The Torturer's Birthday Party
Beau Golwitzer

It was The Torturer's birthday party.

Jim was there and so was Belina.

Jim and Belina did not know The Torturer well but they had been afraid to say no to his invitation.

Carlos was there and so was Raymond.

Emily was there too.

The three of them had been afraid to say no to The Torturer's invitation as well.

"Where are my presents?" The Torturer demanded.

They all handed over the presents they had bought.

"What about you, Raymond?"

Raymond looked at The Torturer. "I didn't have time to get you a present. I'm sorry."

"Very disappointing, Raymond," The Torturer said.

But The Torturer didn't torture Raymond, which was a great relief to Raymond, and to everyone else as well.

"Do you guys want to play a game?" The Torturer asked.

Everyone nodded.

"Sit in a circle," The Torturer said.

So everyone took a seat on the floor and they made a circle.

The Torturer turned off the light.

He came over to the circle, stood outside of it in silence for a moment, and then began to walk around the outside of it.

Every once in a while, he would touch the top of someone's head.

Finally, he turned the lights back on.

"Fun, right?"

Everyone looked at each other.

"I made a cake for you," Carlos said, a little while later.

"So did I!" Jim said.

"Jim made it on the behalf of both of us," Belina said.

"I made a cake," Raymond said.

Emily said, "I made cake too."

Everyone put their cakes on the dining room table.

The Torturer ignored them and sat down on his couch. "Let's watch some TV."

He turned the TV on. "I love this show. It's called, 'The Snake Hunter.' He hunts the most dangerous snakes in the world and then he brings them to really crowded places and lets them loose. After that, it's total mayhem. This has me dying!"

The Torturer's guests all looked at each other, not knowing what to do.

"Come on, everyone, sit on the couch!" The Torturer said.

So they all sat on the couch, even though it was a very tight squeeze.

After they were done watching the show, The Torturer turned off the TV. "Let's play another game."

"Sit in a circle," he said.

So, again, they all sat in a circle on the floor.

The Torturer turned off the lights again.

"Spooky dooky," he said.

Then he started to walk around the outside of the circle.

This time, however, he walked without ever touching the top of anyone's head.

After a while, he turned the lights back on.

"Fun, right?" he said.

"That was really fun," Raymond said.

"I had a blast!" Belina said.

The Torturer went and stood by the table with the cakes.

"Someone get me a knife," he said.

So Carlos went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife.

When Carlos returned with the knife, The Torturer took it and began to cut little pieces from one of the cakes.

It was Jim and Belina's cake, actually.

Jim said, "I think you're really going to like it."

"We'll see," The Torturer said.

The Torturer put little slices of cake onto tiny paper plates and passed them around to everyone.

No one took a bite of cake until The Torturer took a bite of the piece he had cut for himself.

After The Torturer took a bite, he said, "Jim, you outdid yourself. My mistake, Jim and Belina."

Belina blushed. "The cake was Jim's idea. I just helped him."

"Jim and Belina make a great couple, don't they?" The Torturer said.

Raymond said, "The best."

Carlos agreed, "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Now everyone was looking at Emily.

Emily said, "Three cheers for Jim and Belina!"

The Torturer started yawning and stretching his arms. "Well, I am beat!"

Jim looked at his watch, "We should be getting home too. We got a babysitter, but one of our children was very sick. We were this close to not coming, but then we thought we wouldn't miss it for the world."

Raymond was looking at his watch too, "It's about that time."

Emily didn't have a watch, so she was looking at Raymond's. "I can see what time it is, and it is time."

"Thanks for coming, everyone," The Torturer said.

He opened the front door and waited there as everyone put on their coats, exited his house.

Jim and Belina were the last to exit, and he patted Jim on the head as he went.

Beau Golwitzer lives in Amsterdam. He has work in Hobart, Necessary Fiction and others.

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