(no subject)

"I don't have much time."

With her words, he lowers her to the ground but tries to prolong their touch but she backs away, her face saddened.  He reaches out to her to draw her close once more but she shakes her head no slowly and continues to move away.  She turns to walk back to where she started and when she reaches the stage, she turns to him again.  A cigarette holder has appeared in her hand and she tries to smile, tilting her head a little, allowing the smallest of smiles to curve her lips.  She tries to act nonchalant when in fact, she's fading quickly.

Being able to only use songs to express her feelings, Marisol opens her luscious red mouth to sing, her figure becoming instantly solid once more.

"Strangers in the night exchanging glances,
Wond'ring in the night what were the chances,
We'd be sharing love before the night was through.

Something in your eyes was so inviting,
Something in you smile was so exciting,
Something in my heart told me I must have you.

Strangers in the night,
Two lonely people, we were strangers in the night,
Up to the moment when we said our first hello little did we know,
Love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away."

She doesn't complete the song, just shimmers a moment before fading away and he's left alone, staring at the place were she stood, wondering when he will see her again.
The Kiss

(no subject)

“Doesn’t everything end badly?” Her words haunt him as he thinks to the night before.  When the dancers left the stage, he realized he had been sitting on the edge of his seat.  He had settled back into the leather chair and sipped the scotch, wondering what to do next.  A trumpet heavy jazz number had begun to play and another blonde began to twirl around the pole in the center of the stage.

He had watched her for several minutes, appreciating her curves and the skill and practice it must take to make the lifts and swings around the pole look so natural. A gentle hand was placed on his shoulder and a whiskey sour voice filled his ear.  “Come with me.”

He had looked up to see the brunette dancer, who was now dressed somewhat conservatively, all things considered.  She held a hand to him and he had frowned, feeling unsure, but had taken it and allowed her to gently tug him from the chair.  She smiled a little and had inclined her head, seeming to want to reassure him.  Her hand still holding his, she led him out of the showroom and back towards the corridor of the club.  Dropping his hand, she had pressed the door open slightly, looked both ways and had apparently saw the coast was clear.  She beckoned him to follow her, taking his hand once again they began walking down the hallway.

He's pulled from his reverie as he hears Marisol's voice singing again.  He looks around quickly, his eyes searching for her.

"Wise at last
My eyes at last,
Are cutting you down to your size at last,
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more.

Burned a lot,
But learned a lot,
And now you are broke, though you earned a lot.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more.

Couldn't eat,
Was dyspeptic,
Life was so hard to bear.
Now my heart's antiseptic,
Since you moved out of there."

She appears on the stage but starts walking towards him slowly, her red hair bright against her creamy white skin and wearing the black dress he had first seen her in.  Daniel can only stare as she struts, her hips shifting alluringly, placing one foot out and then the other, taking her time to reach him.

Your chance-finis,
Those ants that invaded my pants-finis.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more."

She stands before him again, her crimson lips parted seductively as she finishes singing.  She tilts her head and looks at him quizzically.

"You won't help me?"  She finally asks, her eyes full of sorrow.

He can't bear her gaze and looks away and thinks a moment.  He sighs once and starts to sing himself, his voice hesitant and low, stumbling as he tries to remember the words.

"Call me irresponsible,
Call me unreliable,
Throw in undependable, too!

Do my foolish alibis bore you?
Well, I'm not too clever,
I just adore you.

So, call me unpredictable,
Tell me I'm impractical,
Rainbows, I'm inclined to pursue!

Call me irresponsible,
Yes, I'm unreliable,
But it's undeniably true,
That I'm irresponsibly mad for you.

Go on and call me unpredictable,
Tell me that I'm so impractical,
Rainbows, I'm inclined to pursue,

Go ahead call me irresponsible,
Yes, I'm unreliable,
But it's undeniably true,
I'm irresponsibly mad for you."

She smiles as he says the last word, him nodding his head emphatically.  He can't help but smile in return, a little embarrassed and shy about having sung, and crazy to have said what he's thinking.  Impulsively he reaches out to her, lifting her in his arms, startled to find her solid, one hand clutching her shoulder, the other hand and arm keeping her aloft.  She stares at him intently, her hand going to caress his hair and she parts her lips to whisper.

"I don't have much time."


(no subject)

“You do something to me,
Something that simply mystifies me.
Tell me, why should it be?
You have the power to hypnotize me.
Let me live 'neath your spell.
You do that voodoo that you do so well.

For you do something to me,
That nobody else can do.
Let me live 'neath your spell.
You do that voodoo that you do so well
For you do something to me
That nobody else can do.
That nobody else can do.”

He stares fixedly at her until her laugh rings out like a bell, the sound warming him after her haunting voice had sung the song in a low tone.

“I’ve always liked Cole Porter. Seems silly not to.”

He rises to stand near her and her expression changes. “But perhaps this one says more of what I am feeling...”

Her glistening lips part and her voice clearly says each word.
“After one whole quart of brandy,
Like a daisy I awake.
With no Bromo Seltzer handy,
I don't even shake.

Men are not a new sensation;
I've done pretty well, I think.
But this half-pint imitation,
Put me on the blink.

I'm wild again,
Beguiled again,
A simpering, whimpering child again.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.

Couldn't sleep,
And wouldn't sleep,
Until I could sleep where I shouldn't sleep.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.

Lost my heart but what of it?
My mistake I agree.
he's a laugh, but I like it,
because the laugh's on me.

A pill he is,
But still he is,
All mine and I'll keep him until he is.

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered,
Like me.

Seen a lot,
I mean I lot,
But now I'm like sweet seventeen a lot.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.

I'll sing to him,
Each spring to him,
And worship the trousers that cling to him.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.

When he talks he is seeking,
Words to get off his chest.
Horizontally speaking,
He's at his very best.

Vexed again,
Perplexed again,
Thank God I can't be over-sexed again.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.

Her voice fades and she smiles slowly, her eyes showing vulnerability. “What do you think?”

“Doesn’t the song actually end badly?” He sees her figure start to shimmer.
“No, wait! Don’t go!”

“Doesn’t everything end badly?” Her face clearly distressed before evaporating away to nothingness.

(no subject)

Daniel admits to himself that he is nervous as he climbs the steps to the building entrance. He fingers his tie and coughs a little, trying to calm down. The doorman stands in front of a large dark mahogany door and says peacefully, “Good evening, sir. I’m afraid I don’t recognize you. May I help you?” His eyes travel over Daniel quickly, taking in the new clothes and appearing to approve.

“I believe I am expected. My name is Daniel Beckett.”

The doorman nods. “Of course, sir. Welcome to the Chartres Club. Enjoy your evening, sir.” He pushes in the door, revealing a dark red plush carpet covering most of a wide expanse hardwood floor and a woman sitting a writing desk. The doorman nods to the woman and she glances to Daniel and stands. “Good evening, sir. We have been expecting you.”

She gestures for him to follow and they walk a long corridor before she opens a door, leading to a large seating area, dark leather chairs with small tables facing a stage area that holds three silver poles. Several men are scattered around the room, smoking and drinking, a few of them making conversation while they watch a beautiful lithe blonde dance on the stage.

The woman shows him to a chair, inquires of his drink choice, if he would like a cigar or not and then says she will return momentarily. His takes a quick look around the room then settles back into his seat, turning his attention to the naked woman gliding and turning around the stage and the poles on it, her movements sinuous and graceful.

A scotch is placed on the undersized table next to him and the woman whispers that one of the ladies will periodically check on him. She smiles a little, saying “I believe the next act is the one you wished to see.”

He nods, a little confused, seeing the fair-haired female leaves the stage. The lights go dark for several minutes and then a loud bass seems to fill the room, the music pounding a vaguely hip-hop beat. Three lights pierce the darkness, each centered on one of the three poles.

The song starts.

You've tried every trick in the book
To get that boy to look
And still the road is dark and dim

At the end of the first verse, three women appear from one side of the stage. They are dressed identically in all black, from their thigh high boots, fishnet stockings attached to garter belts under tiny skirts to the push-up bras that make the most of their cleavage. They strut in tandem to the poles and in sync begin to move around them, grasping to alight into the air, their movements with an effortless exactness.

If love's just not on his map
It could be right in his lap
And still it won’t get through to him

Wise up, girl
Boys only pay attention when they see the sign that says

Entering Bootytown
So shake that booty now
'Cause your booty is the way into his heart
Girl, don't you realize
One detour at your thighs
Is a right turn that can break his world apart

The women move with an almost athletic military precision, as they turn and shake the asset that the song refers to.

You've been here with him before
But he just closes the door
And says, "We're better off as friends."
Tonight he'd better beware
There's somethin' hot in the air
Your wait is coming to an end

No rules now
Gonna use every weapon till he knows he's crossed that line.
And he is…

Entering Bootytown
So shake that booty now
'Cause your booty is the way into his heart
Girl, don't you realize
One detour at your thighs
Is a right turn that can break his world apart

All of them have different looks, just their attire making them appear similar. A blonde, a redhead and a brunette, all gorgeous, their legs long and inviting, the boots enhancing their length. He’s excited by their appearance, their very attitude oozing sexuality and the carnal delights that await. But it is the brunette he can’t take his eyes off of. Her skin is caramel-colored, darker than the others and her heritage is seemingly mixed. Her hair is long and wavy, and it cascades around her face with every toss of her head, framing what seem to be black eyes and a luscious full red mouth. He can’t look away and she’s watching him as well, her eyes apparently sizing him up. She mouths the words, “Thank you” to him.

Enter, enter...
Enter, enter...
Enter, enter...

Enter, enter...
Ahh, ahh
Entrez vous

No rules now
Gonna use every weapon till he knows he's crossed the line.
He is…

Entering Bootytown
So shake that booty now
'Cause your booty is the way into his heart
Girl, don't you realize
One detour at your thighs
Is a right turn that can break his world apart

Entering Bootytown
So shake that booty now
'Cause your booty is the way into his heart
Girl, don't you realize
One detour at your thighs
Is a right turn that can break his world apart

One the last word, with a quick yank, the skirts fly off into the room, exposing their asses. God, Daniel thinks, what I wouldn’t give. He breathes in, his heart racing and takes a gulp of his drink.

(no subject)

After waiting around several minutes for her to reappear and watching the space where her figure once stood, the man gives up and leaves the bar, returning to his room. He places a Do Not Disturb tag on the door handle and makes sure the inside lock is turned. He takes a quick shower to cleanse the feeling of uneasiness about him and then goes to bed, falling into a dreamless sleep.

Upon waking the man showers again and puts on the clothes from the day before. He dresses hurriedly and then takes the elevator to the lobby and rushes to the front desk.

“Good afternoon, sir. May I help you?” The young African-American male desk clerk’s tone is polite.

“Yes, if you would be so kind. I need to find the older gentleman who was working here at the front desk last night.”

The clerk dips his head and asks, “Was he a black gentleman, sir?”

He nods in reply.

“That’s Henri Delacroix. Mister Henri is an institution here. He’s been with the hotel since 1931. He has gone home already and does not work on Friday nights so unfortunately he won’t be back in until tomorrow night, sir. Was there something I may help you with in his absence?”

The man thinks for a moment. “Is there any way you would tell me where Mr. Delacroix lives?”

The clerk frowns. “I’m sorry, sir. I couldn’t.”

The man is immediately apologetic. “Of course. I’m sorry I troubled you. Thank you.”

He starts to turn from the desk when the clerk says. “Sir?”

He looks at the clerk who glances left and right before leaning to him to say in a low voice. “Henri works the early shift as the men’s lounge attendant in the Chartres Club. You can find him there after eight o’clock tonight.”

The man darts his eyes at his watch, seeing it is three in the afternoon. He quietly replies, “The Chartres Club? I’m afraid I don’t know it. I’m not from here.”

The clerks chuckles softly. “Yes, sir. That’s obvious.” He is clearly referring to the man’s English accent. The clerk darts his eyes around the room, making sure they are alone. “It’s a gentleman’s club, sir. The highest quality. You understand?”

The man nods, a little taken aback.

“Henri works in the men’s lounge – you know? The bathroom? Unfortunately you have to be a member to get in the Club to begin with.”

The man frowns, cursing his luck and thanks the clerk. The young man leans across the counter.
“I can get you in, sir.”

“Oh? How?”

Then young clerk gives him a knowing stare. “Is it important that you see Henri?”

“Yes. Very.”

“What is it worth to you?”

The man blinks, surprised at first and then he grins.

“Name it.”

“A hundred bucks. My sister works there. I can give her your name. She will tell the front door attendant to let you in. Deal?”

The man takes out his wallet and slyly slides two hundred American dollars across the counter.

“Deal. One for you and one for your sister. The name is Daniel Beckett.”

The young man makes a note. “My sister goes by the name Leila. She will leave your name at the door. You may want to watch a show or two before going to the lounge. I don’t want her to get in trouble.”

“Yes, I quite understand. How do I get there?”

“I can arrange for a cab to pick you up, sir.”

The man nods, glances at his watch again and asks. “Is there someplace close I could purchase some articles of clothing? A men’s shop of some sort?”

The clerk eyes his clothes. “You could get in wearing that suit, if that is your concern. It will be early when you arrive. You may want to have it pressed though. If you were to arrive after midnight, I would suggest evening attire.”

“I just meant that I don’t have a change of clothes with me. I’d like to buy some things to hold me over for the next several days.”

“I see, sir.”

He scribbles something on a piece of hotel letterhead, folds it and hands it to him. “This place can take care of all your needs. The doorman will hail a cab to take you there.”

He stares at the young man a moment then says sincerely. “You’ve been a tremendous help. Thank you very much.”

The clerk grins. “It was worth it.”

(no subject)

“The snow is snowing,
The wind is blowing,
But I can weather the storm!
Why do I care how much it may storm?
I've got my love to keep me warm!”

Her voice is boisterous and lively as she energetically sings, her red curls bouncing as she tosses her head. She moves about the stage, turning, almost dancing as she belts out the song.

“I can't remember,
A worse December,
Just watch those icicles form,
Why do I care if icicles form?
I've got my love to keep me warm!”

At the end of the second verse he is completely awake. He must have fallen asleep while sitting at one of the tables in the bar. He’s mesmerized as he watches her, back in the area where he saw the stage before. She’s dressed in a simple white blouse and a black pencil skirt, her legs sheathed in black seamed stockings ending in incredibly high heeled shoes. Her voice is clear as a bell and she’s obviously delighted, singing her heart out.

Just as he’s about to slap himself to see if he is dreaming, she looks at him, a gleam in her eye and she smiles suggestively as she continues.

“Off with my overcoat,
Off with gloves,
I need no overcoat,
I'm burning with love!

My heart's on fire,
The flame grows higher,
So I will weather the storm.
Why do I care how much it may storm?
I've got my love to keep me warm!”

She ends the song, laughing as the last note fades away. She stands there a moment, so full of life and their eyes lock. She continues to smile for a moment but it fades as a look of confusion crosses her face. She steps off the stage and walks toward him, continuing to stare at him at him as if afraid to break contact. She stops a few feet from him.

“You see me. Don’t you?” She asks her voice unbelieving.

He nods and barely replies, “Yes.”

She gasps and holds her hand to her mouth. “Do you see them as well?”

He moves his head side to side, not sure what she is speaking of. “See who?”

She makes a gesture that includes the room. “Them.”

Taking his eyes from her, he quickly glances around the room. “I don’t see anyone.” He turns to look back at her, surprised for an instant that she hasn’t disappeared.

“Are you sure?” She seems desperate, her voice cracking.

He stares at her intently, drinking in the sight of her. She frowns briefly. “Please. Do you see them?”

He turns again and squints his eyes in the darkened room. For a split second he sees a room filled with faint shadowy figures, all seated around tables, watching him and the singer, these faces eager for some sort of recognition. Shocked, he stands quickly, knocking over the chair he’d been sitting in, a look of dread on his face.

He feels a faint pressure on his shoulder and turns back to the woman. She seems to go almost transparent and then is solid and opaque again.

“You do see them.” She says, stating a fact.

He nods down to her as she gazes up to him, her eyes roaming over him in puzzlement.

“Who are they?” He asks quietly.

“Some …died long ago. Most of them recently. This place is like…a limbo for them. I try to keep them entertained.” She shakes her head sadly, her hair spilling around her face, hiding her eyes as she turns to step away, looking around the room.

“The hurricane. Do you know of it?” She looks over her shoulder to him, her eyes beseeching.

He nods and frowns.

She turns to face him once more and whispers. “So many left, forsaken.” She makes the sign of the cross quickly and closes her eyes.

“Marisol?” He says her name, more as confirmation than a question.

Her eyes flash open and there’s a quick intake of breath.

“You are looking for me! Help me.” She holds her hands out to him, imploring, as she fades to nothingness.

(no subject)

“Do you wish to see her picture?” the old man queries.

“Yes, I would like that very much.”

“One moment.” The old man shuffles from behind the desk and walks to a door close by. He knocks once and opens it, sticking his head into the room. He hears him tell someone named Pierre that he will be back momentarily and to please watch the desk. Someone mutters their assent and the old man closes the door.

“It’s not far. Follow me please, sir.” The old man gestures towards him and then makes his way towards a dimly lighted hallway.

“Here we are. Excuse the low lighting, sir. Our guests are not usually up so late.”

He reassures the old man he sees fine and begins to look over the photographs hanging on the wall.

“A long time ago the Bonaventure Hotel hosted all of the famous musicians of the golden age. Jazz, swing groups, big band orchestras. I remember seeing Artie Shaw several times in the ballroom. I was just a bellhop in those days. How I loved watching the women in their gowns dancing with their gentlemen in their tuxedos…”

He hears the old man sigh.

“We’ll never have days like that again, will we, sir?”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

The old man looks over the pictures and points to one hanging high on the wall.

“Ah, they’ve moved it. Here she is. She was known as Marisol Corazon. Maria of the Sun and Heart. A nod to Spanish ancestors, perhaps. Who knows her family’s exact heritage? Many are like that in New Oleans. A little French, a little Spanish...” The old man shrugs.

“In any case, she was very striking and so mysterious. Her brown eyes like the sweetest chocolate and the waves of her red hair like flames dancing, framing her face. Ah, such a beauty she was. No one knew anything about her past. Except for me. I knew. Maybe I’ll tell you more when you have the time, sir. Poor Marisol. Of course, that was not her given name. She did not use her true name on stage in order to protect what was left of her family. Catholic, you see? But her upbringing could not win against her desire to sing. What a lovely voice she had. To some, not the best but to us that loved her, the angels themselves could not have sounded better. It is a blessing to me that I sometimes still get to hear her voice…”

“Do you mind if I stick my head in the bar for just a minute? I only want to look around.” He realizes his voice sounds like he is pleading but he cannot help himself.

The old man smiles, perceptively. “Of course, of course. Perhaps you are the lucky one who will see her more than once.”

He follows the old man back to the front desk and then crosses to the entryway of the bar. He leans against the wall and glances around. Not a magic trick but a ghost. A ghost that wishes to be found.

(no subject)

He curses himself for his foolishness. What kind of man goes chasing after ghosts? For all he knows what he saw earlier was just some kind of stunt the hotel does to lure guests in. And he’s just another sucker that fell for it. He can hardly believe he had the cabdriver turn around and take him back to the hotel. He tosses on the bed trying to get comfortable. He’s restless, his mind turning over and over again the layout of the bar and how it might be possible to dismantle the stage so quickly. Smoke and mirrors?

He glances at the bedside clock. 2 am. Giving up on sleep, he pulls on his pants and buttons his shirt. Slipping his bare feet into his wingtips, he decides to see if the bar is still open. He wonders when last call is in the city they call The Big Easy. Not so easy now, he thinks.

The elevator man tips his hat and quietly asks “Lobby, sir?” He nods in reply and they ride in silence to the bottom. He murmurs his thanks as he exits and crosses the marble floor to the front desk.

“May I help you, sir?” The old gentleman manning the front desk inquires in a hushed voice.

“Yes, is the bar still open?”

“No, I’m sorry, sir. It closes before midnight. I could perhaps arrange for an ice bucket and a bottle to be sent to your room if you’d like, sir.”

He shakes his head no, pauses a moment and then decides to go for it.

“So, the trick in the bar. How do you do it?”


“Making the stage and the singer disappear so quickly. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a helluva magic trick, I gotta tell you.”

The clerk looks at him guardedly and then his eyes widen with understanding.

“Ah, you’ve actually seen her, sir?”

“You’re not going to tell me a ghost story, are you?” he asks, his voice a little gruff.

“Sir, I can assure you it is no story. She is quite real. Did she see you?” His eyes glaze over and the old man stares off into the distance. “I had always hoped she would see me…” he whispers.

“Hey, you okay?”

The old man shakes himself a little. “I beg your pardon, sir. Some times my mind just drifts off when I least expect it.”

(no subject)

The doorman hails him a cab outside and he tells the driver to take him to the airport. He runs his hand over his face and stares out the window, seeing the city through the rain-speckled windows. His mind drifts, trying to figure out what happened back at the bar.

“You all right, sir?”

“What?” He then realizes what the cabbie asked. “I’m not sure.”

“You been staying at that hotel?”

“No. I just stopped in.”

“Was you looking for her?”

“Her? What do you mean?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“No, go on – looking for who?” He leans up close to the glass the separates the front seat from the back.

“That place is haunted. Used to have people looking for the ghost.”

“Haunted? Really?” He wonders if he saw a ghost.

“Yes, sir. Been haunted for years and years. Before Katrina. Even before Betsy.”

“What do you mean used to have?”

“Not many people coming to ghost hunt. Not many people coming here period.”
The cabbie goes quiet and the man listens to the sound of the wipers on the windshield. He leans back into the seat.

He heard the melancholy in the cabbie’s voice but asks anyway “Who haunts it?”

“Heard stories that say a woman singing for love. Was sort of famous here in town. Some kind of jazz singer. Stories say that if you see her, her beauty will make you lose your mind. Don’t know if that’s true or not. Some say they think they have heard her siren call but few have actually seen her.”

He gulps audibly. “What else do the stories say?”

The cabbie chuckles. “Don’t pay me any mind, sir. There are thousands of ghost stories in the Crescent City.”