The rest of the productions went off like clockwork. Tray, Amelia, JB, and Tara all came to see the Friday evening show and took me out afterward for a late breakfast-dinner at IHOP. I had hoped to see Holly and Alcide, but I guess he was boycotting. It really sucked, but they met us after dinner in Tara’s field. We got nicely toasted before relaxing in front of the campfire.
That Sunday, I had to get up early and get to school for the community matinee. Sunday was hell on everyone: two shows. I didn’t worry about getting dressed up nicely, because everyone was going to get messy. Sweat combined with stage makeup and multiple performances did not make for a nice atmosphere. Knowing that dust and grime would be flying around, I left my contacts out and wore my glasses and kept my hair in a ponytail. Simplicity at its finest.
I got everyone ready for the first show of the day, but attributed the lack of response by, well, anyone, to pre-show nerves and the heat. After the show started, I went across the street to the ice cream shop and got a peach milkshake. I sat in the shade outside the auditorium and enjoyed my treat and the afternoon breeze.
“Sookie? Sook? You need to wake up.” I opened my eyes to a tall silhouette standing over me. I blinked as I looked around. The sun was closer to the horizon and the parking lot was mostly empty. Fuck. I took the hand that was being held out to help me up. I rubbed my eyes under my glasses. “What time is it?”
“It’s around six. You need to get inside to help get shit done for the next show, right?”
“Umm, yeah.” I focused on my new personal alarm clock. It was Eric. My eyes widened in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“My parents and I took Pam out to a late lunch after the matinee and we’re staying to watch this performance. I know she only has a minor role, but she’s proud. She likes you.”
“She’s sweet, but she certainly doesn’t hesitate to tell you what’s on her mind. I like that,” I said, thinking of some of the conversations I’d had with his sister backstage. “She’s jealous of you.”
“I know, and she’d probably dismember you for telling me that.” I laughed, but he said in a somber tone, “I’m serious,” before he laughed himself.
Before we could say anything more, Rasul came up to me. “Sookie, I was worried. Where did you go?”
I chuckled at myself. “Apparently, I went to sleep. I wanted to enjoy the air while I could. Is everyone back for the second show?”
“Yes. We need to get back inside. Melanie’s frantic trying to get everyone ready by herself.”
“Shit. Sorry. Enjoy the show, Eric,” I said as Rasul and I ran back into the auditorium. As soon as we got backstage, Melanie started shooting me dirty looks. “Sorry, hon. I fell asleep. Long day, ya know?”
“Yeah, I know. Show starts at six-thirty. We need to get everyone ready. Costumes have been handed back out. You get started on the chorus and I’ll work on the leads. It’s make or break time.”
Have I mentioned that Melanie takes her crew job a little too seriously? Make or break? “Mel, why don’t we work on the cast that is on stage first and work on the rest after them? Some cast isn’t even on stage until the end of Act One. We have time for everyone.”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess that makes more sense. Okay, Workhouse cast up first,” she called and I took care of getting the “orphans” suitably grimy while she got the leads dolled up.
We worked our way through the scenes chronologically until the whole cast was done up. This was why I liked having an organized area. If I accidentally fall asleep between shows and wake up half an hour before show time.
The performance was a success and the cast had to take several bows. I always liked the last show. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment to see it through to the end. We congratulated the cast as they came backstage to change out of their costumes and makeup. A lot of the cast had friends and family join them backstage so it was loud and chaotic. Rasul found me and spun me around, kissing me. I laughed when he put me down. “So are you going to the cast party?” I asked. One of the other good things about working on the crew was the party after the last show. You may not know it from their looks, but these drama kids knew how to throw down, given the opportunity.
“Of course. Makes all the hard work worth it. Will you come with me?” he asked and I had to grin,
“Absolutely. Why don’t you get out of character and I’ll meet you at your car,” I said as I started to get everything reorganized so it would be easy to put away when we broke set.
He went to remove his makeup and get out of costume. I turned to get back to work cleaning and ran face first into a soft wall. I backed up, rubbing my forehead, and saw Eric. Again. He put his hands on my shoulders to keep me from moving past him. I huffed. “Eric, I have work to do. What do you want?”
“Why are you avoiding me?” he asked and I felt my eyes widen in surprise.
“I’m not avoiding you. We don’t hang out together. We would have to do that before I could avoid you. I’m simply going about my day as you go about yours. Our paths don’t cross,” Ego much, Mr. Popularity?
“You know what I mean. I thought after the party..,” he trailed off and I know shock flickered across my face before I met his gaze. I pulled him into a corner and kept my voice at a low hiss.
“The party? The same one that I came to stoned out of my gourd and bummed cigarettes off some cocky motherfucker? Oh, and that same cocky motherfucker got freaked out by the fact that I’m a virgin and left me stranded in the fucking woods? Yeah, I remember walking the fuck home from that party. Nothing else happened. Am I missing something?” I dared him to say anything else.
“Nothing else happened? Are you shitting me?” he asked in an incredulous whisper.
“No, seriously. Am I forgetting something important? Did anything life changing happen at this fucking party that would cause me to suddenly start crossing your path more then I have in the past. Or that would cause me to avoid you? Because nothing that I can recollect even causes a blip on my radar. I think I have pretty good recall of that night. Am I missing something?” I asked. I wanted to know what he was thinking, because, honestly, I was able to recall that night perfectly. Other than some heavy making out, seriously rounding third base and about to slide into home before he freaked out and left, there was nothing that would cause me to alter my daily patterns.
“Sookie, you know more happened than that,” he started, then his face locked down. Rasul put his hand on my shoulder.
“Are you ready to go? We’re starting the party at Applebee’s so we can eat.” he said and I smiled at him, hoping it didn’t look too fake.
“Absolutely. Let’s go. Eric, tell Pam congratulations on her hard work. She’s a sweet girl,” I said as I walked away with Rasul’s arm around my waist.
We went and ate dinner with the rest of the cast, the director picking up the tab. That was the “official” (read: school sanctioned) cast party. The real party was afterward and only involved the high school cast and crew. As necessary as the younger cast members were to the production, it was generally accepted that they were too young for some of the activities that went on afterward.
Lafayette Reynolds, who played Fagin, had a large barn on his family’s property that had been renovated and wired to that it was the perfect place to hold a party. Shortly after the cars pulled in, music was blaring and disco lights were flashing. Laffy pulled me from the wall and started dancing with me.
“Suga, what’s goin’ on wich you and the Spanish bon-bon over there?” he asked while spinning me around.
I laughed. “We’re having a good time. He’s sweet.”
“Honey, the looks he givin’ you when you ain’t lookin’ are more than ‘sweet’. He look like he just want to eat you whole!”
“Laffy!” I squeaked. “He does not!”
“Take a look next time you face his direction and you tell me he don’t want you six ways from Sunday,” he said with a smirk and spun me again. Sure enough, Rasul was watching us with what could only be called a “hungry” expression.
I couldn’t believe Mom had talked me into this. But I was going to try being a better brother to Pam, seeing as how we were going to be at the same school for the first time in years in the fall. And I knew this drama stuff was important to her. God knew that she had put up with our parents coming to games of mine whenever they could and she was enjoying her time in the limelight.
We picked her up from the school after the afternoon show and took her to lunch. She talked about the different cast and crew members that she has made friends with and was looking forward to seeing more of them once she started high school. She was especially taken with Sookie and wouldn’t stop talking about her.
After lunch, we drove her back so she could get ready for the evening performance and I wandered around outside, not really wanting to be cooped up in the old, stuffy auditorium just yet. I was enjoying the late spring warmth, with just a hint of evening coolness, when I saw the last thing I expected. Against the brick, in the corner between two buildings, was a sleeping blond. I walked over and saw it was Sookie, back in her glasses and ponytail. In a way, it was endearing. I felt more comfortable around this version of Sookie. The dressed-to-kill, insanely hot Sookie made me tongue-tied.
I tapped, then lightly shook her shoulder, trying to wake her. “Sookie? Sook? You need to wake up,” I said softly. I didn’t want to spook her. She opened her eyes and looked around, confused. She asked the time as I held out my hand to help her off the ground. I told her and explained why I was at the school on a Sunday evening. We talked about Pam and it was the most natural conversation I had ever had with her. And then the Spanish dickhead and to come up and ruined everything. She told me to enjoy the show while she ran off with him to get backstage.
I watched the show with my parents and, for a high school production, it seemed very well done. The cast was good and at the curtain call, my dad walked up and gave Pam a bouquet of roses. She told us that friends and family could come backstage after the last show and we followed her down the back stairs.
I heard a squealing giggle and saw Sookie spinning in the arms of that asshole, kissing him. Why did that bother me? I had asked myself that very question multiple times over the past week and was never able to give myself a satisfactory answer. He went into one of the other rooms and she starting organizing things with a sappy smile on her face. I walked closer and she ran into me.
I asked her why she was avoiding me. Huh? The explanation of how she couldn’t avoid me since we didn’t have any kind of relationship that involved any kind of contact was perfectly logical. When I asked about the party, her bright blue eyes got stormy and she pulled me over into a corner away from eavesdroppers. She let me have it about how she thought I was a cocky motherfucker and an asshole for leaving her in the woods. Well, I agreed with that sentiment one hundred fucking percent. It had been eating at me all week. I know I’m not the nicest guy, but I knew I was better than that. I had been flustered and off my game. But to say that nothing had happened that caused a “blip on her radar” blew my mind. I had taken her virginity and it was nothing? We needed to talk and I needed to figure out why the fuck this was messing with my mind so much when, again, the damn asshat from the Old World came to take her away. I watched them walk towards his car together and I wanted more than anything to shove him through a fucking wall.
Pam was going to Applebee’s for the cast party and would get a ride home from there. I rode home with my parents and holed up in my room to finish up some homework. It was useless though. I couldn’t think about anything but her.
Rasul claimed for a slow dance when the song changed and Lafayette let me go with a knowing smirk on his face. He wrapped his arm tightly around my waist and held me close. He kissed and sucked on my neck, making my knees wobbly and pulse stutter. He maneuvered us into a dark corner and began kissing me in a way that he hadn’t yet. These kisses were hard and passionate. I returned them with enthusiasm.
I had to be honest with myself. I knew that this thing with Rasul wasn’t going to be anything permanent. Point A: I had never had any kind of relationship before. Point B: after graduation, he was going back to Spain, five thousand miles away. There’s long distance relationships, but then there’s just ridiculous. Point C: I was fifteen freaking years old. That’s too young for anything serious. But, there was nothing wrong with having a little bit of fun.
I pulled him over to one of the random thrift-store love seats that Laffy had scattered though out and we started making out in earnest. My hands were tangled in his dark, wavy hair and his hands roamed my body. He slid his hands under my t-shirt and tentatively palmed my breasts. “God, Sookie, you are so beautiful,” he whispered into my neck.
Nope, nothing at all wrong with having a little bit of fun.