Disclaimer: any similarities to individuals alive or dead are purely coincidental.
“Madame Marie just sent me an e-mail, saying to be very careful tonight and not to take any dangerous chances,” Blake Surrentino—a gracefully aging, still vibrant, mega rock star—remarked to his road manager. “She never said anything like that to me before; why on this last night of our tour? Make sure everything on stage is safe and secure.”
“Will do, Ke-mo sah-be; but you know we always triple-check everything before any show begins.”
“I know that, Charlie. Just go over it all yourself once more, will ya? My fortune teller’s prognostications have been right-on too many times, and I take heed to her warnings.”
“OK, you’re the boss.” Charlie grabbed a ham-and-cheese sandwich off the caterer’s table and took a big bite. “Do you think we should put on another couple of security guys?”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full. Yeah, that’s a good idea. The show’s a few hours away. Call and get three more men. It can’t hurt and it’s only for tonight.”
“You got it. I’ll check in with you later.” As he walked out the dressing room, the somewhat amused tour official called his assistant. “Jimmy, I want you to get me three more security personnel for tonight’s performance. Call the main office, tell them we need the extra men and then phone me right back.”
On the way out to the arena, Blake’s road manager couldn’t help but laugh out loud, thinking about his employer’s eccentric, overly precautious, time-honored theatrical superstitions like never whistling backstage for fear of unspeakable disaster may result; or if a particular tour stop was a two-day affair, to make sure the stage overnight remained lit with a single “Ghost Light” while the rest of the arena was left in darkness, which prevented the show’s “Mojo” from being stolen by spirits in the night; and the most outrageous quirk: no mirrors on stage, for the possibility of bad luck occurring by their releasing the devil’s soul.
“What’s so funny, Charlie?” Jimmy inquired upon meeting up with his superior.
“Oh it’s just Blake with his silly superstitions. His fortune teller warned him of unspecified danger and to beware.”
“Is that why you asked me to call for more security?”
“Yeah, were you able to get any? Why didn’t you call me right back like I asked you?”
“I saw you walking this way and figured I’d do it in person. The arena’s secretary up front said she’d have the three men see me before the show starts. Where should we place them?”
“On all three sides of the ramp, going into the crowd at center-stage, to be used as re-enforcements for the existing personnel,” Charlie said. “Tell the one in front to always stay put. The two on either side are to follow Blake wherever he’s at; that’s the only place an unknown catastrophe could present itself.”
“Got you covered, Chief,” Jimmy replied. “Where are you off to now?”
“The boss wants me to make sure the area is safe and secure, so I’m going to grab the stage manager with his checklist and go over everything again.”
“What a waste of time,” Jimmy responded. “The crew hasn’t failed us yet. We’ve been on tour already for nine months and have done over seventy shows,” he added. “Never once has an accident occurred.”
“Now, you’ve done it, Jimmy. You’ve jinxed us.” Charlie appeared visibly shaken. “I’ve got to fetch Homer and check out the set. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“Weren’t you just laughing at Blake’s superstitions? Did you hear what you said? Calm down, Charlie. I’ve got everything taken care of for now. I’ll help you and Homer.”
“Thanks, Jimmy. Let’s go.”
The men found the stage manager, who in turn called the chief rigger and head carpenter for a quick meeting before all physically eyeballed the entire production area from the sound equipment, media-projection screens, lighting and upper rigging, right down to the last bolt, lock washer and nut in the main-stage platform, its extensions, and underneath the structure itself. As expected, nothing was discovered out of the ordinary during this lengthy process, taking them up to about one-half hour before showtime. Everything was as it should be, and all in attendance felt satisfied that only a personal error made by Blake, one of the band members or their crew, could be the only unpreventable disaster facing the entire night’s proclivities.
“Thanks, guys, I’m sure this will put the boss’s mind at ease,” Charlie said, looking obviously relieved. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to check in with him. Jimmy, make sure the additional security is added.”
“Right, I see the three of them just milling about on the stage. Don’t worry, I’ll station them at their posts.”
“You’re a big help, Jimmy, thanks.”
“No problem, Dude. I’ll see you later.” With that, everybody dispersed to their relative positions. Charlie proceeded back to the dressing rooms and Blake’s suite.
“Well, what’s the verdict?” Blake inquired. “I started to worry, not yet hearing from you. The show starts in twenty minutes.”
“No need to panic, we checked everything soup to nuts. All is in order. Just make sure you don’t do anything crazy up there, like accidentally tripping and falling off the stage.”
“That’s OK if I do. My fans will catch me.”
“Yeah, Blake, you don’t need to be crowd-surfing at your age. Anything can happen to you out there. With Madame Marie’s premonition, I wouldn’t take that chance tonight.”
“Don’t tell me what to do. I’m your boss, remember?” Blake’s face began to glow red as a beet, and a bulging vein appeared on his forehead from his obvious rage. “And my age has nothing to do with it. I’m still strong as a bull. I’ve been doing it all tour long, and nobody is going to stop me.”
“Hey, man. I’m sorry. Don’t get upset. I only said that because I care about your well-being. We’ve been on the road for a lot of years together. We’re like family.”
“You’re right, Charlie. I apologize. I’m just all fired up from Madam Marie’s message.”
“That’s OK, Ke-mo sah-be. Now, relax and do what you’ve been doing this entire tour. Have a great time but don’t do anything differently, and break a leg.” Blake man-hugged his road manager and patted him heartily on the back.
“You’re a good friend, Charlie. I’d better get going.”
“Please, tell your band mates before you step on stage, not to do anything crazy tonight either; especially your drummer.”
“Since you asked so politely, I’ll oblige,” the smirking rock star said, grabbing his electric guitar and bounding out the dressing-room door afterward. Charlie grabbed a cheese-steak sandwich leftover on the caterer’s table with a soda, deciding to take a quick break before standing guard offstage for a typically high-energy, non-stop and minimally three-hour extravaganza.
To be continued…