The Coffee Nebula Board is for the discussion of Star Trek: Voyager and other sci-fi/cult shows. This is its Archive of episode discussions, top ten lists, fan fiction, and other miscellaneous musings.


The Guiding Limelight

The Guiding Limelight
Ginny — 2 Oct 1998, 8:52 PM

As Clare stepped into the hotel lobby, she was confronted by a seething mob of teenagers and young adults. They had formed a menacing semi-circle around the hotel manager, who was cowering behind the conscierge's desk. Up ahead, she could see Locarno shouldering his way manfully through the crowd. Clare followed in his wake and when he stopped in front of the conscierge's desk and turned to face the crowd, his feet firmly planted, his arms akimbo, she slipped in beside him.

"What's going on here?" he demanded, in his best pseudo-policeman's voice.

A young woman, one of the older Lang girls, pushed to the front of the crowd, dragging a placard behind her. She announced, "We know she's here. And we're not leaving until we see her."

Locarno looked puzzled. "Who are you talking about?"

The young woman rolled her eyes and sighed in exaggerated exasperation. "Where have you been? It's all over town, you know. Omega Spice--she's here for the Big Race."

Clare's eyebrows shot up, and she blurted out, "Oh, my Lord", before immediately clapping her hand across her mouth. Locarno sent an inquiring look her way, but she just shook her head and murmurred, "Later," from behind her fingers.

The young woman continued. "And where else would she stay in town, but at the Ritz-Kradin?"

The hotel manager spoke up from behind the safety of the conscierge's desk and Nick Locarno and whined, "I told you she isn't here. She hasn't been here, and we aren't expecting her."

The young woman started waving her placard, which said, "We love you, Omega Spice", in the air. "We don't believe you. Hey, I'll bet she's up in the penthouse!" And the young woman started to move toward the hotel lobby staircase, the crowd right behind her.

"Oh, I doubt that very much," said a cultured, melodious voice from above the crowd. All eyes turned toward the landing midway up the staircase, where a striking African-American woman in her early twenties stood. She wore a gorgeous blue riding habit and a matching hat trimmed with peac*ck feathers.

I love that hat, thought Clare. I wonder if there's any such thing as a maroon peac*ck.

"Oh, really," said the young woman. "Why is that?"

The other woman looked at her solemnly. "Because *I* am currently occupying the penthouse. And," she said, smiling slightly, "I can assure you that I am not Omega Spice."

"Who are you then?" a high adolescent male voice called out from the crowd.

"I am Carolita de la Vegas, young man. Does that name mean anything to any of you?"

"Nope. Should it?" the Lang girl responded insolently.

A squeak of outrage could be heard from behind Locarno's strong, stalwart back. The hotel manager scrambled over the conscierge's desk and stepped in front of Clare, his chest puffed out and his face red. "I'll have you know that Senorita de la Vegas is the premiere coloratura soprano in the United States."

Locarno leaned over closer to Clare and whispered, "What's a coloratura soprano?"

Clare whispered back, "Have you ever accidently stepped on a cat's tail?"

Locarno nodded. "Well," Clare said, "that, essentially, is coloratura soprano."

Locarno shot a skeptical look at her, as if to say, "You're kidding, right?", but Clare refused to acknowledge the look, getting a little of her own back after the entrails-as-wall-art comment he had made earlier.

The hotel manager continued, oblivious to the exchange between the couple. "Senorita de la Vegas is staying with us during her singing engagement at the Voyager City Opera House. She and the aspiring young diva, Mademoiselle Elaine, will be performing together. Frankly, some of you disrespectful young people could use a little of the moral guidance found in grand opera."

The Guiding Limelight, cont.
Ginny — 2 Oct 1998, 9:43 PM

At the hotel manager's comment, Senorita de la Vegas hid a smile behind her gloved hand, but not before Clare noticed it. The two women exchanged a look of amused understanding, and the singer, her posture perfect, slowly descended the marble staircase, parted the crowd of young people like the Red Sea, and left the hotel, the manager in fawning pursuit.

The crowd milled about aimlessly for a few moments, their fervor spent, and eventually everyone except Clare, Locarno, and a couple of shell-shocked bell boys had exited the lobby.

"Well," Nick said, chuckling. "That was an adventure. What are we going to do next?"

"We?" Clare inquired archly, with the coquettish sidelong glance that had been the social heritage of southern women for fifteen generations.

"Yes, we," the handsome young detective responded, crossing his arms and grinning at the woman in front of him. "I have a feeling that excitement and intrigue follow you like a favorite pup, Miss Clare. I'd like to go along for the ride, if I may. And I'm quite anxious to hear the explanation for 'later'."

Clare pursed her lips and considered him carefully. Then staring up at the lobby ceiling, she said, as if musing aloud, "Let's see--I suppose I am still in need of an escort to the Grand Leola Root Ball this evening. And I suppose I could be persuaded to go with someone I just met, if he has a decent suit. And I suppose that having lovely gray eyes certainly couldn't hurt a potential escort's chances..."

Locarno interrupted. "I'll meet you in the lobby at 7. Black or brown suit?"

Clare looked at him, as though surprised that he was still there. "Suppose we meet at 6 and have a light supper at the Nemesis Room before the dance--just in case they serve leftover chitlins at the refreshment table. And for a formal event, always black."

Locarno flashed a charming smile at her and caught up her hand in his. "I'll look forward to it, Clare." And he bowed over her fingers, bid her farewell, and sauntered out into the late morning sunshine.

Clare stood looking at her hand, which was still outstretched, then dropped it to her side. Isn't that curious, she thought to herself. Tom Janeway did a little bow just like that.

To be continued in One Life To Lithograph