and it continues…
After supper, Mary settled into the crook of the armchair. This was her time. The book was there on the table again. How had it got there? It had been on her bedside table last night. Had she absent mindedly picked it up and put it here this morning? A stray strand of hair had escaped from Mary’s neat bun and she smoothed it back, reflecting on the placing of the book wherever she seemed to be. It was odd. Perhaps now it was time to open it up again and see if Chapter 5 was there after all, and she’d just somehow missed it .The pages were thick and rough, maybe two had stuck together? She laid the book in her lap and let it flip open. It flipped straightaway to Chapter 5 ‘Burlesque Bel’.
‘…Bel sighed and looked out of the grimy basement window. The Parisian streets were awash with rain and the toffs were running for cover, trying not to splash their sleek black trousers with the mud from the carriage ruts. ‘At least I’m in here and not wet and hungry…’
Suddenly Mary wasn’t settled in her threadbare armchair any longer. The curtains she was peering through were still plush red velvet, but their smell was of old cigar smoke and popped champagne. Mary pushed the curtain aside, feeling its heavy softness against her fingers. Paris was grey and dreary tonight. The troupe would have to work hard to cheer up its audience. She sighed. She didn’t feel like dancing tonight. She felt like hiding away, wallowing in the blues. She lit the cigarillo she was holding and took a deep breath. The inhalation made her head spin and she realised that she wasn’t used to smoking. It made her feel drunk, head whirling and heart pounding. Is this me? This isn’t me. Who am I? But deep inside her Mary knew who she was and when Fifi Latour burst into the room, shouting curses about the bastard cochon who’d let his carriage splash mud over her new boots and petticoat, she responded in kind, the way Bel would do, ‘alors, comme qu’il est un bete!’ and hastened to help Fifi remove the spoilt boots and petticoats until she stood in just her basque and stockings, breasts spilling in abundance over the top of the corseting.
The show preparations were well underway, and whether Mary/Bel liked it or not, she was soon being harried into getting changed for the first performance. Her mood was sour. Monsieur Jacques had been so unkind the night before. She hated to admit it but her feelings for him were engagee after all…She hoped he wouldn’t be at the show tonight. She didn’t want to face him. He made her feel so stupid now.
Fifi guessed her reservations ‘is it ‘im?’ she asked, sympathetically. Mary/Bel nodded silently.
‘Ah forget ‘im’. Ee is just another pig. Ee will use you and spit you out like all these filthy cochons. Use them instead. Come on, cherie, you are brave and you are strong and you are beautiful. Break someone’s heart tonight…’ she chucked Mary/Bel under the chin. She might be rough and loud, but she was kind. She had a reputation for being the wildest dancer, the heaviest drinker and the unruliest in bed, but Fifi looked after all the rest of ‘les filles’ as if they were her children.
Mary/Bel straightened her shoulders and looked at Fifi. ‘You are right Fifi, I will break a heart tonight.’ She rolled on her stockings, securing the garters. Then she laced the basque tight so her breasts looked as they would burst out of the top, pink cherry pies with the ripe cherry just peeking over the rows of lace.
Fifi offered her a swig from her absinthe bottle. Mary/Bel took a long hard swallow, almost choking as the liquid burned in her throat, settling in a warm pool in her stomach. Her cheeks flushed slightly and her eyes glittered. She fluffed up the netted skirt, flicking it up behind her with a ‘yow’, showing pert rounded cheeks above the stockings. She would show these bêtes what it was like to want Burlesque Bel but not get so much as a whiff of the pleasures she could share. When their routine was called, she, Fifi, Mimi and Petite Cerise rushed out onto the stage, whooping and flicking their legs and skirts high. Petite Cerise cart-wheeled across the stage, showcasing gloriously long legs, Mimi circled each leg in turn, displaying her pretty ankles and Fifi turned, bent over and flicked up her skirts to display her wiggling, taunting ass.
It was Mary/Bel’s turn next. She was supposed to pirouette across the stage but she wanted to do more, risk more, shock more. She spotted Monsieur Jacques in the second row. He had been intent on Petite Cerise but swivelled to look at her with renewed interest as she languidly walked across the stage in time to the taunting music. She slowly moved her hand up to the lacing on her basque and pulled on one stray ribbon. The bow came undone. More eyes swivelled to watch her. She started to unwind the laces, all the time circling and grinding her hips, mimicking the thrusting actions she knew these bêtes would be hoping for later. The basque slipped open and her breasts burst out, round and high, like ripe apples.
‘Ahh’ was the collective anticipatory sigh from the men in the audience, and at that Mary/Bel abruptly flashed them a supercilious pout, and strutted off to thunderous applause.
Back in the dressing room, the other girls were excited and giggling ‘oh, ma Cherie, you will be in trouble…’, ‘oh non, non, it was good !’ ‘What made you do that..?’ They buzzed around Mary/Bel until Monsieur Jacques appeared at the stage door. They hushed and fell away, hastily gathering up their belongings and scurrying away to leave Mary/Bel and he facing each other. ‘Break a heart’ Fifi hissed to Mary/Bel as she brushed past her…
More to follow next week …
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