Saturday, March 10, 2012

Excerpt from "The Tailor of Suffolk Street"

I read this selection at last night's Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series. I am anxious to see the outcome of this story as well and will be writing more into it today.

The Tailor of Suffolk Street

Like an elusive shadow at dusk the tailor of Suffolk Street scooted along the rim of darkness beneath the theatre’s eaves. The usuals on Suffolk Street accepted his presence in the same way they accepted the presence of the gas lights being lit to purge the darkness of its power. Soon that light would illuminate the early and eager ticket holders—those who rarely attended because they had to save up their farthings and whose over-expressive faces and loud voices would annoy the aloof and elegant holders of the season tickets. The clicking heels of pedestrians added a sharp staccato to the low rumble of the new car engines. And horses would whinny their displeasure at the competition. None of this concerned the tailor of Suffolk Street. He had one objective—to see that the curtain at the back of the proscenium was in place before the house lights came up.

The side door near the heaps of garbage was stuck again. The tailor wrapped his tiny hands around the knob, leaned backward and pressed one well-heeled boot against the rough brick near the door frame. The door popped open and nearly landed the tailor onto the filthy alley way. A fall would have been a surmountable tragedy owing to his clear objective. It mattered little to him if his perfectly tailored suit was soiled or if he might have reeked of decomposing vegetables. He had to get inside the theatre!

The door banged against the exterior wall and back into its frame as the tailor raced down the musty hall, nearly tripping over the unkempt theatre rope. His voice bellowed into the hall.

“Who is refusing to do their job?!”

Several heads popped out of dressing rooms with scowls—some, with skull caps awaiting wigs and others with half grease-painted faces.

“Ah, gwan! That’s none of your business, you fool! Who made you director tonight?!” The tall, skinny acrobat was always the most acerbic. “Stupid tailor! You’d think he was runnin’ the whole show!”

The cast either laughed him off or scoffed as they returned to their mirrors. They knew the truth. He was nothing—nothing but the tailor trying to keep the tattered edges of an ancient curtain from falling to pieces.

The tailor always took a deep breath and held it before he reviewed the curtain. His quick eyes ran across the hem—first to the right and then to the left. The curtain was several inches thick—which was not that significant or impressive. What was impressive was its height. The curtain was like the Israelite’s wall of water to him. He was afraid of water. Slowing releasing the air from his lungs and through his pinched nose he leaned back vertebrae by vertebrae scanning the curtain inch by inch for any sign of tension or tear. Only then would he touch it. His fingers always hesitated just before making contact with the velvet. And when he touched it a tingling sensation ran through his whole body. He had never told anyone of this and suspected that no one else had experienced it. It was his little treasure of a feeling—one of the few he allowed himself.

Copyright M.R. Hyde 2012