“Please, do come right in and make yourself at home, John,” the soft, welcoming voice instructed from just beyond the foyer. He watched as her shadow moved across the hallway’s hardwood and out of sight altogether. Glancing at himself in a full-length, roughly polished mirror with ornate floral framing, an uneasiness began to rise through John. The tuxedo he was wearing was completely unfamiliar to him, yet the measurements were perfectly fit to his dimensions and offered to accentuate features he never knew he had. A mental double-take of this reflection focused John’s sight on the particulars of his shape that seemed too good to be true and he ever so slowly began to tilt his head as the mirror appeared to morph and liquefy.
Quiet chattering in the distance broke through the hazy cloud forming in John’s mind. He staggered briefly, shaking off the bits of doubt into oblivion and taking steps toward the gentle noise. His stride became confident as his mental self-image returned to that tuxedo-ed gentleman in the mirror.
“John, I must introduce you to one of my most dear – and available – friends,” divulged the soft, familiar voice. The overwhelming certainty exuding from this voice wrapped warm ribbons of velvet seduction around John’s ears, dragging him mindlessly through the hallway.
“Teresa, you wretch,” cried a new voice with a feign of embarrassment.
Teresa’s hand reached out, gloved from fingertips to elbow in pearlescent silk, taking hold of John’s elbow and guiding him to a slender brunette in a flowing, merlot gown. “This is Abigail and she’s simply dying to get to know you.”
John stood on drunken legs, unsure of what to do or say and only capable of taking in all of Abigail. Her smile was effortless and framed by brown curls bouncing just atop delicate shoulders. Abigail took a step closer, the gown seeming more fluid than fabric, and held out a hand similarly gloved as Teresa’s was. As John took Abigail’s hand, Teresa floated away from the pair. “Well I’ll leave you two to it then,” whispered Teresa, the words tickling John’s eardrums, “and attend to my other guests.” Teresa’s form disappeared into a bustling, well-dressed crowd of people John had not noticed until that moment. His eyes followed Teresa for as long as they could before his focus adjusted to the faceless throng of party-goers. Scanning the drove of wealthy flesh-bags, John could not recognize a single face. Each member of the congregation appeared only as a mash-up of familiar features.
“Charmed, I’m sure,” Abigail interrupted John’s wandering mind. John returned to Abigail’s face and remembered he was still grasping her hand. He drew it closer and bowed his head to kiss it, but she pulled away. “Teresa has told me so much about you,” chimed Abigail tonelessly. “Do you still go horse-riding? I adore the creatures. Their powerful figures and long, flowing manes; their gentle eyes. Oh, listen to me! I sound like I’m describing a male protagonist in one of those romance novels. Teresa tells me you don’t read for pleasure. I feel like that’s the only reason to read at all. I quite enjoy following a character’s winding path so far and twisted that you get caught up in the excitement and forget how you got there or where you came from.” A fog of indifference crept over John’s mind obscuring the continued droning from Abigail. Still, those last words resonated with John even through the murkiness forming in his subconscious.
“John, you old so-and-so!” boomed a hearty, approachable voice from behind John knocking him back to the here and now. “I didn’t think you would show since you didn’t RSVP, but boy am I glad you’re here.” As John spun around he was embraced by a man much larger than himself and groaned out a helpless chuckle. The man relaxed from the hug and held John at his shoulders from an arm’s length, examining John up and down. The man wore a tuxedo much like John’s, with the exception of personalized cuff links, embroidery along the collar of the jacket, and of course being generally larger in every way. The man’s jaw-line and nearly every physical characteristic had a sharpness and ruggedness that made him seem carved from marble, but somehow he radiated a soft, formlessness.
“I came to find you as soon as Teresa told me you made it,” continued the man, his voice a rich, melted chocolate. “And look at you, you devil! All dressed up like that, I never thought I would see the day. Not trying to steal the show here, are you? Ha, ha! I’m just having a laugh, John!” John could barely maintain the awkward grin on his face in the presence of this giant personality.
“What do you think, John? This sure is one hell of a party, isn’t it? Ha, ha!” exclaimed the man with an exuberance that only made John more uncomfortable. The comment itself made John feel like his insides were collapsing and the grimace he knew was surely on his face told more than he had the strength to say.
The large man patted John on the back with overwhelming strength. “You don’t look so great, John. Perhaps it’s time for you to get a move on. Ha, ha!” bellowed the man face to face with John. Perhaps it was the way his insides were crawling, or the powerful slap on the back, or the intensity he felt from the man, or a combination of all of these things, but John began sobbing and sniffling uncontrollably as he made his way back to the foyer.
John limped past the warped mirror he noticed when he first arrived, but abstained from glancing as he could not bear to see himself in such an unflattering position. “Oh, and John,” roared the man from just beyond the foyer, stopping John in his tracks as he reached the door handle. “Don’t forget-” came the voice that slithered up the back of John’s neck. “You always have an open invitation at your old pal Stan’s,” whispered the voice that rattled through John’s head as he fumbled anxiously through the door into the darkness beyond.
John took a moment to get his bearing and straighten himself out. He inched through the darkness until he heard a voice and followed it towards a glowing light in the distance.
“Please, do come right in and make yourself at home, John,” the soft, welcoming voice instructed from just beyond the foyer. He watched as her shadow moved across the hallway’s hardwood and out of sight altogether. Glancing at himself in a full-length, hard-polished mirror with ornate floral framing, an uneasiness began to rise through John.