Oliver did not join me for dinner that night and at first I was relieved. By the end of the meal I was feeling satisfied and content. I thought about the sudden appearance of Oliver and began to feel peevish over my attitude to him. After all, it was not his fault he had rubbed in the wrong way. I resolved to make more of an effort with him. Tonight he would see a different side of me, one that was cheerful, convivial.
I had just put my plate away in the kitchen when Oliver appeared. "Ready?" He asked. I followed him into one of the smaller downstair rooms. I had not heard them arrive, but there were four others seated at a round table: two women and two men. The men wore nondescript clothing and sat hunched furtively. The women by contrast wore bright lurid colours. One who was extremely large wore overflowing bright blue, the voluminous fabric covering her rolls of fat. On her head she wore a turban of the same material. She reeked of cheap perfume and I took care not to stand too close to avoid being overcome by floral fumes. She held Tarot cards.
"As you can see, there are cards, but we're not going to be playing the sort of games you supposed." Oliver heartily slapped me on the back and the others laughed at his jest. The other woman, wearing far too much lipstick and rouge, threw back her head in laughter, exposing a missing front tooth. I tried to hide my distaste. This was not the sort of company I was used to. Swarthy, ill-kempt men, one woman with contrived good looks and the other, some sort of Madame of the Occult. I could see Oliver watching me, waiting for a reaction. Remembering my earlier resolve, I squared my shoulders and sat by the woman who reminded me of a harlot. Oliver sat on my other side. "Brandy?" He asked. I nodded, feeling the need to fortify myself. He poured a glass. There was cigar smoke in the air, as the two men were smoking these. Oliver himself proffered one to me. I declined.
I had never been to a seance before, never had any cards read, not offered my palm to be scrutinised. I was surprised, however, that someone like Oliver could be mixed up in clairvoyance. The Madame began her show and I found, after a spell, her voice receding to the background of my mind and then intermittently rising to the surface. I sat in a stupor, my eyelids heavy. The faces around the table blurred and I felt as if weights had been placed upon my limbs. There must have been sweat on my brow, for I felt clammy and longed to undo my collar button. To my horror, I felt nimble fingers undoing my trousers. I could see the harlot woman leaning forward toward me and then moving downward, her's being the fingers indecently placed where they should not have been. The room swayed, my cheeks felt afire and I felt sensations that were at once acutely pleasurable and repulsive. Oliver handed the woman a goblet, she spat into it and then gave it back. I was struck dumb by what had just happened, and wanted to leave, but did not have the strength to move.
I must have passed out because later I realised I was upon my own bed. Oliver stood looking down at me. "What have you done?" I asked weakly.
"Never mind all that. You just rest for now." With that he was gone.