I clutched the empty glass in my hand and watched her lips move. I’m sure my employer’s wife was talking, but I heard nothing. I had severed the connection between my mind and my ears when she started enumerating her Wedgwood pieces by year of collection. I had made it through the grandchildren and the autograph collection, but I couldn’t take the china. I plotted my escape.

If I had a grappling hook, rope, and a knife, I could catch the hook on the chandelier, and then scamper up the rope and away. When she tried to climb it too, I would cut the rope behind me. She would plunge to the ground, and I would swing out over the punch bowl. If I timed it right, releasing the rope at the top of the arc, I could do an acrobatic flip and land on my feet by the back door. Then I could grab a cookie off a plate held by a gaping waiter and escape through the kitchen, munching the cookie as I went.

If I had a connection to a robotic sidekick in my wristwatch, I could send an SOS message in Morse code while my hands were casually held behind my back. The robot could enter the room and inform the lady that she had an urgent call in the cloakroom. She would follow him there, and when he handed her the phone with one hand he could inject her with knockout drops with the other. I would stroll out the front door while she recovered beneath a pile of thick winter coats.

If I had an asbestos suit and a helicopter, I could point behind the woman and say “Look, Elvis!” When she turned to get The King’s signature, I would duck into the roaring fire at my back. By the time she realized it was a ruse, I would be already halfway up the chimney. I would escape to the roof, where my helicopter would be waiting to take me away to freedom.

But I had none of those things. So I stood in the corner of the party, watched my boss’s wife’s lips move, and plotted how I would escape if I did.

Kevin Jewell lives in Austin, Texas, where he writes with the South Austin Writers Group. SAWG works to keep Austin weird one tale at a time.

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Every Day Fiction