"Four Weddings and an Elvis", "The Bitch of Kemp Mill", Acting, BEV: Michelle Corbitt, BRYCE: Keith A. Kenel, Fidelity, FIONA: Susie Pratt, FIST: Jason Christ, JOHN: Robby Merritt, KEN: Tim Coyle, LOU: Dan Bain, MARVIN: Dan Mullins, SANDY: Laura Arwood, STAN: Sean Malone, Theatre, Trust, VANESSA: Jenny Marconyak
Laura leaned into her friend and asked, “Doesn’t it bother you when you see him kissing other women?” The two women watched, spellbound and fascinated, as Jason kissed Susie again, lightly and then with great passion and desire.
“Philanderer!” Laura hissed in Michelle’s ear as the two women sat and watched the bacchanalian scene play out right before them in real life, bright as day detail. Michelle’s head swiveled to the left, her left eyebrow raised to a pitched height, “What?” she whispered back.
“Kissing her like that,” Laura hissed. “Doesn’t that bother you?”
Michelle’s head retreated three inches and her brow furrowed. “No,” she replied quietly, the word elongated. “It’s a play. They’re just acting.”
“Oh, sure. ‘Just acting.’ That’s what Tim told me. Right up to the point where he left me for Jenny. ‘Just acting’ my ass,” she said loudly enough to warrant looks of disgusted displeasure from the man directly to her left.
“It’s in the script,” Michelle said, pointing her right index finger to the sky and placing it over her pursed lips, shaking her head minutely three times and shushing her friend. ‘Worry about Jason? How totally ridic,’ she thought, as she sat back and watched the play unfold in front of her second-row, center-aisle seat. Her husband was wonderful and completely trustworthy.
The play progressed and the heat between Susie’s and Jason’s characters seemed to raise the temperature in the theater by at least three degrees. Michelle watched the play but she also stole glances at the women in the audience. She had never noticed the wet-lipped, tongue-tip-protruding looks of lust and desire directed at her husband before. ‘I mean, it’s Jason,’ she thought. ‘Good old down to earth, straight and narrow Jason. Of course I can trust him.’
That’s what she told herself, but Laura’s comment had somehow managed to get under her skin and now the little green bug was burrowing fast and deep, heading for a vein before pumping to her heart. ‘Ridiculous,’ she thought again, this time admonishing herself for allowing unmerited dispersion to be cast upon her husband, her best friend and a man who had proven himself gallant and trustworthy, to have any impact on her.
At intermission the ladies made their way up the center aisle and into the theater’s lobby. Michelle headed to the concession stand but Laura reached out, gently touched her shoulder and said wide mouthed but sotto voce, “I’m going to the ladies room.”
The hubbub from the half-a-thousand theatre attendees made hearing very difficult but Michelle, reading both Laura’s lips and her body language, nodded, raised her eyebrows and hand to her mouth and pivoted her wrist back and forth twice. Laura smiled widely and nodded back twice, mouthing the word ‘white.’ The women separated with Laura joining the queue outside the women’s room and Michelle queuing in the concessions line.
From her place in line Michelle saw Jenny and Tim turn away from the concession stand, Jen with a glass of wine and Tim with a beer. Turning, the couple both spied Michelle at the same instant and made their way to her.
“Oh, Michelle!” Jen said as she approached, the women performing a two cheeked air kiss, “What a lovely dress! I love the polka dots! How are you?”
“Fine, fine. It’s so good to see you. Tim,” she added, her face smiling warmly as her eyes remained cold.
“Michelle!” Tim replied, kissing her cheek. “Jason and Susie are one hot number, aren’t they?”
Michelle’s head tilted to the side as she nodded once. “That’s exactly what Laura said. She’s just in the restroom. Should be out in a minute,” Michelle added, her right cheek and eyebrow raised.
“Oh, is she?” Tim asked, his eyes glancing to Jen. “Well. Be sure to say hi to her, won’t you?
“Oh, look,” Tim added, nodding his head in the direction of the lobby’s fountain, “there’s Keith and his wife. We should go say hello,” he said, gently taking Jen’s elbow and walking away from Michelle as he stole a furtive glance over his shoulder.
“Yes, slink away, Tim. Slink away before Laura comes back,” Michelle said under her breath. “Let’s keep our drama in the theater, shall we?”
At the counter Michelle’s head shot back in wonder. “Robbie!” she declared, “You’re the last person I expected to see here. At least in the front of house. I thought you’d have a pivotal role in our hot house romance.”
“Hey, Michelle! Great to see you! No, couldn’t even land a role as a servant in this one, and speaking of servants, how may I serve you?”
Michelle’s smile radiated from crown to sole as she replied, “Two white wines please. Something not too sweet?”
“Sure, sweetie. You’re sweet enough,” he said as he long poured the wine. “Are you two fisting now or are you here with someone?”
“No, I’m practically on the wagon. I’m here with Laura.”
Robbie’s head jerked back slightly as he rang up the drinks. He hesitated and then said, “I just saw Tim.”
“Yes. With Jenny. We said hi. Anyway, so good to see you!”
“You too, Michelle. And your man Jason is white hot in this show.”
“Yes he is. Thanks,” she added, turning from the bar and scanning the lobby for Laura.
Laura was not visible, but from a distance she caught the eyes of Dan Mullins and Dan Bain, both men scanning the lobby for familiar faces. She finger waved and began to make her way over to say hello when Laura and Sean approached. “Look what the cat dragged in,” Laura said, taking the offered wine from Michelle.
“Does that make me the cat’s meow?” Sean asked, rat-a-tatting a beat with air drumsticks.
“Always,” Michelle replied offering her cheek to Sean.
“And speaking of me-ows! Wow! Susie and Jason are h-o-t!”
“A little too hot, don’t you think?” Laura asked.
Sean looked at her with eyebrows scrunched in interrogative as the lobby lights flickered. “Anyway! Great seeing you!” he said. “I gotta get back to my date.”
“Well say hi for us,” Michelle said as she and Laura made their way out of the lobby.
Act two was even hotter than act one and Laura’s poison worked its way through her. By the time the show ended to thunderous, standing applause Michelle was convinced Jason and Susie were having an affair. ‘Oh, just wait, Jason-hot-lips-philanderer. Ever hear of a woman scorned?’
Michelle said goodnight to Laura and waited in the lobby for her husband to emerge. Acting was always sweaty work for him and showering after a show a ritual ablution. Michelle waited and as she waited her ire rose. ‘How dare he?’ she thought. ‘How dare he discard me like last night’s left overs. Oh, Jason. You have no idea who you’re dealing with.’
The lobby was all but empty as Jason emerged. He saw Michelle and his entire being erupted into joy, the high he had felt from a standing ovation worthy performance a complete nothing compared to the soul deep elation the mere sight of his wife brought to him. “Hey! Sorry to make you wait. How’d you like it?” he asked.
“Mesmerizing,” Michelle answered, any doubt about her husband and his commitment to her swept away. “Anybody ever tell you you’re one hell of an actor?”
“Aw, shucks,” he said with a wink. “I just thought of you as I kissed her. No acting required.”