"Now, my dear fellows, as you may or may not already know, the Quantum Gemerald is a gem of indescribable beauty, radiant and resplendent as it floats, unsupported, within a case of glass.

"I intend to steal it."

Gasps erupted from the audience. "Have you gone mad, Jenkins?" gasped Harold, nearly dropping his snifter of brandy as he leapt up from his chair. "I say, have you gone mad?" I glared at Harold. Some of his brandy - apricot, of all kinds - had sloshed out of its vitrine container onto my tailored silk sport coat. I seethed.

"Mad?" Jenkins laughed. "No more so than any of you! What good is a gem - a gemerald - of such beauty if it is not being used to some gain? And what better gain than mine?"

He broke into a fit of deranged laughter. I blotted vainly at my sport coat with a napkin. The brandy was already soaking into the silk; I would likely have to bring it into the cleaners', and I was far from certain they would make a good job of cleaning it. Perhaps I was wrong in not entrusting it to the safety of the coatroom attendant... but recalling his greased-back hair and general aura of seediness, perhaps not. At worst, I could always look for another cleaner. My contemplation was cut short by a gunshot and panicked screaming. Apparently Jenkins had had enough of the sound of his own manic cackling - which had begun to grate even on my steely nerves - and had produced a pistol, waving it in the air and firing it off to demonstrate his criminal resolve.

I continued blotting at the stain as the hall emptied of guests, plates of food strewn across the tables and floor in their haste to leave. I paid no heed to the hubbub; if I could simply blot out the last of the brandy, I might well be able to avoid dry cleaning altogether.

Another gunshot, this one much closer - the bullet shattering a vase beside me, the water flowing out onto the table. Evidently the frenzied Jenkins had spotted me, and was somehow perturbed at my lack of caution. I sighed, turning my attention away from my coatsleeve to face him. "Yes, Jenkins, what is it? I rather don't have time for this; I've brandy spilt on my sleeve and I'd rather not let it set into a stain." Jenkins was thrown off-balance by this. "Wh- Aren't you going to run? I-I-I have a gun!"
"Heavens, wouldn't dream of it," I replied cheerfully, "this gala cost me a pretty penny to attend, and I've yet to begin cutting into this Veal Cordon Bleu - which, I have been told, is most excellent."
"I have a gun-"
"Yes, yes, you've mentioned that, but the veal is best eaten warm."

This last seemed to dispirit him. He sat down on the edge of the stage, his gun dropping to the ground as he began to bawl, his head in his hands. I blotted again at the damp patch on my sleeve - futile; the brandy had surely soaked in - and turned my attention back to the veal.

It was every bit as enjoyable as I'd heard.

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