Yvette - pouring drinks at a The De Winter Club.
Yvette Lonergan stood behind the bar at The De Winter Club and wished for the thousandth time she were somewhere else entirely.
"If my sister saw me now." She snorted to herself. "She'd never let me live it down."
Yvette had long past dropped the assumed Wynn surname, and had opted for a more Irish sounding pseudonym. This somehow seemed more interesting and mysterious than the name her sister had adopted, especially (she hoped) if she was ever to be picked up for the 'silver screen' as an actress... besides, the more she could disassociate herself from Carlotta's legacy the better.
Carlotta had taken her own unique path in life, one which the ever hopeful and somewhat aloof Yvette could never bring herself to forgive her sister for. Yvette was a 'would be' social climber and shallow part time chorus girl for anyone who would hire her; she chased her eternal dreams of one day being noticed by a rich film director, whisked romantically off her feet, and delivered into the bosom of an adoring fan club of high society admirers... the allure of stardom and the neon lights of stage and film never quite seemed to get chased away by the stark reality of her actual hopeless situation. Even when (eventually, after years of struggling to be noticed) Yvette ended up working bars, acting as part time chorus girl for some of the cheaper amateur acts, and taking small tips for waiting on tables, she held onto the spark of her fantasy that maybe - just maybe, soon all her dreams would come to pass.
When the crowd clapped and cheered the singers onto the stage at The De Winter Club, in her head, they were cheering her, throwing roses at her feet, and offering her champagne and candle lit dinners for the pleasure of her treasured company. And so one such night, as she carelessly cleaned glasses behind the long bar of the De Winter main hall, she was so lost watching Betty Lee Jones run through her song list, she failed to notice a familiar figure slip into the nightclub and take a seat quite close to the stage.
Betty Lee Jones
Carlotta slipped quietly into The De Winter Club and took a table and chair in the shadows to the side of the wide stage. As luck would have it, from the description Frenchie had given her of the singer she was looking for, Betty Lee Jones was the one presently doing her jazz routine in front of the microphone.
'Good! This might be easier than I thought', Carlotta relaxed inwardly.
The singer had some talent, Carlotta noticed, but no amount of makeup could hide the scar Frenchie had indicated could be seen etched into the woman's neck, just above the dress shoulder line. Carlotta stiffened as a distant memory came flooding into her mind.
Frenchie had said,"Nancy Drew made sure you was out of the way during Mort's set up... because she was afraid you would recognise her - from the past!"
No, it couldn't be. That was ages ago, and surely the evil woman who had similarly branded Carlotta had long since moved on. Surely? Carlotta inadvertently scratched at an old scar on her right shoulder - a branding iron mark she had some time ago had removed; inflicted on her by a sadistic monster who enjoyed inflicting pain on others.
'No, surely not. Could Nancy Drew and Vivian Carroll be one and the same person? '
Yvette stood daydreaming as she listened to Betty sing. That was her up on the stage, amongst all the wolf whistles and cheers. She smeared grease around the glass in her hand, and paid no attention to the ugly hateful mug moving in on her from the doorway behind the bar.
"Any time you feel like serving the customers, please, just let me know." The smooth nasal voiced individual whispered in her ear.
The sudden proximity of this newcomer made Yvette jump nervously, and she started apologising instantly at the sound. Her hands shook with fright, and she dropped the glass she was cleaning onto the cold black stone floor. The shattering of glass was drowned out by the noise of the audience cheering and clapping as Betty finished one number and immediately began to sing another.
"That will come out of your wages, just like all the other little mistakes." The man smiled wickedly, and took her cruelly by the arm and twisted sadistically. Yvetta cried out for a second, then stifled her pain; she knew it would only make him hurt her more if she resisted or revealed how much her agony she was in.
"I'm sorry Greko." She kept her voice as steady as she could.
"Good.... goooood, now go clean up the tables and let's try not to break anything else tonight, shall we, hmmmm?" The man let go of her arm just as suddenly as he had grabbed it. As she stood shivering in fear, he nestled his head in her hair for a moment, breathing in her scent. Then he whispered in her ear,"I may call you to my room later, for some further.... personal tuition."
The woman tore herself away from the voice, as much to hide the look of sheer horror on her face as to place some distance between herself and this evil man. Yvette picked up a tray and prepared to tidy up the empties from the tables. She hated doing table work because occasionally the male clients would try getting fresh with her, and she knew it was expected of the working girls to smile and look happy at these advances.
She hated her job, and she loathed her employers... that acid faced De Winter woman and her toad faced partner Greko. Yvette withdrew into her dreams and almost dazedly attended to her duties. But as she moved about the midnight black painted and silver furbished hall she was not so lost in her misery that she failed to notice the lone figure sitting at a table to the left of the stage, staring fixedly up at the entertainment.
For the second time that night she jumped nervously.
Moving round along the edges of the hall, she worked her way into a position where she could better spy the woman sitting in the shadows sipping a soft drink.
"Carlotta?", Yvette mouthed silently, and a hand inadvertently went to her mouth to cover her shock and discomfort.
But the slime ball Greko was not slow to notice all that was transpiring. As Yvette had moved away from him to begin her floor work, the ever sadistic part of him had followed on her heels, hoping she would screw up again and give him a chance for some further tuition in the art of pain.
Moving in silently behind her, he grabbed her by the same arm as before and began squeezing. He pulled her towards him, all the time smiling to cover his sinister actions from the clients assembled all around. The singing continued to ring out and all eyes were firmly fixed on Betty Lee Jones as she sang Only My Man.
"Who is she?" Greko whispered in Yvette's ear, nodding his head towards the woman sitting near the stage. "And don't even begin to t-h-i-n-k about lying to me."
Next Part - The Running Gunfight (an IN-RADIC Battle Report)
© 2008, Stephen A Gilbert