceremony and reception where the good doctor toasted his companions well into the night.

Yvonne was much younger than he but that was not unusual in those times. Customarily a man in his forties who had seen the world and accomplished a great many things found a younger woman to settle down with and bear his children. Yvonne was just turned twenty, which was actually older than most brides of the day. This was simply the way nature had intended it and no one gave it a second thought.

On many an afternoon their friends remained at the great table inside the tent and were treated to a countless number of stories of Doctor Nosegay’s youth while the good doctor’s wife smiled obliviously but lovingly at her husband. Yvonne was actually quite in love with her husband, who seemed most often too dignified to express his feelings, whatever they were. She considered his reticence to express himself as only a natural thing for a man. Moreover, women of her stature were expected to carry themselves in such a way and not demand too much affection or attention from their husbands. After all, God had intended it to be so and that was that.

The Nosegays were expected to produce many fine children and heirs to their fortune, but as time passed and nothing came about, the importance and the anticipation of it waned. Everyone became more focused on the doctor’s recent project or latest discovery. No one said anything about his transformation; the members of their societal circle were too dignified to speak of such things and loved their summer supper parties, which the Nosegays held frequently in their abundant garden and of course inside the tent. The rule was that everyone was to be gone before dark. No one really spoke of it but everyone knew. Summertime was naturally the most conducive season for these gatherings as not only did the weather tend to cooperate, the light remained until almost 10 o’clock.

One September, as the summer truly waned, the Nosegays held such a supper party and all the distinguished people from town attended. It was elegant as usual and all the guests remarked how young and healthy the doctor looked, no one daring to call attention to the obvious side effects of his elixir. The astonishment of the various guests being greater with some than with others was simply a situation that had a way of equalizing itself. Newcomers to their circle, while rare and few, soon became as quiet about it as if the situation didn’t exist. Everyone accepted it; the partygoers who were expected to be there would not dare stay away for fear their absence would cause a stir or even controversy. Besides, the food and atmosphere were too sumptuous and wonderful to resist. At least no one felt it polite or dignified to let it spoil their time or make waves in their social sphere, the doctor being so respectable and well-liked.

There was John Girth and his wife Francine who commented on the loveliness of the table setting, the white linen and silver tea service. She said how lovely the crystal punch bowl was, which was shaped like a swan, and what a beautiful and marvelous tent it was and how nice it was for everyone to be together at such a wonderful party. Her husband, who was also a doctor and scientist, said little while she prattled on and everyone thought how tremendously patient and agreeable he was to tolerate his wife’s loquacity and being so well mannered in general. Such behavior was only to be expected though, from a man of such eminent accomplishments and upbringing.

Robert Robinson and his wife Cleo were there too. While together, they never said much to anyone but themselves and did so in loving whispers to each other, which is really quite rude, but no one seemed to mind too horribly as they were newlyweds and everyone had bestowed their great hope in the Robinsons that they would not disappoint the town the way the Nosegays had by blessing their town with some wonderful children, who would carry on their fine traditions and further the greatness of their estates and reputations. Captain Thomas Robinson, Robert’s father, had quite a remarkable career in the military and had been a veteran of many battles for the country’s interests overseas.

There were the Carters’, wealthy merchant bankers who recently returned from holiday in Bermuda. The Meadows’, the Smiths’, the Wheelers’, they were all there.

Supper was splendid. Everything was as perfect as it could be. Afterwards, coffee was served and to the relief of many of the guests the party split up into several smaller and more intimate groups, where conversations could be held at a more reasonable volume (some of the guests were hoarse from having to speak so loudly in order to be heard, so as to not be rude by speaking softly around the good doctor).

Mrs. Nosegay was talking with Mrs. Girth and Mrs. Robinson. They talked about the weather and how pleasant an evening it was for a supper party. Eventually, Yvonne’s guests became engaged in their own conversation about children; the young Mrs. Robinson was expecting and that made Yvonne feel very awkward and uncomfortable. She had experienced this before and usually managed to drift off to another place where she could not hear the garbled voices of the people talking. On this occasion, she excused herself and rose from the table and exited the tent, walking along the stone path towards the entrance to the house. She went inside, strolling past the maid and Jameson without so much as acknowledging them (which was a little unusual) and glided into the kitchen. The kitchen wasn’t a place she went very often; the maid and the butler both shared the cooking duties at which they each excelled.

In the icebox, she found some eggs and in the cupboard a bowl. She began to crack open the eggs one by one and beat them in the bowl. The maid and the butler thought her manner and this activity quite strange and asked her if she was feeling alright. She didn’t answer, just blankly continued cracking eggs and beating them in the bowl.

The maid called out: “Yvonne, sweet Yvonne, are you ill?”

Again, there was no answer.

Eventually Yvonne stopped beating the eggs and still oblivious to her surroundings, began to look upon her own body. It was as if she had just noticed it — almost like it was not her own. Her hair fell in front of her face as her head bent downwards, studying her hands, her arms, and her shoulders. She then started to slowly slide the slender straps of her dress over each of her silky shoulders. She had been told all her life that she was beautiful, but now she finally knew it. Her body was her own, not merely something to be admired by people from afar or to be given over to a man in marriage. It almost came as a shock — to her it was a violent but beautiful discovery. Temptation overcame her; she could no longer deny her instincts. It was like the rousing rush a jewel thief must get before committing a robbery, as if the prize was impossible to resist, as if the gems called out to be taken, touched, appreciated by someone, anyone, rather than sit alone in the darkness.

Softly, she began speaking to herself.

“That’s not bad, is it? It’s not bad? No, not so bad.”

Her caresses became increasingly bold as she worked the top of her dress down, revealing her shapely breasts. She started to stroke and fondle them, sighing and moaning lowly. Proudly, she bore her chest for the world to see, continuing to talk to herself and touch her body, saying:

“What’s wrong with me? Nothing’s wrong with me.”

“Do you like it; don’t you like it?”

The maid ran from the room hysterical and Jameson disappeared into the house.

“God?” She seemed to be praying now. “What is wrong with me, why won’t he touch me, why doesn’t he touch me, why…?”

As frenzied as she had gotten herself, she was both aroused and despairing. You see, during the daylight hours Doctor Nosegay made no attempt at pleasing his wife and in the evening he could not, for he was shut out of the house entirely.

“He never touches me, he doesn’t ever touch me,” she began to mumble, getting more and more unintelligible. “I want to be touched, I need to be touched.”

Mrs. Girth and Mrs. Robinson were by this time wondering what happened to their hostess and made their way to the house to look for her. They found Mrs. Nosegay in her condition and both let out exclamations of surprise and astonishment — horror even. Jameson quietly reappeared from around a corner.

“I have sent for a doctor,” he said to the women, his facial expression never deviating from its customary calm.

Yvonne had returned to her almost comatose state, but with the top of her dress still down. Mrs. Girth and Mrs. Robinson approached her cautiously and examined her. She had gone back to beating the eggs in the bowl. The two women tried to pull her dress back up, wanted to try to get her to stop beating the eggs, but they were too terrified to interfere. Perhaps understandably, they didn’t know if any action on their part would cause Yvonne harm, in addition to themselves.

By this time most of the supper party had made their way into the kitchen where Mrs. Nosegay remained, beating the eggs while her friend scurried around like mice not knowing where to go or what to do next.

“O how embarrassing!” Mrs. Smith said.

“My goodness. The poor creature,” said Mr. Meadows.

By now Mr. Girth was the only one remaining in the tent with Dr. Nosegay and they didn’t seem to notice that everyone had left. Even if they had, they were so deep in conversation to really be concerned.

The doctor came and put his icy stethoscope on her bare chest. Her tense skin twitched, serving as the only reaction. The doctor informed the group that her heart beat was strong and indicated that there didn’t seem to be anything apparently wrong with her, at least physically. He said that he thought about giving her a sedative but that she seemed calm. “It’s almost like she’s sleepwalking,” he said. “Better not do anything to disturb her. Just put her to bed when she gets tired. I’ll call tomorrow and see how she is.”

By that time, the guests had begun to scatter. They felt almost guilty and they were not accustomed to being uncomfortable. They fled from the scene like witnesses to a murder — they hadn’t actually done anything wrong, but their conscience’s predisposition towards guilt was too much for them to remain. And besides, daylight was waning as hurriedly as the party guests so that all had departed save the butler and the maid, Yvonne who stood steadfastly in the kitchen beating the eggs while the house was shut up and continued to do so until well after midnight.

To be continued…

Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read my writing. Please visit my website at www.gordonpurkis.com

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

The Motorcycle

The Others: Being in a Wheelchair and Playing Soccer

Punching-Ball

There Goes the Neighborhood

Black family moves into an all white neighborhood

If not now, When?

Kai’s Diary: December 10 — The End of the Beginning

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Gordon Purkis

Gordon Purkis

Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read my writing. Please visit my website at www.gordonpurkis.com

More from Medium

Update on Chronicles of The Camps

To be Mortal — Chapter 2. Professor Jozef Merville

Free

The Crazy Babysitter

a cute girl in a black dress looking at you lovely but with a blood covered knife and hands.