Final Call

By: Terri Reid


Prologue



“Idiots! Nothing but no-talent, pedestrian, second-class thespian wannabes!” Faye McMullen stood center stage, her high-pitched shrieks echoing against the auditorium walls of the historic Winneshiek Theater in downtown Freeport.

The cast of the current play stood transfixed on the stage, all staring at their leading lady.

“You!” she screamed, pointing to an elderly woman near the edge of the stage. “Twice you have walked across the stage in front of me when I was delivering my lines. If you do that one more time, I will push you into the orchestra pit.

“And you,” she continued, turning towards a middle-aged woman sitting in a chair, stage right. “I don’t give a damn about your children and their needs. If you can’t be at a rehearsal on time, with your lines memorized, you have no business trying out for a part in a play.”

She turned to a young man trying to hide his large girth behind the bureau that was stage left. “You, fatty,” she taunted. “Perhaps you could come to rehearsal without the smell of onions and garlic on your breath.

“And,” she paused for a moment, “it would be a real treat for the rest of the cast if you took a shower on occasion, so we don’t have to smell you before we even see you.

“And you,” she sneered, bearing down on a young woman in her late teens. “I don’t know what misguided fool told you that you could act. But, sweetie, if I were you, I’d think about changing my major. Perhaps you ought to be someone’s secretary. You can make coffee, can’t you?”

The young woman dissolved into tears and ran from the stage, the sounds of her footsteps running up the stairs to the Green Room echoing behind her.

Faye turned back to the rest of the cast and crew. “Get out of my sight,” she screamed. “You all disgust me.”

The dozen or so men and women eagerly left the stage and followed the young woman upstairs.

Faye walked to the center of the stage. “I don’t know why I continuously allow myself to be subjected to such imbeciles.”

“Perhaps it’s her fun-loving, generous spirit,” Carl White whispered to Donald Saxer, standing next to him at the back of the auditorium watching the rehearsal.

Donald forgot himself and laughed aloud.

Wrath-filled eyes turned toward him. “You dare laugh at me?” she seethed. “You think this is funny? Perhaps your wife and three children will think it’s funny when you are dismissed from your job.”

He blanched as an equal feeling of resentment and fear filled his gut. He looked up at the woman on the stage. Nearly skeletal, she was the epitome of the saying, “You can’t be too rich or too thin.” Her bleached blond hair swirled around her shoulders and looked out of place on the fifty-plus year old woman. She wore a silk caftan and flowing silk pants Donald knew cost more than a month of his paychecks. Her fingers held rings with jewels worth a king’s ransom, her skin was perpetually tanned and her face had been tightened so many times, he was sure that if she sneezed with any gusto it would split in half. She was one of the wealthiest women in town and used her wealth and position like a yoke around the neck of the entire community.

“No, Faye. I mean Ms. McMullen,” he said. “I wasn’t laughing at you. It was...”

“I don’t care what it was, moron,” she spat. “I will visit your employer on Monday morning.”

“Just a minute, Faye,” Carl interrupted, “you can’t destroy a man’s livelihood over a stupid amateur play.”

“And that’s the problem with you, Carl,” she said, walking to the edge of the stage. “You don’t take this art form seriously. It doesn’t matter where the stage is, the only thing that matters is the art.”

“You can’t ruin a man because he shared a difference of opinion with you,” Carl argued. “Besides, it wasn’t his fault, it was mine.”

“Oh, so you think you can laugh at me too?” she asked, her pencil-thin eyebrows lifting over her sharp, piercing eyes. “What do you think your dear wife would say if she knew about the fling you had with our little rising starlet?”

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