The Night Owl try-outs

“One, two, three, four, right leg, left leg, right leg, hip, hip, hip and again!” the woman rasped as she clapped her hands. Her voice was rough and smoky. Her dark hair had a severe marcel wave and was far too dark for her age. She took a cane from the crook of her arm and limped to the other side of the stage. Her beady eyes studied each of the hopeful dancers like a vulture ready to pick at their mistakes.

Caroline sat in the back of the hall watching. Her foot bobbed effortlessly in time to the music. It was relaxing to not be in charge. Perhaps a life of leisure was what she needed. With a crack, the choreographer’s cane swung out and hit a girl’s leg. The dancer yelped.

“One more time and you’re out,” the woman said. The dancer resumed her position and tried to fall in time with the other girls. The woman stood back and watched. Her face was expressionless, except for perpetual frown lines.

“So this is your artistic director?” Frank whispered as he came up behind Caroline.

“Yes, sit down!” Caroline slid over in the booth. “She’s mesmerizing. I mean, she puts the fear of God in them.”

“She puts the fear of God in me,” Frank muttered. “How does she teach dance with a limp?”

“Relax, I’ve been watching her do it all morning. She used to be a ballet dancer when she was young, but she had an accident. She didn’t go into detail. It might have been something to do with the war. It doesn’t really matter though. It’s our luck that she’s fallen from grace and has become quite familiar with this type of setting,” Caroline replied.

“As long as you’re sure,” Frank sighed. The woman stopped the record player.

“Ten-minute break. We’ll take it from the top when we return. The very last time, so it must be perfect.” She left the dancers on stage and disappeared behind the curtain. Within minutes, she was limping across the room towards Frank and Caroline.

“Well, Miss Caroline, what do you think? Is my expertise to your satisfaction?” the woman purred. Caroline stood up.

“Yes, Yvonne, the girls are responding well. Thank you for taking the lead with these try-outs. It’s been a relief for me.” She waved a hand behind her. “I would like you to meet my business partner, Frank Sicero.” Yvonne raised an eyebrow and slowly made a curtsy.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Sicero,” she replied.

“Caroline says you have quite a lot of experience,” he said with a nod.

“Yes,” Yvonne continued to stare at him. She did not elaborate. Frank’s smile faltered in the silence.

“Are you keeping any of the original girls?” he asked.

“Doris,” Yvonne replied. “And Mildred if she loses the attitude. It will bring the other dancers down.”

“Are you sure?” Frank began to say, but Caroline cut him off.

“Don’t worry about it, Frank. We have this under control,” she assured him. “Thank you, Yvonne.” The choreographer nodded and walked back to the stage.

“Be nice, Frank. I need the help. I’ve been running myself ragged,” Caroline whispered as she sat back down.

“She’s…not much of a charmer,” he mumbled. “But if she helps you then, fine. Whatever you want.”

“That’s what I thought,” Caroline huffed. “I deserve a night off, don’t I?”

“What are you planning to do with all these nights off?” he asked. Caroline shrugged.

“Not work. Enjoy myself.” She didn’t really have an answer, but she knew she needed something besides business. “I’ll find a hobby.”

“We have to start thinking about the hotel anyway,” she continued. “We can’t leave all these loose ends at other venues.” She realized Frank was giving her a smug smile. “What? What is it?” His grin grew wider. He looked away still smiling. She jabbed him in the arm to get his attention.

“I kinda like it when you say ‘we’ is all,” he said.

“Oh, you son of a bitch,” Caroline sighed. She rested her chin on her hand and focused on the dancers as they tried to perfect their moves for the last try. Yvonne fiddled with the record player as they fell into formation. Frank leaned close and his warm breath fell on her ear.

“Are you trying to make me beg?” he asked. “Because I don’t do that.”

“Maybe I like the attention,” Caroline whispered back. “I can’t really feel bad for you, when you’re never lonely.”

“Hmph! There are different types of loneliness, Caroline,” Frank replied. He waited for her to answer, but she focused on the dancers so she could compare notes with Yvonne.

“Fine,” Frank leaned away from her. “I suppose I should pick out who I’m taking to dinner then.” He crossed his arms and trained his eyes on the stage. “This would be easier if they had less clothes. Why aren’t they in costume?” Caroline rolled her eyes.

“You know these are try-outs. I haven’t hired any of them yet.” Caroline turned to give him a warning look. “I don’t want you knocking up any of my dancers.” Frank put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer.

“Does that mean you’re coming to dinner? We all have to make sacrifices.” Caroline realized there was no fighting it this time.

“If you leave right now, I will meet you for dinner,” she finally said. Frank immediately slid out of the booth and stood up.

“By the way, they’re our dancers. What’s yours is mine, sweetheart.” He grinned. “We’re in this together!” He walked out of the cabaret. Caroline shook her head and stared at the stage. He wasn’t going to leave her in peace.

Continue reading this story line: HERE.

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