- Vol. 06
- Chapter 08
When the ferry pulled in at the pier, smoke was billowing from the engine room.
'I can't take you to work today,' the captain called.
I sighed and said to a fellow commuter, 'It's time for a change.'
'Good for you, James,' came the reply.
I returned home, rang the office and resigned. Then I packed a suitcase before realizing that I had responsibilities.
'Iris, what am I to do with you?' I said to my pet rat.
Iris ran up my arm and settled on my head. I considered for a moment and rummaged on a shelf at the top of the wardrobe.
'Perfect,' I said, extracting a felt hat of my father's.
I cut two air holes in the side of the hat and placed it on my head over Iris.
A day later, Iris and I were in the Portuguese countryside, staring at a waterlogged building. A sign lay in a puddle on the road. It read, 'Escola de Cabaré.'
A woman in a three-piece suit and fedora stepped from the nearby woods.
'Are you here to enroll in the School of Cabaret?' she asked.
'I am Beatriz. Welcome. The building has had a little trouble with its plumbing, so I am holding my lessons in the woods. Come.'
We followed Beatriz among ferns and trees to a clearing. No one else was present.
'I'm James and this is Iris, by the way,' I said politely.
Beatriz nodded at Iris, smiled at my hat, but tilted her head to one side and blinked when she studied my T-shirt, shorts and sandals.
'These are appalling,' she said finally, flicking her fingers at my clothing.
'One moment, please,' I replied and went behind a tree with Iris and my suitcase.
A few minutes later, we reappeared.
'Much better,' Beatriz said, eyeing the suit, shirt and tie I now wore. 'Where did you get these old clothes?'
'They were my father's.'
'I also like your dress suit,' Beatriz said to Iris and turned to me: 'Not your father's, though?'
The lessons began. After a year, Beatriz declared, 'We're ready to tour.'
'Yes, the three of us.'
I was delighted. Before we set off, however, a fault line running across Europe opened up and demolished each of our proposed venues.
'This is unfortunate,' Beatriz reflected on hearing the news.
I coughed hesitantly and said, 'Perhaps it's a sign that we should do something else.'
'Such as?' Beatriz enquired.
I produced a rose gold engagement ring from a pocket.
'No,' Beatriz said. 'I'm not going to marry you.'
'You misunderstand me,' I explained. 'This was my mother's. I propose that we sell it and rebuild the school.'
Before Beatriz could reply, Iris spoke for the very first time: 'Why not convert the school to a cabaret café?'
The three of us gazed at each other. Eventually, Beatriz voiced our thoughts: 'Yes, a much better idea.'
'Much better,' Iris and I confirmed.