THE SHOW MUST GO ON INDEED
By: Andrew Dunn
“What’s he say what’s he say?”
“Give me a minute!” The hunched over figure held up a single finger Rory’s way.
Minutes felt like days as the telegraph clattered out a jumbled noise Rory couldn’t understand. It was one of his great shortcomings in life. Never learning a skill like telegraphy. Or steam engines. Show business swept Rory off his feet long before any interest in the guilds had a chance to.
It wasn’t just show business. Specifically a red headed burlesque performer – Aster was her stage name – drew Rory away from all those things his mother thought he’d grow up and do. Amelia, that was the dancer’s real name, turned Rory on to the big show.
The fate of which clattered out in a stuttering barrage of dots and dits Jaspen translated into letters. One by one, letters that were ground out on to the page by his withered hand.
“So?” Rory’s impatience was palpable. There was so much riding on the message sputtering out of the wires.
“So Relax big guy,” Jaspen flashed what was either a crooked smile or a smirk, “they are still sending.”
It was a crooked smile. No doubt. Jaspen was a crooked old soul. A miser and a thief. One that knew how to operate a telegraph and charge by the letter. When all this was over Jaspen was going to charge a fortune. The thought of it made Rory queasy.
At the other end of the telegraph chatter was Kraol and one or two others. Kraol was a stubby sort of dwarf that either gave up the mines or was kicked out of them. In a sense he was a lot like Rory, all about the big show. Kraol was part agent, part union boss, and quick to run a scam if he felt like he could get away with it.
As for the others, they were the make or break part of Rory’s show. The key selling point for the whole thing was that Amelia, err Aster, was going to fly over the audience on the back of a dragon. One or two others would follow behind. Then she’d do one of her seductive little numbers while the dragons snorted a little fire so that the shadows were crazy. They’d flutter about overhead and do some acrobatic stuff too in time to the music.
It was a gold mine. Rory imagined crowds rolling in by the dozen, plunking down their gold coins, and being wowed by the whole display. They’d take the show on the road. Perform in different towns and villages. Maybe even the elven lands. That’s how big this was going to be. If Kraol and the dragons he represented would ever agree to a deal.
“No dice boss.” Jaspen’s smile was crooked as ever.
“Tell them I’ll give them more money!” Rory slapped the desk hard.
“It isn’t the money.” Jaspen replied.
“Okay,” Rory thought for a moment, “first dibs on accommodations when we take the show on the road.”
“If we take the show on the road,” Jaspen giggled.
“Okay,” Rory said, “if we take the show on the road.”
“Boss?” Jaspen ventured.
“What else do they want?” Rory begged.
“It’s the other thing,” Jaspen mumbled.
The other thing. Yes, it was true Amelia wasn’t quite as dainty as she used to be. Which isn’t to say she was fat. Of course, that’s easy to say if you aren’t a dragon paid to fly someone around on your back between two and three shows per night.
“Loth says he’s okay with the flying around part but that you’ve got to come up with some other way to get her on stage.” Jaspen read from the scrawled letters on the page, “Loth says he’s too old for piggyback rides.”
“Piggyback rides? Really Jaspen?” Rory said.
“I’m sure Loth didn’t mean it that way,” Jaspen tried not to laugh.
“Just don’t say it out loud.” Rory lowered his voice, “If she hears it she’ll be in here going on and on about it and I’m already getting a headache as it is.”
“So what are we going to do boss?” Jaspen asked.
“The show must go on,” Rory groused, “the show must go on.”
“I’ll get changed boss,” Jaspen said.
That was going to cost a fortune too. Jaspen insisted on a 50/50 split straight from the box office every night he climbed into that ridiculous dragon outfit and let Rory “fly” him back and forth over the audience using pulleys and cables while Amelia did her thing.
“The show must go on indeed,” Rory muttered.