The mask sat on my face at a slight angle, the elastic that held it to my head was loose on one side. Through the wonky peep holes carved out in the mask I frantically searched the room. I could see small ones, long ones, bald ones and hairy ones. Ones tipped with large dimples, ones that dance when they become excited and ones that quiver when they feel nerves. It turns out, that to identify a man by his chin alone is a skill that I have yet to master. In a room full of men wearing near identical dinner suits, sporting the same sensible haircut and whose faces were disguised by the same black mask, the only way I was ever going to find my client before he found me, was by his chin.
There was a smaller man who was dressed in slightly different attire to the rest. His clothing indicated that his role at this soiree was to serve the other men in some way. Even his chin differed to the others, his was scattered with thin and sparse hairs, revealing his youth in comparison to the other men. In the middle of the room lay a large, circular oak table. The young server, who was also wearing a mask, weaved his way through the crowds of black and white men to the table, carrying a large silver serving tray. Instead of placing the tray on the table he turned the entire vessel upside down, showering mountains of cooked shrimp onto the bare table surface. The party goers didn’t flinch an inch. Instead they just slowly moved in on the table, casually grazing on shrimp as they conversed with their peers.
I followed him with my eyes as he moved his way away from the hoard of men thickening around the shrimp table. I thought to myself that perhaps he would be the best person to talk to in the midst of my misplacing my client, I had better follow him. I battled my way through the men, excusing myself every at other step. “Oh, sorry”, “Can I just squeeze past”, “Sorry I just need to …”. I watched him disappear behind a nearby door in the corner of the room. I flung myself round the door bend and down the corridor to which he had turned – I soon caught up.
“Hey!”, I shouted after him. “Wait!”. The young man turned around. “How can I help you sir?”, he asked accommodatingly. I explained to him that “I’m looking for my friend, we came here together, how do you tell anyone apart in this place? Have you seen anyone who looks like they are looking for another person?”. The young man appeared to consider his answer very carefully. He examined me slowly from head to toe, before deciding on how he would answer. “Follow me, Sir” he instructed.
I mirrored his directions down a myriad of dimly lit corridors lined with wooden décor until we reached a grandiose, carved door. He nodded toward the door. Nerves began to fill my body from the bottom of my torso upward. My trembling hand wrapped itself around the brass, bulbous handle of this pompous oak door. I stopped for a moment before turning to the masked boy beside me. “This way?” I asked beneath my voice, searching for reassurance. He looked at me as if to say, Obviously!
I opened the door slowly, trying to gage room as best I could before stepping into it. The room was scattered with a few of the men who had been enjoying the party downstairs, only, their clothes were looser now and their posturer more relaxed. They lounged, trouser-less across brown leather sofas, the buttons of their shirts undone. Curiously, their masks had not moved an inch, regardless of how disheveled they had let the rest of their attire become. I scouted the room for what could be my chin. Nothing stood out. There was another door at the far right of the room, I continued my search.
Through this door I found a room in which the walls were projected with explicit videos as the men inside it squirmed with pleasure beneath one another. Ten masked men made up this moving ant hill. The ant hill grunted and moaned, undisturbed by my presence.
One of the masks jolted upright from the ant hill, facing my direction. “We’ve been waiting for you” the mask said, through panted breath. I walked over to the moaning bodies, urging to jump in. I couldn’t help but consider that this would have been far easier had he just told me what we were here for, but maybe the chase was all part of the fun.
I moved closer to the men, removing my trousers and dropping to my knees before I felt three hands reach for my back and pull me closer. I was inside the ant hill. There was one particular man who was the most attentive to me, it must be him. Through the haze of tantalizing enjoyment, I tried to identify him. Through a distracting display of limbs, faces and phalluses I focused on his face. There was nothing recognizable about him. I asked the man to remove his mask. His refusal to unveil his identity was aggressive and final. The kind of assertiveness that lets you know without being told – that you shouldn’t ask again.
Something was wrong. I bolted up, grabbed my clothes, flung myself through both of the doors that I had entered and followed the corridors back to the party, stumbling as I dressed myself on en route. I took a big deep breath before reentering the room where the main party resided. I stood by the big oak table and ate shrimp as though nothing had happened.
I felt a stern hand sink into my shoulder. “There you are!” a relieved voice said from behind me. I turned around and smiled at him. I searched his chin for distinguishing features before making direct eye contact with a large mole that sat on the bottom left of his chin. A mole that I didn’t recognize. Shit. “This isn’t the sort of place you want to get lost for too long, I’ve heard that there are some debaucherous characters doing unthinkable things in hidden parts of buildings like this. I wouldn’t like you to think I’d bring you here to share you with a bunch of anonymous CEOs’.” He took my hand and ushered me toward the cloak room.
It was at this point that I realized I had made a monumental error. I collected my coat in silence from the now sheepish caterpillar ‘tached boy who held the key to the personal possessions of the most lucrative and powerful business influences in the world. I never did come clean to my client that evening. I had made an assumption about the intentions of my client, that he had brought me here to help him ease into the world of elitist sex parties that hide inside the mahogany walls of prestigious buildings. The reality was, all he had wanted was an ally on his arm in an overwhelming battle of power, business jargon and expensive aftershave.