From where he sat in the front row of the left hand section of the stalls he had trouble watching the actress going through her lines in the first act without seeing up her short skirt. And he did not like it. It made him very uncomfortable. He felt she knew he could see. He felt she manoeuvred herself into a position where he had no option but see. She was standing closer to the edge of the stage than perhaps she was supposed to. He sensed a slight smile almost looking at him even though she was speaking in a tragedy. She was in short teasing him. Of that he was sure.
She was quite young. No more than thirty. Difficult to get a good description. She was blond that much was obvious and she was plastered in makeup. She never really looked his way just towards the stage so he could not clearly see her face. However, the overall impression he got was a girl who was most likely agreeable looking with a cute trim figure. That was about it. At the interval he left. He did not really want to but the embarrassment he was suffering made it impossible for him to stay. But then again, the empty seat beside him suggested a broken date perhaps. So maybe he did not mind leaving after all.
Crispin Smithers was an astute, sensible and well-rounded man. Twenty nine and just completed the rigours of medical training. Now a junior doctor in a large teaching hospital. Enjoying it, possibly, depending on when you ask. After a long strenuous and stressful shift, the answer would be a definite negative. His intelligence a given. His good looks obvious. A well-presented six-footer with all the right attributes and good bits in all the right places. Short brown hair and what some might term a soft face. No hard features here.
The nearest pub was only a brisk ten minutes away and he ended up there just before it rained. Ordered a pint of the best foaming and settled into the corner hoping something would happen. Ten minutes and in popped his mate. Frisky Daniels. Frisky because he is a bubble about to burst. Like the bubble the result of the cork shifting on a bottle of sparkling. Flying anywhere. A random person. Speaks at two hundred miles an hour. You could not tell if he is animated but tonight, he gave as much impression of that as is possible.
“Crispin old fruit hoped you might be lurking in the vicinity.”
“What’s occurring then Frisk old chap. You look a touch damp”
“Pissing. It’s dam well pissing and tonight of all nights.”
“What’s so special then. To be stuffed by a bit of precipitation?”
“A date that’s what. A bloody date. And I’m all messed up. The jacket’s a wet rag and the Barnet is, well it is just a bird’s nest. A bloody bird’s nest.”
“Hang on it’s not that bad. Want a beer?”
“Yeh. Same as you please.”
“Back in a jiff.”
“There you go get that down your neck. When’s this date?”
“Not for two hours at least. Julie. Met her last night, late, after the show down the road. She’s playing some wife or another that ends up dead. Shot in the neck or something. Anyway, she was in the pub and chucked her drink all over me. Made me buy her another. Gin and some other stuff. Can’t remember what. Said it was my fault. Something about rushing and tearing. I don’t know about that. But there you are. We talked and arranged it. For tonight. About eleven. At that pub the what’s it. Down the lane opposite the theatre. Not as close as this. I hope it stops raining. First date got to look good. I suppose. A blond. Cute figure.”
“The Dragon. You mean the Dragon I think.”
“Yes, that’s the chap. Nice place. Where all the theatre boffs go. Cast as well. Landlady’s got an ample chest. Good attraction. You know the one. You said once. About the chest. Anyway, why on your own?”
“She didn’t turn up. Waited outside but a no show. Made me late but went in anyway. Didn’t know her. Had just met her in the cafe, you know the one down near the chippie. We go there for breakfast after work. The night shift. The place was crammed so I sat on her table. She was the only one. I did ask and she said “no problem.” We had a chat, as you do, and she ended saying “got two tickets for the show Saturday night would you like to come?” That was it. Do you know I forgot to ask her name and I’m blowed if I can really remember what she looked like. Dark hair and pretty is about all.”
“Why don’t you come. To the Dragon. There’s sure to be other cast members there. The place is always packed anyway. It’s not a me and her date. Loads of people so you won’t intrude. Come on why not.”
“Well. You sure. About cutting in on your date and all. Don’t want to end up in the way. You know what I mean.”
“No problem Crispy. I’m inviting you so you can’t refuse. Frisk’s rules. No invitation can ever be refused.”
That was it. Frisky brushed his mop and his jacket dried out. It had stopped raining. Took thirty minutes to reach The Dragon. Straight in to the heaving mass of semi-drunk and raucous theatre types. Julie at the bar with several others. All chatting. Loudly to get over the overall row. Everyone boisterous on a Saturday night. The place really buzzing with that middle evening zip when enough has been drunk but not enough to be ruined. She saw Frisky and jumped up a bit waving frantically. Gesticulating to get his attention.
“Over here.” She was yelling. No hope of hearing but the flapping arms caught their attention.
“Hi Julie this is Crispin a fellow Junior dogsbody thingy. Hope you don’t mind me dragging him along. Found him in a dark corner. Looked lost and lonely. So here we are.”
“What’s to mind. We are all here. Most of the cast are somewhere around. Even the got to get home married ones.”
Crispin was staring. Not at Julie. At the girl next to her.
“Why did you not turn up? And what’s your name anyway?”
“Laura. I’m a Laura and I was there you just did not recognise me.”
“Not sure about that. Seem to remember waiting outside then sitting on my ownsome.”
“I was there on stage you saw me all right. I saw you. Enticed you. Made you look.”
“Right. Ok right. But you were blond. Oh, I see a wig. And the reluctance to look my way. I see. I see.”
“I meant to meet you but got stuck in traffic. Explain before we went in. My contract includes the two end seats of the front row left hand stalls. Always for family and friends. You know my guests. So they can see the play. I had the seats free so thought you might like to come. I intended to see you after but you left.”
“Embarrassed is the truth. You kept sticking your backside in my face.”
“You didn’t like it then. I was playing with you.”
“Well I would have liked it. Liked it very much if I had known. The playful thing I mean. Would be ecstatic in different circumstances.”
“Then we will just have to create a situation won’t we. Later maybe. Want a drink. My shout.”