Red Velvet Curtain

My sleek black car comes crawling to a halt and I can hear the crunch of gravel under the tires. Walter, my driver, quickly exits the vehicle only to make his way to my door, opening it and offering a hand of help to me. I ignore as I get out the same way I got in – without help.

Walter bows slightly as I pass by him silently, dusting the nonexistent particles from my crisp business suit. I look out of place in this part of town, a little back alley, hole-in-the-wall place. It's not this part of town that I'm interested in however, but the little themed club that is nestled away in it. It's probably the only good quality about the run down place.

I move forward, sure of myself, as if I had been here a million times. With my age and the consistency I come here, that number might not be too far off. The door I'm looking for is plain and nondescript. If I hadn't stumbled across it in my youth I would have never known that such a world existed that did behind the door. The only thing that mars the door is the stamped lettering reading "Red," the name of the place.

I weave my way through trash and people and other things best left to the imagination. I finally make it to the door without a speck on my suit and give a rapid knock with my knuckles. It takes a moment for someone to answer, but the door eventually creeks open and a black eye stares out at me for a moment. Recognition flickers through it and the door is opened wider. No questions asked.

As I step through the entryway, the smell of smoke and booze makes its way to my nose. It's a comforting smell and I want to be in the midst of it. I hurriedly make my way further to the interior of the building, entering into a huge open room. There is a long bar off to the side and a large stage to the front of me with a piano perched on it. The floor was covered mostly in round tables with red coverings, but there was a small place where people could dance. I make my way to the bar, the tender already pouring the same drink that I get every time I come here – cranberry and vodka, also red.

I decide to take a seat at the bar rather than moving to a table and the bartender gives me a nod with a small "Vive." I nod back as I pull a cigarette from a hidden pocket and quickly light it up. I give it a lung burning drag and hold it for a moment before releasing the smoke. Seeing an ash tray I quickly nab it, noticing that the glass of it is an iridescent red. I smile quietly to myself as the reason behind the clubs name makes itself apparent – not that I didn't already know why it was called as such.

I continue to smoke and take small sips of my drink, flicking the cigarette every once in a while. The low murmur of speech and hum of music hardly bothers me. Just like the smell when I walked in, it is also a comfort to me. But soon that comes to a stop as a hush falls through the place and the lights dim, spotlights lighting up the stage.

The red velvet curtain parts slowly, revealing a young woman, a Jessica Rabbit look-a-like if I had ever seen one. Background music starts and the red clad woman begins to sing. It's a song I know well, "The End of a Love Affair." I give a silently amused huff because the girl – that's what she was really in my eyes – probably doesn't even know who sang that song originally. But I did have to give her props for she did sing it well. Billie would have been proud.

I continue to listen to the girl, thinking back on my own time on stage here. It was before the big lights and the big names got to me. In all honesty, it was a much better time than those years had been. Those times were ruthless for me, a girl at the time too who had no roots to speak of or anybody of importance. It was a downward spiral from the start, but I thought I could beat it. Obviously not since I'm here tonight, an old, washed up singer living the glory days in a little club. I want to let the girl on stage know that the big time isn't all it's cracked up to be, but she'd probably just scoff at this old woman. Better to let her figure it out on her own then, which will be too late by then.

The song comes to a close and I'm broke from my revere. I check my watch and notice the time that has been passed, indicating my time to go. The bartender senses my need and glides over to me. I hand him the correct amount with a little extra tip and he gives me another head nod and "Vive," before he's off to the other end of the bar. I stand and brush off the still nonexistent particles on my suit and begin to pick my way back out of the club.

I reach the door without any problems and a well suited man opens it with a bow. Before I know it I'm back outside and picking my way back to my car. Walter will be waiting right where he dropped me off and "Red" will be there the next time I decide to visit. In my mind's eye I see the red velvet curtain drop behind me for the night.