Overload

There was a max limit to the hoist and it was surpassed and the whole mechanism came crashing down on stage. Actors ran away from the collapsing wooden stage, allowing themselves to feel the thrill of escaping a cracking ground that could have tumbled them right into the hell beneath the stage. It was just like being an extra in a movie, except no one had promised them they would be absolutely fine.

The director came out of his shuttered baseball cap and newspaper shelter and rose from his plush red chair. “Just what exactly is going on here?” he shouted, mildly all things considered, as if two schoolboys were ripping at each others’ shirts and throwing punches.

“There’s been an accident,” a voice called from the heavens. It was a squeaky voice, one that wasn’t used to shouting down, but this was Albert’s first day alone because Thespia (not her given name) had called in sick. He was pretty sure he was going to get sued. He wanted to get out of the theater as quickly as possible and pursue his earlier career goal of being a pet-shop owner.

“Well, someone fix it!” the director called out, even less urgently. He sank back to his seat, lowered his baseball cap, raised his paper, and resumed his nap.

The actors began to creep out of the wings, pecking their way through the debris, tiptoeing around the big hole in the middle of the stage. One, a brave soul, said that they should probably get a carpenter. Or a handyman, another suggested. Or woman, interjected a third. Maybe the set designer, a fourth said logically. The stage was part of the set, in a way, wasn’t it?

Albert sat in the heavens, squirreled into a ball, and waited for someone to decide to do something. His hand still held the rope that had been enough to hoist the thing up but not enough to keep the metal bits from snapping.

He thought of how his mother used to tell him that some days are like this, even in Australia, and still wished he were that many time zones away.

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