Quincy J. Applethorpe, III, Esquire, stood in the vestibule, gazing out at the stillness of the night through the window adjacent the door. In the hours between his arrival at Lady Angeline’s elegant soirée, a light snowstorm had moved in, quite unnoticed by himself and his inebriated compatriots, the celebrations of which could still be heard faintly echoing down the corridor to kiss his ear. The snowfall looked as if it had been superimposed, a complementary layer upon the wet, picturesque scene.
As he waited for his manservant Nigel to bring the car round the front of the manor, his eyes shifted focus from the serenity of night to the moody highlights of his own reflection in the window. Quincy, of course, had the most immaculate poise. Positioned as he was, he found his beautiful, twenty-eight-year-old face cast mostly in darkness, only select contours of his face receiving illumination from a street lamp at the edge of the yard beyond him and the dim overhead light, centered on the ceiling of the vestibule. Whenever presented with a partial image of himself, he liked to a play a little mental game: his mother or his father–whose pedigree was most visible?
Representing his mother were his high-set cheekbones, the earlobes that hung free from his head, and the barely suggested dimples that were peculiarly prominent in this configuration. His father’s chin, though, was very pronounced, as was the funny strip of skin that ran between his nose and his upper lip. Quincy’s eyes (set in his face in the manner of his father and his father’s father) were not visible in this light, so on this night, his mother was the victor. Neither team got to claim the nose, the left side of which was most striking in his reflection, he mused, as no one in the family had anything quite like it. Though his understanding of genetics told him otherwise, he liked to think it was his own invention, his own contribution to the family line.
His eyes still fixed on his reflection, he watched himself withdraw a pair of white gloves from within his coat pocket. Tenderly, he donned first the right glove, then the left.
The voice from behind Quincy caught him off guard, causing him to tug his left glove over his hand in a fashion too snug. Regaining his composure, he whirled around to face two youths standing nearby, both slouching, both plastered, both all giggles.
The youth nearest Quincy wore a baggy sweater and baggier denim pants, and may well have been wearing the contents of his half-empty bottle of domestic beer. His friend, hunched over and giggling uncontrollably wore what Quincy believed was called a skull cap and some ill-applied facial hair. Both stank. Actually, Quincy did not know whether they youths or not–at least in relation to himself–with the dark rings around their eyes and poorly maintained skin belying nothing of their age, but placing them in the wide, vague demographic Quincy recognized as middle-class post-adolescence. Their apparent maturity, however, assured Quincy that “youth” was as fine a word as any to describe them.
Needless to say, they looked woefully out of place in Lady Angeline’s abode. Still, he saw no cause for alarm. Perhaps they were friends of some lowly kitchen help. “May I help you, lads?” Quincy asked, his voice cordial but for a playful twist of snide inflection, which he suspected the drunk youths would not detect.
“Dude, ask him already!” the second youth urged.
“Okay, man, okay,” the fellow nearest him assured. Sucking in a breath, he struck a more upright pose, cleared his throat, and shifted his voice down an octave. Behind him, the capped one erupted in breathless laughter, as if transporting himself into the future, once his compatriot’s stunningly witty quip had entered the annals of history.
“My good man,” he coughed out, as if a woman imitating a man, “is it true that… that gentlemen prefer blondes?”
The youths fell to the floor laughing.