Sunday, December 16, 2012
Chapter Twenty One
“Jamie, please tell me you are here to take back the part of April,” Connie Welch said when she saw Jamie Henderson walking through the theater door.
“Connie, I wouldn't do that to you. You have the part now and I'm sure you will do a fine job of it. I just thought I'd drop in to see how the play is coming along.” She spotted Mike Daniels walking toward her with a smile on his face and her heart skipped a beat.
“Mike, tell Jamie we need her. I'm a terrible actress. I can't remember more than two lines at one time and I'm a nervous wreck. Please, Jamie, put me out of my misery so I can go back to painting scenery. At least I'm good at that.”
Melanie stepped up to the group that was beginning to form. “That's enough, Connie. Jamie said she was here to see how we were doing, don't pressure her into rejoining the cast. You will be fine as April, you just need a little more practice.”
“Practice isn't going to help, Melanie,” said Mike. “Connie is a swell kid but as an actress she stinks.”
“Mike!” Melanie glared at him.
“He's right, Melanie. I do stink.”
“Jamie, let's go sit where we can talk in private. How are things going at home? Belinda was here earlier and told us all about your grandmother. What a sad story. Is she settling in with your family?”
“She is doing very well. I'm finding out she is the only person who can keep my father in line. In fact, she is the reason I am here. My father actually admitted he was wrong about making me quit the play. I don't want to disrupt things but I am available for any part you haven't filled.”
“Oh my, we would love you back as April. I hate to say this but Connie really does stink in the part. You heard her, she doesn't want to do it and her performance proves that.
“Belinda said your grandmother was an actress before the accident. Do you think she would like to sit in on the rehearsals? If you don't think it would be too difficult for her.”
“I think she would love it. I'll speak with Father about it, he will have to check with her doctor, of course. I know Grandma has a brain injury but she seems so normal most of the time. It's only when she is tired that she seems to withdraw. We just make sure we don't tire her out. I'll let you know tomorrow.”
“That will be fine. Now, there is a young man over there who is looking this way. I think he is waiting to hear that he has his April back. Connie, you are relieved of your duties. Go paint something and thank you for helping us out.”
“Thanks Melanie. Good luck Jamie. You make a much better April than I do. You even look like April's picture on the wall of The Merryweather.”
“I'm glad you are back, Melanie. I have missed our rehearsals.”
“I've been gone less than a week, Mike.
“It seems like longer. Maybe we could get together sometime and I'm not talking about reading lines. I'd like to get to know you better, Jamie.”
“I'd like that, Mike, but right now I have to get home to check with my dad about something. I'll see you on Saturday, I hope I haven't forgotten my lines.”
Jamie bumped into Heather Crowley on the way out the door. “Jamie, are you back with us?”
“Looks like I'm here to stay, this time. How are things going with you and Andy?”
“He's the greatest. We are taking it slow. I was too quick to make promises to Philip Graves and that decision kept me from Andy for way too long. I'm going to see if I can tear him away from his work here. The Merryweather is breaking in a new chef and I told Tracy I'd be over to make sure he's up to The Merryweather's high standards.”
“This coming from a girl who never turns down food?” said Andy as he walked up behind Heather.
“What do you mean? I said no to the popcorn at the movie theater last night,” Heather said winking at Jamie.
“You turned it down and then ate most of mine. Not only that, you ate the good part with all the butter.” Andy squeezed her shoulder. “Let's go, all this talk of food is making me hungry.”
Jamie said goodbye to her friends and started for home. She wondered how her father would react when she suggested her grandmother lend a hand at the theater. He seems to be mellowing, but he was so against anything to do with the theater, I'm still going to ask him. I think Grandma would enjoy it, she thought to herself.
“Hello Grandma,” Jamie said as she entered the living room where her grandmother was watching her favorite afternoon program.
“Hello Jamie, dear, are they going to let you rejoin the cast?” she asked.
“Yes, Grandma, thanks to you I'm back in the show. Is Father around? I'd like to speak to him.”
“Your father is in the kitchen with your mother. They insisted I come in here and sit down. They worry too much about me. I'm just fine and I love being here with my dear family.”
“They just don't want you to tire yourself out. You have been through many changes in just the last few days. By the way, we love having you here too.” Jamie gave her grandmother a hug.
She mentioned Melanie's suggestion and to her surprise, he father agreed. He immediately called Dr. Howard to ask his opinion. He agreed if Lily wanted to be involved in the play, it would be good for her. “I don't know how those things work, but if they have a small part for her, I think she would be thrilled.”
All three of them walked into the living room. “Go ahead Jamie, ask your grandmother what she thinks. This was your idea to begin with.”
Jamie explained about the play and asked if Lily would like to drop by the theater for a little while the next day.
Lily grinned from ear to ear. “Oh child, I would love to watch you and your friends. I promise I won't be a nuisance.”
“Oh Grandma, you could never be a nuisance. I'll pick you up after school tomorrow and we will go together. The Henderson ladies will knock 'em dead.”
“Oh dear, we wouldn't want to do that. There wouldn't be any audience left to watch our performance.”
Nobody knew if Grandma was being serious or making a joke, but they all laughed anyway.
Andy Logan and Heather Crowley were shown to a table by the window overlooking lake. On a cold February early evening, the lake was beautiful with the hills behind it.
“Even from inside, that is a picture just waiting to be painted. I'm happy I answered the ad for an art teacher at the high school. I could spend all my days painting and never tire of the beauty of Camden Corners. I don't mean only the scenery,” said Andy. “Have you ever had your portrait painted, Heather?”
“No, photographs are the extent of my portfolio,” laughed Heather. “Somehow I can't imagine sitting in one position for as long as it would take to have my portrait painted.”
“I'll just have to paint you from memory then. Not sure I have your face memorized. I think maybe a few more sessions like this are in order,” said Andy as he took hold of her hand.
A voice came booming across the room. “Isn't this a cozy pair? You can be on your way, Mack. I'm back in town and taking my girl back. Heather, sweetheart, come give me a big kiss. I know you've missed me.”
“Philip, I see you are home from Boston. I will call you tomorrow. Tonight I am spending the evening with Andy.”
“Babe, you promised you'd wait for me. I'm here now so it's time to end your little date with this joker and come with me. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Philip, don't make a fool of yourself. It's time for you to leave.”
Andy stood up. “Look pal, the lady told you to be on your way. I suggest you do just that. Heather will call you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, she says a lot of things. She said she would wait for me and I catch her here with another guy.” Philip decided he had better leave, he recognized Sheriff Ben Murphy sitting two tables over with his wife. Philip didn't want any trouble. He'd see Heather tomorrow, tonight he would pay a visit to Sophie Reynolds. He was sure she would welcome him with open arms.
“I'm sorry, Andy. There isn't anything between Philip and me. We went out one time and he begged me to wait for him while he was in Boston. He is a good actor and I felt sorry for him so I foolishly agreed. Maybe I should find a part for him in the play. He would make a terrific scoundrel.”
“Will you call him tomorrow? I don't think he was quite willing to give up on you.”
“Oh he'll give up. He has other females on his list to soothe his bruised ego.”
“How about your list, is it very long?” Andy questioned.
“Not long at all. In fact, there is only one name on it. I guess I can forget my resolve to go slow in our relationship.”
“Good, shall we take a walk on the beach after we eat?”
“It's 28 degrees out there.”
“I know, and I look forward to keeping you warm.”
Grace tagged along with Jamie and Lily to the theater the following day. “I'll be available to take her home if she gets tired,” said Grace.
“I'll be fine, I grew up in the theater. It's like coming home again.”
The excitement showed on Lily's face as they walked through the stage door.
“Melanie Fairchild!” Lily said in awe. “I have seen every one of your movies. I heard Kevin Abbott married some harlot. I hope you aren't too heartbroken.”
“Melanie, this is my grandmother, Lily Henderson. There is no guessing what she is thinking, all her thoughts are said out loud,” laughed Jamie.
“Miss Lily Henderson, I am honored to meet you,” said Melanie as she took Lily's hand. “I am not heartbroken at all. Kevin's wife, Rhonda, is a lovely young woman. They are very much in love. I am Melanie Mackenzie now. My new husband makes me very happy.”
Lily became a favorite of everyone involved in the production. She made many suggestions that were incorporated into the play. She was given a small part that wouldn't tire her out too much.
It was finally opening night. The theater was filled with people from Camden Corners and the surrounding towns. All of the staff from the Greensboro care facility, except those who were on duty, were in the audience waiting to see Lily in her performance. Walter Henderson was seated in the front row with a happy grin on his face. Grace couldn't get over the change in her husband. She never realized the resentment he held inside for the woman who gave birth to him and who he thought had abandoned him. How sad it was that Walter and Lily had been separated for so many years. What in the world was George Henderson thinking? Grace knew he had been a difficult man, but she never knew how cruel he could be. At least mother and son were together now.
Towards the end of the first act, Lily walked slowly on stage. Most people knew of her struggle the last thirty years and the fact she had been kept from her son for even longer than that. Her friends from Greensboro stood up and cheered for her and were joined by many others. Lily turned to the audience, gave a little bow and said “Be quiet, I haven't said my lines yet.” The whole audience laughed but quickly quieted down while the performance continued.
The play was a huge success. Tracy and Holly hosted an after theater party at The Merryweather. Lily was one of the last to leave. Walter realized his mother was made for the stage and performing. He was grateful to Melanie for allowing her to be a part of the play.
“I can't tell you how much I appreciate your giving my mother a part in your play. It has given her so much pleasure, I can see it in her face.”
“Mr. Henderson, it is an honor to have your mother here. She is a delight and I'd like to use her again in another production. Of course, we would never give her a part that was too much for her. She does seem to enjoy being on stage though. Wasn't Jamie wonderful in the part of April?”
“She was, I think she takes after her grandmother. As much as I enjoyed watching my daughter on stage, I hope she won't give up on her studies at the university. I won't interfere though if she wants to make acting her life's work.”
“Father, you have come a long way,” said Jamie. “Don't worry, I like acting, but I think I'll just stick to our community theater group. I'm hoping Melanie will allow me to do some coaching. I think we have some very talented people in Camden Corners. It will give me some experience in teaching when I finally earn that degree.”
“I guess we'd better tear your grandmother away from her adoring fans. She does need to get her rest,” said Walter. “Melanie, thank you again.” He gave her a little hug. Grace looked on. I always knew Walter had a loving heart, he just needed a little prodding from his mother to make it come out.
“Well, Mrs. Mackenzie,” said Hap. “You outdid yourself. You directed this play like you'd been at it for 20 years. Let's see, I figure we will have about a five month run with this production and then we will start on the next.”
“I'm going to let you direct the next one, Hap. I plan to be busy with other things in about six months from now,” said Melanie with a smile on her face.
“I told you Hap, I knew there was a glow about Melanie,” said Aggie. “Samantha is going to have a little brother or sister.”
“Camden Corners will be having a population explosion in the next few months,” said Tracy.
“You too?” Aggie said excitedly.
“And me!” said Holly. “It's going to be a very busy summer.”