such disasters that peter was a little surprised when she suggested having another one.
peter supposed that some of his friends who were bachelors or who might come without their wives might show up, but none with their wives, who had all had more than enough of estelle, and her nasty tongue and drunken antics.
but he did not say so out loud when she first brought up the subject.
he marked his place in his book, placed it carefully on the wide arm of his favorite chair, and cleared his throat.
"a party, dear? and - ah - who would you suggest we invite?"
"you mean - who would possibly come? i can see what you are thinking."
"not at all. the last few parties have been quite - eventful. i would think anybody craving a little excitement would jump at the chance to come."
"always so tactful, aren't you, petey boy? why don't you use a little of that soft soap on mister ferguson, and get that raise? huh?"
"now, estelle, we've been over that before. about this party - who did you have in mind to invite?"
"michael? well, at least we haven't heard from him in a while." meaning, thought peter, that he had not been present at the latest besotted outrages perpetrated by estelle.
"yes, the poor boy might be lonely. his little wife never went back to him, you know."
"no, i did not know," peter replied, in a tone that implied that he was not interested in lowly womanly gossip.
liar, thought estelle. she hated the way men pretended to stick up their noses at gossip, when they were even worse than women, though they didn't call it gossip, they were just keeping track of things, knowing the lay of the land, or some crap like that.
"hmm. well, bully for her. might be a little more interesting than hanging around the house all day."
"oh, really? meaning, why don't i get out of the house and get a job? is that what you are trying to say, petey?"
peter sighed. "you know i am not saying any such thing. even if i thought you might like it - which we both know you would not - you know mister ferguson does not like the wives of the senior brokers - or anybody's wife in the world, really - working. so what is the sense of even thinking about it?"
"but what about you, petey - wouldn't it embarrass you to have your poor little wifey out in the big bad world where you couldn't protect her? where other men - younger, stronger men with a little hair on their chests might actually get to talk to her? hmm?"
peter glanced down at the book sitting on the arm of his chair. "we will probably never know, will we? now about that party - maybe i could invite some of the younger fellows at the office - i am sure they wouldn't turn down an invitation from a senior broker - "
"the younger fellows who haven't seen what a bitch and a crazy person i am yet, you mean."
"did i say that?" peter looked down at his book again.
"i can read your mind - as you know."
"look, if you want me to invite the regular crowd, i will -"
"i don't think i heard you say ' oh no, you're not a bitch or a crazy person'"
peter finally turned a little pink. "estelle, it wasn't me who threw drinks in people's faces or starting taking my clothes off - "
"oh, forget it, we won't have any party. we'll never have any fun any more!" estelle
moved away toward the radio and the bar.
as she did she noticed the book peter was picking up. "what's that stupid book you keep looking at - don't tell me - " she moved back toward him. "it is! it's the bible! the bible again! you cheeseparing milksop, what did i tell you about reading the goddamned bible!"
"now don't start that again." peter clutched his bible as if afraid estelle would rip it out of his hands. "we all have our ways. i find that reading the good book gives me solace -"
"solace from me, you mean! no wonder you'll never make any real money or amount to anything. aaargh! what next ? are you going to go out and preach in the streets like a loony bird instead of going to work and making money!"
estelle turned away . "oh, i give up! i just hope you can read your bible, mr holy joe, and listen to some be-bop at the same time! and i need a drink!"
she turned on the radio. "symphony sid, save me!"
"now, estelle, keep it at a reasonable volume. we don't need the neighbors complaining again."
two hours, and four martinis for estelle later.
"you know what i have, petey?"
"no, estelle, what do you have?'"
"i have an idea."
"don't you want hear my idea? it's a good one."
"i am sure it is."
"it's a way we can have a party. and you can be a holy joe at the same time."
"yes, here's my plan."
"well, let's hear your plan , estelle."
"it's a great plan - my plan. when i get a plan in my head i get a plan, petey boy."
"spit it out, my dear."
"it's a way to get back at these neighbors like mrs wagner and mr - mr crawfish - who are always complaining about the noise - and - and - thinking we are bringing riffraff into the building. well, we'll show them them riffraff!!"
"i'm afraid i don't follow you. what has this got to do with my being a 'holy joe' as you so charmingly put it."
"here's my plan."
"we go out in the street - down broadway - and find the most hopeless drunken bums we can find and invite them up here for a big shindig! booze, booze, and more booze! and maybe a few hot dogs."
"what does all this have to do with being a holy joe?"
"isn't it obvious, petey boy? it's what jesus would do, isn't it?
go out into the highways and byways and find the lowliest of his brethren and solace them or some such crapola?"
"please, estelle, don't take the name of the lord in vain."
"all right, john the baptist then, or st francis or somebody. and i'll do my salome dance! wait till those sinners see my salome dance!"
"um - maybe you should lie down."
"and then you can be a holy joe, holy moe, and preach them a sermon. they won't mind, they're used to it. come on, petey boy, it's a great idea, admit it!"
"at least you still have a sense of humor, i have to admit that."