Ghosts Stories in the Dark Park
The Director passes out bags of puffed corn doodles that look a lot like Cheetos. “OK people let’s get settled.” They’re exactly like eating Styrofoam.
All the actors cast for this production of ‘Carpe Nocturne’ have gathered around the outdoor stage in a corner of Reid River Park.
The more experienced actors have brought chairs and blankets. I sit on the cold, rocky edge of the stage, its my first part with this group. Early September and the night air is flirting with the idea of being cold. Note to self, next time bring the jacket.
“Katy has drinks in the cooler, get one if you want.” I snag a Doctor P. It goes nicely with the styro-corn doodles.
The Director smacks his hands together and rubs them like a villain in an old movie. “We are gonna tell ghost stories. Since this is a play about kissing ghosts, this should kinda get ya into the mood. Who wants to start?”
A dark haired woman on the opposite side says, “I am ghost repellent . . . I have never had any ghost experiences.”
Karl beside me, has brought a chair. He snots. Bet he knows this woman but I don’t remember him mentioning her.
The Director continues . . . “Any one else?”
Teach Me Poetry
Karl and I climb the hill on a path that leads out of the Park. It’s not Omega Mons, but I am winded. Karl is heavier than me but doesn’t seem to be any more out of breath than I. You can see parts of the city skyline from here and we stop by his van to enjoy the view. Besides, Karl is heartened to know that he still can climb a mountain or two.
We bear witness to the birth of the Moon. The silence between us speaks the ages we have known one another.
Karl is acting funny. Like he has a secret he’s bursting to tell.
“OK, what’s up?”
“I want you to meet someone.”
And she is there, standing beside Karl. The woman who said she was ghost repellent.
She moves to where I can see her. Her eyes shine in the dark Her hair is the color of fine mahogany in the wane light. The outlines of her face will not resolve so that her features appear to waver.
Her voice is thick, rich chocolate, “I want you to teach me poetry.”
I draw in a long breath as a delay tactic, “Who told you I was a poet?”
“It radiates from you.”
“OK Karl. You told her didn’t you?”
Karl shrugs, looks sheepish.
“You want to be my protégée? If I am to take you on what is your name?” I asked.
“January, but you may call me whatever you want.”
“January is fine.”
“What do you see when you look at me?”
I stall. An eternity passes.
“I see Leviathans in your soul. I see deep waters flowing through your veins. I see a dusty room filled with . . .”
She shivers as through the autumn night has just gotten to her, “I am impressed that someone would speak so openly. Will you always speak the Truth to me?”
“What good is a voice if I can’t speak the Truth?”
“Perchance you have something to teach me.
The Apparent Dichotomy of the 24 year old Virgin Actress
We gather at the Soda Shop and I am relishing the warmth.
Karl has ordered the 50/50 special which is half French fries and half onion rings. I have ordered a coupla grilled cheese sandwiches. We wait in quiet anticipation of our feast. Karl is in the protracted process of getting a divorce, which requires a one year waiting period in this state. I introduced him to her and he still hasn’t forgiven me.
January storms in, which is hard on the aged door of the back of the Shop. She comes over and firmly places the script on the table. Our drinks are jostled.
She says, “I just read the script again and there was one thing I missed, I have to kiss you.”
I shy away from saying that is my favorite part. I say, “I promise to brush my . . .”
She looks away.
I ask, “Is there a problem?”
“I can’t do this . . .”
She walks out of the Soda Shop. I follow her to the parking lot.
“Hey, Jan . . .”
“I can’t do this.”
“I can’t kiss you. . . . Don’t look at me like that. Its me, not you.”
“Oh sweet Moses, the ‘its not you speech. . . ‘”
“I haven’t . . . I’ve never kissed a man before. I am twenty four years old and I am a virgin.”
“When I kiss a man I want it to be because I love him, not because some stupid script says . . . Oh shut-up. I’m not kissing some stupid actor.” I say nothing.
She climbs into her eighties–something Volvo and careens onto Druid street spewing gravel from the parking lot.
Karl crunches up beside me. He says nothing.
I contemplate the fact that humanity has managed to survive this long.
The Show Must Go On
The outdoor stage in a corner of Reid River Park and I am twisting the life out of my script.
January will not make eye contact, but in a manner of speaking she is totally in character. Our characters are in love but both are fighting it. The kind of love that is wrong.
The Director jumps up on the stage and gently moves her to the mark of her next line. “Now listen Hon, he is the man you have always wanted to love.”
She says, “I get that, but he’s dead . . .”
“We can get him a little more animated, he’s not a bad actor.”
“Not what I mean and you know it.”
“Jan, you have to remember, you are not your character . . .”
I am remembering something Karl said about the time he met . . . met his former wife. In my head he says, “People who fall in love with actors are doubly damned.” I look and he is fiddling with a prop up stage right.
The Director steps back and indicates that January should proceed with the rehearsal.
January tells me that she loves me. I can’t breathe and she comes to me. I lean forward and she slips her hand between our lips.
“Hon, that won’t do,” the Director says.
“Well it’ll have to . . . I am not . . .” She grabs my head and stares me right in the eye. “You should have taught me poetry,” she says.
“You never gave me a chance.” It is all that I can think to say.
She storms off the stage and up the hill toward the parking lot.
The Director walks off the stage and picks up his ever present coffee. The silence fills the space around me.
The Director calls out, “Kathy?” Kathy comes over to him. “Hon, do you have any problem kissing him?’
He looks at me. “How about you?”
“Maybe Jan is . . .”
He takes me aside. “Son, January is not going to be able to handle this one, I’ll call her and make sure she’s OK, but we have to get this show together before October . . . Its best for the show, and best for her if I recast. Can you do this?”
“Cool. Kathy. . . . Come ‘er a sec . . . Hon, I think you can do this part.”
“I already have the lines down,” she says.