After what is seemed like hours going over a “So called menu” George looked pleadingly at Jan. “OK George”, she offered willingly, “You do have choices. We vegan’s, aren’t insensitive to meat eaters, you know,” she quipped. “Do I detect a teensy bit of sarcasm?” he mumbled. “Now come now George!” Paul interjected. “Here look! This one, features a sun-dried tomato walnut “meat”, shredded kale, salsa, spiced tomato rice, green onions, black beans, and humus. Divine!” George cringed at the very thought of walnut meat. “I’ll have a large salad I think, Paul. That’ll do the trick for me, but thanks.” “For you madame number 2? ” Yes thankyou” smiled Jan. The waiter turned his attention to Paul. “Sir?” “I’ll have what she’s having.” He gestured to Jan. “But hold the nuts.” He instructed. “Very nice” the waiter agreed.
“Well!” Jan sighed, “Here we are.”
“George darling! There you are. What does a girl have to do to pin you down?” came a familiarly, sweet voice behind him. “Pam! Hi! Where’d you come from?” he faltered, “I meant to say, long time no see.” He panicked, as he glanced at the smirk on Jan’s face. “Yes! Too long I’d say. It’s so good to see you after so many years. Still as handsome as ever.” she glowed. Jan began to giggle, and quickly covered up behind her napkin. Paul was in awe. What’s this guy got that I don’t, he thought. Paul stood up and quickly introduced himself extending his hand. Hi, I’m Paul, he offered. “So, George do you have plans for this evening?” she smiled sweetly turning from Paul. “I’m going to a Murder Mystery tonight at The Bartlett. Should be so much fun!” she said exuberantly. I’m sure they can find room for one more!” she offered. “Well”, George reluctantly added, “we’re just having a light bite.” GEORGE! Light bite? He regretted. Been hanging around with Paul too long. “Well no! I mean yes, I mean, all of us are going tonight,” he stumbled. Jan could hardly contain herself. “Well then, I guess I’ll see you all later then. I’m on my way to get my costume.” Costume? We need a costume? George suddenly felt sick. “Sure, yes, we’ll see you later then,” he offered quickly.
“I didn’t even think to read the rest of this paper. Must be more instructions.” As the waiter was attempting to serve the table, George was excitedly trying to read the yellow sheet. “George?” Jan said quietly, while lightly removing the sheet from his now trembling hands. “Relax, we have time. Eat your salad, slowly, and then we’ll figure things out.” “I agree with Jan” Paul said skeptically as he flipped his napkin, placed it in his lap and began to eat. Costume? George murmured to himself. Costume? I don’t want to wear a costume, he whined to himself. Jan gave him a motherly look and picked up her fork. He obeyed.
The salad wasn’t half bad George pondered, but he hoped upon hope there would be real food at this event. “Totally enjoyable!” Paul chirped. “I’d recommend this establishment to anyone!” Jan nodded and smiled. “So!” George added, “we now have about 3 hours to gather our thoughts and get ready.” For who knows what, he thought to himself. “Well let’s take a read!” Paul commanded and added “Over coffee and a little dessert?” he inquired. George looked at Jan painfully. She winced and nodded. “Why not.” He grumbled. “Waiter!”
“So!” George took the lead, “Papers out!” Willingly, his loyal troops laid their instructions on the table. “Role Call” Mr. Primrose commanded. “Miss Partridge?” “Here, Pears and all!” Jan said laughing. “Monsieur Richard?” “Je suis Ici!” Paul stood abruptly almost taking the table-cloth with him. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” Paul apologized Now what George muttered. “Let’s take a look.” “More coffee?” The waiter offered. “Yes please.” said George. “I think we’re going to need it.” He peered over at Jan pleadingly, “Why don’t you start Jan? You’re the actor around here.” “I’m not sure what you mean by that George.” she got defensive. “I meant that you studied the Theatre and would be the best one to help us.” GEORGE! You blunderer! Now look what you’ve done! “Jan, we need your help.” He said with his best forgive me eyes. Jan melted. “OK guys!” as she now assembled HER troops like a General. “Each of us will take turns reading our character descriptions, out loud, and we’ll go from there.” George looked at Paul, Paul looked back at George, then they both nodded sheepishly at Jan. “Yes Ma’am.” They helplessly whispered. Thankyou God George mused, we might just enjoy this. We will certainly enjoy this. He melted into Jan’s eyes. “Waiter!”, he commanded. “More coffee!”
Mary Treadwell: “Everybody on this ship is in love. Love me, whether or not, I love you. Love me whether I am fit to love. Love me whether, I am able to love. Even is there is no such thing as love. Love me.” Ship of Fools
George couldn’t help thinking about those “Bad times,” Jan had fleetingly referred to. Everyone goes through “Bad Times”. His mind started to work overtime. Just how bad and bad how? Now he was starting to sound like a jealous lover he thought. I hope this guy’s got better things to do, he projected.
“Jan, I just happened to be in town collecting some antiques for our new season and heard you were here. How lucky is that!” Paul said exuberantly. Yah, how very lucky, George grumbled to himself. Jan smiled and had to agree. “So! George! Are you planning to stick around? I thought I’d take Jan off your hands to see the town. Don’t get to these little places very often.” Little places my Ass, George thought. Some sort of big time Jerk. “Um” George stumbled. Quick George think! “Well Jan and I have plans for Dinner.” He smartly quipped. “Good! I’ve heard there’s a great little Vegan restaurant not far from here! I’ll join you. On me!” he pumped. George was now in panic mode. “Why don’t we finish our lunch?” he smartly suggested. “Will you have a something?” “I’ve had my lunch.” Stated Paul, “One lunch per day will suffice, but Thanks.” George was at a loss for words. “Look! I’ll let you guys finish up with your school business, however important that could be, and meet up with you later. Say three o’clock?” he questioned. “Fine!” George said happily. Better qualify that George thought. “Too bad you can’t stay.” He quickly added, trying to be sincere. “Well Jan my dear, I guess later it is! Be back at 3 on the nose!” he added. He’s currently got one damn lucky nose right now, George imagined. One DAMN lucky nose. “
This, time Paul swung OUT, of the room hailing good-bye to the crowd. George waved a happy anon.
Jan had been sitting there watching George’s futile attempts to put Paul off. “George, come sit by me.” She patted the couch next to her. The animal in him obeyed happily. No whimpering! George! NO WHIMPERING! as he sat close. “George.”, she reassuringly said, “Paul is just a dear old friend. As simple as that.” she put. “It was frankly nice to see him after all these years. He’s harmless.” George considered this for a moment but quickly concluded HARMLESS as my great aunt’s cat! “Oh, I understand Jan, just a good friend from way back.” He smiled, as thou he understood. “It’s time!” cried Carl. “Let’s not let our fearless leader wait! Off to the foyer! Shall we.” What now he thought.
As the group gathered slowly everyone was curious. Murmurs here and there and some pretty sarcastic remarks were dismissed. “Settle down please! Settle down.” Demanded our fearless leader. Just then everyone gasped at the sight of a mystery guest striding towards them. Who could this be? Jan looked at George and George shrugged. “Ladies and Gentlemen! Please settle down.” The man was tall and lanky, all dressed in black. He had a monkey on his back. His face was painted with black and white stripes. “A rather unusual man” whispered George to Jan. “Unusual is putting it mildly” added Jan as she grasped his hand. I kind of like this guy, mused George, as he tightened his grip.
“OK, here’s the happy surprise!” This fine gentleman will be our host for this evening’s proceedings. “We are having a Murder Mystery Night tonight! The room gasped. I expect all of you to participate. No excuses allowed. We will be passing out your character descriptions and a general scenario for the evening. We will begin at precisely 7 p.m., at which time a formal dinner will be served on the auditorium stage. Any questions?” He acted like he was merely announcing an upcoming recess, George pondered. “What should I wear?” A despondent Jerry cried from the back. “How long will this thing last?” from another. Carl almost fainted he looked so white. Questions flew! Suddenly the Monkey got excited and started screeching. Jan’s grip got tighter as she slid closer to him. George’s mind then started to wander but quickly came to, when the man in black threw up his massive arms and waved his cape into the air. Silence suddenly prevailed. “Well! If you’ll all now return to your classes, we can get on with our day. Your instructions will be disbursed accordingly. Should you need any assistance please proceed to the office.” Slowly the group disbursed. Jan’s hand slipped back to her side, as she calmed. George secretly stretched his fingers trying to get the circulation back. “What now?” Jan whispered, with a twinkle in her eyes. George shrugged his shoulders and said with a smile, “Just another day, but a whole lot better than the last.” “Shall we?”
“I don’t think there’s any difference between a crush and profound love. I think the experience is that you dissolve your sentries and your battalions for a moment and you really do see that there is this unfixed free-flowing energy of emotion and thought between people, that it really is there.” Leonard Cohen
The storm let up as fast as it began. “Thanks George,” Carl muttered. “Carl!”, George offered kindly, “It never rains but it pours. Now the sun’s out doing it’s best to shine!” Oh God, he thought, that’s pushing it. I must be losing my edge. “So, Jan? How’re you making out?” He’d never said anything so damn suggestive in his life. “I mean are you ok? Do you want to freshen up at your hotel?” “No, she offered, I’m just a little damp thanks. I’ll be fine.” “OK! Then let’s get back. I’d say it’s almost lunch time! I’m famished.” “Uh Oh! I gotta run. I’m on the lunch committee!” spouted Carl, as he trundled off as fast as his new shoes could carry him. What a guy! Mused George. “Didn’t know they were offering a free lunch. Should we partake Madame?” George almost wanted to take his life. Partake? I’m losing it, he sighed. Jan yet again smiled sweetly and offered her arm. “What Ho! Here we go!”, he almost died.
“George! and Jan!” what a lovely couple. I swear Stephen had a bad case of hoof and mouth disease. He just never stopped. “May I offer you both a lovely pate? I made it last night. It’s my very own recipe.” He glowed, “Its just divine!.” Just what the doctor ordered, George mused. A little strange mashed meat with a touch of who knows. “Don’t mind if I do!” George smiled as he lightly selected a cracker with a minimal of “Pate” on the top. “And you Madame?” as he pushed the plate almost to Jan’s poor face. “UH!” She politely stepped back. “I’m Vegan, but thanks so much, I’m sure it’s lovely.” “Well!” George interjected, “Let’s take a look.” They slid over the table full of goodies. “Jan, here’s what looks like a real nice salad. How’s about I make a plate for you. Dressing?” he offered. “Um no! No please George, just plain thanks.” She smiled sheepishly. “You on a diet?” George questioned. “No! You’re perfect!” At that George decided that silence was golden as he went about making himself a plate. Man cannot live on love alone, he thought. Geezzz, bread George! Bread.
“OK! Ladies and Gentlemen! We’ll have a lovely lunch, thanks to Carl and his crew.” spouted our illustrious leader. “At precisely one p.m. we’ll gather in the main foyer.” He then made a military about-face and left the room. Looking at his watch George determined they had 45 minutes. “Time flies when you’re having fun”, he murmured. “Pardon George?” “Oh, just looking at the time Jan. Just looking at the time. We have lots of time.” “Come George let’s sit.” She whispered as she motioned to the couch. “Here, let me refill your salad. Nice cup of tea?” “That would be nice. Just a little lemon please.” As Jan made her way to the couch George happily busied himself with her order.
“OH! MY GOD!” came from across the room. Everyone stopped and looked. George stood there stunned. Who could this be?
“Jan! My lovely! My adorably beautiful sweetheart!” as he swung across the room. “Where have you been? I’ve missed you so my darling!” If faces could drop George’s was on the floor. His heart sank. His shoulders dropped, his knees almost gave way and if God could have struck him with a bolt of lightning, he wouldn’t have felt a thing. He was numb. As the gushing continued, he could faintly see a glimmer of angst in Jan’s face. Hope he thought. “George!” Jan cried. “This is my good friend Paul from the Shaw.” All George could utter was “Oh”. “Come George, please sit down here next to me”, she motioned. For what seemed like hours George couldn’t move. FEET! George Feet! He reminded himself. NOW!
The next 20 minutes or so seemed like hours. They ate, drank and HE chatted. Seems Jan knew him well from The Shaw. They were great buddies. Jan filled him in. She’d understudied a few roles and had some bit parts. Paul had helped her out in bad times. “Oh Paul” she interrupted, “I really should introduce you to George.” Yes, she really should, he muttered. “Paul? This is George. We’ve been long-lost friends for years and hopefully for many more years to come.” “Hi George.” “Hi Paul” said George, as he gazed into Jan’s eyes. Many, many more years to come.
“We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made. In love we disappear.” Leonard Cohen