Complainte de la Butte [Levi/Irene] Feb 17, 2014 14:49:34 GMT -5
Post by The Sidhe on Feb 17, 2014 14:49:34 GMT -5
The sun shone brightly down in Paris, blanketing the city in deceiving light given the crisp chill of early Spring that lingered in the air. The old pale buildings with their second empire roofs and petite iron balconies stood silent over corner cafes and busy intersections. Even for the early afternoon, Paris was bustling, with school children heading home or out with friends for lunch, taxis ferrying businessmen and the usual 9-5 crowd that had missed their morning train, and scooters weaving dangerously between rows of traffic. Across the street from stories tall apartments and green walkways of trees shimmering in sunlight stood the old red windmill of the Moulin Rouge.
The old cabaret and former brothel appeared far less glamorous during the daylight hours. The lights were shut off, the interior dark to those attempting to glimpse beyond the tinted glass windows, or what few were on the doors. Without the lights and with the red letters of the establishment’s name still dark, the windmill looked old, out of place and out of time standing watch over a business that had outgrown it over the years. But the familiar marker remained in place, and even though the exterior was quiet save for the loud and colorful advertisements of shows plastered to the exterior walls, from inside came a rhythm. A dull beat could be heard even from the outside, and as a young woman clad in legwarmers with her hair still looking like she’d just rolled out of bed rushed through the doors, the song fell out into the street to blast passer’s by with music for a few brief seconds before the door fell closed and blocked its path again.
Inside, the beat continued. Rehearsals were in full swing for the show later that night, despite the recent goings on. Ticket sales were down and two acts had been cut. Several of the girls had quit, and a few had simply stayed home with mystery illnesses to avoid coming in. They were scared. Even those who didn’t sport red hair and pale skin didn’t want to risk the possibility that they could be next. The Moulin Rouge was all bright lights, loud music, and spectacular dancing, but they all knew its past. The building was far from having a clean slate, as was the management.
The main floor had been cleared for the day, tables and chairs still hidden in back rooms out of sight. Only a few of the dim red lights glowed this early, casting odd and uncomfortable looking shadows against the old floors and walls as the color faded in the presence of modern fluorescence. Up on the stage, the dancers moved in uniform lines. Twisting, twirling images of women in can-can skirts and heels painted a rather awkward image given the sweatpants and tank tops they also wore. It was only rehearsals, and most knew the dance well. There was no need to be in full costume yet. The can-can was everything it was born to be when performed by them, legs kicked high with shined red pumps pointed towards the ceiling, but one look at any of their faces ruined any suggestive feeling given by ruffled skirts and loud colors.
A look of apprehension was almost palpable in the air, and it was clear that those present for the rehearsal were either desperate to leave or desperate for a pay check, only present out of necessity whether it was for cash or to comfort the other girls. They reigned it in well, smiling through it, but without the stage makeup or the lights, the slightly darker area of the stage painted their eyes with unease, their features strained. Not a damn one of them wanted to be there.
Before the stage stood two people, a man and a woman. The latter stood stock still save for her tapping foot keeping time with the music, her eyes flitting over the dancers. Every now and again and she step forward, either motioning someone back or calling for a pause before biting out critique and commands. While she was clearly the choreographer, the man behind her was clearly the Moulin Rouge’s current owner. Middle aged and on the shorter side, Jacques Zidler looked like he’d sat in the sun a tad too long. His skin was tinted a shade redder than it should have been, the outline of sunglasses clear around beady, dark eyes. Equally dark hair had been beaten into submission and slicked back along his skull. Heavy gold rings adorned his fingers that didn’t match the sharp silver suit he wore in the slightest. Behind the choreographer he paced, never stopping once, and only appearing to grow more irritated as time marched on, snapping quips when the sight of imperfection became too much,
<<You call that dancing? My grandmother kicks better than that and she’s had hip replacement surgery! Twice! You there on the end, don’t arch your back so much, are you trying to dance or trying to be a contortionist? Elise, what the hell are you doing? You look about as graceful as a drunk elephant on roller skates!>>
He threw his hands up before stalking away several feet, taking a drag from a half-finished cigarette that he held between his fingers and grimacing. The choreographer cast a glance at the girls and motioned for them to stop. The music halted for a moment and so did the movement, the dancers breathing so heavily it was audible and a few moving to the floor to stretch during the break. The woman wandered over to Zidler with a sour look on her face, though that may have partly been from her blonde hair having been yanked back so tightly into a bun her face didn’t have enough leeway to move,
<<Jacques, you’re not helping. The girls are bad off as they are, they don’t need you harassing them like that. It’s my job to help them in rehearsal so let me do it!>>
Zidler rolled his eyes, <<They’re slacking off.>>
<<They’re scared, Jacques!>> The choreographer exclaimed, gesturing animatedly to the stage behind her, <<They found Simone hanging from the rafters last night, and now they’re up there dancing under where her body was! There’s still blood beneath the floorboards because the janitors haven’t had time to clean it all up yet, they’re terrified that the doctor will be after them next!>>
The dark haired man truly didn’t seem to care. Clicking his tongue, he drew another breath from his cigarette before turning gleaming eyes onto the blonde woman, <<Marie, no one’s gonna be next. Know why? Because ghosts don’t exist. We’ve just got some nut job on our hands, and those kids are on their way to take care of it. Now get those heifers crowding the stage up there back in top performing condition for tonight or the next one walking out the door is gonna be you, understand?>>
Marie clearly held her tongue only with great effort on her part and gave a curt nod before turning on her heal and stalking back to the stage, <<From the top! Are you can-can dancers or aren’t you?>>
Zidler pinched the bridge of his noise and let out a long breath. He didn’t need this. Casting a glance back at the stage as the girls got back in their lines and started up as the music did once more, he tried to tune out the rhythm pounding in his head and made his way over to the currently closed bar if only to lean against the counter. The dancer that had come in late stood stage left, getting her shoes on and pausing between lace-ups to stretch. For the moment, Zidler ignored her. She could be reprimanded later. Letting his head hang back against his shoulders, he glared up at the ceiling and sniffed,
<<Where are those damned kids already? The show must go on.>>