Star-struck and ambitious; a deadly combination.
Chewing gum, Sara went to the diner where she worked as server every Saturday and after school. Mom insisted she work as she couldn’t give her any pocket money now Dad had died. Mom had difficulty meeting all the bills and expected Sara to share her load. She worked so many hours she barely had time to meet her boyfriend, but he managed to meet her every Friday and Saturday night after work. They managed to sneak to the back row of the cinema and saw the last movie. Occasionally he could afford to take her to a motel for the night when her mom stayed away with her friend. She had promised her mom she would stay with her aunt. Her mom had never found her out.
She didn’t approve of Jim, thinking he was a loser like her husband who had drunk heavily and left them when Sara was seven. Sara thought differently. He was going somewhere. He had been promoted twice. He just didn’t have the college education mom expected in a man. Jim wanted to work with his hands and worked as an apprentice carpenter and helped manage the wood store for his boss. He was clever with numbers and had promised to marry her and take her away from her mom when he finished his apprenticeship, that is when she turned eighteen. She was bright, good with books and he wanted her to finish her education, but she wanted to leave school and played hookey which got her into hot water with her mom.
She was grounded for a week and forbidden to meet Jim. He still popped into the diner, but she could only speak to him for a minute. Her boss thought her mom was a dragon, but the diner was always busy, and she had customers to serve. When she had a moment, she read the celebrity pages of the magazines left for customers to peruse. She imagined herself in the glamorous garments the celebrities wore, fingering her neckline and ears as if she displayed the gems they required to show their status.
She wanted to train for the theatre, but her mom wouldn’t pay for her to go to drama school. If she passed her exams and got a good job Jim said they could save the money for a two-year course at drama school but by then she would be too old. He encouraged her, but he didn’t earn enough to keep her at drama school and pay the rent on a decent apartment until he finished his apprenticeship. At times, she felt like running off with her mom’s savings, but Jim would not put up with that. Rough around the edges he might be, but he was decent and honest and expected his future wife to be the same.
There was a lull for a moment and she stood sullenly waiting for the next client to raise his hand and ask for his bill. A woman she did not recognise came in. The lady sat at the back and looked at the menu. She had a copy of a stage magazine which professionals used on the table as she drunk the water and coffee she had ordered. Her long magenta finger nails tapped impatiently on the table as she read the mag with increasing concentration. She then circled one advert and put the paper down.
‘’More coffee Ma’‘am?’’ This was one of the most interesting customers she had served all day. The woman nodded, ‘‘Please Sara,’’ reading her name badge. Sara hated her name and intended changing it for the stage. She would call herself Hayley or even Chardonnay.
‘‘I would like the prawn salad please and a glass of merlot please.’’ She wouldn’t want to eat the fried stuff like the regulars with that slim figure. She looked briefly at the magazine and the woman watched her intensely.
‘‘Oh, Sorry Ma’am,’’ spluttered Sara embarrassed. ‘‘I just recognised the face on the page of your magazine.’’
‘‘It is ok, really Sara. Are you interested in auditioning for a part?’’
‘‘Mom says I’m too young and won’t send me to drama school but if I could audition I would. I just don’t know where they take place near here and I can’t afford the train fare to the bigger cities.’’ How she hated being poor. Her mom said they were not poor, just not wealthy but she knew most of her classmates could afford to try for drama school.
‘‘Have you read this magazine?’’
‘‘I have seen the mag but never read it as there is no point.’’
‘‘There are auditions advertised here and on Facebook. Have you studied drama at school?’’
‘‘Have you heard of a Streetcar Named Desire? The part of Blanche is being auditioned for and it would suit you. You have the look of a Blanche and the figure to match. Sit down and I’ll copy the address for you.’’
‘‘Are you a talent scout Ma’am?’’
‘‘Dear me, no. But I have acted in amateur dramatic productions and my brother runs a theatre company, so I know what I am talking about. Have you heard of Talking Productions?’’
‘‘Oh, yes, it is one of the best in this area,’’ answered Sara breathlessly. It would be her dream come true winning the part of the sensual Blanche. But what would her mother say if she won a well-paid part in the production?
‘‘Well he owns it and he is auditioning people for the production tonight. I can give you a lift to the audition if you want. What time do you finish Sara? You look as if you deserve a lucky break?’’
‘‘At seven thirty, Ma’am. We close early now the tourists have mainly gone.’’
‘‘Put on some makeup and tidy your hair and we will go to the audition. You have read the play?’’
‘‘I read the part of Blanche this year Ma’am when we studied the part in drama.’’
‘’You will read wonderfully then my dear and my brother will love you. Just you see. He said most of the girls who have sent their C.V.’s to him have had little acting experience. You could be lucky, or he may find another part for you if you are good.’’ She waved a perfumed hand and sent Sara scurrying to collect plates and make out bills for the two other remaining customers.
Sara watched her from the cash till. She was tall and slim and had beautiful nails and make up. Her clothes were from a top designer, the cotton finer than that Sara wore, and her boots were made from soft leather. She wore a silk scarf wound around her neck and jewellery was scattered across her person. Her eyes through the enormous designer sunglasses sparkled green, dazzling the other customers. Her jet-black hair was coiled on top of her head making her look even taller and more imperious than she was. She smelled of wealth and privilege and was inviting Sara a poor girl into her world. No-one else had acted so kindly toward her.
Sara gave the keys to the kitchen staff and said, ‘You lock up. I’m going to an audition with that lady. I’ll be back sharp on time tomorrow.’’ The girl spluttered but nodded and went to take a look at the lady who had entranced her colleague so easily. She looked beautiful but cold and hard. When she looked at Sara she seemed to assess her, as if her young friend was an undesirable insect under a microscope. There was no affection in that look, merely derision and contempt. The girl shrugged. Who was she to refuse her colleague’s request to lock up? She might earn the part which would send her to Hollywood. Let her have her chance!
Sara followed the lady. She still didn’t have her name. ‘‘May I know your name, Ma’am?’’
‘‘Charlotte Beausame. My family are creoles you know, originally from France and the Caribbean.’’
That is where she got her sense of style, thought Sara following her to the rather boring sedan she drove.
‘‘It is a hire car. Mine is in the garage. Get in my dear.’’ She climbed in elegantly making Sara feel clumsy and immodest. Perhaps her mom might pay for her to have etiquette lessons. She was always saying Sara was unladylike. She ought to put her money where her mouth was.
They drove to the outskirts of the town where an old church hall was situated.
‘’My brother has taken the hall for the day.’’ She shepherded Sara in to the old hall. It smelt musty, but a man and woman stood there with a microphone and a pile of scripts.
‘’This is my brother and his girlfriend. She also works for the company. James, please give her the script and Sara start reading it from page five.’’
She stood next to Sara who was struck dumb with nerves for an instant. Her brother didn’t look like the man she had seen in the theatre books. He looked hard and mean and nasty, but he gave her the script and Charlotte nodded her encouragingly. The mouse haired woman merely glared at her and said, ‘’Hurry up will you. You are the last and we want to go home.’’
Ignoring her nerves, she started to read from the script, bending slightly to read the tiny font. Charlotte put her hand on her shoulder and she started when she felt a tiny prick. Her head began to swim. Charlotte’s face began to dance before her eyes as she was picked up by the brother and placed on a plastic lined table.
‘‘You take your turn first and I’ll be back to finish the important business,’’ said Charlotte and left her with the man who looked at her and began to undo his trousers. She tried to struggle but his girl-friend held her arms down and belted them to the table as he approached her and then belted her legs as well.
‘‘You wanted to play a sexy part didn’t you Sara,’’ he said as he leant over her. ‘‘Well this is your big chance.’’ He climbed on to the table and she finally passed out, blackness giving her some peace at last.