Tamara sat in the front seat of the Vaudeville theatre, watching the performers put the finishing touches on their acts. She was pretty impressed with them; they were all pretty good performers considering where they worked. Well, Vaudeville could be the best thing playing in New York compared to where she usually worked.
Tamara had come to New York from Russia three years ago when she was seventeen. She had come with several other girls who, like her, were trying to escape the cruelty of a certain man, Igor. Igor had stolen them from their small villages when most of them were around thirteen or fourteen, and since then he had considered them "his property" and often abused them and sometimes worse… so they had to escape him. With the help of a young man named Sergei, they were able to sneak on to a ship that was on voyage to New York. Unfortunately, once they got here, the girls had all went separate ways and Tamara had not heard from any of them since. She hoped they had a better life then they did in Russia. The only job she was able to get here was as a striptease dancer. The job was hard and supplied little money, but just enough to keep her from starving and enough to keep a roof over her head. But she often came to the theatre to hide from her work. It was also there that she learned to speak English, but she still spoke with a very thick accent.
When she was being held in Russia, she had been forced to learn how to dance. The only thing she had was her ability to dance and being able to apply makeup. Igor had given them makeup so when they danced they would look more beautiful, and throughout the years she had perfected the skill.
"Here again Tamara?" someone called from behind her. She turned and saw Anne Darrow walking up to her. Anne was always nice to her and her only friend in New York.
"I can't resist coming here" she replied.
Anne smiled at her and walked onto the stage and began practising with her bowler hat. Tamara watched her for a while and then noticed it was getting late. She said goodbye to Anne and then walked out into the dark streets. She only had a thin shawl to cover her and she was wearing a revealing black dress. It was all she had in her wardrobe, revealing dresses and lingerie. She had been supplied with a good amount when she started working at the club where she danced.
She was walking quickly, trying to avoid the many men in the streets and the homeless begging for money. She eventually came to the shabby, run-down apartment building where she lived. It maybe not be beautiful, but it kept the rain and snow out, well most of the time. The roof did leak occasionally, but it was of little consequence to her.
She got in and closed and locked the door. She sighed and threw her shawl on the lounge chair and then walked over to the mirror and began to unbraid her hair… only to realise that she was supposed to be at the club in an hour. So she slipped off her dress and put on an uncomfortable red and black lace corset with a lace garter belt. She pinned back her hair with a rose hair clip and applied brown grease paint with a faint hint of purple and red lipstick for that certain "exotic flair". Then put her dress back on, grabbed her shawl and ran out the door.
After a long and tiring night of dancing, she was finally able to go to back to her apartment and go to sleep. She collapsed on her bed and didn't wake up until 6:30pm. She looked awful when she looked in the mirror, her makeup was smudged and her dark hair was knotted around her face. It took her half an hour to brush out her hair, wipe everything off and then reapply her makeup. She slipped into a dark green dress that was low cut, of course, and flared out if she twirled. She decided to go and visit Vaudeville, but while she was walking she looked into a diner and saw Anne standing with some man. The man was a bit stout and a little chubby. But he seemed to be pestering Anne about something.
Just then Anne looked through the window and saw Tamara and quickly motioned for her to come in. She did so and walked up to them.
"And who is this lovely lady?" the man asked Anne.
"This is my friend Tamara" she said and put her arm through Tamara's.
"Is she an actress to?" he asked excitedly.
"No" Tamara responded this time. The man seemed caught off guard by her accent.
"Ok, well what do you do for a living?" he didn't really seem to be listening; he was seemed to be staring at her.
"I am a dancer-
"That's wonderful. I must say, your makeup is quite well done" he said quickly, cutting her off.
"Well, I am going to shoot a film. Anne here as already agreed to play the main role, but for the longest time I have been looking for a makeup girl. And since you seem to have quite a talent for it, it would be an honor for us if you would accompany us? It would be on a long sea voyage to… Singapore" he said.
Tamara bit her bottom lip; she always did that when she was thinking about something. She had been on a boat once, when she was escaping Russia, and it was frightening. It was dark, leaking and smelled terrible. The sailors were harsh and rude to them. She wasn't sure if she was ready to do it again.
"Please Tamara" Anne whispered in her ear. If Anne wanted her to go, then she would.
"Oh where are my manners! Denham, Carl Denham" he said, grinning broadly at her "Now, I need you two to come with me, we will stop at where you live and you will get your things then we will go to the ship"
The three of them waked out of the restaurant and Carl hailed a cab. They stopped at Anne's apartment first, then at Tamara's. She packed her dresses and her lingerie… you never know when you might need it. She threw all her makeup in a bag along with her several accessories. She hadn't paid rent in a while, but whatever. She will do it when she gets back.
When they got to the docks, Anne originally thought that a large cruise ship was the moving picture ship, but Carl quickly corrected her and showed her the Venture. The Venture was a rust bucket of a ship and the crew looked harsh and uncaring. It scared her a bit.
"Carl!" someone called from the deck. Tamara looked up and saw a young man running down. He looked once at her and Anne and then pulled Carl aside but she couldn't hear what they were saying.
"Englehorn! Cast off, raise the anchor whatever the hell it is you do we got to leave" Carl yelled a minute later.
A tall man looked up at Carl "I cannot do that, we are waiting on the manifest" he answered, he spoke with a German accent. He was quite attractive and he had a rough look to him, probably from years on the sea. But his eyes, his eyes were the most stunning she had seen. They were a beautiful blue and she could see them even though she wasn't standing by him.
"What, who? English please" Carl said quickly, walking towards him.
"Paperwork Mr. Denham" he replied and then Carl began to speak quietly to him. But Carl seemed to grow more annoyed as the conversation continued.
"Can we discuss this later, can't you see were in the company of a VIP guest?" Carl said and gestured to Anne. When the captain laid eyes on her, his expression melted into admiration.
"Ma'am" he said as he took his cigarette out of his mouth.
"Anne Darrow" she replied. Anne was often quite popular with men. Well, she was beautiful so it wasn't surprising. Tamara had been popular with men before because of her work, but she had never met a man who loved her for her and not just for her body.
"Are you ready for this voyage Miss Darrow?" the captain asked her. Tamara loved his voice and his accent, she found it attractive.
"Sure" Anne replied, but she seemed a little hesitant.
"Nervous? No, why? Should I be?"
"It isn't every woman who would take such a risk"
Just then the same young man that ran down and talked to Carl ran down to Anne and offered to show her to her cabin.
"Wonderful idea, thank you Preston" Carl said.
The captain stared at Anne and she stared back, but then allowed Preston to show her to her room. Tamara was left by herself standing awkwardly and trying to keep out of the way of the sailors.
"Two thousand, it's a deal. Will you take a check?" Carl asked the captain.
"Do I have a choice?" he said. He didn't seem to notice Tamara at all before then, but then he saw her. He raised his eyebrows and looked at Carl.
"Oh, terribly sorry, come here" Carl said, motioning for her to come over. She did so, but hesitantly. Ever since Russia, she could never trust men completely. She had seen how violent they could get when they needed love, even if just for a night, but the next day she would see the black and blue marks along her body. So men scared her, and this man was intimidating, but there was also something about him that she was drawn to. She was mentally kicking herself for allowing those thoughts in her head.
"What's your name miss?" he asked her as he lit his cigarette. His eyes were even more piercing when her own grey ones were only inches away.
"Tamara" she replied and inhaled the sweet smell of the herb cigarette.
He smiled a bit and then Carl coughed loudly. The captain looked irritated but turned to him regardless.
"So do we have a deal?" Carl asked him.
"Fine" the captain muttered and then turned back to Tamara "Let me show you to your cabin. I am sure you are tired of standing out here" he said and then started to walk towards the boat with Tamara in tow.
As they walked away, Tamara heard Carl mutter;
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