And there they all were, looking as guilty as thieves. The mystery guest surveyed the situation. There was no way you could squeeze in another chair and he wasn't going to have a repetition of the incident at the Basque family dining room the other night, no thank you.

The mystery guest thought about doing his allergy routine for a minute but then decided you might as well stick to the truth. He placed the pink pastry next to the Frank Stella knockoff in the alcove beside the table and waved a dismissive gesture. "You people stay here," the mystery guest said, "I'm late for a dinner engagement."

The mystery guest looked at his watch. The people at the table looked on. At least, he reflected with bitter amusement, he'd frozen them in his headlights.

The wake was at half-past eight. He'd have to spend some time in the car before going in, but he was sure there would be food.

Next time: the mystery guest goes to a hot tub party!