AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 19

“I was their pianist, earlier.”


As if summoned by that thought alone, Elsie surfaces onstage in a flurry of motion, drink in hand. Cheers of delight ring high on the ceiling and the room swells, the audience swarming at her feet in reverence. She theatrically primps her red bob and steps up to the mic, indignantly passing her champagne to an insistent stagehand, and finally answers the ensuing ruckus with a shimmy and a gesture to the band. A hush falls over the world.

“You’re the cream in my coffee,” She croons, teasing out every word. “You’re the salt in my stew. You will always be my necessity – I’d be lost without you.”

The brass comes in hot and low. Elsie moves with them, her voice commanding and sensual, bewitching her devotees to waltz anew. She winks in Madeleine’s direction.

“I wish I’d gotten to play for your friend, though.” The woman notes.

“She makes me dizzy,” Madeleine confesses with a smile. “She has an unquenchable thirst for love.”

That earns her a curious look, and her skin itches at the unspoken question. Even in La Silhouette, in Montmartre, in Paris, the words strangle themselves in her throat.

“I have a husband.” She offers.

“I imagine a lot of people here do.”

Madeleine grins. “But mine is here, somewhere. Or he was. We always come here together - tonight, especially.”

She last saw René at the bar with Tati hanging off of his arm like wet paper. They’d polished off their sixth bottle of champagne between the three of them, and the sun had just dipped from view.

The woman rests her jaw in her hand. “You seem to be the only one anyone’s talking about tonight.”

“Is that why you were staring?” Madeleine challenges with a wry smile.

“That, and you’re hard to ignore. But I think you know that.”

There’s that spark again, flowing down her legs, simmering sticky honey in her belly and fogging up her sight.

“Tell me about your film.” The woman insists.

“Tell me your name and I’ll tell you about my film.”

The woman raises a brow. “Are we not allowed to be strangers?”

Madeleine shakes her head.