She sits in front of her vanity, makeup brush in hand, she is putting finishing touches on her face; purses her lips and closes her eyes.
She walks towards the stage and she listens to the crowd. She hears conversations, whispers and laughter. Slowly she enters from stage right, looking straight towards stage left wing which is empty ‘cept for some empty chairs and some props from the last act. The audience begins to applaud and she acknowledges them with a stoic and silent greeting. A piano begins to play and she steps to the microphone…
Where has it gone? She stands up from her makeup stand and walks to her den and pours a finger of scotch and ingests it in one swallow. She walks to the balcony and opens the door…
“Someone to watch…over…me.” She ends her set with this song, that for her, is a prayer. The applause dies down and she walks backstage. She sits in her dressing room in silence but can hear the crowd laughing in the background. “It must be Joey or Joanie on stage now.” She thinks to herself. That silence though! It overwhelms her and she begins to shake, afraid she will shatter to the ground and disintegrate in a whirl of dust…
It’s cold outside now, she stands on the balcony by herself, the darkness of the park across the way, the sounds of the cars below and a flush feeling from the scotch has got her thinking too much, over and over again.
She leaves the theater through the front exit secretly hoping for someone to notice her; yet no one acknowledges her… Save for the security guard who nods in her direction with his customary smile.
She leans towards the railing and looks straight down. She can see the history of her world from up here. The great performers who inspired her life…
Her grandmother who taught her how to sing, her father who taught her mistrust and her mother who lived a life of a subordinate housewife to an abusive alcoholic and who enforced the idea that all love is a lie.
Walking up Broadway she spots the Winter Garden theater. “Alan must be finishing any moment now.” She thinks to herself and walks to the stage door and knocks.
She walks back inside her apartment, takes another finger or two of scotch, falls back into her chair and closes her eyes. Her grandmother died when she was just 11 years old – that was when the world turned cold for her. Her father drank more and her mother simply stopped fighting him and slowly died, though she hardly knew it.
The backstage door opens and Al smiles, embraces her and let’s her inside. She hears the curtain calls and walks up the stairs to watch just in time to see Alan exit stage right.
She is sitting on her chair, tumbler in hand, wondering if anyone in her audiences throughout the years are even alive anymore. So much time has passed and so have all of her friends who could testify for her. Old playbills and posters cannot tell the full story of a life or describe her stage presence and her voice. So much adoration so much silence and solitude. Only whiskers of memories for a past where memories are in black and white.
She thinks about the upcoming Christmas season and feels a pang of pain inside of her – she remembers singing the song, “Christmas Blues.”
I’ve done my window shopping
There’s not a store I’ve missed
But what’s the use of stopping
When there’s no one on your list
You’ll know the way I’m feeling
When you love and you lose
I guess I’ve got the Christmas blues.
She closes her eyes and sees Alan standing outside on the balcony…she stands up to open the door for him… But he’s gone and she knows he was never there. The wind has picked up and a gust pushes her back. She turns and sees her grandmother, young and beautiful, smiling towards her with her hand out. She begins to cry…
In the distance a young lady is on the stage, standing in front of a microphone and singing, praying…
Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me**
*Songwriters: Sammy Cahn / David Jack Holt
**Songwriters Ira and George Gershwin