nano excerpt

My latest NaNo excerpt:

The Crooked Cabaret.

Three establishments, all sharing the same space and name, none of the lot respectable.

Entertainment! Singing women wore too little behind guarded doors, windows blacked out with board and paper to keep High Hope’s decency laws. There the girls wore too much makeup, and during the shows in the middle of the night they would remove their stockings and put legs up on chairs, showing glimpses of their thighs to titillate and delight a male audience. Back stages doubled as brothels– a portion of the girls sold themselves on the sides. Muscled bouncers stood guard over the doors, exterior and dressing rooms both. They were paid extra for the latter.

Alcohol! While not illegal in High Hope, the bar in the second subdivision of The Crooked Cabaret could make a man go blind, and moonshine was illegal. Not that they called it that. Not that they bought it, or had it tested– the bathtub and a second-hand water extractor was the beating heart of the establishment. Sticky floors and sticky bar stools, grubby coins and the smells of urine and vomit lingered at the edges. A few drinks of the house special, though, and none of that shone through.

Miss Polly Owens was in the last portion, nestled in the back between the two others. Near enough to hear the drunks shouting nonsense, near enough to hear the singers in their backstage rooms. Red fabric pinned to the walls, old pillows in piles– nothing more to the furniture but a few candles. Polly leaned up against her cushion and blew opium smoke from her mouth, eyes shut and peaceful. Others about did the same, all in silence. Someone sang one room over. Polly didn’t care to open her eyes, nor discern whether it was a drunk carousing or one of the ‘real’ singers. It all sounded the same after a while.

… I wonder where this story is trying to take me. It’s already ramping up to look far longer than I’d intended.

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