“Wait just a minute, kitten!”
It was Jane, her voice projected by a hidden microphone. She was on her feet, and with the agility and speed of a cheetah, she leapt from the ottoman where Perilous was seated to the top of the tv set. The screen flashed black and gray static for a moment. When it righted itself, it showed an image of Jane standing atop the tv, her hands on her hips. The crowd swiveled to get a look at the real deal, and Sparks could hear the murmur of wagging chins behind her.
“Who’s the bird?”
“That’s Jane Bond, innit? I seen one of her films over at the Paris Pullman.”
“You say she’s a show-off, eh? Never heard of her.”
“Oh! It’s a proper tub-thump they’re putting on here!”
“It’s you!” said the Black Cat with all the wide-eyed kitsch surprise of a movie villain. The crowd swiveled back to the stage. “I might have known my nemesis Jane Bond would make an appearance. What a disappointment you are! Working for The Man when you should be fighting for the people!”
She raised her fist, and the crowd went wild.
“I don’t like yes men any more than you do,” Jane said from her perch atop the television, “but this is no way for a lady to behave. I think you need a lesson in proper etiquette.”
Jane launched herself from the television into a graceful flip that planted her on the stage less than a meter from the Black Cat. The instant she landed, she spun, kicking the plastic machine gun out of the Cat’s hands. The moves had been painstakingly choreographed. Sparks was enthralled.
The Skeleton, whose jarring performance had tapered off during the exchange between Jane and the Cat, began to beat out a palpitating rhythm again, and the Red Devil accompanied her on the Thunderbird with a staccato throb. The Black Cat leapt into a backwards flip that took her out of Jane’s reach. Jane pursued with a flying sideways kick that just grazed the Cat’s jawline.
The crowd oohed, captivated by the cat fight, but the action was interrupted by the booming voice of George Spiggot projected through the multitude of television sets. It was his sallow face and brooding eyes that now dominated the screens, “Hold on, there, girls! If you’re going to play in my club, you’ve got to play nice, on instruments, like the boys do. You’ll wreck the place at the rate you’re going.”
“Who you calling girls, man?” the Black Cat wailed into the microphone.
“Yeah! Who you calling girls, man?” Jane cried out, stretching out her hand.
From backstage, the hidden prop master tossed a sleek black May Queen guitar to her, and the pair launched into a rowdy refrain backed by the primal drums and the caterwauling bass.