Back in middle school, I was cast in the stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery “And Then There Were None.” *
I cannot recall what role I landed – I’d like to say it was the part of the beautiful and demure Vera Claythorne, whose vulnerability masks a more sinister intent.
But that is most likely me recasting myself in the more glamourous of three female roles. I really cannot remember.
As a matter of fact, I don’t remember the production ever making it to opening night. I suppose talent and resources (or the lack thereof) forced the director to make a judgement call. This was one show that did not go on.
But that’s not the pressing question for me, as I write this. Today, I want to know whatever happened to Lance Slumski?
Lance was also a member of the cast. The reason I think I was Vera is because I recall playing opposite Lance as Phillip Lombard: dashing world traveler whose past is about to catch up with him. Vera and Phillip shared several scenes, and their characters developed a bond, if not actual trust. Well, hardly trust. Vera shoots Phillip. But that’s not the point.
The point is, our onstage intimacy morphed into an off-stage crush.
Obviously, I don’t remember much about the play. (Good grief, until I started researching the plot and characters for this post, I had forgotten who dunnit!) But I do remember Lance.
We were thirteen or fourteen years old. Both rather homely in our adolescence. He was overweight with a swarthy (not in a good way), pock-marked complexion. He teased me halfheartedly, probably not knowing if or how to take it any further. I certainly didn’t have a clue. I’d block most of his advances and then immediately regret it.
For some reason, this next scene remains indelibly etched in my memory:
After school rehearsal. Lance and I are off-stage, on the gymnasium floor, waiting for our cue. I am sitting up front, but he is in the dark recesses of the room. It’s just about time to go onstage.
I walk to the far corner of the gym, and find him napping on a floor mat. I feel several emotions all in a rush. I am perturbed, charmed, repelled. The intimacy of this moment is too much for my comfort.
“Lance! Wake up!” I hiss.
He comes too, shakes off the sleep, and we proceed with the rehearsal.
We do not, however, proceed with the flirtation.
For me, that real-life scene took me to a place that didn’t square with the play-acting of young adolescent romance. It was too real and I felt squeamish.
As I say, the show didn’t go on. Neither did the romance. But it was an unforgettable moment, one that intrigues me, still. A mystery, you might say.
*** *** ***
Inspired by the Daily Prompt “Ten” – as in *Ten Little Indians – the alternate title of the Agatha Christie Novel And Then There Were None