The Secret Party

Entry by: safemouse

18th March 2016
Another night of disappointment. I trudged home slowly. I don’t want to say I was feeling sorry for myself but I was young and still under the mistaken impression that life was meant to be fun. The thought of going to sleep filled me with despondency but I didn’t see I had any other choice. Then, about a block further on, I picked up a flier fluttering on the pavement. It had ‘The Greatest Show in Town’ written on it. And ‘once only’.
When I came close I saw the vivid neon lettering shining warmly in the dark. I was just standing gawking at it when two bouncers threw a man outside. He acted like he was being thrown into a shark tank but as far as I could see he was only being asked to leave the building I was about to enter.
It was quite a beaten up old looking dance hall or club. I went into a foyer with threadbare carpet and poked my head in the box office window where there was a girl chewing gum.
“You here for the greatest show in town?” she asked.
I looked through the double doors to my left to get a glimpse of what was going on inside. There seemed to be a good atmosphere leaking through the crack.
“How much?”
“It’s free to enter but you can only spend one hour here. Jesse and Thomas will show you around first,” she said, reaching for a wrist band, and then throwing to me.
“Put this on. When it beeps you have three minutes to leave.”
This was a pretty weird setup but I rolled with it. Jesse and Thomas seemed really pleased to see me, Jesse in particular.
We went into a red room with a bar, left and a stage about thirty feet away along the back wall. There were two doorways to the right.
“Sure,” I said, sitting on a bar stool between Jesse and Thomas.
I was about to ask for a Long Island Ice Tea but the barman poured something. It tasted wonderful but swallowing it was even better. I instantly became twice as alive as before and the room became alive with it.
Needless to say, the thought crossed my mind that I’d been drugged but it vanished as soon as it took form. I just felt so good. There was no room for negativity in my mind. The band started playing a bossa nova, or something close enough, and I instantly felt the need to mingle on the dance floor.
“Excuse me,” I said, glancing at my hosts apologetically and ambled over.
It was the most joyous thing to dance around others. To see their smiling faces and beautiful body language, movements mirroring their mood and personality. I was trying to figure out why. Then I realized that it was because I wanted for nothing and the absence of want allowed me to fully immerse myself in the moment and start to unlock its secrets. I could see myself spending the rest of the hour just doing this.
“Hey. Don’t go running off just yet,” Jesse said, with a smile and took my arm.
“But this is so much fun.”
“It is. But there’s more to see. Now stick with us because believe it or not this place can be dangerous.”
I nodded but I didn’t believe them. The whole room looked totally cool. Come to think of it, how many places really had been? When I was kid I had this idea that adulthood was when the fun really started. I would go to parties and clubs and it would be such an adventure. But everything started going horribly wrong. Teenagers didn’t know how to throw parties, clubs damaged my hearing. Life was a banquet but society had no table manners.
“Just let me dance a little more,” I pleaded.
Jesse pulled me away firmly and I turned to take one last look at the people who could kick it. I swear tears ran down my cheeks. That scene was the best and being torn away from it was weirdly tragic.
“Come here, big guy,” Thomas said, as if he felt my pain.
My head was buried in his chest as he took me to the next room. It was a swimming pool with sun loungers and another bar. Everyone turned to look at me, as if I were a cherished friend. I only glanced at their faces but instantly felt a strong desire to know each one of them and hear their story. On other hand, the water, attractively tinted in the artificial light and illuminated by lights on the bottom, was as inviting as their smiles. The dance floor was suddenly very old. This was the place to be. Eight minutes had passed.
“This place is so not dangerous,” I said, looking around at all the friendly faces. Well, not really. There was a fight in the corner between two men but I didn’t see much of it because Jesse covered my eyes when it broke out and moved me on to the next room.
It has been nice hanging with Jesse and Thomas but then they started bickering about the fight. Thomas saying I was going to have to know sometime and Jesse saying it wasn’t right that I should see something like that.
“You’re his chaperone, not his mother,” Thomas hissed.
I didn’t like seeing my friends squabbling but I was starting to get distracted again. We walked back down the hallway. One room was low lit with joss sticks and chaise longues. People were incredibly chilled. It was kind of like an opium den without the opium and I wanted to lie down and be stroked by someone. Again, I felt Jessie’s arm.
“Come and have an ice cream Jessie,” she said and for the first time she irritated me. What was I, a child? I wanted to explore for myself.
We sat in a brightly illuminated ice cream parlour. It was nice, I guess. But I was in no mood for ice cream. Jesse and Thomas weren’t talking to each other but they sat gazing at me as if they loved me but couldn’t express it.
As we were eating I saw another man walk in with his two chaperones.
“We’re good,” he said. “I still have about a half hour.”
“Don’t forget,” said his companion. “An hour is a ballpark figure.”
“Oh, sure,” the man said with a shrug. He looked so pleased and a lot less fidgety than me. “Just an average. Look, I don’t want to go anywhere else, anyways. I just wanna hang here with you guys. Sit tight and I’ll get your ice creams.”
Then his wrist band beeped.
“Oh, well I guess that’s it,” he said with a rueful smile.
“I’m afraid so.”
I turned to look at Thomas and Jesse.
“Make the most of your time here,” said Thomas urgently and as if by way of explanation.
I suddenly felt angry. Like I’d been cheated. Why was I here, in this bizarre and mysterious place, for such a short time with so much to see and do yet so little time to do it in? Minutes ticking away and apparently any second the sword might fall.
“Can I go now?” I asked.
Well, with hindsight it was hardly adequate but they let me go. Jesse nodded. I was glad to get away. Time was ticking away fast, eighteen minutes on the clock already, and they were getting in the way of my fun.
Back in the hallway I felt a great sense of freedom. So many rooms, so little time. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist whichever one I stumbled upon and I hoped I’d be able to tear myself away so I could see what else there was.
I walked past one girl asking another if she’d seen the show.
“This is the show, isn’t it?” the other replied.
“Yes but there’s the show within the show,” said her friend.
I think I found the place they were talking about. ‘The Best Movie Trailer in the galaxy’. Only three minutes long and people rushing out afterwards like squealing school children. Of course, I had to see for myself.
It was a very moving film. A life changing experience, actually, and I knew I was a better person after I’d seen it.
“Are you deliberately blocking the doorway or are you a moron?” I asked a large woman who was bimbling around in front of me on the way out.
"Ok, that was bad," I said. "I've just seen a film about being good to others and I was horrible to someone straight afterwards. Not cool. I'm sorry"
As I said this I was standing in front of a vending machine. The greatest vending machine in town, of course, with all the best snacks and more.
"Are you talking to yourself or the vending machine?" a voice said besides me.
"Not really sure who I'm talking to. God, perhaps."
"Why not talk to the girl?"
"Because I'm a coward, I guess."
I looked up at the girl and I could see that I might have a companion for the next however many minutes. And maybe for life. She realized as well as I did that time was of the essence.
"Hey, my date at the 'Princes of the Universe ball' bailed out on me. Are you coming?"
She was about three points out of ten higher than I was accustomed to, of course I was. We got to the entrance of ballroom.
"Do you mind if I use the loo, first," I asked.
"Hurry, I've only got about ten minutes," she said. "Maybe less."
I went into the toilets. It was a ridiculous, chaotic scene. Somebody lying in their own sick, someone else sitting on the loo face buried in hands.
I kept myself to myself and took the longest piss in history.
"Come on! I hate you bladder."
I left the loo and went back to the ballroom entrance only to be denied.
"Please sir, can you wait one minute. We're currently full."
"Right. Well you see I just met this girl and she has to leave soon. Could I at least get her number?"
"I'm sorry, sir."
"Ok then, be a wanker."
"We've room now, if you'd like to go through."
I barged through and looked everywhere. No, no, no. She was gone. I leaned against a wall and sank to the floor.
My wrist band beeped but that was absolutely fine. I wasn’t the same person I started out as. I felt jaded. You’d seen one room, you’d seen them all. They were welcome to them. I saw the exit sign and walked towards it.
There was a girl standing in the doorway who asked me if I’d had a good time.
“It’s the greatest show in town,” I quipped. The girl took my tag and looked at the display. As she did so I looked to my left and saw a closed door. I could just hear the faint sound of music coming from it and it was like nothing I’d ever heard. For one thing, I wasn’t just hearing the music, it was somehow inside me and I wasn’t just listening I was part of it and I was happening to the music as much as it was happening to me. I don’t know if it was the voice of angels or the music of the planets but it was the most beguiling sound I’d ever heard.
“What is that?”
“That’s the secret party. That’s the greatest show in town.”
“Then what was all this?” I asked, making a quick sweep with my hand of the rooms I’d been into.
“That’s the audition.”
“Oh,” I said with a sense of foreboding. “Did I pass?”
She shook her head sadly. "I'm afraid not. But we're looking for chaperones if you're interested."
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