Paying Dues (#BTCurtain)

Anna Meade has once again waved her dark wand of magic and compelled flash-fiction writers near and far to dive into another contest, this one being: Behind the Curtain. Details are below, beneath my lil’ entry, as outlined by the great #FaerieQueen herself. But first?

“Paying Dues,” inspired by this Pinterest pic of The Supremes found on the Behind the Curtain board.

    Patty readjusted her jacket for the thousandth time. The cold in Detroit had a mind of its own—fingers of ice clawing at the hem of her dress, the mouths of her sleeves. The readjusting didn’t help, because it wasn’t just cold; no, there was a darkness, too, a weight to the air that just wasn’t right. And she was trying to shield herself against that, too.

Her groupmates Dana and Sandra weren’t faring any better, but they’d wait, just like her, until Mr. Davis showed up.

He always picked inopportune times to meet: before shows, or contract signings, before interviews or meet-and-greets. Right when it was most dangerous to be seen together.

He was an executive of sorts, executive of what Patty wasn’t sure. No one really was. But everyone knew you dealt with him before you had any semblance of success. Patty and the girls knew they had to pay their dues. And they did.

Dana crossed her arms, puffing her fur coat up around her head. “Do you think he’s going to show?”

“You ask every time,” Sandra said. “And it never changes. Yes, he’s going to show. We just have to wait until he does.”

“The show’s at 7PM,” Dana said.

“And you’ll be right on time,” a deep voice rumbled. All three women spun, Dana bumping into a frigid trashcan and causing a cat to yowl and scatter.

Mr. Davis stood in the alley as if he’d always been there. No car waited behind him; no footprints led to where he stood. He simply was, dark suit and jacket one piece of ebon. The streetlight above him flickered and died. “We’ll be quick,” he smiled, holding out a clean, shining blade.

Patty pulled one glove off. Dana and Sandra followed suit. Their palms were cut in tandem, and the blood plopped into the snow at their feet, hissing. Mr. Davis nodded at curling steam as if the blood had spoken; he wiped the blade on a dark handkerchief, tipped his hat and walked away without another word.

The ladies hurried to their car.

* * *

            Back in their cramped dressing room, all three of the women stared at each other in silence, their reflections the only way they were willing to face each other.

“Let’s make sure we wear our gloves tonight, ladies,” said Patty, tracing the bandage on her palm. “The gold ones.”


Contest Explanation, Details & Linky Tool:

Greasepaint and floodlights and cheerful music out front, but behind the curtain sometimes darker dramas unfold. Whether theatre or circus, pantomime or ballet, there is the world presented…and then the world hidden.

Too often, a gorgeous, painted stage facade conceals dry rot and warped wood. The clown’s smile wipes away to reveal bitter rage. The ballerina’s twisted foot, the leading man’s alcoholism, the abuse of performing animals, all carefully hidden from the audience. For the price of just a ticket, the artifice is yours.

Yet I challenge you to pull it aside, to peek behind the curtain. Who do you see, what do they feel, and most importantly what do they hide?


I have included an inspiration board on Pinterest: Behind the Curtain. You are not required to use an image there, but I do encourage you to do so. If one does inspire you, please include it in your entry.

Your stories may be up to 400 words, but don’t let that fool you. BREVITY is the soul of wit. Only include those words that allow you to tell a powerful story.

The contest opens at midnight EST on Oct 2 and continues till Midnight Saturday, October 13. That’s less than 11 days, better get started.

Post your story on your blog and link up through the tool below. Be sure to include the appropriate code so people can read through the other entries from your blog. Read the other entries and comment – writers love the feedback.

Only a few other rules.

No fan fiction – original worlds only.
No erotica – seduction and sex is fine, but graphic descriptions should not be the focus of the story

21 thoughts on “Paying Dues (#BTCurtain)

    1. Thank you. I figure there’s always some sort of darkness behind glittery stuff. There’s gotta be a trade off. And I’m glad the glove reference worked so well, because it stuck out to me.

  1. I love the way this story works… You play with an image we’re all familiar with and turn it on it’s ear. The language is crisp and the imagery sharp… Very nice.

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