A Sticky Wicket

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Acte 2: The Ballroom Blitz

On Friday, after a pub lunch of kippered herring, chips and beer, I went to my rooms.

Inside I grabbed a small suitcase I had prepared the night before and walked out, taking a back exit.

I headed down the street to the small hotel I had scouted out earlier that week.

Going to the desk I purchased rent for a room for two nights, paying in advance.

Going into the small room I laid down the suitcase, containing the highwayman costume, and headed back out to the street via a back stairwell, bypassing the registrar’s chambers.

I’ve often wondered why all hotels, large or small, have back, secretive exits, or am I just being naive?

I headed back to my hotel suite to prepare for the evening.

After showering, I changed into a suit, shirt, and tie.

I then headed out onto the street a popped in at the pub for supper, drinking tea instead of beer!

A couple of hours before the Ball was set to begin, I left the pub and headed to the small hotel down the road.

Regaining my small quarters, I changed into my new persona for the evening’s festivities!

I rather liked the look, though Errol Flynn I was not, I still believe I presented a dashing masked figure!

I left via the same back door I had used earlier.

I resolutely walked the street back to the Ballroom, getting my share of curious looks, until I reached my destination, where I blended right in with the other arriving richly costumed guests.

Right away I could see I was dead wrong with my opinion. For indeed some of the ladies, and a few of the men, were wearing some interestingly sparkling ornamentations, as well as a few fat wallets and purses!

I followed the glittery stream inside to reach the ballroom proper.

The main doors leading inside were large, made of a fancy scrolled oak, held open, and guarded by a pair of burly security types.

This appeared to be the only security present for the evening’s festivities.

Capital, I thought, smirking to myself as I joined in with my fellow guests, blissfully

unwary that my costume betrayed what I was at heart!.

I walk onto a landing, immediately in front of a long banister guarding a set of wide stairs that ascended downwards onto the subfloor ballroom.

I went off to one side, and paused at the railing, starting to survey with eager anticipation, the crowded room below.

All was quite glittering, as large chandeliers set off a spectrum of colors with any crystal or glass it touched.

It especially created shimmers as it played off the colorful jewelry the lavishly costumed ladies present were wearing.

Several dozen couples were dancing in front of a 17-piece orchestra, a slow dance, and many were dancing almost too close.

Many more people were mingling around tables of appetizers.

A large, chattering crowd was also thickly gathered at the long oak bar that took up one whole side of the huge room.

My fingers began their pleasantly tingling itch as my eyes took all this in…

I may have to cut through this thick crowd, and attempt to part a few of the merrymakers of their valuables as I sliced in and out while pushing and prodding them apart!

So It was to the bar that I headed to cast the die and try my luck!

But tonight’s Ball, as it turned out, maybe a bust, so to speak.

Though it may have been that I was still in a vacationing frame of mind!

For as I took my first pass through, I only managed to lackadaisically lift one wallet from a purse loosely carried by a lady regally dressed in a rhinestone-studded taffeta gown that billowed out around her figure!

But her disappointedly fake leather wallet only contained a few notes to add to my cache.

To be honest, what I lusted after was a try for one of the many sparklers that some of the ladies were sporting!

And so that was where I set my sights…

Although several attempts were made to ask several charming ladies to add me to their dance cards, they all were, unfortunately, full.

I should have suspected it would turn out this way, but I still harbored an all too familiar nagging feeling in the back of my head that something was still going to happen, call it intuition if you need to label it.

So, I sat again at the bar, nursed my drink, reminiscing about how I had reached this point, in my then still young life…

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Up Next:

Chapter 4

Acte 3: Interlude before the Show

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