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I’m bored to death with the backslapping and drinking that marks a Racing Championship Banquet. In a fit of insanity, I made the mistake of sponsoring a trophy. My brother, Kane insists that as CEO of Young Racing I hand out the trophy for the most Promising Engine Design of the year.
To escape a third round of overwhelming thanks from this year’s winner I duck out a small door behind the speaker’s table that opens to the back parking lot.
Faint clouds float across a full moon polishing the crumbling asphalt to an ominous shine burnished by the purplish beam of the mercury lights.
I pull a crumpled pack of cigarettes from my pocket and light up for a rare indulgence. The tobacco tastes stale, but gives a familiar explanation as to why a grown man would be standing behind a dumpster on a cold night. A vast container that has the distinct odor of rotting flesh.
A young girl skates across the rough surface as if it was polished glass. She pauses and in slow motion begins to dance the precise movements of a ballet. A ghostly figure emerges from the darkness to join her but he doesn’t touch her. He appears out-of-reach of her frantic hands like a lost memory of a distant past.
They circle the lot. He pleading and beckoning while she flits and flirts with the magic of a capricious tease. The tempo of the music changes. I hadn’t been aware of the muffled strains of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” until the snow began to swirl around them infusing with the pale transparency of their costumes.
The girl becomes the pleading mistress begging her lover to return as he fades into the twilight mist of snow. Rejected she whirls in a pirouette stumbles sinking to the pavement with the demoniac grace of a fallen bird.
I move from my hiding place to give her a hand when she darts toward the front of the old hotel. I give chase but it is a futile effort as she disappears in the blowing snow.
I returned through the lobby of the hotel. Laughing to myself, at the memory of my brother, Isaiah dragging me to a ballet performance. He declaring it was intolerable that I remain a musical moron fit only to bang spoons and strum a washboard.
A guy, about my age, is playing with a paperweight on the counter. I look and am astounded.
Frozen in the glass was the fallen ballerina. Her arms crossed, hands and fingers limply dangling over one extended leg, in defeat. The snow swirls around her.
I hadn’t been aware of seeing the common paperweight when I left the hotel. I must have. No, I couldn’t have. I’d gone out the back door.
“Wasn’t she pretty?” He asks as I picked up the figurine.
“Yes, I saw it earlier.”
“No, sir. Just this moment unpacked it … new this year. Have to keep up with the change of seasons. We pack up the Halloween junk and put out Christmas stuff. ”
“Took a snapshot from our yearbook for the model.” He gives the globe a final twirl before placing it on a shelf. “Maureen died before graduation. Loved to dance.”