Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The Village Theater
The Village Theater
“I don't want to leave you!” Joe said as he held his wife of less than 24 hours in his arms. “Why did I choose to be a doctor? Selling insurance is an honorable profession and I'd be able to stay right here in bed with you all day.”
“That does sound nice, doesn't it? I think I smell bacon coming from the kitchen next door though. Maybe our empty stomachs will get us out of this bed and back to reality. I can just picture Hap trying to snitch a piece of bacon while Aggie's back is turned.”
“My money's on Aggie, she won't let Hap get away with anything.”
“And Hap loves the attention. He is such a changed man in just the last few days. I never realized how lonely he must have been since Margaret passed away. They both are still young enough to enjoy a little romance.”
“Speaking of romance, I think we have time for some of our own. I don't have to be at the hospital for an hour.”
“Hm-mm that sounds even better than bacon.” Melinda said with a smile.
Meanwhile next door. Just as Melanie imagined, Hap was caught reaching behind Aggie's back for a piece of bacon.
“Go ahead, Hap, take that bacon. If you don't care about your health, why should I? The bacon is for our house guests. I know it is a favorite of Rick's, but he doesn't eat four or five slices at a time. He gets his exercise and he is much younger than you,” scolded Aggie. “I have made you an egg white omelet filled with healthy vegetables, but if you want to add bacon to an otherwise healthy meal go ahead.”
Hap scowled at her trying to keep the smile off his face. He wasn't accustomed to having anyone care about what he ate or whether or not his arteries were clogged.
Sheepishly he sat down at the table as she placed the omelet in front of him. He had to admit it didn't look half bad. He reached for the salt.
“Didn't you even glance at the list the dietician gave you? No salt. Not even a pinch. Your blood pressure is out of control and salt is the worse thing for you. Besides, you haven't even taken a bite of the omelet. I think you will find it is perfectly seasoned and doesn't need salt.”
“Good morning everyone. Are you trying to tantalize me with the smell of that bacon?” said Rick as he entered the kitchen. “What have you there, Hap? It looks delicious. I have missed Aggie's cooking.”
“Not that you ate many meals at home. You skipped more than I could count. I hope Julianna is making sure you eat three squares a day now that you are so far away.”
“It's not easy, Aggie, but I'm trying.” Julianna said as she and Samantha came into the room. “Hap, that omelet looks wonderful. I'll have to take some cooking lessons from Aggie.”
“Where are Mama and Doctor Joe. Are they still on their honeymoon?”
“We're right here darling. We could smell the bacon from next door. Hap, I've never seen you eat anything so healthy looking. I don't see the ever present salt shaker next to your plate,” said Melanie.
“The warden won't let me use it. I have to admit, it tastes pretty good without salt.”
“Joe, sit down. What can I get you for breakfast, I know you are due at the hospital shortly so you will be my first order of business,” said Aggie.
“Just coffee, Aggie. I'm afraid I took a little too long in the shower this morning and I'm running late.” Joe glanced at Melanie as she turned a bright shade of pink.
“Nonsense, sit down. It will only take a few minutes for you to eat a simple meal. That hospital can wait for you. You are the only doctor I know who sees patients right on time.”
Joe followed orders as he sat down and gave Samantha a hug. “Hi sweetheart, how's my girl this morning?”
“I'm fine. I had fun last night, did you and Mama?”
Everyone chuckled. “We had a lot of fun, but we missed you. Maybe tonight you can stay with us. You can help your mama pick out everything to make a pretty room for you in my house. Would you like to go shopping with her?”
“Yes, that would be fun. I like lavender like the dress I wore yesterday?
“You may have any color you like.”
Melanie smiled. She and Samantha would have fun picking out furnishings for her room. It was going to be a busy day. “Hap, after our shopping, I thought we could meet Billy Wells for a look at the opera house. Anyone else that would like to see it is welcome to join us.”
“I'd like to see it,” said Aggie. It has been years since I've been inside but I remember it was a beautiful building.
Rick said, “I'm planning to stop by the Chronicle. I'm sure Julianna would like to be a part of this project. Why don't you go with Melanie, sweetheart.”
Good, I'll call Billy and set up a time this afternoon. I'm anxious to see if it will work for our purpose.
Aggie insisted on cleaning up the kitchen herself. She shooed everyone away. Hap came back and grabbed a towel. Aggie didn't object because she liked being around him. “I really do appreciate what you are doing for me Aggie. It's been a long time since anyone made sure I was taking care of myself.”
“I enjoy it, Hap. I know I can be a bit hard on you, but I don't want anything to happen to you. I want to get you feeling better for the short time you will be here in Camden Corners.”
“I've been thinking about that. I have an assistant I trust to handle my clients. To be honest, I think she would do a better job than I do. I am thinking of staying in Camden Corners for a few months. Since Melanie and Samantha will be living next door, it wouldn't be proper for me to remain in this house with you, a single lady. I will move to The Merryweather.”
“Hap! Are you serious? I'm a housekeeper, not a paramour. Many live in housekeepers share their home with single men. I don't see where there is a problem.”
“Maybe I'd like you to be more than a housekeeper. If you haven't noticed, I'm developing a crush on you Aggie.”
“I like you too, Hap. I'd like to get to know you better. What better way to discover if we have a future than to share the same home. After all, this isn't the 1800s. I don't think, at our age, we need a chaperone.”
“Good, because with a chaperone hovering around, I couldn't do this.” He took her in his arms and gave her a kiss she wouldn't soon forget.
“I never thought I'd be living in sin.” Aggie said breathlessly
“We aren't living in sin yet, but I'm looking forward to the day we are.”
Billy Wells was more than happy to show the opera house to a prospective buyer. He knew Melanie Fairchild would be a good financial risk seeing as though she had starred in many movies. She'll probably be able to pay cash. Billy thought to himself.
The building was in much better shape than anyone had hoped. There were some cracks in the walls and some of the wood was warped, but it seemed to be a good risk. Billy arranged for an inspector to meet them and give his assessment. The news was good. Melanie made an offer on the property and it was accepted.
Work began on the restoration. Three months later, it was completely renovated. New, modern seats had been installed. The stage and orchestra pit were totally redone. Melanie spared no expense in making The Village Theater the finest facility of its kind in the area.
“Aggie, are you ready yet? I can't wait to get over to the theater and see what they have done with the place. I haven't seen it since the new seats were installed.”
“I'm ready, I thought I'd better get my gloves. There is a chill in the air today. I think fall is finally here.”
“I'm not sorry the weather is turning cooler. I have been looking forward to sitting in front of the fireplace with you. When are you going to marry me Aggie?”
“I can't marry you until I'm sure you won't drag me off to California. Camden Corners is my home and I'm too old to start over again. Now, let's get going to the theater. Melanie is expecting us.”
Hap was almost certain he wanted to spend the rest of his days in Camden Corners. His lawyer was working on the sale of the agency to Myrtle Jenkins. Myrtle was anxious to buy the business but afraid it would be too much for her without Hap. He had talked with her just yesterday.
“Myrtle, you have told me for years that you could run the agency blindfolded and now that you have an opportunity to do so, you are afraid.”
“Hap, you know I never meant that. You started this business and you taught me everything I know. I need more time to think about it.”
“I understand Myrtle but I need an answer within the next few days. Milton has another buyer who is interested. I don't want to pressure you but Aggie won't say yes to my proposal unless I sever all ties to my life in California.”
“I understand, Hap. I'll give you my answer very soon.” Myrtle hung the phone up and thought to herself. I'd marry you Hap, but you never asked me. Maybe it's time to sign the papers. I know I will do just fine alone. It just would have been so much nicer with Hap by my side. She wiped a tear from her eye as she signed the offer to buy the business.
Joe arranged for another doctor to take over his patients that afternoon. He knew how much the theater renovations meant to Melanie and he wanted to be with her when she saw the finished product for the very first time.
Melanie was thrilled with the work that was done. Many of the people from town joined the group to take a tour. Aggie had written a play based on Millicent Merryweather's life. Aggie's mother had been one of the nurses who lived in the Merryweather home when rooms were being rented many years ago. Her mother often talked about her time in the Merryweather house and about Millie. Between her mother's stories and the journals, Aggie was able to put together a three act play.
Melanie announced that auditions would begin after the holidays. “Anyone who is interested may try out for a part in the play or work behind the scenes.”
“Will you be starring in the play, Melanie?” Came a question from the crowd.
“No, Harold, my acting days are over. I will, however be trying my hand at directing. This theater is a community playhouse and everyone one in our community will be included. Some will only wish to be a part of the audience and that will be fine. We do need a few folks to watch our performance.”
“What if someone has never acted before? Will they be allowed to audition?”
“I assume most of you haven't acted before. Hap, Aggie and I will be here to give you all a few pointers. I think most of you will be surprised that you do have talent for acting. Most people who have the desire to perform do a good job even without formal training. Don't forget, these are amateur productions, you aren't expected to perform like Broadway stars.”
Everyone was enthusiastic and anxious to participate in the first production. When Aggie and Hap arrived home, the phone rang. Hap picked it up. Aggie could hear his side of the conversation.
“Great news, Milton. Let's get the ball rolling on that immediately. I want you to handle everything from there. I won't be returning to California. Thanks Milton.” Hap put the receiver back in it's cradle.
“Aggie, did you hear? The business is sold, my house is up for sale, the few personal items I have there will be mailed and the rest will be sold or given to charity. I have arranged to purchase this house from Rick Marino. I am an official resident of Camden Corners. Will you marry me now?”
“Goodness, Hap. I didn't intend for you to give up everything you own.”
“Nothing is important to me without you.”
“How can I refuse? Yes, I would love to marry you. How does a Thanksgiving wedding sound?
“It sounds a long way off, but if that's what you would like, A Thanksgiving wedding will be fine.