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Mission Impossible

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“I don’t understand,” the tall and aristocratic (if somewhat light in the loafers) man said with evident irritation. “Your firm is supposed to be the best event organizers in London, some would even say in Britain. My request was, I daresay, quite simple: I asked you to put together a celebration for the birthday of a special someone – well, special to me, at any rate. I merely asked for something tasteful and romantic. Money is not an issue. Why would you say it cannot be done?”

The young consultant gave him a long-suffering look. She was good, very good at her job, and normally she wasn’t fazed by difficult customers and their irrational demands, far from it – but there were certain days such as this one, when she felt she wasn’t getting paid quite enough.

“Lord Gloria, it’s true that we are the best event organizers in Britain, and your request does indeed seem simple enough at first glance, but…the specifications you gave us…!”

“What about my specifications?” Lord Gloria asked sharply. The young woman pulled a printed sheet of paper from her desk and started recounting:

“…You asked that, for the celebration, we must not use any flowers or decorations of any kind…”

“He believes decorations are frivolous.”

“…That there must not be any sweets whatsoever, not even a birthday cake…”

“He detests sweets.”

“…That no presents should be offered…”

“He is somewhat suspicious of gift-wrapped packages, and not overly fond of presents in the first place.”

“…That the song list must consist exclusively of military marches…”

“It’s the only music he enjoys.”

“…And that there must be no women in the waiting staff.” She arched one eyebrow. “I take it your special someone dislikes women as well?”

“No, that would be me.” Lord Gloria rapped his fingers impatiently on the desk. “Your point being, young lady?”

The consultant opened her hands in a helpless gesture. “Isn’t it obvious, your lordship? Your request is unfeasible! The only thing we could fulfill from this list…” she perused the paper in her hand momentarily again, “…is the fried potatoes on the menu! How are we supposed to put together a romantic birthday celebration without flowers, without presents, without even a birthday cake? Or rather, if that special someone of yours is so…particular, why would you need us in the first place? All you need to do is order some take-out, put a military march on the stereo and you’re set to celebrate his birthday!”

Lord Gloria gave her a startled look, then his eyes lit up. “Do you know, I believe you are right,” he said as though he’d just had an epiphany. “I’m a tad prone to extravagance, but sometimes the simplest things are the best. Why, to make a bit more of an impact I could also throw in…well, perhaps not the tank, I don’t feel ready to part with it just yet, but maybe a nice little infantry vehicle with a machine gun…yes, I think that would do nicely…I must ask Bonham and Jones to have a look around the army surplus sales…” He snapped out of his reverie when he noticed the young woman gaping at him wide-eyed, obviously wondering whether he was off his rocker, and gave her a reassuring smile. “That will be all, my dear,” he said courteously, “you were most helpful, I’m sure. Do send the invoice for the consultant’s fee to my accountant; he’s a little tight-fisted, but I will make sure you are paid in full.” He bid farewell politely and left, still muttering incomprehensible things about armoured trucks, weapons and other military equipment, while the consultant kept gawking at him, dumbfounded. Just when you thought you’d heard everything at this job…

A few minutes after he had left the door opened again and another employee popped her head in. “We won’t be doing Lord Gloria’s celebration, I take it?” she asked. “Well, hardly your fault, dearie, the things he asked for were…”

“…Impossible, I know,” the consultant sighed. “He’ll pay us a consultant’s fee though.” She stared blankly at the opposite wall for a moment and muttered, as if talking to herself, “I wonder what that special someone of his is like…he said he wanted to give him a tank or something for his birthday.”

“Wow, that’s…unusual,” the other employee remarked. “Perhaps he’s a military geek of some sort…? But whoever he is, he’d better be thankful…Lord Gloria is so gorgeous, and he’s willing to jump through such hoops just to celebrate his birthday…surely he must love him very much. I do hope he thanks him properly for that tank or whatever he gets as a present.”

“You said it, girl,” agreed the consultant. “You don’t often meet men that considerate these days; too bad Lord Gloria bats for the other team.” They both sighed in unison and the consultant added, “Well, one thing’s for sure; that fellow’s going to have a really special birthday this year.”