Wednesday, November 24, 2010

3ww: The Curtain

The Curtain Rises

The applause of ten, a hundred, never seemed enough, even though he told himself he was only pandering to the basest instincts of the human animal. Still, he found himself, night after night, behind the heavy red curtain, listening to them shuffle in. Trying, when those curtains opened, to see through the stagelights, to feel their number out there, in the creaking, worn velvet seats. A spiritual head count, ending when he darted through the curtains once more, bowing to encores, his heart sinking even as he was awash in their purported admiration.

But now, tonight, he is stopped in the alley by a man in a black cloak, black top hat, shoes shining like puddles in the street after a four a.m. rain.

"Sir, if you would oblige me--"

"I don't do that anymore!" he snarls, feeling surreptitiously for the knife in his pocket.

"Ah, no," says the man. "I did not mean... It's just that I missed the performance, and I know it is too much to ask, but even a song -- no, a note. Just one. That's all I ask. If you wouldn't mind."

He cannot see the man's face. He looks around the alley. They are alone.

A soft, warbling note. It rises, clear as a distant bell, and then the alley is filled with it, this single note, the bricks sending it back to two men standing in their shadows.

When he stops, there is silence.

And then, applause. A slow hand-clap. And finally, the man removes his top hat.

"Sir, you do me the greatest honor," he says, voice trembling, husky.

The singer, player, actor, he advances. Pauses.

"No, it is you." He swallows, tries to keep, for once, the stage out of his voice, his mannerisms. Still in his performance garb, he is, for once, uncostumed. "You who do me the honor. Father."

A carriage arrives at the end of the alley. Carefully, awkwardly, the two men make their way to it. Inside, a silver flash of brandy, padded seats, and a short ride across town. And in the alley, a cat continues hunting, its coat sleek and dark.


Just a little something. I am maudlin and overly dramatic today. :) Thank you again to ThomG and the whole Three Word Wednesday community! The best promp comm on the web. Much love.

As always, comments, including con-crit, welcome.


  1. I thought this was touching not maudlin - brought to mind Victorain England and Victorian relationships..I could imagine the feel of the red velvet curtain protecting him from the real world..I am glad he stepped outside..Jae

  2. Dramatic, yes, but not overly so. I like how you depicted the performer; someone trying in vain to fill a hole within himself with the admiration of a neverending audience, when in the end he only craves his father´s approval.

    I´m glad you wanted to do 3WW this week =)

  3. Yes maudlin I think is the right term, very well constructed and carried through.

  4. Maudlin and overly dramatic suits you! I think some of your best stuff is probably the writing you would apply those terms to. Sort of a hyper-realism, or, what reality would be if it were more interesting....

  5. An intersting tale.. brings out naked emotions and instincts too.. like it..

  6. shoes shining like puddles in the street after a four a.m. rain


    Nicely macabre and the dowdy Victorian atmosphere is just the right shade of ominous.

  7. I don't know about maudlin but you did a fine job with the atmosphere. It drips with it!

  8. Very touching. I liked it. The culture/setting itself seems to be a character in this writing, and I'm always drawn to an appropriately written setting as character.

    The emotional content here is more important than anything else, and I think you nailed your objective.

    Well done.