Maragana Girl Ch. 18

bycaligula97236©

The outfits the band would wear were the clothes they would formally receive in court during their de-collaring ceremony. That meant formal traditional dresses for the women and traditional tunics for the men. The band and the recording company had to present a formal schedule of video shoots to assure the judges the members would be dressed as little as possible.

With that Kim was pushed into the forefront of "Socrates' Mistresses". She became the band's international face, the one member who could bridge the language barrier between the other members and the outside world. She sat nervously negotiating contracts, speaking in English and translating for Eloisa and the owner of the music store. She sat as the go-between for the concert hall owners in Danube City as the recording company worked out the final details of concert locations, lighting, acoustics and other endless details needed to make sure the live concert video-shoots went according to plan. Kim had to become forceful and knowledgeable, and overcome some very serious obstacles. Vladim Dukov or the music store owner always accompanied her, but Kim was under intense pressure because she was the only person legally capable of speaking on behalf of the other members of the band. Her biggest challenge was to force everyone to take her seriously, given that she was only 20 and often she was the only naked person in a room full of older people in business attire. In the end the recording company settled on two live concerts that would be filmed in front of international audiences, and the taping of eight studio performances, four of them in English. The videos would be used to promote two CD's containing a total of 28 songs, which already had been recorded during previous studio sessions.

The studio video shoots came first. Throughout November the band spent their evenings practicing against backdrops and props brought in by the recording company. Once the issues of choreography, lighting, and acoustics were settled the band shot the footage for the eight videos during the first three weeks of December. For the first time in a year and a half Kim put on a dress as she sang in front of the cameras. The soft fabric of the long dress felt truly elegant on Kim's body, and she loved the way the dresses looked on her four female companions. Unfortunately, the women's dark metal collars took away some of the elegance from the dresses, but there was nothing anyone could do about that. She thought the guys looked a bit silly in their tunics. However, the main focus of the video would be on the group's singers, not the musicians, so the tunics really did not matter.

The final part of the video shoot project came with the filming of two live concerts in December, one on Christmas Eve and the other on New Year's Eve. Leading up to the concerts Kim and Eloisa were interviewed be several European news organizations about the band's history and how the road to their popularity in Upper Danubia. The group's status as convicted criminals and conditions of the members' sentences received much attention and comment. One interviewer asked Kim if she had any thoughts about large numbers of foreign fans coming to Danube City to see the group perform live. Kim did have a significant comment and advice for the group's fans.

"I ask everyone who wants to come see us to remember something extremely important. The Grand Duchy of Upper Danubia is not Amsterdam. Drugs here are VERY illegal. I learned that the hard way. Please...please don't bring anything illegal across the border. I want everyone to enjoy themselves, and I don't want anyone's trip to Danube City to end the way mine did." Kim tapped her collar to emphasize her last final comment.

At the beginning of January the production company packed up its supplies and its workers returned west. The project was a huge success. The two concerts received very positive reviews in the EU press. The live concert footage, combined with the studio footage, gave the European production-company what it needed to make a series of videos to promote "Socrates' Mistresses". The bands' members folded their clothes and handed them back to their Spokesman. They wouldn't see the clothing again until the end of their sentences in July.

----------

The members of Socrates' Mistresses had spent a grueling two months as the year drew to a close. Not only did the band members have to spend their evenings occupied with the music video shoots, but they also had to fulfill their daily responsibilities to their employers and universities. The members' first obligation was to their jobs, since it was by working regular jobs that the criminals were complying with the employment requirements of their sentences. The music was of only secondary priority as far as the courts were concerned. On top of everything else were studies. All of the male members of the band were attending university classes. Sergekt had been the last one to enter classes, simply because he had not been able to decide on a career. Now, he too, had a full load of university classes, as well as a part time job and his commitment to Eloisa's band.

Kim, in spite of her overwhelming responsibilities of the moment, began to think about her own future in Upper Danubia. Perhaps her work with "Socrates' Mistresses" would last indefinitely, perhaps it wouldn't. She knew she had to study something else, have a back-up profession in case the musical one did not work out. It was Vladim Dukov who suggested a career for her, one that had not occurred to his client. At the end of December, just before the band's Christmas concert, Vladim asked Kim to come into his office and close the door. He questioned her at length about her plans and what she might do once she married Sergekt. Right away Kim realized that even if she had no clue of what she might do, her Spokesman did.

"Kimberly, we need to start thinking about our future, and this time I am not referring to the future of only you or myself. I am referring to the future of the Duchy. I believe you will perform a more significant role in the Duchy's future than you might realize."

Kim sat silent, wondering where her Spokesman was going with this. Dukov continued:

"Kimberly, have you contemplated attending the university?"

"Uh...no, Spokesman Dukov, I really haven't. My grades from high school were so bad I can't get in anywhere in the US. I figured I'd have the same problem here."

"You figured wrong, Kimberly. There are no impediments to prevent you from attending university classes here. I believe you must consider enrolling at the university and studying as quickly as possible, starting in January."

"But...what on earth could I study? I mean, what am I gonna do here if it's not staying with the music store or singing?"

"I have given that matter consideration, and believe I know what you should do, Kimberly. You will understand I am the only Spokesman in the entire country who speaks English. I believe we must have another, that is, another Spokesperson who speaks English and can properly represent foreigners unfortunate enough to offend our laws. I believe that after several years of training, you can become that person, the Spokeswoman who can fulfill our country's needs."

Kim's heart stopped. "Me? You want me to...to...become a Spokeswoman?"

"That is correct, Kimberly. I want you to consider that as a path in your life. You can determine if such a destiny is fitting as you study and work in my office as my apprentice. If you decide such is your destiny, you could speak as an apprentice on behalf of criminals within two years. I ask you to consider this path in life for a reason. The days of our country's isolation are ending. More and more tourists will be coming to visit the Duchy, and like you, some of them will fail to respect our laws. We will be obligated to convict and punish more foreigners; people who will need a compassionate and competent official to speak in court on their behalf. You will be able to speak from the heart, as a foreigner who was herself convicted and punished. Your clients will trust and respect you, as a person who suffered what they must suffer."

"But...how could I do that? I'd have to study law and all kinds of hard things. I mean...I'm not the world's greatest student."

"And you assume I would not make myself available to assist you?"

"But you think I could really do it, I mean, be a Spokeswoman?"

"I know that fact with certainty, Kimberly. The path of your life is what I envisioned the night of the equinox. I was shocked at first, but as I reflected on what I envisioned, the more it made sense to me. I believe it is your destiny to speak in our courts, just as it has been mine to speak in our courts."

Kim paused, suddenly remembering her own vision of Vladim Dukov during the Day of the Dead march, the one of him speaking to thousands of chanting supporters. She wondered if Dukov's career as a Spokesman was about to draw to a close, if life had much greater things in store for him. If that were true, then Kim felt obligated to help him as much as she could. She would help him by replacing him, by allowing him to leave his position with the security of knowing a competent person would take his place and fulfill his current responsibilities towards his clients.

"I'll do what I can, Spokesman Dukov. I'll study and try to help you. You've done a lot for me and I do owe you."

With that Tatiana came in with a thick university packet. It turned out Kim was not the only person in the office who was destined to be a Spokesperson. Tatiana also was beginning her studies to become as Spokeswoman, with the goal of eventually returning to her home province and working in the provincial capitol. With that Kim realized she not only had a mentor, but she also would have a study partner. There was no reason, none whatsoever, why she could not eventually fulfill Dukov's responsibilities and become a Danubian Spokeswoman for the Criminal.

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