by Gay Degani
Last day of camp, performance day, with every parent and hated older brother in the audience, and I don’t know my lines. Instead of committing words to memory, Charlie and I found a way to create new memories down in the darkened canoe house after our dinner of hotdogs and mac salad.
I peep out through the burlap curtain. Yep, the Parental Units are front row center with smart-ass Rufus sneering as he scopes out the room for some innocent dudette to leer at.
Feeling heat behind me, a hand on my shoulder, I whip around. It’s Charlie, whispering, “Can we fake it?”
“Sure. Why not? It’s not like this is a play anyone’s ever heard of, right? And it’s supposed to be funny so anytime we forget a line, we sock each other.” I’m full of bravado if nothing else.
“Be more fun if we just kissed each other.” He puckers up.
I punch his arm. “But not funny.”
When the curtain goes up, a gaggle of campers do the can-can while singing, “I’d do anything for a donut, but I won’t do that.”
Charlie makes his entrance from stage right as the song fades. He freezes on his mark. Gawks at the audience, opens his mouth, shuts it. Then he pivots and punches each camper on his or her arm as they careen around the stage and flop onto the six scattered park benches.
I rush in from stage left. In the audience, Rufus howls with laughter. The ’Rentals look confused.
The only line I remember is “Donuts. Donuts. Donuts. Get your red-hot donuts,” which after I shout it out six or seven times, I realize is the bit from the finale.
Rufus is booing. Just at me, not the line, not the play.
Charlie picks me up and swings me around and around. Not easy for him. I can hear him huffing and puffing in between his own ragged rendition of “Donuts. Donuts. Donuts. Get your red-hot donuts.”
Then the rest of the campers start cavorting across the stage, singing, “Donuts. Donuts. Donuts. Get your red-hot donuts.” Everyone punches each other, falling over themselves, creating general chaos.
The camp counselors, except for Margaret, the play’s director, are sniggering behind the rigging.
The audience catches on. Stomp their feet, clap their hands, singing along with us.
Stepping to the edge of the stage, I shout, “Is there a writer in the house?”
A middle-aged woman leaps up and waves her hand.
I holler, “We don’t need ya!”
Everyone explodes with laughter. The writer blushes.
And from behind me, Charlie whispers, “Not with what we put in the punch,” and then he kisses me, the kind of kiss that you see in old movies, bending me back, leaning me over, offering an open mouth. Our tongues touch.
Gay Degani has had three flash pieces nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Glass Woman Prize. Pure Slush Books published her collection, Rattle of Want, in 2015 and the second edition of her suspense novel, What Came Before, will be published by Truth Serum Press in late 2016. She blogs at Words in Place.