“So, Matt and I went to Hollywood Hank’s opening night,” Joanna says to Leigh.

“Remind me,” Leigh says.

“The high school is putting on a production of Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16th. Hank has a part. He invited Matt and me to opening night. I told Matt I’d rather be knifed in the face but he said we had to go.”

“Matt is too nice,” Leigh says as she bites into a slice of her margherita pizza. “This pizza is good tonight. Have a slice.”

“Sure, thanks,” Joanna says. “And you’re right about Matt. Drives me nuts.”

“What’s the plotline of that play?” Leigh asks. “I think I read it in college but I forget.”

“It’s pretty interesting, actually. It’s all set in a courtroom, in the 30s. A secretary is on trial for killing her boss. Audience members are picked to be the jury. The ending depends on what they decide.”

“Were you picked?”

“No, and it pissed me off. That would have been fun,” Joanna says.

“What part did Hank play?”

“The bailiff. He told me it was a pivotal role, akin to the chorus in a Greek tragedy.”

“Do you agree?”

Joanna laughs. “You’d have to look pretty deep to find that connection. This pizza is good.”

“Yummy. Jordan made it. He’s the best. Was Hank believable as the bailiff?”

“I guess, but he muffed his first line. He was introducing the judge, whose name was Heath.”

“First name?”

“No, last. He didn’t have a first name.”

“Everyone has a first name, Joanna,” Leigh says.

Much as Melissa did a few days earlier, Joanna says, “Ok, but don’t miss the point.”

“Which is?”

“I told you. He muffed his first line.”


“He was supposed to say ‘All rise, for the Honorable Judge Heath.’ He forgot the judge’s name and said ‘All rise, for the Honorable GEORGE!’ He yelled it, just like that.”

“Where’d he get George?” Leigh asks.

“Who knows? He got it right in later scenes.”

“Did you see him after?”

“Yes, he got us into the after-party. He was glowing. Proud as a peacock.”

“Did you mention the flub?”

“No, I was tempted but Matt would have killed me. Knowing Hank, he probably would have said it was intentional, that it added a layer of irony or some such nonsense. Enough about that.  Have you seen Kristin lately?”

Kristin is the Solaris regular who frequents Stenny’s occasionally. Joanna knows that Leigh thinks she is only pretending to be Kristin-the-Solaris-regular-who-frequents-Stenny’s-occassionally; that she in fact is Maggie, Leigh’s long-estranged evil sister and is perpetrating this fraud to fuck with her.

“Do you mean Maggie?”

“You really still think that? Come on, Leigh.”

“You don’t know her. She’s evil.”

“Know who? I’ve met Kristin, and she seems very nice,” Joanna says.

“Don’t be naïve, Joanna. Sociopaths can be very charming.”

“Well, anyway, have you seen her lately?”

“No,” Leigh says.

“Doesn’t that undermine your theory a bit? If she really wanted to fuck with you, wouldn’t she be here more?”

“I’ve considered that. But it could all be part of her master plan.”

Joanna knows that there is no convincing Leigh of another point-of-view once her mind is made up, and says, “Ok, whatever. Can I take Matt a piece of this pizza?”

Leigh accedes and Joanna heads a few stools down to Matt, who is quietly talking to Big Mouth Ralph.



One thought on ““Butts on the Bar Stool” Story Fifty Six: Opening Night and Kristin/Maggie

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