Back to the Desk

©2016 Levite


"You know NOTHING of us and our ways."
      "You're right. I Don't. But I do know about life."
"What do You know of that?"
      "That a life filled with hate and bitterness makes one old and ugly before your time."
"I should kill you for that, little Human Woman. Little Old Mortal Woman."
      "If you could, you already would have. But you're impotent. Using us to get back at him through them. Those who have overshadowed you in so many ways."

      "You haven't mattered for over two thousand years, and you don't matter now."

      "Miss Melodi? Are you all right? I'm sorry but, you look like hell."
      "I just didn't get much sleep last night," the woman answered, "I'm OK, Paul."
      "Did you have that dream again?"
      "Yeah. Same one. All the same. I checked my diary. Everything was exactly the same."
      "I don't know, but I don't think it's natural to have the same exact dream that many times."
      "You think I should talk to somebody about it?"
      "It wouldn't hurt to talk to Mrs. Treadle, you've always liked her. She'll be here after school."
      Melodi nodded to the student director from the community college.

      Later, the high school theater teacher Mrs. Treadle found Melodi in the wardrobe room where she was sewing ruffles on a sleeve.
      "Paul said you wanted to speak to me about your dreams. I thought they'd stopped."
      "No. If they did, they're back. The last three nights, the same thing. I'm in the theater, working, but it's like my life depends on it, and I can't get everything done."
      "Who's making you work? Me? Paul?"
      "No, nobody that I know, Mrs. Treadle. It's like there's this angry woman forcing me to do everything. I'm even supposed to hang the rigging for pulling up the castle wall, and I'm afraid of heights." The vision from the dream was so real her hands were shaking holding the dress. She put it on the sewing machine and hung her head.
      "It's all right. We'll figure it out. Tell me about the woman. Do you ever see her?"
      "Yes, she's always out in the audience, or back stage by the workbench."
      "Let's take a walk and you can tell me about her and what she has you doing. Maybe it'll help us work through it."

      Melodi stood on the half lit stage and faced the house. "She usually stands right down there," she pointed to the north aisle near the front row. "She's just a little older than me or you, maybe in her sixties, most of the time, she's dressed like a younger business woman. Really classy, with short hair, but she looked very, I guess the word would be stern, almost sad. And then sometimes, she's in a costume like a Roman priestess or something."
      "Do you remember anything else about her?"
      "Sometimes she's wearing a really striking silver broach, a crown of many colors, with small peacock feathers around it. And I always remember smelling apple blossoms."
      "What does she want you to do? You said you were putting together the sets."
      "Yes, she tells me to do everything. The other night I had to paint a ship."
      "Is the theater the same as it is now?"
      "Sometimes. The other night it was bigger, I mean, huge. And sometimes there's odd things around."
      "Like what? It might help me understand what's going on so I can help you figure it out."
      "I remember a lot of times there would be things like oranges back stage. Crates of them. And some kind of red fruit that I didn't recognize. And once there was a cow walking through. And I remember if I go back to the costume room, there's a peacock standing in the door."
      "Does she ever say anything else to you? Call you by name or anything?"
      "No. And if I look at her, she looks away. Like she hates me for some reason, but I don't know why."
      Mrs. Treadle nodded, and put her hand on the woman's arm. "It's OK, we'll figure it out. If I need to know anything else about it, I'll stop by. I need to go look some things up and do a little research."

      Mrs Treadle spent some time online, then in the high school's library, then she called Dr. Reid at the community college.
      "I think there's something else going on besides it just being a bad dream," she said to the the college's theater adviser answered.
      "I'm not certain who this young lady is."
      "She's not a student, she's an adult volunteer, she usually helps with the costumes. She's been with the theater for years..." then Mrs. Treadle paused. "But I don't know where she lives or anything else."
      It didn't take long for the two advisers to pull up the theater's file on Melodi, which raised more questions than it answered, including that Melodi's home phone number was listed as the theater's own office, and there was no education history.
      "I'll be down tomorrow after my classes. I would like to speak to her as well."

      The next afternoon both advisers met near the stage door. The building was locked and quiet, but they noticed a light on in the costume room.
      "Hello?" Mrs. Treadle called.
      "Yes? Oh, hello Mrs. Treadle. And Doctor Reid, what a pleasant surprise. I was just finishing up the collar for Miranda's gown for the one scene revues." She indicated the dress on the worktable.
      "Oh, OK. That's very nice." Mrs. Treadle answered. "Have you been here all day working on it?"
      Melodi seemed confused by the question, "Why wouldn't I be?"
      "I just thought you'd take the day off, you know, to get things caught up at home."
      "I'd rather be here than at home. I like being in the theater."
      "How about your roommate? Oh, what was her name again?" Mrs. Treadle said.
      "There's two, remember? Cleo and Eute. But they're never home. I hardly ever see either one," Melodi smiled warmly at Doctor Reid, "unless they need their laundry done or something. You probably know Eute. She gives music lessons at the college."
      "I believe so, yes. I didn't know she lived with you."
      "We've been friends a long time. Since we were in school together."
      "Oh? If she is the music teacher I'm thinking of, she seems to be much younger than you."
      "But we went to school together. We were in the same class. But she does look a lot younger than I do."
      "I don't think I've met Cleo," Mrs. Treadle asked her in a moment.
      "We went to school together, too." Melodi answered immediately.
      "What does she do?"
      "She works at the museum downtown. She gives tours. But she looks even younger than Eute."
      "Oh, that's interesting."
      "My other friends live downstairs. Polly and Era, and my sister Ona lives with them too. And my other sister Calliope lives next door in Seven, with Teri and Thalia, upstairs. We've all been friends since we were kids." Her smile and expression were as innocent as they could be.
      "Of course," Mrs. Treadle glanced at Dr. Reid and put her hand on his arm. "I just remembered something I wanted to ask you about the ticket blocks for the revue. Melodi, do you mind?
      "Oh, no, I'll stay here and work, I don't like to talk about tickets and money. Ona always does our taxes."

      The two advisers walked up through the auditorium until they were in the lobby, then they both paused and looked at each other.
      "I don't even know what to say," Doctor Reid said, "either she's an amazing pathological liar with a degree in Greek mythology, or somebody had a fantastic sense of humor."
      Mrs. Treadle agreed, "then what about the dream?"
      "From your description, I would say our little seamstress back there was having a suppressed memory coming to the surface."
      "Of somebody that hated a group of successful young women," she shook her head. "I can't even believe I'm saying the name," she nodded a little then said it, "Hera."
      "That would be my first guess. Or, Juno, or Uni, or even Gaia, or whatever, but yes."
      "I feel like we're discussing staging a Greek play about Odysseus or something."
      "That's not a bad idea. But instead, let's look at 'Achilles' or, maybe, I know, I read a thing a few years ago, it was a modern version of the marriage of her and Zeus."
      "What if it's really just a dream?"
      "Let's stop by her apartment and meet her friends, that should answer a lot of questions."

      The block of townhouses was totally unremarkable. In fact, even the color scheme was repeated in every set of five units on both sides of the streets, only with a slightly different order.
      "There's Melodi's house," Mrs. Treadle said as Dr. Reid parked in front of their building.
      "But I'm dying to meet Calliope, aren't you?"
      "What if she's not home?"
      "No better way to find out."
      The two walked up the walk to the townhouse. They stopped at the door and just before he rang the doorbell, Mrs. Treadle pointed to the names on the mailbox. The other names were as Melody had said, except for one.
      "Terpsichore, not Teri," he observed. "And Calliope Pieria." Then he rang the downstairs apartment.

      In a moment, the door opened and a tall, well tanned and strikingly beautiful young woman opened it with a broad smile, "I'm Thalia, the Muse, as you guessed, come in."
      The two advisers stood there as if they, instead of the goddess, had been carved of stone.
      Thalia, as she was the Muse of comic verse, seemed amused by their response, "Or we can wait outside for Calliope. She is on her way."
      Mrs. Treadle recovered first, "We'll come in."

      For some reason, Mrs. Treadle expected a Greek, or at least a Mediterranean décor in the apartment. However, instead of that, the theme was more how you would expect it to look if somebody with excellent taste had outfitted their home from thrift stores.
      "Please, make yourselves comfortable, she should be here any time. Would you like some coffee or tea?"
      Dr. Reid nodded, "Coffee please, a little cream and sugar if you have it."
      "Of course. I'll have some, too."

      They followed her to the kitchen where she made them cups of coffee from a pot of water that, without word or motion from her, became instantly boiling hot.
      Then they met two of the other residents. "That is Buzz and Boris. They were here when we arrived, and they didn't seem to want to leave."
      Dr. Reid looked at the nearest cat, which, true to its species, was indifferent to him, "They're just cats right?"
      "Yes. Just cats. Although I think Buzz would have a different opinion if he were asked."

      They were about halfway through their coffee when they heard somebody come in the back door with more noise and banging than they expected.
      "Calliope is here. She always makes an entrance," Thalia said in a whisper.
      And then, in a moment...
      "Oh, good, you're here," Calliope said as she came into the room in a breathless flurry of movement with two scarves, flying hair, a large purse with various dangling elements, and all that goes with it, "I was getting worried about my, I mean, our, older sister."
      Thalia sat her cup on the table, "They know who we are, but they are still somewhat confused about what happened to Melpomene, and how she can be one of the younger of us, and yet looks, and acts, thirty human years older."
      By her immediate and total reaction, you would have thought Calliope was the patron of drama, "It's horrible, she's being punished because," long pause, then the word was emphasized with a glance up and toward the top of the window,"...She, thought that Melpomene had disrespected an image of, her. Melpomene did no such thing, but that doesn't matter. Now, since she sanctioned her, Melpomene's memory has been eradicated, she is mortal, and aging, and may even die unless she can inspire someone to complete a great work of her art. And, I'm sorry, I've seen your group perform," Her gaze traveled from one to the other as she shook her head. "I'm worried about my sister. She may not have much more time before what she was, is gone for ever."
      Thalia filled in the blanks, "Only Clio was with Melpomene when, and I will say her name, when Hera struck at her. She cast her out like she was trash, and left her here to die. Clio summoned the rest of us and we have been here ever since. It's been about four of your years. Most of us took jobs to support ourselves, and we do what we can to help her. But, what we can do is limited. Hera is watching." In spite of her confident expression, her eyes darted out the window as if she expected to see the goddess.
      "Wouldn't it be easier to fulfill her mission in, say, New York or LA?" Mrs. Treadle asked.
      "Yes," Calliope said emphatically, "except part of the curse was that she must stay here, if she leaves town for more than a week or so, she ages even faster."
      "Right now, I'd say that she is about my age, and yet, you say she is about your age as sisters."
      "And that is how she sees us, only as her friends and relatives." Thalia answered, "Historically, when we appear together, Calliope is the oldest, she usually appears to be in her thirties, Melpomene would be in the middle, and I would be one of the youngest, usually in the human mid-twenties."
      "She's aged that much in four years?" Dr. Reid said in disbelief.
      "Yes. Hera said something about 'dog years' when she cursed her," Calliope explained.

      Later, the advisers met two others of the group. And, again, the physical difference and personal bearing and countenance between the now matronly 'Melodi' and her sisters Terpsichore and Clio was astonishing.
      "We'll do everything we can to help," Dr. Reid said.
      "But you cannot tell her who and what she is. If you do, Hera will come after you as well."
      "We understand," Mrs. Treadle confirmed.
      "What are you going to do?" Clio asked them.
      Dr. Reid exchanged glances with Mrs. Treadle. "Calliope is right. Greatness isn't something I would usually associate with our theater company. But, 'a great work of Tragic Art' doesn't have to be in the theater, right?" The muses didn't seem to understand. "Trust me, I've got an idea."
      Mrs. Treadle had no idea what he was talking about, but she knew him well enough to know that he was incapable of bluffing. "If we need any of you to help in some way, can we call you?"
      "Of course."
      He turned and nodded to Mrs. Treadle, "I've got an idea, can you come out to the college tomorrow morning?"

      "But this is my senior project, I thought it was supposed to be my idea," Bruce said defensively.
      "You said you have no idea what to do. And the school year is almost half gone."
      "Well, yeah."
      "And if you taped a documentary about the theater staging a short play, every aspect of it, from the putting together of the script through the final curtain, it would almost shoot itself."
      Bruce thought about it, "Well, ok. Yeah, I can see that. What play?"
      Dr. Reid hadn't thought about that, then, suddenly, he had a masterful idea. "A one act play about Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon."
      Mrs. Treadle visibly shivered, "whahomwha," she stuttered.
      "That's all right with you, isn't it? I mean, it's a play I wrote years ago about a painting. And I, I kinda like the irony."
      The other adviser thought about it for a second, then agreed, "Yes, now that you mention it, I do, too."
      "The muses, they were girls right?"
      "Women," Mrs. Treadle said, "nine beautiful women. Goddesses in every way. And I know who might play each one."
      Bruce was nodding thoughtfully, "and all I have to do is shoot my film. I don't have to direct the play or anything?"
      "No, your part will be to record the reality of the behind the scenes work of a community theater. Even how they build the sets and put together the scenery and costumes."
      "Who'll be, ... Apollo?" Bruce asked them.
      "We'll have a casting call for him. You can film that too. We'll see how our local men stack up against a handful of goddesses."
      "Well, I don't have much choice do I? My idea about filming car washes didn't work out."
      "Very good, I'll call the sisters and see if they'll go for it. For some reason, I think they will," the lady said.

      "Good Morning!" Mrs. Treadle said to the gathering of volunteers in the theater the next morning.
      "Good! Morning!" Several of them exclaimed back like they were participating in a exercise in stage expression.
      "There's been a slight change of plans for the One Act revue."
      "Oh, no," now the expressions were of almost tragic depression.
      "No, no, it's good news. We've added one more, a slightly longer one act play, then there will be an intermission, and then the three already on the bill."
      The expressive ones of the group cheered and applauded.
      Then she turned the meeting over to Dr. Reid, he introduced Bruce. And asked if it was OK if he started filming.

      Melodi thought it was wonderful that her sisters and their friends were going to star in the play. And she was delighted to 'stand in' for one of the Muses until they could find another actress that fit the role. Then she asked them the first and most important thing in her mind. "You'll need classical costumes, when can you come up so I can measure and fit you? I think we have some nice linen in the storeroom that would work."
      Calliope's expression was more of a study in stage emotion than the earlier expressive greeting, "we'll help you with them," she said gently.
      "Yes," several of the others said.
      Then Teri added, "and I'd rather not wear the rope wrapped around me, I've hated that thing forever." She looked around, "Really. Forever."

      To say that Bruce was putty in the hands of a master would be understating the influence of the newly cast actresses by a factor of eight.
      "I think you should make sure you get good full body shots of Thalia while she's being fitted," Clio said to him as Melodi measured her for her tunic.
      "Oh, yeah, that'd be great." Bruce smiled and backed up a step, and then another. "Wonderful. Thank you."
      "Yes, thank you," Thalia said to her sister.
      "No problem, just getting into the role."
      "You do need more practice."
      Clio smirked at Thalia, but any retort was cut off by Melodi asking Thalia to stretch her arms out.

      Dr. Reid went through the script and made some adjustments for the play to be staged inside because it had originally been written for an open air amphitheater. Then he printed out scripts for everybody.
      And as he wrote the names of the actresses next to the characters, exactly what he was doing came to him. He sat and stared at the name he'd just wrote and felt tears run down his cheeks.
      "Doctor Reid?" Teri said from the door, and then, "John."
      He startled back from wherever his mind had wandered, "Yes, yes, I'm sorry. Just a little...." his command of the language failed him.
      "You were wondering if we are who and what we said we were. And if Melodi is really Melpomene. And if her nemesis is really Queen Hera."
      He didn't speak. He couldn't speak.
      "I can assure you," she said and, after glancing outside, she pushed the office door shut and pulled down the window blind. Then as she turned back toward him she was no longer Teri with her hair pulled back and bright red lipstick around her mouth, wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt with the Seattle Space Needle on it, she was, instead, Terpsichore of Olympus. Stunningly, even Radiantly, beautiful, tall, confident and brimming with the wonder of life, music sparkling in her eyes, her face surrounded by flowing hair that formed a brilliant self lit halo around her head and shoulders.
      Two syllables escaped from Dr. Reid's lips as she took a step toward him, "Oh. My."
      Her voice was as clear and pure as a mountain stream splashing over rocks in the spring, "We are the Muses, and we are here to save our sister." Then the Seattle shirt was back.
      "I see."
      In a moment she raised the blind again. "I can take the scripts you have ready to the others."
      "Thank you...." his voice almost worked for a complete sentence.
      "Teri," she smiled.
      "Thank you, Teri."

      The next day they had the first casting call for their co-star.
      After the fifth actor's audition Dr. Reid leaned over to Mrs. Treadle and whispered something like it was going to be a long day unless the real Apollo showed up.
      "I won't say that that's impossible," Calliope said from behind them, "but I think we're already pushing it with our being involved. Somebody, you know, might object."
      Another actor who was twenty years too old and fifty pounds too heavy for the role was on stage reading his part to Ona and Polly.
      "Thank you. I like your voice, you project well, I hope you'll try again for another part soon." Mrs. Treadle looked at the list of hopefuls as the heavy set man walked off stage still smiling at the sisters. "I don't know who this is." She showed the name to Dr. Reid.
      "He's one of the baseball players. I didn't know he had any interest in acting," he turned toward the back of the house and called the name. "Simon Eggert, you're next."
      Calliope looked up as the young man walked down the aisle.
      "It is him?" Mrs. Treadle whispered to her.
      "No. He's just a man."
      "But he is quite a handsome man," Erato smiled.
      "That is not what we are here for," her sister said stiffly to her.

      But he was a man who read the part of Apollo, and even sang the song that was a loose translation of a classic Greek poem with enough soul to make a muse smile. In fact, he did make a muse smile. Several of them were delighted with his effort.
      A few bit parts were cast from the members of the theatrical group, and that side of things was set.

      Now they had to decide on the best set for the production.
      "I know," Melodi exclaimed and Bruce turned his camera toward her and caught her excitement on video, "I saw some of the foam rocks and things we used for 'the Tempest' a couple of years ago in the basement. I was wondering why we still had them."
      "Let's go see them."

      A day later, with the set at least partially lined up and only missing a coat of paint to change the rocks from moss covered island rocks to bare stone mountain rocks, and Melodi hard at work on the costumes, they began basic rehearsal readings of the script.
      Mrs. Treadle smiled at the seamstress, "Melodi, this is where you read the part of Melpomene."
      "The Muse of Tragedy? I'll try."
      "Good," Dr. Reid said as somebody handed her a script, "OK, we'll take it from where Melpomene sees Apollo coming up the hill toward them. Places..." He nodded at Bruce and his camera, "Ready to roll?"
      "Yes, sir."
      "And. ... Action."

      Mrs. Treadle watched the read through, then went back to the office to get something.
      She opened the door and saw a woman sitting at the desk, reading a copy of the script.
      "May I help you?"
      "Yes. You may stop this foolishness," the woman turned toward her, and there was no doubt who it was. "It is pointless and will come to nothing."
      "Hera." The word almost died on her lips. But she caught herself and continued, "Or are you Uni today? Perhaps Atargatis."
      "Don't call me that. You have no right to even speak to me," she slapped the script down with a gesture of pure disdain.
      "I can call you whatever I want. This is my theater. You're sitting at my desk It is you who are out of your realm."
      Hera's eyes were brimming with hate, "The World was my realm."
      "Was. And that just galls you doesn't it? Ge. That's another of your names, isn't it? Most of you have several names, some nicer than others."
      "You know NOTHING of us and our ways," Hera sneered at her.
      "You're right. I Don't. But I do know about life."
      "What do You know of that?"
      Mrs. Treadle answered looking straight into her face, "That a life filled with hate and bitterness makes one old and ugly before your time."
      Hera stood up so violently her feet left the floor for a second, "I should kill you for that, little Human Woman. Little Old Mortal Woman."
      "If you could, you already would have. But you're impotent. Using us to get back at him through them. Those who have overshadowed you in so many ways."
      The silence that followed turned the office into a cold and dark ancient tomb.
      "You haven't mattered for over two thousand years, and you don't matter now."
      "We shall see who matters. Woman."

      Mrs. Treadle blinked several times. "Did that really happen?" she asked herself. The office chair was still pushed back from the desk, and on the desk, a copy of the script that had a crease across it where it had been suddenly and violently wrinkled. The air in the office itself was still unsettled and thick with anger. "I guess it did."
      It took her a moment to remember why she had come to the office, then she took a deep breath and went to the desk and got the old piece of laminated cardboard that had the lighting diagram for the stage marked on it.
      She looked at it, then back at the chair, "I'm going back to work," she said to it.
      It may have just been the wind, or a car going by outside, or even the old air conditioning, but she was certain she heard something in reply that was more than a little disrespectful.

      The production of other one act plays scheduled to take place around the headlining production of Apollo and the Muses benefited enormously from the presence of several women who all seemed to have a knack for drawing the best out of people.
      For example, one of the short plays on the bill was a skit based on a couple being drawn into a ballroom dance competition, only to turn it into a square dance, and win. When it came to the dancing sequences, the 'sisters' showed everybody how it was done, and Eute, still in her costume as Euterpe, was something of a natural at square dance calling. And thusly, the cast members associated with that show within a show all got better.
      Another short production was centered around a man who was seen at his desk talking to himself while he wrote his will. The people and events he describes take place in quick succession behind him. The gist of the story being how small actions by individuals can multiply many times over, both good and ill, until they come back to the originator. The man's joys and regrets play out full circle through his life and then, play out behind him and fade to black as he finishes his final document. The ladies of the Greek cast helped everybody make their expressions, well, theatrical. And as is the way of local theater, many of those in the scene with the 'last will and testament' were also dancers in the other one, and sports fans for that skit, and so everything got better.

      Everything but Melodi got better that is. She struggled with her lines, and was uncomfortable doing anything but hemming the dress worn by the will writer's fiance. As the practice days turned into full dress rehearsals with an impending opening night, she had a serious case of cold feet and repeatedly asked Mrs. Treadle and Doctor Reid if they'd found an actress for the part of Melpomene.
      "I think you can do it, and do a good job of it," their Apollo told her at the cast breakfast before the full dress run through.
      "Yes. We'll all help you," Calliope said.
      "I don't know, I've never....."
      "Do you have some diet sweetener?" A man that had come to the breakfast with a group of Theater Boosters asked from the sideboard where the coffeemaker was.
      "Yes, we should," Melodi answered and hurried to find it for him.
      Mrs. Treadle and Dr. Reid both saw something in the man that they'd never seen before. Mrs. Treadle started to take a step that way and Calliope put a hand on her arm.
      "But, that isn't really Mister Baxter the lawyer. I know him, that isn't him. I can't explain it but there's just something..."
      "I know. It is your friend. But it isn't."
      "You mean that's really Apollo?" Dr. Reid whispered.
      "No," Thalia said from behind them as the rest of the muses gathered silently, and somewhat protectively, near each other.
      "Oh, my god," Mrs. Treadle breathed.

      They stood and watched as Melodi offered first one color of fake sugar, then another, oblivious to the aura that had all but panicked her sisters. All the while, the supposed Mr. Baxter was looking at her with sadness building in his face. Finally he accepted yet another color of sweetener and thanked her for her help. Then he turned to face the watching group, and with a sip of his coffee, his entire demeanor changed, even seeming to become somewhat smaller in stature, then everybody knew that the man walking their way was the lawyer.
      "I am looking forward to watching the rehearsal. I've heard good things about the production," he said in a voice that was very practiced at being neutral in tone.
      "Thank you," Dr. Reid said.

      After the back stage breakfast the actors got into their first costume while the crew readied the set and Mrs. Treadle went out to socialize with the small group of patrons and supporters who had come to provide a live audience for them.
      Within the hour Dr. Reid appeared in front of the curtain to announce the first of the series of one act plays.

      The applause for the first two short scenes was perhaps a bit generous given there was an unplanned dramatic pause when one of the people in the scene behind the will writer totally forgot what he was supposed to be doing and simply stood as still as a statue while the three other people around him frantically motioned and mimicked his helping to carry a wounded soldier to the aid station. "OH!" he said, which wasn't in the script, and then he got down on one knee and helped the wounded man off stage.

      The curtain closed and the stage crew went to work removing the writing desk and other items from the stage to convert it from a small apartment to the top of Mount Helicon.

      "And now, a short play by a local author focusing on a bit of classical history. Apollo and the Muses."

      The nine women, dressed in different colored but very similar robes, and all carrying their various tokens indicating their traditional roles came out on stage in two groups. Some were chatting, a couple were playing instruments, and another was singing. Well, eight were. Melodi was walking with Thalia while Terpsichore danced gracefully around them to the music.
      Then just as Calliope was about to nod to Melodi to say her piece about "here comes Lord Apollo" everything stopped.

      The muses all froze and stared up the aisle.

      Mrs. Treadle was seated about four rows back in the audience, so she turned and looked behind her to see what had interrupted the performance.

      The woman that had appeared in her office was walking down the aisle.

      "Just stop it." She said loudly. "It's over. Let her go."

      On stage, the others gathered around Melodi. Calliope had her arm around her and was shaking her head, but she didn't speak.

      Mrs. Treadle stood up and stepped into the aisle, "Everybody, excuse me. This is... I'm sorry, I was going to make up a name for her, but I won't." The lady faced the woman and stood tall, "This is Hera. She's here because she thinks that Melodi insulted her and that she's useless, and that she deserves to die a slow agonizing death because of it."
      Hera's face and voice was full of open loathing, "You would speak to me thusly."
      "If she doesn't I will," Dr. Reid said from his director's perch at stage left. "Your treatment of her is unjustified in the extreme."
      "Yeah," Simon AKA Apollo said from behind the fake trees where he was waiting, "I like her."
      Bruce was taping the proceedings from a platform at stage right, "She's helped me a lot with the video project. It's gonna be great!"
      Some of the audience began murmuring about whether this was part of the show or not.
      "ENOUGH!" Hera roared, and the entire theater was struck mute. "We'll be going now. I will give her to Hades, myself."
      The silence of the theater was broken only by the soft sobbing of Melodi.

      She looked up at Calliope and then the others and whispered softly, "I remember everything now. I know...."

      "Well, good for you. So you know where you're going," Hera's voice dripped venom. "As will any that interfere. Come, now."

      Melodi was bent and limping, evidently deteriorating by the minute as she now appeared to be well into her eighties. She stepped painfully forward. "I'll go. Spare them, I'll go." She walked slowly to the edge of the stage and began to descend the stairs, trembling with every step.

      All of the sudden the silence forced onto the audience and the players was broken by the sound of one man clapping.
      "Bravo," Mister Baxter said as he stood up and applauded, "Excellent performance. Bravissima signorinas!"
      Hera whirled on him a very picture of the wrath of the gods, but then, she was gone.
      In a moment, Baxter's standing ovation was joined by the rest of the audience as the spell she'd cast over them was shattered.

      "Oh, my," Mrs. Treadle said as she turned to face the stage.
      There were two Apollos on stage. And one of them was a good foot taller and much more muscular than the baseball player. He looked, if it may be said, like a Greek god.

      "Please. My Friends. Continue. Melpomene?" His voice was the music of the spheres.

      They all turned to where Melodi had been standing at the bottom of the stage stairs.

      Except now, instead of an aged and obviously dying woman, a much younger and fully healthy Muse of Tragedy stood radiant and smiling wearing an ivy wreath.
      "Look! Sisters. The Lord Apollo approaches. Let us welcome him!"

end mused

[NOTE: No Greek Godesses, local theater staff, or anybody else, were harmed in the writing of this story. All characters are FICTIONAL. Overall this Piece Is A FICTIONAL STORY, enjoy it as such.
Thank You the Author. ]

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