“Oh. Wow, ” Jill said. “You were there. You saw a giant bird. I’m so sorry. We need some help, I think. ” She stood up and started casually meandering toward her telephone. Picking up knick knacks on her way. Examining them briefly. Putting them down. Walking a few more steps.
“Damnit, Jill, we really did see it. Something is going on.” I stood up and started pacing. I’m a great pacer.
“Stop pacing. You are going to make us all yack,” Moira bitched.
“That stuff on the news, that wasn’t what we saw today. People weren’t happy and cheering. They were protesting the demolition. And, we wouldn’t have mistaken Anderson Cooper for a giant bird, for God’s sake.”
Jill had arrived at the telephone. She lazily drew small circles on the handset with her finger, trying to pretend that she didn’t want to snatch it up and dial 911 to come get her crazy friends.
“Jill, it’s DISNEY. Disney is trying to cover this up. Something bad happened and they caused it. Who do you believe? Us? Your friends? Or DISNEY?” Moira nodded hard agreement with me. Jill’s face reddened and her eyes welled. Then the phone rang. Jill screamed and snatched back her hand.
“Oh, for Christ sake, answer it.”
“Hhhello?,” Jill whispered. “Oh, Jonathan. Hello. How are you?,” she asked in a more normal voice. “Oh. Work. Matinee. Um huh. Actually, they are both here. We’ll all be there in 5 minutes.” She hung up. “We are late for the student matinee,” she informed us. And she burst into tears.
We weren’t actually late for the matinee. We were late for our call. It’s a convention in theatre that the crew must be early. It’s basically a head count. Everyone has to be counted. Everything has to work. If anyone isn’t going to show up or something important isn’t going to work, it has to be evident in advance because The Show Must Go On and an extra ninety minutes to come up with a solution can be a godsend. Jonathan hadn’t been thrilled to realize his entire crew was missing. He would have been hard pressed to solve that problem.
“Leave that damned dog here,” Moira said, “Dogs aren’t allowed in theatres.”
“Service dogs are allowed in theatres,” I argued.
“Since when is that short, fat, mean dog a SERVICE dog?”
“Look, there is a giant bird on the loose. Bethel stays with me.”
Jill whimpered a little at the mention of the giant bird.
We hit the door and ran down the hallway as a group. Elevated downstairs. Dashed out onto 42nd St. and saw…a sea of white uniforms.
“Yum!, ” Moira enthused, “I forgot that it’s Fleet Week!” Jill perked up a little, as well.
Every year, the United States Navy and the Marine Corps converged on Manhattan. They demonstrated for the public their planes and ships and lack of drinking prowess. They were only annoying as traffic obstacles until night fell. Then, some of them were very annoying drunken people.
Running the few blocks west down Theatre Row was like weaving through a closet of freshly pressed and crisply starched ghost costumes. Choruses of, “Well, HELLO, ladies!,” followed us. Moira and Jill giggled and smiled and waved like beauty queens. Bethel barked as I panted along. I was tired of carrying her fat butt, but she sure wasn’t going to run, if I put her down.
We arrived at the John Houseman Theatre in the promised five minutes. Dashed past the scowling and wristwatch-pointing-at Jonathan. Ran down the aisle, jumped on the stage, ducked behind the black curtains, and entered the backstage green room. Where we found Mike doing what we’d planned to do…he already had the TV tuned to the news.
Mike turned to us, his face purple. A vein pounded in his temple. His generous eyebrows throbbed at us.
“BULLSHIT!,” Mike roared.