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24w, 6dVinyl and Octavia
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14w, 6dThe Jazzy Fillyfoolers
Octavia had spent much of the last hour preparing herself to see Vinyl’s...”gig.” She had ensured her mane was correctly combed and conditioned to its usual lustrous sheen. Her bow-tie was carefully tied around her neck, which was no small feat considering the inherent clumsiness of the hooves she was forced to use. A final glance at the mirror, a proprietary shot of Glenmorangie to start the night, and she felt ready to watch as Vinyl acted upon her wager. The dinner had went...well, all things taken into account at least. Alot of it was idle chatter, to be fair, but she had promised to watch Vinyl play tonight, at the very least to make sure she held up her end of the bet. Octavia was always a mare of her word.
Her cello remained at home, the lack of its familiar bulk and weight made Octavia almost feel like a feather. She had always carried her cello, everywhere. One never knew when the chance to play to an audience, or practice a sheet would emerge, and Octavia liked to be kept on the tips of her hooves in that respect. Not that she needed any ego massaging, she was quite aware that the ponies she played to wouldn’t see a better performance in their lifespans.
It was because of this extensive preparation for the event, that she was currently looking at Vinyl with a mixture of shock and indignation, as they waited outside the...establishment she was playing at tonight.
“Look, I know, it’s not classy. But a mare’s gotta find work somewhere, right? Just, uhh...if anypony with a strange accent offers you the chance to be a model...” Vinyl shook her head in an ominous manner.
“Those sort of ponies come here?!”
Vinyl glanced around her, as though she were expecting a pony trafficker to be standing right behind her. “I dunno. I just play the set and leave, okay?”
“Good...but I’m staying right at the front. I don’t trust these...types.”
“Well, that’s just awesome.” Vinyl’s irritating grin claimed her face. “You’ll be right there to see me in my prime!”
The club was a shambles. Octavia felt sure that a weather team must have organised a hurricane on its roof. The paint on the brickwork flaked away, floating through the air like crimson snowflakes. The sign, intending to depict the word, ‘Equiphilia,’ was lacking several letters from its derelict lighting. Even the doors were desperate for maintenance; worn and shabby portals to a place even Celestia probably wouldn’t know about. Even the ponies that lined up with them looked as though they had been brought in by truck from some swamplands. If ever there were a webbed hoof in nature, she felt sure these ponies would possess two pairs. Whereas the bar she had met Vinyl in was fairly lacking in class, this one held no pretenses that it ever knew of the concept at all.
Octavia allowed herself to be patted down, being sure to cut the security guards an irritated stare that conveyed her unspoken threat of a lawsuit, should their hooves go further than the call of duty. Once they had ascertained she wasn’t a crazed, knife-wielding aristocrat, they allowed her in. Vinyl, irritatingly, was allowed through with a casual wave, and an even more casual call of, “what’s up, bronies?”
Inside the club was as much a shambles as the outside had implied. The carpet was worn through to the floorboards in some places, whereas in others it had been slowly layered on top of with dirt and other debris. Obviously, a cleaner wasn’t on the payroll. It was, however, the chicken wire across the stage that intrigued Octavia the most.
“Why is there-?”
“Chicken wire?” Vinyl giggled nervously. “That’s to stop the bottles hitting me.”
“B-bottles? Why would there be bottles hitting you?”
An equally nervous smile joined Vinyl’s little giggle. “Let’s just say...it’s their way of telling me to change track. They’re..well...” She stifled a real laugh, “They’re not what you’d call...classy.”
“I can imagine in an establishment like this. But please, don’t leave me alone out here...with these...vandals.”
“Oh, don’t you worry. You can sit with your Auntie Scratch in the firing line, behind the invincible chicken wire.”
Octavia crossed her forelegs, assuming her pouting position. “Don’t patronise me, I’m two years older than you. I just don’t like the idea of being near these ponies.”
“Hey, I’m not making you stay, Octy.”
“We had a bet, and I want to see you try and do a set here without your magic.”
“Pfft, easy.” Vinyl waved a complacent foreleg at her lower-class audience. “These are my ponies, alright? Besides...I just imagine the paycheck, and let the music drown out the smash of the bottles.”
“And my consolation?”
“Well, if I fail the bet, I buy you a round of that skooma stuff you love, right?”
Octavia slammed a hoof to her face. “It’s Jura, you foal...Jura.”
Octavia followed Vinyl through the back entrance behind the bar itself, leading onto the stage behind the chicken wire. She claimed a seat for herself, placed so that any potential bottle projectiles would have to come through both the wire and the turntables to meet her. Vinyl took her position on the stage itself, front-and-centre, presiding over her crowd. Octavia couldn’t help but feel that most of the genetic driftwood gathered here today would be traced as a serious cause of mental degradation in several generation’s time.
Vinyl grabbed the first disc between her teeth, loading it carefully onto the turntable, before doing the same with another.
“Look ma...no horn.” She shot Octavia a smug grin.
For her part, Octavia simply reclined as far as the bit-store, plastic chair would allow.
“No matter, we’ll see when the glass starts flying.”
“Oh, we will, Octy. Hold onto that carefully-groomed little mane of yours, it’s about to get blown away.”
“I hardly think so, you’d actually have to be able to drum up some talent in that noise you so irritatingly mislabel as music. But do please continue, I’ll be sure to prepare some bandages and sticky plasters.”
Vinyl laughed, before jabbing the turntable with a hoof and kicking off the set. A wave of bass hit Octavia, ringing through her skull like a migraine, which she felt certain it would give her. She clamped her hooves to her head, simply thinking of the forfeit for failing the bet, and smiling in the knowledge that eventually the polar-white mare would slip up. The same mare’s hair was energetically flying back and forth as she got into her own little world, snapping a new track on whenever a particularly large salvo of bottles struck their flimsy wire shield. It dawned on Octavia that the bar must make a killing from all the bottles of lager it had to be selling.
* * * * * *
Vinyl snuck the tip of her hoof under the record, flicking it so that the record somersaulted up into the air, before catching it with her teeth. She bowed and thanked her audience, before revealing her iridescent grin to Octavia. Octavia was loathe to admit it, but she had thrived without the aid of her horn. Though she had to give Vinyl her due, she was glad the show had went without any catastrophic failures that would culminate in a mob attacking them. Octavia still had to buy the drinks tonight.
“So, Octy. Shall we head to the bar for those drinks you owe me?”
Octavia tried her best to save face, which for her, meant she took up a huffy posture with her forelegs crossed. “I suppose, considering I lost my wager. It must be said that you did well tonight. However...I’d prefer somewhere with a bit more...” She glanced at the clientele, noting the general slack-jawed look of them all. “...Liveliness...and some elegance to boot.”
“Y’know, Octy. For once, I’m feelin’ the same thing. Must be because it’s free for me!” Her grin was on the verge of turning into a supernova.
Octavia sighed. “Very well. I’ll allow you to choose the place, seeing as you are the winner and all that...for now at least.”
The pair exited the bar, Octavia flatly refusing the proffered free bottle of Stella Artrot, which was the crucible of all she despised in the lager industry. The salve of cheap, lager-swilling oafs that really had no position in civilised society. Obviously, an establishment of this calibre, or lack thereof, simply didn’t stock anything worthy of her palette, so she departed with Vinyl to the uptown district, where proceedings were often met with more coherent elegance.
They eventually found themselves sitting in a modern wine-bar that seemed to embrace the colour purple in its entire spectrum. Light-purple carpets were lit by almost pink lighting, the stainless-steel trim reflected all the colour around it, inevitably appearing purple itself. Even the barcolt was purple, and Octavia couldn’t help but feel, that he might have been the kind that wouldn’t deny a tight hug from another colt. He had a very forward and feminine attitude that made Octavia want to pay her bill as rapidly as possible, and retreat to the furthest possible corner of the room.
So it was that Octavia was sitting comfortably on the plush, cushioned seating, sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Wine was something Octavia enjoyed in lieu of the whiskey she often craved, it irritated her that so few establishments in Canterlot knew a good drink from a terrible one. That they continued to offer their customers the vulgar sewage water they did, while failing to stock anything with at least a little character, astounded Octavia. She feared that she would rapidly deplete any chance of finding a good whiskey bar at all. Thankfully, this bar was a tiny fiefdom of classy sense in the cultural swamp of Canterlot, even if the lighting was practically pushing Octavia’s vision into the ultraviolet.
She swirled the glass, before taking another sip. The light but noticeable hint of gooseberry pleased her palette as it washed over her taste buds. She had ensured to ask for Sauvignon Blanc hailing from Neigh Zealand, specifically, Mareborough, where the very gooseberry hint she enjoyed in the wine was most evident. Not as enjoyable as the smoky taste of her favourite Jura, with its overtones of oak, and its smooth texture. Still, it was a good stand-in for the refined spirit.
Vinyl, obviously, opted for a glass of alcopops, for which Octavia chided her, (eliciting an airy comment about how the pair acted like an old couple, only furthering her wish to evade the barcolt with haste.) The two were now seated at the table, directing their attention to the other patrons in the bar. Vinyl tapped Octavia’s foreleg, then failed to subtly point at a pair of mares sharing a drink at the bar. One was a chocolate-brown mare, her hooves coloured a sickly-sweet yellow, and her hair a menagerie of shades ranging from deep brown to caramel yellow. The pony next to her was as lucidly clean as her colours were sickly chocolaty. Her coat was the purest white, her hooves also ending in strange, natural socks, only hers were pink. Her mane was a spectrum from the lightest to the most vibrant shades of pink, but it was the cutie mark that Vinyl was pointing at.
“What sorta pony has an ice-cream for a cutie mark?”
“I wouldn’t know...maybe her talent is for...eating ice-cream? Or making them? Why don’t you go ask her, and let her know you were staring at her flank?” Octavia shot Vinyl a challenge through her smile, who nonchalantly waved it away with a foreleg.
“Maybe she sells ice-cream. She could sell ice-cream and ice-cream accessories?”
“What is an ice-cream accessory anyway? What’s the other one’s cutie mark? Something with a loveheart...what do you think?”
“I dunno, if it is an ice-cream eating cutie mark the other has, she’s got a great figure despite it.”
Octavia choked as she was sipping her wine, spurting it out over the table, and causing quite frankly a most embarrassing scene. One which the barcolt seemed spring-loaded to pounce on.
“Oh, darling, don’t fret and do hold on just a moment! I’ll just gather a paper towel or two. Excuse me ladies,” he squeezed past the ice-cream pony and her friend, before returning, said paper towels levitating ahead of him. “There we are, sweetheart, all mopped up. Please don’t...spill any more, unless you plan to buy the replacement. I shan’t complain at that!”
Thankfully the barcolt left as quickly as he appeared, carrying the soppy, wet towel in his horn’s thrall. The two mares at the bar shot Octavia and Vinyl a glance, before turning back round and giggling into their drinks. Octavia turned back to Vinyl, who was starting to regain control of her lungs after the laughing fit.
“Well, Octavia. I’d say your classy dignity took a blow there!” She stifled further falsetto giggles with a hoof, her cheeks flaring red around it.
“Ugh, I’d rather just get back to my drink, rather than you derailing the conversation talking about how attractive fillies are.” She shot a curious look over her wine glass, only her eyes showing, intently monitoring Vinyl.
“Pfft...well, uhh. It’s not fillyfooling to compliment a mare, it’s just that I’ve been hanging around with you. There’s not much to compliment.” She shot an equally challenging look at Octavia, her pupils flaring, pushing her to respond.
“Is that so? A pony with such a brash manedo can hardly speak. Ponies in glass stables and suchlike.”
The ball was in Vinyl’s court, who delicately raised her glass, the drink providing a small respite from the battle of wits. “Maybe, but it’s all in your view, right? And in your view...bowties look cool. Nopony, thinks bowties are cool.”
“I’ll assure you, bow-ties are very much in fashion this season. At least, amongst the upper echelons of society, they are.”
Vinyl pondered Octavia’s reply, before simply scratching her head in a pretense of confusion. “I don’t get it...where did you find a blind fashion designer?.”