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Butterfly, Don't Do It!

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Lisa M

Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1844
Location: Rhode Island
Butterfly, Don't Do It!  Reply with quote  

Butterfly, Don’t Do It
By Lisa M. Murray
© 2004

Very little blood had seeped from the bullet wound that had punctured her chest. Exploding into her heart, the hollow-point had caused virtually instantaneous death. The bullet entered her body as she exhaled; she had uttered just a short gasp before her life stopped.
The fingers of the violist were long, slender and strong. Lying slightly crossed on her stomach, shadowed in the moonlight, there was no hint of the artistry the hands could call forth from her instrument.
Her legs were covered by a crocheted afghan throw that had been scavenged from the props department. It was a garish, tattered blanket of orange, yellow and brown acrylic yarns. Mottled in the moonlight, its colors muted, it blended into the roof. It seemed just a rumpled cloth across the black slacks and black tunic. A light breeze teased at the corners, but anchored by her feet, it only fluttered.
Her hair was thick and black, let loose from its clip and fanned across the pillow. The pillow, too, was filched from props. Red satin and round, the fabric gathered into a covered button in the center. The piping around the perimeter was worn, with cording fibers showing through the brittle satin.
Her body lay on its pallet of cardboard, covered by the afghan, isolated on the dirty, tarred roof of the opera house. The November waning moon traced its arc across the sky for three nights. For three days the sun sent its unobstructed rays down to the rooftop. On the afternoon of the third day, Maddy noted the buteos circling. Their wide, black wings hardly moved as they soared on unseen currents. Their featherless heads were thankfully muted in the glare of the sun.

Act I

Maddy picked her way across the parking lot, avoiding trash, broken bottles and any number of things she wished she’d not seen. After ten years, she was pretty much immune to the grandeur of the opera house, but she still hated the trash. She didn’t look up, but punched her security code in and opened the door at the sound of the click. The side entrance led down a short hallway, through the old locker rooms. Now used for storage, boxes and cabinets haphazardly lined the beige tile walls.
“What a mess,” she thought, again. “This is a fire trap. And it’s not even our stuff. I wish the university would cart it away.” As she walked through the back area to her office, she flipped on lights and subconsciously took stock of the place. A huge, papier-mâché horse, left over from a misguided production of Carousel, loomed over the property rooms door, and a new, raw canvas had been laid out on the once-gymnasium floor, clean brushes waiting. As she did every morning coming to work, Maddy yearned for the talent and vision to paint the wonderful backdrops that brought opera to life.
The prop room door was ajar – again – and she used her foot to shove it closed. The lock caught and she continued past the draped Steinway being stored there by the new assistant artistic director, and out into the hallway. When she arrived at her desk, she turned on the radio, booted the computer and looked despondently at the message light blinking on her phone. She knew who had left a message.
“I was here until nine last night. I missed my swim at the Y, so I had to get up early – which I hate – to make it up. Don’t you ever sleep? You are unbelievable. I had to clean up after my dog because you kept me so late!”
Maddy let the light blink as she went to make coffee. She ambled out to the front lobby, unlocked the door and reached out for the newspaper. Back at her desk, she flipped through the ‘Ledger’ to see if there was anything there that wasn’t on Morning Edition. Even the local section didn’t have much. She folded the paper back into its original order and set it on the Maestro’s chair. She combed out her short, curly hair, examined it critically and decided it wasn’t any thinner than it had been yesterday. She polished her glasses and examined her pathetically short finer nails. Then, finally, she listened to her voice mail.
“Maddy, sweetheart,” the general manager’s voice cooed. “Do me a huge favor. Call me at eight to make sure I’m awake.” Maddy hit the erase button. “Shit. She can be such a bitch. I’m not even scheduled to be at work until nine. Well, I’ll call her then.”
Guilt got the better of her and she dialed her boss’ home number at 8:35. “I wanted to be called at eight!” Yvonne snapped.
“Yes, well, I didn’t get in until a few minutes ago,” Maddy explained patiently. “The office doesn’t open until nine.” She took a sip of coffee and smiled evilly at the phone.
“Why are you late today?”
“I’m not late.”
“But you are always there early!”
“Yvonne.” Maddy‘s voice expressed her exasperation. “What is the real issue here?”
“Oh, I am sorry, Maddy. I’m just out of sorts. I thought if I got an early start I could catch up on the budget. I’ll try to be in soon. I don’t know how you get up early.”
“I have a dog. Better than an alarm clock. Look, Yvonne, take your time. There’s no one here and I’m sure I can handle any calls that come in.”
“Yes, of course. I am sorry. You are a treasure. I’ll be there soon. By ten, I think”
Maddy set the phone down, wondering – again – that Yvonne was there, surely still in bed; and Maddy was here early and being chastised for it, and the salary discrepancy between them. It was a scene played daily. “I see a pattern here,” she said aloud. Maddy checked her e-mail and started transcribing the tape of the most recent board meeting.
The staff straggled in slowly, an expected result of late nights during the last weeks of rehearsals. “Coffee, more coffee!” was an often-heard comment. At ten Maddy’s phone rang. “Ah, the ever punctual Yvonne.
“Good morning, this is Maddy.”
“Ah, Maddy my sweet. I’m just so far behind. I made some phone calls from here and now need to run some errands. Do me a favor and check my voice mail. It will be another hour before I get in.”
“Sure thing, Yvonne.”
Maddy sighed. “Isn’t insanity repeating the same behavior over and over, each time expecting a different outcome? So is Yvonne insane or am I?” she muttered. She dialed the voice mail code – couldn’t Yvonne have done this from home? The first two messages were personal. Maddy recognized the voices and skipped over them. The third message was a zinger. “Ms. Burlwood, this is Kevin Berger. As you know, I am the shop steward for the Musician’s Local. Please give me a call. Mr. Brooks, the concert master for your orchestra, has filed a complaint against Maestro Resetarits for inappropriate and harassing behavior.”
“Oooh boy,” Maddy said aloud. “The proverbial fans will be on high today.” She called Yvonne’s cell phone and delivered the message.
“Oh no,” Yvonne wailed. “We’re opening Butterfly on Friday! What has he done to us? This is terrible!”
Maddy gave her the local’s number, then took a walk around the building, seeking intelligence. She found it, as expected, upstairs in the wig room, where Wakeland was assembling the hair and supplies for a wig.
“So, Wake,” she said, sitting on a stool. “Tell me all!”
She watched as her good friend moved gracefully around the room. She was struck anew at how he moved like a dancer and looked like a longshoreman. His stocky body was clad in pressed jeans, and a crisp, fuchsia, oxford-cloth shirt. The sleeves were carefully rolled up, revealing strong arms totally covered in tatoos. Glitter-speckled frames of his reading glasses sat incongruously on his distinctive hooknose. These he pushed up to the top of his head where they sat on his close-cropped hair like a tiara. He brought the last of his supplies to the workbench, turned to Maddy and pulled up his stool.
“Ah, what a night!”
“Well, what really happened?”
“Ah, it was classic Maestro. You know that this has been brewing. It all came to a head in the first act. Oh, back up. You know that all through rehearsals there’s been a running dialogue about bowing.”
Maddy arched her eyebrows. “Dialogue?”
“Yeah, okay, battle.” Wakeland grinned. “Anyhow, it came up again last night. Gilbert got into a shouting match with the Maestro. It started about bowing, but the relative attractiveness of each other’s mothers, sexual proclivities – you name it, it all came out.”
“And?!” Maddy was mentally taking notes.
“So, the orchestra took a break, and when they came back Gilbert was calm but clearly still angry. Anyhow, everyone tuned up and April went to the maestro’s dressing room to get him. She swears he was half drunk, which would surprise no one. He comes back into the pit and walks passed Gilbert’s chair and just patted him on the shoulder.
“Gilbert went ballistic. Started screaming about assault and the threat to his violin, and he stormed out. Let me tell you, it was dramatic.”
“What happened then? What did Maestro do?”
“He was shocked. But after Gilbert was gone he simply asked Randy to move up to first chair and picked up the baton.”
“Hmmm. This will certainly be interesting. Gilbert’s filed a complaint with the union. But that’s Yvonne’s problem.”
“How will she handle it?” Wakeland asked, as he began, hair by hair, to construct a wig. She has quite a flair for the dramatic herself.”
“That’s for sure. I fully expect voices to be raised.” Maddy sighed. “Well, I’d better get back. Tonight is piano dress, so things will heat up as the day goes on.”

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