He pokes at the keyboard to wake up his screen. “Well, I notice that Evan in strings is always looking at you.”
I do a quick mental file through his strings section. All that comes to mind is his lead violinist, Seth, and Seth is not attracted to the ladies. Even if he were, Robert wouldn’t let me date him even over his dead body; despite being invaluable to the production, Seth has a knack for throwing tantrums and stirring up drama within the ensemble. He is the only person I’ve ever seen make Robert truly angry.
“Which one’s Evan?”
Twirling a finger over his close-cropped hair, he says, “Long hair. Viola?”
Ah, now I know who he means. Evan is sexy in a Tarzan kind of way, but . . . the rest of him might be a little too wild. “Yeah, Bobert,” I say, holding up my hands, “but the fingernails on his bow hand . . .”
“What are you talking about?” Robert laughs.
“How can you not see this? It’s like he’s plucking his strings with a shark tooth.” I shrug. “He just seems oddly carnivorous. I don’t think I could overlook it.”
“Carnivorous? You devoured your lamb chop last Wednesday. It was feral.”
He’s right. I did. “I cook great lamb, what do you want from me?”
From the doorway comes the sneering groan of my boss. “What the fuck are you even talking about?”
With a grin I answer, “Lamb,” just as Uncle Robert answers, “Man claws,” and Brian’s frown turns radioactive.
In an effort to keep nepotism at the minimum I don’t actually report to Uncle Robert but to the stage manager, the brilliant yet douchey Brian, who I’m convinced has odd collections of things at home, like a hoarder’s cave with every single back issue of National Geographic, or butterflies pinned to dusty boards.
“Super-cute family bonding.” Brian turns to sashay away, calling over his shoulder, “Holland. Stagehand meeting. Now.”
With a last zany smile thrown to Robert, I follow Brian downstairs to the stage and the weekly meeting awaiting us.
The stagehand team consists of twenty people. Brian oversees all the details—blocking, cues, props, scenery, and ensuring that Robert’s job runs smoothly—which means that he likes to claim credit for the current cult fever over Possessed. But the real heroes are the ones behind the curtain responding to his barked orders: the people Brian pleasantly refers to as his minions.
Don’t get me wrong—Brian’s job is a beast, and he is very good at what he does; the production runs smoothly, the sets are stunning and noted in nearly every one of the raving reviews the production receives. The actors hit their cues and the lighting is absolutely perfect. It’s just that Brian also happens to be a power demon with a rampant petty side. Case in point, just now a text arrives on my phone:
I see that your incapacitated, so I’m not quite sure how you plan to handle job duties this week.
Brian’s inability to get the your/you’re distinction correct makes something itch deep inside my brain. And he’s texting me about this—while sitting a mere three feet away—not only to avoid direct confrontation (at which he is terrible) but also to give a clear message to the stagehand currently speaking that he doesn’t care what she has to say.
He might be a dick, but unfortunately, he’s also right. I can barely hold my phone with my right hand peeking out of the sling, I have no idea how I’ll maneuver my camera. It takes some time, but I manage to type a reply with my left.
Other than front of the house, are there things I can help with for the next couple weeks?
It pains me to hit send on such a vulnerable text, it really does. Even though my tiny archivist salary is comprised of money from nearly every department, Brian feels the most put-out for even having to deal with me on a regular basis. I already know this job is a gift—I don’t need his gleeful reminders of that fact every time we interact.
While the stagehand continues to update us on the progress in painting the new drop-down forest, Brian ignores her and types, sneering down at his phone.
Looks like you’re uncle needs more help than I do.
It takes me a minute to understand his meaning, but when I do, it’s accompanied by an almost comically timed, deafening cymbal crash coming from the orchestra pit.
The entire group assembled for the meeting onstage stands from their seats and peers down as the aforementioned lead violinist, Seth, shoves clear of the percussion section, shoulders past Robert, and begins to storm up the center aisle.
I glance down at Seth’s chair; he left his violin just sitting there. I can’t stop staring at it—I’ve heard from Robert that Seth’s violin cost upward of forty thousand dollars, and he just plopped it on his chair before leaving in a huff. From the second position, Lisa Stern leans over, gingerly picking it up. I’m sure she’ll return it to him later; no doubt Seth assumes she will, too. What a dick.
He has tantrums all the time, but for some reason, the stillness in the theater that follows this outburst feels profound.
My stomach drops.
Seth has three long “duets” with the lead, and those segments are the heart of the soundtrack. Seth’s violin is more than part of the orchestra ensemble; although he doesn’t appear onstage, he’s truly one of the lead cast members and has even been featured on our primary merchandise, and in mainstream media. We can’t have a single performance without those solos.