"And now, our main event: I give you, Quinten the Ethereal!"
... Now that I've heard someone else say it aloud I realize how ridiculous it sounds... not that I'll tell Princess she was right.
I planted my cigarette gingerly in the ash tray, and made my way on stage.
I'd like to imagine a roaring crowd in awe of my mere presence, the reality however was humbling, if nothing else.
After a few whistles and a sideways clap or two from this lukewarm crowd of a backwater town of lessers my introduction was over.
Expectant eyes gazed down on me, a familiar feeling I've yet to grow comfortable with.
As their judgemental stares tore daggers through me, my mind wandered back to last night... when Princess wasn't quite as angry as usual.
"Quiten? How can you afford this?" Princess asked.
"I can't, so eat fast, and run faster," I said.
She scoffed, unsurprisingly. But the following grin was a bit... unexpected.
"Is that a smile I see?" I asked.
"It might be," she said.
"Does that mean you've forgiven me then?" I asked.
"Not even a little," she said.
"I'm doing my best, you know." I'm not above playing a pity party if it will get her off my back for a few days
"Your best was what got us in this mess," she prodded.
"Us? I believe your current condition is a personal problem," I said.
"Condition? That's an interesting way to describe it... regardless, it might only affect me, but I'll make your life hell until you do something about it," she said.
"Easy for you to sa-"
I was interrupted by someone approaching my table.
"I think you've been stood up, sir. The manager said he'll only make you pay for you half, though." The waiter said as he took up my empty plate, and princess's untouched food.
He spoke only to me, without sparing her a single glance.
I gave him a grateful wave of the hand as he left.
Princess only grinned slyly.
Being thought a hopeless romantic is probably better than trying to explain to him that my girlfriend has been dead for nearly a year, and her jaded spirit yet haunts me...
The waving hands of a stage hand brought me back from my... "reminiscing,"
I sighed, and rolled up my sleeves.
"Look closely, ladies and gentlemen! Blink, and miss quite the sight."
I began to dramatically pace along the edge of the stage.
"Now, for your eyes only I will.... hold on... what's this now?"
I looked among the crowd in reserved shock, a look of dread creeping across my face.
"Ladies and Gentleman this house seats three hundred, of that, one hundred and four of you purchased tickets, adding myself and the stage crew that makes one hundred and thirty two.... and yet I am sensing another..."
I paused, turned sharply on my heels, and pointed to a man in the crowd sitting alone.
"You!" I exclaimed.
"M-me?" He mumbled.
"No, fool, the woman next to you! Unhand that man!" I shouted as his hat flew from his head directly at me.
I swiped it aside and began to curse.
"Spirit, leave these people be! They only seek amusement In this dark world which we reside! Have you no pity?!" As I spoke my eyes followed Princess from person to person as she flipped chairs, fogged lenses, and unzipped bottoms.
"Fine!" I shouted above the uneasy crowd.
"What are You, then? A spirit of fire?" I asked, holding out my lighter, a gentle blue flame pouring from within it.
Princess blew out the flame.
"Not fire?! Love, then?!" I said, my arms outstretched.
She shoved me to the ground. Her favourite part.
"Then what! Give us a sign that we may please you and leave with our lives!" As I said this all the doors in the hall began to slam and lock one by one.
In the center of the stage, just above my stool Princess stood with a single gold coin in her hand.
To the audience, it appeared to be floating, a sign of their salvation.
I took off my hat, and filled it with my own coins, and offered it to her.
She slapped it away and threw the chair into the audience.
"More then? More! For the Goddess's sake people, quickly, an offering! " I demanded.
In panicked droves, people hurled coins my way, which I placed in my hat, and offered to her once more.
With a wink, she took my hat, filled to the brim with gold, and carried it away with her through a breach In the ceiling.
And for a moment, the crowd was silent.
The doors unlatched, and like panicked cattle they flooded out, until there was none but myself and the stage manager...
"...Quinten, was that...?"
"What? Part of my act? Goddess no, That was terrifying," I said.
"Then you've pleased the spirit?" He asked.
"Aye, it seems I have, though if you'd like me to be sure of it, I can do a cleansing of this theatre. Since we're friends I'll only ask you to pay for my meals and put me up in a hotel." I said.
"Oh! Of course! Please, friend," he nodded furiously.
That night, as always, I prayed that there is no such thing as karma, and if there is I pray she have pity on me, as I've only got room for one vindictive woman in my life...
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