Barbra The Boa And Other Tales Of Covid.
It had been months since Barbra the boa had last enjoyed a night out. In fact she hadn’t been given an airing from her carrier bag for months. The conditions were hot and moist, she longed to feel the sea breeze finesse her feathers in the manner to which she had become accustomed. To shed her plumage cross the beach whilst draped on a camp, melodious arm. Oh how she ached for a shimmy and the whiff of her old friend Maisie Mascara. But she knew it would be a while before either of them would be allowed out again to flutter an eyelash or shake a fuschia tail feather.
It was the same for all of ‘The Lola Boy’s’ accessories.
They were all on the scrap heap now.
The stupid ‘people virus’ had made sure of that. It was every old boas nightmare to be eventually cast onto life’s existential jumble sale. Or worst still, to be donated to charity. If Barbra had known, for just one flick of a feather, that she might end her once glamorous nights strung up and moulting from a wire coat hanger in a back-end Barnardo’s, she would have taken flight much earlier in her career.
Lord knows she’d had the chance!
Many a drunken ‘Lolaboy’ fan had tried to snatch her from the back of her master mid-performance. He had, of course, been too wound up in his own show to notice her struggle to stay attached. But Barbra had valiantly clung to her owner even when feeling totally plucked. She thought such loyalty would have a least granted her keepsake status. But now she was no longer sure. All her master ever spoke of lately was ‘lock down’ and curfew. Barbra was worried she may never be worn again. Every quill of her being was telling her it might be this old boa’s turn to bow out.
She was not yet ready to retire from the stage. She knew she had never been one of those terribly expensive appendages crafted from pure Ostrich or even Peacock. She might only be made up of plain old cock feathers but she had pluck, and staying power. She’d clung around much longer than most of the other tawdry drapery in the show. Most of which had wilted long before its time – beer sodden and limp.
Or worse – missing!
While there was still a pink feather left to her bow Barbra knew that this boa was gonna go out and shake it.
She just had to persuade her master to throw her back on again.
Mickey the mic was also cranky. He hadn’t been turned on for what seemed like an age. He ached for the dust to be blasted from his foam. To be released from his case and feel the inevitable feedback once again. Sadly, there had been very little singing in his vicinity for quite a while. His dark master broke into song more often. He sang like a shy nightingale in the early morning as if his life depended upon it. But he never turned Mickey on like he once had. He didn’t need him now. There was no need for amplification if there was no crowd.
His other master, the strange one with the blonde bush of hair, rarely sang these days and therefore never came close to switching him on. Occasionally Mickey heard Paul lazily prodding a few piano keys and humming an old showtime, but he never got to the chorus.
T’was as if he’d run out of steam.
Mickey was worried they may all grow rusty.
Penelope the piano had been notably under-fingered over the last year. She was terrified she would become one of those third hand pianos that just stood to lifeless attention against a damp wall. Never to be played.
Growing more tuneless as time’s song sheet rolled ineffably by.
Oh how she yearned for this human virus to be over. It was beginning to infect her – like woodworm. But she knew this to be ridiculous. She knew that inanimates were not susceptible. It was only her masters who were in danger. But this didn’t help. The ‘people sickness’ had caused a leaching of joy. Her masters seemed to be possessed of less happiness than they had once exhibited. Their need to express themselves artistically seemed somewhat diminished. It was therefore obvious that Penelope would be receiving far less attention than usual. She knew this would be difficult – she had a terribly musical temperament after all, but she continued to pedal away. It was true she was now missing a few keys here and there and her bottom end was not what it once was, but she could still bang out a good tune when needed. She was confident her time would return. It always had. Even when the mad general had been in power and music was a No No! She was prepared to take it very lento until then. Keeping pianissimo for a bar or two longer. At least she wasn’t locked up in ‘The Lola Boys’ store room with Stella and the other equipment.
Stella the stiletto hadn’t stepped out in nearly a year. She had so been looking forward to stretching a tendon or two on the cabaret stage over the summer but Corona had brought her to heel. She had been unceremoniously squeezed into a plastic Lidl bag and put on a pile next to an absolute slut of a pink boa and a rusty old radio Mic. Had she known she would end her days cast onto the shelf in such unceremonious fashion she’d have snapped years ago. She had worked her twelve inches for all they were worth for years. Night after night struggling under the weight of the bleach blonde hefferlump who had strutted in her quite , quite mercilessly.
Show after show.
She felt as if she’d strutted to the buggery moon and back with that old fool onboard and what thanks did she get?
Bagged up and tossed aside like a charity slingback. She’d like nothing more than to break his ankle. She swore she would when she next got near enough.
That’d be an interesting ‘Time Warp’!
Did he not realise he was nothing without the height and glamour she offered? She’d made him and she could break him just as easily.
Or at least part of him.
Stella The Stillie felt stifled. Flat-footed and useless. She longed to step out of the storeroom once again.
´Look at the state of these’ said Paul, swinging a dilapidated pair of red stilettos in Andrew’s face, ‘they’ve been round the bloody block.’
‘More than once by the look of ‘em’ said Andrew cheekily.
But he wasn’t wrong. The offending footwear looked more than tired. The heels were clinging on for dear life and there were blotches of orange on the patent leather where Paul had attempted to patch up the scuffs with a mismatching nail varnish. It hadn’t been a total success but it was good enough. They were shitty shoes anyway.
‘They look ready for chucking’ mused Andrew.
‘Yeah you’re probably right,’ Paul responded, grudgingly, ‘maybe we should have a proper sort out. We could probably throw half of this stuff out. Give some to the charity shop as well. Look at those old boas they’ve well and truly had it!’
‘They look like shit’ said Andrew less poetically. ‘We should sort everything out now while we’ve got the time,’ he continued, ‘buy new.
‘Yeah I know we should but is it worth it?’ Paul chimed in. ‘I mean we’re not gonna be able to work yet, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We may as well just hang on to all this stuff just in case. We don’t need anything new yet.’
‘But what about your heels?’ Andrew queried.
‘They’re fine. I’ve used them for years. They’re comfortable – sort of! And they hold me up. Better the devil you know.’
‘Yeah I suppose’ Andrew replied, besides he just wasn’t in the mood for a big sort out, not unless it was absolutely necessary, ‘let’s just leave it all for now.’
‘Let’s’ said Paul, feeling strangely self conscious as he closed the door to ‘The Lola Boys’ store room.
In the darkness of the store room Barbra the boa was all of a quiver.
‘Bloody Hell’ exclaimed Mickey that was a close one.
‘I thought I was off to Cudeca’, simpered Barbra, her few remaining feathers standing on end, ‘I just know I’ll be snapped up by a portly pensioner with a pension for Zumba. Ooh the sweat!’
‘And I’ll be going up the coast for some dodgy Lady Gaga tribute’ Mickey said. ‘Imagine the spittle!’
‘Don’t be ridiculous’ shouted Stella the Stillie sharply, she had never been a stiletto to evade the point, ‘didn’t you hear them? They are going to keep us all for now. Better the devil you know he said – whatever that means. Besides they are both too lazy to change us. We are part of the show too. We have been for years. You watch – those bloody’ Lola Boys’ will be tossing us into the back of their Ford jalopy before you know it.
‘Oh I do hope so’ said Barbra. ‘I’ve missed being me.’
‘Me too’ intoned Mickey the mic.
‘Courage mes amis’ sung Stella pretentiously, she was her master’s shoe after all, ‘ it won’t be long now. Soon we shall all be back where we were made to be be. Yes – with one jab we’ll be free!’
The Lola Boys’ props agreed that there was no point in panicking. They had to wait for this ‘people sickness’ to end before they could do anything. They may as well just loiter in the wings for now until the audience returned.
They just hoped their masters would be able to do the same.