The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
🎧 751: Ariane said . . .
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🎧 751: Ariane said . . .

What a Piece of Work I Am, Chapter 51 concludes, read by the author
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ARIANE SAID GOOD NIGHT to the audience and pushed aside the curtain that in those early days hid the bedroom. She walked into the bedroom and pulled the curtain closed behind her. She was exhausted and happy to be alone. She stretched out on the bed, and the fatigue fell away in an instant, and she was astonished at how full of energy she felt, how alive. She was full of things she wanted to say to Denny—now Greg—about the evening. She wanted to celebrate their success.
     She heard Greg clattering around in the kitchen, making himself a snack. The idea of being with him there, sitting on a stool while he heated some soup or made a sandwich, the two of them talking over the night’s performance, seemed just right to her. She could see it. She could see it as if she were in the audience watching it, and that made her giggle. She wanted to talk to him right away.
     She flung the bedroom door open and bounded into the living room. Greg was in the kitchen, as she had supposed, and he was heating a can of soup, as she had supposed, but the theater was not empty, as she had supposed. There were still half a dozen people or so, scattered. Two were seated in the second row, just in front of the living room sofa, very close, their faces well lit by the living room lights. This surprised her.
     “Denny?” she said, hesitantly, moving sideways toward the kitchen.
     “Greg,” said Denny, at the stove.
     Ariane moved to the counter, trying not to look at the people in the audience. She leaned across the counter.
     “They haven’t left,” she whispered.
     “Huh?”
     “There are still people here. There. Out there.”
     Greg glanced at the audience. “Not many,” he said.
     “But some,” said Ariane.
     “Yeah. You’re a hit.”
     “But I—didn’t think they’d stay. Did you?”
     “I had my hopes.”
     “Well—ah—when do you think they’ll leave?”
     “I don’t know. There’s a big curiosity factor, I think. First night. This is a new thing. Who knows? They might stay the night.”

“THEY DIDN’T,” she said. “Not quite. I’d seen all of them before, knew who they were. They’d all been in Corinne’s at one time or another. It seemed obvious to me that they were all waiting for Greg and me to go to bed. I found, as I talked with him, as we reviewed the success of the evening, planned the coming days, that I was becoming more and more attracted to him. I had never found myself attracted, not in quite this way, to Denny. Denny was good-looking but—a little limp. Greg was another matter. He was so resolute and confident, single-minded and driven. I also found myself wondering whether the people out there, my observers, were aware that I was attracted to him, now, in a way that I hadn’t been before, and that this attraction had come about in part because of them. I found myself doing this sort of thing: turning away from Greg slightly—”
     She demonstrated, using me as a stand-in for him.
     “—to take a cigarette from a pack, or to straighten my sleeve, pick a piece of lint from my sweater, anything of that sort that would allow me to make an expression for the observers, and not for him. I was playing an interesting balancing act. To the audience, I was telegraphing what was to come: I was going to entice him into my bedroom, so that we could celebrate our opening night the way a pair as charged up as we were ought to celebrate. I was letting them in on it. They were, in a sense, invited to participate. They weren’t invited into the bedroom, of course. They were members of the audience; they were not part of the act. They were invited into my home, into our dialogue, and even into my thoughts, which I was intimating to them through the looks I was throwing their way, but they were not invited into our bedroom—”
     She used the pause.
     “—yet,” she said. “That came much later.”

[to be continued]

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The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The entire Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy, read by the author. "A masterpiece of American humor." Los Angeles Times