The Show Must Go On: (Day 5 - Afternoon)

As the clock wound down toward nightfall, activity within the cabaret developed an increasing sense of controlled chaos…and Marisol found herself right in the epicenter. “It’s easy,” she explained to the two wait staff they’d added for the evening, “six rows of tables, four tables each. Numbered left to right. One, two, three, four,” she pointed out the row nearest the stage. “Five, six, seven eight. Got it?” The younger women nodded. “Great. There’s a stack of silver tablecloths in the bar storage. Start decking the tables and I’ll be back to help with the centerpieces.”

The wait staff were uncommonly crisp, each with spiky dark hair over black apparel, augmented by silver bow ties. Her own copy of that outfit lay sorted upon her bed. But, she realized, the real challenge would be actually making it back to her room. “Marisol!” Jean Jacques summoned her from the stage, “we’re ready to sample your backing vocals!”

“Can we do it in five?” she asked.

“We’re outta time,” he shrugged. “Keys need to move from the rehearsal room for sound check onstage.”

“Okay, give me half a second,” the harried woman jumped onto the stage. “Did you hear that, Arturo? You’ve gotta clear the stage for the band.”

“Just another few minutes,” he said easily, his hand smooth and steady with the paint brush. “I’m nearly finished.”

“Alright…but don’t run off!” she called over her shoulder as she followed Jean Jacques. “I need you to help me hang that drop!”

“Yes, mother!” he laughed.

Too busy to offer a retort, Marisol followed Jean Jacques down the narrow corridor to a dingy room dubbed “Rehearsal.” Inside was a near barren space, walls covered in cardboard egg crates with a simple overhead lightbulb for illumination. This was the band’s space, a room used for practices when the stage was busy, or in her case, recording vocal tracks for background harmonies. The smoke which hung in the air told Marisol that the band had other uses for the space as well.

“Oh, thank Buddha!” the keyboardist exclaimed as she rushed in. “How many support tracks do we have to lay down?”

She glanced toward Jean Jacques. “You guys are backing me live on “Golden Years,” right?” At his nod, she said, “Shiny. Just harmonies on “No Necesito.”

“Let’s do it.”

A moment later, she stood before a mic, headphones clamped to her ears. As the keyboardist played the refrain, Marisol belted out the backing vocal.

“No necesito su aprobación
Ni el vil metal con que me tientan…”

“Can we record it once more?” Jean Jacques asked.

“I gotta change clothes,” Marisol objected.

“It’ll just take a couple minutes..”

“Then I’ll be singing in my underwear,” she quipped.

The keyboardist piped up. “I could go for that!”

“Har har har!” she shouted as she moved for the stairs. Marisol bounded upward, hastily taking the steps two at a time.. Tonight was the Solstice…the signature event of the holiday season, as well as the biggest night for the cabaret. The morning’s discovery of vandalism had left them all with a distinct unease for how this evening might turn out, but no amount of personal misgiving would lessen the work to be done. The show, after all, must go on…

The work boots, socks, and coveralls soon lay in a heap on her bedroom floor. Now clad in the same waiters’ clothing as the others, she took a moment to adjust the bowtie. Her makeup could use a few touches…

There was a knock at the door. “Come in!” she said as she brushed eyeliner.

“Oh, Mar-mar!” Remy exclaimed as he opened the door. “Look at what I have for you!” He proudly extended a clothes hanger. The black dress which flowed beneath it was a modest, knee length cut with shoulder sleeves and a comfortable neckline.

“Oh, mi Dios!” she grinned, her excitement obvious as she pressed the garment against herself. “This is for ‘Eyes, Hearts, Hands?”

“Yes. And I even found flats!” He offered the simple cloth shoes. She accepted them as if they were diamonds.

“These are sooo perfect!” Marisol beamed. “I might have to keep them!”

Remy shrugged. “They won’t fit me. Be my guest. So, Arturo and I wanted to add one more song to the finale, but you’d do the vocal.” He presented a page which contained the night’s set list. As Marisol studied the song titles, he asked, “what do you think?”

“Well,” she tilted her head thoughtfully, “After ‘Eyes, Hearts, Hands’ my voice is liable to be a little rough sounding…but no way could I turn this down.” Marisol smiled at the showman. “We’re gonna go down fighting tonight, huh?”

“We won’t be pushed off to the side,” Remy offered a smile…which diminished slightly as his gaze landed upon her open night table drawer. “So, I see you got yourself a boyfriend.”

Her brows lifted. “I…what?” Marisol asked, utterly confused until her eyes followed Remy’s to the open drawer…from which the oversized sex toy named ‘Pietro’ now pointed skyward. She dissolved into raucous laughter, folding her arms over her stomach as she bent double. “That…..that…..rotten….” she gasped for air as paroxysms of laughter wracked her tiny frame.

“Excuse me?”

“Sister Lyen!” Marisol chortled. “She….oh, that rotten witch!”

His mouth fell open in astonishment. “The nun? Left that?”

She lifted a hand in a game attempt to regain herself…but Remy’s shocked expression only brought fresh spasms of laughter. “Oh….oh…I am so gonna get her!”

During the short time they had until the cabaret’s doors opened, Marisol couldn’t help but burst into unprompted giggling. Still, there was an underlying sadness to her mirth. Her time aboard Lunar Veil hadn’t been easy…there were some who’d made it unnecessarily difficult…but she would forever remember Lyen Giu. The nun had been a bright and lovely part of life aboard that boat…and she hoped they’d cross paths again.

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