Miiiidniiiiight… Not a sound from the pavement…

The Man strode away, hands in pockets as the music on his iPhone barely drowned out the klunk of his boots.  Behind him, the theatre Stage Door light clicked off, plunging the lane into half darkness.

Has the moon lost her meeeeemory?  she is smiling alone…

He sighed, pulling out the earbuds.  Of all the songs to pop up on his playlist, this would be it.

He’d felt at once exhilarated and exhausted after almost four hours on stage.  Hobnobbing and taking selfies with well wishers left him a bit antsy too, still pent up with adrenaline.  He’d decided to head back to the rented flat, walk it off, while listening to something relaxing.

With each step, the melody from Cats drained him, leaving him oddly morose.  He sighed again.  There was no help for it.   He clicked off the player and walked on.

A couple breezed past him, racing down a flight of stairs.  He glanced up in surprise, taking in the Southwark Tube station, realizing they were racing past him to catch the last train of the evening.  He looked around in slight confusion. Where could he go? He didn’t want to go home just yet.  After a few moments of thought, he turned onto Blackfriars Road and headed towards the Thames.  Yes, contemplating the water might help him sort things.

He had a problem -actually, two problems.

His cast mate distracted him and not in a good way.  Unknown to her, she grasped and groped his legs and thighs on stage in the most ticklish spots.  He always fought hard not to laugh.  Imagine him breaking into giggles while struggling to be stoic and imposing at the same time.  Breaking down like a silly novice. He’d never live it down.  Even his PR people wouldn’t be able to spin that.

But that wasn’t his worst problem.

He might have laughed at the irony had the situation not been so serious.  Like the character in the song, he remembered a different life too, a life filled with agile young dancers, of which he’d been a part.  But he’s left that behind, gone into drama, and not performed a pirouette in 20 years.

He’d forgotten how to dance.

Not that he needed to actually dance in the play but a lot of the actions required full body balletic movements, something he feared he’d lost.  He’d spent three years walking like he had gonads of stone during his long project and now, he wasn’t sure he could shake that.  Watching his young 23 year old cast mate dance circles around him in their scenes had been a revelation and a wake up call.  She was so spry, bouncing off chairs, slinking under his to grab his legs – she couldn’t be more graceful.  And the rest of the cast spoke volumes with each movement and gesture.  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to hit that old balletic stride.  He felt rusty, oafish, clunky in comparison.

A jolt at his shoulder. He muttered a reflexive “excuse me” before noting that he’d reached the river at Blackfriars Bridge.   He took the stairs down to the bankside and continued walking east until St. Paul’s majestic dome came into view. Walking over to the railing, he gazed at the London nighttime skyline of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, and city skyscrapers in the distance. The river sloshed in a calming rhythm but did little to settle his nerves.  He gazed up into the night sky, too bright from the city lights to reveal any stars.  He sighed.  His people said he was the “star” but he didn’t feel like one.  He couldn’t even keep up with the portrayal by a girl still in drama school.  He was sure she’d noticed his rusty style – gonads of stone.  Had the rest of the cast?

He thumped the railing in frustration.  Him – an ex-dancer!  It was just too outrageous.

He’d have to get himself together, unlearn the last three years.  Didn’t they know that he was Macavity?   He was a CAT in his former stage life!  Fingers raking his hair, he thought hard.  His teachers told him the best refresher was to go back to basics.  Then that’s what he would do then.  Oh, he’ll show them – he just needed to get the tights and leotard back on to get himself into that right frame of mind again.  He had to set himself FREE again.  Yes, that was it.  He’d go home and get the tights…the whiskers… yes, it was all coming back to him now. He’d practice up a storm.

Running back up the embankment steps, he hailed a cab, his face wreathed in a smile.

Macavity Cat, Macavity Cat, Macavity Cat come out tonight!!!


25 thoughts on “Midnight

  1. I love this! That you took one comment from one anonymous person and put this all together. And it makes such sense. I am mad for this. And the tickles were pretty funny, too.

    • Thanks so much Perry! Yes, some of the less favorable comments about “weak movement” got me thinking: what if The Man thought that too? The great thing about fiction – anything can happen and usually does. *twirls evil mustache*

  2. Now I truly believe you are in the mind of the Man – he gets into mine as a muse. I’ve just had an eerie deja vu because: 1) For weeks I have been Google Map virtually walking from the Old Vic to Blackfriars Bridge and back because of where I’m staying for the Crucible and I don’t want to get lost; 2) A few hours ago I saw a Tweet that a new production of CATS is coming to London’s West End in December. When I read it, I wondered what memories this announcement might bring to Richard. Would he ever think about performing in a musical again? And now here’s your post. Andrew Lloyd Webber is writing a new song for rum Tum Tugger …

    • Welcome Sahra! That’s funny; I too used Google maps to plot The Man’s path. It’s that an awesome medium? A new production of Cats? I didn’t know that the show ever closed! It’s good that Webber is refreshing things with a new song. After roughly 30 years?, audiences will like something new.

  3. Lee Pace has said that tall people don’t dance, its just not right. As a tall person, I agree. Lol.

  4. Lovely! Ah! After the adrenaline of a dramatic performance, a person must be so keyed up. A walk in the cool night air seems both refreshing and a great way to “clear away the cobwebs”. And dancing a pirouette! I bet he still looks dynamite in his tights!

    • I really can’t see The Man falling into bed so soon after the adrenalin has been pumping for four hours. Some balletic dancing should do him well, don’t you think? 😉

  5. Loved this! Nicely done, Judi!
    (What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of his flat as he dons that leotard and tights … 😉 )

  6. I love all your stories, but this one is brilliant! It’s just missing… Pics…:D

  7. Judiang, I am pretty new, but this may be my favorite from “The Man” so far!
    I’m sure no one else would think he had “gonads of stone” – but with the other crazy stuff he says, he probably could! lol
    And I bet being on stage does take him back to dancing days.
    Beautifully done, thanks.

    • Thanks SH! I enjoy borrowing from reality to create something fictional and humorous. Have you read any of the other stories? It’s under The Man Series tag on in the right hand column. 🙂

  8. This was so cute. I relatively new to your site as well, and you definitely have a great connection to the man. So I guess he has to trade in his stone gonads for ones of the feline persuasion. I wonder if they will be big enough?

    • Thank Kathy. I love channeling my fictionalized impressions for this character. I image the gonads will have to be bouncy and light to keep him light on his feet. 😉

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