When the juniper leaves hid from me this barrel-shaped woman I’m crazy over, my heart beat somewhat less, I really wasn’t right, I couldn’t tell time correctly, and guys like Gustav Mahler and Joan of Arc came back to life and tried hard to console me. They really put their European backs into it; I occasionally felt their rough skin brush past me (so I knew they weren’t mere apparitions), and they even boiled-down a soothing balm from the gnarled and ugly juniper bark, a balm which Joan then rubbed into my chest before re-mounting her trusty steed, while Gustav simultaneously used the balm to assuage, assuage the withering cock before he turned back to writing notes on five-lined paper, but as I can sense many people guessing, it was all to no avail. Oh I hung around outdoors close to the tree’s gray-green and scratchy leaves for what I can term the total hunk of summer (a goodly wedge of any year by any measure), but the keg woman never again popped into sight, and by October, she lingered on only as a dick-stirring trace of memory. However, I am pleased to note that to the best of my broad supposition and limited observation, refreshing and basic lookalikes of my swell and sexy honey here and there appear on the pages of solid geometry textbooks in daily use throughout the world.
Huskily, kind of wistfully, and with a real-though-delayed smile, “Do you have a sample for an old sailor?” was the line he chose for today, because from his bathroom window it looked like it was raining outside, and rain was water (right?), but by noon he switched to “Might you give something scrumptious to an old scrimshaw?”, and whereas during the a.m. he hadn’t even cracked into real numbers of coin or recognition, by the time he heard the nearby high school bells ring for dismissal, he felt lucky and frisky, for he had easily proven to himself again and again on other days that he was lucky and capable of being recognized and remunerated, and he felt all-in frisky too, because he surmised he wasn’t going to have to rigidly pretend impoverishment for the hours still to come.
And sure enough, he galloped through the gauntlet of evening just like he was riding a steed eager for darkness, and it wasn’t quite nine p.m. when he caught a glimpse of the crescent moon high and to his right. “Don’t tell me if I stretch my neck way out and push my head far up that that white scimitar won’t quickly slice my nose off. I can conjure its sharp edge just as surely as if some unbelievably possessive virgin student over yonder hadn’t band-aid-ed in place a razor blade just to guard her pubic cuckoo.”
So maybe it was the dangerous moon, or maybe it was the outdoor chill, or perhaps it was the absence of his holding and blowing on and sipping from a mug of strong and steaming tea—whatever, really—but a thing or things caused him to start shivering, and with less than three hours remaining in the day, he couldn’t stop deciphering items around him and then stop them from coalescing into a command which, even at this late hour, ordered him to once more change the question-of-the-day, and so this is what he believed he had to do. However, all he was bedrock-sure of at this juncture was that the new line was going to have to embrace “consternation” and “dollars” and “poodle” (though perhaps not in that order and probably not inclusive of just those four words).
SEVERAL ADDITIONAL FACTORS
This actor doesn’t know me, I’m shit to his Shinola, but because so much of what happens to Scaramouche onstage is embarrassing to the character himself as well as off-putting to practically any sensitive viewer on our fucking planet, the man who played the role tonight decided to do it in red-face. He evidently thought strongly enough about his conception that when the makeup person kept objecting over and over, he stopped arguing with her, he didn’t purse his lips in some evening-long pout, and he didn’t go and stand spread-eagle in front of the bitch such that his five-day body odor might bowl her over and thereby out of his pre-performance face. No, he just kept stroking her hand in silence, understanding, and sympathy for nearly a minute before he put a vise-like grip on her index finger and snapped the pointy mother in one swift and fluid motion.
My own observation here would be that the makeup woman was clearly more in the right than Scaramouche. I don’t think the audience ever did get comfortable with a scarlet Scaramouche, and their continual discomfort badly interfered with anyone’s subconscious ability to comprehend and be empathetic toward this actor playing this protagonist. However, in the eternal interest of goddamned full disclosure, I feel compelled to spout (like a pompous whale) several additional factors that probably prevented all of us from believing we were witnessing a genuine Scaramouche moving about, perspiring, and speaking in front of us.
First (and kind of obviously) there were the gut-wrenching cries of pain issuing forth throughout the drama from the physical agony of the broken makeup person backstage. Her digital hurt appeared to be nonstop, and it rang like a bell throughout the play (and the playhouse) as some eerie counterpoint to what was occurring onstage.
The second item is a tad more convoluted and a boatload stranger than the first, but it was easily just as real and contributory to our hero’s estrangement: from an open window somewhere, hornets came buzzing in in squadrons. Perhaps they were drawn by the first factor—the wails of pain—or maybe there was a strong attraction to the chemical composition of the actor’s red-face. (I just hope no one expects yours-truly to know the definitive answer here, because I’m not some geeky, pencil-necked chemist wearing black-rimmed specs and picking his nose now and again behind a false barrier of Bunsen burners, beakers, and apparatus; I’m simply a guy doing his best to take things in and then transcribe observations out.) Let’s just suffice it to say that the hornet squadrons kept reconnoitering and flying en masse throughout the building, throughout the production, and throughout the audience.
And actually, the possible physical attraction of the nasty insects toward that greasy red-face kind of leads into the final factor I’m determined to offer up: while Scaramouche had made liberal use of the maroon gook on his face and hair, he forgot to cover his neck, his arms, or his hands, and I don’t myself see how that kind of omission could have been intentional, but simply stated, our boy turned out in sum to be rather pied and pale, and any philosophical tie that might have been achieved between the bright makeup and the character’s essence got lost or was never established in the midst of this Scaramouche’s blotched and fevered demeanor.
Yes, I’d like to believe our actor directly or indirectly allowed some shame and regret to rule his personage as he stomped the boards today; I’d like to think his rash anger toward the makeup woman before the play began carried him rickshaw-like on a guilt trip throughout the scenes and acts; I’d like to think the hornets and the incomplete application of coloring were non-factors in his performance compared to the pull and tug of some conscience over the maltreatment of another human being, but who the fuck am I kidding? Just to be forced to stumble through the motions of performing some ancient playwright’s art while one’s own anger and self defense remain unassuaged (and probably continue to build) throughout the environment of a live production would honestly be unbearable to my own hair-trigger ass, so I won’t start tossing out any pleas for patience. But I must say that at some point, I like to think I would have stood still and faced my fellow thespians and the audience, and I would have thrust my white hand forward and through the fourth wall, so to speak, in a gesture for us to halt the action, and I would then have bellowed truthfully, “Hey, guys: Hold it up! Hold it up for just a moment or so, and let me go backstage and eliminate a noisy and worthless person. Then I’m going to root around and find a couple of cans of decent bug-spray for all the rest of us, and hopefully, we can resume trotting this sucker into the barn before our fine city’s watering holes and eateries lock up tight until the morrow.”
William C. Blome writes short fiction and poetry. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.