I hate doing the lobby mingle. After the show, before the show, between the acts, they gather and chatter like wind-up toys. It makes me feel like I’m in a cage or at the bottom of a hole or beneath a thousand feet of frosted glass.

That night I ran up to the balcony that overlooks the lobby and observed the social orgy from a safe distance. I could feel the calm coming over me once I was away from the crowd. A cold detachment set in. I was a social scientist making mental notes on distasteful subjects. But most of all, I was free of the threat of one of those creatures speaking to me.

Just then I began to sense something. The presence of another human being beside me. Another silent, frightened sole who had crept away from the noise to watch.

I wanted to turn to him and say “hello!” but fear paralysed me Nothing I said would ever come out right. So, I stood frozen looking straight on, hoping that he might speak first.

The silence continued and soon it was too late to say anything. The period of appropriate introduction had past and again I was alone. I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around my rib cage and listened to the empty space expanding around me. I Listened more and I could hear the crowd below and then, softer still, the sound of my companion breathing.

With my eyes closed I slid my hand along the brass rail until the side of my pinkie touched his fist at a single hot point. My body was lit up electric and I thought I might tremble to pieces.

I didn’t move. I didn’t dare open my eyes for fear of meeting a questioning stare. I felt him move his hand away and the earth spun into a colder region of space. But. then. in the space of a second-long eternity. I felt his hand come to rest over mind. I was covered. The earth returned to her course! That single point of contact was magnified by millions of skin cells, an acre of flesh, a yawning cavity fell open on my hand and I was nearly driven to tears as human energy, the kind that causes a sudden cold sweat rushed in.

I opened my eyes and looked at him only to find another animal just as frighted as I ever was with his eyes closed, his face red, holding on to my hand for dear life.

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