It’s getting late at the Barnstable Brown Party. The champagne trays are circulating less frequently, the white-shirted help are dwindling in number, and the hot brown chicken is running low. But the Jackson brothers — having staged an impromptu version of “Stormy Monday Blues” earlier in the evening — are begging me to perform before the star-studded crowd.
“Come on,” says Tito. “Michael would want you to!”
“Yeah,” Marlon chimes in. “Your moves are just like Mike’s, specifically when he first unveiled the moonwalk at the 1983 Motown 25 made-for-TV special. But you’re, like, way better.”
“Look fellas,” I say, buttoning my sports jacket and turning to leave. “I appreciate the offer, I really do, but I’m too modest for that sort of thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get some fresh air.”
I make my way to the balcony, where Diane Lane, star of the upcoming film “Secretariat,” is sipping a mint julep and texting on her Blackberry.
“Beautiful night,” she says, extending her hand. “I’m Diane. And you are?”
“An oil man,” I say. “Domestic off-shore drilling and oil futures. I loved your work in ‘The Big Town.’ Josh Brolin is a lucky guy.”
Ms. Lane blushes, nodding slowly, but before our conversation goes any further, a well-meaning server interrupts with an announcement that all guests are to report to the basement for a very special event. We slowly gather inside the mammoth house, the hired help smiling and guiding us through a narrow doorway, and we descend several flights of corkscrew-stairs for what seems like ages. Behind me is CBS’ Bob Schieffer, who keeps stepping on the back of my polished leather heels without apologizing.
Reaching the bottom, we enter a large underground rock cavern in the center of which rests a highly sophisticated array of computer surveillance equipment. NSync’s Joey Fatone complains that his iPhone can’t get a signal.
“It’s a precaution,” says a booming, unseen voice. “We’re blocking all non-encrypted data communication.” Emerging from the array of computer monitors and flat-screen televisions is a guy that looks like Christian Bale.
“Hi, I’m Christian Bale,” he says. “The Barnstable-Browns hired me to oversee the evening’s security. I’m afraid to say it, but we’ve got a breach. You’ve been ordered down here while we sort it out upstairs. Have some fondue while you’re waiting.”
“Is it serious?” asks Lane.
“We don’t think so,” says Bale, flexing his muscles. “Just some local journalist trying to break into the place. Apparently he was denied entry earlier, and is now scaling the perimeter in an attempt to gain entry via a window. We think he might be on drugs.”
“Typical,” I say, shaking my head. “Those depraved bastards will do anything for a story this time of year. No shame whatsoever. If you catch him, chances are he’ll break easily.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” says Bale. “Now who wants a ride in the Batmobile?”