CAUGHT in the ACT
by Stevie Strang
Everyone jumped up applauding, screaming, whistling, shouting, “MORE! MORE! MORE!” as the last note echoed through the concert hall and mingled with the hysteria of the audience. With his right arm crossed over his chest, he held on to the neck of his guitar and took a bow. As he stood back up he skillfully removed the shoulder strap from around his neck, handed his guitar to a figure that rushed into the flashing darkness to retrieve it, and then gallantly walked off the stage.
“Oh no! He’s leaving!” I panicked. “Don’t let him go! He’s got to sing one more song! ONE MORE SONG!”
People were already starting to leave to avoid the parking lot congestion. Dave handed me my jacket and said, “That was great! Let’s go get some coffee.”
“Go? Oh my God Dave, We can’t go now! He’s got to do an encore! Let’s bring him back!”
“He’s gone Steff. The concert’s over. Come on let’s go.”
With that comment I started clapping my hands and chanting, “ENCORE! ENCORE! ENCORE!” as I filed out of row 32 and turned towards the stage instead of the exit sign.
The girl in the row behind us, who screamed all the way through “Brooklyn Roads”, saw what I was doing and joined in right behind me, “ENCORE! ENCORE!
Several people were still passing around a joint in the second row. One of the guys yelled out to me that I was wasting my time, “He’s not gonna come out again lady, give it up.”
“ENCORE! ENCORE!” I shouted louder and held on to Dave’s hand while I battled to bring back one more song.
I looked around and a crowd was starting to form and follow me to the base of the six-foot high stage. Some ticket-holders came back in from the hallway; others just stood there and watched.
As we were chanting I noticed a man’s shadow behind the massive drum set on stage and thought I heard a ping from an electric guitar. And then I heard another ping. A spotlight turned on and revealed a figure emerging from behind the dark blue velvet curtain to the right. And then the music began to play!
“Stay for just a while….” He started to sing.
“YEAHHHHHHHH!!” Unbelievable screams from male and female alike were rushing up from the back of the concert hall to join the crowd at the foot of the stage. I was getting pats on my back as I stood right up at the front and took in all the glory of finally being close to my Idol, my Heartthrob, the only man I dreamt about besides my husband! I dropped Dave’s hand and cocked my Canon FTB for the shot of my life.
Right away, a tall guy standing next to me asked if I wanted to sit on his shoulders to take a better picture. Dig it! He quickly stooped down and lifted me up. My waist was at stage level but I felt like my head was in the stars. One of the overhead stage lights lit up and was shining down on us.
“Stay, and let me look at you….” He started walking across the stage. “It’s been so long, I hardly knew you...”
Maybe it was because I was at a level that others couldn’t see but I swear he was looking at me. How could he miss? A spotlight was on me and I was wearing all white.
“…Standing in the door.”
“My God…I’ve gone mad…he’s looking straight at me.” I thought. “And now he’s walking towards me?” I swear I didn’t take a drag of that big joint that was passed around.
“Stay with me a while…...” He stood right in front of me and extended his hand. “I only wanna talk to you….”
“OH MY GOD! Neil Diamond was holding my hand and singing to me in front of all these people!”
“We’ve traveled halfway ‘round the world….To find ourselves again…….”
The crowd started cheering and whistling again! I was going to throw up.
“September morn….” He crooned as he looked straight into my eyes. “We danced until the night became a brand new day. Two lovers playing scenes from some romantic play.”
“I’m yours buddy!” I secretly thought.
“September morning still can make me feel that way…..”
And then, right when it was just getting good, he let go of my hand.
I surprised myself. I didn’t let go of his. I felt the ring on his pinky finger and wished that it would just slip off into my hand. I wasn’t ready for this moment to end. He would let go of my hand and I would turn back into a regular housewife, a mother of three little kids, with diapers to wash and dinners to make; a life null and void of spotlights and electric guitars and stages with stoned-happy people rockin’ out to the music. I was going to turn back into a pumpkin.
I set his hand free then quickly grabbed the camera that was miraculously still dangling from my shoulder, “CLICK”, “CLICK”, “CLICK”, “CLICK”.
“September morning still can make me feel that way…”
Mr. Diamond ended up singing a few more requests and then told the audience that he was really leaving this time, then winked and pointed a finger in my direction. Everyone laughed and applauded.
“Goodnight everyone!” This time he walked off the stage with his guitar in hand.
The tall guy let me down from his weakened shoulders. I thanked him and he thanked me for not weighing too much. Dave found me as the crowd dispersed. “Nice job!” he congratulated me on my effort.
“Well, ya just can’t let the guy go and not have him do an encore for God’s sake.” I still couldn't believe I was just holding Neil Diamond’s hand.
“That was really cool! Now….can we go get that cup of coffee?”
“Naw, we can have one at home. We can’t afford to pay the babysitter for another hour anyway.
We walked to the parking lot and spotted our rickety old beige VW van, sitting all by itself in Section G. I got in the driver’s seat and put the gearshift in first and held the clutch down.
“Ready!” I yelled.
Dave went to the rear of the van and pushed it forward. Within a few yards I expertly popped the clutch and the engine started. I revved the engine a bit more to warm it up and scooted over so Dave could drive home.
“One of these days we’ve got to get that fixed.” Dave said.
“Yeah. One of these days it’ll get fixed. Maybe next paycheck,” I sighed, as a big black limo came out of the underground driveway.
“Yeah, one of these days.”
a field of daffodils
none of them are plastic