|The author of this story does not claim ownership of 'Chicago', or the characters of Roxie and Velma. This is amateur fiction and no money is being made from it.|
"Shut your mouth, honey." Velma's tone is sweet, and her smile is bloody red and white.
This guy coming over -- he's the seedy gossip columnist with the fake British accent; wants to be Little Lord something-or-other. The jackass wears a glass monocle scrunched up in one eye with a string hanging down. Gets it caught up in his tie and has to stop and detangle, white gloves flapping. He slimes their way like the snake he is, and Roxie's not in the mood for tossing dead mice.
"Miss Roxie Hart..." (and it is Miss Roxie Hart because Velma's abandoned her again -- chatting up some guy with the kind of slick hair you can see your face in) "Miss Roxie Hart... What a pleasure. Now, we must find you a drink of some description..." He flaps his gloves again, causes a little breeze.
Roxie shoots him her sourest look. "Beat it, Mary." He's more fish than snake now, goggling and indignant.
She moves on, plucks a cigarette from her little silver case. Then she stands in a little pool of empty space in the middle of the room, where the lamplight is sure to fall on her face and hair and make her look good. Artistic, kinda. She puts the cigarette between her lips and waits for the young men to scurry her way, eager to spark up for her. It's like a race, except no one gets the prize. It's just interesting to see which one will get there first.
First, the undressing. The unpeeling of stockings; those cobwebby nightmares that fall to hang limply over chair-backs, or nestle pointlessly on the floor. The unlacing of corsets -- smooth cord swish-swishing through metal eyelets. The corsets creak like old bedridden grandmas when you remove them, like they're looking at you and disapproving of all that soft white flesh spilling out shamelessly. Like they know what you're going to do. Roxie always feels like someone's wagging a finger in her face, telling her she's going to hell. She shrugs it off though. Tell her something she doesn't know.
Still, she's never liked this part. She wonders why it can't be like the movies, where you can skip the dull stuff, the ordinary stuff, and just cut to the chase. And then fade out on the heroine's kiss. She hates standing here, fiddling awkwardly with bits of silk and lace, while Velma watches. Velma likes it; she leans like fluid, like oil, spreading herself over the nightstand like her bones are elastic. She drains a glass of whiskey and looks at Roxie until Roxie has shuffled under the covers. And it's only at that point that she puts the glass down and comes over.
With the candle blown out and the only lights those of the city outside the window -- red and blue and faded electric yellow -- Roxie has Velma, and she has her completely. No flashbulbs here, no hungry public grins, and nothing at all but Roxie and Velma and the almost-darkness.
Roxie pulls Velma's lower lip between her teeth, runs her hands down Velma's straight spine to her dancer's legs, feels the muscle and hard strength there. It's a fancy of Roxie's that Velma is really made of rubber and iron, not flesh and bone. Roxie, on the other hand, feels like she's a razor blade lost in a bag of cotton candy.
She bites down a little on Velma's lip, not enough to draw blood, or really to hurt, but enough so that she can't smile. She doesn't want Velma to smile, even though it's too dark to see.
"I hate you," she whispers into Velma's mouth, and she can't even remember whether she's lying.
Lying in bed until two in the afternoon, because she can. Because she's a star, and that's the kind of thing stars do. The sheets are soft and giving, and she twists her limbs in them, yawns her hot sleep-flavoured breath into the mattress. She doesn't know where Velma is. Somewhere in the city. Spreading her red-white smile across Chicago. Not here. The apartment is still and dead.
She lies and listens to the street noise outside the window -- some guy is having an argument with a cab driver and the cabbie is yelling back, using the kind of language that would make her mother blush and tighten her lips. Motorcars honk their horns, a couple of kids shout and laugh in the sunshine. Roxie wonders who it is this time. Whether it's the guy with the shiny hair you could see your face in, or some other poor sap. Whoever he is, she hopes he's a real rat -- someone who's as big a rat as Velma is.
She's slept so much
she can't be tired, but sleep is pulling at her again. She turns and rubs
her face into the flattened pillow, sighs. Behind the orange of her eyelids,
the lights are bright, brighter than ever before. She kicks and steps
her way across the stage and it feels like coming home. The people laugh
- they are delighted to see her; they love her and she loves them. She
loves them so much, her audience. She sings all the songs she knows for
them, and as she drifts deeper into unconsciousness, only their faces
remain, and they are shining.