What Is Due A Guest

The old merchant is telling his favorite story, how he made his bank and the terrors and trials he overcame along the way. Most of the table has heard all this before, but the food is good, the wine is better, and he’s a good teller of tales, why fuss?

“So! There we were,” says the merchant, “terrified beyond thinking, dragged to a cave reeking of blood by an army of snickering apes, and in walks a giant, tall as a palm, fires burning in both his eyes—”

“Ah, a Cyclops,” says Burton, the new one, the outsider dolled up in local fashions. “This is clearly Polyphemus!”

Dead silence.

“It had?” says the merchant, off his stride. “Two? Eyes?”

Burton waves it away. “Trifles, trifles. This is clearly a Homeric retelling. A man? At sea? Facing a giant?” He leans back, bulletproof.

Sinbad prays for endurance, as always when first confronted with a monster neither deserved nor sought-for, then presses forward. The table leans forward, attention caught anew.