Friday, January 2, 2009

Celia

This weeks prompt:
Take a favorite character you have created. Pick a New Year’s Resolution that they truly intended to keep. Now, why did they break it within 24 hours?


“Celia!” Davis’s voice disappered in the backstage humdrum.

Black cases of various shapes and sizes lay in the stuffy corridor. He smiled at a musician he recognised standing in an open doorway puffing away on a cigarette. A group of three men blocked the hallway, talking and smoking off the pre-show jitters. A blonde with her hair in rollers, pushed past them showing off a pair of shapely contra nylon legs ending in a fabulous pair of silver high heel slippers. One of the musicians wolf whistled and she turned around to grin suggestively at them. As she spun around she slammed into Davis.

“Damn you Davis. You gonna do someone some damage.” She slapped him on the chest and then pulled the tie on her silk dressing gown tighter around her tiny waist. Davis almost caught a glimpse of her right breast through the open V of the red slip.
“You seen Cec?”
“Haven’t seen her since last night hun. You know Cec.”
“Yeah I know Cec.”
“Stop worrying hun. She’ll be here. She always is.” And she was off, in a wake of heady perfume, wolf whistles and sighs.

No one had seen Celia since they’d parted ways at the club the night before, Celia steadying herself on the arm of a dashing yanky solider as they’d walked out into the freezing air. But weren’t they all charming he grumbled when they came offering boxes of chocolates, stockings, lipstick and jazz records direct from the US. None of it booty he could possibly match on his manager’s wage. He rode the wave of Celia’s popularity to ingratiate himself with the fairer sex and carried a walking stick, lying about an honourable discharge from the air force.

Waving about her glass in the lead up to midnight, with champagne sloshing from side to side, and occasionally all over whoever was close by, Celia had giggled and hiccupped her way through her list of new years resolutions. The crowd of hanger ons laughing as she messed up her counting.

“I mean it Davis,” she’d said, leaning heavily into him and emphasing her point by speaking directly into his ear. “No more booze after tonight dah-ling.”

They’d been arguing about it her drinking in the dressing room before the New Years Eve show. Celia had been so tanked she could barely walk on stage. How she managed to belt out song after song was beyond him. On stage she was a consummate performer and seductress. Behind stage she was nothing better than a lush in a fancy fur coat.

He could hear Glenn Miller blaring from behind her dressing room door. The door was shabby looking despite the self styled gold star that Celia had stuck on it. She’d heard that’s what all the female movie stars in Hollywood did.

Davis didn’t even bother to knock.

- - -
“You stupid bitch!” The needle of the record player screeched across the record as Davis grabbed at it.

She tried to look up to see where the voice was coming from and who it was, but her head pounded. Naked, on all fours, she instead stared into a pool of her own vomit.

Her head swum as she tried to say something then her stomach convulsed once, and then twice, the foul smell of bile burning nose. A rough hand unbalanced her and she crumpled back against the wall, half sitting, half lying. Despite the rancid smell he squatted down and got right up in her face, anger erupting from every nook and cranny of his face.

“You promised me that you would give it up Cec – and here you are, all boozed up worse than last night. Christ!” He pulled out a white hankerchief and covered his nose with it, stepping in the pool of sick as he stood up and backed away. “It’s in your hair .. it’s -” He was gesticulating wildly making it difficult to keep the starched linen clamped over his nose

Stuffing the hanky back into his pocket he dragged her to her feet and hustled her the torn seat in front of the mirror illuminated by only half a dozen of the light bulbs that surrounded it. She looked out at him disorientated, as though she didn’t even recognise who the hell he was.

“You couldn’t go for just one day without a drink. Just one day. So much for your new years resolutions Celia – they’re not worth the air used to make them with. Because in the end – that’s all they are Cec, air. Fucking worthless air.”

He turned away from her and paced around the pool of yellow stink on the floor. She’d never been this bad. And he hadn’t been able to find Peggy. He had to find Peg. She’d be able to pull Cec together before the show – get her cleaned up, sobered up, made up and dressed to kill. there was a ball room full of yanky punters who'd all paid to see Cec sing. He’d put a rumour out down the hallway that Cec was under the weather from last night’s festivities and try to beg another half an hours grace.

“You’re going on tonight there whether you like it or not – whether you can or not.” His breath smelt of peppermints. “If you don’t perform, you don’t get paid and if you don’t get paid I don’t get paid. You’re not famous enough yet Celia that you wont get dumped like some talentless starlet for this sort of carrying on.”

She blinked once or twice, but said nothing - the usual vitriol absent from this confrontation. “I’m going to find Peg. At least get something on before Peg gets here. Try and have a little bit of self respect.” He spat on the floor and stalked off in the directin of the door.

He heard her cough and then croak.
"Is the trumpet player here tonight?”
He paused with the knob clasp tightly in his hand. He’d never heard her be so polite when she was tanked, nor give a rats arse about any of the musicians in the backing band. “You’ve got bigger things to worry about sweet heart than whether or not Charlie is here tonight.”

The door slammed close and she looked around.
Celia?

Feeling her internal equilibrium return she looked up at the show posters on the wall. It was like staring at her reflection. Celia had her face. She checked back in the mirror. She was a perfect match for Celia. Then came the startling realisation - she was Celia.

2 comments:

JulMarSol said...

This is a great story. I can see Celia in her messy state, smell the stench and see the posters on the wall. It's like I'm reading a book! How fascinating!

My first visit through Fiction Friday.

Happy New Year!

~willow~ said...

oh my, a freaky friday body switch tale that doesn't show itself until the end? or was celia so wasted that she really didn't get the whole function of a mirror? Okay so the end confused me a little.

... but everything else before that: wow! The urgency, the vivid details that stand out in your descriptions, all went to make a really gripping story.