Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 22

Fifteen minutes before the next day's drama class, Danny Amatullo went into one of the dressing rooms looking for an out-of-the-way place to leave his books and his lunch bag. He found Doris sitting before one of the mirrors and doing facial exercises. She was rolling her shoulders, making pop-eyed faces, and flopping her tongue around like a windscreen wiper whilst making guttural noises.

'If I wanted to watch Godzilla eat Tokyo,' Danny said, 'I'd go to the movies.'

'Do I laugh when you do a warmup routine?'

'No. That's the problem.'

'Never mind,' Doris said, turning around on the makeup stool. 'Okay, now really focus and tell me what you see. Lady Macbeth. Ready?'


Doris launched into her Lady Macbeth from a class exercise of three weeks before.

'That Lady Macbeth had some mouth,' Danny commented when she'd done.

'Danny! What did my body say? Did you see Lady Macbeth or just me?

Danny considered for a moment. 'You looked like Doris, doing funny things with her body.'

Doris gave up. She took another look at herself in the mirror; a good and searching look.

'Who am I trying to kid?' she said. 'I'm a round, soft-edged Jewish girl, not a murderous queen. Even Coco looks more Scottish than I do.'

'Doris, you look fine.'

'But I don't feel fine. I feel like a walking Twinkie. A large family-sized falafel. How am I supposed to move gracefully on a set of thunder thighs?'

'Doris,' Danny began, but Doris was no longer listening. She marched over to the table where she'd left her bag and her overcoat. Seconds later a large film-wrapped sandwich was going into the trash can, followed by two Dunkin' Donuts and a bag of M & Ms.

Danny said, 'Now what are you doing?'

'I'm getting rid of anything in here that's fattening,' Doris said with determination, messing everything up in the trash can so she wouldn't be tempted to fish it out again.

'Doris, it won't help.'

'You wanna bet?'

'Yeah. That was my lunch.'

'You want us to do what?' Leroy said. He was standing with his arm folded, listening skeptically to the plan that Coco was trying to outline, whilst around them were gathered the others of the dance class that Coco had persuaded to stay after school.

'Well,' Coco said, 'don't act so surprised. Dancers dance, no matter where they are.'

'Girl, that's the craziest thing I ever heard.'

'Look, if I just go up and ask him, what good will it do me? I have to show him I've got the moves.'

'Girl, we can't just beam up to the ship. This is reality.'

'No it's not,' Coco said, 'It's show business,' and Leroy let out an extended groan. Coco went on, 'Come on, Ican't just stand up there alone. But if I had you guys to back me up, it would really look like something.'

'Yeah,' one of the girls said, 'like a dozen fools, instead of just one. And we'd be those fools.'

'And what if McKay likes it? Who knows? We all might get in the movie. They're going to need a lot of dancers.' She looked around, at all of them. 'Come on - the only reason not to do it is that you don't want to look silly, and that's really stupid.'

She'd hit them where they lived. There was a general muttering, and most of it was going her way. Leroy shrugged, going along with the crowd, and Coco decided to press on right away before any minds could be changed.

'Great,' she said. 'Okay, now, I've worked out a few opening moves.' She went over to her cassette recorder. It was a small battery-operated machine of a kind that sold for thirty dollars or less in lots of places down Seventh Avenue; a far cry from the kind of equipment that Bruno could muster, but then there were considerably more mouths to feed in the Hernandez family.

After a count of ten, up came the number that Coco had lifted from the live Broadway-cast album of Cakewalk. As the music played, she went through a simple, straightforward routine that she'd spent most of the afternoon devising, as close as she could remember to the original choreography.

As the track ended, she turned off the machine and said breathlessly, 'Well, what do you think?'

Leroy was the first to speak. 'It's tired, girl. You want to impress the guy , not put him to sleep.'

'It seemed to work pretty good like that when they did it on Broadway,' Coco said defensively, and as she spoke she was suddenly aware that the numbers of her audience had been swollen by a total of one.

'Hi,' Lydia Grant said from the back. 'What's happening?'

She was all dressed, and looked to have been on her way home. She must have heard the music coming from the dance studio, and decided to see what was going on.

'Oh, nothing,' Coco said. 'We were just messing around.'

Leroy took a look in the general direction of heaven. 'You can say that again,' he murmured.

Lydia came through to the front of the group. 'Just working something up on your own, huh?'

'Yeah,' Coco agreed. 'Just for the fun of it.'

'Mind if I take a look?'

Uneasily now, Coco went over to the cassette player and rewound the tape. 'Sure,' she said as the cassette squealed its way back, 'why not? It's kind of rough, though. It's a routine to that hot number from Cakewalk .' Coco was feeling as transparent as a goldfish bowl as she hit the play button and moved back to the centre of the dance studio floor.

Leroy joined her; he'd picked it up pretty well on a single viewing, but the results were still pretty rough. Lydia watched, getting a sense of what they were trying to do. She really hadn't wanted to hang around, but her instinct was to be supportive. Most other teachers had to watch their students making dives for the door when the end-of-session bell rang; Lydia sometimes had trouble persuading her dancers to go home at all. It was like they'd discovered the secret of wingless flight, and they were hooked.

The routine ended, and Coco switched off the machine. Leroy stood back, waiting for the bad news and almost hoping it would set him free.

'It'll take a little work,' Lydia said. 'I can give you a hand, if you like.'

This wasn't what Coco had expected. 'Sure,' she said with sudden eagerness.

'When do you want to have it ready?'

'Tomorrow morning.'

Tomorrow morning! Lydia thought of a thousand other things she ought to be doing.

'Piece of cake,' she said, and she let her bag drop to the floor.

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