MASKED!

MASKED! TRANSFORMATION – the Halloween trick that was a treat!

Mary Williams was a well mannered, shy girl. She never raised her voice, never argued with her husband Bill. She dressed in conservative, even matronly, clothes. Bill was thoughtful and invariably polite, respecting her gentle and retiring nature. Like all men, he let his eye rove as the years of their marriage passed. She couldn’t help noticing that it always roved to those deliciously depraved females whose hips wiggled, whose breasts jutted proudly, who wore tight and provocative clothing, applied makeup with diabolical artifice, whose fingernails were long, red and predatory, who were so roundly despised by the envious extremists of the liberation front. They were caricature females, Mary told herself. Perhaps the libbers were right!

Beyond the way they looked, they were nothing but glittering fantasy for little boys, she decided. None could hold up their end of a conversation, few could cook, only a handful were successfully married as she was, with a kind, considerate and eminently successful husband who loved and protected her, like her Bill. Why, in comparison to those life-sized Barbi dolls, she was a queen; her intellectual skills and emotional maturity were reality compared with their cheap illusion. But nagging questions remained: Did men respond physically and erotically to fact or illusion? Were the sensitive, delicate unions of her marriage the only approach to a sensual relationship? What, if anything, could she do about these problems?

Looking in the house diary one day, she noticed that Bill had scribbled something for October 31st, barely a month away. “What’s this on the 31st, Bill?”, she asked. “Did you accept an invitation? Its a Saturday, and that’s Halloween – they say the really big Halloweens are the ones that fall on Saturdays!”

An unusual party invitation –

“Sure, I accepted an invitation to the Johnson’s. He’s invited a couple of dozen friends to a really big Halloween bash, and this one has a real kink in it.” Bill smiled as he contemplated the evening to come. Mary frowned: “What’s so different?” He glanced over at her. “The rules. Husbands and wives must come separately, and neither must tell the other about their costumes. I’m going as a …… ooops!”, he caught himself just in time. “It’ll mean a little planning. Ill get changed and leave while your bathing, and you can take a taxi over later.”

Mary thought a lot about the Johnson’s party. What could she possibly wear? What unrecognizable character could she assume? And the biggest question was implicit in the invitation: how could she possibly costume herself so that Bill would not recognize her? And if all the couples had the same problem, how would she recognize anyone? It promised to be an evening to remember, but she could not see any answer to her dilemma.

A far out solution –

During the following week, as she was browsing at an exclusive boutique in the neighborhood, she discovered the solution. There, on display on a stand, was a beautiful rubber head that enclosed the wearers head entirely, topped with a blond wig. The exotic rubber features of the head stimulated her imagination strangely. The pouting lips were glossy and sexy, the eyelashes so long and fluffy she was astounded, the eyelids colored in gradations of blue and green up to the arched brows, the nose pert and upturned. She thought about the Barbi doll girls that Bill would glance at when he thought she wasn’t looking, and she made up her mind. She bought the head, and with it a stunning, long blond wig that tumbled down the back in frivolous abandon.

But what about clothes? Friends of theirs who had heard about the
Johnson’s party were abuzz with gossip. The elaborate preparations and lengths to which each was going to make sure they were unique and totally unrecognizable. Truman Capote’s New York bash would surely take second place in the record! What would she wear with the head and wig? How could she out-do the Barbi dolls? More important, what would she dare do, considering the sensitive, kind and gentle nature and the implied violence and eroticism of modern clothes?

Mary’s initial response was to abandon the whole plan. But then, as she
thought more about the party, she changed her mind. “Its only a game, adult play!” she told herself. “Were releasing our fantasies in a harmless and healthy way.” “No one will really ever know.” “There’s absolutely nothing wrong or unpleasant about it, and no miserable blue-nose is going to tell me there is!” Fortified by these thoughts, she shopped around with great care, and bought a collection of clothing that almost embarrassed her to think about. But then, she had to hide it away, and hope Bill wouldn’t find it.

At last – the big night –

Finally the night arrived, and she and Bill made the pact necessary to complete the terms of the invitation. He would surely identify her during the evening, he said, and would drive her home after she took her taxi there. He would bathe, shave and dress, and leave by 6:30 (“I can wear most of my costume in the car and put the last touches in place when I get there,” he’d said.) She would then have the house to herself, to bathe and dress and get the taxi (“Lots of girls are taking taxis, like me, so don’t stand there and watch for me,” shed said.)

The whirr-clonk of the electric garage door closing was her signal to
leave the bathroom. Without the need for makeup, the task would be easier, but she was relaxed and thorough. First she laced herself into her waist-cinching corset. It pulled her body into a voluptuous shape that made her breathless both in the feeling and the looking – the cunningly padded breasts thrust up and out unbelievably, contrasting with the tiny constricted waist she had created, and the smooth, full hips beneath. “That’s not real, not me,” she decided to herself as she studied the result in the mirror. “But reality has nothing to do with what were up to this evening,” she reminded herself. After pulling on the sheer black pantyhose, she brought out the knee-high, spike-heeled boots and laced them tightly. “Walking and dancing in those heels is going to be quite a challenge,” she mused. The tight knitted sheath with its high neck and long sleeves was a struggle, but finally it was in placed, zipped up the back except for the last six inches, and the broad belt buckled tightly. She stood and looked at herself in the mirror, not believing what she saw there. “It’ll be all right by the time I’m finished,” she insisted under her breath. “No one will know me.”

When she opened her drawer and looked at the exotic rubber head, she felt a sudden wave of fear come over her. What did she think she was up to? What was this crazy game, with its symbols and objects and fetishes? How could a girl like her be involved in a project that would make her a mindless sex object and would strip her of identity and personality, values and thinking, her shy nature and her need for devotion and respect from her husband? Could Mary go through with it?

She forcibly closed her mind to intellectual considerations, and lifted the head from its box. The big plastic eyes, shocking blue and unlike her gentle brown eyes, stared boldly back at her. The sensual lips, varnished dark red seemed to leer at her. The thick lashes and brown-green eye shadow that receded up to the eyebrows mocked her. In just a few minutes, she would be inside those features, animating the unreal personality they presented to the world. The moment of truth had arrived. Could she go through with it?

Something deep in her mind was stirring, trying to tell her something. She sat wrapped in thought for what seemed like a long time, struggling for recall. Something about the theater and the psychology of masks and mystery, the occult and the macabre. Then it flashed to her – a memory from her teen time, when shed been wrapped in the theater and read and tried everything her curious mind could find. She recalled scanning her fathers encyclopedia – wasn’t it the Brittanica? – and turning to “Masks”. The entire history was laid out before her eyes, in drawings and photographs; how the Chinese and Japanese and Indians had used masks for religious and theatrical ceremonies; how the Romans and Greeks had employed them as basic props in their work; how the English masques of Elizabethan times had amused and baffled the populace.

Then she remembered the modern uses, including the ritual fury of Genets “The Blacks” in the 50s and 60s, and the shattering surprises of “Planet of the Apes” that had boggled an entire cult in the 70s. Finally she fixed on what had been disturbing her from the encyclopedia – the work and words of the famed Czech transplant to New York, Vladislav Benda. Benda had created some of the most beautiful and dramatic masks in the history of the theater in the 30s and 40s, using a wide range of materials including papier mache, strips of paper and cloth, scraps of rubber, pieces of wood. There was his fantastic “Golden Girl” she’d remembered seeing in the movie Games with Katherine Ross and Simone Signoret, shown in all its mystical beauty in a full-color plate in the big book.

The mystical psychology of the mysterious mask –

Benda’s words burned into her mind, with a power and detail that made her almost gasp with the recollection: “There is no denying the incredible mystical and psychological power of the mask. The wearer literally becomes the personality visible to the outside world, and internal personality traits are submerged, forgotten, abandoned. The aging hag masked as the beautiful young girl undergoes metamorphosis into the graceful, sylph like creature she sees in her mirror; the demure young girl wearing the mask and clothes of the painted harlot acquires the strutting, depraved abandonment of her new face, all restraint thrown to the winds.” Mary paused, suspended in time and space by her own thoughts and feelings, sensing a road ahead that could only be traversed in one direction. Did she dare go forward, down that road?

She sat looking in the mirror, the internal struggle between propriety and abandonment raging within her. She looked down at the incredible, corseted body that had once been hers, felt the cruel arching of her feet in the boots, and lifted the beautiful rubber head into place with a strange little smile.

Metamorphosis!

The molded rubber features slid back to greet and embrace her face. She felt the smooth, rubbery texture envelope her skin, sensed the tang of the latex molding, experienced the sensation of her lips curving into the shape of the molded mouth, blinked as the plastic eyes appeared in front of her own eyes, shuddered as the slit at the back of the head closed over the wig cap shed put over her hair. In the mirror she was able to see for the first time what she had done. It was shocking, unbelievable, mystical. Benda had been right.

Mary had disappeared, gone, vanished. She was no more, and in her place was this exotic and sexy person with big blue eyes, shiny and sensual lips, arched brows, heavy blue-green eye shadow, dark and lustrous lashes. She closed her eyes in disbelief, and used her sense of touch to complete the lacing at the back of the head, first pulling it together, then tightening it, then re-tightening it once more from top to bottom until it enclosed her face and head as if it were a second skin. Then, with a violence she didn’t understand, she knotted the laces twice, three times so that the only possible way to remove them would be to cut the lacing. She groped around, eyes still closed, reaching for the wild blond wig. She found it, lifted it over the bald dome of her rubber head, pulled it down into place, then zipped up the last six inches of her dress. Then, finally, she opened her eyes and regarded her new self through the clear plastic pupils of the eyes.

It was inescapable. Mary had dissolved, disappeared, departed. The blonde she saw was adjusting a curl of its long hair, patting its incredible, shiny red mouth with long red nails, brushing a speck of dust from the slithering, shiny dress. It was a perfect, life-sized doll. The doll got up, walked to the full length mirror – a wiggling, mincing, mindless creature with a tiny waist and big hips and incredible breasts – and looked at itself with huge, staring eyes that never linked. Whatever was inside the sensual exterior skin could not be remembered, as the unbelievable, doll-like figure admired itself with dramatic poses and outrageous mime. To complete the savage, predatory exterior, the creature took a plastic-tipped cigar from the dressing table, forced it between the shiny red lips and flared the lighter. The doll-creature inhaled deeply, and smoke plumed from the nostrils. Leaving the cigar in place, jutting arrogantly from between the lips, the doll picked up the big black vinyl purse and wiggled out to the taxi that had honked in the driveway moments before.

The hit of the party –

Entering the open front door of the Johnson’s, the exotic creature paused for an instant to evaluate the party. Cigar aglow brightly between the shiny red lips, body teasing in its tense voluptuousness, legs straining with tiny steps against the tight skirt, feet arched in the spike-heeled boots, the creature was the center of attention from very guest. Who could it possibly be? The doll was studied by many pairs of human eyes, male and female, eyes looking out from the faces of a gorilla, a tall hooded executioner with hangman’s noose dangling from a belt, a Turkish harem girl, a pair of silver-boxed metal people, a witch of Adams-like evil, a clever simulation of Monsieur Michelin, a scarecrow, a Raggedy Ann, a Frankenstein, and many others. The doll-like creature, its plastic eyes staring, picked a path through the transfixed assembly, and discovered the bar – it could imbibe through a straw and did so, only removing its glowing cigar for brief moments necessary to sample the drink. It preened and posed, well aware of its devastating effect, smoothing the dress as it strained over the erotic body, toying with a stray blonde curl, then mincing over to any available man to find a light for the inevitable cigar, steadying his hand, caressing his cheek, then turning away with a deliberate, contemptuous wiggle.

There was a brief interruption as a telegram was delivered and pinned to the door. All looked at it. It said: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN FROM BILL WILLIAMSON. CAR TROUBLE IN DOWNVILLE. WONT MAKE IT TO PARTY. HAVE FUN
ANYWAY.

With Downville twenty miles away, any thought of identifying Bill was gone, so the doll turned its attention to all the male guests. The mysterious, indecipherable visages were devoid of meaning or personality. No word was spoken; all was mime, emotion, feeling, desire, sensation. Moog synthesized electronic music beat incessantly in the background, and the doll was drawn irresistibly to the tall, hooded hangman. Compelled by the rhythmic throbbing of the music, the couple danced through the living room and out onto the patio. Under the soft outside light, the eye less sockets of the hangman’s hood stared into the fixed plastic lenses of the dolls eyes. Behind the lenses, in the clear pupils, the hangman saw the flicker of human eyes. The music ended, and as the hangman moved forward as if to plant a kiss on the dolls hard, shiny lips, it raised a claw-nailed hand and forced its cigar back in place – the glowing tip drove off the attacker by threatening painful burns.

He was the one – whoever he was –

It was sensation rather than knowledge. The tall, hooded figure had said nothing, revealed nothing. He had danced, drank, played the party games to prerecorded instructions over the hi-fi. Most of the guests had been unmasked, had become known and identified by spouses and friends. Only a few remained incognito, and of them the hangman and the doll were the obvious pair. But the doll-like creature was unreachable, impenetrable. Confident in total anonymity, she cavorted playfully throughout the party; those who had revealed themselves, who felt that the joke and the party had gone as far as they would go, marveled at her. “I haven’t the faintest idea who it is,” said Fred Johnson, still wearing his gorilla suit sans head. The witch, revealed as his wife Cynthia, shrugged: “All I know is that its female, and about to drive every man here out of his mind! Those cigars are outrageous – “would you offer one to a lady,” they ask. Hell, she brought her own.” Terry Martinsen, the big man who had come as one half of the metal couple, agreed: “Whoever is inside there is on the ultimate trip – knowing but not known, like being invisible. If I didn’t know better Id guess it could be Mary, but its impossible. She’s the most demure, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-the-mouth prude in the State, a far cry from the incredible posturing, cigar-smoking doll.” His wife agreed: “It couldn’t possibly be Mary. But don’t forget, Terry, we don’t know everyone Fred and Cynthia invited – and you’re not going to find out anything more about that doll than we can see from here!”

The doll that had been Mary was committed – the brutal hangman was the man who would take her away from the Johnson’s, and by force. Whatever had happened to Bill at Downville was too bad. Transformed into the personality embodied in the exterior of her costume, she wriggled and writhed in abandoned dances, teased the tall hangman yet resisted his advances, entered totally into the sensual personality of her masked, costumed alter ego. Whatever was to happen with the hangman was not really happening to Mary, the shy prude. Mary was somewhere else, if she still existed at all. The erotic, exotic blonde was in charge, in control, out of her mind with the insensate feelings of constriction imparted by her corset, her boots, her wild rubber head, all of which encased her with ruthless and complete totality and anonymity.

Yet for all its rebellious independence, the doll was ultimately helpless in the hands of the big man in the hangman’s hood. In the end, he seized her. Holding her wrists, her purse banging at her side, he pulled her out of the house and into the driveway. Even though she had decided to abandon herself to him ultimately, she felt that stubborn resistance was in character, but her tight skirt and spike heels made it impossible to prevent herself being hustled out to the waiting car. Crudely he pushed her into the passengers seat, then hurried round to the drivers side before she could get out, and drove off with savage ferocity. Determined to resist to the utmost and maintain the initiative, the doll searched in her purse for a fresh cigar and forced it between her rubber lips. Her lighter was there, and in an instant her defenses were in place once more – a glowing tip that would deter the predatory male.

Only she knew – and she would never tell –

Relaxed now, she surveyed her surroundings. The car seemed vaguely familiar, and suddenly she realized why. It was Bills car. It was Bill. The big, brutal hangman was her husband. Correction, Mary’s husband. The telegram had been a hoax to deceive her … and everyone else. The doll sitting in the car speculated about the situation. She knew, but he didn’t. In an instant, the decision was made. He wouldn’t.
At the motel, the doll sat motionless as the big man found his key and opened the door – he had obviously rented the room earlier with obvious intent to infidelity. The doll didn’t care, and the person that had been Mary pushed any consideration of her real self out of her mind. As the car door opened, the doll emerged as if to escape, but the hangman caught her and thrust her unceremoniously into the room and slammed the door. He snatched the glowing cigar from between the dolls glistening red lips, at the instant she reached out in desperation and tried – unsuccessfully – to pull off his hood …