The Dead Pan Contest Entry - Finalist in the Drama Category
Title:
At the Copa, Don't Fall in Love
Story/movie parodied:
(Song) Copacabana
Pennames:
Missus T/A-Redhead-Thing
Beta's penname:
Seastarr08
Disclaimer:
I don't own the characters of Southern Vampire Mysteries, but man I wish I did. I don't own Barry Manilow's (lyrics) or Jack Feldman's (music) song either.

A/N: So here is the Copacabana story that A Redhead Thing and I whipped up for the Dead Pan contest. It was an anonymous contest, so this is our big reveal as the authors. Red and I have big love for Barry and the Copa, this is our tribute. And oddly enough, since this was written I keep hearing the song everywhere. (The lyrics are posted at the bottom if you are unfamiliar with the song - along with a little utube ditty if you wan to take a listen.) Big thanks to Seastarr08 for betaing for us. And yes, Barry Manilow does know we raid his closet.

Now - we need to warn you - this turned out to be not comedic at all, so I'm not really sure how it fit into the contest, but we wrote it and we loved it...so here it is. You might want a kleenex, or two, before reading. Sorry. Well, not really. You know.

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The first night she returned to the Copa, she was a mystery to everyone, except Sam, the owner. She'd gone straight to the bouncer, as though it hadn't been three decades since the last time she set foot in the door.

"There's a table reserved for me."

The bouncer looked at her like she was crazy, and maybe she was. She looked old and tired. She was wearing a dress that looked like she'd been in a 1970's beauty pageant. Sam didn't let them reserve tables for just anyone.

"Call Sam. Tell him it's Sookie."

Sam Merlotte took the call in his office. When the new bouncer told him that Sookie was at the door, you could have knocked him over. She hadn't been back since that night. The night. The worst night in the history of the Copa. He'd thought he might have to close the place after that. He had only been owner of the club for a year, and he hated the idea of having to let it go, he had wondered if they could overcome that night. But now, no one even remembered it besides himself and Terry behind the bar. The dancers were all gone and today's clientele hadn't been born yet. He and Terry would never be able to forget. Sookie had been a dancer right here at the club, but that was thirty years ago, when they used to have a show. Now it was a disco, but not for her. Not anymore.

"Jesus, Tray. Get her a table. Any table. The best in the house. Her drinks are on me."

After her first visit, she came in once a month, sitting at a reserved table, drinking herself half blind. She never danced, though she always wore her low cut sequined gown, and yellow feathers in her hair. Each month, she calmly sat, watching people dance and drink, as she got tangled in her memories. However, every time she left, Tray watched her tears silently slide down her cheeks, her heart obviously broken.

Sam told the story to every male he hired. He would shake his head, warning them, "At the Copa, don't fall in love."

She had moved to New York City from a small town in Louisiana, dreaming of making it big on Broadway. She was a simple girl, with long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a heart of gold. The reality of the city had been a slap in the face. She'd auditioned for every part she could find, and been shocked that the only offers she had received were for sex. She was devastated, but refused to give up. She didn't want to go back to Bon Temps after experiencing the big city. She began waiting tables, as so many dreamers do, and found that it barely paid her rent. Eventually, she was faced with the decision of dancing or stripping to make ends meet, and she found herself dancing in a go-go cage at the Copa.

Things looked up when she fell for the new bartender, Eric. His family had moved to New York from Sweden ten years ago, and he had big dreams of his own. He saved every penny he could, to put towards opening his own bar. He was getting closer and closer to his dream, he knew in just a couple more years it would be in reach. Tending bar was a natural fit for him; he was good looking and charismatic, which he used it to his advantage behind the bar to bring in the tips, but he never crossed the line. Everyone knew by the way he watched her dance, that his heart belonged to Sookie.

The attraction between them had been immediate, and it wasn't long before they had fallen for each other. They were inseparable, walking home together and meeting for lunch before the bar opened. Before customers arrived for the night, she waited at the bar for him to finish his prep work, stretching out their time together.

Sookie moved in to Eric's place after six months, and they were as happy as two people could be. Shortly thereafter, Eric had dipped into his savings and bought a ring. He proposed to her on a snowy night, surrounded by other revelers, just as they switched on the lights of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Sookie had cried, telling Eric that he should have saved his money to buy his own bar, but he kissed her, and told her that she was his dream. Sam had thrown a celebratory party at the club on a Monday night when they were typically closed. All of their friends were there, and her brother had flow in from Louisiana. As the wedding date drew near, so did the sparkle in Sookie's eye.

Financially, the Copa was doing quite well even then, but Sam was always looking for investors. Each night, the dancers impressed and seduced the audience in their go-go cages, but the floor show that they performed was considered the best in the city. The success at the Copa was not lost on other club owners and entrepreneurs. Sam was entertaining offers from some very wealthy men who wanted a piece of the action. He'd bring them in, ply them with drinks, let them watch show, and then talk money. He hadn't been impressed with what any of them had to offer. They wanted too much control of his place and to change everything. If it was successful as it was, why make so many changes? He didn't understand some people and their conceit. He was ready to wash his hands of these investors, when he was contacted by a friend about an interested businessman. A local mobster, Victor de Castro, was interested in the Copa. Sam didn't really want to do business with de Castro, but felt he had to let the man come in for a meeting.

The mobster showed up, with his flashy Rolex and diamond earring, acting like a King. He came with an entourage, and an air of superiority. He asked Sam for a different table, taking the table closest to the go-go cages, instead of what was considered the best seat in the house, with as good view of the entire club. Watching the show, de Castro was particularly enamored of Sookie.

Eric had watched him carefully, but this was nothing new. He wasn't so much the jealous type, but he was definitely protective. Every night, he kept his eyes on Sookie, but no one dared step out of line, it wasn't that type of club.

When the floor show ended that night, de Castro had asked Sam invite to Sookie and another dancer to his table for a round of drinks. The girls sat quietly, sipping their drinks, while he paid them praise. As he stood to leave, the mobster went a bit too far, running his hand down the neck of Sookie's dress, the back of his fingers tracing her cleavage.

Eric sailed across the bar, and then the punches flew and chairs were smashed in two. They struggled, rolling on the floor and breaking the furniture. The dancing stopped and a crowd surrounded them. Before the bouncer could break through the crowd, there was blood and a single gun shot. Sookie cried out desperately, trying to figure out, just who shot who?

Pushing back, de Castro stood, as Eric crumpled to the floor, just before Sookie did. Sam was running down the stairs from his office, screaming, "No!"

But it was too late.

Eric never moved, lying there, blood pooling around him, and Sam knew he had to get Sookie out of there.

Sam had picked Sookie up, murmuring soft words of reassurance, as he carried her to his office. Ginger, one of the other dancers, stayed with her while he talked to the police and the medics.

There was nothing to be done for Eric, and he had no idea how he was going to tell Sookie.
When the dust settled, Sam knew his club would never be the same.

Taking a deep breath, he went back to his office to break his friend's heart. Unbelievably, the night went downhill from there. It wasn't because Sookie collapsed upon hearing his words. No, Sam had been prepared for that. It was the announcement from the Emergency Room doctor that she would be kept overnight, at least, for observation, to monitor her blood pressure and rehydrate her, to protect the baby. He hadn't known, and he would never be able to ask her if Eric did.

Sam stood there, in the curtained off cubicle in the emergency room, numb. Sookie had lost her fiancé and the father of her child. He didn't know how a person could recover from that, but he would do all he could to help her. He spent the night in the chair in her hospital room, considering all of the things that would need to be done. As the sun came up, he found the payphone and began making calls.

Sookie and her child were unofficially adopted by everyone that worked at the bar. They threw her a baby shower and bought her maternity clothes. The guys helped her move to a new apartment, it was a little smaller, and didn't remind her of Eric . The ladies helped her find a great child care center, and called in every favor they could to get her a job as a dance instructor. In the early years, they pitched in to baby sit, and invited Sookie to come out with them. As the years went by, they all drifted apart. Sam thought about her often, still blaming himself after all of the years, but to everyone else, Sookie became nothing more than a name on their Christmas card list.

The first night, Sam sat in his office looking out through the frosted window in his office, watching her. She looked tired, and sad. He wondered what it was after all these years that had brought her back. He closed his eyes and heard the gunshot, smelled the blood and the antiseptic smell of the hospital; he felt the cold rain that had pelted them on the horrible day they buried his friend. Opening the desk drawer, he pulled out his emergency bottle of Jack and drank away the memories that rushed back when she entered the bar.

The second time she came in, he had to talk to her. Terry made a gin and tonic at the bar, and Sam carried it over. "Do you mind if I sit?" She appeared lost in her thoughts. "Sookie?"

She was startled at hearing her name, flinching and turning her face towards him. "Sam?"

Her voice sounded the same, and he smelled her perfume. Gardenias. Sookie always smelled like gardenias.

"How are you, Sook? It's good to see you." He didn't want to tell her that she looked tired, that he was worried about her.

"Oh, Sam. I'm the same as I've ever been." She sighed. "I try to get by, one day at a time."

He nodded, not knowing how to respond. He was trapped in the same past, wishing he could go back and change things every day. "Are you working?"

"I am." She smiled, and it warmed his heart. "I'm working at a book store. I manage the children's department."

The chatted for a while, catching up on each others' lives. He thought it had been at least ten years since they'd spoken. He walked her out that night, helping her into a cab. She smiled, looking up at him, "I'll see you next month, Sam."

The cab pulled away and he hadn't had the courage to ask the one question that he should have. Why? Why was she back? Why now, after all this time?

He never found the courage to ask. On the nights that he sat with Sookie, her pain seemed so raw; he couldn't make her talk about it. Almost a year after she began her monthly vigil, Terry buzzed his office with another surprise.

"Did she say what she wanted?"

"Well, she asked if her mom was here."

"What did you say?"

"I told her I had to check."

"Shit, Terry. Transfer the call." He heard the hollow click of the call being connected and took a deep breath. "Pammy?"

"Uncle Sam?"

"Of course. What's going on, peanut? Although, I guess you're grown up now."

She snorted. "Yeah, I'm married and extremely pregnant."

"Congratulations!" His mind whirled, and he understood why Sookie had begun coming back.

"Um. This may sound like a strange question, but, is my mom there?"

He sighed. "It's not that strange. Yeah, she's here tonight."

"Tonight? Sam, how often has she been there?"

"She's here about once a month."

"Oh, Sam. I had no idea. She's been really bad since I got engaged. Then when I got pregnant, she stopped calling. She was so depressed; I didn't know what to do."

"She comes in, wearing that old costume and drinks herself half blind. She stares at the bar, and eventually takes a cab home."

"I wish I knew him." She whispered, and he knew she was crying.

"He's a part of you, Pam. You might not have ever spoken to him, but you know him."

"Thanks." She sighed, and sniffled. "Alright, I'll be there in, say, forty-five minutes, to get her."

"Pam, why did you think to call here?"

There was silence for a moment, and he heard her swallow. "It's his birthday."

He was stunned. She hung up the phone, and he stood there, holding the receiver to his ear until it began buzzing in his ear. He debated going downstairs and sitting with Sookie, but in the end, he called down to the front entrance and told them to expect Pam. He poured a drink, and waited.

Sam saw her coming through the bar, and he would have known her anywhere. She was the perfect combination of her mother and father. With flowing golden hair, a strong jaw, legs that wouldn't stop, and piercing blue eyes; she had grown into a beautiful woman. He went down to join them; he couldn't let Pam leave without saying hello.

"Pam?"

She was standing by the table, holding her mother's coat. "Hi." She paused and hugged him, not taking her eyes off her mother.

"Look who found me!" Sookie giggled.

"I see, Sook. Pam was worried about you."

"Aw. That's sweet. Today was a bad day, Sam."

"I'm sure it was sweety."

"Mom, put your coat on."

Sookie sighed. "Pammy, can I stay at your house tonight?"

"Of course, Mom." Pam's eyes met Sam's and he took Sookie's arm, leading them out to a cab.

"Pam, how can I reach you?"

She grinned, "I'm in the book. I kept my maiden name, it's still under Northman."

She kissed his cheek, and ducked into the cab. He watched them drive away, oddly happy. He had missed Pam, and Sookie for that matter.

Sam had called Pam the following day, and they'd spent time laughing and talking. Her husband called when the baby was born, and Sam went to the hospital to meet baby Eric. Sookie was there as well, and he thought she looked transformed. Her eyes sparkled and she looked years younger.

After a while, he rose to leave and Sookie asked if they could walk together. They strolled in peaceful silence, though his mind was full of questions. She stopped, pulling him down to sit on a bench.

"Thank you, for everything."

"You don't need to thank me. I didn't do enough to help you."

"Oh, Sam. When Eric died, I know you're the one that rallied everyone around to help me. I can't ever repay you for that."

He shook his head, "You're like a different person. At the club...Sookie, I was getting worried about you."

"I'm okay, better I guess." She sighed, looking at her hands. "The morning after Pam came to the bar, we had a little come to Jesus. Pammy was married and sharing her pregnancy with Alcide, I never got that and it was driving me crazy. It brought back all kinds of what if's, and it made me realize my baby girl had grown up." She glanced over, with a sad smile. "When I came back to the bar, none of that mattered. I could close my eyes and go back to the days when Eric was still there."

"Sookie. You can't live in the past."

"I know that, Sam." She shook her head. "Pam reminded me of that too. And she told me that she needed me. She'd never said that before. I won't be back to the club, but I'd like us to keep in touch."

"I'd like that too."

They sat together for a while, just spending time. Eventually, they stood, and hugged for a moment before parting. Sookie watched his back as he walked away.

She felt better than she had in a long time. Looking to the heavens, she sighed, "I love you, and I still miss you." She smiled, as she started to walk home and the sun peaked out from behind a cloud. She knew it didn't mean anything, but she wanted to think it meant that he heard her.

Sam had gone back to the bar, thinking that sometimes thirty years could seem like a day. He stepped into the darkened club and looked around. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the young man seated at the bar with Terry.

"You must be the new bartender."

"I am. Bill Compton. Nice to meet you."

"Sam Merlotte, the owner. Welcome. This may seem a little odd," he glanced at Terry before continuing, "But the first rule at the Copa, is don't fall in love."

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A/N:

Thanks so much for reading. See, not very DeadPanny...but, oh well. It would have been AWESOME for the I Write the Songs contest...but we were like six months early for that. Ahead of our times I guess. *snort* Anyway...I'm rambling.

We were a little nervous about Eric dying, but he remains the central part of the story. We hope you can forgive us. Leave some review love and let us know what you thought!

Lyrics: http:/www(dot)lyricsmode(dot)com/lyrics/b/barry_manilow/copacabana(dot)html

Music/lyrics on utube http:/www(dot)youtube(dot)com/watch?v=R4GxUKYQ258