John Leary, "Scenarios for Lee’s Forgiveness"

If Lee would only forgive Audrey, it would return stability to the group.

(from One Story #63)

At the beginning of the party, as the children gather near the gazebo to receive their instructions, the first wave of performers springs like summer moths from the grass—nine harlequin dwarves, four friendly Papuan cannibals, three mace swallowers, two blind mimes, a man in a lion suit and an assortment of faux-savage clowns.

One Fourth of July — can’t remember which or where — just as the first barrage of fireworks exploded in the night sky, I recall a guy announcing, exclaiming, really, “That’s what I’m talking about.” Now, I didn’t know the guy, but chances are he hadn’t really been talking about fireworks, hadn’t just had an earlier point illustrated by the rockets’ red glare. He was simply overcome with spontaneous joy at the spectacle.
I felt the same way during the opening moments of “Scenarios for Lee’s Forgiveness,” as a previously unacknowledged itch was being scratched, and I settled in to the enjoy the show. I’m a sucker for witty examinations of the habits and habitats of the ridiculous rich.
This story takes place in a child’s comically overdone birthday party, complete with a floating calliope, a bear wearing a pink hat and those inexplicably blind mimes. And with the early description, the tone is set for the the fanciful ways in which the fops and foppettes imagine Lee and Audrey may make peace, thus saving them from the dreadful imbalance they currently find themselves in. The children are props, the relationships are props, everything’s a prop about which they simultaneously don’t care and care too much. Of course, the real world, like Lee, lurks on the fringes of the party and neither can be sated with a mere song and dance. Beautiful. That’s what I’m talking about.

Here is an interview with the author regarding this story.

The Decemberists, “The Infanta”

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