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Entrances and Exits
by Phil Geusz and J.(Channing)Wells
The crowd was tightly packed outside the theater, and very threatening to my lapine leanings. If it weren't for Jon Sleeper on one side and Donnie on the other, I could never have stayed in a place like that without bolting. As it was I was continually starting at the slightest distraction; if someone stepped on one of my big hindpaws I felt I would lose it for sure. Splendor finally was the one who got me through it, standing behind me and scratching my ears gently until the doors opened and the bulk of the theatergoers had passed therein. The rabbit in me trusts Splendor implicitly. I'm still not sure why.
It was almost as bad inside, a big empty space that seemed totally bereft of cover until finally I convinced myself that I could fit under any of the seats. If I really needed to. That settled, I looked around me with human eyes.
The decor was magnificent, the rich red velvets of the upholstery contrasting beautifully with the plethora of gilded plaster carvings that seemed almost everywhere to emerge from ceilings and walls. Someone with a true gift for such things had created wall hangings just for tonight's presentation, some of them just abstract patterns of dots in various wild colors, and a few that looked like enlargements of genuine Pointillist works. There was even one hanging in a rather out of the way corner that appeared to represent dalmatian fur. Examining it carefully, a suspicion began to arise. That pattern looked awfully familiar. Had the artist actually modeled it on Bix? I wondered if Bix had even noticed it, and how he had reacted if he had...
Presently I heard a piercing whistle from behind me, followed by a familiar voice "Hey, Phil! Back here!" I sighed, and turned. Rubbing it in, was she?
Waving, rocking my ears even though I didn't feel like it, I simulated pleasure. "Dot! How are you tonight?"
"I came to see your Dalmatian friend. I didn't expect my Easter Bunny to be here, too!" Realizing she might be pushing it too far, the Director of the Chamber of Commerce tried to be contrite. "Phil, actually you look pretty good. I mean, well...."
"Yeah." She was a nice person trying hard to be polite, I reminded myself. And I had met many SCABs that looked a lot worse than me. "At least everything matches."
She smiled. "There is that. Phil, I gotta say it. I'd heard you would be perfect for next Spring, but now that I've seen you for the first time I know you're going to be wonderful. I'm making so many plans! You're going to love it!"
Love it. Sure.
Remembering what I had told Michael about inventing new tools for new jobs, I tried to keep an open mind. Maybe I could find a way love it in the end.
I doubted it. But I would try.
No need to ruin Dot's fun though. "Great!" I said, "Looking forward to it!" And I gave her my best smile analog, with ears all the way forward and my harelip opened to show my big front teeth. She giggled at the sight, covered her mouth with her hand in embarrassment, and reddened, unable to hide her glee at the sight. She was going to have fun next Spring, no doubt about it...
At the least, I resolved not to spoil it for her. After all, she had made this whole night possible...
The lights began going down, and a wave of anticipation went through the crowd. Jon, out picking up refreshments, came hurrying down the aisle to take his seat between his wife and me. This theater didn't cater to SCABs normally but tonight they were making an effort. Trying to be a good host to as many species as possible and realizing that some us would need to feed during the performance in order to be comfortable, management had set up a popcorn machine in the lobby. Unbuttered popcorn is a pretty universal dish for us herbivores, and it suited me fine. Unfortunately the Sleepers seemed to have trouble with it hanging up in their teeth. But I ate hungrily as the anticipation built- popcorn in a theater was something I hadn't experienced in a very long time.
Then the curtain went up, and I forgot the popcorn entirely. It was Magic...
If you've never been to the live theater, I pity you. You can have no conception, no idea of the beauty and power it conveys. There is a presence, an aura that is simply indescribable as the living figures sing and dance and perform their way through a powerful work. I sat rapt as the performers did what they do best, giving their all and giving it well.
I forgot who was SCAB and who was Norm, who I knew and who I didn't. Time stopped as the performance wove tapestries of art and literature, motion and music across the stage of my mind. I had been to the Theater before, but it had never been so powerful, so compelling. So immediate and real...
As soon as the curtain calls were complete, I KNEW that the director I had spoken to had a hit on his hands, and that everyone involved was going to come out a winner. Being part rabbit has advantages. Before the aisles filled I dropped to all fours- something I don't ordinarily like to do in public, but this was important- and sped to catch Dot before she left. I had one more favor to ask...