Annie Sullivan, ‘The Miracle Worker’, ’How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is to have a thankless child.’, Bryan, Giving Tree Theatre, Hellen Keller, Naomi Schneider Arentson, Sandy, Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’, Something on your lips, Susan Scharnau, Tinfoil Series
The lobby of Giving Tree was full of theatre goers. Three lines had been formed, one to buy beverages and snacks and one for each of the two small bathrooms. “Do you need anything?” Sandy asked.
“No, thanks. I’m good. Do you want to step outside?”
“Please,” she said, smiling demurely as he held the door for her. “So, you’re enjoying the show so far?”
“Loving it. Especially Annie Sullivan. Do you think she’s really Irish?”
“Nope. I know she’s not. Her brother was in ‘Glass Menagerie’ and I met him after the show here back in February. And he plays Nick Caraway in ‘Gatsby’! Definitely not Irish.”
“You go to a lot of shows, don’t you? Doesn’t it get expensive?”
“Sort of, but it’s worth it to me. Local arts and artists and all that. At TCR you can earn tickets by volunteering and here the ushers can watch the show. You don’t have to pay money all the time, sometimes people barter their time.”
“Hmm. Good to know. Thanks again, by the way.”
“You’re welcome. Thanks for giving so many women whiplash. And some of the men, too.”
“No,” Sandy answered, “Really. You’re eye catching and you’re right it is nice to have a babe -or a bonnie lad? –on your arm. You ready to go in?”
“Almost,” he said, turning to her. “You have something on your lips.”
“I do?” Sandy responded, bringing her finger tips to her mouth.
“Yep,” he said, kissing her. “Me. Now I’m ready.”
“Wow. How old are you again?” she asked with a big smile.
“No, too suave. You make me nervous sometimes.”
Bryan held the door open and asked, “Not always a bad thing, is it?”
Act Two of ‘The Miracle Worker’ was a far bigger emotional roller coaster than Act One had been, especially for Bryan who was unfamiliar with the Helen Keller story. After the show was over Sandy told Bryan she wanted to introduce him to Susan Scharnau, the play’s director.
“Susan?” Sandy asked. “Hi. Cassie Priam. I just wanted to tell you how much we loved the show. Beautiful and moving. Thank you so much.”
“Oh, wow. Thank you so much, Cassie. How nice of you to say so. Hi!” she said, extending her hand to Bryan, “Susan Scharnau. I don’t think we’ve met?”
“No. Bryan Tiernan. Really a pleasure. I wasn’t familiar with the story and this was just lovely. Laughed, cried, contemplated. I’ll be digesting this for a few days.”
“Oh, that is so nice of you! Did you want to meet the cast? They’ll be out in a minute.”
“No, not tonight,” Sandy answered. “We need to get moving. Please, please, please tell them all thank you for us though, okay?”
“Will do. Great to see you! Nice meeting you, Bryan,” she answered and then spoke to the next person waiting to laud her and her cast.
Once they were outside and heading to the car Bryan asked, “Are you okay? You said we had someplace to go, is your head bothering you?”
“No. You know what you were so insistent about this morning? Well now’s the time but not the place. Let’s go home and have the two come together, shall we?”
“Oh. Oh! You don’t have to ask me twice. Do you want to drive?”
“Definitely not,” she answered. “I want my hands free.”
“Okay,” he said slowly. “I’ll drive.” He winked at her as he took her hand and they walked hurriedly to the car where Bryan opened the passenger side and let her in.
Sandy’s hands being free she used them to touch Bryan in a PG sort of way. She languidly smiled as she stroked his arm, leg and jaw line as he drove home. “You know,” she said, “Good things come to those who wait.”
“Yes. I’ve heard that and you seem to be a data point confirming that argument. Except I would classify you as great, not merely good.”
“Thank you,” she said, kissing her fingertip and then pressing it to his lips. “You’re pretty special, too.”
Bryan backed into the garage and closed the garage door with the remote. He got out of the car and was walking over to open Sandy’s door but she met him at the rear of the car. “Thanks, sweetie but I got it. Do you mind if we grab some wine and sit on the deck for a while first? The stars are just too beautiful right now.”
“’Good things come to those who wait?’ No, that’s fine. I love you in the moonlight.”
“I love you in any light. And in the dark,” she said, kissing him. “Let’s go in.”
The night was warm for early April and Sandy had grabbed her trusty quilt to wrap over them. Bryan stood when she came out on the deck and she pressed herself to him and sighed contentedly. “This has been a lovely night,” she said. “I look forward to ending it on a high note.”
They sat as close to one another as Galileo’s observation concerning two solid objects occupying the same space at the same time would allow and each felt blessed to be under the others pull of gravity. The wine, stars and company made for heady delight as the snuggled closely. “Hard to believe she could rise so high, isn’t it?” Bryan asked.
“Who? Helen Keller? That is amazing, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah. Her too. I meant Annie. To live in a place where her brother died and babies were born and thrown away and to be surrounded by filth and disease and death and God can only imagine. Pretty cool what people can aspire to.”
“True. But not as impressed with Helen?”
“Oh, absolutely! But even though her parents were going about it all wrong they were always on her side. Always trying to help, you know? Sounds like Annie was the proverbial boot strap queen.”
“Hmm. True. Of course, it’s a play. I know with that Oscar Wilde story I told you about -‘Gross Indecency’? –that the playwright told the truth but he told it in a way to elicit a specific response. I don’t know enough about Annie Sullivan to know if that might be true here too or not.”
“Yeah. You know what they say, ’History is just his story.’ Everybody’s got an angle whether they know it or not.”
“Whoa. That’s a bit jaded for someone your age, isn’t it? True! But jaded.”
“Maybe. Just thinking about your dad. Must have been the thing with the prostitutes’ babies dying. Unwanted, discarded, throw away people. Unconscionable. I just keeping thinking about how many abused kids grow up to be prostitutes. We need to stop him.”
“That’s why we’re going to Florida,” Sandy replied, holding his hand in hers. “To face the dragon in his lair. I just hope Jake does a hell of a Saint George imitation.”
“Yeah. Me too,” came Bryan’s whispered reply. “I loved when Helen came to life! When she realized that all the spelling was words and that water was water and mama was mama and teacher was teacher. I could barely keep from sobbing out loud.”
“That was great. Did you see Mrs. Keller’s response? When she saw how much more animated Helen was when she learned the word for teacher than she was when she learned mama? That was heart breaking.”
“’How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is to have a thankless child.’”
“What did you just say?!” Sandy exclaimed.
“’How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is to have a thankless child’? You know? Shakespeare?”
“Oh! I know! Remember when I teased you about your tattoo and I told you I have one?”
“Yeah. Hey! I still haven’t seen it! Where is it?”
“Under my left arm, on my rib cage where my heart is. It simply says, ‘A Serpent’s Tooth’ and has a tiny snake with a forked tongue wound around it. It isn’t easy to see but I can show you when we go to bed. I got that after I found that filth on my father’s computer. He pretty much disowned me when I saw how evil he was but he has no idea how sharp my teeth can be. I’m just shocked that you said that.”
“Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear,’ right? I read.”
“Yes, sweetie, that’s not what I meant. That is rather my battle cry.”
“Oh! And that Oscar Wilde thing?” Bryan asked, “I tried to find it on youtube but no luck. Just a couple of short segments.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. Well, maybe we’ll have to go in search of some ‘Gross Indecency,’ so to speak. I’ll take you on a theatre trip, how does that sound?”
“Enticing,” he answered. “But not as enticing as you. My wine glass is empty. Would you like to show me your tattoo?”
“I guess the waiting is over,” she answered, rising slowly and taking his hand. “Come with me,” she added leading him into the house.