”Feast of Fools” finds St. Cyprian and Gallowglass facing down the sinister Saturn Society on a bothersome Boxing Day in 1922. It appeared in the Pulpwork Press anthology, Pulpwork Press Christmas Special 2012, available via the publisher, as well as on Amazon.com and its international affiliates, and other online stores.
The party went on late into the night. St. Cyprian didn’t indulge; instead, he nursed his drink and watched the servants. Only they weren’t servants that much he became certain of as the night wore on. There was a certain way and feel to real, professional serving staff, an innocuousness that made them practically part of the furniture. He’d never had any himself, but he’d been in enough parlours and dining rooms to see the ebb and flow of a staff at work. These men were like actors, strutting on stage in the garb of footmen, mugging for an unseen audience.
Too, they showed no real deference to Monty. Rather, they acted like guards. A nasty suspicion began to grow, but there was no proof. And indeed, no way to truly act on it, if there had been. So St. Cyprian waited and watched. The whole affair had the feel of a performance, besides the behaviour of the staff. Food and drink flowed freely, but the party-goers were corralled, and not allowed to wander. The previous nights, the servants had seemed content to let the lushes sleep it off where they might, but on this evening, they carted the dead drunk to their rooms with efficient speed, including a tottering Boko.
The party began to break up just after the midnight chime; those who were still standing bellowed cheerful ‘good evenings’ to their host and tottered towards the stairs, leaving only St. Cyprian in the room with Monty. The latter had not stirred from his throne the entire evening. St. Cyprian made to go to him, but a masked man stepped into his path, hands out. “I’m sorry sir, but Mr. Wallace is quite exhausted. We shall be taking him to his room in a few minutes.”
“I’d be happy to help,” St. Cyprian said, trying to step around the servant. The man smoothly interposed himself once more.
“That is not necessary, I assure you, sir,” the man said, more forcefully.
“And if I insist?”
It was the wrong thing to say. St. Cyprian realized that a moment before the masked man gestured and he heard the ‘click’ of a revolver close to his ear. “Don’t,” the masked man said…