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At The Party MAG
At the Party by B. W., Worcester, MA
It was the kind of hot that makes you prickly, sweaty and uncomfortable in your clothes. It really shouldn't have been hot, it was just all the people talking and impressing those around them. I had come in early and it was just fine. But soon all the people piled in and mingled around in the main room. It had gotten hotter and hotter by degrees as all of the party-goers talked with a glass of red somethingorother in their hands. I could almost see the humid breath exhaling from their mouths and moistening my forehead. The crackling fire at the end of the hall could not have been much help. It was snowing outside. I was standing by a window simply observing the goings-on with a red somethingorother in my hand. I saw a woman and a man silhouetted in a dark corner of the room. I chuckled as they laughed and threw their heads back in some sort of mutual recognitions. The man's Adam's apple bounced up and down as he laughed and pointed at the woman, acknowledging a good joke. They held their drinks out in front of them in a ready position to drink them rhythmically between jokes and moments of identification. There were small groups, or should I say cliques, stagnating in different points of the hall. They all seemed to be doing the same thing: laughing at jokes or discussing something common among themselves. I stood by the window with the glass of red somethingorother in my hand trying to keep cool with the snow falling behind me but outside. I wiped my moistly dappled forehead with my white handkerchief and rested my elbow upon a low bookcase lining the wall. Sweat trickled from the hairs of my armpits over my ribs, I was very uncomfortable. I should have hung my suitcoat up. Someone I think I knew approached me with a drink in his hand.
"Hello mr. whatever. How are we?" he said. "I don't know about you, mr. bob smith-johnson, but I'm doing just dandy."
"Good good. I'm so glad to hear it. Hey! I hear you're having a little trouble with the wife, there, mr. whatever."
"Nothing you wouldn't understand, mr. bob smith-johnson."
"Ha ha. I'm sure I would. Ha. You know me. Ha ha." His voice was quite affected. He took a sip from his glass and looked across the room.
"How's the thing going?" I asked mr. bob smith-johnson.
"The thing is going quite well. We're doing better now than we've done in a long time. You know how it is mr. whatever."
"No I don't," I said and walked away.
I walked out onto the porch of the hall and looked out at the snow blanketing the trees of the woods out back. I decided I would go out there and take a walk once I had made my presence known at the gathering. The porch was cooler but still uncomfortable. A group of four or five men were discussing the upcoming Superbowl and each one swore he could bench more than the center for whatever team they were discussing. I pondered walking over to one of those men and giving him a nice hard slug across the mouth. That would have been good; a brawl at mr. whatshisname's "get together." I laughed and stood alone looking out the window with longing. Soon enough mr. whatshisname came over to greet me with cane in one hand and a glass in the other.
"Howdy do, mr. whatever?" he said to me while shaking his head in quick spurious jerks.
"I'm just fine, mr. whatsyour name. And how are you?" said I, molding myself to his demeanor.
"Dapper, dapper. Never better. How's the old lady? I've been hearing stories, mr. whatever. You must clarify."
"Oh, I'm sure you can pick apart a rumor from truth with that great mind of yours, mr. whatsyourname."
"Indeed I can. Indeed I can, mr. whatever. Say, how's that thing you invested in moving along?" he asked looking out the window.
"Dapper, dapper. Never better!" I said and walked away.
I squeezed myself through the crowd and said hello to those I thought I might know. The sweat flowing from my pores gave my blue button-down shirt a deeper blue color. I wondered if everyone else was this hot. The fire was crackling and popping on the other side of the hall and I watched it flicker. In my skull, my heart was clicking in the same way the flames were dancing. A tall man wearing a black tuxedo came over to me carrying a round tray.
"Would you care for another drink, sir?" he asked me.
"What kind of drinks do you have?" I asked the man.
"We have champagne and Chablis right here, but if you desire something different, I can certainly get it for you."
"Do you enjoy your job?" I asked the waiter.
"I most certainly do, sir," he answered trying not to act surprised.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I have the chance to speak with people such as yourself when I am working," was his answer.
"Surely. I greatly enjoy it," he said holding the tray out directly in front of my face.
"No," I said looking straight into his eyes. I walked away.
I noticed that the snow outside was falling harder and looked soft in the night. I began making my way over to the door and on the way I bumped into a woman I once worked with.
"Hello there," I said. The woman stared at me for a fleeting second with perplexed eyes and a wrinkled forehead. She stared at me for a second longer and then her face straightened out and seemed pretty again.
"Oh! Hi! How are you?" she said.
"I am just grand. And yourself?"
"I'm doing great too." She was smiling with her thick red lips and stark white teeth.
"Are you still working at the old place?" I asked her looking into her slightly green eyes.
"I sure am. And where are you working?"
"I'm an investment consultant."
"Really? she said. "For whom?"
"I have my own business."
"That's really great," she said.
Her brown hair was nice and shiny and fell lazily upon her shoulders. She was wearing a white dress cut off at her shoulders and at the middle of her thighs. It had gold buttons running down the middle of it. She had quite a beautiful smile and her cheeks shined when she laughed.
"You look good," she said looking into the mirror behind me.
"You too," I said playing with the ring on my finger.
"Yeah," she said, "I've been hearing things about you and your - Oh! Hi John!" she suddenly blurted and ran over to a man coming in the door. I laughed at myself and walked outside into the cold snow knowing where I just was and I laughed some more.