Roger’s dreams troubled him upon waking early Sunday morning. His palm ached. The insubstantial slice from a theatrical prop dagger. In his dream the blade was real. Waltzcrop, with devilish pleasure, plunged the entire wicked thing straight through Roger’s palm, blood flying, the howl of coyotes running free on the hills capturing the heavy red scent. He swore his hand grew heavy, leaden as he made coffee to face the day. His sleepy gaze resting on the blinking light of his answering machine. Instead of listening to more vitriol, he pressed the delete button and the blinking stopped. Those who wanted the play so badly, would receive a copy today. Soon, he had no memory of his disturbing dreams.
Roger spent the next hour planning, rain a constant companion, counting the copies of The Queen’s Idle Fancy, worried he’d not ordered enough. He’d left copies for the three young ladies behind the counter of the print shop on a hopeful whim—must fill the nonspeaking roles, the pages, pigeon keepers, laundry women, cooks, hunters, and farmers, their starving wives and daughters, sons, brothers who turn into a hungry mob. The three girls were locals all, newly graduated and holding down jobs in town, something to be proud of, and he encouraged them to make it to the first audition. (He didn’t hear one of them laugh after his departure and the other saying she felt creeped out by him just standing there talking about a musty old play. How he stared at them. “Gave me the shivers.” Still, almost as if compelled to do so, and despite their playful devious gossip, all three took a copy of the play home to read.) He imagined a series of auditions throughout the month of January, winnowing the players, the major and the minor cast members, down to the perfect gems, shining facets.
Here is your mark. This is your moment. Make it count.
There was so much to prepare for. Firstly, he placed all of the copies of the play in a waterproof bag, and set that in a large cardboard Avocados carrying box he’d kept from his last trip to Costco. Who demanded a copy? Kate. She was the only person on his list this morning. The other copies he imagined sprinkling about town like a jaunty elf, gifting them to those he held in high esteem. Morton and Sally after Kate. They’d been acting strangely around him and maybe he could convince them to go out again that evening or Sunday night for beer at The Brown Lantern. Catch up. They’d been so taken with their initial reading. And, secondly, he tucked the dagger, the prop, the gift from Waltzcrop, into the large front pocket of his winter coat. He imagined taking it out and sharing it with Morton and Sally. Scaring the mighty Kate Denisov with it, as he had been scared.