contest image thumb Friends of Bill
Liesl Jobson

A sticky table supported ancient trolls and decrepit queens at the Christmas party in the Kenridge Lounge that derelict year.

The Cat in the Hat wore too much bold make up. Grandma Joe from Mexico was bored and grumpy. She had finally stopped swatting the dirty air, because her knitting was in knots. Her sedative had taken effect.

I wasn't so hot myself in tired pyjamas and adverse conditions – that's me on the right – contemplating a plate of cheese sandwiches that should have arrived half an hour earlier.

“Christians makes a gal hungry,” said Grandma. I was hungry too.

After Art Therapy my lipstick clashed with my socks. Or so said my Royal Bag Lady companion, who spoke with a hot potato on her bloody blue tongue while she snapped our picture.

“I am offering,” she said, “some soothing ice to the former fabulous, the high society spectacular, smarting still from the rock bottom rock fall.”

I accepted.

“I know a high sosatie when I smell one,” I said. Her husband sounded much like mine.

The stoned assemblage listened to terrific tales of outrageous parties, fine food, better wine, and laughing, laughing, I imagined diamonds bobbing like ice in solicitous gin.

“But frozen Fabergé makes bad omelettes,” said Her Majesty, “I tell you. Especially at the CEO's Christmas party, where Gucci gushed and Dior splashed, jaws got bashed and noses mashed, until we all fell dronklap into the swimming pool. Or at least I did. That was the bottom of the rocky day I woke up on the pavement outside my mansion.”

“Your backward glamour appeals to me,” I said.

The overdressed bookshelves wore nurse's uniforms and scowled. The Cat winced. Grandma Joe's displeasure was amply evident.

“That's not funny,” said the bookshelf nurse.

Bag Lady Babe said, “It works if you work it...”

“... and you give a lot of love,” said the Cat, who looked like he would soon puke into his hat.

It was a Big Book bad passage sin and sun day, that Christmas in the Kenridge Lounge. It read like Sunday School. I listened to the empty plates' singing, ‘We wish you a Merry Mazeltov,’ above Grandma's intrusive lament. The teapot's wail was a juicy protest, adding to the heated outcry of the uncracked crackers.

Nurse said, “Behave! A watched chair never boils...”

I wanted to, but the imperious Cat meowed his patronising smile. A lamp badmouthed the doctor, who hovered above my head. I remonstrated with the chair. That faux diva smirked at my unused cutlery.

“Go fork yourself,” said the serviette. The battered piano whistled. The table gasped. The orange juice on the verge of a panic attack sloshed over the edge of Grandma's glassy Mexican tequila longing.

Back in the ward, I told Her Majesty to go to hell.

The ridiculous beds swapped recipes for hooch-free eggnog and sang to the tune of Silent Night, “Go well on a shelf, down a handy hell-ish basket to find your abandoned self.”

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