We were in the parking lot, behind the theater. The members of the cast were trickling in, ignoring us. It was a couple of hours before show time. Adolescence revisited.

I said to Althea, in my best gutteral whisper. “I thought I was your show fuck!”

“And I yours,” she said.

“Then why Jerry?”

“Why Lana?”

“You fucked Jerry first.”

“You wanted to fuck Lana first!”

“I did not.”

“Did so.”

Both of us were spitting words at a furious pace, but trying to keep it down. The acoustics in the parking lot were almost as good as inside.

“I never gave it a thought until I saw you in there with Jerry all over your hands.”

“Oh, yes you did. She’s had the hots for you for weeks! Why do you think she gave you that job? She could have stuck you in a park somewhere, picking up trash. And I’ve seen you staring into those big, batty eyes of hers.”

“So what’s wrong with that?”

“So what’s wrong with Jerry? You don’t think I know what’s on your mind? Remember, I’m just like you!”

“You’re not like me! We’re totally different. Totally!”

“Bullshit. We’re just on different cycles.”

“We’re all different. We’re human beings first, manic-depressives second.”

“Dream away!” she said.

And she walked away, hard and fast.

The sun set, crickets chirped, the audience crashed the scene, and Althea took the stage. Like Jerry, she had them too in the palm of her hands, radiated all that confidence, belted out those numbers, got them clapping away. At intermission, I went downstairs and into the women’s dressing room, walked right up to her. Lana, Miss Community Service, and two other women, left the scene when they saw the way I charged at Althea. Althea, with all that make-up on, was wearing her white slip. She was in the midst of her costume change. She sat down, crossed her legs, and examined her face in a tiny hand-held mirror.

“You shouldn’t be doing this to me now,” I said. “You know how vulnerable I am right now.”

“Get over it,” she said.

“I don’t want to get over it.”

“Then get out! See me after the show.”

All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air. With one big enormous… This chick had gotten to me in a big way. Watching her out there performing, playing the entertainer of the masses, having had the pleasure of those performances myself, privately, within the confines of my own pad. She was getting the best of me now and I didn’t want to let go. Ol’ Jerry Baker didn’t give a shit. He was just hopping from one leading lady to the next.

So was it over? It looked that way, but was it? Really? After all the hoopla had played itself out? After the theater emptied? The set struck? The cast kissy kissied back to their routines? Then what? Her stuff was still at my place, right? Our histories still intertwined in a more personal sphere, right? Even now, this night, after this mid-week performance, and the encore party – she could still abandon Jerry and return to my place, make things the same again, right?

Encore was the word for it. Althea, having brought them to their feet for another standing ovation, blew me off after the show, took off to the party with Jerry. I rode with Lana, returned to her place again, fucked her in the same mild mannered way as before – gazed into those beautiful eyes and slobbered, wished there was more life there, wished she was the leading lady – wished she was Althea.

Damn, damn, damn.

The only thing to do now was to ride it out. Play the theater game for a few more days, wait for the dust to settle after the final curtain call.

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