Everett found the scrapbook in the linen closet looking for a towel. He was an old man and Patrice died three months ago. He stood in the dimly lit hallway holding the scrapbook in his hands. He made out the headline: Father Knows Best Opens at Orpheus Theatre to Sell Out Crowd. He smiled when he realized that was fifty years ago. He met Patrice during that tour and remembered how difficult it was to get her to pay attention to him. He distractedly walked down the hallway, holding the scrapbook, and sat on the couch and turned on the reading lamp. It was the summer man landed on the moon, when Everett walked into a coffee shop in Keene, NH. where the troupe was rehearsing for an opening that weekend, and saw Patrice sitting by herself brooding over a cup of coffee. He tried to think of something to say to her, but her look was forbidding, so he lost his nerve. He bought himself a cup of coffee and doughnut and sat at a table out of her sightline. He watched her. Her lips were moving and he thought she was trying to work out some problem until it occurred to him, she was memorizing her lines, which gave him an opening. He approached her.
“How about I cue you?”
She was annoyed.
“Top of eight,” she snapped.
She jabbed the script at him. He found his place and read the line. She said her line and it was wrong. He hesitated.
“Well?” she demanded.
“The line is “It was in the early afternoon when I was down by the boathouse…”
“That’s what I said.”
“No. You said “It was early morning when I was down by the boathouse…”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Give me the script. Give me the fucking script!”
He handed her the script and she look at it. She stared at him.
“All right. Go on.”
She had the script so he was clueless.
“Hi. I’m Everett,” he said.
“Patrice La Claire. This is my first paying job and I’m so afraid I’ll blow it.”
“I can guarantee you’ll blow it.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“If you don’t relax, you’re never going to do the work you’re capable of.”
She was frozen by the truth. She fought a smile.
“A self-fulfilled prophecy. You believe the negative more than the positive. So, you sabotage yourself to bring about the result you’re afraid of.”
She stared at him.
“Here, let me buy you a cup of coffee.”
He stood up and walked to the counter and came back with two cups of coffee. He realized he had his cup and doughnut from before. He sat back at the table and they sat in silence. He finished his doughnut and original coffee. She watched him waiting for something to be revealed. He was half-way through his second coffee when he said,
“Come outside with me.”
She hesitated, not sure what to do, until he reassuringly smiled and she stood up to follow him. He led her to a corner of the parking lot and pulled out a bag from his shirt pocket. He produced a pipe from his pants pocket.
“What’s that? Heroin?” she asked.
“I’m your guide to a whole new world, sister.”
“Oh? I don’t know…”
He packed the stuff from the bag into the pipe.
“It looks like grass.”
“Exactly. You inhale the smoke and hold it in your lungs until it gets into your bloodstream which takes it to your brain and the WOW happens.”
He lit the pipe with a match and inhaled from the pipe and handed it to her. She pulled her head back and looked at the pipe like it was a viper.
“Go ahead,” he snapped.
She took a weak draw on the pipe and coughed losing the smoke.
“Amateur Hour,” muttered Everett.
“Repeat as directed,” he said.
She drew on the pipe and held the smoke. A police cruiser drove into the parking lot and Everett ran off. Patrice exhaled the smoke as the officer got out of the cruiser. She tossed the pipe away not quickly enough.
“Everything all right, ma’am?” asked the officer who looked about sixteen years old.
“Looks like your friend took off on you.”
Her face was flush and she was light-headed.
“Got an I.D.?”
Her purse was on the table.
“My purse is inside.”
“All right. Let me gather the evidence you tried to hide.”
He walked off looking for the pipe. When he had his back to her, Patrice ran in the back door, scooped up her purse, and ran through the front door. She walked/trotted down the street till she came to an alley which she went down. She hid in a doorway. She got back to her hotel room about forty-five minutes later.
The afternoon Act Two rehearsal started at 1:00 o’ clock and Patrice was in the green room with the other off-stage actors. When Everett came in, she glanced at him and quickly looked away. He sat at a mirror and did his make-up. When he finished, he went out and sat in the house and watched the rehearsal.
Patrice’s character, Betty, has a dramatic scene with Jim Anderson, her father, about his friendship with a neighbor lady. Betty has strong suspicions her father’s relationship with the woman is inappropriate. The dramatic climax of the scene is when Betty asks her father,
“What about Mrs. Foster? What about Mrs. Foster?”
The curtain drops on intermission and the scene is incomplete somehow and the audience is away from the play for twenty minutes which further disengages them and the start of Act Three drags. Everett saw what was wrong. He thought about saying something to Patrice and decided not to and saying something to the director and decided to wait to see if he figured it out.
The knowledge he had gave him relief from feeling badly about abandoning Patrice to the cop. He had power over Patrice only she didn’t know it. He was gambling no one else in the cast would figure out what was wrong. During notes, the actor playing Jim Anderson made a comment about how the scene feels unfinished, and the director dumbfoundedly looked at him. Everett thought too that their opening was in two days, and if he didn’t say anything, their production would be publicly flawed and the company would suffer. He changed his attitude and was going to talk to Patrice so she could get credit for seeing and solving the problem, and maybe, she might forgive him.
He knew she hung out at that coffee shop on Main Street, and he went by there several times before seeing her sitting with a cup of coffee. When she saw him, it was with displeasure. She glared at him for several beats before he said,
“Give me a chance, a moment, and I can tell you why your intermission scene doesn’t work as well as it should.”
She looked up at him, her face hard and unforgiving, and after several seconds, she blinked her eyes. Everett took that as a green light.
“You undercut the dramatic significance of the moment by transitioning too fast and the curtain comes down too quickly. After you demand of him, “What about Mrs. Foster? What about Mrs. Foster?” you should hold your stare while the audience allows the meaning of the question to settle into them like a fog. You and your father ought to be in a tableau while the curtain slowly descends. As you’re playing it now – you’re not allowing the tension to build by looking away too quickly, and not allowing the audience to participate as much as they could, if you’d let them.”
Patrice suspiciously looked at him for several moments before she smiled.
“Smoke a joint?” asked Everett.
Jack Coey is a seventy-two year old grandfather of two who has experienced most of life’s events, and survived them not only, but without hurting anyone else which he would say was a good life. Writing satisfies him like nothing else and he works as a cashier to eat and writes to love.