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There's No Business Like Show Business

There's No Business Like Show Business
Terry — 2 Oct 1998, 6:52 PM

Time: The morning after the departure of the cattle drive from Voyager City.

Part 1: Breakfast at Epiphany's

Clare Darrow sat at her usual table in the Nemesis Restaurant, breakfasting lightly on a T-bone steak and grits smothered in ketchup. She read the Saturday edition of the Voyager City Chronicle as she daintily sipped her tea and wolfed down the scones.

*Let's check out that crossword puzzle again. Maybe I'll have more luck today.* 3-Across: Females addicted to dimples and facial tattoos. (11 letters) *No idea!* 7-Across: Dimwitted Asian youngster with no redeeming qualities. (3 letters) *Another blank!* 4-Down: Females addicted to boyish grins, *Hmmm* tousled blonde hair, *Yes!* long strong hands, *I know this one!* and sexy blue eyes. (10 letters) *Damn! Who writes this puzzles anyway! They're impossible!*

Clare laid the paper down on the table and called to the waiter, "Namon. More tea, please."

"Yes, ma'am. Leola root tea again?"

"Of course."

As Clare waited for a fresh cup of the excellent local brew, she turned to examine herself in the restaurant's mirror, which covered the entire far wall of the Nemesis. What Clare saw in her reflection gave her much satisfaction. This being the weekend, she had chosen a casual look more in keeping with the locals' Western attire. But Clare believed that even informal garb could and should exhibit good taste and yet still express one's individuality. Her current clothes clearly did both.

She had completed a successful shopping foray to Garak just yesterday to obtain this outfit. Once again, she admired her new hip-hugging maroon jeans and maroon Stetson hat in the mirror. The snakeskin boots and belt really set off her dark brown eyes. And the pièce de résistance, the distinctive maroon and green checked flannel shirt. *So tasteful,* she thought, *and yet so uniquely me!*

And finally, Clare examined her face and hair in the mirror. She had just returned an hour before from a full makeover at Madame Emony's Beauty Salon. Clare tossed her head to the right and then to the left as she admired her new power-pony tail, which had been so highly recommended by Emony herself. *It is me.* But Clare blushed as she spotted her new beauty mark on her face.

Or rather, beauty marks. Two thick bands of dark spots started at Clare's temples, ran down her face, along her neck, hugged her body all the way down to -- *I can't believe that I let that Caroline woman talk me into the full body treatment.* But she looked at her beauty marks again and smiled wickedly. *But she did promise me that these drive the cowboys absolutely wild!*

Namon returned with a fresh pot of tea and broke her introspective mood. Clare returned her attention to her newspaper and her plans for today.

There's No Business Like Show Business, Part 2
Terry — 2 Oct 1998, 11:19 PM

Note: The beautician, Caroline, mentioned in Part 1 was not intended to be Carol's Mary Sue. I apologize for any confusion.

Part 2: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Lies

Clare Darrow left an ample tip for Namon and exited the Nemesis Restaurant. She walked the length of the elegant lounge of the Ritz-Kradin Hotel to the front desk. Brone was ready with her personal messages and informed her that her buggy was waiting out front. She briskly walked to the front door held open by young Rafin and exited the establishment.

*Another beautiful day,* she thought as she looked out at the warm, sunny morning. *Hard to believe that it is already autumn.* She briefly took in the hustle and bustle of the busy town. The merchants, craftsmen, and townswomen were out and about, performing their usual day's work. *They really do rise with the sun out here.*

Clare turned to the street where Mr. Larson was waiting with her buggy. He was holding the side door open and stood ready to help her into the buggy. He asked, "Where to, ma'am? To the office? Or perhaps Madame Sandine's?" Clare stopped a few feet away from the buggy. "I do have some paperwork at the office, Anson. But I plan to visit the opera house just across the street first." Larson extended his arm and said, "You had better let me convey you across the street anyway, ma'am. The mud is eight inches thick in the middle." With a nod, Clare agreed and accepted Larson's aid in stepping aboard. Larson had soon turned the buggy around and was helping Clare out in front of the opera house.

Clare was about to enter the opera house when some interesting photographs in the store next door caught her eye. She walked over to the front window of a shop. Its sign read "Dr. Peter Morf, PhD (Doctor of Photography), No Effects Too Special" A sticker on the window loudly proclaimed, "Fulfill Your Favorite Fantasy for only $4.99. Visit any locale, perform any act, pal around with any celebrity!" But what had caught her eye was the unusual photographs in the window.

The largest showed President U.S. Grant apparently sunbathing nude with Claudia Schiffer. Next to that photo were one of Miss Kate surfing the pipeline at Waikiki in a bikini, one of Neelix winning the Mr. Universe bodybuilding contest, one of Kes in full armor leading a French army against the English, and one with Chakotay, Tom, Tuvok, Harry, and the Doctor performing "Y-M-C-A!". But the last was the most unlikely of them all: the Boston Kid staring deeply into Sevenita's eyes while she is wearing nothing but a red teddy and a smile. Shaking her head in wonder, Clare slowly back to the opera house.

There's No Business Like Show Business, Part 3
Terry — 3 Oct 1998, 7:23 PM

Part 3: Filing Her Legal Briefs

The opera house was an impressive wooden building that dwarfed the other buildings in town. In the midst of ornate carvings on the front facade was a large sign. It read Voyager City Opera House & Theatre in large bold letters with J.M. & N.E. Rockefeller, Proprietors in smaller print beneath.

Clare entered the silent and apparently empty opera house. She turned to the right away from the entrance to the main auditorium and walked past the staircase leading to the balcony and the private boxes. She stopped at a door labeled Manager's Office and gently rapped on it.

"Come on in. The door's open." Clare opened the door and glanced around at the neatly organized but empty office. There was a series of loud thumps and metal-on-metal screeches which sounded like large objects being moved or dropped in the rooms down the corridor from the office. A cheerful female voice called out, "I'll be with you in a minute."

A little while later, the noises halted and an energetic blonde woman entered the office. This woman apologetically explained, "I was just helping the cleaning crew with the mess from Thursday night's big performance." After wiping her hands clean, she stepped forward with a wide smile and shook Clare's hand. "But where are my manners? Mrs. Jeanette Rockefeller. But I hate using long formal names. Just call me Rocksie, everyone does."

"Clare Darrow. Clare."

Rocksie gestured for Clare to sit. As the lawyer took a chair, the friendly woman seated herself behind the desk. "Ah yes, the new lawyer in town. What can I do for you, Clare? No one is bringing suit against me or the opera house, I hope?"

"Nothing like that, ... Rocksie. No, as you may have heard, I have to decided to move my practice to Voyager City and make this my home. ...."

"On behalf of Voyager City, I welcome you to town, Clare."

"Thank you. Now to the purpose of my visit. First off, I wanted to congratulate you on the fine entertainment that I attended last Thursday."

"I thought that I recognized you. Wait a sec, I may have something here of yours. I found these yesterday when cleaning up on the stage." Rocksie turned her chair around and rummaged in a box by the wall. The box was labeled "Lost & Found." Finally she turned around and held up a pair of woman's maroon bikini briefs. "Do these happen to belong to you?"

Clare shifted uncomfortably in her seat and slowly turned a vivid shade of purple. "Of course not," Clare squeaked. Then in her more usual husky voice, "They certainly are not mine, Mrs. Rockefeller. You have clearly confused me with someone else."

Apparently amused, Rocksie gave Clare a knowing look. "I don't know what I was thinking, dear. Obviously, these aren't even your style." She placed the embarrassing article back in the box. "I'll just put these back. If you happen to run into anyone who did lose anything that night, tell them to come by and pick it up." She got up and placed the box just outside the office door.

There's No Business Like Show Business, Part 4
Terry — 4 Oct 1998, 4:44 PM

Part 4: Patronizing the Arts

Rocksie seated herself again behind her desk. "But I'm sure that you didn't drop by just to talk about the Chap-Endale dancers. Still, they were an smashing success, weren't they?"

Having by this time regained her composure, Clare was able to comment, "I must admit that I was surprised to find such an famous theatrical troupe in a small town like Voyager City."

"Well, there's quite an interesting story about how they were booked here. I sent my husband, Nelson, --but we all call him by his middle name, Eddie-- to arrange a booking for the world-famous Metropolitan Opera Company at Federation City. He encountered some difficulties in signing the Fed-Met to a tour here. So he contacted the theatrical booking office in Fed City and they recommended a troupe of ecdysiasts touring the West. A group of classical Greek dancers sounded better than nothing, so he agreed. But Antonio Swayze and his dancers showed up instead."

Clare decided against informing Mrs. Rockefeller just what the word "ecdysiast" really meant. Instead, she decided to bring the conversation back to a safer topic. "Rocksie, the main purpose of my visit concerns the future of the arts here in Voyager City. I was a prominent patroness back in my native Tennessee. I served on the board of the Grand Ole Opry and even knew Minnie Pearl, herself."

"Oh my! I am impressed."

"I was wondering if I could form a committee of prominent local citizens to establish a program to foster the arts here in Voyager City. Of course, the opera house and its manager would have to be key elements in any such program."

"Well, Clare, I would welcome any help in bringing a little culture to this town. I must admit that I am having some difficulty in turning a profit with my business. Most of recent productions have been box-office successes and yet have failed to attract the big money sponsors in town like Quark, Sandrine, or Maxine."

"What seems to be the problem? Perhaps I can help."

"I am still interested in booking the Fed-Met for this season. But there are other shows that I have been working on using only local resources. It so happens that I am also an songwriter and playwright. Last season, I put on a production of my original musical, Seven Brides for Four Brothers. It used a cast of all locals. The four brothers were Chakotay Torres, Tom Janeway, Marshall Tuvok, and my very own hubby, Eddie. The Housewives Club practically bought all the tickets themselves."

"So why weren't any sponsors interested?"

"Well, it seems that we failed miserably in attracting the essential YAM demographic. Perhaps it was my decision to cast the seven Vidiian sisters in the lead roles. Who knows what interests these little walking hormones anyway?"

As Clare nodded in agreement, Rocksie continued, "Anyway, I have a new play in preproduction. It's a musical comedy about miscommunication between the sexes. I call it Buffalo Gals Are From Risa, Cowboys Are From Q'Nos."

There's No Business Like Show Business, Final Part
Terry — 4 Oct 1998, 4:55 PM

Part 5: I'm Singing and Dancing on the Range

Clare and Rocksie were standing on the stage after completing a tour of the opera house. "These are some of my songs that I've written for Buffalo Gals Are From Risa, Cowboys Are From Q'Nos." Rocksie passed several pages over for Clare's examination. "I haven't yet decided which ones to use."

Clare flipped through the sheets, looking at the song titles. Delta Q Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight, Oh My Darling Seventine, As I Walk the Streets of Fed City, Red Coffee River Valley, Chromedome on the Range (A tribute to the Doc), Old Mike Donald Had a Gun (e-i-e-i-o), Jason Canuck Corn (and I don't care), and others. Finally, she came across a few that she really thought quite good: Deep in the Heart of Thomas, The Eyes of Thomas (are upon you) (clap-clap-clap), The Yellow Rose of Thomas (A tribute to Barty), and I Dream of Ginny with the Dark Brown Hair (*I like this one!*).

"These look quite interesting. Before I go, there was something else that ..." The two ladies walked off the stage back towards the manager's office.

After the two women left, three men came out of their hiding spot in the orchestra pit where they had been crouching behind the stacked clarinets and phallic cymbals. As they waited for the women to pass beyond earshot, they passed an nearly empty bottle of Merlot from one to another.

Eddie: "Boy, that was close! The missus told me she'd tan my hide iffen she ever caught me hanging out with you two again."

Max: "Speakin' of tannin' yer hide, that's 'xactly what we otten to do."

Mike: "Yeah! You promised us a load of newdie girls!"

Max: "With big bazongers!"

Mike: "Yeah! An' what do we get instead? A bunch of padded himbos!"

Max: "Disgusting! We shudda run them sissy-boys out of town on a rail!"

Mike: "Yeah! Elaine still has this foolish-lookin' grin on her face."

Max: "And Maxine is trying to hire a couple of the dancers. Keeps talking 'bout 'spanding the Provencal's cust'mer base or sump'in."

Eddie: "I thought the sign said 'Antonia Swayze', fellers. I'll make it up to you guys; I swear! The missus is heading for Fed City for a couple of weeks. While she's out of town, I got a mind to put on the new revue that I've been planning for months now. This show adds the concept of personal customer service to public entertainment. It's a new kind of audience participation dancing that I've invented."

Max: "Audience participation. Like square dancin'?"

Eddie: "Sort of. I call it 'lap-dancing'. I have already signed on the Delaney sisters for key roles of my first play, Saloongirls. And I am currently in negotiations with a Boston agent to cast Sevenita in the lead role. It will be directed by that Dutch guy who did Robosheriff and Troopship Strippers."

Max: "Hot damn! We'll show our wimminfolk what culture really is!"

Mike: "Yeah! Newdie girls!"