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Posts Tagged ‘Bess Tremaine’

Woodminster: South Pacific, Day Eight — C&R V

In Fiction, Theatre, Writing on October 3, 2017 at 12:06 pm

(You’ve maybe clicked on this because I’m bugging you to read it, but you don’t know where to begin. Hint: start here.)

Day Eight: Wednesday, 26 July 2017 – C&R V

Beneath this last letter is most of a neatly-penned page from a journal:

May 10, 1952

Bess and I snuck out last night. The moon is so bright! We brought flashlights, but we didn’t need them. And by God, if she didn’t bring a damned pitchfork! I snorted so loud when I saw that thing, I think I may have inhaled a firefly.
We had all sorts of plans: walk to MVC, egg Sadie Ballard’s house, dance an actual quadrille. I liked that one until Bess pointed out that requires at least eight people. She’s a good dancer. She knows this stuff. So instead of all that, we climbed up into Georgie’s tree fort and smoked cigarettes.
It was so exciting and dangerous. Bess said, “Do you think Holly Granger was this excited when she ran away?”
I said, “I’m not sure. Because of her dad.”
Do you think anyone told the police – ?” Bess was saying, but she stopped. “Do you hear that?”
Hear what?”
That sound. Listen.” Bess gets annoyed with me when I ask questions sometimes.
I don’t hear anything – ”
Shh!” she said, “It’s like … sleigh bells.”
I was going to say something about Santa and the Nice List, but I just listened instead.
I hear it,” I said, “It does, it sounds like … ”
Jingles,” she said.
That’s when something

The page is torn and burned at that point.

I set it down, looking at Weedbeard. He sees the question in my eyes.

“Yes, I think that may be the first appearance of our enthusiastic passenger from earlier tonight,” he says.

“I have a fuckload of questions,” I say.

“Have some more of that cheese,” he says.

I take another bite of the cheese, which I’ve been quietly avoiding since the strange vision that came with the first piece.

I see pools of light illuminating statues and ancient reliquary in what looks like a Victorian museum of antiquities. An older man, professorial in a three piece suit, is gasping as he struggles to pour a circle of salt around an ancient, sealed funerary urn on a marble pedestal. He mutters under his breath, words that sound like, “Mae Mirthin in chenouk hen galen thon, Protego! Servo! Praemunio!” A crash of shattered ceramic from the darkness behind him, and he freezes. A guttural chuckle rolls from the shadows. All color drains from the professor’s face as he falls to his knees.

The vision recedes and I reach for my tea. “What the hell is in that cheese?”

“It’s not so much what’s in the cheese, as it is what’s in you. The nature of the Mont Perdu Abbey and all it produces is to draw from within us that which is hidden, lost or obscured. It seems to me you might have some … lostness. Is there anything you need to find?”

“I lost time,” I say, before realizing I’ve spoken aloud. I eat a third piece of cheese.

“When and where?” Weedbeard says.

“Backstage at the theatre,” I say.

Weedbeard’s eyes widen, he leans forward: “Wait!” he says, “That memory isn’t safe!”

His voice echoes, fading down a long tunnel, blending with another sound until I’m standing somewhere familiar. I don’t just see it; I’m here. There are two or three mannequins. Boxes labeled GARLANDS and BANNERS. My cell phone light is on. I’m at the top of a set of dusty red concrete steps. They lead down to an open steel door. And from the inky darkness beyond,

“Ma-MA … Ma-MA …”

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Woodminster: South Pacific, Day Eight — C&R IV

In Fiction, Theatre, Writing on October 2, 2017 at 11:43 am

(Love spoilers? Read on! Hate spoilers? Start here.)

Day Eight: Wednesday, 26 July 2017 – C&R IV

May 5, 1952

Miss Louise Archer
5694 Estates Drive
Oakland, CA 94611

Dear Lousie,

Goodness, old friend, um … Can kidology yank or uproot rightminded, sober, eventempered ladies? Foolishness! How you carry on. I believe Miss Fitzsimmons is correct: you should be more industrious. Perhaps as applied to my first suggestion.

Regarding the musical, yes. I believe our summer months would be best spent basking in the tropical breezes of the Montclair District, with all its fog and tiny streets. But, to paraphrase Odysseus, how do we get in?

Lousie, Lousie, Lousie … you are my best friend in the world, but I have to tell you that it’s time to invest in a toothbrush. A girl has enough trouble getting a husband without sabotaging her personal appearance. I have some old ones I could lend you, just to get started. Mama uses them to punish the orphans, but a quick rinse and some borax should get them near new.

Sincerely Yours,

[Handwritten Signature]

Miss Bess Tremaine
1908 Julia Street
Oakland, CA 94618

PS, Friday is a full moon. Sadie Ballard shared this in Mr. Parker’s Astronomy lecture. It burst from her like a cry of victory. Mr. Parker praised her, as he should. Noticing the moon! Usually we need boys to point that out, but we never go near boys so it’s really admirable that she figured this out on her own.

[Handwritten note: Your concern for her teeth is admirable, but be nice about it. Awkward girls are lonely enough as it is. -10 points for spelling: L-o-u-i-s-e. I have friends at the theatre, I’ll call and ask if they need people to sweep up. You two aren’t what I’d call stageworthy. Re., Sadie Ballard: it is good that you recognize a role model. Now start modeling yourself after her and you may yet learn your role in life.
– Miss Fitzsimmons
]


 

May 7, 1952

Miss Bess Tremaine
1908 Julia Street
Oakland, CA 94618

Dearest Bess,

I went by the Firehouse the other day to see Bill. He said all the boys loved your mom’s potato salad, and they didn’t mind the kitty hair. What a relief that must be for you! If your salad is anything like your Mom’s, you’ll have no trouble boning up for that MRS Degree.

What a delight to have Miss Fitzsimmons’s personal hygiene advice and her help at the theatre. I’m so, so glad you mentioned that in our correspondence. She has been very helpful: she’s called them up and told them all about how we would be great hands at doing the laundry or sweeping up. How delightful. Now I needn’t bother auditioning at all, because I’m going to be doing peoples’ laundry. Which is my place. Whew! Embarrassment forestalled.

We must be sure to show up at 9:30 am on Saturday, which is when we’ll be expected to learn about how everything works there. Let’s be certain to avoid showing up around 5 pm, which is when the actors will be auditioning. I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea.

Your Sincere Palsy-walsy,

[Handwritten Signature]

Miss Louise Archer
5694 Estates Drive
Oakland, CA 94611

PS, Without Sadie Ballard, I simply don’t know what I would think. On any subject. Let us celebrate Sadie in the moonlight! Mayhaps a midnight quadrille on Broadway Terrace? I’ll bring the pitchforks.

[Handwritten note: It is good that you recognize your place in daylight, but girls should be home abed at midnight. Please do not let me hear that you’ve been dragging farm equipment out in the dark. Are you ladies making grave mistakes like the Granger girl? Please learn from her foolishness.
Miss Fitzsimmons]

Woodminster: South Pacific, Day Eight — Correspondence & Revelation

In Fiction, Theatre, Writing on September 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

(Newman? Williams? Elfman? Hermann? Your choice. But there’s only one way to know: start here.)

Day Eight: Wednesday, 26 July 2017 – Correspondence & Revelation

May 2, 1952

Miss Bess Tremaine
1908 Julia Street
Oakland, CA 94618

Dear Bess,

I am typing this letter to you in Miss Fitzsimmons’s Typing Class. Today our exercise is called, Posture and Prose. And so I am writing to you with the most ladylike posture imaginable. Unlike Sadie Ballard, who looks like a roast ham got drunk in a basement saloon before rolling down Lombard Street during a lint storm.

Perhaps that is not the most kind and generous thing to say about Sadie Ballard. I am ladylike after all, and Ladies are always properly behaved. Let me find a more ladylike way of expressing my thoughts. Ah, I have it: Sadie Ballard smells like old vegetable soup. The kind with Okra in it. Slimy. Best left for the piglets you’ll sell to upwind slaughterhouses.

Alas! If only it were all true. Sadie Ballard is sitting two stations in front of me, her every move balletic. Poised like a gentle doe, she wondereth on the in-side of her Dean’s List Brainpan, “Shall I flee hither? Or shall I flee thither? For I have farted, and I must allow others to bask in the magical dust I’ve bequeathed to them with my blessed sphinc!”

We are required to submit these letters before mailing them, so I might type something less honest. I certainly don’t want to straighten Fitzsimmons’s fright mop. I haven’t decided yet. I’ll wait and see: if Sadie Ballard does anything less than perfect before the last ten minutes of class, I’ll leave this letter as is.

Yours Most Sincerely,

[Handwritten Signature]

Miss Louise Archer
5694 Estates Drive
Oakland, CA 94611

PS, Did I hear you say you’re auditioning for that musical?

[Folded underneath this first letter, the following:]

May 2, 1952

Miss Bess Tremaine
1908 Julia Street
Oakland, CA 94618

Dear Bess,

Finally, a chance to write to you about all our exciting plans for the summer. I do believe you mentioned something about auditioning for the musical? Such excitement! Such ennobling artistic expression! And to be close to the enchanting Sadie Ballard, who shall surely have the lead in said expression of ennobling artistry – I just can’t wait.

All I do is listen to the recording. Over and over. I just hope that someone will see me as I see me: a diminutive, female Ezio Pinza. I watch his TV show as often as I can, by golly! I copy his every gesture. Sometimes I even put a potato in my –

Kainotophobia and killcrop kidology! Potato salad, that’s what. I heard my mother say the other day, “I wonder if everyone at the party will eat my potato salad.” And I said, “Mother, except for the cat hair, that’s a dang fine salad.” Oh, how we laughed.

Ever wonder what would happen if we went to college for manly studies like building fires and building forts in the woods? I’ll bet we’d fail, because we’re just girls. Ha ha ha, ho ho ho, where do I get these silly notions? Back to my needlepoint.

Truly and Very Very Very Sincerely Yours,

[Handwritten Signature]

Miss Louise Archer
5694 Estates Drive
Oakland, CA 94611

[Handwritten note at the bottom: Miss Archer, you are nothing like Ezio Pinza. Impersonating boys is a bad idea. Girls who build fires get burned. Needlepoint, indeed. Would that you were so industrious.
– Miss Fitzsimmons
]

[End Correspondence]

I set the letters down.

I’m sitting at a small, round oak table. Next to me is a steaming cup of fresh ginger tea. My stomach is barely settling down, but the tea – even its smell – seems to help. The table sits in a pool of golden light cast by an original mica lamp overhead. Across the room, just out of the light, stands Weedbeard, left arm crossed over his chest, holding his right arm at the tricep. His head is down, but his eyes are locked on mine.

He says, “That’s how it started.”