I am at a party again. Even though I don’t want to be, I still am. You have to show up, my agent tells me, You’ve only had a few movies out; You have to get your name out there! She doesn’t understand that I don’t want to be known in the first place, but she still repeats the need for social interaction, stroking the right ego and saying the right things. That’s what you have to do if you want to be successful, my agent says in that belligerent manner that she’s known for. I really don’t want to be here but, as usual, I have no choice in the matter. I’m still June, by the way, June Husk, that’s what they call me; and for now, I can still pass off as an entity.
I have evidence of makeup on, my hair adjusted in a bun that formed a Fibonacci Spiral. I’m bathed in perfume, Poison, if you’d like to know and I’m sparkling in a sequin light blue dress, strapless of course. The right eyes have to be on you. I really didn’t care for that; sometimes, it feels good just to look good for yourself. But little did I know that this was a masquerade. This realization occurred as I stepped out of the Limo that was provided by the agency. You always have to appear glamorous, always. The flash bulbs leaving behind an afterimage of amorphous shapes, blinding me temporarily but not enough to notice the other guests had masks on. Dream faces painted in satanic furs.
‘That’s great,’ I thought to myself, I forgot to bring a mask. I walk inside the red velvet ropes; while, on the outside, the paparazzi, pseudo-journalist, and entertainment bloggers shout questions, comments and stick out their recording machines to get something newsworthy. They are feeding the loop of information, my pictures are not myself. Projection of a reality I seem to portray, hoping to catch something of me…unedited. I’m directed in by dark-shaded men who are in love with their ear pieces, as other more prominent figures of the entertainment industry approach. I always like being in the background, I know the narrative about me or the stories they will eventually tell, but I know they aren’t the real me. Honey, you haven’t even cracked the surface yet and you’re imagining they’re writing rumors about you? Ha-ha… you’ll be lucky if they even mention you. I survive the mob and adjust my dress, so I can breathe a little, the heels don’t help of course.
“You can go through there mam” the dark shaded man waving his fingers towards a small entrance way, which was cordoned off with rail-barriers on the outside, looking like a black hole. The party was being held in a grand hotel that has a name which is too generic to be remembered.
“And where does it lead?”
“Through the back entrance. We don’t want to cause too much of a security concern for the hotel.”
I nodded and made my way through the dark entrance. There were little lights directing me deeper into the burrow. The faint overtures got louder as I got closer to its source. I saw now the threshold covered with red drapes. Parting, I enter a large hexagonal place, with opulent staircases on each end. Grecian statues doused in heavy purple light surrounded by a mass of people covered in lace, feathers, and furs. I stepped with hesitance. I don’t like parties. I’m an INFP after all but I have to attend this party or my agent won’t ever shut up. You’re damn right I won’t! I walk a little closer into an orgy of flesh, grinning with their freakish faces, probably because they were enjoying the pleasures of being famous, filthy rich and a little anonymous— just for today I guess. The music was loud and I could feel the spilled alcohol on my feet. Fire-dancers circling in the middle–the soothing warmth of twirling flames. Contortionists suspended in metallic cages in the corner of the ceiling. This was not a conventional party.
“Is that you June?!” a man screamed from behind me. He was wearing a hideous mask, and accompanied with two blonde women, with spiral horns jutting out of their foreheads unable to control their giggling fits. Arms entangled in three bodies but I could still recognize him. His cologne gave it away.
“Eddie Virchow?!” I exclaimed in fake enthusiasm. Eddie was a skivvy producer who was trying to get me into a movie but only if certain preconditions were met. I won’t go into details but you can think of what men can do if they have absolute power and no one to tell them otherwise. “So good to see you!”
“Come here you sexy thing,” He said, hugging me closely, leaving the blonde twins with their arms akimbo. His fingers felt cold and I didn’t let him linger too long, using my elbows to break free of him. He backed away a little. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been good just finished a movie with Tcherkov,” I said, trying to act as much as I can that I didn’t think of him as absolute scum.
“You mean that artsy fella, huh?” he said in a dismissive manner.
“Yeah, him,” I said making direct eye contact to let him know that I wanted to follow a true artist’s path. Be more diplomatic, Honey, please!
“Uh, well if you do get bored doing all those types of movies; I have a really good part for you,” he said with a smirk. “Have your agent call me, ok?” handing his card to me. I took it reluctantly. You don’t skip out on opportunities, Honey, you just don’t.
“Yes, absolutely” I replied maintaining my act. “I’ll definitely see my schedule”
“You should, anyway, gotta go, and by the way, June, dig the mask. Ciao!” He said, vanishing with his twin accessories into a sea of bodies.
I touch my face and the mask is there. I thought I had forgotten it. No, it is here and ever present. I can feel the smooth velvet texture of surface in the past. I look up at the ceiling, it’s lined with mirrors and I see my reflection on plain surface. It looked like a gigantic purple-black moth covering my face. Intricately patterned with two black dots at the very corner of its wings. I had eyes on top of my own. I’m a phantom now. Multiple eyes, see multiple faces. The chandelier acting like a fixed star in the constellation of myself. An exposed eyelid. Crystals dangling and small bursts of sparkling light emerging out of the cocoon. Why are my thoughts conversing? Ultrasound consciousness. Jelly self-actualization. I’m your Life process. The light dims. Masked animals move in synchronicity and I’m in the middle of it. Pixels on flesh, submerged in sounds and pheromones. The crowd drowning in the stimulation.
They don’t recognize me. I’m at a party. I move through the crowd. Lowering my gaze and I see the carpet which has no undulation and a multitude of dynamic images moving through the crowd looking for an escape. A huge screen comes into being from the red parted drapes. Then silence. The lights go out: surreal darkness. The kind where you see afterimages swirling in. I heard a woman cry at the loss of her vision. All of a sudden a beam of celluloid light erupts. Its source was from the urethra of one of the Grecian statues that were now positioned in the middle of the room. I looked at the screen and blocks of red letters flashed onscreen: COMING SOON. I couldn’t help my curiosity.
It was a rough cut with a time code on it. The character on screen appeared staring deeply beyond the fourth wall. It looked like me but this wasn’t me. The scene appeared to be from some movie; needless to say, it was probably on the verge of being cut in some editing room somewhere. Why would they show it here? I looked around and everyone was transfixed, there was a low mumble of conversation still happening. The character looking directly at the audience against a white backdrop with lens flares peeking through her left ear.
“My name is Cathy and I like to have abortions.”
Ktshh! A glass broke somewhere and even the gentle conversations stopped. The flames turned into smoke and the contortionists got stuck in their camel yoga pose.
“It’s fucked up I know, I know. But god, it feels good to say that aloud. I feel bad for saying it in my head all the time, but fuck it I’ll say it again: “I like to have Abortions!” “I like to have Abortions!”, “I like to have Abortions!”” Cathy says, or the person who looks like me says it.
“It feels different when you say it aloud, though, doesn’t it? It feels more real, more tangible. The words create references to political debates. However, to be honest with you this isn’t about pro-choice or pro-life, though some of you might consider me a serial killer. I want to tell you this is about me. This is my confession and it’s about me… so fuck your moral interpretations.” Everyone in silence.
“I like the feeling of cool jelly running down my thighs, the soft vacuum-like device that boldly intercepts me with precision. The end of what could be. The end of possibilities. Life doesn’t mean anything. All the toil, all the suffering, all we have to do to become a person is meaningless because it is a lie. We are all condemned to perpetual struggle because of consciousness. Consciousness is the key to dissatisfaction. Abortions are like orgasms. That is why I chose to end consciousness, the end to the struggle. It is so… satisfying.” She closes her eyes when she says that, acting out her little death. I could hear gasps from the audience. I see myself from their eyes. Theirs glued to the image projected on the screen of another character, who I wish I had played telling them about how I actually feel.
“You may think I’m crazy for doing this but I’m not. I’m aware of what I do. I have 47 pictures of supposed children or ultrasound pictures on my wall. Each of them haunts me every day, but this is the sacrifice you make when you want to eliminate any thought. A sacrifice for pleasure. I cry tears of happiness that I chose to end those possibilities. If I look at them closely they resemble cancer cells. Fetus or tadpole? No self-reflexivity. No thoughts. No suffering of this world. No con—.”
The screen goes blank in mid-sentence. The lights are back. I’m standing in the center of the chaos of stars. There’s a loud roar, someone whistles and I’m showered in thunderous applause. Hoots and hollers. No one is wearing their masks anymore. There is heavy feedback as the PA goes off.
“And that was June Husk, in the movie The Unborn Ones. Coming out to one of your local film theaters this year.”
You deserve these applause! That wasn’t me. Applause! Oh god, that wasn’t me!
The sounds dissolve and the flash bulbs fuse, blinding me temporarily but not enough to notice that no one was there. I’m standing in the middle of a hotel room. Staring at an image of a pattern of orange triangles, on a green minimalistic horizon. A tear in the wallpaper as unseemly as cobwebs found on the corners of walls. I hope they recognize me for what I truly am. A fraud.
Water drips from the sink. Tip. Tap. It’s hot when I shed my disguise, a shower of steam to evaporate the mask. My hands feel the cool tiles, as I lean against the shower head, spurting me with the optimal amount of hot water. Eyes downward, circling the drain. I let it consume me. You have it all by yourself, honey, you have conquered the art film scene…let them think it was you…ha-ha… you are their darling….time to think… bigger….bigger than the whole world and it can all be yours now.
The card is on her side table. I don’t deserve applause, they need an explanation. And you won’t give them one! The guilt I felt was real and the punishment felt deserved. Water is circling the drain. The business card is smudged; it’s smudged with dripping mascara. I’ll have the agent call him tomorrow. She always knows best.
© A.R. Minhas 2016