by Ladee Caid
When Grandma heard there were auditions for the play The Wizard of Oz, she gave it a try.
|When she opened the heavy glass door, a wash of warm air enveloped her like a warm towel from the drier. The smell of new text books and carpet cleaner came with it. She shivered the snow from her shoulders and pulled her gloves off one finger at a time. As she shoved them in her pockets, she looked around. There was no one in the University's lobby. There should have at least been someone at the receptionist desk she thought. It reminded her of Stephen King’s Langoliers. She looked out of the window behind her to make sure the world was still there. Her granddaughter, who had dropped her off, was still sitting at the curb in her car texting. Belva took a deep breath and started through the lobby to see what was beyond. Before she got to the sunlit desk, she heard a faraway, muffled noise behind her. She turned and looked. The sound had come from the direction of a darkened area of round tables, vending machines, and trophy cases.
“Hello,” she yelled.
There was only silence. She tried to tell herself the racket had been one of the snack machines clunking, but it was more like a wooden smack. She tiptoed the best she could in flip flops toward the unlit room listening for more commotion.
The lights from the machines and cases were too muted to be of any help should anyone want to sit at a table and read, but she could see a glass door like the one she’d entered into the school. Stairs led down beyond it. She tried the door, but it was locked. She put her hands on her hips and sighed. Her eyes drifted toward the trophy case.
There was quite an impressive collection. There were awards for every sport Belva could think of. It brought to mind high school days and her basketball trophy the cat had knocked from the nick knack shelf.
I’m still mad at that puss.
A slapping noise startled Belva back to the University. She spun. On the opposite wall was a door with a sign that read, “Auditions.” She’d found what she was looking for.
Belva stepped inside, shrugged out of her coat, and draped it over her arm. She walked down the hall to a room full of kids her granddaughter’s age. Some of them chattered with each other, one of them held a volleyball and recited Shakespeare, and others read from copied pages. A middle aged man stood beside a long, cafeteria sized table scribbling on his clipboard. Belva figured he was the one she probably needed to talk to.
“Hello young man,” she said.
The dark haired gentleman looked up from his paper and smiled.
“Hi. Can I help you with something?”
“I’m here to audition.”
Most of the room stopped and looked. The man considered her from toe to chin. Belva wore her knickers with her rainbow striped, toed knee socks, she had slipped on her flip flops with the attached daisies, and since she wasn’t sure what kind of blouse to wear, she’d thrown on her “Go Cavs” t-shirt.
“And, what part will you be auditioning for?”
“A Munchkin of course. I figured that would be flipping obvious.”
The Shakespearian volley ball wielder snickered. The clipboard holder blinked then smiled.
“Don’t you think you are a bit tall to be a Munchkin?”
One of the man’s eyebrows rose.
“Here is what I was thinking,” Belva said. “I could be one of the Munchkins, but have like some genetic disease that made me grow tall.”
“And, how do you suppose we would portray that in the play?”
“Hold on young man; don’t interrupt me. I’m not done. At some point, I could give one of the other Munchkins a high five, but we miss each other’s hands because I’m so tall. And, I could give one of them like a bear hug. He could pretend I squeezed him too hard and call me the daughter of a pig farmer. In Munchkin land that would be an insult, you see. My Munchkin father could run up and deck him. There would be a big ol’ brawl, and that is when the house would land on the wicked witch with the ruby slippers.”
Both of the man’s eyebrows raised.
“Um, the Munchkins don’t come into the play until after Dorothy arrives.”
“You could write it in.”
The man nodded.
“And, we could go around to all of the posters we have already distributed..,” he said, “…and add masking tape under The Wizard of Oz. We could use a thick, black Sharpie and write, ‘like you’ve never seen it before.’”
“Yeah, see, you got it. Wait, are you mocking me? Do you want to see what I’ve got or not?”
“What did you have planned for us today?”
“Just go sit down over there, and I will show you. I’m going to sing and dance one of the Munchkin songs.”
The man did as he was told.
Belva began to sing and kick her legs like a show girl.
“On the good ship Lollipop, it’s a sweet trip to the candy shop-”
The man held up his hand.
Belva thrust her hands to her hips.
“That is a Shirley Temple song. It isn’t in the production.”
“So. I’m trying to show you what I got.”
The scrawny boy who had been practicing his lines stepped up.
“Can we be serious here? We need short people, not elderly giants.”
Belva turned her searing eyes on the boy.
“And who the hell are you?”
“I…,” the boy said with exaggerated gesture. “…am the tin man.”
Belva jabbed her finger at him.
“You’re a heartless hunk of metal, and you need to take that stick out of your-“
The man with the clipboard jumped up, threw his arm around Belva’s shoulders, and directed her to the long table.
“Thank you so much for your audition. Why don’t you come over here? Leave your name and number with Suzie. If I need you, I will definitely give you a call.”
Belva slid into her granddaughter’s car and buckled herself in.
“How did it go, grandma?”
“Eh, I think the director is smitten with me. He put his arm around me and got my number, and I can’t work under those conditions. I’m hungry for a burger and fries; let’s go eat.”
The granddaughter eyed her grandmother’s legs and feet.
“Drive-thru? I really do need to get home.”
“Suit yourself, just feed me.”