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Starbound – (nine)

The room was a medium sized auditorium that could seat perhaps two hundred people with a stage down at the bottom of the steep slant of rows of seats.  In the middle of the audience was the control center where an engineer sat at a complex panel of switches, knobs, gauges and slots of levers. Scattered among the empty seats were the other hopefuls, some in pairs, most alone.

Down close to the stage there were people in the first two rows.  In the front row there was a tall, thin, feminine man in a paisley shirt open to the waist.  He suddenly jumped to his feet.  His loose fitting white cotton trousers flapped around his long, thin legs as he strode back and forth before the stage.  Every movement clearly showed agitation.  He sat down for a few seconds before he leaped to his feet again, and called to the engineer with the headset, seated at the console.

“What’s the story, Allen?” he snapped.

“She’s ready,” Allen replied through the loud speakers.  The agitated man sat stiffly in a front row seat.

“Let’s go, please. Let’s go already,” he shouted to the engineer.

The house lights dimmed and the stage lights brightened.  A tall, lean black girl walked out from the backstage wings to center stage.  She carried a tall stool with her.  She set the stool in the center of the stage. The engineer started the pre-recorded music, something very raucous and percussive.

The dancer began her moves as if she was doing a strip routine.  She writhed around the tall stool, struck seductive poses, and then began to sing.  Surprisingly, her voice was not bad, but the song she’d chosen was not in the Bitches genre.

The tall, thin man in the white pants stood up and waved his arms about in agitation.

“Stop! Stop that music,” he shouted. A second later, as the music ended, he turned to the dancer.

“Thank you, miss,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.  “Obviously, you should not be here.  Totally unsuitable.  Good luck and goodbye.”

“Fuck you, faggot,” the girl snarled, and ran off into the wings.  Two girls who were waiting their turn a few rows ahead of Sylvia and Marnie stood up and hastily left the room.

“I guess some of your competition had given up in advance,” Marnie whispered.

“I should do the same.  This is gonna be a disaster.”

There was one girl remaining before Sylvia got her turn.  The girl was tall, thin, white, and her head was shaved.  Again, her voice was very good, the song was well chosen, but she barely moved on stage.  Just a bit of gentle swaying as her voice rang out, clear and pleasant.

“Oh shit, Marnie,” Sylvia whispered.  “I’m a dead duck.  Listen to that voice.”

“But she doesn’t move.”

“The Bitches are a singing group!” Sylvia moaned.

“Get it straight, Sweetie.  It’s a show.  Costumes, glitter, fire and smoke are all part of it, and the right moves by the girls is what puts it over.  Especially on stage.  Nobody can hear anything in a live concert ‘cause of the screaming.  Everybody’s so stoned, they don’t care anyway.”

“But studio recordings…” Sylvia whined.

“Don’t be so fucking naïve, Sylvia.  For one thing, they can alter your voice a dozen ways, ‘til it has the sound they want.  Besides, anyone could do the studio recording – who would know?” Marnie explained.

Sylvia and Marnie were the last people in the auditorium.

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