Handbook for Mortals
“Hopefully I wasn’t interrupting something important,” Mac said, with no attempt at feigning actual sincerity. I could tell he didn’t care that he had interrupted, or that he had been rude.
“Just kindness.” I responded. I don’t think he expected my answer to be truthful, and he looked taken aback. He had probably expected me to say “Oh, no worries! Nothing important.” He made no comment, but backed off a little. When he continued talking, he had a bit less snap in his voice.
“I’d like to schedule a crew call for you once your contract has been signed. You, me, and all of our techs, so we can go over your trick and map out how it will be safely implemented into the show.” He knew that calling what I had done a “trick” instead of an illusion I would take as a slight. It’s sort of like telling someone who had just won an Olympic gold medal and was proudly wearing it around their neck, that their necklace was cute. Mac kept incessantly tapping his Sharpie on the side of his clipboard and shifting his weight between his feet.
I stood up slowly and calculated, looking him square in the eye, which probably surprised him a bit, since he was at least six feet tall. I’ve always enjoyed the luxury of being a tall girl. I’m five foot nine inches and so while I don’t usually tower above any guys I know, I can definitely look them directly in the eye. Most girls who at five feet five inches (which, I believe, is an average height for a woman) have to look up. My height was an advantage that I never took for granted and here, again, I was happy that I didn’t have to look up to him—figuratively or literally. In heels I could even be as tall or taller than him and I’ve always loved that part about being the height I am. I half smiled and slowly spoke, “Maybe you misunderstood. I don’t show anyone how it’s done. That wasn’t just for the audition. I handle this illusion on my own.”
Mac held still for a moment, and then glanced up from his clipboard, looking irritated. He pursed his lips and flared his nostrils. The tapping stopped. He dropped the clipboard from his stomach and held it in his hand while pointing his finger directly in my face. “Listen, lady, I don’t know who else you worked for, but we don’t do that Lone Ranger stuff around here. I’m the technical director and in charge of everyone’s safety, no matter how stupid you want to be. You do what I say, and I keep your pretty self from getting hurt. Got it?” I’m fairly certain he growled at me as he spoke.
Myriad thoughts ran through my head and I’m pretty sure several seconds passed in silence as we stared each other down. I could feel my hands tightening into fists. I really did want to punch him. I could see it happening. I’m not strong by any means but I’m also not a wimp. I wouldn’t have broken anything, but he would have been bruised and sore. I quickly ran through the possible outcomes of punching the technical director on my first day of work. It didn’t really seem to be the best idea.
I leaned into him so closely that it might have looked like to an outsider that I was about to kiss him. I huffed a little and my words were slow and deliberate. “I understand this is your job and all, but I don’t think you’re listening to me,” I hissed. I tapped his chest with my finger and he jolted a bit at my touch. He looked at me like I was speaking some kind of foreign language.
“I’m not listening? Lady, you need your ears cleaned,” he snarled back. He turned around to walk away, as if that was the end of our conversation. If he was trying to piss me off more, it was working.
I grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping him in his tracks and swinging him around to face me. My face had flushed and I’d raised my voice to a full yell. “And you need to get some manners. I’m not showing you how it’s done, okay? If we have a problem I can go to another show where the technical director doesn’t have a God complex. I’m not a girl who needs a knight in shining armor.” I was practically snarling at him.
Mac gritted his teeth and looked like he might hit me, but I knew that wasn’t really an option for him. Guys like him didn’t hit women, no matter how mad we made them. He laughed loudly. “Ha! Good luck finding a Technical Director who will treat you like the princess you clearly think you are. If I found you locked in a tower, I promise I’d leave you there.” Mac whipped around again and this time saw Riley, who had been standing just a few feet away from us the whole time. Riley was pretending not to be paying too much attention, but you could tell that was all he had been doing. I couldn’t blame him. Mac glowered at Riley and barked, “Where’s C.S.? Riley, go find Charles. Now!”
“On the move,” Riley replied with a nervous, almost panicked look on his face as he ran off to the side and disappeared.