bar none

They stood there for a while, just staring at each other. The 2 “heroes” had gone elsewhere. It was only the girls now.

Already in costume, Molly Lustrous walked into the bar and took her customary violet latex seat at the base of the stage. Queen of The Dance at night. But by day?: humble, naive Natali Woodhull, counter attendant at a rival bar in town on the other side of the wall. The California part as opposed to this dry, desert Nevada (according to California).

“15 minutes late,” bar owner Natsu Lemon called from in back. “That’ll be taken off your wages.”

“You don’t *pay* me enough to show up on time,” Molly replied in a rough hewed voice, showing both age and wisdom. “I make my real money from my *customers*, thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” the owner replied sardonically.  They often played these roles before the dancing commenced. Where Molly showed her *real* value. Yes, Missus Lemon would certainly pay Molly more if she knew she would quit. But she also knew that Molly loved doing her craft, and this was the best venue in town for that. More tips for certain. And Natsu allowed some, er, experimentation in form.

“Hi Molly!” Sep Felton then cheerfully called over. “Can’t wait to see the act again tonight.” She walked toward the violet sofa; Misty followed her, still stunned from the revelation. We’re not in Second Life any longer! “Molly, this is Misty. Misty: Molly.”

“Pleased to greet you.” Molly stuck out a glitter covered hand. Misty grasped and shook it. Some of the glint came off on her own hand, which Molly noticed. “Sorry about that. Gotta get some better glitter — more sticky.” She turned her head back to Missus Lemon at the counter. “If *someone* would *pay* me more,” which the bar owner just waved off with an, “Oh, you.”

Dirk Jeter then showed up. Tom Sprout. Derek John Toms and his cousin Billy Budd Grant from out of town. But not out of Orient, importantly. Then Stacy Augman, Pretty Pat Puffcake, Jimmy the Geek, Orange U. Glad, and finally the mayor himself, Struddledoo Lemony Pie Chittles the Third. “Quite a crowd,” Molly whispered to herself while looking around. She seemed to do her best work with more people in the room. More energy, she surmised.

Misty and Sep wedged in between Batty Man and Superduper Guy on the couch, who had also slipped in again from the back door. “Smoking a fag,” whispered Sep to Misty in explanation. “*Anything* goes here.”

Clapping. Molly took the stage, a wonder of shine and glamour. Whistles. This would be a good night for her.

The audio began booming out of the speakers to each side. Clapping grew louder as the motions started, the gyrating. Molly was in superb form.

—–

Misty suddenly remembered the ship.

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