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Read My Lips(10)

By:Daryl Banner

Rude, indeed. I can’t stop watching him onstage as he transports lighting equipment from one end to the other. There is very little imagination involved in picturing his naked torso, what with the tightness of his shirt leaving little to be curious about.

He is ripped. I could spot his godlike physique from a mile away. His eyes pierce me and he’s not even looking at me.

I’ve never been jealous of lighting equipment before.

“College is your first taste of the real world,” the wizard is going on. “Plays only have so many roles, and chances are, you won’t get any your first year here. You might not ever get cast. This is a reality you must face.”

That man onstage is a reality I want to face. I want to face him so hard. I want him to face me. I’m staring at his bulging biceps as he works, my heart racing so hard I wonder if Victoria can hear it.

“Technical Theatre is not for failed actors. These people make a living. More often, they make a better living than you actors ever will because there is always work for lighting monkeys, soundboard operators, costume stitch-weaver-people, prop masters, house managers—the list goes on and on. Our program requires only six hours of tech crew before you can graduate. That’s six times I’m gonna see your ugly faces in this room. We only meet here today. This Wednesday, you will be meeting at your assigned crew area. Understood? Good.”

Hot guy sets down a light, which issues a loud bang that ripples across the stage. He returns to the rack for yet another, sauntering as he goes. Boy, does that sexy man know how to walk. He has gloves on those big hands of his, those long leather things that come halfway up his arm, the kind I imagine welders wear.

I can’t seriously be the only one staring at him. That man is fine.

“The five departments are: costume crew, set crew, props crew, lighting crew, and box office,” the bearded wizard tells us.

As he goes on to describe the typical duties of each technical crew, I’m stuck in a daze watching the hottie carry Fresnel after Fresnel across the stage, his arms bulging with each trip, sometimes taking two at a time. His face is slick with sweat. Patches of wetness adorn his tight shirt, causing it to plaster to his muscles more and more by the second.

He stops after his five-hundredth trip and runs an arm slowly across the whole length of his forehead, taking just a moment to survey the house. His brow wrinkles as he looks out at us. He has to be an upperclassmen. His presence is so commanding that I can’t pay attention to anything else, not with him in the room.

Some papers are shoved at me. I stare down in confusion at what looks like a stack of forms. “Take one and pass them,” Victoria tells me. I do so, passing the stack to a girl two seats away from me. “Now you get to pick the crew you want. Preference one, and preference two, see?”

“I see.” I’m very thankful for Victoria’s guidance, considering how little attention I was paying to the wizard-person. I stare at the five options for crew and consider them.

Victoria leans into me, her bony shoulder poking into my arm. “Costume crew is a living hell,” she whispers to me. “Box office is a total blow-off. I’d go for that one, so long as you’re not claustrophobic and can do basic math. Ever work with money?”

My eyes wander to the stage. He’s examining one of the lights that still hangs from the rack. The gloves are off and tucked under his arm while his fingers expertly inspect the equipment. I imagine those fingers expertly inspecting me, the way they’d feel as they trace up and down my arms, run over the length of my body, and awaken a wave of excited goose bumps across my skin. I feel my toes curling in my shoes just thinking about it.

“Made up your mind?” whispers Victoria.

His biceps flex as he works, his fingers making art out of that lighting instrument. I swallow hard, unable to pull my eyes away, unable to slow my thumping heart, unable to ignore my ache any longer.

Yes, I have, I think to myself, bringing the pen to paper and circling my first choice: lighting crew.

“There’s a whole row of restaurants on Kelly street, but they’re a bit on the pricy side …”

“Done! Lunch is on me!” I decide with a smile.

That’s how Victoria, Eric, Chloe, and I end up at an Italian restaurant on the not criminally-inclined edge of campus for an early evening meal after my first Tuesday morning movement class and afternoon voice class are over. Chloe’s the one I met at the mixer with choppy black hair whose eyes bleed eyeliner, and Eric is the one who just a moment ago politely asked me to stop calling him Other Eric. I apologized for calling his homebrew “cat pee”.