Chapter 10: Rachel’s Rendition

See previous posts for Chapters 1-9 of my first (serial) novel, "Bluer Than Blue."

Fire it up baby

You know it’s time

For the limelight

Fire it up baby

There’s no time

To waste on yesterday

From beneath a Cosmopolitan glaze, Chanteusse gazed out over the Bomb's crowd. They barely heeded her, busy bumping into each other. She felt sweat trickle down her stomach inside the Grecian draped dress. This was her moment to set the club on fire, to belt out with pride her anthem, yet her sweaty stomach was knotted with booze and conflict. Rachel watched as Chanteusse seemed to sway. Was it the music? Was it the influence of several Cosmos? Rachel felt nervous on Chanteusse's behalf. The swaying turned into teetering as the intro chords rang out in space. Rachel inhaled, smelling the laundry detergent aroma of the striped shirt boys, and then gasped! The statuesque singer fell to platform, catching herself with a braceleted arm. The instrumental continued, leaving her behind. Hans the lighting guy scrunched up his face. "Jesus," he muttered, yet failed to conjure any savior for the first single. Or so it seemed at first. Spotlight diverted, Chanteusse pitifully puked into the hand pressed against her face. She barely felt the tears of strain trickle down.

"Oh God," Rachel uttered sensitively, slammed down her drink, and ran over to the DJ booth. DJ Tusk was already helping Chanteusse down the steps, a three-legged race to the ladies room. Rachel had almost tripped over her own feet to intercept them yet they heeded her only with a glance and continued on, leaving her with the dancy beat blaring. The microphone lay on the floor, the cord coiled like a disco serpent. The temptation was great. Rachel looked behind her towards the bar where her friends were ordering more cocktails, oblivious. She knew the song. Ths show must go on? Yes, she decided. Yes. Just like karaoke, just like the family parties. Before anyone could stop her, Rachel grabbed the mic. Her skin quaked at the thrill.

Now / Now is the time

Her voice rang out pure. She'd never smoked really. Well, maybe once and it wasn't enjoyable. And one stiff drink was enough to dissolve her guardedness. She closed her eyes and it was just like another family party. The scattered boos brought on by lack of vocals turned into shouts of approval. Her friends pointed and clapped. The striped boys slapped each other on the back as if to say I know her, sort of. And security stopped in their tracks.

"Woah that chick is good."

They appeared to abort the mission after they listened to a few bars of Rachel's rendition. Back in the ladies room, DJ Tusk perked up his ears. What the hell, he thought. Someone's in the booth.

"Someone's in the booth messing with my selections," he said. "I'll be right back, hun."

"Okay, okay. I'll be fine... Don't worry."

DJ Tusk burst out of the bathroon door only to see the long dark-haired girl they'd almost run into clutching Chanteusse's mic in one hand and the other upraised in some kind of cathartic benediction. He took it in from the dancefloor for a moment and couldn't help but be a little enamoured with the monklike purity of timbre.

"Okay, okay," he murmured, making his way through the happy sloppy crowd. He felt uncomfortable because this no-name so clearly upstaged the veteran club singer, even on a night without nausea. He also felt concerned that his pupils turned into dollar signs when he looked at no-name. Oh well. By the time he reached the booth the decision was made. Chanteusse wouldn't mind or hell, she probably would but hell. The hook resounded.

Fire it up / Fire it up

Hans triggered the laser beams. It was the final repetition before the synth arpeggio outro. When Rachel released her final note the dancers cheered; her friends clapped above their heads. She felt a hand on her shoulder.

"I should be waay upset with you right now -- who the hell are you? This is my booth, get it? I should be upset, you know it. But that was great."

"Thank you so much!" Rachel felt amazing and amazed at her own opportunism. DJ Tusk had an opportunity of his own.

"Do you have a card?"

"No, no I don't." She laughed sheepishly.

"No? Well here's mine. We should record together sometime. I have a studio at home. And that song you just sang - and so well - that's my production."

"Wow - I would love to." Her skin crawled with excitement.