SHORT STORY: A night of dance and high intrigues

Friday August 27 2021

Hazel spread her arms out slowly when she got to the front of the line and faced a mean looking man. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA


Hazel leaned against one of four richly tapestried walls in a magnificent ballroom, watching a crowd of perfectly synchronised couples twirling around, locked in each other’s arms. The museum ballroom was large and grand in the old way, opulent carved designs inlaid with gold, decorating walls, ceilings and in places, even the floor. She stood in a corner, watching the dancers with an intensity that seemed almost wistful, but her mind was elsewhere, up two floors and down a corridor from where she stood to be specific.

“Care to dance?” a deep voice said near her, and despite the suddenness of it, Hazel wasn’t frazzled at all. She rarely was.

“I was just going to the bathroom,” she flashed the handsome stranger at her side a heart stopping smile, narrowing her eyes, “Why don’t you grab us a drink and I’ll be right back?” She was already off, moving before he could respond, then shooting him another killer smile over her shoulder, giggling when she saw him gawking after her then dashing off to the bar, a modern day knight errant.

As soon as Hazel rounded the corner out of sight of the crowd, she ducked into a little groove in a wall behind a huge exotic plant. Slipping off her heels, she discarded them discreetly behind the plant before darting out and dashing off to where a grand staircase led up to the upper floors of the museum. Her form fitting black dress with two thigh high slits did more than just attract attention, it allowed Hazel to run unhindered and she did, moving at a speed that turned her into a blur to the few intoxicated couples she encountered on her way up to the second floor.

Here, in the shadow of a column gaudily embellished with carved fat cherubs, Hazel checked. Up ahead were two hulking men, standing guard to the flight of stairs that led to the third floor. But she hesitated just a moment, catching her breath, then slipped out of the shadows and slowly walked, hips swaying like a pendulum, to where the two men stood.

“Uh…Miss?” one of the men started, sounding unsure of himself, “You can’t be here, the party is…”


Quick attack

He barely got his sentence out before Hazel struck him sharply in the throat and as he doubled over, kneed him cleanly in the face, knocking him out. His companion grunted in surprise at the sudden quick attack, but as he moved forward, hand on hip drawing a gun, Hazel threw her entire body back as she leaped into the air kicking out at him and catching him squarely in the chest, sending him flying backwards with such force that he sat momentarily stunned a few feet away. And a moment was all Hazel needed.

Leaping onto him, she landed a blow to the side of his head that put him to sleep instantly. Then she stashed the two prone figures in the shadowy landing before speeding back to the ballroom, retrieving her shoes on the way. The handsome stranger was just returning with his drink as she appeared, flushed and breathless and beautiful.

“I’m not thirsty anymore, let’s dance,” she said, sweeping him out onto the floor and into the throng of dancers.

She was like the moon amongst stars, brilliant, drawing your eyes to her almost forcibly, standing out, resplendent even in her black attire. She danced with gusto set after set, until the music changed, then she swept her partner to the periphery of the room and made her exit, after sending her knight on another errand to slake her thirst. Ditching her heels once more, she retraced her steps to the second floor then stealthily up to the third, passing the large shadows of the two unconscious men.

Dark room

Once on the third floor, she bolted down a dark corridor to her left which ended in a dark room, where a small rock sat on a pedestal inside an illuminated glass case. She’d have only a few minutes after she triggered the alarm, but she was quick and she knew it. Smashing the glass, Hazel popped the priceless rock into the high bun of thick hair sitting pretty atop her head then spun like a ballerina and was back in the ballroom just as her dance partner returned from his mission, bearing two drinks in hand. This time Hazel downed hers.

“Attention,” the music stopped abruptly and a panicky voice came on the speakers, “We’ve had a security breach…All guests, please proceed to the exit.”

There were suspicious murmurs, discontented drunk voices raised in protest at the end to their festivities and fearful mutters as the crowd slowly filed out, each person being frisked as well as briefly questioned and asked for an alibi. Hazel spread her arms out slowly when she got to the front of the line and faced a mean looking man. It was the head of security, and though he’d been patrolling the museum all night, he just happened to be in the ballroom when Hazel had taken to the floor. He remembered her, well. She’d been dancing the whole time, never leaving the floor, dance after dance.

Besides, what could she really conceal under a dress that was tailored to reveal? And, her alibi stood a hair’s breadth behind her, her dance partner who currently wore an enamoured foolish look as he stared down at a painfully calm Hazel. Walking away, free, she smiled genuinely, savouring the feeling of the weight on top of her head.