The party

from an imaginary Lucerne diary.

Sometimes I return to my hotel long after midnight, when the streets are dark and most of the lights in the apartment buildings are out. On the last street before I make the turn towards my hotel, I pass this place that seems to be a bar, except the windows are covered by boards and the door is a solid wooden slab. I wouldn’t have known that it was a bar if not for the fact that tonight, as I was coming back after another long evening walk, the door opened just as I was passing the boarded-up windows. A brilliant rectangle of yellow light fell onto the pavement. Two men lurched out into the street, shouting loudly back through the door. They were both short, with small, pointed features, noticeably made up with thick mascara and dark eyeliner. They were wearing tight black clothes that resembled matador outfits. I walked around them and saw through the open door a roomful of people squeezed around table laden with bottles and glasses. In one corner was a man with frizzy black hair playing a Spanish guitar. Everyone around the table looked like they could have worked in a circus or a transvestite cabaret. At the head of the table was an individual in a tight fitting, sequined pink dress, the d├ęcolletage revealing thick tufts of black chest hair. A wig of white curls rose high on his head, with locks that framed a broad face from which long false eyelashes blinked out. In front of him/her was a birthday cake, and s/he was handing around slices of it on quartered paper plates. A woman sitting at the edge of the table nearest the door saw me, smiled faintly, and beckoned me to come in. The two matadors on the street started shouting: ‘Ja, ja, hereinkommen! Besetzen sie hier!’ (‘Yes, yes, come in, sit down here!’). I hesitated, thinking it might be fun to go in for a quick drink before sleep, but I chickened out. I shook my head, tapped my watch, and laid my head against my hands to indicate that I needed to sleep. There was a brief outbreak of falsetto laughter, and then the matadors went back in and the door slammed shut behind them.