A while back I came across a post (which I can’t find!) listing several ‘ridiculous first lines’. What follows came from that idea. I wish I could give credit to whoever actually wrote this first line, but it wasn’t detailed in the original post either. My three words for today were Dictate, Audition and Mantle. I’m sure the Bard is spinning in his grave somewhere, and for that I apologise 😀
Romeo and Juliet the musical
“So what if I broke my arm? I’m still doing it!”
Olive tried, without much success, to hide her grimace as sharp pain shot through her elbow and down to her wrist. She stood with arms crossed, elbows resting in hands, trying for nonchalant and achieving ‘I need morphine, stat!’
“Let it go, m’dear” Max, the director stared down at her from the stage, “Nowhere do I recall the immortal bard waxing lyrical about the plaster cast ‘pon Juliet’s fair limb. Cali will step up.”
Olive couldn’t hold the outburst back. Calipheni – and that sure as sausages wasn’t her given name! – had been bucking for the role since Theatre Almara had decided to stage Romeo and Juliet in honour of the Brad’s nationwide celebrations. Despite her flirting with Max, and schmoozing with the other cast members, Cali had been blown out of the water by Olive’s audition and Max had had no option but to deny her the lead. Relegated to ‘girlfriend of Tybalt’, Cali had slouched, scowled and snivelled through a month of rehearsals. Olive could see the cow grinning openly in the wings,occasionally simpering at Max who relished the attention.
Under the pitying gaze of Max and malicious wink from Cali, Olive stormed out of the theatre and headed home. She swallowed a couple of painkillers and threw herself into bed. Her dreams were storm-tossed, her sheets knotted enough that she could have scaled them to the fabled balcony. She rolled over, landed squarely on her cast and woke up screaming. Gary raced into the bedroom, hair mussed from sleep – he was on nights and had been unaware of his flat-mate coming back – wearing nought but skimpy boxers. This would normally have set Olive’s heart to gallop, but the searing lightning in her arm had welled water in her eyes and she could barely think, let alone see.
Gary hurried forward, shook a couple of tablets from the bottle next to the bed, poured water and handed her both. Glancing at her cinched in face, pain turning her upon herself, he nodded.
“I’ll put tea on, give you a minute.”
She was grateful, but the initial agony had receded enough to allow her a moment of appreciation as his rear vanished toward the kitchen. One day, she promised herself, I will tell him how I feel, and damn the consequences.
She gave herself five minutes to settle her aching, shattered bones before following Gary to the kitchen. A cup of lemon tea sat on the counter, replete with a good chunk of fresh ginger. Gary grinned and pushed the squeezy bottle of honey to her.
“Isn’t honey good against bacteria?”
“I have a shattered wrist and elbow, not necrotizing fasciiti.”
“Get you!” Gary arched an eyebrow, “Got a role as a nurse?”
“I wish. Or at least a patient. I can bring my own props.”
She sighed, resting the offending cast on the counter and stirred her tea with a finger.
Gary was good at sensing her moods; it’s what made him her perfect flatmate… and maybe perfect man.
“Aside from being supplanted by Cali as Juliet you mean?”
“Oh, Oli, that sucks. I’ll get the wine.”
“I’ll get the ice cream.”
In a truly Golden Girls moment, they sat opposite each other, large glasses of red to hand, spooning alternately from a massive tub of cookie dough ice cream and methodically began to take apart Max and Cali. The more they drank, the more childish the insults became until they were both crying with laughter, hiccuping and snorting wine everywhere.
“Maybe she’ll just trip over that ridiculous Rapunzel wig she wants to wear and fall arse over tit off the balcony, flattening that narcissistic moron they’re getting in to play Romeo. Two birds, one prat-fall.”
They howled some more, then Gary’s face stilled, his hand reached across the counter and he held her gaze with that level of sincerity only available to the extremely drunk. Slurring happily, he mumbled;
“I think you should kill her.”
“Huh? Gawd, I think that’s a bit much, mate.”
“Nah, you gotta show ’em you don’t take no crap from no director, no tinpot little wannabe. They can’t dictate who’s fit to play Juliet!”
“Death’s a bit overboard!”
Gary leapt up, fell backwards over his stool and landed flat on his behind,laughing all the while. He waved his hands about, conducting some invisible orchestra as he tried to rise, gave it up as a lost cause and grabbed Olive’s ankles. She plopped down beside him, vaguely aware of good fortune as she hit the beanbag he’d missed.
“Wha’s it?” she enquired,leaning a head heavy with wine on his – very broad and muscular she noted – shoulder.
“The dead bit.”
“Can’t really kill her, Gary. I keep tellin’ you!”
“Can kill her career.”
“What you fink would happen if an assident occurred during the big dead bit? Somefin’ that freaked out Lyle McBigstar and embarrassed her so much she’d never set foot on a stage again?”
Drunkenly unaware of his pantomiming furtive peering around the room, Gary began to whisper in Olive’s ear and she sprouted a sozzled, wicked smile.
Three days later, Olive had managed to convince Max and Cali that she was resigned to her fate. She told them she was content to be backstage, making alterations and last minute repairs to the costumes. She was too. Despite the headaches and bleary recall she and Gary had pieced together the drunken plan, honed it and gone online. They’d found the item they’d wanted, read the reviews until they’d found one where almost every client had complained about the fragility of the container and bought a box to twelve. The test – because all plans must be tested, Gary had insisted – proved exactly how perfect their choice had been. Even now, two days after the event, Olive was sure she was still sensing the after-effects.
She draped the elaborate white gown with the faux fur mantle over her lap, took up her scissors and clipped a small hole in the bodice. With a quick look around, certain no-one was watching, she slipped a slender glass vial into the hole and proceeded to sew it closed, adding a fresh row of beads over the patch. They might even help ensure that wicked little prop would smash on cue. Grinning, Olive manoeuvred the dress back onto its hanger, hung it on the rail and went in search of Cali. She wasn’t surprised to find her smothering Lyle McDoogan, star of three series of low budget sci-fi, but a big hit with the ladies – at least in his own mind – and unhappy when Olive sidled up and interrupted.
“Sorry, Cali, but you need to get into costume. Max sent me to find you.”
Cali simpered for another minute or so, Lyle lapping it up and then stalked ahead of Olive back to her dressing room. Olive was only able to hold on to her temper because of her secret, Cali more than happy to treat her like Cinderella, bidding her back and forth with no consideration for her broken state.
Olive saw her through the first two acts and found herself shaking as the final act and the ‘dead scene’ as she had come to think of it thanks to Gary, loomed large. Cali cursed at her when she fumbled the bodice buttons but Olive held tight, battened down her sharp retorts and sent her victim out to her death. She hovered in the wings, scanning the audience, spotting Gary three rows back, a grin plastered across his handsome face and decided tonight would be the night. She returned her attention as the words she awaited floated across the hushed auditorium;
“… Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! And, lips, O you the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss…”
Lyle clasped Cali to his chest and Olive was sure she heard the tiny tinkle as the stink bomb exploded between the lovers. Lyle recoiled, dropping Cali who tumbled onto the floor, her eyes streaming, her face the colour of beetroot as Lyle roared;
“By Christ, what did you eat? You stink!”
Without warning, Cali threw up and Lyle, his boots covered in some vile mix of slimming powder and sushi, returned the favour, unintentionally aiming it straight down Cali’s cleavage. The audience were screaming laughter, Max was an apoplectic purple in the other wings, and Gary caught Olive’s eye, sending her into paroxysms of breathless giggles. The first two rows were rising, falling over each other in their eagerness to get away from the waves of stench rolling off the stage. The fact that they were the invited bigwigs and press was not lost on anyone. Cali now sat in a wailing, stinking heap centre stage as the curtain slowly began to fall.
Olive slipped away, reached the stage door and hurried outside. Gary caught her arm, swept her up, hugged her and then paused;
“… Arise fair Olive, and kill the envious Cali, who is already sick and pale with grief…”
Olive sagged against him, helpless with laughter which only slowed to a halt as Gary caught her chin on his finger, tilted her face to his and whispered;
“It is my lady, it is my love.” before kissing her gently.