Where did I leave you last? Oh yes, the meeting with the cast and crew of the Fidalgo Island Theater Ensemble was about to begin . . . and now it ends, and on a sinister note. More mischief to come . . .
Read on, and then reread, and please let me know how the story is touching you, making you think of your own life, your writing or reading life, and the monsters you hide in your own closet . . .
“We are all demonic!”—Queen Stormag
Another painting by my father, George Bogdanovitch, looms out and hits the atmosphere of dread and possible destruction ahead. You can always see more of his and my mother’s work at www.bogdanovitch.com.
The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy)
“Starting today, people, talk up The Queen’s Idle Fancy. ‘Seed the ground early.’ That’s a line one of the play’s most colorful characters delivers in the first act, and it’s meaningful. I’ll have audition copies made available by the end of the week. Now, we have a winter carnival to block and very little time—I’ll let you get to work. I hope the chorus of carolers is taking shape. Someone please remind parents to sign permission slips for their angelic children. Roger, may I have a word? Everyone else: Dismissed.”
As the winter carnival director took command, calling for the sugarplum fairies to take center stage, Roger jumped out of his chair as if he’d been trapped by a spell until just that moment. Sally barely stifled a sarcastic comment.
“What’s gotten into him?” Morton whispered.
“We’ll find out after rehearsal. Help me up, kind Sir? It’s a good thing I’m in the It’s A Wonderful Life skit and not a purple sugarplum.” Sally extended her hand for Morton to grasp.
“I think you’d look smashing as a singing fruit.”
“I didn’t see you trying out for that number. Too sweet for your taste?”
Roger followed both Belloons into the lobby of the theater. Carole snaked her arm through her husband’s and smiled like a Cheshire cat ready to eat a big fat canary—Roger’d never noticed how square, blocky, Carole’s teeth were before. Being so close to her husband’s side, Roger felt she could pass for one of those ventriloquist’s dummies with monstrous, humorously large chompers. Roger caught himself. He was staring too much, and averted his gaze.
“You liked the play.”
“I’d say that’s the understatement of this long uneventful year. I want to meet Mr. Waltzcrop. When you see him next, please arrange it. And, I want you to handle making the copies. Just put it on the theater’s account down at Bayshore Office Products.”
“What did you think?”
“My husband’s thoughts on the play aren’t to be discussed at this time. Sorry to say, but my opinion isn’t to be bandied about either.”
“Listen. No offense, but I brought you the damn thing. I didn’t have to. A little consideration isn’t asking too much.”
“Oh, but it is. There’s something odd about the play, something I can’t put my finger on, but it’s gotten you and my husband into a state, taken you both to a place I can’t, and won’t, follow.”
Roger wrapped his arm around his wife’s shoulder and tightened. “Remember what we spoke about, dear.”
“Yes . . . yes, of course. Please, Martin, I’m sorry.” Roger couldn’t help but notice how Carole’s eyes grew wider. Her behavior, her pleading, hit him as strange. There wasn’t any other word for it. She looked spooked, trapped, as she reacted to her husband’s admonishment and firm embrace.
“Take it, and please continue to keep this wondrous copy in the gentlest of care.” Martin Belloon licked his lips, a nervous tic. He handed the play over to Roger as if in slow motion, an almost ceremonial display that added to their bizarre conversation.
Roger nodded, and replied, “Of course. If you change your mind, I’m always ready to step in and help anyone you do hire to be the director.”
“That’s resoundingly clear. Now . . . what was that line again? Hand it back would you?” It was clear to Roger that Martin wanted to, needed to, keep hold of the play, just as he had hated giving it up two days ago. The power clouded his judgment for a split second, but Roger did the right thing.
“Sure.” Roger relinquished the play into Martin’s greedy hands.
Martin released his grip on Carole, who shrunk away a step or two as her husband flipped through the play’s thin pages. “Yes. This is it. Must remember this passage. Brilliant. Do you believe in the afterlife? I do now.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.” Roger thought about death, what comes next, the decay, his darkening thoughts, imagined shrouds and cemeteries filled with countless graves—and nothing more. Just death. That was it. The afterlife didn’t exist in his philosophy, and it never had. His parents, father an atheist, and his mother a card-carrying agnostic, instilled in Roger nothing but a will to seek out his own thoughts on religion, redemption, guilt, and resurrection. Needless to say, he wasn’t a churchgoing member of the community, and right at this very moment, with Belloon enjoying his manic harangue, Roger felt close to shattering one of his own mortal, moral, philosophical tenants.
“I’m surprised. You’ve read this enchanting play twice yet you still act like you’re one of the disbelievers. Carole even more so, but I’m having fun correcting her willful bent. It’s not possible to close this door once it’s been opened—even if it’s just a sliver of a crack. Listen to this beginning dialogue between Frenalto and Camoustra.
Frenalto says: This mortal plane exists because of The Queen’s desire.
Camoustra replies: I can’t wait to make her acquaintance here or in the great beyond.
Frenalto scolds her: You’ll need to practice your curtsy when seeking her favor. The lowest possible should suffice.
Then Camoustra shows that she’s worried: I’m not quite sure seeking her favor is possible at this late hour.
Frenalto, pompous as ever, says: The rose entertains the obedient, a strong faith paramount and rewarded, and her thorns hold the heads of those who falsely practice deception in alignment with the discreet masters of Stygian depths.
Camoustra forgets herself, says: It’s your task, speaking of paramount, to find this blacksmith we were warned about. He’s the most important person in the village at the moment.
~A slap rings out, a violent slap that brings Camoustra to her knees. Blood flies across the stage~
Frenalto corrects her (I love that word), harshly, and what a moment this will be up on stage: No. Never let me hear you speak with such filthy idolatry, watch which master you serve. The blacksmith is weak . . . Haven’t you learned, my love? The Queen rules . . . even now. The blacksmith, his strength, his noxious morality, is here to test us all, but he will fall as others in his place have fallen throughout time.”
Silence consumed the lobby.
The rain grew in strength outside the theater, and would continue all week.
When Martin Belloon pounded on the nearest wall of the theater at the exact moment he spoke about Frenalto hitting Camoustra, bringing her to her knees, bloody on the stage, Roger couldn’t help but applaud (he was roaring) from within.
Roger watched Martin Belloon as he left the theater. Studied with a firelit breathlessness as Belloon grasped his wife’s arm at the elbow, squeezing it so tightly that Carole winced. She glanced back at Roger and there was panic in her expression. Roger smiled back at her and patted the copy of The Queen’s Idle Fancy in his jacket pocket.
To read the next chapter, simply click here: Part 9!
And that’s a wrap . . . more theater talk . . . for this week. I hope the ominous dread is creeping into the tale. I love the interplay between the characters and how the play is changing their wants and desires . . . much more to come. Please stay tuned to this channel.
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