Sipping at his drink, he turned around to face the small corner stage of the lounge. It was a fairly dimly-lit room, with soft red and white lights for a heavy-lidded atmosphere. The bar faced into the most open section of the room, where there were scatters of lounge chairs and couches spread around the floor. In the right corner of his vantage there was a stage with a spotlight for the open-mic night Alan was attending. In the opposite corner was a large, L-shaped couch around a hookah table. There was a mixed crowd of young people there, from local burn-outs to borough hipsters, street bohemians to the detached new poets. It was a very artsy-feeling crowd, and that was what had first attracted Alan to the haunt. He wanted to garner some insight, some kind of inspiration from the spirits of the city’s artistic underground. He wanted to be on the growing curve of the underground influence, and he thought there was a good representation here.
Alan resettled in his seat as the next act came on. She had short, dark hair that fanned out from her head on the sides. Her skin was pale -nearly translucent- and the patterns of some of her veins could be seen on her face and wrists. They underlined her eyes in a natural, almost-violet shadow, highlighting her crystal-blue eyes.
She was wearing an understated denim skirt with a yellow flannel vest over a white v-neck t-shirt. Under her skirt, she wore an old pair of black tights. Holes had worn through the knees of them, and for a minute Alan wondered to himself whether they had occurred organically or whether she had bought them that way.
When she stepped into the spotlight, she shielded her eyes with her left arm, revealing a bandage that Alan had failed to notice at first. He was caught off guard by her presence, and felt almost as if he were guilty of something, though he hadn’t moved the slightest inch. Taking the stage, this woman took the mic from the stand and, shielding her eyes from the spotlight again, called out:
“Hey Ricky, can we do something about this thing?” a moment of silence followed, then the spotlight clicked off and the white lights in the room winked out, leaving the whole place bathed in a thick red light. Smiling, the girl spoke again.
“Thanks, Ricky.” She turned and faced the crowd, scattered amongst the couches and chairs on the floor. “It gets way too fucking hot up here, am I right?” pausing appropriately, the clustered crowd chuckled. “Yeah it does. Especially in this weather. Seems like every year, we break a new record for heat waves in the city. So, I figured I would do everyone here a solid.
I’m Scarlett, and I hope my words about the scalding city streets cool you off a little.” With a wink at her wordplay, she cleared her throat and squared her stance. Taking the mic from the stand, she brought it up to her mouth with both hands.
And she sang.