Although Randall kept pushing Martina, she never promised, but she seemed to have some sort of epiphany when her face lit up as she said, “I’m going to shine, and I’m going to shine for Callie.”
Randall nodded. Not defeated by her refusal to promise, he still had hope.
When news of Callie’s death circulated around campus, it was decided that out of respect for her and her family, the play would be delayed until the following week. A small service was going to be held in the chapel for her friends and fellow classmates. Martina made the decision not to attend. She felt guilty.
She wondered if Joe Blow would make an appearance, but it occurred to her that she wouldn’t know him if he did. “Besides,” she thought to herself, “drug dealers don’t usually go to the services of the people they’ve effectively murdered.”
She called Randall and asked if he would meet her at the coffee shop. When they arrived, a black wreath was hanging on the door. The mood was somewhat somber, but it didn’t dissuade the regulars from doing what they had always come to do…drink themselves into oblivion or release the animal they otherwise kept at bay.
Randall ordered two glasses of wine. They stood and Martina said, “here’s to Callie. Stand by your glasses steady, and drink to your comrade’s eyes. Here’s a toast to the dead already, and hurrah for the next to die.”
Randall said, “wow. Was Callie Irish?” Martina said, “I don’t know. I just know it was her favorite toast.”
After a few minutes, she said, “I don’t think Callie was afraid to die. It was almost like what you said, about the brightest burning out the quickest. When I think back on some of the conversations we had, her urgency to somehow get me to break free of my ‘prison,’ and her dogged determination to…basically live life to its fullest, I think maybe she knew that her light was going to burn out quickly.”
The next week was hectic for Martina. Most of her time was spent studying her lines, and anticipating being the next “break-out star” of the drama class. She had been keeping Randall at bay, but he took it in stride.
Finally, the big night arrived. Martina was a bundle of nerves, worrying and fretting about whether or not she would freeze in fear as soon as she stepped onto the stage.
Randall managed to slip backstage and without being noticed, watched as she paced the floor, script in hand. Looking at the program he was handed when he arrived, he smiled when he saw the names portraying the characters. There in black and white, he read, “introducing Martine as Fantine.”
He quietly slipped back into the audience and sat down in the front row. After three and a half hours, the play was over. The cast came onstage and bowed to near deafening applause and a standing ovation. Martina’s performance outshone them all, and calls for her to re-appear were thunderous.
Completely captured by the adoration, Martina didn’t notice mother sitting with Randall.
When mother walked back stage, surprise wouldn’t quite describe the look on Martina’s face. It was almost a combination of fear and shock. She stood quietly, frozen, until Mother walked over to her and said, “I’m very proud of you.”
At last, Martina felt validation. She felt worthy. Her staid, submissive mother had elevated her to importance. She expressed pride. But of course, all those expressions were tempered with mother’s consternation about her name change.
“Did you change your name, or was it a misprint? Martina smiled and said, “no, mother. It wasn’t a misprint. I am now Martine. Martina has been deleted.
Mother sighed with disapproval and said, well, what are your plans now, and what happened to that creature…what was her name? Callie?”
Martina said, “if you ever want to see me again, don’t ever again say anything about Callie.” She stood inches away from mother’s face and almost growled, “do you understand? Now, to answer your question, I’m going to quit school and move to New York. I’m going to be a star on Broadway. Just picture it in your mind. My name in lights. Martine as Fantine.”
Mother sighed and said, “you must speak to your father.” Martine smiled and disrespectfully said, “I don’t have to speak to father. I can do what I want. You seem to forget that I am an adult now and you don’t…nor does father, have any control over me.”
Mother said, “maybe not, but we do have control over your finances. How do you expect to live in New York?”
Martina said, “are you threatening to cut me off financially? Go ahead. And while you’re at it…go fuck yourself.”
Randall had witnessed the entire conversation and thought for a minute, mother might faint. She looked at Martina and said, “Martina, what has gotten into you? Where did you learn that filthy language?”
Martina said, “it’s MARTINE, mother. MARTINE. Say it. Say it. MARTINE.”
Mother turned and walked away. Randall knew she hadn’t noticed Martina’s huge, dilated eyes, but he had. He looked at Martina and said, “you’re using, aren’t you? You’re as high as a kite, and not just because you perceive yourself to have given a hugely successful performance. You are high on cocaine.”
Martina rolled her eyes and said, “oh, please. I just needed a little pick-me-up for the play. I needed something to steady my nerves. You understand, don’t you? I mean, you were once an addict. I, however, am not. I can quit anytime I want.”
Randall said, “Martina, I asked you not to use and you promised.” Martina said, “it’s MARTINE and I never promised. And, by the way, I don’t need a lecture from you. If all you can do is preach, then just leave me alone.”
As she was leaving the room, she turned and said, “you must forgive me. The cast is going to the coffee shop to celebrate. You are not invited.”
To be continued_________________