Girls Night at The Fellini

From the Story Arc: Sketches of Spain

Previous Story in the Arc: Past is Present by Gato Rojo (Wednesday, September 01, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: A Shadowed Cat is Always Black by Gato Rojo (Wednesday, December 07, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, September 15, 2004)

When she first walked in the door Guido thought she was just another broad in off the street all dressed up in her fancy sequins hoping to get a little, “powder room money” off the mafia toughs sitting at the bar.

“Five bucks to get in lady, no one gets a free ticket,” he leered, eyes roaming freely down the smoky path ending nearly at her navel.

Gato raised her gaze to recapture Guido’s roaming stare, “I think you do not understand friend, I’m the entertainment.”

“I’m sure you are honey – you look plenty entertaining to me.”

Gato’s eyes took on a strange glow.  “Again, friend, I don’t think you understand. I AM singing here tonight.”

The look on Guido’s face became slightly less confident and more confused. “But its Karaoke night – everyone is sing…” he trailed off, now totally enraptured. With a small bow Guido moved away from the door clearing the way into the bar.

She pauses at the bar to order a double martini. One glance at the man sitting next to her and he shells out the cash for her drink. As her second mark of the evening makes a move to slip one beefy arm around her waist Gato deftly sidesteps and makes her way towards the stage.

Karaoke wasn’t going to start for another half hour or so at least. The stage was still dark but the mic was hot. Gato leans in from the shadows so that the dim bar light glints off her cherry red lipstick.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.”

Her greeting was met by stony silence from the smoke filled room.

“I’m afraid I’ll need one of you to accompany me – does anyone play?”

One pale arm rises out of the darkness to point out a young buck sitting nearby. The poor boy barely knows what hit him as he finds himself compelled towards the piano, stage left. As he walks past Gato he manages to choke out, “but… but… I… I… I… don’t play. What am I doing?” Gato pulls her face back from the microphone to whisper, “Don’t worry ducks, you’ll do fine,” and presses one warm hand against the flesh of his arm.  As he seats himself at the bench his hands automatically place themselves on the keyboard. They begin to play a tinkling intro, much to his obvious surprise.

Gato leans back towards the mic and begins to sing very softly…

 “En la calle de los Muros
mataron, a una paloma
Yo cortaré con mis manos
las flores, de su corona.”

All eyes are suddenly glued to the stage.

At a break in the music she whispers, “Lights,” and the stage illuminates throwing a shower of red sparks off her glittering sequined gown. Suddenly the song shifts tempo and Gato’s voice rings out strong and pure. The club begins filling up – mob boy after made man, molls and dolls and dames and all the other mobsters to low level for the classier joints. Finally, The Boss.  Don Giovanni in all his very ample flesh.

Hours pass, Gato continues to sing and tell a few blue jokes here and there. The crowed loves her. In no time she had gone from just another girl in off the street to their beloved diva. A constant flow of martinis reaches her with the barest glace at the bartender. Men throw money and gold watches at her feet - the women give up their jewels with cries that she must keep singing all night long. At the apex of a raucous Italian country song dressed up to a frank Sinatra beat the boss himself approached the stage. With a wink and a smile, Gato points the mic stand towards his throat. Oblivious to the implied threat, Don Giovanni takes off his platinum Saint Dismas medallion and hangs it from the stand. Gato’s smile widens.

At the end of the song she asks the crowd if they’d like to hear a few more jokes. They scream that they would, anything, just stay on the stage.

“So, how many of you are in The Family?” The bartender suddenly finds something very interesting in the ice bin while all the other men in the place and most of the women raise their hand. Even her morsel of a piano player lifts his tired fingers from the board long enough to join in.

“So, you should know what you get when you cross a Mafia soldier with a Jehovah’s witness, Si? Lots of converts!”

This brings a roar of laughter from the crowed and the jokes continue in this vein, mostly harmless, earning more laughs than their content would seem to merit. Lost in their mirth they don’t notice the when the jokes take a mean turn.

“It is time to land the fish,” Gato thinks to herself and with a blink unclenches the tiniest bit of her control. She allows the radius of her mez to seep inwards releasing the edge of the crowd. She shoots off a few more one liners causing the men seated at the bar to mutter as the tigresses begin to growl. Gato steps off the stage and lets her rolling gait lead her straight towards the boss. With each step the sway of her hips becomes more pronounced and the radius of the mez tightens to a pinpoint directed solely on the Don. With his eyes glued south by southwest he’s an easy target and still in her thrall. “And now, los innocents,” she mumbles to herself, gently sending several members of the audience into a daze none of the newly freed minds seem to notice. She comes to rest directly in front of the boss, so close the cheapness of his white suit is betrayed by the weave of the fabric.

“I am very sure all of you know we have a special guest with us this evening. Don Giovanni, please stand up and collect your due.”

Don Giovanni stands, giving a little flourish of his hand. The crowed cheers, for once not paying much attention to the women standing before them.

“Si, we all know who the wonderful Don Giovanni is, but some of you may not know what is happening in the life of his beloved mother now that sonny has left the nest. Si si, I am seeing her just the other day, kicking tin can down street.” The smile left her voice. “She told me she was moving.”

There’s the barest moment of silence before the boss let out a howl of rage and the crowd surges forward - out for blood from the girl they worshiped a moment before.  As the closest hand moves to seize her arm its owner finds himself flying through the air with the rest of the crowd, closely followed by the chairs, tables, and cocktail glasses. Only those who hadn’t raised their hands and the piano player seem insulated somehow. They remain dazed and unharmed as the debris and bodies flew past them.

When the dust settled on a sea of jumbled backs Gato picked her way to the most expensive purse she could find in the rubble. It’s still attached to the arm of the women who came in with the boss. The boss himself lies beside her. Gato checks their pulse. Don Giovanni is ready to trade in his cheap suit for las flores para los muertos but his woman still lives. The rest of the patrons also survived though some would awake more bruised than others. As she takes the bag from the unconscious woman Gato feels a nagging tickle in the back of her mind - it was the same color as the purse she had wanted to give to someone else once…but the thought is quickly lost as she returns to the stage to scoop up all her many offerings. The platinum medallion she removes from the mic stand and takes to the piano player. With a sharp slap to the face she wakes him from his trance.

“Here,” she says, placing the medallion in his hand.  “Keep this as reminder to stick with piano playing.”

She walks towards the bartender. Another innocent spared, he’s frozen in place and still holding the drink he had just mixed. A lit cigarette dangles out of his mouth. Gato relieves him of the smoke and the drink. She takes a long slow drag before crushing the cigarette out on the bar and chases it down with whatever was in the glass. Turpentine by the smell of it. The bartender stares and does nothing. With another slap she brings this one back to reality. “Look, you need to call the cops now, si? Tell them to bring a hearse for the boss and first aide for everybody else.” With that she walks out the door into the dawn of a new day in Paragon city.

Late that afternoon a package arrives at Red Brigade HQ. It’s addressed to The Blade of the Peoples, In Care Of Kostyak. The envelope taped to the front is flush and fat; a cherry red lip print in its upper left corner the only return address. When shook the box makes a merry rattle.