Spoilers: Over Easy (in a major way), slight references to The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice, Pulp Turkey, Film at Eleven, Everybody Who's Anybody
I've this idea from when the show was still on, so for timeline purposes, this would have to take place after Everybody Who's Anybody and before The Bugmeister, or in an alternate world where the events of The Eggman Cometh didn't happen. For anyone who doesn't know, the Broadway musical, Damn Yankees, was one of GCC's inspirations for N&A and I used it for a jumping off point, too. The musical is about a middle-aged baseball fan who agrees to be turned into a twentysomething baseball god to help out his favorite team win the pennant and thus beat the heated Yankees. Problem is he makes the deal with the devil, but the guy really loves his wife and hopes to go back to her someday. There are some really great songs on the soundtrack, too. Oh, and please picture Janet (Faith Prince) before that horrid little display in The Eggman Cometh with Roger. She really is a big Broadway star.
"You cannot be serious."
Lisa Wiseman stared in semi-horror at the flyer placed on her desk by her boss, Janet.
"What? I think it sounds like fun," Janet replied innocently.
"Auditions?" Lisa could barely get the word out.
"At the community theater?"
"Yes." The smile on Janet's face was growing.
"For 'Damn Yankees'?"
"It's really a wonderful show. Some great female leads."
Lisa was at a loss. "I-I can't even sing."
"Oh, please," Janet laughed off the remark. "Everyone sings, honey."
"I don't," Lisa tried helplessly. "At least, not very well." She tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear.
"I knew it," Janet said triumphantly. "And you are coming with me on Saturday to audition."
"Saturday? Oh, darn. Heather has this school. . . thing. I guess I'll just have to take a rain check on humiliating myself in front of complete strangers."
"My God, Lisa. You make it sound as if I'm making you try out at the Play Boy mansion."
"Close," Lisa replied dryly.
"You're coming, Lisa," Janet said as she made her way to her desk. "And that's final. You need to get out of that beautiful house of yours more often."
Janet's phone rang abruptly putting an end to the conversation. Lisa leaned back in her chair uneasily and attempted to think of any kind of excuse that Janet would believe. Her eyes fell to the flyer left on her desk. She stared at the picture of a baseball stained with a red lipstick kiss and quickly folded the paper in half and stuffed it under her desk blotter.
"Mom, that is such a great idea." Heather Wiseman had just picked up her and her mother's dinner plate. "You should totally do it."
"Oh, Heather. Not you, too. Did Janet call here? Did she tell you to say these things?" Lisa couldn't believe this. Was everybody turning on her? She headed to the sink and tossed a dishtowel in her daughter's face. "You dry," she said as punishment.
"Seriously, Mom, what's the harm in auditioning? I thought you used to do shows and stuff in college." Heather wiped the wet plate and placed it in the dish rack.
Lisa clung to edge of the sink and peered over her shoulder. "It was one play in my sophomore year, and that was a very, very, very long time ago."
"Okay, so you have a background in the theatrical arts," Heather gleamed. "I always knew I got my flair for drama somewhere."
"Yeah, I bet. Hey, you're slowing up production here," Lisa said motioning to Heather to keep up with her neglected drying duties.
"So, what show are they doing this year anyway?" asked Heather. Last year's 'Anything Goes' was pretty good."
"Um, 'Damn Yankees' I think. Yeah, 'Damn Yankees'." Lisa was really trying to dismiss the whole idea of it.
"That was on Broadway a few years ago, right? The one about baseball? Didn't you and Daddy see that one? I thought you liked it."
Lisa cringed, finally realizing why she had felt such an aversion to Janet's suggestion. She used to love the stage during her college days. She had even considered switching her major to theater after she did 'The Taming of the Shrew', but then she met Michael. It wasn't the thought of auditioning that made Lisa tense up; it was the show, the scenes, the songs. Michael used to sing, "You've gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart," in his off-key way in the shower all the time. Michael had taken her to see the show for their 13th wedding anniversary. She had worn that dress that drove Michael crazy. They had drinks at a hotel before the curtain. They both loved the musical, and afterwards Michael kept Lisa's hands warm on the train ride back to New Rochelle.
"Mom? Mom? Earth to Mom?" Heather waved her hand in front of her mother, who appeared to be in a daze. "Mother!"
"Yes. Yes. Sorry. Don't know what happened there for a second. Gosh." Lisa looked straight at her daughter. "You really think it's a good idea, don't you?"
"I do. It's something to do, or at least, something to try. You're always telling me to try new things. Except for drugs and sex," Heather added quickly.
Lisa pushed through the ornate, heavy wooden doors and found herself inside the Downey Street Theater, plush blue seats and all. She scanned the small crowd already gathered in the first few rows. Janet turned around, waved, and walked back to Lisa.
"Ya know, Lis, the auditions don't happen back here. You sort of have to be up front on the stage, if you want the director to see you," Janet said shaking her head and attempting to pull Lisa in the right direction.
"That would involve me actually wanting to be seen, correct? Now, I really don't see that happening. Why did I come?" Lisa tore herself from Janet's surprisingly tight grip and headed back the way she came.
"Because, there's the soul of an actor in all of us. All of us want to get up there on stage and, if only for a little while, become someone else. Wouldn't it be wonderful to just wake up one morning inside the skin of other person? Wouldn't we all love that? A new identity, a different life. Putting on those costumes and wearing that makeup allows us to be that someone who isn't us. We all want to act. It's our escape. It's in all of us." Janet's eyes were on fire.
"Well, when you put it that way. . ."
Lisa pulled back her sleeve to see the time on her watch. Janet was quite obviously in heaven, loving every second of the try out process, chatting it up with other hopefuls, humming a few bars of her audition piece. Lisa, on the other hand, continued to slide further and further into her chair as the minutes turned into an hour and a half of waiting.
"Now, look at that," Janet said, calling the attention of those around her to the group of young women assembled on stage, learning a quick dance routine. "We've been here for hours, and those walking blonde hairdos are getting all the notice of the director and the choreographer. Please."
The others joined in agreement. Lisa had had enough. She gathered her coat, not caring anymore, and said as fast as she could, "I'm out of here." To her horror, the moment, Lisa stood up, she heard her name.
"We'll be starting with the last name on the list; just to keep it interesting. Lisa Wiseman, please!"
"Kill me now! Kill me now, Janet! I give you full permission. Just do it!" Lisa sat back down again.
Janet pointed her index finger toward the stage. "Go."
Lisa felt every eye in the theater penetrating her, waiting. Lisa stood frozen to the spot.
Heather heard the front door close and hurriedly ran down the stairs to meet her mother. She sat on the steps as she watched Lisa put down her keys and hang up her coat on its hook. Heather rested her arms on her knees and placed her head in her hands.
She moved her hands away from her mouth before she spoke. "So? How did it go?"
"You didn't get a part?" Heather sighed.
"Part? What part? I got up on stage and not a single word came out. Not one. And do you know what they made me?" Lisa headed to the living room and sat on the couch. Heather followed.
"So you did get a part?" Heather asked.
"No, not exactly. They made me assist costume mistress, whatever that means. And that was only after Janet asked the director nicely."
"Janet got a part?" Heather was afraid to continue the conversation.
"Of course. Second female lead. Or at least, what Janet calls 'the mature nurturing role' as opposed to the 'young sexy she-must-be-sleeping-with-the-director devilish vixen lead'."
"Oh. Are you okay with all this?"
"I guess. It's something to do. I have been sort of bored lately. Who knows? It might even be fun."
"All right now, ladies. We're going to take that last number from the top again. Places please. Places. And a one and a two and a. . ." Lisa turned away from watching the director pace back and forth in front of the stage. From her position in the wings, sorting through baseball uniforms, business suits, and 1950s women's dresses heaped on her lap, Lisa was able to see every detail of rehearsal.
The show was only two days away from opening and for a small community production, the entire cast and crew were exhausted from countless dress rehearsals. Despite the long hours, Lisa found herself enjoying the backstage dramatics, watching the painted sets go up, listening to the rhythmic tapping coming from patent leather shoes. She was doing more sewing than she had in years, hemming skirts and patching holes that seemed to appear after nearly every dance number. A husband and teenage daughter never really had accumulated an army-sized wardrobe like the one Lisa worked on now.
"Excuse us, Lisa," a gruff stage hand, holding one end of a piece of backdrop, said. " We need to get the next scene set up and we have to move all this," he gestured to the collection of second furniture piled up in the wing, "out there on stage. We're real sorry to disturb you." He blushed, apologetically.
"It's fine, Herman. I need to fix these pants anyway and the light back here isn't as bright as my eyes would like it to be." Lisa gathered her sewing kit and threw the clothes in a tall mess on the chair. She reappeared at the back stage door, entered the audience, and quickly found a seat in the corner with enough light to thread a needle and enough darkness so she could hide in the darkness provided by the eaves of the balcony. She draped the pair of brown suit pants on her lap and reached into the small box she placed on the next seat.
Janet waved to her from on stage, beaming. For some reason or another, whether it was being too busy backstage or running out of the theater early to do some errands, Lisa had never before been able to see the song Janet and another actor were about to perform. Lisa knew Janet loved this scene. She talked about it endless at work, but mostly, she talked about her young, gorgeous co-star she shared the duet with. Watching him on stage now, laughing with Janet over some ridiculous comment the director had said earlier, Lisa had to admit he was rather good-looking, tall and lean with a strange smile on his lips. Then again, after the past few months, she saw younger men in a completely different light, one younger man in particular.
Janet and younger man began their scene. They sat around a dinner table, chatting about baseball and marriage and then the discussion turned into song. Janet, as Meg, missed her husband, who in an entirely different form, thanks to a wish granted by the devil, was sitting in front of her at the table as a new, young, baseball playing, alarmingly attractive Joe Hardy. Lisa laughed to herself at the premise. Janet joined in singing.
A woman doesn't know what she has until she loses it. . .
Lisa stopped what she was doing, half listening to Janet's words, half thinking about. . .
When a woman has the love of a man she abuses it. . .
I didn't know what I had when I had my old love. . .
What about that attractive younger man in her life? What was it about Mr. Newman that made him pop up in Lisa's thoughts so often?
I didn't what I had till I said good-bye old love. . .
She didn't even know his first name, for goodness' sake, and there he was, appearing at her doorstep on Thanksgiving day or sending her her favorite flowers or being shot in the stomach to protect her. He almost seemed to even know his way around her house. He was always doing something. Always acting so. . .
A woman doesn't know what she has till it is no longer around...
But the happy thought it whatever it is she's lost. . .
May someday once again be found.
. . .so familiar. Lisa had to stop herself. She could not let herself think the new unbelievable thought that entered her head. Michael was dead. Her husband was gone. It was more than year ago. But there had been no body and Mr. Newman-well, he knew her name. He said things, strange things, things that if she tried to explain to herself she would probably go mad. That comment he made to her in the subway, when she had given him the brush off with "SCREW YOU!" over the loud rumble of the trains, she could never understand why he replied, "Really? Ya sure? It's a weekday, you know." It almost reminded Lisa of something Michael had the said the morning before he. . .
And what about that kiss? That kiss that made her knees buckle. That kiss that took away every breath she had inside. That kiss that made her forget who she was for half a second and made her long to be someone else for another moment. That electricity that hung in the air the instant before their lips met. His touch. His smell. The feel of his leather jacket. Her fingers in his hair. That kiss gave her life excitement again.
Why did he say he trusted her more than anyone else? How did he know how to say her name the way he did? She didn't recognize his eyes, or his face, or even his voice, but it was her name on his voice that confused everything inside of her.
What if. . .
"Well?" Janet asked impatiently, obviously waiting for applause. Lisa quickly jerked her head toward the stage, unsure of what to say.
"That was great, Janet, really great. And Steve, wow. I'm very impressed. Good job. Both of you." Lisa spoke whatever words came into her mind.
"You okay, Lis?" Janet asked, hesitantly. "You seem, I don't know, a little off."
"Yeah," she said slowly. "I was just thinking. That's all. I'll be fine." She took a big breath and held it. Exhaling too soon would take that thought away. She was thinking now.
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