The sound of eager rustling filled the room as DG dug carelessly through the cardboard box sitting on her bed. The otherwise tasteful and delicately decorated area was beginning to show signs of being lived in—a pair of shoes lay askew on the floor, and stray clothing inched out of her wardrobe. She stuck her right arm in as far as it would go, and after a moment of feeling around the cluttered bottom, she yanked out her hand with a triumphant "Yes!"
She placed the nail polish proudly on her dresser and began to yank her socks off. She might have been a tomboy, but toenails always deserved a little something extra.
She was barefoot and twisting open the bottle when she heard a knock on her door. "It's open!"
Anicius, her aged, dependable and sweet doorman stepped in, his mustaches drawn down in confusion at the scene before him. He was obviously not used to women sitting around in sweatpants, painting their feet. Still, he smiled kindly after a moment and announced, "Sir Ambrose is here to see you, Princess."
A wide grin split her face, "Oh! Let him in, Anicius." The man disappeared from her view, and DG leaned forward to yell a belated, "Thank you!"
A moment later, Glitch was leaning against her door, looking for all the world like the friend she'd grown to love, despite his dapper outfit and regained color. "Hey, doll!" he grinned. "It looks like a travel storm hit your pad."
DG laughed, getting up to engulf him in a great bear hug as he stepped in completely and closed the door. "Actually, it did. Mom and Dad—uh, my robotic ones actually—took a trip back to the Other Side to get me some stuff I needed. Take a look at this!" She reached into the box and pulled out her bike helmet. "They brought my Harley back with them, too."
Glitch looked at the round, black object blankly.
"Oh, this isn't it. This is my motorcycle helmet. The bike's down in the stable…I think."
"And you need head protection to use it?" He was beginning to look a little wary.
"Believe me, anything that requires a helmet is worth doing. I'll take you out there tomorrow. I have a feeling you'll really like it."
"Oh, hey! How's your…" she gestured towards her head and wiggled her finger.
Glitch sighed a bit, but it wasn't an altogether hopeless sigh, so DG didn't feel the need to set her stuff-induced cheerfulness to the side.
"Actually, I'm feeling quite myself, which is good, I suppose. The only problem is…well, I turns out that I was much happier as simple, ditzy Glitch—without all these burdensome bits of knowledge floating around up here." He scrunched his face. "So I try to forget everything I can when doctors and scientists and queens don't need to tap into it."
DG let loose a chuckle and ruffled some of the hair on the side of his head, careful to be sure she didn't touch the zipper. "Well, I for one am glad you're so fond of your Glitchiness; I've grown quite attached to that off wit of yours. Something we need more of around here."
Glitch rolled his eyes in sarcastic agreement. "Yeah, well good luck with that. How are you holding up?"
"Oh, you know. Getting used to life as a pampered princess. I've come up with about five different ways to ditch my escort, all of which work on everyone but Cain, of course. And my mother! The queen, I mean…she is driving me insane. Apparently there's this ball-type-thing coming up in a couple of weeks, and already she's got this designer guy tailing me, pestering for my measurements. Sooner or later he's going to pin me down and I won't be able to get out of it."
"I've got an appointment with him tomorrow; I'll be extra feisty so he runs out of time."
DG smiled again. "Deal. So…" she looked away playfully, pretending to pretend that she wasn't at all interested in what she was about to say. "Cain let slip that you think you're quite the dancer."
Glitch squawked indignantly. "Think! I don't think, I know." He stood and raised his head, tall and proud. "I'll have you know that I was a North Castle Fox-Trot and Bransle finalist! I turned the finest leg in all of the O.Z."
"Yeah? You planning to dance at this ball?"
Glitch looked confused. "Ball? What ball? Oh!" He banged his head on the heel of his palm, "that ball. Well, see…" his face fell a little, "I'm perfectly willing to whisk the ladies expertly around the dance floor, of course, but with this…cosmetic enhancement…the fair sex tends to steer clear. I think they feel a little bit sorry for me, actually. Can't even look at me."
A mischievous smile came over DG's face as she turned around to pull a boom box and a pile of CDs from her cardboard treasure chest.
"Have you ever heard of Salsa?" she asked innocently.
Poor Anicius had his hands full with keeping the princess's guard from interrupting her sessions with the odd-mannered advisor. He was an old, time-worn man with aching bones, but he was able to convince the various lads to hold their tongues regarding the strange music and odd exclamations ("You want me to put my hand where?!") that drifted through the door. It was a minor miracle that the ever-vigilant Tin Man was never around when Ambrose paid his visits.
"Oh, goodness, child," Glitch exclaimed quietly. "How in the wide O.Z. did you get your mother to let you come in that?"
DG looked down at her blood-red gown. Technically, it covered everything and then some, but its sleeveless, jewel-strewn top and floor-length silk skirts left little to the imagination. Sharp stiletto heels poked out from under the hem. She grinned evilly.
"She didn't know until I walked through the door. You should have seen the way she tried to stifle her scream."
"You are wicked, aren't you?" He sighed in the direction of the queen. "The poor dear."
DG snorted and then covered her nose; she might be a bit of a rebel, but she didn't want to garner too much attention before the time was right. "You should have seen Cain. He looked about to swallow his badge. Jeb had to whack him on the back to get him to breath."
"Well, you can't blame the men for looking, Princess; the biggest show they've had around here was way back when the Honorable Constanze took a spill off a horse and bared her knee"
DG shot him a look of horror. "Her knee? They got worked up over a knee?"
"I did tell you that your dastardly little plot is going to scandalize the entire kingdom, right? I don't remember—I think I mentioned it."
"You told me," she answered in a bland tone. "I just had no idea it was that bad." She took a moment to resignedly nod and wave at a group of young men and women who were shooting perplexed looks in her direction, but didn't make any move to walk away from Glitch. She kept talking.
"The band worked out great, by the way." DG said this with a firm satisfaction—that had been the most difficult part of the scheme. Her mother had hired a rather sizeable string orchestra for the occasion, and DG had snuck into one of their rehearsals about a week prior. One boom box and a Juan Luis Guerra CD later, and the conductor, a balding Monsieur Chédeville, had buried himself in the task with gusto.
"So they're on our team, then?" Glitch answered.
"More than that—they're going to show us up. Philippe—that guy up there waving his hands--found these valve-less trumpet things, and for the life of me, I can't figure out how they get them to sound so good. Seriously, the band's going to steal our show if we don't give it all we've got."
Glitch snickered and silenced, looking around the crowded hall, watching the poor fools who were trying to dance out on the floor. Cain's hard eye caught his attention from across the room; the Tin Man was staring at DG like he wasn't sure whether to come over and rip her a new…ahem… for her inappropriate attire or sweep her off her elegant feet.
"Eagle with a knot in his feathers, ten o'clock."
A wicked grin spread across the princess's face, and she put on her most regal air. "Are you ready, Glitch?"
Glitch took a deep breath and stood straight. "Ready as I'll ever be, babe."
"Then watch this…."
Purposefully and gracefully, with her head held high and her eyes boring into the Tin Man's, she strode across the room. The crowd seemed to part for her, and after a moment's thought, she realized it actually was. Dorothy Gaele, newly-restored Princess of the O.Z., was crossing the floor. Usually, the attention frustrated her to no end, but to make her point, the attention was necessary.
When she reached him, she was rather impressed with Cain's composure—of course, he'd had quite a bit of time to come to terms with her outfit, so perhaps she shouldn't have let his unruffled demeanor surprise her.
"Would you care to dance, Mr. Cain?"
A moment of silence passed between them. DG reevaluated her previous assumption—perhaps he was so bothered he simply couldn't move.
"I don't dance, Princess." His answer was short and to the point.
Glitch appeared beside her, grinning dandily and holding out his hand, acting for all the world like a gentleman who was saving a lady from an embarrassing moment.
DG merely took Glitch's hand and smiled at Cain. "Your loss, Tin Man."
Monsieur Chédeville drew the waltz to an artful close when his concertmaster gave the signal. It was time. Calmly, but not without an eager smile, he pointed a finger to the door at the rear of the bandstand; a violist got up to usher in the military band. In snuck trumpets, drums and cymbals, and the double basses dropped their bows carefully to the ground. Two of the second violinists stood and made their way to the nearby microphone that Sir Ambrose had stealthily tucked behind a curtain. They whipped it out.
Whoever thought court musicians were stuffy was in for a wild ride.
Couples on the dance floor stood confused at the sudden, frantic trumpet blasts making their pulsing but melodious way across the hall. The program had insisted that a Minuet was next in order, but this couldn't possibly be it, could it? Shock rolled through the crowd, but they quieted. It was raucous, it was heathen, but it was music to the core, and it intrigued them.
"…Yo soy de Ciudad Nueva y ella esde San Pedro de Macorís, you knowtierra de peloteros, where Sammy Sosa lives…."
Chédeville danced excitedly in front of the undulating orchestra, throwing his hands to indicate trumpet punches and reaching wide for the lip trills and string glissandos. The bassists stepped back and forth with the groove, and the drummers threw out cat calls….
"…Le gusta beber jugo de papaya con anis, y narrar telenovelas, her love is blind as you can see…."
After the first stanza or so, the troubled crowd noticed something else that scandalized their poor, innocent minds at a whole new level. Gasps fluttered like astonished butterflies through the hall, and more than one "Dear gods!" was heard. The queen's consort uttered "Oh my word" as his hand gripped tightly to his wife's shoulder—the monarch merely watched in horror, her hand slowing rising to cover her quivering lips.
"…Que usted quiere que haga yodebo aprender españoly bailar con un piehasta que me dé su amor…"
Glitch and DG ignored the rest of the hall, whispers and exclamations unnoticed in the heat of the dance. Their eyes locked in concentrated furor as their bodies moved as one inseparable instrument, touching and snapping and dipping and gliding as the heavy beat throbbed around them.
"…Sólo quiero que me beses como besas tú…"
Some of the men turned their faces away in an attempt at chivalry; some of them snuck glances and tapped their feet. But the women…the women watched in a terrible fascination, slow, machining grins creeping up their beautiful faces.
"…Moving in, moving on, meringue, bachata y son…."
A furious (though still composed, of course) Tin Man stood rigid on the edge of the dance floor, fisting and unfisting hands that itched to give a certain advisor a piece of his furious mind.
"You'd better watch carefully, Father."
Cain pierced Jeb with a livid eye, the muscle in his jaw tensing in and out slightly.
Jeb laughed and gave a low whistle, turning back to the heated unfurling of passion as it twirled across the floor with an indecent urgency. "This is going to be all the rage within a month."
"…Yo pido que, me des solución, tú tienes la llave de mi corazón."
The man with a lamentable zipper in his head snapped the princess to him in a fiery embrace, their noses almost touching as his arm slid sensuously up hers, raising it straight towards the chandeliers in a striking final pose.
"Hey, Glitch?" She was breathless but steady in his hold, maintaining the position long enough to give their audience time to collect themselves.
"I bet they're looking at you now."
So, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! It was a fun ficlet to write. Do me a favor and click on the conspicuous little button below. I heart reviews.
More Specific Author's Notes:
Not my characters, my song or my fictional world, obviously. Too bad.
The snippits of lyrics are from JL Guerra's La Llave de Mi Corazón. It's a fun piece.
Yeah, so DG probably wouldn't have gained a whole heck of a lot of Salsa skillz in her little Kansas town, but I think she's the type who would have learned a little just to push the envelope. And once she taught what she knew to Glitch, I'm certain he would have run with it and produced a shocking spectacle of a show piece.
I don't know much about Latin dance, really—only enough to be able to look stuff up on the internet—and I'm a beginner when it comes to Salsa, Mambo, Merengue, etc. (Actually, I'm not bad, just new. Haven't stepped on anyone yet….) I'm also no good with Spanish so please let me know if I screwed something up with the lyrics and it bothered you.