Disclaimer: "Chicago" and Miss Kelly belong to Kander and Ebb and Miramax and all that jazz. I mean no infringement and make no profit. This is for entertainment purposes only.
A/N: It's funny how things just pop into your head sometimes. This story was one of those things, and I'm really pretty proud of it. It follows Velma Kelly from just after she plugged her husband and her sister through her performance at the Onyx Club to her arrest. Enjoy. Read. Review.
The strangest thing was that, after it happened, Velma could still think with perfect clarity. She didn't panic. She knew she couldn't hope that the music had kept the shots from being heard, it wasn't loud enough. She didn't have much time to clear her head, to figure out what to do next. Tentatively, she touched Charlie. Her hand was shaking. Jesus, there was blood everywhere. She picked up the sheet that had fallen to the floor, or maybe that someone had thrown there, and flung it over Charlie. Over Veronica, too. It was her blood that was all over everything. That bitch.
Any second someone was going to come investigate the noise. She had to get out of there. They-- she-- had a show in fifteen minutes. She had to go. There was blood on the wall, on the floor. She had to get out.
Velma turned her back on the grisly scene and walked to the window. No getting hysterical. She couldn't afford that now.
Glancing down, she realized the gun was still in her hand. She regarded it in a detached way, as though wondering what it had to do with her. Then she grabbed the handkerchief out of Charlie's jacket, lying at the edge of the bed. There was blood on it, too. Velma wrapped the gun in the handkerchief, wiping it off as she did so, and threw it into the little case in the corner of the room, the one with her stuff for the act. Well, so much for that. The hand that had held the gun was numb.
Outside the window, on the street below, cars whirred past. Velma yanked the window open and took a breath of the cold night air. She turned back into the room to open a drawer, grab a handful of money and underwear, and shove it into her case with the show stuff and the gun. Her coat was lying next to the case, and she picked it up and put it on. Then she snapped the case closed and carried it with her out the window, onto the fire escape. She managed to slam the window shut behind her.
The street wasn't too crowded, and Velma coolly played off the curious looks of the people who had just seen her exit the Hotel Cicero through a window. She walked half a block before hailing a cab. The driver was one that Velma recognized; he had driven her and Veronica around before. Ironically, his name was Charlie. It figured.
"Evening, Miss Kelly." The cab pulled away from the curb.
"Hi, Charlie." Velma hated that name at the moment. Really hated it.
"Where ya goin'?"
"The Onyx." That settled it, then. She hadn't been sure where she intended to go until she said it. But she had a show tonight, and they'd wonder if she didn't show up. She was late already. Shit.
"Where's your sister?" the moron driver asked.
"She's not coming." It surprised her, how normal her voice sounded. And how quickly the driver accepted her answer. Of course, why wouldn't he?
She caught a glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror. She looked normal, too. Her face showed no emotion at all. If anything, she looked only slightly irritated. But calm, on the surface, very calm.
And she felt more calm now, as the cab carried her further away from the Hotel Cicero. Her hands had stopped shaking. She felt strangely free. Free of the hotel. Free of Veronica. Free even of Charlie. She knew that at any moment a police siren might approach, the cab might get stopped. She knew that someone would find out what she'd done. It just didn't seem to matter all that much. What mattered now was her freedom. And her anger.
She'd been stunned at first, of course. But that numbness had very quickly been replaced with rage. And Velma Kelly never did things by halves. They'd known that, and still they'd done this to her. Betrayed her. They should've known better. They were asking for this. They'd both gotten exactly what they deserved.
The cab stopped in front of the little alley next to the club. Velma handed the driver a wad of money and stepped out.
"Keep the change, Charlie."
Partly she was just feeling generous, but she also couldn't wait around while the idiot tried to count. She slammed the door of the cab and started down the alley toward the backstage door. Her heels were loud on the pavement. They alley was lined with posters advertising the Kelly Sisters, "Velma and Veronica Themselves." Velma paused.
Velma and Veronica. The Kelly Sisters. Not anymore.
Velma grabbed the edge of the poster she'd been staring at and ripped, tearing off the bottom half. The part that said, "Veronica Kelly." That two-bit whore. She wished she had time to tear all the rest. Sorry folks, there would be no more performances by the Kelly Sisters. Tonight was Velma's show. Tomorrow, who knew where she'd be. In jail, probably, or on the run. But tonight she'd show them all what Velma Kelly could do.
She threw open the back door of the Onyx Club and smoothly pushed her way through the crowd of performers, hurrying up to her dressing room. The manager looked like he was about to throttle her.
"Hey, Velma, where ya been?" He wheeled around as she walked past. "And where's Veronica?"
Velma didn't pause or look back. "She's not herself tonight." Ha. That was pretty accurate.
"But they paid to see a sister act!"
"Don't sweat it, I can do it alone." She slammed the dressing room door behind her.
First she set the case on the chair in front of the vanity and tore through the contents frantically until, at the very bottom, she found the gun, still wrapped in that little handkerchief. She lifted it in both hands, careful not to touch the metal, and hesitated. She wasn't sure what to do with it. Scanning the room, her eye caught the set of drawers in the corner. She pulled one partially open, dropped the gun inside, and kicked it closed.
Turning back, she glimpsed her hands in the mirror, and that was when she noticed the blood. It was all over her hands. Charlie and Veronica's blood. She was guilty as sin.
She turned on the water faucet and hurriedly rubbed her hands together, scrubbing the blood off. She watched it run down the sink in little red streams, but it wasn't coming off fast enough. Charlie's blood. Veronica's blood. She hated them. Hated Veronica anyway, and loved Charlie maybe too much, and she'd shot them both. She was washing their blood off her hands. Veronica and Charlie were dead.
She didn't have time for this. Damn it. And damn Veronica and Charlie, too. She fixed her makeup, pulled on her outfit for the act as the band onstage reached the climax of their jazz number. By the time she bolted through the door, her intro was already playing. And she wasn't thinking about anything other than the act.
"Come on, Velma, move it, move it!" The manager yelled as she hurried to the platform that would raise her to stage level. "Hurry up!"
"You're killin' me here!"
Velma wasn't listening. The second she stepped onto the platform it began its ascent, and she could hear the bandleader announcing the number.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the Onyx Club is proud to present Chicago's hottest dancing duo, two jazz babes moving as one-- the Kelly Sisters!"
And she was there. She felt, more than saw, the bandleader's double-take. No Veronica, no Charlie, just Velma. And she could do it alone. She knew she could. She knew every word to that song, every move, both parts. It would take some fast stepping, but there was no doubt in her mind. This was her show. One jazz babe moving as two.
"Come on, babe, why don't we paint the town?" Blink on beat. "And all that jazz." Straight into Veronica's part. "I'm gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down..." She caught the eye of the poor, confused sap who was running the second follow spot and jerked her head to the left. On the beat. The guy woke up and shifted the spot to Velma. "And all that jazz.
Start the car, I know a whoopee spot
Where the gin is cold, but the piano's hot
It's just a noisy hall where there's a nightly brawl
And all-- That-- Jazz"
She leaned over the piano to the bandleader, who was grinning, impressed.
"Skidoo," he said.
"And all that jazz"
"Hotcha," the chorus chimed in. "Whoopee."
"And all that jazz."
It was too easy. She saw where she needed to be, and then she was there. The dancers caught on pretty quick.
"Hold on, hon, we're gonna bunny hug
I bought some aspirin down at United Drug"
Velma could feel every eye in the audience fixed on her. There were men out there who wanted her. There were women who wanted to be her-- women who went out every night for booze and jazz. Women whose husbands weren't at home.
"Oh, you're gonna see her sheba shimmy shake
And all that jazz
Oh, she's gonna shimmy till her garters break
And all that jazz"
And not one of them knew. They had no way of knowing. They had no idea what she'd done.
"All-- That-- Jazz!"
Velma gloried in the spotlight that, for once, was all her own. She danced fiercely, putting all the energy she had into the song, into all that jazz.
"It's just a noisy hall where there's a nightly brawl
And all-- That--"
Because she was in trouble. She couldn't escape, had nowhere to hide. And she knew it.
The beat escalated, crescendoed, and Velma was lifted up off the stage floor. She couldn't look beyond this moment, where her dance was a celebration. And maybe someone noticed the defiance in her voice as she belted out the absolute truth:
"No, I'm no one 's wife
But, oh, I love my life!
And that was when she saw the cops filing into the audience. Shit. Her voice faltered.
But only for a second. She met the eyes of their chief. All right, boys. Come and get me.
The lights went down, and Velma bolted. She pushed past the dancers, the stagehands, the manager, who was saying, "Velma, that was incredible! Hey, whereya goin'?" She made it to the dressing room and frantically started throwing things back into her case. She pulled her coat on over her costume and was about to shut the case again when the door burst open and the police stormed in.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" She heard the manager yelling from behind them.
"Going somewhere, Miss Kelly?" the lead cop, the one without a uniform, asked.
Velma said nothing. She sat down and shook her head.
"That's right, you're not. That was some show. Tell me, Miss Kelly, where's your sister?"
She clenched her jaw and glared. In hell, she thought.
"Let's try this a different way. I've been to your hotel room. Did you know that your sister and your husband are dead?"
"Jesus Christ!" That was the manager's voice. Velma didn't respond.
"Did you know that they were in bed together when they were shot, Miss Kelly?"
"I didn't do it!" she suddenly found herself exclaiming. She wanted him to shut up.
"Then who did? An intruder?"
"I don't know."
"But you knew they were in bed together?"
Why wouldn't he shut up?
"I saw them!" She was starting to lose control; she took a breath. "I came in and saw them and I passed out. That's all I remember, okay?"
"Chief?" One of the cops who'd been searching through the room held up the gun and the bloody handkerchief.
"There's blood in the sink, too," the other one said.
The chief turned back to her. "How about this story: You come in, just like you said, see 'em in the midst of their affair, and then you grab a gun. You shoot them both until they're good and dead, both of 'em-- your husband and your own sister-- and then you run down here to try and establish an alibi, which is not going to work. Because not one schmuck in a thousand is going to believe what you just told me."
"I didn't do it."
"You can say that all you want, but it won't keep you from finishing your little tap dance down on murderess row." The two uniformed cops grabbed her and slapped handcuffs onto her wrists. They pushed and pulled her through the crowd gathered backstage, who were gaping like dead fish. Velma could hear the whispers move from person to person. "They said she plugged Veronica..."
Outside the reporters snapped picture after picture and asked questions she didn't feel inclined to answer. As the doors of the paddy wagon shut behind her, she heard the chief cop say, "Tell the DA this is a hanging case."
Velma sat down.
All in all, it had been a damn good finale.