Flash Fiction: Live Theater & Other Realities by LJ Frank

Source: Broadway in the rain, NYC https://flic.kr/p/4PnFZt

We stood in line as it started to rain huddling under the early 20th century designed marquee waiting to enter the theater’s doors that suggested something exotic inside. It was our fifth or sixth date. I forget which. It didn’t matter. Our rendezvous’ began to merge. We both loved live theater and she knew one of the actors. Live people on a real stage is electric.

We were seated thirty minutes before the first act.

 Carla: Do you like interactive theater?

Me: No. I like the actors to act and allow me to sit here being cerebrally and emotionally entertained without getting directly involved, except for smiling, contemplating their dialogue, shedding a tear or laughing. Otherwise, if I have to directly interact then I wish to get paid…oh my god, this isn’t interactive?

Carla: No! Not exactly. Don’t worry. Besides they were cheap tickets. A one-night performance only.

Me: Interesting. Did you notice the intense fellowship of the couple two rows ahead of us. It sounds like they’re in competition for something. I wonder if they’re both actors.

Carla: Could be. Perhaps we all are? Actors that is…competition is a learned behavior. Probably begins with catching the first breath and cultivated as the baby grows.

Me: Like a mother withholding her teat causing a later fixation on female breasts?

Carla: What are you suggesting?

Me: Nothing. I guess I should be careful about dating my former therapist.

Carla: I’ve been thinking about that. You know I don’t usually date married men.

Me: Well, neither do I.

Carla: I’m glad.

Me: Aren’t you married?

Carla: That’s beside the point.

Me: I see. You know, I possess nothing. On a philosophical level it allows me a discernible freedom. I’m here existing at this time gifted to me through an act of passion, but is it a gift if I’m physically challenged or severely distraught, then would’ve I chosen not to be if I had the option?

Carla: You have a complex thought process. You always were a curious patient or should I say client? Your very oddness is what drew me to you.

Me:  Thanks. I’m not sure that my choice isn’t really just a raw survival response to the immediacy of circumstances.

Carla: You were the exception among my patients.

Me: What do you mean?

Carla: You were also always on time with your payments. To me that meant you were diligent and weren’t too wealthy, except in spirit.

Me: Really? Breeding.  

Carla: Perhaps. Are you ready?

At that moment the stage curtain parted and the actors appeared all seated looking at the audience. One of the actors stood up and walked forward, smiled and said:

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your delightful conversations. As you may or may not know, a majority of our audience tonight comprise therapists of some fashion from the greater metropolitan area. Tonight was an opportunity for us as actors to listen to our audience before we begin and introduce some of your thoughts into our extemporaneous performances. We thank you for your openness and applaud you.