Giving the Hook
by Margaret Karmazin
part 1 of 2
There are secret warriors who get rid of bad things. No one learns of their deeds. They don’t appear on the news, they don’t ride off into the sunset. I’m one of those.
My father left us two years ago. I was fourteen; my sister Jolie, twelve. My mother’s face was swollen from crying for months after. She didn’t explain much, but I assume he had a girlfriend or something. He was horrible with money too.
Now we’re pretty stable what with Mom’s job at Decker Subaru and mine on Saturdays at the hardware store; way better off than when he lived with us.
It’s a cliché, but I view myself as man of the house. Though I say little about it, I feel it’s my job to protect my mother and sister.
At school, I’m on the stage crew. Everybody knows what people think about guys on the stage crew: nerd, geek, a person not worth saying hello to unless they’re in the mood to torture someone. I’ve accepted my place in society, at least for now.
What some people don’t realize is that geeks often end up running the world, while jocks can turn out sitting on their fat asses, slugging beer in front of the boobtube. All I have to do is let time take its course.
The drama club is doing Peter Pan, which will run April 9th and 10th. Mr. Barlow is the drama teacher and director. People think he’s gay even though he’s married with two daughters, but he isn’t. I saw him going at it once last year. They were in a parked car at the far end of the school parking lot. It was a dark October evening after a play rehearsal. They didn’t know I looked in the back side window. It was Mrs. Marshall, a substitute at the time for Mrs. Vaughn, who was out having a baby.
They were really workin’ it. Good thing it was warm out so they had the window cracked or I wouldn’t have been able to see through the steam. I wondered about Mrs. Barlow and Mr. Marshall, what would they think if they found out about it, but it wasn’t any of my business.
Mr. Barlow is of medium height with wispy blond hair and a thin mustache like men wore in 1930’s movies. He always wears a scarf and carries what he calls a “man bag,” like, as he says, the French do. He looks pretty old, maybe even older than my mother, who is thirty-eight. I’ve never met his wife or his daughters because they go to Wilson High, our school’s major rival. Not that I care about sports.
With the help of Mrs. DeMain, one of the English teachers, Mr. Barlow picked the Peter Pan cast:
Peter Pan: Michael Dudash (flaming)
Tinker Bell: Miora Ransom (school whore)
Wendy Darling: Sara Russel (hot, nice, doesn’t know I exist)
Jonathan Darling: Garrett Wang (decent)
Michael Darling: Tyler Mayo (short, has a complex)
Mr. George Darling: Carlos Hernandez (asshole)
Mrs. Mary Darling: Christina Collins (churchy type)
Nana: Jasmine Green (looks like she’s twelve)
Captain James Hook: Jeremy Weiss (don’t know him; he moved here from New Jersey this year)
Smee: Aaron Silverman (little fat kid, gets picked on more than I do)
Tiger Lily: Emily Perez (hot)
I don’t need to list the Lost Boys and other pirates.
I had the stinking flu, which involved my missing beginning play practice, so by the time I got there, things were in relatively full swing.
* * *
“Eric,” says Mr. Barlow as soon as I walk in, “what we need you for this time is the traditional method of making Peter fly and the ship scene at the end when Hook’s ship fades off into the clouds. Oh, and when Wendy, Jonathan and Michael take off out the window to fly to Never-Never Land with Peter, just a short hop there. I needn’t stress that safety is our top priority.”
I won’t be seventeen till March, but I’m a genius at special effects and everyone knows it. I’ve done The Wizard of Oz, Senior skits and two Halloween productions with realistic flying ghosts and witches.
I can make something appear out of nowhere then disappear, and anything drop out of the ceiling except maybe a car. I probably couldn’t do a car. Okay, maybe not even a four-wheeler, but regular heavy stuff I can do. My plans are to major in stage production and special effects if they have such a combination. Mom, when she has a minute, is looking into it.
So, between dealing with the usual lighting issues, studying for a test coming up in French which I suck at, one in English in which I’m so-so, and another in Trig, which I’m decent at, my mind is working on the Peter flying and Hook’s ship issues.
Miora Ranson, a.k.a. Tinker Bell, is skanky hot. I watch her from the sidelines as she pretends to learn her lines. Her main interest is trying to get Jeremy Weiss to hook up with her, but he’s not playing. He’s clearly way too intellectual for the likes of her. Every rehearsal, her outfits get more ho-like, which is most amusing. Will she end up naked? Mrs. DeMain hasn’t yet given her a lecture. Maybe the old bat is losing her eyesight.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’m in love with Sara Russel, who is playing Wendy. Let me describe her for you: She has that Irish Catholic school girl look, though of course since this is a public high school, she doesn’t wear a uniform. But she looks like she should be, if you can picture it. Instead, she tries to dress like the other girls, i.e. ho-like, and comes off looking like a sweet little girl playing dress-up. Not that I mind seeing her belly button or half of her mammaries.
I overheard this conversation between Sara and her best friend Kaitlyn, who’s not in the play.
Sara: I soooo wanted to be Tinker Bell. A much better role than boring ole Wendy.
Kaitlyn: I know, I know. Tink gets to wear that outfit.
Sara: Yeah, and Wendy is in a stupid nightgown the entire time.
Kaitlyn: You could make it sexy maybe.
Sara: I don’t think so. It has to look like it belongs to a little girl.
Pause, then Kaitlyn: How come Mr. Barlow wouldn’t give you the part, do you think? ’Cause usually, he lets you get your way in everything. I mean... you know...
Sara (sullenly): I don’t know. Maybe he’s...
Kaitlyn: Maybe he’s what?
Sara (long pause): I don’t know.
I wonder. What did Kaitlyn mean when she said, “ I mean... you know...”? I will soon find out, unfortunately.
* * *
“How’s the flying thing going?” Mr. Barlow asks me a week later.
“No problem,” I say, though actually, I only have the thing on the drawing board. I figure I can rig a pole in the middle to hold it and a foam bed on it that the three kids can dive out the window onto, and then it’ll lift them up and away. The bed part, like the whole apparatus, will have to be black to remain invisible to the audience. Peter will have his own harness so that he can fly separately all over the place. A totally different set-up.
While playing Call of Duty Black Ops, which I’d borrowed, I have a sudden flash of genius. Why not make the hook on the carrier remote-controlled? That way I can just lower the carrier, press a button, the hook will open and whammo, whatever it’s holding will remain on the stage floor — behind the curtain of course — and someone simply attaches the next thing — Hook’s ship — while I remote it closed. Brilliant. I forget the game, turn on the computer and get to work.
“How’s that flying thing going?” Mr. Barlow asks me after another week passes.
By now they’ve had one rehearsal with the whole cast. Most people still doing some reading from the play books, and Peter just sort of hopping around, not being able to fly yet. He’s got to do some serious flying practice because there might be some fear factor involved even if he does pretend to be nonchalant.
Hey, I wouldn’t want to be swinging around over a stage. No matter how well I construct something, accidents can happen. Look at Pink or Brett Michaels.
“It’s going,” I say. I give him a long, weird look. I don’t know why I act this way around Mr. Barlow; he’s never done anything to me. But there’s something about him I don’t like. Maybe that man purse he carries.
“Well, when do you think you’ll have it all up and running?” he persists.
I hesitate, just to be annoying, then say, “By Thursday, Peter can fly. The other thing will take a bit longer. Maybe next Tuesday.”
“All right,” he says, rubbing at his eye. He looks tired, which makes me wonder about his home life. Like, is his wife really attractive and does she keep him up all night with amazing sex? But if so, why would he have been in the car with Mrs. Marshall? Or is he just the type who needs a lot of women to satisfy his demands? He doesn’t look like that, but as my mother so often says, “looks can be deceiving.”
Sara is learning her lines pretty well and, apparently, getting into being Wendy. Maybe she has given up on the idea of making Wendy sexy because she seems to be doing the role pretty innocently, like a twelve-year old girl would, at least in the time frame of Peter Pan.
From my vantage point off stage, I get to watch her a lot and sometimes it almost makes me sad, because I know she’ll never be mine. I know what Mom would say: “There are many fish in the sea.” But right now, Sara is the fish I want.
Miora can sex up ole Tink all she wants, but her glow, if you could say people have a glow, is very dim compared to Sara’s.
By Thursday, I have the Peter harness ready to go and Michael Dudash, after a half-hour of scared procrastination, has me strap him in and up he flies, flapping around like a cartoon character falling off a cliff.
He begins to get the hang of it after a while though, and by the end of rehearsal is hamming it up, flying himself all over the place more than necessary to the role. Mr. Barlow has to clip his wings, so to speak.
The other thing takes me longer than I expected, but finally it’s ready. The remote control hook is awesome. I dub it the “sky hook,” sort of a play on words considering what play it is. The set designers take over and hang Hook’s ship on it to see how it looks up there in front of the moon. Freakin’ good, that’s how. I let them use the remote, with the understanding that it’s back in my hands within an hour. They obey me.
Mr. Barlow makes John, Michael and Wendy learn their quick jump onto the black pad thing, then their lift into the sky and there is a lot of screaming, but they eventually get it down without looking too asinine. It’s great to watch Sara freaking out. I’ll think about that later, when I’m in bed.
* * *
Copyright © 2011 by Margaret Karmazin