The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans, Part 8: The Phantom Playwright
January 18, 2012
An hour later –
Rachel shifted from one foot to another, heartily grateful for the fact that she wasn't truly a lady of the time period and that at some point these shoes would finally come off and never return to her feet again. The director was running through something she couldn't quite hear, and she sidled forward a little bit until she was standing next to a street vendor, leaning against a cart.
"You two don't look like sisters." The street vendor extra glanced from Leigh then back to Rachel.
"Oh, we're not." Rachel told her. "We met when we were in school.” Apparently theater work made her chatty because she went on. “We were the only ones who cared that the Spice Girls were on indefinite hiatus. We bonded. It was not a good time. We had vigils and,"
The street vendor extra clearly thought Rachel was nuts, because she started to back away.
"It was a totally valid response." Rachel muttered. "We were fans!"
She decided this would be a good point to explore the rest of the theater. Leigh was deep in a discussion with the actor playing Freddie about whether or not this was really the right time to invest in Shell Oil.
The Mark Hellinger Theatre had always been someplace Rachel had dreamed of going to when she visited New York, but seeing it now in its heyday was glorious. She traipsed up the back stairs, avoiding various people and snapped a few shots surreptitiously from the balcony. The theater was a sight to behold as the cast moved to and fro on the stage. The props people were fixing the cart Eliza Doolittle would eventually sing her way across. Rachel leaned on the balcony, sighing happily to herself. This was a good moment and she would treasure it forever.
Next she slipped out into the lobby and studied the ornate murals on the ceiling until a stage hand came up to her and told her she wasn't supposed to be wandering around while in costume. He directed her back to the stage where the other extras were gathering in little groups, still waiting. Joe waved at her. He brought over a dark-haired girl that he introduced as the aforementioned Amanda.
"Her roommates are out of town for the week so if you and your friend need a place to stay tonight."
"That would be really nice. Uh thanks." Somehow the reality of the idea of staying here for a day hadn’t really sunk in. What if they couldn’t make it back in time? What if the book didn’t work? What if they were stuck here forever?
Breathe, Rachel told herself firmly. Breathe. There are worse things. Floods. No internet. Dead puppies. No internet.
The PD would work. They would be on Broadway and then they would go back home and they would have internet again. Simple as that.
"Places, people! Come on!"
They were about to do the opening scene, the tech people were still fiddling with the lighting, when Rachel first spotted the man. He looked perfectly in keeping with the scene, dressed in period costume. Except...he was slightly translucent. Apart from that, completely normal.
It was then, that Rachel realized, she really should have known better than to think that they could go home just like that. Adventures were never that simple.
"Psst." Rachel inched closer to where Leigh was standing.
"Do you see that transparent sort of dude over there?"
"Where?" Leigh looked around.
"Over there." Rachel poked Leigh in the stomach.
The man in question was simply standing there at the side of the stage, glaring at the various actors and stage crew, even though they didn't appear to be doing anything horribly offensive. They didn't pay him any attention at all.
"Leigh..." Rachel hesitated, "Do you think he's not all there?"
"I hardly see how we can jump to any conclusions. We haven't talked to him. He's just wandering around and muttering to himself. *I* do that."
"Yeah, well, maybe you're not all there." Rachel said impatiently. "No, I mean he's not all there as in he's not a corporeal form."
Leigh eyed her, and then looked back at the man. "He does seem a little insubstantial." She admitted. "But why would a ghost hang around the set of My Fair Lady? For that matter, why is there a ghost here?"
"Unfinished business, who knows?" Rachel shrugged. "I want to get a closer look." She maneuvered her way behind two set pieces until she was only a few feet away from the possible ghost. The man, if he was a man and not a ghost, was tall and bearded and looked, she decided, rather like a playwright type.
"So?" A voice whispered over her shoulder. Rachel jumped. "Don't do that." She hissed at Leigh. "I could have knocked over the columns."
"Beg pardon, but come on."
"I think it's George Bernard Shaw." Rachel announced. "Just a hunch, mind you."
"Well, he looks vaguely like the pictures I've seen. And what other ghost would have a better right to hang around this set?"
"That may be, but why is he here?" Leigh peered speculatively at the transparent bearded man. "Maybe he just wants to see how it will go." It was an optimistic thought, but Rachel was willing to give it a shot.
At that moment the ghost of George Bernard Shaw, for that was exactly who it was, opened his mouth and sighed dramatically. "How will they think to ruin my play next?" He hovered behind two stage hands before brushing through them quickly, causing them to knock into each other, falling straight into the set pieces they were working on.
"Or he's another vengeful spirit seeking to wreak some havoc on the theater world." Leigh observed.
"I'd say that was spot on." Rachel sighed again.
To be continued...