All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The bathroom of the Kit Kat Club was cleaner then expected. It was meticulously scrubbed every week by Max and, being Monday, it had been newly cleaned and mopped. Sally sat on a stool in front of the mirror wiping off her lipstick carefully with a napkin she had got from the bar. She was alone in the room. All the other girls had ether gone to bed or went off to the bar. The time was 11 o’clock.
Sally despised of the napkin and looked back at herself. She smiled coyly back at her reflection and out of the corner of her eye saw someone walk in. It was a man in drag. He looked tired and the mascara was beginning to run down his white cheeks.
“Wrong bathroom, Emcee.” Sally turned around on her stool.
“I don’t think so,” Emcee said in a falsetto tone, then reverting back into his normal range, “I’m as much a woman as you are.” He yanked the hair clip out of his hair and shook his head vigorously. Sally watched.
“Rough night?” She ventured. Emcee regarded her under pale blue eyeliner, “Darling. Libeling. Cheri.” he said it with varying tones of deadpan. “C'était le pire. Es war die schlimmste. It was the worst!” He groaned and pulled the dress over his head reveling his normal black trousers underneath. He kicked off his high heels and sat down next to Sally on a adjoining stool.
“Das ist die zweite Nacht in dieser Woche!” he muttered to himself. Sally started redoing her lipstick, “what?” She said absentmindedly never having really got a hold of the German language. Emcee grabbed a spare napkin, “That’s the second time this week.” he translated. Sally turned and stared at him. “This has happened before?”
“Of course it has! But ‘that’s show biz!’ as they say in America.” Emcee began swiping off lipstick roughly with the napkin. “You can’t expect me to entertain a full house every night of the week can you?” Finished with the mouth, Emcee moved on to his eyes, plucking out the fake eyelashes that went with the drag look one by one in rabid secession. Sally watched him with enwrapped attention.
“How are you going to get them back?” she inquired. Emcee started rubbing white makeup off his face. “We need a new gimmick, that’s all.” he said rubbing the last of the cream off with the be ragged napkin.
Satisfied with his look, Emcee got up and got his suspenders out from the nearby costume closet. He glanced at Sally out of the corner of his eye. “Don’t stare at me Libeling, you’ll give me ideas.” he said as he snapped the the pieces of white cloth together to fit his bony shoulders.
Sally looked back at her reflection. She looked so normal compared to most of the other girls of the club, all styled hair and blush on their cheeks. Sally’s hair was cut short and she had a mole on her cheek. Blush would most likely just make the blemish worse.
“Poor Sally, the woebegone underdog of the Kit Kat Club!” She heard Emcee say from behind her. She saw him straightening his black bow tie in the middle of his chest though the mirror. She chuckled, “how can you do that?”
“Do what?” he asked innocently.
“You always know what I’m thinking!” Sally shook her head in wonderment. Emcee laughed lightly and shrugged. “It’s a hobby.” He said with mock bashfulness. Emcee was never bashful.
Sally watched as he played with his hair in the mirror. “A gimmick,” he mused. Sally loved to see him like this, riding high on the energy of being on stage, his mind coming up with new ideas to improve the club. “A gimmick. What could we do?” Deep in thought he reverted into German of a while, staring into the mirror as if he would find the answer there. After a while Sally, as she always did, became fidgety and started redoing her hair in another style. Her hair was her pride, blonde and glossy, almost the same as Emcee’s exempt his was black, corse and wiry and lately a bit greasy. Emcee had never been very bent on cleanness, especially when the club was doing so badly. Sally however, cleaned her hair diligently, every night in the shower. This was difficult because Max insisted that each shower be exactly one minute long so Sally never got to far into the process, but she managed.
Sally noticed a spark of realization on Emcee’s pale face, the beginnings of an idea. “What is it?” she asked, eager to know, “Do you have an idea?”
Emcee turned to her, “Können Sie singen?” He asked, forgetting to speak English for her benefit. “Can you sing?” he translated, remembering. Sally hesitated, unsure. She shook her head dubiously.
“Come on Libeling! You have to know!” Emcee got up and began rubbing her shoulders with the palms of his hands. “You’ll be my star!” he said, gazing intently into the mirror at her, “The Toast of Mayfair! Come on Libeling! Sing for me!”
Sally looked up at him, shocked. “Here!?” She looked around the bathroom. Emcee Looked down at her. “Of course here!” He said, “Where do you think?”
Sally shook her head, “I don’t think I can.” she said ruefully. Emcee looked sympathetic, “Poor Sally! So misunderstood!” He patted her head, massing up her styled hair, “You’ll never get famous with that attitude. But I guess you don’t want fame, do you?” He turned her stool around to face him. “No no no, you don’t want fame. You want… let me think… you want to get married and have five children and go to live in the country somewhere peaceful. In a years time you’ll forget all about me. Sad.” Emcee slumped back into his stool, his idea crushed. Sally felt remorse, but she still did not want to sing. These emotions battled until she made up her mind, got up, and sang. She did not sing anything special or life changing, just a few simple la la la’s. But the effect of Emcee was electric. He jumped up and grabbed Sally by the shoulders.
“You sing like a angel!” he said and kissed her cheek. “Now,” He said excitedly pushing her back onto her stool, “I want you to repeat after me.” and Emcee began singing one of the songs that went along with his act.
What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come here the music play!
Life is a Cabaret old chum!
Come to the Cabaret!
It was a fairly simple song, and Sally sang it almost perfectly. This is the beginning of my stage career! She thought as Emcee praised and hugged her. Finally Emcee let her go, reassuring her that he would convince Max to approve the act by tomorrow. Sally was floating in happiness as Emcee grabbed his coat, threw it over his suspenders, and left the bathroom.
“Max you don’t understand!” Emcee was pacing up and down in front of Max, the owner of the Kit Kat Club. “You don’t understand me! She is golden! This girl has a golden voice that could call angels down from Heaven and demons out of Hell! I promise you I can make this work!” Max shook his head doubt laying stubborn on his features. “You haven’t payed your rent this week.” He said. Max was a man who believed that if you ignored someone long enough they would go away. Emcee leaned on the desk facing Max, his hands clutching the sides. “Are you ignoring me Dummkopf?” He hissed. Max made no response.
“I’m telling you Max I can do this! She’s golden; verdammt!” He swore at the man. Max got a bottle from under the desk and placed it on the wooden surface. “Have some gin.” He said pushing the bottle toward Emcee. He smiled, “Calm your self down and we’ll talk about it.” Emcee glared at the man, then he took the bottle and gulped some of the fiery contains down his throat.
“There.” He said, still glaring at Max, “you’ve had your fun playing the host. Now can we talk?”
Max took the gin from him and chugged it down. “Ahhhh,” he sighed and put the bottle down. “Now we can talk.”
Sally had been asleep for only a few minutes when Emcee shook her awake.
“Psst! Libeling! Wake up! I have something for you!”
Sally opened her eyes and yawned. “Is it time to get up already?” she said drowsily. Then she saw Emcee kneeling in front of her and she sat up quickly. “Emcee! What did Max say? Did he say yes?” She was almost afraid to ask but she screamed with happiness when Emcee nodded his head ‘yes’.
“Oh my God!” Sally threw her arms around Emcee’s neck. “Thank you! I’m going to be a star!” Emcee grinned at her, “I can see you now! The Toast of Mayfair! Fräulein Sally Bowles!”
Sally laughed at the stage name, delighted that she was finally different from he other girls, finally set apart from all else. Because she was going to be a star.
“Are you sure about her?”
“Of course I’m sure! Max, I promise this won’t be like the other time.”
“You do know that was your felt right?”
“It was not! Liza was a special case. She just couldn’t handle the stress, that’s all.”
“But going so far as killing herself? Something drove her over the edge. Don’t you remember what she said? ‘Joseph’s pushing me too hard! I can’t do this any more!’ She named you out of all the other stresses.”
“Don’t call me that! This is Emcee now! Not Joseph! He’s dead remember?”
“You know, if I didn’t know any better I would say your mind went with her the day she passed. Changing your name and all.”
“I’m telling you this will be different.”
“Okay. I’ll let you do the act. But you have to promise me to not get too attached to her. Okay?”
“Okay. I promise.”
The day Sally first came on stage was the beginning of her life. As she walked off followed by thundering applause she felt that she had just been born into a world where she was the center. She laughed and smiled with the other stage girls as they praised her singing voice and natural talent for the stage. She soaked up the attention, absorbing it into her confidence. Sally was happy, the happiest she had ever been, she thought. Emcee hugged her and kissed her forehead quickly as he went out to introduce the next act. He seemed happy too, but wether this was because of her or the size of the crowd that filled the club tonight was undecided. As Emcee charmed the crowd into staying for another act, Sally hummed and sang to herself, wondering how her voice could have gotten so beautiful overnight. She used to think she sang like a dying cat. Now her voice sounded like a angels voice, and her hair no longer looked drab and no one had noticed her mole. Sally let herself, for the first time, to think that maybe she was a little bit beautiful.
Back in the bathroom Sally sat on a stool gazing at herself in the mirror.
“Emcee?” She asked of the reflection of Emcee as he applied eyeliner to his closed eyelids.
“What?” He answered, starting on the lower lid.
“Am I pretty?” Sally never stopped looking at herself, trying to imagine herself as beautiful. Emcee grabbed the lipstick. “What do you want me to say?”
Well then, Yes you are, now let me work Libeling.”
“Emcee!” Sally turned, exasperated at his stubbornness. “I want your opinion!”
“Really? Are you sure? Because truthfully I would like to keep this relationship professional.”
“I promise not to be hurt.” said Sally, who was expecting him to say no. Emcee turned around on his stool, half his face with lipstick, eyeliner, and white cream, half without. He looked her up and down, took her face in his hands and studied it, finally he pretended to think until he answered, “Ja. ich glaube, Sie sind.” Then, smiling at her confusion, “Yes. I think you are.”
Sally turned back to the mirror and looked hard at herself. “Gee. I’m pretty? Are you sure?” She stared harder but couldn’t get past the mole on her cheek. Emcee started of the other half of his face, “Take it from me Sally Bowles, I’m just surprised you don’t have those five kids yet, along with the five fathers.” He smiled at his joke. Sally smiled too, but hers was of a memory she had just recalled. Proudly she turned to Emcee who was styling his his hair in a choppy flapper style. “I did get a lot of looks from from men tonight.” she said coyly, “and not all of them were from the audience.” she leaned her head on his shoulder. “By the way, what are you doing with your hair?”
“I’m experimenting.” He said as if it was a silly question, “now get your pretty little head off my shoulder Libeling, your giving me ideas.”
Sally smiled. “What kind of ideas?”
Emcee stretched his neck around to face her, “This kind.” he said and twicked her nose.
Sally returned to her seat and rubbed her nose, “That hurt.” she pouted. Emcee, finished with his makeup, got up and smiled at her. The new hair style fit him. “It’s supposed to hurt Libeling, your stating the obvious again. You know I can’t stand obvious things.” He pulled on his coat over the black suspenders and kissed her nose, “there. All better. Your such a drama queen.”
Sally shrugged, “it’s a hobby.” she smiled.
“I haven’t kept my promise.”
“I can see that Emcee.”
“I care too much for her.”
“What should I do? I can’t… I can’t stop.”
“I will tell you what to do.”
“You will? Oh thank you!”
“There is a man in America named Clifford Bradshaw. He is a writer but has had writers block for the past three years. I want you to bring him here. Tell him Berlin would be the perfect place to write a novel. He is almost certain to met Miss Bowles here.”
“How do you know this? And why him? Why Bradshaw?”
“Do you want Sally to be happy or not?”
“…Okay… I’ll do it.”
Sally almost floated into the bathroom. She was in love. A man in a million had caught her eye that night, a man who was funny, interesting, caring, handsome, etc. Sally sat down and began taking off her makeup dreamily, a huge smile on her face. Emcee came in and was half way though his lipstick before he noticed Sally’s expression.
“Cheerful tonight aren’t we?” He smiled at her, “What’s made you so happy?”
“I met a boy.” Sally almost laughed, “He’s charming and handsome and really cute…” she sighed. Emcee raised his eyebrows, “So what’s his name? Can I met him?” Sally ignored that last question and said “His name’s Cliff. Cliff Bradshaw. He’s a writer.” Emcee smiled and went back to his lipstick, “Sounds promising.” He muttered.
Sally sang that night, and the next, and the next, with just as much beauty and happiness as before, but Emcee could see a change coming over her. She was becoming moody, distant from him, tired when she was not singing. Emcee hardly saw her any more since she had moved in with Cliff. So with out knowing it, Emcee began to miss her.
“This is not what I wanted Max.”
“I’m applying for the Nazis. It the only way to make money here anymore.”
“I need her back. The club needs her back.”
“Why? She's happy now. She has Cliff and all the party’s to go too that she could possibly want.”
“The club needs her! We’re not making money! Don’t you care?”
“No. Not really. I’m quitting remember? I’m joining the Nazis. I couldn’t care less if your club is making money.”
“Please bring her back! No. Bring her back and send Bradshaw to the depths of Hell!”
“If you want her back, get her yourself. As for Clifford… do what you want. He has out lasted his usefulness.”
Emcee sang from his heart that night. It was the only sad song in his drag act and was supposed to be meant for a man. But he sang to Sally that night even if no one knew.
So if you kiss me
If we touch.
I don’t care
Half way though his song Bradshaw- who was there for some reason or another that night- got in a fight with a Nazi officer who he seemed to know. Emcee stayed long enough to see Bradshaw punch the officer in the jaw before two men stepped in and beat him to the ground. Emcee harried backstage and wondered if one of those men were Max. As he was wondering dully, staring into the dark abbess of the backstage room, who would come though the back door but Sally Bowels.
But this was not the Sally who had left him only a few months before. She was a ghost of herself, her blonde hair was matted and shorter then before, she was skinny, had the look of a starved person, but most importantly looked sad. Very sad, impossibly so. Her shoulders were slumped over by the weight of misery. She fixed Emcee with a look that made her look a hundred year older then her early 20 years of age.
“I need a doctor. I’m pregnant.” her words sounded icy, hard, unreal. Her voice was husky and broken and ugly.
Emcee stepped toward her, still holding her pained gaze. “Libeling…” He was in shock and horrified that his voice sounded every bit as broken as hers. He hugged her and kissed her forehead as she cried into his dress. “It was horrible. I hate myself. I love Cliff still but I hate him too. And we ran out of money and I missed you!” She clung to him. Emcee smoothed her hair back from her forehead, “Libeling… what happened to you?” Sally shook her head against his chest, messing up her hair even more then it already was. “I…I don’t want to talk about it.” Then she looked at him with a almost crazed look, “I want to sing tonight.”
Emcee smoothed her hair. “Are you sure? You look so miserable… and if it makes me sad then it’ll reduce the audience to tears.”
Sally drew back, “you look worse then me.” she realized. Emcee looked down at himself and saw that it was true. He was skinny, so skinny he could see his ribs and easy count them. He was pale, sick looking, a shadow of himself. Sally look toward the waiting stage. The audience was getting restless. Emcee nodded, “okay… okay, you can sing. Any song you want okay?”
“Okay.” Sally hugged him again, “I missed you so much.” Emcee kissed her. Not on the forehead or the cheek, but on the lips. It was their first real kiss. Then he walked out on the stage, putting on a fake smile so no one would know he had been crying.
“And now! Meine Damen und Herren! Mesdames et Messieurs! Ladies and Gentleman! The Kit Kat Club in so happy!” Emcee glanced out of the corner of his eye; Cliff Bradshaw moving toward the backstage door. His smile slipped and his eyes followed Cliffs progress toward the door. “The Toast of Mayfair, Fräulein Sally Bowles.” His voice had- without him noticing- snuck to a threatening hiss of a whisper. Then he forced his smile back on and rose his voice, extending his arm toward the door, “Here’s Sally!”
That night was Sally’s finest hour. She put all her grief and sadness into the act of singing so when she finished the last lines of the song tears were running down her cheeks.
Life is a Cabaret old chum!
Only a Cabaret old chum!
And I love a Ca-bar-et—!
That night backstage, Emcee snuck to his knees behind the curtain and allowed himself to cry for the first time in who knows how long. He cried for Sally, for the end of innocence in her. He cried for Max who had know idea that he had picked the wrong side to stand on. He cried for himself because pity helped heal his soul somewhat. Then he forced himself to stand and go to the bathroom and transform himself from drag queen to The Emcee, The Master of Ceremonies. He was going to get Clifford Bradshaw. This is a dangerous game your playing Bradshaw. Emcee thought as he pulled on his coat, don’t tempt me to end the show so soon!
Emcee arrived at the train station long enough to see Clifford hop on the train that would take him nearer to America and leave. Emcee watched him go, disgusted at the amount of cowardliness the man had shown. He had ran away, not even thinking about Sally’s welfare or their unborn child. Emcee considered going after him, but decided that the need for revenge was not that strong in him anymore.
Instead he started walking home, watching as snow began to fall, covering everything in a blanket of water. Emcee closed his eyes and felt the bitter air sting his cheeks and nose. This was Berlin, Germany. The year was 1933 and Emcee’s life, like so many others, had fallen apart before his eyes. But none of that bothered him now. Right now the air was sweet and cold and snow was falling in Emcee’s hair and he was happy. Despite everything, despite tragedy and love and hate, despite the coming of war, despite the Nazis, Emcee was happy. It was a wonderful feeling.