She belched, and not for the first time that evening.
It began as a low rumble and as she tried to contain it her cheeks inflated to the point where they looked quite like the testicles of a bull.
The rumble became a raucous roar as, against her will, it erupted and exploded with a great, rasping croak that reminded Betty of the sound that an enormous toad might make if it were run over by a cement lorry.
When the belch had run its course, Monica smiled the same innocent, demure smile that she always smiles when what she really wants is for everyone to forget what she just did and get back to talking about horticulture or whatever it was that Philip had been discussing before she belched.
No one in the room particularly liked Monica so it proved to be easy for everyone to ignore her, with or without the smile.
“Speaking of castor seeds,” chimed Betty, “when ground up and scattered on the lawn they serve as a marvelous deterrent to gophers and moles.”
“That’s good to know,” Philip replied. “Isn’t it Susan?” he added as an aside to his wife who, unfortunately had fallen asleep on the adjacent love seat.
The conversation was cut short yet again as Betty stood to make an announcement.
“Desert and coffee will now be served in the salon—Tirimisu, prepared by my household chef, Maurice Montand, of the Dijon Montands, with whom many of you, no doubt, are familiar.”
“Will there be wine as well?” asked Philip.
“A lovely 2013 Rhone Valley Pink Chablis, I believe,” Better smiled.
“God, no!” Philip screamed. “Not Chablis! With tiramisu? How disgusting!”
The crisis was interrupted and the evening saved by yet another—and well-timed—belch from Monica.
Everyone, including Philip and Betty, laughed.
Monica, as always, smiled demurely.
By James A. Tweedie