tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 26: shirley
by horace p sternwall
illustrated by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas
"she can't dance, she's going to have to learn to sing."
those were the first words shirley remembered hearing, in a dressing room in alberta or maybe it was a hotel room in manitoba. shirley's parents were vaudevillians of the old school and had performed the exact same song and dance act up to eight times a day for three hundred days a year for ten years by the time shirley was born and fourteen years after that before her father ran off with a "bad woman", strangled her, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in washington state.
"we'll ask adele, see what she thinks." adele was her mother's best friend and her father's severest critic. she too had an act that she performed exactly the same way eight times a day etc and was usually booked at the same time and place as shirley's mother and father. adele's act was "goldilocks and the three blind mice". adele, in a blonde marie antoinette wig, would belt out old standards while three trained mice - one white, one pink, and one black - crawled and capered over the blonde wig, and her bare shoulders and large bosom.