by Bobby Jo
A boy goes with his rich aunt to a live show, where things take an unexpected turn.
Dance with the devil
The sky was slowly darkening, awakening an icy chill in the atmosphere, that was purely unwelcome in the preoccupied air. Donald was beginning to get tired of waiting outside the car for his aunt, Anastasia, who was too busy arguing with the taxi driver inside. "How on earth, could I have possibly seen that white Ford Fiesta?" she snapped, whilst shoveling back the contents of her purse, which'd previously been sprawled onto the floor. "That's exactly the problem. You didn't see it. If only you had, you wouldn't be losing your mind over something that wasn't either of our faults." he replied. "What d'you mean it wasn't any of our faults? You saw him there, didn't you? So why didn't you warn us before you sent me flying into the dashboard?" There was no other barrier, other than the car window to muffle Anastasia's angry voice as she continued to spit foul words at the innocent driver.
"Oh, do hurry up, will you? How long are you going to take?" Donald thought to himself. He couldn't bear to stand in front of loads of people for more than a few seconds alone, and for this reason, he hated going anywhere with her. It didn't take long before cold beads of sweat began to form on top of his forehead, and he was growing more and more uneasy with every breath he took. But that feeling intensified the moment he spotted five, rowdy teenage boys standing beside the sliding entrance doors. He'd be an easy target for them, as he naturally was for most of the boys in his school, what with his abnormally sized specks and the fact that he always wore overalls which made him look like a sack of potatoes.
However, this time he was wearing a black sweater, with the hem of his sleeves and his collar in white, black pants and polished brown shoes. His heart was doing a sort of drum roll in his chest, and his eyes kept darting from one side of the street to the other, wondering whether he was being watched. When in fact, he was. It was one of the five boys, who'd momentarily paused in between a conversation with his friends, to stare intently at Donald. Eyes burning with malicious intent, he nudged a friend close to him with his finger, and eventually, the conversation had dried up, as all eyes were now on him.
"Whatchu lookin' at, duck face?" one of boys spoke, supposedly the leader of the group. This boy visibly stood out from the rest, with his over-gelled hair, which stuck out in all directions like that of a porcupine's back.
"Yeah, duck face!" replied the boy next to him.
"I already said that, Kenny! Stop repeating every fucking word I say. It's getting annoying!"
"Sorry, Jay," said Kenny, as he pulled a cigarette out of his denim jacket, and lit it, unaware of the sign pinned against the wall behind him, clearly opposing this sort of behaviour.
"Now, back to this limp little weasel. I asked you a question earlier, remember? What the fuck were you looking at?" said Jay, raising his voice. "You won't get away with looks, pretty boy. Not when we're around." he continued, followed by a wink. He immediately tore his eyes away from them, in his efforts to not breakdown in front of everyone. Never had he felt so uncomfortable in his life, so to diffuse the tension which was slowly building up, he turned around to see whether Anastasia would be planning on leaving anytime soon, and was relieved to see her fumbling with some cash in the car. "She won't be long." he thought to himself, all while keeping his eyes fixed upon the glass.
Through the reflection in the car window, he could see them pointing at him and making obscene gestures, which included unzipping their pants, rubbing and grabbing onto their privates, and even pressing their tongues along the insides of their mouths. Donald let out a whimper, as Jay started briskly walking towards him. The car door finally opened, and Anastasia stepped out, causing the boy behind him to stop and retreat back to his original spot, before running off shortly in the other direction.
"Could've tipped ya off if you weren't so pathetically dim-witted," she said as she slammed the door shut. Although Anastasia wasn't a pleasure to be around, she sure was a pleasure to see. She wore a pink blouse which was tucked underneath her flowy, dark brown dress, and over it, a lilac cotton trench coat. To top it off, she had on a dark purple beret with a tiny red bow attached to the side, and shimmering underneath was her golden-brown hair. But what was even more intriguing, were eyes, which shone like the sun-kissed surface of shallow blue waters.
"Right, off we go!" she said as she rounded the car and got onto the pavement, "We've already wasted enough time, but I doubt all the good seats will be taken."
"You're telling me." he murmured indignantly and the pair of them walked passed the sliding entrance doors and into the lobby. The first thing he noticed, as soon as he entered, was the room on his right. From the outside, he could see that quite a few people were already in there, camera's in hand. "Hey, I'll be right back. Gotta go check this out." he said.
"Wait, what? Where? Back? Where d'you think you're going? Listen, we're already late, and I don't want you to-"
"Please? Please, I promise I won't take long," he begged. She was reluctant to let him go, but in the end, she obliged. "Oh, very well," she said, "But make it quick."
"Okay!" he replied, and bolted towards the very brightly lit room. Pinned against the walls, were the most exquisite paintings he'd ever seen. Underneath each of them, were the artist's names, embroidered into a slab of gold. In the middle of the room, stood a giant, bronze statue of a horseman about to ride his stallion. The horseman had long flowing blonde hair, with his cape floating inches above the stallion's back. The bronze coating looked extremely old and tarnished, but his presence in that room made him look so much more alive.
Unknowingly, time was slipping away from him, as he slowly walked around, admiring everything that that room had to offer. The whole room was infused with marble and gold, making him feel as though he was in an art gallery in heaven. But there was one painting in particular, which caught his eye. Towards the far end of the room, was a portrait of a man and a woman, supposedly dancing together. The picture froze on the man lifting the woman in the air. They were standing in the middle of a dark room, illuminated by a single spotlight above them. His partner, was a ginger-haired woman, with the palest skin, and freckles, while the man had jet black hair, chiseled features, and a charming glow about him.
Dissolved into the darkness behind them, were heads covered in what looked to be filthy dark veils. He didn't think much of it. They just look like really creepy audiences, watching them perform. However, as his eyes zoomed in closer onto the woman's face, he could tell that something was off about the woman's expression. She looked extremely miserable, as if regretful about ever wanting to be his partner. "Strange." he thought to himself. Just a second ago, he thought he saw a bright smile etched into the woman's face, but now she was sulking, looking like a really pale ghost. He hadn't realized it then, but he was the only one standing in front of that, while the rest went to goggle at the bronze horseman and his stallion. Whatever was inside that painting, kept him glued to the spot, and he never once took his eyes off of the depressed- looking woman.
"All done?" a familiar voice called out to him from behind. "Come along now, hurry up. Doors close in seven minutes." "Be there in a sec!" he replied, and took one last look at the painting. He felt a stabbing sensation in the pit of his stomach, as the woman's look of gloom from before, was suddenly replaced by a mask of an alluring smile. "DONALD FRAZIER, WILL YOU HURRY UP?" she shouted, causing the people in the room, to turn their hands to him. Without looking back, or looking anywhere at all, he ran after her and they both took off for the elevator, which would bring them straight to the entrance of the theatre.
The elevator doors opened, and the pair of them walked straight towards the open doors of the theatre. "Now," Anastasia said as she fished the tickets out of her clutch, "You go inside, and find your parents. They should both be sitting somewhere on top, as your Dad loves to get full and proper view of everything." He didn't expect his parents to be there, as Anastasia never mentioned it before. It never ended well whenever his Dad were around, and this all had to do with his arrogance and narrow mindedness. On the contrary, his mother was a very calm and collected young woman, who always found something to praise her son about, even if he'd done the most ridiculous thing in the world.
"Might I be of any assistance to you, sir?" said an usher, who suddenly appeared from beside him with an unlit flashlight in his hand. Donald hated to be called 'sir'. "Uh, no thanks. I can manage." "Looking for your parents, I reckon?" he added, ignoring Donald's recent comment, suggesting that he wanted to be left alone. "Yeah, and like I said, I can manage. Thanks for the offer." "Oh well, suit yourself-AH, Welcome! May I help you to your seats?" He left the usher to go look for his parents and found them sitting together on one of the top levels of the theatre to his left, just as Anastasia said they would. His mother spotted him immediately and waved at him joyfully. He waved back and promptly walked towards her, ignoring the blank look on his father's face.
"Hi, Mum!" he said, and gave her a hug, "Hey, Donald!" she replied, whilst still sitting down, "What took you two so long?" Her hands were pressed against his face, making him feel warm, protected and loved. "Well...ran into a couple of things on the way. When did you get here?" "About an hour ago, but I kept myself busy." she replied. "How?" he asked, with curiosity. She reached into her purse, and pulled out a half knitted red scarf, dusted with little bits of glitter. "I'm making this for you, for Christmas. I'm not getting much time nowadays to do the things I enjoy, but I'm doing whatever I can!" He gently picked up the scarf, and a huge smile ripped across his face, as he finally had something to smile about, considering the events that took place today. "Oh, Mum...this is-" "There you are, Annie!"
"Lovely to see you again, Wendy! Donald, why don't you sit over here?" she said and sat next to Wendy. All the while, his father hadn't moved an inch and sat quietly with his arms folded over his fat pot belly. "I've got to say, Annie, you do look splendid tonight! Where did you get your outfit from?" "Lotus's Bloom. They were on sale and the moment I saw it, I just had to try it on." "Figured. Only they would have such extraordinary designs and styles. Robert, remember when you got me my New Year's dress from Lotus's Bloom?"
"Mmmm." he replied, fruitlessly. "Costed me over eight hundred pounds."
"Robert, when will you ever stop complaining about the cost of such things." snapped Anastasia, "When they have to be bought, then they have to be bought. It's not wasting money or worthless to buy your wife an amazing dress!" Donald sat quietly in his seat, receiving occasional, cold glances from Robert. . "Leave it be, Annie." said Wendy, "He's been off for a few days, and I don't know whether he's not feeling well or stressed about something because he doesn't even talk to me about anything anymore. It takes a lot to get a word out of him, and even then it's "Later."" Slowly, the seats became packed, and constant murmurs erupted from within them.
"Bein' a bit cheeky, are we?" said Anastasia, "Say something, Robert! SPEAK!" "Shut up, Annie!" snapped Robert, finally, "I've had a long day at work, and all I wanted to do was pop open a cold beer, but instead I'm stuffed into the confines of this uncomfortable seat, about to watch a useless performance that I could do well with watching at home." Shocked and hurt, they both decided not to say anything after that, even though Anastasia was still boiling with rage. This was one of the reasons, why Donald never liked to talk, or even be around his father. He was terrified of him, and often got a lot of physical discipline, that most of the time was completely unnecessary.
At that moment, the lights in the theatre dimmed, and the whole room was bathed in darkness. The music followed shortly, into an elegant rhythmic piano piece, and at the same time, a man emerged from within the curtains and started doing a magnificent solo performance, following the sound of the piano. As the music intensified, the curtains parted and the man began to spin around. Behind him, were a bunch of danseurs and ballerina's, spinning along with him over two flights of stairs, which were positioned to face each other. The ballerinas were dressed in white, and the danseurs were dressed in black. The crowd began to erupt with cheers, as two female dancers appeared from either side of the stage, followed by a combination of the backup dancers from behind. They two girls did their bit of acrobats and tricks, before the three of them began dancing together, along with the music.
All of this captivated Donald's fifteen-year-old mind, to which he willfully surrendered. He was so immersed in the performance, that everything around him became a blur, as his eyes decided to focus only on the stage. He looked over to see Anastasia and his mother's reaction, and saw her wide eyed expression, studying every inch of the performance, while Anastasia stared in concentration. His father, on the other hand, was fast asleep in his seat, with his arms folded. "How pathetic." he thought. "DONALD! DONALD! LOOK!" said Anastasia, tapping him vigorously on the arm. It startled him a bit, but he looked and felt his eyes widen just like his mother's had.
The man, supported by all the backup dancers, now had both the girls balanced on top of his palms, with one leg straight up in the air and arms were outstretched, forming the letter 'H'. Shortly, the pair of them twirled around like a top, then fell right into the danseurs' arms, below. A mixture of claps, screams and cheers shook the whole room, as everybody got to their feet, leaving their formalities behind. From above, two long, and unobtrusive red ribbons came settling down above the two girls, and all of the women in white start departing towards the ceiling. They grab a reasonable section of the ribbon, which lifts them into the air, as they start twirling around it. The crowd cheered them on, as they glided across the room, smiling at different people. Meanwhile, the man danced along with his backup dancers in a synchronized manner, looking like mere shadows of his reflection.
One of the backup dancers, stopped dancing for a minute, then pulled out a black mask from behind him. From above, a red ribbon lowers one of the female dancers towards the centre of the stage, while having her legs grabbed by all of the male dancers below, before covering her face with another black mask. ("Annie, why are they doing that?" asked Donald. "Shhhhh, quite." she replied.) Dolores floats down towards the left side of the stage, while the men begin to dance up to her. Donald watched in fascination, as they push her towards the man, who has his arm outstretched. They both share a short embrace, and the whole mood of the song changes during the climax, when one of the dancers hand him yet another black mask, which he slowly places over her face, concealing a look of confusion and betrayal. The girl falls to the ground, looking like a defeated, wingless fairy, before being engulfed by everyone around her, declaring the end of another extraordinary performance. With a sudden thud, all of the dancers drop to the floor, except for the man. Donald expected a huge applause from the audience around him, but not even the flicker of a fly's wing could be heard. He looked around, and was surprised to see that almost everyone had their eyes closed, supposedly asleep. "What the-?" he muttered under his breath, "Have you lost it, Donald?"
Panicked, he looked towards the stage, and saw the man, staring at him. He was not moving, but stayed still in a sort of frozen bow, with only his head up. "Annie! Annie, wake up! The show's over. Annie! Ann-" Wrapped around his hand, was a familiar looking red ribbon, and as he placed both hands in front of his face, he saw that they were both wrapped around ribbons, which seemed to have stemmed from above. He looked up, but saw nothing. The dancers laid motionless, and the audience remained sound asleep. When he drew his attention back to the man on stage, he saw that he was now pointing and him, before beginning to beckon him forwards. Just as he did, Donald felt light as he was being lifted from his seat, slowly gliding towards the centre of the stage. No matter how much he struggled, the ribbons only seemed to wrap tighter around his skin, and by the time his helpless body landed clumsily on stage, his limbs went cold and numb.
The man walked up to Donald and turned him around to face the impossible. The audience whom he once saw was asleep, were standing up to give them a standing ovation, as a host walked up on stage. "Would ya get a load of that? What an incredible performance, guys. I gotta tell ya, I've seen them dance for as long as I can remember, yet, they never fail to impress me every single time. Well done guys, well done. Proud of ya! LET'S GIVE IT UP FOR OUR STAR PERFORMERS!" Donald stood there, absolutely bewildered. "Wait!" he called out to the host, "Wait, I-I never danced! I NEVER DANCED!" but for some reason, he couldn't hear him. Up ahead, he could see himself sleeping soundly in his seat, with Anastasia trying to wake him up. "No," he thought to himself, "NO! This is impossible!"
He woke up, looking dazed and still half asleep; he couldn't make out what they were saying, but he was sure his mother said something along the lines of, "Dozed off," and "Quickly." No matter how many times he tried to catch his own attention, despite himself staring blatantly at the stage, nothing seemed to be working. "Sit down! Sit down! I've got one last thing to say. I think, I think it's time for them to introduce themselves. ("Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!" thought Donald, in a frenzy. "What will I say?") "Let's start with the three, main dancers of tonight's show! You go first. Little secret, I already know!" and with that, the crowd howled with laughter, as the female dancer rolled her eyes at him. "Good evening, everyone! My name is Dolores. So glad you could come, you've all been such amazing audiences tonight!" ("MARRY ME, DOLORES!" screamed a young boy amidst a sea of a applause. "Frankie, hold your tongue will you? You're just four!" said his mother.)
"Always a pleasure, aren't ya Dolores? Now, if you don't mind, I will have to pass the mike onto our next performer." "Uh, hello!" He hadn't even got through to his sentence, before all of the women started going mad, "Settle down ladies, settle down. I'm Servio, and I enjoyed dancing for you tonight. Sorry, my English is not very good, but I hope I made you all very happy!" "Ahh, Servio. The knight in shining armor, eh pal? Not gonna lie," his voice lowered into a hushed whisper, "I've always been a little jealous of him!...and, maybe a little scared too." Everyone seemed to find his strong sense of humour, all the more amusing, but Donald was still shaken, at the fact that nobody noticed an extra, timid little boy on stage. "Don't worry, Hunter. I'm won't eat you." replied Servio, flustered.
"Well, you shouldn't. I'm way too skinny, plus, I taste of barbeque! Anyways, onto our last and final performer." "Hi! My name is, Xavia, and I just want to thank you guys for being here tonight, and for giving us a reason to do what we do." She blew kisses at the audience, where some brainless gits in the front, 'caught' them and pretended to stuff them in their pockets. "Well, there goes the end of another glorious night. Everybody, take a bow!" Donald didn't want to bow, because it made him feel awkward, but Servio's strong hand on his back forced him to. The four of them bowed, and Donald saw himself get up from his seat, and walk with Anastasia, his mother, and his father towards the front doors of the theatre. "DONALD!" he called out, "DONALD, LOOK HERE! I'M HERE!"
He might as well have stripped himself naked in front of the whole audience, because screaming definitely wasn't an option for him at this point. Donald had no choice but to turn around, and walk with the rest, passed the curtains and into god knows where. Dolores and Xavier joined up behind him, ushering him forwards as they got closer to the curtains. Next thing he knew, he was in a whole new arena, still on stage as the dancers from behind him disappeared out of sight. This time however, he wasn't in the middle of another dance performance, but in the middle of a very strange play.