A Night Out

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A scandalous night out.

Submitted: April 12, 2015

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Submitted: April 12, 2015

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A NIGHT OUT

The idea of organising a trip out to a show had occurred a few years ago, when Jenny and her friend Shirley were commenting how boring life in the evenings was, in the small town in the Midlands where they lived and worked. Jenny ran a women’s clothing store. She had her shop stocked up to the ceiling with all kinds of female clothes: from sweaters to coats and jackets. She had become popular due to the fact there was no other shop like it for quite a long way. Every day saw groups of ladies, from young to elderly, congregating inside the store to chat and have tea, coffee, or herbal infusions, while checking out possible purchases at the same time. The ladies who visited ‘Jenny’s’, did so because they were bored with staying at home, and even if they did have an outside job, wanted somewhere to let off their steam.

“Have you seen there’s a new club opening near here called ‘The Pearl River’? There are posters announcing it all over the town,” Shirley said to Jenny while they were alone in the shop before opening time.

“Why are you interested in a new club?” Jenny asked her friend.

“I’m not interested in the club, but in the poster announcing it. Jenny, we could do something like: announce on posters all over town, for a night out of here, either at a show or the theatre. What do you think?”

“It sounds OK by me. But what can we advertise, and for when?”

“The whys and wherefores you can leave to me. I’ll do my very best to look up something good on the internet. What about it?”

“Fine, but be careful about how much to spend on the publicity. You have to think that we can’t afford to lose money just as easily as that.”

 

Shirley checked all the nearest towns, and what shows would be playing in them over the winter. She thought that with the vagaries of the British climate, people might be keener on going out in the bad weather as a distraction from the usual television programmes. Shirley also went from one place to another, getting involved in agencies that made publicity posters. She understood very well, that good publicity made a great difference when you were trying to sell something. At the end of every day, she informed Jenny of how she was coming along with her search for an excursion.

The regulars, who visited Jenny’s for a snack and a chat, were soon involved in the idea.

At the same time as the club opened, Shirley and Jenny went to see the manager, to see how the publicity had helped to sell the first night. He told them, “You need to make the public an offer. For example: if a group of four comes, they get a free bottle of champagne; for a couple, they get cocktails and snacks; for a single, the same.”

 

Silvina was a late-middle-aged woman who was visiting the Midlands. She was staying with her daughter and family. During the day, the rest of the family was either at work or at school, so Silvina was alone at home. The town was within walking distance, and as she had been there so many times, a stroll to the town meant nothing to her. She passed through the ancient narrow streets until she arrived at the High Street, which was the hub of the town. Silvina made her way down the High Street standing in front of the majority of the shops, and even going into some of them to make personal purchases, like toiletries, or a paperback.

Jenny’s shop was one that Silvina entered every time she visited her family, therefore she was considered an old friend. “Hello, Ladies, how’s life treating you all?” Silvina greeted everyone present.

“Fine. How long’s it been since you were here?” Jenny asked her.

“Ever since last Easter. What’s new in the store?”

“We’ve got a whole lot of new things, just right for autumn and winter,” Jenny answered.

“Jenny, why don’t you ask your friend if she’d like to go out one evening?” Shirley said.

“That’s a good idea, we’ve only got a few coach tickets left to sell,” Jenny said, and so she said to Silvina. “Would you be interested in going to the theatre one evening this week?”

“Well, it depends what’s on,” Silvina responded, not knowing what to expect.

“We’ve decided on Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. Haven’t you seen the poster on the entrance door?”

Silvina went to the door, opened it, and from outside the shop perused the publicity for the outing to the theatre. She saw there were a few famous names in the cast but other than that, everyone was an unknown for her. The house where she was staying was really rather boring in the evenings, as all of the family had to retire before ten o’clock, in order to be up bright and shiny in the mornings. Silvina said, “You can put my name down, and I’ll be happy to attend the theatre with you and the others, although I can’t say I know very many people here. I’ll pay you now, so the coach company doesn’t complain.” Jenny accepted Silvina’s money gratefully and rang up Ben, the coach driver, who would take them to the theatre. He was more than pleased that practically all the tickets had been sold.

 

On the night of the excursion to the theatre, Silvina told her daughter that she was going out and wasn’t sure when she would be back. Her daughter was happy for her mother to go out, as she was afraid that she might be suffering from boredom in the village. The weather that evening was of the most miserable - raining heavily and cold. All the theatre goers arrived at the pick-up-point on time and Jenny and Shirley introduced them to each other. They all climbed aboard for the trip, but before Ben started up the coach he told them, “Hello, Ladies. Please be prompt when the play’s ended, as we don’t want to get stuck in a traffic jam with other coaches that will be there. Thank you.”

The drive was quite relaxed and some of the passengers ate their sweets before getting inside the theatre. Some even dozed off. Well, it wasn’t to be surprised at, after all, it was impossible to see through the windows.

The coach finally stopped near enough to the theatre so as not to necessitate anyone getting wet in the pouring rain. Ben’s last words were, “Please don’t forget to be punctual when it’s over. Enjoy yourselves! See you all later.”

 

 Inside the theatre the only sounds to be heard were the actor’s speaking the bard’s ancient lines. Silvina had drunk two cups of tea before entering the theatre, and so had other ladies. She wasn’t all that keen on Hamlet, but it was quiet and warm in the theatre, and a bit better than watching television or reading, which she did most evenings. She also had not the faintest idea of the play or what was happening on stage.

 

It was towards the end of the first Act, when she was unable to hold herself in any longer, and as she was sitting on the end seat of the row where they were all seated, she slipped out to the foyer and into the ‘Ladies’. By the time she got to the ‘Ladies’, she saw she had been followed by a lot of other fellow passengers. After washing their hands and fixing make-up and hair, they all left the ‘Ladies’, which allowed others to enter.

 

The foyer was full of people from different villages who, on seeing Silvina get up and leave, thought the play had finished, and had also left.

Ben saw his passengers, and said, “If everyone’s here, we can leave now for the trip back home. OK?”

There were no voices of protest, and in a very short time the foyer was empty, with other coaches full of returning visitors following Ben.

 

The second Act commenced, and those actors who were making an appearance faced at most a dozen people, who must have been locals. “Where have they all gone? It’s the most mystifying experience, as an actor, I’ve ever had,” said the actor who was playing the part of Hamlet’s uncle.

“We have to do our very best for the few who have remained behind,” declared the one who played Hamlet’s mother.

“It might be rather fun,” said one who was less experienced.

 

Meanwhile, Ben’s coach was travelling through the sodden countryside. Ben saw a bright neon sign advertising ‘The Golden Slippers Club’. “Come on. Let’s go for a quick drink, to make more of a night of it,” Ben said, as he drove into the nightclub car park. The passengers were unanimous in getting off the coach, and getting into the club.

The door was opened by a very depressed-looking man. His face brightened up as he saw Ben’s coach-load get out, and then he saw some of the other coaches enter the car park, and could hardly contain himself. “You are all welcome to enter my humble establishment. The waiters will serve you with anything you want.”

In a few minutes all the tables were occupied, and the staff had to supply more from the back rooms.

The entertainment started with what Silvina would later tell her daughter, were the ‘Three Tired Tarts’. They had all seen better days, and their clothes even more. The plumes that showgirls wear are bouncy, and are of beautiful colours. The three ladies on the podium’s plumes were as tired as they were. They drifted around as if they were all in a trance. In fact they were bored, because no one ever went near the club, and they had guessed that their careers in show business were all but over for good.

 

Then something happened that perked the audience up a bit, when one of them fell down on her bottom. She got up, rubbed her thighs, and continued, but unfortunately for her she kept knocking into some of the pathetic scenery. Everyone gave the tragic trio a hearty round of applause - especially the one who slipped up. The audience was laughing too, and eating and drinking at the same time.

The next act up was a bewigged man who sang ‘The Power of Love’. He was so bad that the laughter ratio notched up more decibels. They all loved him. He had nerve and no illusions, and that’s what they liked.

The manager was happy, too, so much so that he decided to let all the acts appear, however bad they might be. The audience was getting drunker and drunker, and couldn’t tell the difference between good and bad. The clapping got louder and louder, and more and more food and drink was consumed.

The magician was better than the rest. At least he got the audience to participate, which proved hilarious when the majority of them slipped around all over the place. They chased the rabbits and doves that the magician had built his reputation on.

Then came an interlude for dancing, and a very scratchy sounding group, tried to put some vim and vigour into Latin American salsa, and as many lively tunes as they could. They were as tuneless and without talent as the other artists.

 

At three a.m. the manager appeared on the podium to announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the time has come to say goodnight, and to thank you for your presence, and that your generosity has provided me with more than sufficient money to pay off all my creditors, and my acts too. You have literally eaten and drunk me out of house and home! Thank you all very much for your help in a very bad moment.”

 

The manager was distressed no more. He paid off his debts, and tarted up ‘The Golden Slippers.’

 

Jenny and Shirley found the outing to be a great success, and were busy planning some more. Ben was happy getting work on a weekday, when it was slim pickings during the winter months. Silvina got back to her daughter’s house when she was making breakfast for the family. Silvina had forgotten all about the theatre, and only mentioned the club.

 

The vast majority of the audience for ‘Hamlet’ had disappeared just at the end of the first Act. The cast decided one of two things: either they hadn’t worked well, or the audience was totally ignorant about the play.

“We’d better do our best for the fortunate few who’ve decided to stay on and see the play through to the end,” the protagonist said.

“Yes, you’re right. They’ve paid for their entrance tickets, so we owe it to them,” replied another actor.

When the play ended, the actors and the audience that had stayed on, drifted off to a nearby pub for food and drink. That was an Act that went down very well.

 

As a result of the scandal of how a group of actors lost the majority of their audience halfway through a Shakespeare play, became a great source of local chat and gossip, so much so that it didn’t take long for it to reach the offices of the local papers and even several television channels.

 

After that night, what could well have turned out be a disaster for the actors, was a success. Ticket sales went up by leaps and bounds, and in the meantime, the actors improved their acting.

 

The manager of ‘The Golden Slippers’, no longer feeling distressed, took out a huge publicity spread for the club. The advertisement on the television was all bright and glittery, much more enticing than what he had before, which was worse than poor.

 

Jenny’s shop enjoyed the same fame and popularity as the actors.

 

Ben and his coach became well enough known for him to be able to buy a new coach.

 

What would all of them have said, if they had known that their newfound success was thanks to Silvina’s rushing to the ‘Ladies’, that had caused the stampede out of the stalls?

 

Even she - didn’t know. 


© Copyright 2019 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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