Eddy’s father was an accountant, and managed his stock portfolio well to become a very wealthy man. He bought the land around their house on the edge of town, which left their house sitting all alone. And then, he built on to the house again and again until the place had become a mansion. It was an immaculate mansion with manicured lawns, large gardens, and lights down the drive to the gated fence at the road.
Eddy spent much of his youth attending adult events, such as vaudeville shows, plays and other similar entertainment. He had a lot of time on his hands as he was an only child, and spent much of it imitating the shows he had seen with his parents. It sometimes meant playing with dolls, which his mother, a stay-at-home mom, was glad to make for him. When he wasn’t recreating plays with his dolls, he would march around the large rooms and halls, stamping his feet like toy soldiers, singing at the top of his lungs, and banging tambourines.
When Eddy got older, his father provided him a full scholarship to the home-school college of accounting and stock trades. In those years, the market had tumbled and his father thought his money better served if taught Eddy from home. Eddy was soon educated enough to pass his state tests, and with the financial backing of his father, opened a small accounting office.
He still lived at home, but the house was large enough that he rarely saw his father unless he meant to. He often saw his mother who still made him sandwiches for his lunch and always saved some supper for him.
And all was well for Eddy until the autumn after his thirty-sixth birthday. Eddy arrived home at five thirty; same time as every day. He had not received any calls at work that day, not even for work. So, he was not suspecting anything unusual when he walked into the house. But, something was different that day. His mother was not in the kitchen. There were no servants heard or seen within the house. He called out to his mother. No reply. He went up the grand stairs to the second floor, and called out again. Still no reply. He walked down the long hallway. In route, he passed his parent’s room. He heard voices. He knocked on the door. His mother answered. There were tears in her eyes, and she quickly led him to the bed where his father lay. The doctor sat on the other side of the bed.
He had arrived just in time to see him pass. Over the next few years, his mother slowly retreated from her tasks around the house and spent more time in her room. Eddie had taken over his father’s home office downstairs, and closed the office downtown. He liked not having to leave the house, and for the few clients he received, it didn’t really matter. But one thing Eddie did miss over the years was the vaudeville shows that he had been entertained by in his youth. They encompassed the “good” memories in his mind. And from them, he had always dreamed of putting on his own show.
Eddie had very few hobbies. He listened to radio shows such as Detective Story Hour and The Shadow, which featured a new young actor named Orson Welles. He never missed the shows. He had decided against television early on because it did not, could not, put on a show that even closely resembled the live performances he had experienced. So, when he wasn’t humming around his office, drawing up ideas for the “perfect” vaudeville act, he would be fingering through ads in the Monroe County Mail and the New York Times looking for used or displaced costumes and clothing from past shows. And he found and purchased a lot.
By the time he reached forty years of age, he had succumbed to the fact that marriage would not be in the picture, despite his mother’s encouragement to get out and meet someone. But at this same time, he hadn’t really a care whether he did or did not meet a woman. There was something much more exciting going on in his life.
He had finished writing what he imagined to be the perfect rendition of the vaudeville shows he remembered. In three acts, he had described in detailed notes exactly where each actor would be, when they would move, and what they would say or sing. And what excited him even more - the entire show would be held right there in his, or his mother’s, house.
He found himself to be so excited in those days that he rarely slept more than three or four hours. Late into the night, he would role play each actor’s part, saying their lines and singing their songs. He drew X’s on the main floor where the sailor men would start the show, and then he sang their words, I left my lady, as sad as she could be, and she is going to miss me, while I am overseas. . .
The next night he would march down the grand stairs, swing his hips as he imagined the ladies would, one hand on the rail, another arm around an invisible person, singing out loud the lady’s lyrical reply to the empty room, My sweetheart is a soldier. As handsome as can be. . .
And on it went for many nights, while his mother slept soundly behind a thick wooden bedroom door, and more recently, using tissue for ear plugs.
He advertised for actors in both the Monroe County Mail and the Times. He held auditions and promptly selected his cast. And by the time the snows melted, he felt they were ready. There would be three shows, with the first on April 21st. Each would be on a Saturday night. Chairs had been lined along the walls of the big room, as the set took up much of the center, there being three tables for the men to sit at, soon to be joined by the women. The tables would later become multi-use props when lifted high in the air in an acrobatic style feat while an actress danced somewhat seductively upon each table. And there was a juggler and a small silly monkey, and a three-man band, with six instruments and including, of course, a tambourine for each of the women. And Eddy had spent quite a bit of money on all this. But he didn’t intend to charge at the door. He didn’t intend to leave out a donation hat. He didn’t want anything from it at all. In his mind, he hoped his show would be one step in the revival of the vaudeville shows, which had now been replaced by talking movies. He had gone to one, but was not impressed. How could anyone even think that it could compare to a live show, he thought, with live people, live animals, and real tricks that weren’t scripted? He even had purchased enough small hams to provide to each guest as they left.
His mother, whom he had helped downstairs for the first time in months - the one servant they had left, had been feeding and tending to her in her room – sat in a large black leather chair near the bottom of the red-felt carpeted stairs. The carpet covering the wood flooring just for the show of course.
It was a cool night. Eddie called in his former doorman to assist the guests with parking, and help any elderly folks up the front entryway. Everything was immaculate in the yard, the lights all on. Everything was perfect. He made sure the ad in the paper stated it clearly. First come, first serve. He had seating for sixty five. He hadn’t wanted to bother with tickets, for people usually connected them with a fee.
At 7:15, a few people trickled in. At 7:30, a heavy set couple, complimented by a slim couple, stepped in the door. The slimmer man with hair that was all messed up, tossed his hat upon one of the set tables, and Eddy had to explain to him that they were part of the set. The man gave him a disgusted look, as if it was not understandable, then took his hat and set it under his chair. By the start of the show, the seating was only half occupied. Eddie felt a little disheartened about this, but thought, well, maybe it would pick up next Saturday after more people heard about it.
And at 8 p.m. sharp, the show started. He would have it no other way. At 8:03, a young couple came in; the lady giggling out loud the entire walk to their seats. She was still giggling as he turned to help another couple. An older man came in about 8:15, and couldn’t hear a word he said, and at 8:30, Eddy latched the door so as not to interrupt any more of the show. The first scene with the sailors and women went off well, with some clapping. But things began to change part way into scene two. The giggler, who obviously had too much to drink before she arrived, started in again after seeing the monkey. The skinny man started a verbal confrontation with her. The scene was almost completely ruined by the interruption because all of the attention suddenly focused on audience members instead of actors.
Then everything fell apart in act three. A couple younger fellows started to hoot at the actresses, and boo when they weren’t given any attention. The skinny guy heckled one of the ladies when she had a slight slip in her lines. The crowd got antsy due to the interruptions. Soon the young fellows heckled too. The band stopped and all three members looked at Eddy to see if they should keep playing. He quickly gestured for them to continue. The skinny fellow and his three counterparts got up before the finish of the act and started for the door. It started a mini stampede.
The second weekend, only four people showed. Eddy thought the show went well, but he was furious. He was beyond furious. His show had flopped, and more than that, the revitalization of vaudeville had flopped. There wasn’t a third weekend because he canceled it by telling the actors to not come back. On the last Saturday night, anyone who might have stopped by, found the place dark. The lights down the drive were off, and the gates were locked.
A few days later, the world found out that Hitler had took his life during the Battle of Berlin, and the war with the Germans was basically over. Eddy could hear celebrating in the city not far from the borders of his yard. But Eddy didn't feel like celebrating. His house remained dark.
Two weeks later, he woke up early this particular Saturday morning as he always did. He sat in father's chair and drank a cup of coffee in his father's office. There was a light knock on the door. It was his mother's keeper. Her face looked twisted and pinched tight like a towel wrung over and over. She told him that she had found his mother dead in her bed that morning. Then asked if there was anything he would like for her to do. Eddy shook his head, then waved her out of the office. It was at this moment when Eddy’s world began to change. Took a one eighty, one might say.
After a few minutes of staring at his father's picture on the wall, Eddy pounded his fist on the large Mahogany desk, crying out, "No. No."
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