The Ball

At about ten minutes after eight I strolled over to the Edward VI Recreational Center and Memorial Park. Ten minutes earlier I'd have been nearly on time. Tonight's event was the E6RC&MP annual Halloween Costume Soiree and I was invited. My costume was a little coat and tail number with a tray and extra utensils--a waiter, hard-working and unquestionably polite. My tie snared a bit snug and chapeau possessed a roguish, but never rakish, tilt.

The Pavilion was lit from within by lanterns, jack and otherwise, and a tide of night-folk entered the doorways in turns.

The Corridor Twins came in the same costumes as last year. The elder sister, Kzatrina, appeared as a proud and regal, albeit feathered, victrola. In daring contrast, her sister Eileen had squeezed her rather voluminous form into a sort of dough flattening device. Approving murmurs all around—Dionysian fervor vs. Apollonian Calm (portrayed with maddening clarity by what gossip columnists would eventually call "The platonic ideal of a bakery"). A classic struggle in costume form.

The noise from the ballrooms suddenly doubled. No one was more surprised than the help when the mayor and his wife simply materialized in the foyer of the Lavender Gallery. Their costumes were appropriately managerial. It was supposed that they were a pair of appliances. His honor was especially impressive, resplendent in his rotors, gears, and levers, his head surrounded by latched doors, each with its own toggle switches marked ON, OFF, and UNDECIDED.

The lesser dining rooms were acrawl with disguises. Father Footwidth, the new vicar, stood winged, cross-gartered and unrepentant. Martin vonSchlager, son the stocking magnate, seemed to have attended as "Man Heavily Sedated," a clear homage to the recent medicinal treatments designed to curtail his violent outbursts of serial affection.

Tiring of the occult efforts of the adults, I trotted in my patented "servile stride," to the Hall of Boys. Except for their chaperone, the Countess DeWinter, who came dressed as "Taxation," the children's costumes were a tremendous letdown. What should have been a terrifying array of color, sound, and theme was instead a miniature army of bedsheet ghosts and charcoal faced hoboes. Despite an initial case of shock due to my lifelong fear of transients (stemming from childhood--my father bred and trained them for the vagrant races, a sport now outlawed in most locales) I turned to leave the party, unsatisfied.

As I crossed the threshold onto the rear veranda, I beheld the belle of the ball, a vision with a nametag stating simply "Hello, my name is Corinna." I had noticed her earlier being mocked by some of the more refined guests for not having a costume. Upon further interrogation she announced that she was "confusion, with aura of denial." The musicians fell silent and the crowd stood awed and trembling. The lady Corinna fairly bled across the hallway into the Chamber of Antiquated Methods, her stride warm and fluid, her smile triumphant.

Whether I spent an hour, two hours, a day, or longer at the party, I can no longer recall. Whether this is due to the wine (delicious and plentiful), the company (only plentiful), or some form of repressive therapy to which I have been subjected without my consent, I can likewise no longer recall. I have not forgotten everything, however. I manage to hold safely within my thinker a series of lucid, almost photorealistic images.

I also remember parts of my walk after the party. The night was cool, with steady breezes scented uncharacteristically of July. Honey and clover. I walked and thought about the nature of summer-- the underlying chatter of even the most silent summer nights. The hiss of an angry day cooling into evening. I wondered why an autumn night would hide in the clothes of its warmer, and more amiable, cousin. October’s cool, and the breath of July, made my walk an easy one.