Above the Stars and the Gods


Above the Stars and the Gods He sat on the catwalk high up in the theatre, above the highest tier of seating, the ‘Gods’, above the maze of scaffolding and gantries that held the multitude of lights that were his job to attend to. Of course he shouldn’t be working up here by himself with regulations as they were but his co-worker, Al, was a lazy character and was forever ‘just popping out for five minutes’ which normally turned into at least an hour and sometimes lasted until the performance began. He didn’t mind, he liked the solitude and generally had the initial checks all done in half the time. His legs dangled over the edge, a hundred and twenty foot drop below to the seats of the auditorium and his safety harness lay uselessly unsecured on the metal walkway beside him. Looking down through the criss-cross patterns of the lighting rigs and past the huge noise dampeners to the stage below he could see the dancers going through their paces circling around the ‘Star’ like some echo of the solar system albeit written in a microscopic scale. She had seemed quite genuine when she had first come on the scene five years ago but now she played the Prima Donna just like all the other performers who graced the boards below. He pulled the battered pack of cigarettes from one of the many pockets in his cargo shorts and shivered a little as he felt a trickle of sweat run down his spine. He glanced at the huge Air Conditioning units that hung from the black painted ceiling on thin rods idling at minimum. A pair of ear phones circled his neck waiting for the main performance when the volume of sound even above the noise dampeners would be deafening, literally. Pulling out a disposable lighter he lit up his cigarette safe in the knowledge that the smoke detector above him was covered. He continued to watch the intricate patterns the dancers and stars wove around the multi-levelled stage against the back drop of a large graffiti scrawled curtain. He always wondered how each and every one of them could keep track of their positions and speed with relevance to all the other bodies on stage. He supposed the music and a lot of practice helped. A tiny echo of a shout or scream managed to reach his ears past the dampeners and he looked down once again. One of the dancers lay sprawled at the feet of the ‘Diva’ who was busily shouting at the prostrated figure. A few seconds later and the Star stormed from the stage. He wondered how many times in the few years since he had worked at the venue had he watched almost identical scenes of posturing. He tried to remember her first breakthrough song but it eluded his thoughts. It had been soft and haunting but now she had been swallowed by the PR machine it all seemed hard and sexual. Like so many before her she had believed those within the record industry and who was he to say they weren’t right, sex sold vinyl or silicon discs now. He grinned to himself as he realised he didn’t honestly know what CD’s were made off. He finished his cigarette and pulled an empty carton from another pocket and placed the stubbed out end inside it. The rest of the dance troupe were milling about the stage, a couple of suits were issuing instructions and he imagined those ‘second-rate’ performers (at least in the eyes of the record companies shareholders) muttering beneath their breath. The tell-tale ‘clink’ of a lamp dying sounded from his left and he looked across at the continually strobing lights searching for the one that remained dark. It was almost a minute before he located it and made his way to the store against the wall and selected a replacement. **** Out on the scaffolding bars that held the spot lights he hooked his leg through the ladder-rack of the lighting rig; his safety harness still useless hooked onto his shoulder so it was out of the way and unplugged the offending arc light before twisting it upwards and removing the barn shutters and glass cover to get at the ‘blown’ lamp. It was still fairly warm as he pulled it from the socket and dropped Ataşehir escort bayan it into the net hanging from his left hip. Putting a clean glove on his right hand he slipped the fresh lamp from the identical net on his right hip slipping it easily into place. Another two minutes and the spot was operational once again as he twisted around carefully on the rig to begin moving back towards the relative safety of the walkway. A shadow moved and he looks across the twenty feet of empty air. It was too small to be Al and he figured his partner was probably snoozing somewhere else within the building. Maybe he should attach his harness to the overhead sliding hook before moving forward in case it is some H can you slip out to the small coffee shop just around the corner in St. Martins Lane in about an hour?” “Sure… can you?” She stepped up close to him and gave him a conspiratorial wink, “I have a cunning plan!” for a moment she hesitated and then gave him a quick peck on the cheek which actually made him blush harder than when he thought she was telling him off. She reached beside him and pulled open the door and almost instantly reverted to her previous alter-ego, “Do your damned job right and you might keep it!” she bellowed and turned away as one of the company men, a particularly wimpy figure, ushered him out with a look of absolute disdain on his face. It took all of Lou’s self control not to knock him out there and then. **** He sat in the coffee shop looking out onto St. Martins Lane watching the commuters rushing home and the tourists ambling by. Sipping on his black coffee he wondered if some scientist somewhere had ever done a flow analysis of such an urban scene. He worked a few figures through his head from the Mathematics Degree he had picked up at university and had never used. Once he would have been able to do the rough calculations in his head but the spiders had got in and those once much used synapses seemed to be clogged with cobwebs. He took a small serviette from the metal basket sat in the centre of the table and was rifling through his many pockets looking for a pen or pencil when a ‘Parka’ sat down across the table from him with their hood still up. “I’m sorry but I’m waiting for someone…” he said politely as the person opposite pulled down the hood to reveal bright orange hair, “If you don’t mind?” “Oh but I do… Lou” she giggled, “’Do-Lou’ sounds like the beginning of Be-Bop song…” He grinned as he picked out her elfin features beneath the wig and he figured that the Star could definitely do with adding a few pounds, “Master of disguise now as well as acting? If only you could hold a tune?” he grinned. “A real Mata Hari, me!” she paused for a moment and grabbed the serviette from Lou, “You got a pen?” Lou continued searching his pockets till he found the stub of a pencil and Mandy began to scribble a couple of lines. “What would you like?” the voice of the waitress sounded from beside them. Mandy looked up and Lou saw that she was about to recite some dietary based order before her attention turned to the glass fronted counter at the side of the shop. “You know… I’ll have a bacon sandwich please and a cappuccino, please.” “Just another black coffee for me, thank you!” added Lou. The waitress studied Mandy for a couple of moments who simply looked back up at her smiling before she turned away. Her attention came back to Lou, “Well, I’m skiving from school so I may as well rebel completely!” “Today you’ll take St. Martins Lane, tomorrow you’ll take Winchester!” Lou grinned. “A Cohen fan, I’m quite fond of him as well. So, not only are you YouTubing me but you’re Googling me as well!” “You make it sound so sordid!” Lou frowned. “Well between Photoshop and the Paparazzi my Gynaecologist doesn’t need me to visit!” Mandy smiled sadly. “A lot to be said for anonymity… so you’re disguise fooled you’re ‘watchers’?” “Well with the help from Miss Clumsy-” Mandy caught the momentary look on Escort Ümraniye Lou’s face, “You don’t have to be like that… Clarissa now calls me Miss Grumpy and we call all my ‘watchers’ Mr Bland. We’re slowly working our way through the entire cast and crew, though to be honest most of the male dancers tend to fall into the Mr Happy or Pink category or words to that effect!” she said with a grin. “I might as well be a born-again virgin for all the interest they show me!” Mandy unzipped the Parka and revealed a plain blue cotton dress beneath, “Clarissa is in my dressing room enjoying my afternoon siesta and was kind enough to lend me her clothes when I called her in to ‘berate’ her!” Mandy tilted her head, “Odd really Mr Bland seems so much happier when I’m acting like a spoilt child… really hated it when I got him to bring the crates of drink on stage… though he might be more upset later… he’s got no idea why I want a patchwork quilt!” “A patchwork quilt?” Lou asked raising his eyebrow. She grinned broadly, “Don’t you like surprises Lou?” Lou’s mind was racing, “…err… usually!” Mandy blushed, “Oh my… that does sound a little forward…” a small giggle slipped from her mouth as the waitress returned with our order and again stared at the incognito star who happily smiled back. “Sorry… to disappoint it’s for the performance and I’ll need your help… any good at improv’?” “As long as it isn’t mime you want me to do!” Lou laughed, “If it’s to do with lighting I can hold my own.” He kept the fact that he was just a little disappointed secret. “No not mime, don’t worry” replied Mandy. It had been a long time since Mandy had enjoyed a pleasant afternoon just chatting and even longer since she had enjoyed a bacon sandwich with lots of Tomato sauce. Lou enjoyed Mandy as much as he didn’t care for Mysteria; he increasingly found it hard to remember that they were one and the same. She looked up at the clock on the wall and decided it was time she returned to the theatre. Lou felt a pang of sadness as he realised that Saturday, just three days away, would be the final date in London of Mysteria’s ‘Situation Normal All Funked Up’ tour. The entire cast and the Star would be moving on. **** Lou sat on the small seat attached to the main spotlight used to highlight Mandy far below. He still didn’t particularly care for the music but he did watch her with a fascination and during some of the more risqué numbers when she cavorted with her dance troupe he did wish that it was just the two of them somewhere more private. They were about two thirds of the way through the set when she stopped still between songs. He watched fascinated and knew that the ‘surprise’ was coming. Even from his high perch he could see a Mr Bland twitching at the side of the stage just behind the curtain. He saw one of the dancers disappear briefly off stage on the opposite side to Mr Bland and was sure that it was Clarissa who reappeared after a moment carrying the large patchwork quilt which she handed to Mysteria. All of a sudden Lou saw Mysteria disappear and Mandy emerge as she wrapped the quilt around her and sat down in the middle of the stage with the dance troupe sitting down around her as if they were waiting to be told a story. He clicked on his microphone that connected him to Al behind the main lighting control desk, “Cut all the lights Al, just leave me with the spot!” “What? That’s not in the schedule!” grunted Al. “No it isn’t and neither is what is going on down below…pay attention for fucks sake!” Al did as he was told even if officially he was Lou’s boss and Mandy was left in an ocean of darkness as the only source of light sat like a large halo around her. Lou kept the Lux level at about 70% of what the spot could do and narrowed the white light so it only played around the quilt. Mandy looked up and smiled. The light reflected off the quilt like a small dim rainbow, the shadows of the seated dancers just discernable. She closed her Bostancı escort eyes and whispered “Ella is my hero.”Softly she began to sing without music. “There’s a saying old Says that love is blind – Still we’re often told, “Seek and ye shalI find.” So I’m going to seek” It took Lou two lines to remember the song. He had hoped it would be ‘Time to Breathe’ but he was more than happy with the Gershwin classic. Slowly he added a light blue filter to the spot light; it lost most of the rainbow effect but matched the tone of Mandy’s voice. “A certain lad I’ve had in mind. Looking everywhere, Haven’t found him yet; He’s the big affair I cannot forget. Only man I ever Think of with regret. I’d like to add his initials to my monogram.” Lou’s eyes were misting up and he was sure that plenty of others in the audience were as well. He was sure that it wasn’t necessary for Mandy’s voice to be amplified and at least the sound engineer had kept it to a minimum as the entire audience seemed to be holding their collective breath. “Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb. There’s a somebody I’m longing to see I hope that he Turns out to be Someone who’ll watch over me.” She hit the note perfectly and her voice rang out through the theatre. Some of the dancers had edged forward and Lou broadened the beam. A couple lay at Mandy’s feet and some hugged their knees to their chests like small children even with their skimpy outfits. “I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood. I know I could Always be good To one who’ll watch over me. Although he may not be the man some Girls think of as handsome To my heart he carries the key. Won’t you telI him please to put on some speed – Follow my lead – Oh! How I need Someone to watch over me. Someone to watch over me.” Mandy lowered her head and wrapped her arms about it. The theatre was totally silent for at least twenty seconds. Lou lifted his hands and began to clap. Al had started to bring the lights back up and a couple of people below looked up before also beginning to applaud. Within ten seconds the entire audience were on their feet clapping furiously. Slowly Mandy rose and Clarissa came forward and removed the quilt from her shoulders. Lou pulled the normally unused small set of binoculars from one of his pockets and looked down at the Star. Genuine tears were running down her face as she glanced up and mouthed ‘Thank You’. He imagined that the audience near to the front and possibly the troupe thought she may have been thanking God but he whispered back, “No thank you.” He couldn’t help but grin as he saw two of the tall athletic dancers standing either side of Mandy in floods of tears. Once the applause had died down Mandy thanked them all and said “I hope you don’t mind… I could do with a minute or so…” she smiled broadly, “so I can put Mysteria back on, if that’s okay?” The audience nodded and a mixture of voices saying ‘certainly’, you’re welcome’ and ‘please do’s came back. **** The rest of the set carried on as normal though Lou did note an increase in the number of Mr Blands on both sides of the stage. He also listened closer to Mysteria’s singing and if she missed a word or sang a ‘bum’ note he never caught it and all the time with her spinning and gyrating all over the stage. Three encores were called for and she willingly gave them and left to a long standing ovation. She was quickly shepherded by the Blands. Lou took his time and shut down all the systems as Al made his usual early getaway. Grabbing his coat from the staff changing room he headed towards the exit. The Star had been rushed away and the crowds had dissipated. Stepping into the evening the streets they were still busy with cinema goers and sightseers and a quite considerable number of drunks. He lit up a cigarette after coaxing the disposable to give a brief flame and was just about to head for the bus when he saw a figure to one side shuffling from foot to foot dressed in a Parka. “Mandy?” he asked. The figure turned, “No, I’m Clarissa…” she looked Lou up and down and continued, “You have to be Mr Pockets!” Lou grinned despite his disappointment, “I guess I am Miss Clumsy.” Miss Clumsy blushed and stepped forwards handing Lou a small card, she was about to turn away when she stopped and looked up into Lou’s eyes.

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