ONCE YOU'RE GONE YOU CAN'T COME BACK
In front of him the tea party spreads out in a promenade of lace and white and silver candlesticks. Tiny cakes dot pretty silver plates. Flowered tea cups hold red punch. The Lions on the wallpaper stand upright on their back legs and keep watch. The Humans love The Lions and The Lions love The Humans. This is a celebration.
The Sleaze is standing in the doorway. He's sucking on what looks like a lollipop. It's actually one of his many daddy issues. His pockets are stuffed with these lollipops. They make it somewhat cumbersome for him to move.
The thing that makes The Humans turn and notice him is the smell. The room has been filled with a pleasant lilac smell, but now the stench of desperation is starting to permeate the air. It smells like broccoli that's been left too long in the fridge. Because The Sleaze has spent his life curling up with his desperation, he thinks it smells clean, like soap, so he's confused when The Humans don't hug him. But he's not surprised. He's spent his life not being hugged.
The Lions on the wallpaper snap their heads and glare at The Sleaze as he shuffles in. They can't stand his smell, or those loud sucking noises, or the sad way his lips curl around those lollipops. But one of The Humans, The Graceful One, looks at the head Lion and gives him a calming smile. The Graceful One believes in giving people second chances. The Lions don't agree, but they admire her for it.
The Sleaze pushes himself to the long table and stares down at a plate of ladyfingers. He wears goggles because he can't see all that well, but they're a really high prescription, so he has trouble distinguishing between people who put up with him and people who'd enjoy nothing more than throwing him down a well. When it comes to The Sleaze, those are the only two kinds of people there are. The Sleaze doesn't realize this. He wishes more than anything that he could be a Human.
But The Humans don't like him because he does things like grab them where they don't want to be grabbed; he whispers sleazy comments into their ears when no one is looking; when The Humans expect him to behave like a human, he says things like, "Don't get skittish on me now." The Sleaze earnestly believes he's suave. He sincerely believes he's charming. He is unaware of his stench.
The Sleaze looks up from the ladyfingers and makes eye contact with The Human on his left. "My dick is bigger than yours," The Sleaze says and he's shocked when The Human laughs at him. Then The Human simply walks away. The Humans turned The Sleaze into a punchline a year ago and since then, they've found him much easier to deal with.
The Sleaze spots the punch bowl across the room and moves towards it, but he trips because it's hard not to when a foot is in your mouth. He stumbles, falls into the table, grabs the edge of the lace tablecloth and pulls it and a tray of charcuterie to the floor with him. The Graceful One walks over and helps him up. He stands in front of her and adjusts his goggles. Once they're settled on his face, he reaches out and grabs her left breast, turns it like a volume dial, and says, "Honk! Honk!" The room goes silent. The Humans are past the point of grace.
The head Lion peels himself off the wallpaper and pads softly over to The Sleaze, who is now laughing at his own joke. The Lion flicks The Sleaze in the forehead and The Sleaze's goggles go flying across the room and into the punch bowl. Red liquid splatters the walls. The room sighs collectively. That used to be really good punch. "We can make more," The Lion says. Then he smashes The Sleaze into the ground, scoops him up, and molds him into a ball, much the way you would a ball of dough. Soon The Sleaze is a perfectly round ball that The Lion holds easily in the flat of his paw. The Lion walks quietly over to the open window and flings the dough ball out into the moat below. He closes the window and turns to the room. "Some simply can't be helped," The Graceful One says. "We need more punch," The Lion replies.