Could This Be Love? (02)

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A Story by Deborah Benson

 Little Party

In the theater we suspend our disbelief so for a moment, just one moment, we can all be something beside ourselves.

The excited buzzing in Kim’s head refused to stop. Only an hour into her new job and she had already been given a gracious tip and been asked if she was a part of the show by two older gentlemen. But the buzzing in her head wasn’t from any complement or amount of money, something strange had kicked in when she visited the couple she could only assume where close friends of the production based off their seats.

The blonde man had barely spoken to her yet his voice intoxicated Kim in a way she couldn’t understand. It was as if they had met before some time far to long ago for either to remember. Even the bartender sensed something strange was going on, clearing his throat to bring her back to earth.

“Now’s not the time to get ditzy on us, doll,” the man smiled, his long brown hair tied back out of his face. “We’ve got the dancers for that.”

Kim couldn’t help but laugh in agreement, watching the curtain rise to a hoard of scantily clad women dancing some foreshadowing number about the protagonist’s future. Their skirts swinging up to tease the nearest members of the audience with surprisingly bedazzled undergarments. “Do you think they ever get tired of wearing those things? They don’t seem comfortable.”

The man whose name she had learned before her shift to be Reed simply smiled, obviously not having cared about the comfortable level of the dancers before she brought it up. “Let me tell you something about those dancers, for future reference,” he started, handing her two drinks for the front table. “If they do their job well, at the end of the night they have enough money to forget about any bruise or scratch those pretty little things cause.”

Taking the drinks with a smile Kim left for the front table, watching as the women danced around energetically, their smiles convincing everyone in the audience how happy they were to be selling the idea of love to hundreds of different people. Even Kim found her self- believing that with the right amount of hip gyrations and flashes of skin she could make the audience fall in love with her.

With the an outrageous amount of applause from the audience Kim placed the drinks down at the front table, smiling down to the handsome blonde man for the second time that night. “Enjoying the show so far?” she asked.

“So far so good!” the thinner man on the opposite side of the table replied, covering for his friend’s silence. “Why don’t you take a seat?

The lead’s about to come on and it’s rude to be walking around during a performance.”

A momentary panic flashed through the blonde’s eyes as Kim could almost swear she heard him kick the smaller man underneath the table. “You shouldn’t be so forward Mark,” he said in a strained whisper as the opening notes for the next song began to play. “She’s busy working, something I know you’re not too familiar with.”

Before Kim could defend the smaller man the lighting throughout the theater changed. A soft blue lighting covered the stage as a spotlight shown down on a single woman in a long glittering dress, her presence absorbing the attention of every person in the theater. Much to Kim’s disdain, for that one grand entrance she couldn’t find a single fault in Serena’s face as she began to sign with the music, enchanting the blonde man in front of her.

The music continued, picking up pace as the dancers began to intertwine their paths with Serena’s grabbing at her dress to take off the long skirt, revealing a skimpier garment than any of the other dancers. Her movements became quick and fluid, dancing down to the floor level with the aid of several male dancers, doting on her with lustful eyes.

Yet not once did Serena’s gaze leave the front table. Transfixing the blonde into believing the dance was for him, though Kim could only assume his friend had fallen for her as well. Her dance was intoxicating even if she didn’t’ want to admit it. Kimberly tried her hardest to keep from staring, but once Serena moved down to the front table and flashed a dazzlingly bright smile towards the blonde she knew it was time to leave. Without a word to Mark or his friend, doubting they would have noticed anyway.

As Kim walked away she notice Serena, with the aid of the doting male dancers, manage to get up onto the top of the table. Both men’s eyes were glued up as she danced on top of the table, following her as she knelt down to pull the blonde’s silk tie from under his jacket. His face flushing deep red as she placed one kiss on his cheek, leaving a bright red lipstick mark in her tracks as she moved down from the table with a wink.

Well someone’s looking for extra tips. Kim thought, not entirely sure why she felt jealous of a man whose name she didn’t even know.

Taking a moment to shake off the feeling Kim heard the song end and not once did she bother to return to the front table.

The show ended with a standing ovation as it did every night. Serena took her bow, again as she did every night. The girls ran backstage eagerly waiting and gossiping about the requests coming in for their services, as they did every night. And as happened every night Serena waited for the highest paying customer to put in their bid for her attention.

But none came.

“Check the requests again,” she ordered a stagehand. “Dakota must still be trying to rake up the price.”

The stage hand looked up to Serena confused.

“There are no more requests ma’am. You weren’t requested.”

Unable to believe the man Serena stormed off the stage, heading back to Dakota’s office across from the dressing rooms. She was always requested. She was the lead! The only way she wouldn’t have been requested was if Dakota hadn’t allowed her to be requested in the first place and that only happened for first times and people about to be let go. Serena had worked too hard to be let go now.

“What is the meaning of this?” Serena barged into the office unannounced.

“That depends on what you’re fussing about this time,” Dakota said disinterested. A pile of bills and checks on her desk sorted out by who they were meant to purchase. “If you’re talking about my taking you off the bill then I have nothing to say.”

Serena felt her throat begin to close up as her body started to shake. Everything she had done was to stay in the spotlight and move from their stage to a real theater, to become a real actress. She had done everything right; the wealthiest men in the audience should be fighting her for right now, not groveling for a cut of the profits.

“I wont let you do this! I’m the best girl you have! You can’t just toss me aside!” This can’t be happening, I can’t be fired!

“Serena stop your whining. You know very well you’ve been here longer than any of the other girls.” Dakota went right back to counting her money. “Keeping you here has cost me a lot of talent, I’m not a fool. I know you framed that last girl for stealing money, and the girl before that had no problems with her ankle until she had to borrow your shoes. You’ve simply become more trouble than you’re worth.” The pile where Serena’s cut usually sat was bare.

“I’ll let you stay but once this show closes we wont be needing you as our lead. Leila can take your spot until we have a routine for our investor.”

“Dakota please! I can handle the investor! You can’t put me in the back now! Leila won’t know the first thing about keeping a conversation up or actually winning a man over!”

For the first time during their meeting Dakota’s eyes met Serena’s, sending a threatening glare towards the dancer. “Leila won’t be handling the investor. I’ll be finding someone new to replace you. Now I suggest you leave before I do have you fired.” With a dismissive wave of the hand Dakora returned to her work. “And tell Kimberly to clean off the stage. She could do with seeing the view.” Bleep

He would forget his wallet .

John walked back into the theater for the second time that night, having been tricked into retrieving Mark’s wallet for him when he left for the bathroom to not return. He figured this was a strange roundabout way to get back at him for managing to get a kiss from the lead girl when Mark couldn’t even get their waitress to bring them a second round of drinks.

Of course he would have liked to see the waitress return to their table as well. Something about the girl left him muddled up inside but he wasn’t about to let that affect his better judgment. If she worked for Dakota that already meant he was better off keeping a safe distance from her. Nothing good ever came from the showgirls.

Mark thought she was rather cute though, what was her name again…Kim-something… John let his thoughts wander as he walked back up to the front table, finding Mark’s wallet picked clean of any cash he had. Of course, that was probably whatever he bothered to bring too. With a small sigh John picked up the wallet, fully planning on heading back out until he saw the girl from earlier sitting on the edge of the stage, staring up to the higher seats.

Any thoughts he had before vanished, he could barely even remember why he returned in the first place. All he knew was he wanted to talk to her, but for the life of him couldn’t find the words.

“Its um… it’s better if you stand up, I’d assume,” he managed to get out automatically regretting not having thought of something smarter.

The girls head turned down to him sharply, her curls bouncing around her face as she began to turn pinker in her cheeks, obviously not knowing she wasn’t alone.

“I needed to sit down,” she replied. “I haven’t been off my feet since this morning.”

John knew he should leave it at that.

Dakota’s employees were all bad news. And yet he found himself walking over to the stage.

“Do you mind if I sit with you then? Mark and I never got the chance to have you join our table.”

“If I remember correctly you were a bit busy sir,” the girl said, her blush not leaving her cheeks. “You can sit if you like though, I don’t own the place. My name is Kimberly, just incase you forgot.”

Something in her tone through John off. It was as if she was blaming him for having the dancer come to their table. He didn’t mind it though; she still agreed to let him join her.

“And mine is John, ” he said, easily pulling himself up to sit beside her on the main stage. “Just incase I forgot to mention.”

A small smile came out across Kimberly’s face causing John to smile himself.

“You did. But I’m sure you can find a way to make up for it.” Her smile grew. “I need some help cleaning this place.”

…to be continued

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