The Beat of the Competitive Dance

A story on a theme: RHYTHM

Slide, step, ball change. One, two, three. The rhythmic beat accompanied his flawless dance performance. Jorge squinted with a discerning eye onto the stage for the last time. “Not a flaw, not a single flaw,” he mused as the audience erupted in a hail of claps. Slowly he made his way down to the awards podium for another obvious second place award.

With ribbon safely in hand he dejectedly crept back to his dressing room. “Eighty five times in a row!” somebody yelled from outside the room. Indeed, his once friend and now rival couldn’t be beaten. Every dance competition played out the same; a great performance on his part but a flawless performance for Patrick.

“Life isn’t fair,” he grumbled as he made ready to leave, “How did he get so good? He couldn’t even dance when I met him; he had no rhythm at all!” Indeed, ten years earlier Jorge watched in amusement as Patrick stumbled his way through a dance number. Now ten years later he was flawless. Dance came naturally to Jorge; it was his passion. If it weren’t for Patrick, he wouldn’t even have to practice; he was that good. But not good enough; Patrick beat him six years ago and hasn’t lost since.

The competition discouraged Jorge. He was a shell of his former self. Once he was full of optimism and encouragement, but no more. Patrick managed to suck the very life out of him with each and every win. He felt cheated but unable to take it out on Patrick as Patrick was truly one of the nicest people he’d ever met. That reality only made it more unbearable.

Jorge slipped quietly into the seedy bar he began frequenting of late in the hopes to escape his plight via the bottom of a bottle. A gentleman approached him from the other end of the bar. “I just saw you at the dance performance; you got second place,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Don’t remind me,” mumbled Jorge in the midst of a double-shot. “It’s the story of my life now.”

“How’d you like to make a lot of money and win a competition again?” the gentleman asked.

“Sounds illegal; I don’t participate in illegal activities.”

“Oh, this is totally legal. I have information that can help you and you have the resources to help me.”

Jorge pulled his head out of the whiskey glass and looked at the gentleman closely. “Ok, for the sake of argument, why don’t you just tell me what this whole little game is so I can enjoy a laugh and go home.”

“I want to split a very large bet with you but you’re going to front all the cash. $20,000 worth,” said the gentleman unwaveringly.

“$20,000 cash?” laughed Jorge. “Are you crazy? That’s about all I have; I’m a dancer you know, not a prize fighter.” Jorge pushed back the stool to go.

“I’m serious. The odds on you winning the next dance competition are 100-1. If you win the competition, that’s 2 million dollars. A fifty-fifty split and you have a million dollars in the clear.”

“I’m not going to gamble away my savings on a no-win proposition.”

“There is no gamble here. Like I said, I know information. If you want to deal, I can guarantee you will win.”

Jorge sobered up slightly, “What information do you have that guarantees that?”

“If we have a deal, I’ll give it to you.”

“If you can convince me that it is foolproof, then sure, we have a deal.”

The two shook hands. “Patrick has no rhythm.”

Jorge stood there and smiled. “What? That’s it? Listen whoever you are, Patrick has been flawless in the last 85 competitions; he’s got rhythm. Now if you’ll excuse me, you’re wasting my time.”

“He’s cheating. He doesn’t have any rhythm and I can introduce a song number to the next competition that will guarantee he can’t dance.”

Jorge thought about what he was saying. It made total sense to him. Deep down he knew Patrick wasn’t a dancer and yet time after time he was the one in first place. Perhaps this was his chance to prove to the world just who the natural dancer was. “Let’s do it…” shouted Jorge. He got off his bar stool and headed home.

The plan was to introduce a secret song that no contestant knew about into the competition and showcase their improvisational skills along with their normal dance routines. Only Jorge and the gentleman from the bar knew about it.

Sure enough, when the competition came around, Jorge placed the bet and prepared for his number. As usual, his performance was stellar; near perfection. Going on last, Patrick performed flawlessly and effortlessly through the entire performance until the improv song started. Suddenly, his entire composure fell apart. He looked awkward; mechanical. The crowd hushed in disbelief. “It’s true, mumbled Jorge, he had been cheating. He doesn’t have rhythm!”

Jorge won first place and Patrick’s amazing 85 competition win streak ended that night amidst embarrassment and shame. As promised, Jorge went on to split the bet money with the stranger at the bar.

Life collapsed for Patrick. He never performed again. His fans abandoned him as a phony and one late night he took his own life in despair.

Jorge, back on top of the dance circuit, went to his funeral and the memorial. Patricks mother came up to him afterward, “Patrick always wanted to thank you for the gift you’d given him in the appreciation of dance. As you know, he never had any rhythm and so the fourteen hour practice days were necessary for him to be competent on any of the dance songs. He memorized what to do for every single one of them.”

Jorge stared at her in disbelief, “Do you mean to say that he memorized every move to every song by rote?”

Patrick’s mother smiled, “Of course he did; he didn’t have any rhythm. Singers do the same thing when they can’t sing in a foreign language. They learn it phonetically.”

“But I’ve never heard of anyone doing something that complex with dance. You’ve got to have the internal talent too.”

“Oh no, that was Patrick’s gift, you know. He was a perfectionist and a tireless worker. There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t practice every single song used in dance competitions so that he would be ready for anything.”

The realization of what he had done was too much for Jorge. He’d taken a good friend and destroyed his life. He was the cheat. Patrick was legit. He’d done the work, he’d performed the show and he’d been flawless. Was it really fair of him to alter the competition format to expose something that wasn’t even part of the competition? He’d been tricked after all; by a stranger looking for profit and his own ego and competitiveness. It cost Patrick his life!

Jorge took a turn to despair and drink that ultimately cost him his own life. He saw the gentleman at the bar only one other time shortly before his own death from an alcohol related accident.

“You lied and deceived me,” shouted Jorge.

The gentleman looked at him and in his cold matter-of-fact tone said, “Souls are so easy to bargain with when jealousy and competition are involved. Two-for-one scenarios are just so hard for me to pass up.” He smiled a devilish smile and left the bar, never to be seen there again.

1 comment:

Mrsupole said...

A tale of "Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it." This one was great. I've got no rhythm and it is a good thing I have never entered a dance contest. I really enjoyed this story.

God bless.