The last note eased through the smoky haze like a cat slipping unnoticed out a door. Her voice had been quiet and breathy but strong the whole time she had been singing. She laughed against the microphone now, twisting her head to look at the sleek pianist, who tipped the brim of his hat down to her, the black silk only a few shades darker than his skin. A sand-colored cigar hung from his lips- his fifth that night. The sickening smell of them had filled the room hours before the girl had gone on stage. The disgusting aroma had pushed any other smell out the cracked windows as the room filled with thick smoke. Even as Porter sat, he could feel the crap working into his mouth and through his nose, caking his throat with its bitter aftertaste. He pulled out a yellowed handkerchief and coughed into it, checking his watch before folding the cloth and shoving it back into his coat pocket.
The girl laughed again, obviously tickled by something the pianist had said. Her cheeks were flushed from the singing and her forehead was shiny with a thin layer of sweat. Her lips were stained red, and they stood out stark against the opaque smoke. She adjusted a strap on her dress, hoisting the green and glittering fabric higher over her chest. A curl of her hair fell from its bun as she turned, walking slowly off the stage, lifting her hand through the air to toss a wave to the lazy crowd as they applauded her.
Porter sat up in his chair. He glanced once more at the paper he held in his hands. He had already checked it at least ten times, as was his usual manner. This was definitely the girl- there was no mistaking that thick golden hair and the shining green eyes that even Porter had noticed from the side of the room where he sat- the dress she wore only made them lighter, more penetrating. He sighed heavily as the girl walked along the wall, shaking hands and receiving smiles, to the back room where, Porter knew, she would freshen up before once again taking the microphone. There was a door back there that led outside, and Porter had seen her slip out there earlier in the night to smoke a cigarette. He had already decided that that was where he would do it- outside, in the closed-off alley, where the pianist’s notes would carry away any other sounds. He stood, tucking the waist of his shirt into the front of his pants, reaching up to straighten his jacket. He worked his way to the back room, slipping his hand into the inner pocket of his black jacket, wrapping his fingers smoothly around the cold metal of the pistol.