Moira quickly scampered upstairs from the dressing room and joined the line of girls at the curtain. High strung anticipation ran through them like electricity. The band leader cued them with a wave of his baton and they skipped forward onto stage. The bright lights blinded Moira, but her broadest smile was glued to her face. Step, high kick, step, high kick, she followed the line of girls as they crossed the stage. They fluttered their feather fans in time. Someday she would be a star.
To the audience, she was a feast for the eyes, but no more so than the next girl in line. It was the end of the night crowd at the supper club. Those that lingered over drinks and may saunter down the road to the Cabaret to continue their night and perhaps view a bit more skin in the next performance.
Delphia went around the dining room emptying the ash trays of the vacant tables as the bus boys gathered the remaining dishes. Up on the balcony, she spied Mr. Sicero as he smoked a cigar and watched the dancers. A man bent over to whisper something in his ear and he nodded approval. She wondered what sort of things were said on the balcony and its secluded dining room. She was an ant by comparison as she scuttled about taking orders from the club’s patrons. Always serving everyone, then going home to wait hand and foot on her ailing mother. She gazed up at Moira, who caught her eye and gave her a wink.
“I want to be glamorous,” Delphia thought, “I want to be treated to dinner and given flowers…or perhaps jewelry.” Moira was given jewelry, although she often complained it was tacky and pawned it for cash to buy something else. Delphia didn’t care. If it meant someone would look at her for more than the few seconds of a passing glance.
Delphia busied herself with her work again and took the ash bucket out to the alley. She dumped it out and breathed the night air in deep. She heard the back exit open and shut again behind her. She glanced and saw Mr. Sicero’s driver, a young man they referred to as Spots. She turned away and ignored him as she gazed up at the moon floating out from behind fluffy clouds. That’s when it happened. She must have jumped a foot in the air when Spots pinched her ass. He broke out laughing at her reaction. He passed by her and made his way down the alley towards Mr. Sicero’s car. She didn’t like getting laughed at. She scowled after him, but could only make out the flash of a match as he lit a cigarette. The smoldering tip bobbed in the darkness and the match sailed in a small arc to the ground to die.
As the car’s engine roared to life, she tramped back in through the exit and dumped her bucket in the utility closet. She peeked back into the dining room to catch the dancing girls leaving the stage. Mort, the manager crossed the room towards her.
“Why not take off for the night, Delphia,” he said. She nodded and headed down the back staircase. In the dressing room, she found Moira donning her robe.
“Well, I’m all done for the night,” Delphia said. She started pulling off the beaded dress, Mr. Sicero had kindly provided for her so she could be presentable at the supper club. She pulled on a basic cotton dress that had little shape to it.
“My night is just beginning,” Moira gathered the few things she had brought with her. In a few minutes she’d disappear through the tunnel back to the Cabaret. She caught sight of Delphia’s dress. “I thought I told you to burn that?” Delphia looked down at her dress.
“Oh, I haven’t been able to replace it. My neighbor insisted she needed more money in order to watch my mother when I leave and then there’s the house calls for the doctor…” Moira cut Delphia off.
“Maybe I have something I can part with, but give me a couple days to go through everything.”
“Everything? That sounds like a lot, Moira, but I’m not sure I could pull off your look. I’m not built the same. I mean look at me,” Delphia stood in front of the mirror. She saw Moira’s reflection shake her head.
“Don’t be ridiculous. When you wear your work dress, we don’t look that much different. You just have to stop dressing like Iowa or wherever you’re from.” She stood up and pulled back the extra fabric on Delphia’s dress.
“Maybe you’re right,” Delphia whispered. “But I’d never have anywhere to wear a good dress…” Moira turned away and picked up her bag. When she looked at Delphia again she shrugged.
“It’s okay to be prepared.” One of the other showgirls stopped at the door.
“Moira! We have to go,” she jabbed a thumb towards the tunnel. Moira dug her timepiece out of her purse.
“Shit! See you around!” Moira snatched up her feathered fans and took off after the other dancers. Delphia was left standing alone. She pulled on her coat and noticed an errant lipstick forgotten on the counter. She peered down the tunnel, but the dancers were long gone. She picked up the lipstick and shoved it into her pocket.