I am in a narrow rectangular room with one closed door off to the side. The small space resembles a log cabin or sauna. The walls are all made from thick pieces of wood. They are still cherry brown and unfinished and smell faintly of the forest they came from. The long back wall and two narrow sides are without windows. They are uncluttered and alight with shadows cast by the single white candle in every corner.
The center of the room is taken up by a row of tall massage tables. They are placed one next to the other without any gap between them. They nearly fill the space. There is just a two foot periphery on every side of them. The padded tables are covered in crisp, sun-smelling white sheets that look orange in the glowing candlelight. They too, seem alive with the constant dance of flame shadows.
The front-wall is made of wood, made of the same cherry hued tree as the others in the room. It is differentiated by a series of five windows that look out onto a cemented patio.
The windows are three feet high and two feet wide. They are spaced four feet apart. Outside I can see a collection of simple metal chairs. The chairs are not facing the windows directly. They are turned to the right, as though the few dozen people sitting in them are awaiting an entertainer perpendicular to the small room.
But all the spectators are turned towards the windows, towards me. Their dark eyes, lit by the florescent overhead lighting that hangs from the ceiling of the outdoor patio and the lit street lamps outside, search through the barrier of the thin glass pane, looking for us inside.
The men in the crowd have thick, dark mustaches and wear top hats. Their suits are cleaned and pressed and gray. There are a few little girls in the crowd wearing dresses with lacy frills at the collar and hem. Despite their child-like dresses, they look just as austere as their mothers, who sit silently with pale faces that reveal no emotion or curiosity, though their heads are all turned towards the windows.
There are twelve massage tables in the room. Each of them is occupied by a young woman. Their torsos are bare and their pelvises are covered with a folded white sheet that also appears to be orange.
I am standing in the center of the room behind the massage tables wearing a sheer white camisole that only gives the illusion of a shirt, my nipples are dark and evident and poking through the fabric. I am massaging a blond woman who lays face up on the table. Her eyes are closed and I run my hands over her firm stomach, feeling her ribs just beneath the skin’s surface.
Each woman on the table is being massaged by someone. I am aware of the crowd outside sitting several dozen feet away from the windows, all of them looking for a peek into the massage room. I don’t look towards them. I am aware of the women beside me and the others on the tables, but I put all my energy into the movement of my hands. I am so focused on my hands that all external shapes fade into the walls and blend seamlessly into candlelight.