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(A short story of 2257 words)

Background Music


by Sue Wilsea

Opportunity could be about to knock for a young musician.

He almost turned back at the door, almost turned back at the sight of the vast ballroom, a sea on which floated a flotilla of circular tables draped with white cloths and sentinelled with serviettes. Cutlery glinted while in the middle of each table swelled a balloon shaped vase in which swam a solitary red flower, like a blood clot. Seagull waitresses busied themselves round the tables, darting forward to straighten a fork, polish a glass, tweak a cloth. Double swing doors banged open as waiters strutted through with trays held aloft; pans clattered in the kitchens; a distant radio played. He picked up his guitar case hoping to leave before being spotted.

‘There you are, darling! You’re late but not to worry. You can set up over there.’ The woman bearing down on him was a huge bird of prey, a fabulous mythological one with a shiny dress in tropical blues and oranges swaddling her substantial figure and feathers pinned in her hair. She made a vague gesture towards a small raised area at the side of the room and her several bracelets jangled, ‘There’s sockets if you need to plug in your amp or whatever it’s called. Hope you won’t be too loud. I think we agreed some background music as people come in and then one or two numbers between courses. Nothing too intrusive. I can always signal if it gets a bit much.’

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