Faith was told to wear her mask; that was going to be how he recognised her. It was also his fetish. She felt embarrassed but instead of trying somehow to blend in or minimise her presence she role-played as someone genuinely enjoying wearing a goat mask in a busy cafe. People who entered gave amused or perplexed looks, mainly asians she noticed, but once settled at their tables acclimatised remarkably quickly. They sipped their chais, typed on their computers and phones, and had conversations that didn’t involve her and the deliberately hideous mask.
One man who had gotten up to leave after a time of serious, perturbed gazing, Faith thought as a form of protest, turned out to be plotting in fact a form of public support, like Spartacus—returning only minutes later with masks for he and his wife, who after transforming into a bug-eyed Indonesian demon in mauve and gold, turned and nodded knowingly. Her husband, finishing his drink in a gulp, and still standing donned a mask that made him look like the Grey alien from the cover of Communion—flat head, giant black eyes, a small slit of a mouth where she could see his pink lips and moustache hair poke through. More subtle than his wife, he sat, leaned back with one leg crossed and casually browsed something on his phone. The infection seemed to spread, a barista next applying a mask of Stalin he had gotten from somewhere, several others filming the unfolding modern art instalment that was the downtown franchise coffeehouse on a midday weekday, and once word had gotten out that a woman wearing a goat mask had started a movement representing freedom, or progressivism, or self-acceptance or something, people from five miles away had rushed the space wearing their gaudy, imbecilic masks, terrifying children and shorting the social media and news network with an effluence of manic and self-congratulatory images, videos and reports of the happening.