They dance at parties now who only ten years ago moved like tan machines or seated at desks impersonated receptionists or standing stiffly with legs spread functioned as security guards. No one is surprised to hear them speak or even reason, but their jokes sound like explanations of jokes and their smiles are terrifying. This one wants to dance with me. His brilliant teeth await my answer. I think I must accept. While I ponder bad alternatives I shift uneasily left and right and watch him follow my movements by turning together his shoulders and head. In this way I unmask him. I ask him if he knows I am a man. I ask it playfully. As he takes me in his arms, a breathtakingly quick and subtle sequence of facial tensions replicates an expression of pity ever so effectively. I can only follow. I know exactly what you are, he tells me. He exhales the heat of his thinking. His eyes, like all their eyes, focus longer and more sharply on their subject than is comfortable. His shoulders tense convincingly as he moves. Swept along backwards, I am scrutinized by other eyes as well, from tables around the dance floor, by the photographer near the door. I try to see what they must see. They’ve all been waiting for him to leave or identify himself and now they must be relieved that his business is with me. He presses my back against the wall and asks me a question that sounds like an equation. I answer without knowing how I know. And then as if I’d been reset a scroll of calculations passes before my eyes like the closing credits of a complicated movie. I know exactly what you are, I tell him, and we start taking prisoners.

Copyright © December 29, 2007 David Hodges