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April 15, 2024

Love in the Theatre

By Alun Evans

The writer enters the scene with hidden despair. He eases his swollen marked elbows into the decrepit, uncomfortable seats. Holes rot along the protruding bony arms of the sinking vessel as a loud squeak itches annoyed glances from the heavy silhouettes in front. He coughs distractedly, looking around the small theatre for the first time since blindly entering from the dirty howling night. A large bronze statue of the crucifixion, with hurried red acrylic blood splashes, looks down at the proceedings with a hurtful stare that cause the dripping writer even more discomfort. This is surprising to the writer himself, who, after covering fatalities weekly for the local paper, finds himself shaken by a statue no less. Other than this intimidating sculpture of Man, the features appear typical of any low rent theatre; a small modest stage with failing lights and numerous ill painted backdrops of towns and countryside. A shipyard exists in faded greys and ending blues. Another backdrop resembles Hell (or what the writer knows of Hell), heavy handed slashes of oranges and yellows, and red, the same red as leaks from the statue's bare feet and open, beckoning hands. Sitting beside the writer to the left appears a dark bearded, well-dressed man who looks over, smiling gold teeth at the unnerved writer who quickly bows his head and looks to the right of him as a young woman with pure flowing black hair sits steadily down next to him.

A swift smile momentarily engaged before a swaggering youth with heavy features slides in noisily beside the girl, arm hooked tight around her neck. He looks over, broken nosed, eyes weighing on the writer's own tired drooping pupils. The writer replies with another quick bow and proceeds to stare fixedly at the unopened screen ahead, sweat popping slightly from his parted, slightly greying hair.

The curtains begin to rise as the subdued lights fade out to darkening black. The audience's quiet conversations dwindle to silence as a slight light appears from the floor, highlighting figures in dark cloaks huddled around a flowing paper fire, as wind howls through crackled speakers hidden above the corners of the stage.

The writer narrows his eyes slightly as he again looks sideways to the raven engulfed in muscled brow to his left. She is staring passionately at the screen as it erupts into loud dramatic violence, quick gasps as the cloaked figures fall rhythmically before the bold blonde hero of the piece. The violence is much louder than any violence witnessed in the life of the writer as still moving skeletons lay below the bellowing lines spewed at the quiet audience. Her partner, tattooed in his innocent primitive snarl, is laughing at the overworked heroic performance as she tuts embarrassedly and whispers for his silence.

The writer begins to dwell on his single life of happiness, suddenly distorted into a strange feeling of inexperienced loneliness brought on by the sight of this oddly matched couple.

Somehow the passion felt by this dark angel, this holder of young naive beauty, travels the few inches from her body to his. His fingers begin to tingle and he becomes immersed in the play, which is by all logical accounts (as well as judging from the audience's heavy booing/petting sounds), quite terrible.

As the primitive bestial laughs of the partner continue, the writer again peers to his side at the wide-eyed woman of infinite black. Only this time, her dark pupils stare back into his and he finds himself trapped in black pools of light.

The moment is silent and oblivious, ticking away as Christ holds the empty partner's attention below, on scenes of tragedy and love. The writer wonders what she's thinking as startlingly she smiles pure polished bone, slight dimples indicating mischievously held passion as he pulls his stone stare away to less dangerous visions of chaotic slaughter whilst chaotic laughter swims around the audience.

"I sense the attraction between you."

The grated voice shocks the writer in its sincere tone, leaking from the gold smile beside him to the left. The statement is directed entirely to the writer, too quiet for the girl to hear, too loud to be mistaken as being directed to any other person other than the startled writer.

The writer, hearing these words, looks upon the bearded man now leaning over the screeching leather veins below to stare directly into his shaken searching face. Though he does not understand the simple sentence completely, to check he his in fact still sane and that the voice did actually come from the strange character to his left, the writer stutters quietly, "What ... what do you mean to say?"

This question is replied to very definitely by the man who continues to stare searchingly at the writer's worried face, smiling slightly through his darkening beard at the writer's sweating wet blue eyes, "The girl is obviously attracted to you as much as you to her. Look at her innocent interest," he motions with red-gloved hand towards her oblivious interest at the play that continues. "You do not see it?" he questions, as the writer sees no positive signals from the blackened beauty. Signs so apparently obvious to this strange man to his left.

"I see nothing but a girl fixed with some hairy ape who I cannot help but despise, primarily due to having a longing for this girl I have not yet felt in my entire lifetime," he comments, unaware of how he let himself reveal such private information to this man he has only just met. It is as if he has no will in whether he wishes to explain this lust he feels, as if the physical abruptness of his feelings has entered into his mind, destroying any pretences he wishes to carry into this conversation. Who else, thinks the writer, uses phrases such as "my entire lifetime" in his second line to a complete stranger while feeling like he can trust this well-dressed man utterly with his secreted thoughts and emotions?

Though the man is obviously well dressed, his age appears much less easy to see. As a rough guess, the writer concedes he must be anywhere from his early twenties to his late forties. The writer realises the ridiculousness of this equation, yet cannot help but take into account how youthfully handsome the man's face appears in his dark-haired curiosity and boyish sly smile. Yet looking into the man's face more closely, the writer sees the knowing wisdom of an old man's turbulent years and fantastic dark adventures wrapped around his greying hazel, tired eyes. The writer is again startled as his reverie is interrupted by the beard's slow moving words.

"I could not help thinking how you could find love, right here and now. Or you could throw it away, right here and right now, for the sake of a few bruises, possibly an interesting scar or two, all because the tattooed "hairy ape" has a solid scowl and a belief that he could ever tame such a girl to love him as she loves you."

The writer, though very much aware of how absurd this man's predictions seem to be, cannot help but feel persuaded in the tone that the beautiful girl to his right is in fact in love with him as much as he lusts for her pale bright eyed skin.

In this thought the lights rise as reality resumes amongst the idle chatter and littered floor of the theatre. The girl and her partner head into a dark arched doorway that leads off to the small bar as the writer looks steadily, questioningly, at the bearded man who sits looking back, equally questioning. The man nods with sincere eyes as the writer quickly heads from his seat to the dark doorway. As the doorway looms, the lighter room seems to grow quieter as murmurings of people chattering sink into a dull humming and faces become blurred into one another, a soft collage of flesh and watches and shoes and trainers, all welded together as one. The writer looks to his left just before entering the doorway and sees the backdrop of Hell he had first seen when he entered the old theatre. The red acrylic splashes seem much more realistic up close. The painted fires seem to rise and singe his watering eyes as he looks intently at the background's detailed depictions of muscular demons commanding naked skinny men around what appears to be a large black pit. He looks further to his left to see the large statue of Christ, still hung in eternal pain above the small fake world of materials created to look like the real world. The bronze eyes of the statue, the statue of Christ, seem to look at him with a pleading love he only ever saw when he told his hard labouring father his wish, his desire, to become a writer when he was aged only ten years old.

He continues unperturbed towards the doorway, which is too dark to see through to the other side. The doorway seems to be as far away in front now as the bearded silhouette is behind and it takes him what seems like hours before he reaches the darkness.

He edges through the wooden frame to a deafening roar of chatter and bawdy beer-filled laughter as he scans the crowded room in an effort to catch the quiet black amidst the anecdotes and innuendos he sees swarming around him.

The goddess swirls her locks tightly as she waits at the bar for the drinks while her partner unloads the many previous drinks already bubbling inside his barrelled stomach. The writer has now spotted her alone and stands transfixed at the beauty of her hair spiralling against the beer soaked, glossy wooden bar. She sees his eager glance and, against all odds, she smiles as he approaches her.

"I ... I ..." he stutters heavily as the sweat burns his eyes, sending the blurred goddess into a swirl of black and red. Desperate in his love and persuaded by the earlier comments of the sharply bearded figure he decides to forsake any kind of conversation and instead holds out his rough worn hand to the delicate pale fingers of the goddess. To his continuing surprise she takes his hand strongly, her hand gradually enveloped into his sweated palm. He leans towards her excited, frightened face and their lips touch in a slow, quiet movement.

The writer's mind whirls in a million thoughts and he becomes surrounded in black raven dreams. His life is now, the exact present is wonderful and nothing is expected. He closes his eyes in the continuing moment as a red light slides from the base of his spine upwards. He straightens in a scream as the pain courses his entire body, as unimaginable as the happiness he just felt.

The muscled tattooed knife demon stands over the bleeding figure as chaos erupts in the bar, people screaming for police and fear. The raven looks on slowly weeping as the writer opens his eyes to the bearded smiling man who stands to his left. "Why?" he asks the grinning figure looming powerfully over the crying man whose job was as a writer. "Why?" he asks again in overwhelmed human anguish.

The gold teeth open to answer as the writer looks on, wide-eyed and still crying at the large, well dressed figure. But no answer comes from the rich grin as the writer continues to weep into the opening floor, only a hollow laugh that echoes along the writer's tired sinking skull.

Article © Alun Evans. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-01-08
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