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Chandeliers (The Brunch Chronicles Ch. 7)

Aug 10, 2020

A Story Written By Kevin Gallagher

Ted agreed that he could fireproof the branches, if someone could take them down and lay them out behind the restaurant. 

“It’ll be just me though, Ive is really stuffed up with a cold right now, so I don’t want to leave him for too long.” he said, “It’s always worse when he gets one because of the emphysema thing.”

“Emphysema?” I said, “He shouldn’t be smoking, should he?”

Ted laughed his throaty laugh, “He can’t be bothered to quit – figures it’s just a matter of time before something gets him. By the way, I can’t fireproof the angels. They’ll just look like shit. I’ll take them and repurpose them. Besides, we’re going to do the chandeliers.”

Chandeliers were news to me but not really a surprise. Donna loves chandeliers. If, walking down a street, she spies a fine one through a window, she’s likely to stop and sigh, drinking in the beauty of it.  She would go out of her way to see a particularly alluring one again. My concern, as always, was the cost. Chandeliers just sound expensive, but by this time I was beginning to trust Ted and Ivan not to overdo it.

When I mentioned the chandeliers to Donna, she got a little defensive. “If we’re going to open for dinner service we’ll need some light other than the fluorescent tubes.”  

“I’m fine with that,” I said, “but where are we going to get the chandeliers?”

“Ted and Ivan are going to build them.”

“Oh, okay. Did you know that Ivan has emphysema?” I asked

“Yes,” she said, “and he’s HIV positive. I asked him if he shouldn’t be more careful. He just shrugged and said, why?”

Our catering company, Avant-goût had an offsite event the following Saturday, so I was alone and slightly melancholy as I wheeled the scaffold around the dining room, cutting the floral wire on each of the bundles of saplings and sending them crashing down, their dried leaves skittering across the floor. I wondered whether the Van Halen cassette I had on repeat was the right choice. The song “Jump” seemed to play every second time. I had to stretch to reach the angels that were near the ceiling but I lowered each one gently to the platform. When they were down, I seated them at one of the banquettes as for a last meal.

Perhaps it was the transience of film sets that allowed Ted and Ivan to so easily accept and embrace such changes to decor. The saplings fireproofed and leafless went back up with the fairy lights and the angels were forgotten. The focus now was on getting the chandeliers up. I was anxious to see how they would make them. Donna it seemed had no misgivings since she too eagerly welcomes change.  

I had seen them work their magic on the dining room already but still couldn’t imagine how they would build these chandeliers, and what would they cost? 

I was puzzled as the supplies started arriving. First the arrival of a case of plastic dolls and toy trumpets from the Reliable Toy Company, followed by a case of plastic fruit and ivy and tiny cornucopias. I thought there must be a mistake but the delivery driver showed me a copy of the faxed order. Under their business name – It’s Done With Mirrors in bold and the motto “Too Much is Never Enough” Ted had carefully listed the number of dolls, of trumpets, plastic grapes and apples that he wanted.

Fascinated, I watched as they worked. The frames were formed from three hoops of diminishing sizes – possibly old hula-hoops joined together with plastic pipe to form a kind of truncated cone. Each hoop and pipe was wrapped in chicken wire and strung with clear Christmas lights. When it had all been wrapped again with garbage bag plastic, they pulled the lights through, took out the bulbs and sprayed everything gold. 

I watched Ivan, his head turned to one side to avoid the aerosol blown back by the breeze and a long cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth as he sprayed one suspended from the scaffold out behind the restaurant. 

“Isn’t that stuff flammable?” I asked 

“Probably” he said, and taking the cigarette from his mouth stood back and began to cough violently. He walked away; bending over, his body convulsed. When the fit had subsided he grimaced, spat, rolled his eyes and set back to spraying.

The dolls were given cardboard wings and gilded turning them into putti; the plastic fruit, ivy and trumpets had a similar treatment and all were glued to the chandelier frames in a whimsical riot. When the bulbs were reinserted and the chandeliers rose to the ceiling, they gave an illusion of antique baroque splendour but if you looked closely, the smiling pursed lips of the little dolls seemed amused by the charade.

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