Confesions of a Stagehand

Micheal took my hand lead me into the phone booth room, which was secluded from everything else.
He sat on one bench, and I sat on one next to him.
We sat in silence for a moment or two, all the while, I watched his face.
His eyes seemed to be searching for the right things to say. He rubbed his hands together nervously, and his breathing was shaky.
Finally he spoke, "Amber?"
I looked up at him.
"Amber, Jessie is...Jessie, well she's...oh god..."
I put a hand on his arm. "Mike, it's okay, just tell me."
"Amber, if I tell you, will you promise not to tell anyone?"
I hated keeping secrets.
I was very good at holding my tounge, James always tested my abilities to do so, but I was good at keeping people's secrets, but I thought it was wrong. Whenever someone asked me to keep a secret, I always replied with the same thing:
"Unless it's going to hurt you, yes."
That always seemed to get the person to think twice about telling me. It was working on Micheal too.
" it won't hurt me...right away. Eventually they were going to have to find out soon enough anyway, if I do get hurt, it won't be because of you." He said quietly.
"O-okay." I said, promising to keep his secret.
"Jessie is...Jessie's..." He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. "Jessie isn't spelled with an IE, and it's not short for Jessica either. Jessie isn't my girlfriend. JESSE is my...boyfriend." He said, looking at the floor and rubbing the back of his neck.
How could this be? I was stunned, I never in a million years would've thought Micheal to have a boyfriend. He didn't seem to be the type of guy to be gay.
I know it's horrible of me to look for the stereotypical signs, but obviously Micheal did a good job covering up for it.
"I know what you're thinking." He said after a moment or two. "You're thinking 'Why doesn't he have a lisp, or talk with his hands or something?'" Freaky thing was, I WAS thinking about that, but I said nothing.
"I used to. I used to be the most stereotypical gay guy going. I talked with my hands ALL the time I could talk normally, I had the lisp, I did it all. But all of that..." He stopped short and looked away again. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you that. But I had to tell someone about Jesse before this got way out of hand."
"I understand Micheal, and it's okay. But you stopped before you could finish that last part."
He paused. "I'd rather not tell you that right now. Let's take this one step at a time."
"Okay." I opened my arms for a hug and he instantly fell into them.
I wraped my arms around him and we stayed like that for a while, before we realized that the others would get supicious.
"Jesse's coming this afternoon." I said, after we pulled away and were walking down the hall toward the auditorium. "How are you going to break the news?"
"I'm not too sure Amber." He said quietly. "Would you go ahead and see if he's here? He's about my hight, green eyes, bleached hair, combed to the side I'd imagine knowing him, probably wearing a t-shirt and jeans."
I nodded. "Okay, I'll go ahead. And if he's here, then what?"
Mike paused a moment. "Come back and get me I guess."
"Okay." I said and he went to the stage while I went to the lobby.
When I arrived in the lobby, there was a man standing at the information desk, matching the description that Mike had given to me.
There was no one at the desk.
"May I help you?" Asked a voice, I looked over to see Lizzie coming toward him.
"Uh yeah, My name is Jesse would you happen to know a Micheal D'Boulio? He's in the cast."
Lizzie paused, stunned. "! He's here."
I decided to step forward.
Lizzie saw me. "Amber!"
"Hello Lizzie, are you Jesse?" I asked.
Jesse nodded, "Yes I am."
"Wait,'re not Micheal's JESSIE, Are you?" Lizie asked, dumbfounded.
"Yes I am." He replied cooly.
Lizzie blinked a few times, before it clicked in her head.
"Oh. I see now. I can take you right to him. We're in rehersals right now." She said taking his arm and began to lead him to the auditorium.
"Um, wait!" I said, I couldn't screw up Micheal's plan! "Wouldn't it be better to bring Micheal here? I mean, I'm sure that you two haven't seen each other in a long time and would like to talk in private, instead of infront of the entire cast!"
"But Micheal's dancing now. Surely you'd like to see him dance!" Lizzie said.
She lead him into the auditorium, while I could only follow behind, hanging my head, feeling as if I failed Micheal.
As we entered, Micheal was doing his solo in Jellicl Ball. "Micheal, you're JESSE is here!" As soon as Lizzie shouted that, he stumbled, fell to the floor, then looked up, paniced and stunned at the same time.
My throat went dry as the rest of the cast got a good look at him.
I knew Micheal's had too.
Micheal, with as much dignity as he could muster, slowly walked off of the stage to greet Jesse.
Lizzie pulled me aside. "Did you know about this?" She asked me, in my ear.
"Um...Well, Micheal told me about three minuets ago. I'm not sure if he wants everyone else to know."
"Well he kind of HAS to let everyone know now." She said. Stupid me, wasn't thinking. Of course he has to now!
I'm too young to have a senior moment.
Micheal and Jesse exchanged a quick conversation between the two of them, it was so low and quiet that I couldn't hear what they were saying. They were searching each other's eyes while the other one spoke.
Finally, Micheal turned to the rest of us, took a deep breath and said, "Everyone, this is Jesse."
There was silence. An uneasy, and uncomfortable silence. It was mostly because everyone was in shock.
I finally stepped forward to break it. "Hi! I'm Amber. I'm a stagehand."
"Hi Amber, I'm Jesse."
Lizzie came over next. "We've sort of met, but I'm Lizzie."
The rest of the cast, reluctantly but surely came over to meet Micheal's boyfriend.

"I still can't believe that Micheal has a boyfriend!" Chrissie said one day while the cast were coming in for a lunch break.
Jesse had gone back home and now it was well into week two of rehersals.
I was busy around the changing room sweeping when the cast came back for lunch.
"Hi Amber! Come join us!" I heard Brandon call to me as he grabbed his lunch and sat on the floor with Jonathon, Lizzie and Chrissie.
"Um, not right now, I have to finish this first." I said, and continued to sweep up backstage.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Micheal come backstage and grab his lunch.
Lizzie smiled when he came in. "Mike! Come sit with us!"
Last week when Jesse paid a not-so-pleasant visit, I was worried that Micheal might feel like an outcast now that everyone knew about Jesse.
But nothing changed about him or the rest of the cast, which made me feel a LOT better.
Micheal smiled and sat with Jonathon, Lizzie, Chrissie and Brandon.
Steve was walking into the room, talking with a cast member, Racheal, who was playing Bombalurina.
"So," She began, "I was wondering, given all that I just said, how about it? Wanna go out some time?"
Steve smiled smugly, but said, "Babe, you know I'd love to, but the thruth is, you're just not my type." And he kissed her on the check. "Sorry love. No hard feelings, right? We can still be friends." And he walked over to Mike and the others.
"Wow, I'm in shock." Jonathon said.
"What?" Steve asked.
"I would've thought a guy like you would take any offer!"
"Well, I guess you just don't know 'guys like me' very well, do you?"
"I guess not."
Scoot came up to me a moment later, frantic and carrying a box of stuff.
"Amber! I need you!"
I put my broom down. "What? What's the matter?"
"Amber! Listen, I need you to bail me out again! The guys got five tickets to go to the game tonight and it starts in one hour! I can't finish stacking this stuff by then! So, will you help me?" He asked, with those annoying puppy eyes.
Let him go, if he stays it's just going to cause more comotion and he'll break something...if not by acccident, then on purpose.
"Sure thing Scoot, I'll finish this stuff, you go have fun."
Scoot looked like he had just won the lottery. "R-Really?! Oh!" He scooped me up in a hug. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" He put me back down. "Thanks a million Amber!" And with that he ran off, skipping down the hall.
"Oi" I muttered to myself. I picked up the box and headed toward the prop closet.
Then I heard footsteps behind me. I looked to see that it was Brandon coming up to me. "Do you need any help?" He asked.
"She's fine Brandon." James' annyoing and unmistakable voice said, coldly. Brandon spun to face James.
"I was just--"
"That is not your job young man, your job, which you do perfectly I might add, is to be up on stage in front of those people. It is her job to remain behind here making sure that everything runs smoothly. Understood?"
Brandon nodded. "Yes sir."
"Good then, besides, wouldn't want you to be injured with that heavy box of crap! You're worth millions with your dancing! Now go on, get back to the others." Brandon hesitatingly, back away, back into the changing room.
James smiled eviliy. "I see Scoot asked you to do his work."
"He had to leave."
"To watch a football game, I know." He paused a moment and began to pace behind my back. I began to unpack the box and stack the things into the closet. "With all this hard work you've been doing, a hard working person like you would deserve a raise, right?"
I paused a moment. Was he about to give me a raise?
I turned to face him. "I suppose so."
"Well, then, name your price."
I thought long and hard, I knew him better than that, the only ones he gave raises to were his actors on stage. If he said raise to me, that would only mean that he would raise my tasks and be forced to do more work.
"Sir, I think that someone else would be much more deserving than me to accept something like this."
He paused a moment and shrugged. "Is that your word?"
I nodded.
"Very well, I'll just give it to Scoot." And he walked off.
That Bastard. I thought.
"Amber?" A quiet voice came from the door. I spun to see Brandon standing there.
"Were you there the whole time?" I asked.
He nodded. "Why'd you turn him down?"
I turned away. I couldn't tell him.
"I'd rather not tell you right now. It's long and complicated."
"Amber, no one JUST turns down a raise, please tell me."
"Sorry Brandon." I shoved the box into the closet and closed the door. "Excuse me, I've work to do."
I went back into the dressing room, picked up my broom and began to sweep again.
"Sorry Brandon, I have to get this done soon."
"Back on stage!" Joe, the choreographer called from the door to the stage.
"Amber, you can't keep it to yourself forever you know." And he left.
The room quickly emptied out and soon I was all alone again.
I dropped the broom and flopped onto a beanbag. I had brought that here just for this purpose, relax. But now it served as a place to think.
I can't tell him...I can't.
The more I thought, the more tired I became, and soon found myself in a restless sleep, think about Brandon and James and the raise.

I woke to find that someone was shaking me. "Amber?" A voice asked. I opened my eyes groggily to see Mike shaking me.
"Michael?" I asked rubbing my eyes.
"Hey, wake up! The guys want to go out tonight, want to come?"
I looked at the clock, it was eight-thirty. "Are rehersals over?"
"Yeah, you were asleep the whole time we were back here. Everyone tried not to wake you, I hoped we didn't, but then we wanted to know if you wanted to come, so I had to wake you."
"It's okay. Thanks for the invite, but I can't go. I've got to be getting back home. Maybe next time." I got up, found my little bag, and my keys, and left.

Over time, a routine began to develop for all of us.
I would arrive at the theatre around eight in the morning and unlock the doors, get out all the make-up (if needed), make sure that the stage was swept, dressing room was clean, and that there was plenty of toliet paper available.
As bizzare and gross as that last one sounds, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, besides, I was sick and tired of girls coming up to me complaning that there's no toliet paper.
The actors would arrive between eight-thirty and nine o'clock.
When they arrived, they would claim a spot in the dressing room, change (if they needed to), and begin to stretch.
Around nine-thirty, Joe would call everyone onto the stage for a group warm-up and begin the rehersal.
I was left alone, again, backstage to continue with my daily 'chores'.
Type in files and such into the computer, stack junk in closets, keep Scoot out of trouble, and other things.
Micheal and I have become pretty good friends. I was glad that he could talk to me.
One day during the lunch break he and I bumped into each other.
"Hi Amber!" He said.
"Hi Mike! How's it going?"
"Pretty well! We're almost done with Jellicle Ball and the girls have started to begin Macavity."
"How's Jesse?" I asked softly. I knew it was a touchy subject with him in a public place, but I didn't know why.
"He's good, we're going out this Saturday." He said quickly.
"You'll have fun!" I said
"Yeah I guess. What are you doing Saturday?"
"Sleeping." I said with a laugh. He laughed too.
"Sounds like fun!"
"Back on stage everyone!" Joe called.
"Opps, sorry Amber, got to go. Talk to you later!"
"Bye Mike!"
Rehersals went smoothy, Scoot stayed out of trouble, he didn't break anything today, and I was almost done with my chores.
Night had fallen and I was packing my bag when Chrissie came up to me in hysterics.
"Chirssie? What's the matter?" I asked, grabbing her shoulders.
"It's Nathan...I don't know what's wrong, but something is." She managed to say between sobs.
Nathan was playing Mungojerrie. They were like brother and sister, so when this happened, I was scared.
"Calm down, what happened?"
"Amber, you've got to talk to him, I can't! He won't talk to me! Please Amber!"
Now I hardly knew this guy to begin with, and now Chrissie wanted me to talk to him like he was MY brother?
But she was my friend and I couldn't let her down.
"Sure Chrissie, where is he?"
She grabbed my hand and lead me outside behind the theatre.
I didn't see anyone.
"Where is he?" I asked. Then I saw a little flame and a cigarete light up.
She let go of my hand. "There." She said with a sniffle.
I took a deep breath and walked over to where the little flame came from and the glow of the cigarete was.
"Nathan?" I asked. He blew smoke into my face.
"Yeah?" He asked, cool, but annoyed.
"Chrissie seems upset, what's wrong?"
"Nothing that would concern you." I had spent time with Chrissie backstage. She often would say what a great guy Nathan is and how friendly and funny he was. But this was no joke, something was seriously wrong.
I heard Chrissie sniff once then run back inside. It was too much for her to bear I suppose. He turned his head just to see her run off.
"You made her do that." I said.
"What'd I do, magically make her run away?" He asked shortly.
I was getting annoyed. "No, something's the matter and you won't even tell your best friend on stage."
"How do you know that's something's the matter? I don't even know you!"
"No, but I know Chrissie, and when she said that something was the matter, I was there to help because you're too subborn to tell her!"
"How dare you! Insulting me when you don't even know me!"
"I wouldn't have to if you would just tell me so we can calm Chrissie down! She's scared out of her mind!"
"She's scared of everything..."
"That's not the point!" I was almost screaming now.
"Then tell me what is! That you can just come out here and tell me what to do?"
I took a deep breath and calmed down a bit.
"Now you're getting off topic. Tell me, Chrissie is worried, you're her partner on stage and her friend. It's the least you can do for her."
He paused a moment and began to pace while taking a drag on the cigarette. "She never said anything about smoking."
"I usually don't. I only do when situations get hectic."
"Tell me, what's the hectic situation you're in."
He stopped pacing, and took another drag.
"Why do you care?" He asked softly. "It doesn't matter anymore."
"Yes is does. Tell me."
"Why should I? It won't change anything."
"It could."
"How? How will it change anything?"
"If you tell me, I would be able to tell you!"
"How can you change the enevitable? You can't post-pone death..." He stopped short. My breath got caught in my throat.
I took a breath. "Wh-what do you mean?" I asked quietly.
He dropped the cigarette and fell to his knees, then he sat, holding his head. I could tell he was trying to hold back tears.
I kneeled down and put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at me.
"I have AIDS. I--I thought I was better, but I guess not. There's no cure, I'm going to die."
I felt a lump in my throat. "Do you have AZT?"
"Yeah, but why take it? It's not going to do anything but keep death away longer."
I shook him hard and forced him to look me in the eye.
"Nathan, listen to me. We need you, Chrissie needs you. Promise me, for her sake, that you will take the AZT. PLEASE!"
He blinked and tear rolled down his cheek. He nodded slowly then broke down in my arms. I held his head in my arms.
I heard footsteps behind me, I turned my head to see Chrissie coming up behind me. She looked as if she had been crying.
Nathan looked up too. He quickly stood up and ran over to her. He grabbed her hands.
"You---you heard?"
She nodded and swallowed hard. "Every word. Nathan..." She couldn't finish, she broke down and cried.
"Oh, Chrissie." She cradled her head in his arms.
They cried in each other's arms for a long time.
I quietly sneaked away.
When I got backstage again, I found that I couldn't pick up my bag. Instead, I plopped on my beanbag and cried.

I guess I cried myself to sleep there, backstage.
By next morning I hadn't moved.
"I did it again. Oi." I complaned to myself.
Then it hit me that I hadn't showered in a while.
"Crap, this sucks." I checked my watch. It was seven-thirty. "I have time to shower in the locker rooms." I said to myself.
I grabbed my bad and headed for the locker rooms.
I opened one of the stalls, turned the water on and stepped in.
I stripped off my clothes and found some shampoo and soap on one of the dished in the shower.
"Phew! I thought I was going to have to wash my hair with soap!"
I began to wash my body and my hair.
As I stood there, massaging the shampoo into my hair, I thought about all that happened with the tour.
Micheal came out of the closet...sort of, Nathan is dying of AIDS, what more could happen. I've sort of become the tour mentor. Someone everyone to talk to. I'm that wall that people can turn to and beat on and scream at. Hey, whatever helps people to get on with life.
I liked being that listener that everyone turns to.
Then I heard the locker room door open and shut.
Uh-oh, they're here already and I'm not! CRAP!
I quickly rinsed the water out of my hair and turned the water off.
Then I realized that I didn't have a towel.
"Uh-oh. This is not good."
"Amber?" A voice called. "Uh...hi" I answered back from behind the shower curtain.
"It's me, Chrissie."
"Oh hi."
"Hey listen, I wanted to thank you for getting Nathan to tell me...what-know-what."
"Yeah, it means a lot. So if there's anything I can do..."
"Well actually, there is."
"Name it!" She said.
"Could you find me a towel?" I said with an embarassed laugh.
She giggled then replied, "Sure."
She found one and handed it to me.
I dried off and quickly got dressed.

"Truth or dare?" One girl asked the other.
"Dare." She replied.
I was tiddying up in one spot of the room at the end of the day while three girls had gotten together for a quick Truth or Dare.
"I dare go ask Steve out!"
"WHAT?!" The girl shrieked.
The other two giggled and began to shove her toward Steve, who was standing, with his back turned to them, a few feet away.
While she struggled to get out of her friends' grip, they had pushed her into him, so that he turned and had to face her, and she had to face him.
"Well, hello there pretty!" He said in that annoyingly seductive voice.
"Um...h-hi! Um...I---I have a question for you."
"Shoot." He said.
The girl looked back at her friends, any they urged her on silently to ask him.
"I--was wondering....if you wanted to maybe...oh I don't know...go out sometime, maybe this Saturday?"
He paused a moment, then put an arm around her and said, "Babe, you know I'd love to go out with a lovely little girl like you. But I'm busy that night. Sorry love." And with that he walked away.
"Well that was interesting." A voice said behind me. I spun around to see Brandon standing there.
"Oh, hi Brandon."
"Hey. Speaking of going out, the guys and myself are going to a dance club tonight. Wanted to know if you wanted to come along."
"Well I would love to, but..."
"I thought you would say 'but'. No buts, you're coming. You've worked your butt off for long enough, it's time you had some fun with us!"
I laughed, until I realized he was serious. "Brandon..."
"No excuses! Unless of course there's been a death in the familiy, or someone's getting married, but I doubt it. Everything else will have to wait. You're coming!"
I was stunned. "Okay..."
"Sorry..." He said with a smile. "It's just that you've worked so hard and don't have anytime to stop and rest, it's time you got out and had some fun!"
I smiled and laughed a little. "Thanks, let me just get changed out of these grubby things."
"Sure. I'll wait here." He said.
I headed off to the changing room.
Fortunetly for me, I had a spare change of clothes in my bag.
I pulled out a tank top and a skort. I brushed my hair and put it up into a pony tail, popped a tic-tac in my mouth and went back to Brandon.
"Hey! That was fast!"
"Yeah, I wish I had make-up to put on I feel so dirty with out it."
"Nah, you don't need it...I mean, you look fine just the way you are...b-besides, it's only the guys."
"Who might I ask are 'the guys'?"
"Oh, Micheal, Steve, Jonathon, Chrissie, Lizzie, and Nathan...did you hear about him?" He asked, offering his arm to me.
I took it and replied, "Who, Nathan?"
"About him---being sick?"
He nodded. "Chrissie broke the news to us. She said that you were the one who got him to tell her."
"Yeah, it wasn't easy though."
"I can imagine." He replied.
We walked out of the theatre, arm in arm and out in the parking lot was everyone else.
Three cars were parked and everyone were just standing around.
"C'mon! Are we leaving tonight or next weekend?" Micheal asked jokingly from behind the wheel of his car.
"Shut up Mike! We're here aren't we? Where do we go?"
"My car." Mike replied. "Hop in! Let's go guys!" He called. Everyone filed into different cars. Lizzie hoped into the front seat and Brandon and I sat in the back.
Steve took his care and Chrissie, Nathan and Jon took the other.
"Why is Steve going alone?" I asked.
"He has a small car, couldn't really fit anyone else in there if you tried to." Mike replied, turning out of the parking lot.
"Are we going to meet Jesse there?" Lizzie asked Mike.
Mike was silent for a moment, I wasn't sure if he was concentrating on the traffic or not, but it was an uneasy silence.
"Eh...I doubt it. He didn't sound too good when I talked to him on the phone. He said he wasn't feeling well."
"Oh okay." Lizzie replied, and turned up the radio. "Oo! Good song!" She said and started to dance in her seat.
"You're a nutcase Lizzie." Brandon said, Mike and I just laughed.
It was a good song, one of those you could dance to.
I was glad I came.
About an hour later, and getting lost twice, we found the club.
"Found it!" Mike said, pulling up and parking.
The other two cars were already there. Chrissie came bounding up to Lizzie's door. Steve walked over to Mike's door.
"Where the heck have you guys been? We were getting worried!" Chrissie said, giving Lizzie a hug.
"We're fine, expect Christopher Columbo here got us lost a few times!" Lizzie said.
"Hey! I got us here, didn't I?" Mike asked.
We knew she meant it all in good fun because Chrissie, Lizzie and Steve began to laugh.
Brandon and I got out of the car.
"That should be your new nickname from now on Mike." Steve said.
"What's that?" Mike asked, shutting the door and locking the car.
Mike stared at Steve a moment then said, "How about no!"
We laughed and headed inside, showing ID's as we entered.
We entered the large room, there was a bar and a dance floor. The only lights that were on were the colored spotlights dancing around the room.
We found a table, close to the floor and Mike and Steve went up to get us drinks.
While we were waiting, I looked around.
The dance floor was crowded with people and everyone on it was dancing.
I guess Brandon saw me watching them, because before I knew it, he took my hand and lead me into the floor.
We caught the end of the song, it turned into a salsa song instead.
"I'm afraid I don't know how to salsa." I said sheepishly.
"Phew, that's a relief, I don't know either!" He replied. We laughed, and we ended up trying to follow the other couples around the floor.
I turned my head to see that Steve and Mike were back at the table and everyone there were watching us.
Brandon looked to.
"If you guys are done staring at us, you might as well get us here and dance too!" He called to them over the loud music.
They laughed at first, then Chrissie grabbed Nathan's hand and dragged him into the floor.
I smiled and leaned into Brandon more.
I found that suddenly, our hips were up against each other and were swaying with the music.
Then, as quickly as it began, it stopped. I was bummed. I didn't want it to end.
Another fast, almost techno song come over the loud speakers and the floor was jumping again.
I hugged Brandon close to me. "Thank you!" I said.
"What do you mean, 'thank you'? We've only begun!" And he spun me around before we too were jumping with the rest of the floor.
Eventually we did get tired and had to go back to the table and rest.
We sat down and took a sip of the drink that Mike and Steve brought back to us.
Suddenly there was an uproar at the entrance of the club, several heads, including ours, turned to see what it was.

Characters after Chapter two

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