I sat inside an old office space supposedly transformed into a black box theatre. The stage was a plank of mahogany wood a few inches off the ground. The entire platform may be the size of an apartment living room. On a built-in extended wall, were two doors, one on the left and the other on the right as the only stage entrances and exits. I haven’t been backstage but it must be cramped.
The walls are pitch black. Black drape hangs from the ceiling on each side of the stage. The seating are black, pleather cushioned chairs and divided in three sections around the stage. A part to the left, the largest part in the center, and the smallest part to the right.
The house seats are spackled with a sparse crowd. Mostly silver-haired folks, which are probably the season ticket holders that keep this hole-in-the-wall theatre operational. The young faces in the room seem familiar. I think I’ve seen them around campus or at the bar.
As the house lights go down, I hear, “I’m here!” Gracie just arrived. I look over my shoulder and see her apologizing to the House Manager for being late and pleading to be seated. He obliges her and lets her in. “Thanks, Ricky!” She whispers loudly.
Gracie runs down the aisle and plops down on my lap, at the end of the third row, to climb over me to get to her seat. I would have stood up to let her in, but she acted too fast for me to move.
The potent aroma of lilac and honey engulfs my nose. She smells great and even though its dark, I can make out she is fixed up to impress someone. She straightened her wavy locks and the contour on her face makes her look grown as opposed to her natural youthful self. Restraining myself from hitting on her will be difficult tonight.
I did ask her if she wanted me to pick her up. I figured we could have grabbed a bite before coming to the show. She said it sounded too much like a date and therefore declined my offer.
I remember clearly a few weeks ago I was a potential boyfriend in the hallway at school. She and David whispered about me assuming I was soundly sleep. I give up. Let her keep me in the friend zone, but I really do need to find a girlfriend… I’m not only lonely but dirty videos aren’t anything like the real deal.
Gracie put her hand on my thigh, a little higher up than usual and she leans over to me and whispers, “I’m excited.”
The actors take their place in the ghost lights and Gracie decides to rest her head against my bicep, if she were taller her head would be on my shoulder. Okay, maybe she changed her mind… I’m still boyfriend potential?
The lights go up and down center stage stands the most beautiful woman in creation. Kelsey Cadence. I hold my breath without understanding why. Around a month ago, she was physically in my living room, suffering from the walk-of-shame as she waited for her ex-boyfriend to pick her up. I still can’t believe my brother betrayed me and slept with her.
The play opens with Kelsey’s character giving a monologue that’s like a prayer out loud. She could look anywhere in the audience, but she chose to look at me. Our eyes lock, and I can see the fear in her eyes. Her character needs to get far away but she’s broke, isolated, and she’s never traveled outside her little town. She’s interrupted, by David’s character who looks sharp in a mid-1960s suit.
“There you are Faith!” David-in-character says rushing over to her.
Turning toward him in a flirty way, ‘Faith’ acknowledges the man approaching her, “Deacon…”
Only three cast members ever take the stage. The third member a man with blond hair and blue eyes called Canon.
The lighting sticks to blue hues. For the set, big black blocks are staged to be a staircase upstage left, a bench centerstage, and a ledge downstage right.
Deacon is a guy in seminary school, but he’s a rapist. He lures women with his bible talk and good guy act, and rapes them in a park. Faith suffered physical abuse from her mother and sexual abuse from her father as a child. When she meets Deacon, she runs away with him hoping to escape her terrible life. Cannon narrates majority of the story. He mainly whines about how there are more posers in the world claiming to be children of God than actual children of God… he also kind of serves as Faith’s guardian angel. At the climax of the play, when Faith thinks about killing herself, Cannon appears and gives her hope.
However, Deacon appears to spoil the hopeful mood. In a struggle for the gun, between he and Faith, the gun goes off and Deacon ends up dead. Faith flees and returns home. The play ends with no real resolution. She’s on her knees praying for forgiveness and a chance at a better life. Then right before the lights go out, Cannon appears, standing behind her. This time she can’t see him. His final monologue implies she’s pregnant and that the child is her second hope next to her faith in God.
Okay… between the lighting, the staging, the set, and the acting it was entertaining and it wasn’t total crap. If anything, it was immensely thought provoking. Cannon made some interesting points about religious people, yet he and Faith were so faithful to a flawed system. I think I kind of liked it. A unique Theatre-of-the-Absurd-Genre production.
After the show, out in the lobby the cast came to mingle with the audience over wine and mini-snack-foods. Gracie got trapped into talking with her acting instructor from childhood, Vera. As a little girl, at the Invincible Theatre, Gracie took acting classes during the school year and was involved in Theatre Day Camp over the summer.
Vera’s dried out, matted umber brown hair stays up because a crown of pens locks her hair mats in place and though she’s really fit physically, her tanning-booth darkened skin looks rough like leather. When the woman laughs, she sounds like a goat with a duck vocal box… I think. I am just annoyed. And she smells like incense… I hate that smell.
I’m a good six feet away and I can still smell Vera. The merlot’s not bad. I love how no one carded me. I barely look legal. Then again, I only card people at the bar I think are at risk getting caught by their parents or the law, other than that Deus doesn’t really care if I card customers or not. The goal is getting the coin and cash. He only cares about the money.
“Gray!” Gracie calls me over. Only because she’s my friend, I drag myself over to her and the strange woman.
“You rang,” I joke…
Gracie laughs flirtatiously and then explains why she summoned me, “I was telling Vera you did stage crew back in high school… Funny thing… she’s looking for a stage manger to help with all the children’s theatre productions.”
No. I’m definitely saying no. “Kelsey and I are helping too as teaching assistants.” Gracie adds. “You should join us.”
“Grady?” I hear a half-excited, half-shocked shrill from behind me.
I turn around and Kelsey Cadence rushes to wrap me in her arms. Sighing partly with relief and partly with enthusiasm, Kelsey confesses, “I’m SO glad you came!” Abruptly, very repentantly, she removes herself from my person and asks, “Did you come with a date.”
“Ah…” I sigh. Not entirely sure why.
“Kels, you know Gray?” Gracie asks Kelsey.
While I say, “Sort of,” Kelsey talks over me to say, “Kind of…” bugging her eyes out in a comical fashion. I think she’s a little nervous.
“I always thought Gray was short for Grayson.” Kelsey admits combing her fingers through her voluminous dark hair. Then she crosses her arms cloaking herself with a subtle attitude towards me and Gracie. “Well, um…”
“Wait,” Gracie’s countenance grows confused. Baffled she points at me and says to Kelsey, “This is the guy who pretended to be Irish and lured you into a one-night stand?”
“Whoa!” I snap snatching her pointing finger. “Lower your voice and actually—,” before I could defend myself, Gracie aggressively frees her hand from my grasp, takes both Kelsey and I by the arm and drags us back into the Black Box Theatre for privacy.
She sits us down in the front row, in the center seats. Little Gracie clings her torso by crossing her arms and she stands before us on the stage, with her hips cocked to one side.
Facing towards me but with her gaze looking down, Gracie says, “This is why I was hesitant about dating you. You drag everyone to hell with you and I didn’t want to be one of them.”
“What did I do?” I ask her. Trying to assess what is going on I ask Kelsey, “What’s happening right now? I should have said this at my house but Kelsey—,” and she cuts me off mid-confession that I did not sleep with her.
That is definitely something no single man wants to hear in his last teen year.
Involuntarily I say, “And you think I did that to you?!”
The back of Gracie’s hand smacks me liken a freshly fired paint ball pallet in the shoulder. Clutching my shoulder I cry, “Ouch,” even though the blurb of pain is several seconds gone now.
Tearing up, Kelsey explains, “My fiancée and I weren’t together that much in that way… when we did we were safe you know… and well, that night I don’t remember much…”
“No one raped you okay,” again, my lips have a mind of their own. Why am I defending my brother? I don’t know what he did, or what they did that night… Other than the fact he used my name to pick Kelsey up.
Wiping her eyes with her hand, she sniffles, “I’m not saying you did… like my ex was at that party and I saw him with another girl… the girl he cheated on me with… and I wanted to make him jealous, so I got drunk and I was determined to hook up with the first guy that flirted with me… Or at least make Felix think I was going to hook up with a total stranger…”
“Kelsey…” I say, pausing trying to figure out how I can explain my brother knocked her up if it wasn’t her ex Felix.
“Kels,” Gracie says stepping over to Kelsey and crouches low at Kelsey’s feet, “Grady can be a jerk sometimes… He learned from his prick of a brother, but deep down,” she reaches to take my hand and caresses the back of my hand with her thumb, she comments, “he’s the sweetest, most faithful guy I know.”
“Kelsey… I should have been honest back at my house, but we didn’t spend the night together… My brother…”
“I may not remember a lot but I vaguely remember a Grady picking me up with an Irish accent.”
“Birdie got picked up by your brother,” Gracie chimes in, “She’s really upset he hasn’t called her.”
“Why would I lie? If anything I would say, ‘Yes, I’m the father’ so I could have a chance with the girl—,” I stop myself before my lips could get me into trouble with Gracie before we ever finish our first date?
Gracie furrows her brow and glares at me, “Kelsey is the girl you were madly in love with in high school? The one that had no idea you existed?”
I forgot I told Gracie about Kelsey a few times, without dropping her name.
“Yeah, okay.” I say.
My stomach tightens and I feel like my heart lodged itself in my throat. I can’t be here. I have to go.
“Don’t lie,” Gracie orders.
“I don’t think he’s lying…” Kelsey says.
“Yeah… my brother brought you home and asked me to see you out… He’s a jerk… sorry…”
“We went to high school together?” Kelsey questions not remembering me at all.
“You were in the same class as my brother. I was two grades behind you.”
“You kind of look like this kid from stage crew, Timmy, but he was skinnier and wore glasses.”
“That’s me. Grady Timmins, aka Timmy.”
Suddenly her eyes got huge like an owl and she forced me into an unexpected hug, “Timmy! You dated Miranda. She did say you were a sweet guy.”
Her hug is unique. Snug like being wrapped in a blanket and peaceful like my mother’s embrace. She backs up to let me go, but I keep holding on a little longer. I didn’t realize how much I missed my mother’s hugs…
When I finally let her go, she wonders, “How do I get a hold of your brother?”
Good question. He didn’t pay his phone bill. I can’t even get in touch with him and I haven’t heard from him since he left. He could be lying dead in a ditch somewhere.