The masquerade ends at eleven. On the stroke of midnight the rentals come due, being the next day and all. Standing at the stoops, bulbous carriages and plump old ladies with growths on their backs. Some shoot up dragons, falling over on their faces as they rub glitter bombs deep into their gums.
One of the drivers, Marianne, keeps a spile on hand to tap into the side of the carriage. The carriage is only as big as the ego of the passenger, fuelled by their hubris and drama. Tonight, her charge is the sister to the belle of the ball, allowing for an enlarged ride, flavoured with a bitterness that you can only grow at home.
On long nights like these, Marianne winds up 70% inebriated, 20% standing and 10% socially blind. She's a little drunk with a big thirst. After tapping the first few cups, everything from the ball inside becomes somewhat acousmatic. The band veils itself behind a blur, heavy eyelids getting heavier on each sip. Heads bob and sway to the string section, the kind of music you fall off the stoop for.
Shouts of "Soylent Green is people!" comes from another carriage, its driver taking to watching video clips. Another does crossword puzzles. They each pass the time their own way. Eleven-thirty comes and passes along, midnight getting closer still. Tick tick tick, the creep of seconds into minutes into the clock's prayer hands.
This is the sound of waiting outside as the party inside plays on. The sounds of glitter falling away from the side of Marianne's face and draining off into the garden. The sounds of another video clip loading up a classic line.
The sounds that lead into the moments after the last song, when the ears reach out from both sides trying to grasp between silence and a reckoning.
If the doors on the carriages close before the stroke of midnight, that's enough to claim the return. Now it's waiting to see if the drivers can see beyond the gravel buried in their cheeks.
Written on Friday, 4 April 2014