That probably had to do with the days and nights they had spent cleaning the hotel for opening, including several days when the electricity was out and they had to pick lint out of the carpets by hand. Oh, and there was the flooding. Did I mention the flooding? And the total lack of alcohol?
Yeah, so they weren’t exactly feeling the team spirit when I crashed into their room, clue-free and desperate for help. When I left their room, I figured that I’d need to find a crew by some other means. This left me feeling stranded, since I’d just found out that the producer, who had brought the production into the hotel, was departing in two weeks, leaving the production in my hands for the remaining three months of the run.
When the producer had to leave two days later due to an emergency back home, my real fear wasn’t that he wouldn’t ever come back, but it was that the Mo Boys–technically, they’re not all from Missouri, but why let that get in the way of a good nickname?–might not stick out the summer. Lucky for me, they’re all men of their word, and they stayed until the last possible day before they had to pack up and head back to SEMO.
We learned who could suck it up when he took a 110-volt jolt while hanging four stories above the lobby floor–the King, but just barely . . . I think Kemper had to loan him a hanky so he could wipe his eyes. We learned who panicked when the theater started to fill with smoke in the middle of a show–nobody, actually . . . we just opened a few doors and hoped the smoke would clear, the audience wouldn’t asphyxiate, and that “Basement Inferno Kills Hundreds” wasn’t going to be tomorrow’s headline. We learned that the four of them could drink me under the pier on the lake in about five minutes–hey, let’s be fair, I was adjusting to the altitude and they were playing as a team. And the Mo Boys learned that the theater I worked at in Palm Springs had replaced my heart with a tiny lump of coal, which explains the King’s expression here.
Whatever it was, something caused my coal-lump heart to shrink another three sizes that summer. And so it was, at one post-show meeting, when I was explaining to the company members some task we had to perform for the hotel, and the company members were protesting, I heard myself saying to them: We have to do it, and there are two ways to do it–the nice way, or my way.
Yeah, I was a charmer to work for.
Fortunately, the Mo Boys were all-forgiving, to the point that the King and Kemper here came out to Palm Springs a few months later to work with me at the theater there.
The rest, as they say, is history. Eventually, another of the Mo Boys came out, then they started bringing out all the good people from the SEMO theater program–which must have been excellent, judging from the guys we hired out of it, bu which I figured must have crashed to a halt as a result.
I eventually left the P.S. theater and drifted around, but they all took the opportunity and ran with it. The King is now a sound wizard for casinos in Vegas and in demand on the road on several tours. Kemper also worked hard for his dream and is now paid to blow shit up for a living–he works pyro, lighting up whole cities with fireworks, which is a responsibility that I could never handle, but he’s just the guy for the job: smart, calm, serious, focused, and tough enough to tell cops to get the hell off his turf, lest their radios blow everyone sky high. And what happened to Ake-man? I heard a rumor that he was working Vegas too, but that turned out to be a lesser talent, who ripped off his act. He was last seen in L.A., taking any acting gig that calls for a guy with a lobster claw in place of his left hand . . . but seriously, he’s out there, working the acting scene, and I’m sure that he’s coming soon to a theater near you.
As you six regular readers know, the King still checks in to see if anything ever grew back in the place where my heart was and even drops off comments when his schedule allows–between peanut butter and ‘nana sandwiches, after giving ‘Cilla some lovin’, or typing with one hand while he’s reloading to shoot the hell outta that damn TV with the other hand–and I had promised to share these pictures with him a long, long time ago. I finally got around to it, and I figured, what better time to unveil them than on his birthday.
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