littlejazzbaby: (a key)
[personal profile] littlejazzbaby
February 10th, 1933. Cape Town, South Africa.

February 10th. In four days, though you couldn't really count the fourth, Isabella was going to be married. For a week, guests had slowly arrived from around the world, most of them strangers to her, invited by her future mother-in-law. Royalty, aristocracy, tweed and lace. Hands she was happy to shake, cheeks she was happy to kiss, but intimidation she couldn't shake. Almost nine years of consistent presence in the spotlight had given Isabella near immunity from shyness and nervousness and second guessing. Her reputation was no longer as questionable as her behavior; she was considered witty, charismatic, and professional.

But Betsy Fitzwilliam and her plans had reduced Isabella to a state of paranoia that she was powerless to understand. Weddings were beyond her, both in function and operation. She had been to a few now, and learned the stereotypes, but her ignorance meant that she had not been the one in charge of planning. While she picked the dress and was given some input on decor and allowed to invite everyone she wished (as she tended to know celebrities, and Betsy was not discouraging about celebrity), the rest of it was out of her hands.

As the date grew nearer, she grew more confused, wondering what would be expected of her. There was a rehearsal in three days (or two, if the fourth wasn't to be counted). Isabella could dance and sing for crowds as large as a thousand or more; could walk nude in front of complete strangers. She could even be photographed in the midst of sexual acts. But what she couldn't do was predict what a wedding would require, and it was overwhelming.

Betsy, though about nine inches shorter than Isabella, managed to be frightening. She was a hard woman to please, and highly critical of her son's choice in women. Isabella's American nature and career on the stage did not impress her, no matter how rich Isabella supposedly was.

The mansion, however, was crawling with people. )
littlejazzbaby: (Default)
[personal profile] littlejazzbaby
Most likely spring-ish 1928. When Isabella was at the Pearl Theater in Chicago.

It was late, too late. The final show of the evening was long over and the joint had turned into its usual late-night speakeasy, turning the clientele from a mixture of young men and pretty women in their Sunday best, to older men in expensive suits with guns under their jackets and false respect that threatened to crack.

The band was no longer playing. The band was no longer here—or maybe they were downstairs with a few stragglers. The lights were even more dim and the smell of smoke had lifted. The heavy, velvet curtains shielded the stage from the rest of the hall, and on the beaten, wood floor sat three female dancers with clips in their hair, the only sign that this place ever saw the likes of vaudeville and that the massive French Baroque theatre itself wasn’t a façade.

All three ladies were playing poker with a deck of worn-out playing cards. )

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