“He is so thoroughly mean and evil,” she said.
“Yes, he is.” After some more observing, he smiled, and added: “I like him.’
“So do I.”
They were enjoying the musical very, very much, and the male lead had the audience in his hands. William was dancing while dangling from the the main support beam; Hannah maintained her form, as she was in her best gown for opening night, and stood swaying from the flies. In shadow, they stayed out of the way of the stage crew, as they had done ever since they found the playhouse, soon after it was built in 1931.
Feeding gently on the various thespians and crew over the years kept them both sated and happy; never a death, never anything more than a slight “case of the vapors” (so long ago), or a need, now, for extra vitamins and “recreational” medicines. This was bliss for the two, and they knew how to show their appreciation.
They had experienced many plays over the past eighty years, from joyous to downright dreadful. The really good ones sent them into flights of fancy; the horrible ones they hid from, cringing in the wings on opening nights, hoping against all hope that something would pull together. Those nights, they slunk off and drank their sorrows away, elsewhere.
Tonight was not one of those nights. This musical was magic, the leads were solid, and the cast’s enjoyment in their craft was infectious. Hannah did not have to convince William in the least. This was a night for celebrations.
“Time?” he asked, raising his eyes to meet hers. She was already changing shape, losing mass in the way their kind just did, and her dress transformed with her into bat like form. William always thought this revamp suited her well, but he was funny that way.
“Time,” Hannah answered, and off she flew, with William close behind her.
They both flew over the audience, causing quite the sensation. The audience “Ooooed” and “Ahhhhed”, a mixture of pleasure at the song being sung and also noticing the two Civic Center Bats (capitalized, as they were part of the mythos) flying overhead.
It was said when the Bats flew out, the play was a hit. When William and Hannah did not take to wing, the play was a flop, and everyone knew it. The actresses and actors, and finger crossed directors, collectively held their breaths, so to speak, trusting the bats on a wing and a prayer.
Well, two sets of wings, and a lot of prayer.
William stayed up high, as was his want. Hannah dove over the stage, circled once over the male lead, showing her approval, and then flew back to the flies high above the stage. William was already there as she misted back to humanoid form. He walked over, adjusted her dress just so, and gave her a kiss. Hannah returned the kiss, deeply, and the two of them watched the rest of the performance from way above the stage.
He had his arm around her shoulders and she had her arm around his waist.
When the show was over, they roundly joined in the applause, shouting “Bravo!” and “Encore!” with the rest of the assemblage. Except for their extended canines and the fact they were hanging upside down from a catwalk, they were like the rest of the crowd: appreciative for a show well done.
The cast came out for it’s encore, and the theater quieted down. William and Hannah, who had been privy to all the rehearsals, knew the encore song quite well. They held hands while they sang along…
“The milk of human kindness is the loveliest drink in the world, the loveliest drink in the world, that’s what people think in the world…”
Soon, show over, crowds gone, the cast and stage crew packing up for the night… feeding time…
It was the loveliest drink in the world…
I was told a tale by the male lead of the musical “Scrooge”, now playing at the Muncie Civic Theatre in Indiana. I met Todd Terrell many years ago at the Indiana Thespian Festival, where I was a Guest Artist, running theater workshops for truly amazing High School students. Todd was in charge of it all at that time, a well respected theater teacher.
I am equally sure he is an excellent actor. If you live in the Muncie, Indiana area, RUN to get tickets. The show only runs in December.
Todd briefly mentioned the Civic Theater bats to me, how they flew out on his opening night, how he got a standing ovation on said night, and how when the bats (who lived somewhere in the theater) flew, that show was always a hit. The ones where the bats did not fly, well…there was guano on the stage, and the audiences knew it .
So…hearing the story and the theatrical superstition around it, I just took it that one (or two) steps beyond. Hope you like it.
The song lyrics of “The Milk of Human Kindness” are (c) by Leslie Bricusse and I only used what was freely offered on line. If you want the whole song, there is a thing called royalties. Pay them…it’s good karma.