Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Second Act

They had spent days preparing. Cookies had swathed himself in black and gone around talking to himself, then scribbling down on a piece of paper, then talking to himself again. Every few hours, he would let out a blood-curdling wail and tear the papers into shreds, throwing himself down on the ground as the floating bits settled around him. Then he would stand up and start it all over again.

Pumble on the other hand, glued himself to the T.V. He ordered in three extra-large pizzas and latched onto the remote like it was his own child. If the seals tried to watch animal planet, he snarled at them and threw empty pizza boxes at their heads. "I'm trying to create, people!" he would shout, cheese stuck to his chin. "I can't create if you pester me! Back off! Just back off!"

So, Hairy and the seals had spent the past few days living in the spa with the ducks. The ducks had been thrilled for the company. The only person that usually came to visit them was the skunk. The skunk hadn't been around in a few days, because he had been working in his clover garden. He did enjoy the sunny weather.

"What do you think the plays will be?" the first duck asked Hairy.

"Do you think they will be awful?" the second duck asked conspiratorially.

"I'm sure they'll be nice," the third duck whispered hopefully. The seals nodded in agreement and began to swim laps in the bathtub.

"I'm not sure," Hairy said. He was ready for the plays to begin. He wanted to return to his normal routine. "I'm sure that Cookies will do a drama and Pumble will do a comedy. It suits their personalities."

"I hope they both do comedies," said the first duck.

"I hope they do mystery-dramas," said the second duck.

"Will there be popcorn?" the third duck ventured.

Just then, Cookies strode into the spa arrogantly. "We are ready for you," he sniffed, beckoning to them with his feathers. He strode on his heel and strode toward the stage. The seals dried themselves by rolling on a towel back and forth. The ducks carefully dried their feet on a rug and toddled into the make-shift theater.

Cookies and Pumble had strung a blanket across the closet. They had folded blankets to create seating. Hairy and the seals sat on one blanket, and the ducks sat behind them.

"I can't wait to see what they've done," the first duck said.

"I wonder what the costumes will be like," the second duck wondered.

"Are there refreshments anywhere?" the third duck asked hopefully.

The lights awkwardly flicked on and off. Cookies's voice boomed from behind the curtain.

"Good evening. There will be no photography or food or drink. Please respect the actors. There will be a brief intermission between acts, then the judging will occur. Our first act is the wonderful, the fabulous, the terrific, the stupendous, the handsome, the darling--"

"Get on with it!" Pumble hissed audibly.

"Owlroifico!" Cookies finished. Hairy and the seals applauded politely. The ducks stomped their feet and flapped their wings.

The curtain swung open, and Cookies dramatically stepped forward. He had pulled on one of the girl's black turtleneck, and was hobbling forward in a pair of black shoes.

The seals looked at Hairy in concern. The ducks quaked alarmingly.

"He looks ridiculous!" the first duck said.

"He must be confused!" the second duck said.

"I think he looks dramatic," the third duck argued.

"I was born in a large barn," Cookies cried, falling to his knees. "I fought my way through the egg, cracking it's gentle shell." Cookies burst from the floor, making cracking noises. "I am born! I am alive! I am, I am Owlorifico!"

"Oh Lord," Hairy said, clapping his hand to his head. The seals buried their heads in the towel. For the next hour, Cookies flopped and bellowed on stage as he told his life story.

"Now, as the grandest performer in the land, I beseech thee judges," Cookies said, falling to his knees again. "Choose wisely. Choose the true performer of the theatre."

With that, he backed out slowly and the curtain fell. Hairy and the seals clapped uncertainly. The ducks stomped their feet.

"Our next performer is Pumble!" Cookies yelled, as Pumble strode on stage.

"Some introduction!" Pumble called over his shoulder. "You went on for three hours about yourself!" Pumble turned and faced his audience. His face was a mask of concentration.

"What is he doing?" the first duck asked.

"Did he forget his lines?" the second duck questioned.

"I think he's going too-" the third duck started. Pumble opened his mouth and belched. He belched again, and again. Soon he started tapping his foot as he belched.

"He's belching Jingle Bells!" Hairy said, half in horror and half in a amusement. The seals clapped in delight and barked along.

After his song, Pumble bowed and walked off without another word. Hairy and the seals bowed their heads and whispered for several minutes. Nodding, Hairy raised his head. "We made a decision!" he cried. Cookies and Pumbles came running from the stage.

"We thought about this long and hard," Hairy said. The seals nodded. "We decided that there was not a single winner."

"Oh not this crap," Pumble grumbled. "You're both so good--"

"Well you were," Hairy said. "We decided Cookies wins the prize for dramatic actor. Pumble, you win the prize for comedian!"

"I'm a true thespian!" Cookies cried, clutching his chest dramatically.

"I like comedy," Pumble said. "At least everyone knows how funny I am!"

The seals applauded happily and jumped up and down.

"Wonderful!" the first duck cried.

"Fabulous!" the second duck yelled.

"I'm so proud of both of you!" the third duck smiled.

And with that, the animals set off to the Cafe for a celebration. After all, it wasn't every day you had a thespian and comedian in your midst!