Pas De Deux
Copyright© 2012 by Texrep
Authors note: The word hooker refers to a position in Rugby Union, i.e. the player in the scrum who should hook the ball with his heel to gain possession. It does not refer to a lady who is very generous with her charms for financial gain.
Antonia went with Mr. Ballinger who had called a meeting of the company. She told me later that the venue Cummings had booked in Denver, which was not part of the original tour plan, was totally inadequate. If it had been the Ellie Caukins Opera House it would have been a perfect venue, it wasn't. The theatre he booked was completely unsuitable. The stage did not have a proper floor for ballet, nor was it big enough. "Does that matter so much?" I queried.
"Yes. For a start we couldn't get the whole corps de ballet on the stage at the same time, and second in one passage I have to do a series of pirouettes across the stage from back right to front left. I do fifteen pirouettes in time with the music. On that stage I would have managed ten and then on eleven would have fallen off into the orchestra pit. We could have re-arranged the choreography but we can't edit Tchaikovsky's score." Whatever problems the theatre posed it was not as much a problem as the company's costumes, which had been air-freighted to Dallas! There were many other problems, the hotel situation I knew about, but it would also appear that insufficient time for rehearsal was not given at venues. They needed at least two days rehearsal time to get the choreography right for the stage and back stage also for their musical director to rehearse the orchestra. At some places Cummings had only booked time for the performances. All in all it was a disaster. Ballinger had enough and had told Cummings that he was cancelling the rest of the tour. Cummings threatened to sue unless Ballinger completed the tour.
Richard Easton organised a meeting between Cummings and Ballinger. Richard was there as an impartial adjudicator. Henry told me later that Richard Easton had heard part of Cummings conversation and that as a result he concluded that Antonia could be said to be in jeopardy of unwanted advances. I don't know what else Richard had on Cummings but it was obviously enough to get him to agree that the tour stopped there and then. Their hotel bill would be paid and reservations for the whole company to return to London were made. The following evening Henry, Antonia and I dined with Jake and Richard. Richard was not forthcoming on how he had managed this.
"Simon, Cummings was out of his depth." Was all he would say about it. "He had visions of becoming a promoter and entrepreneur, but neglected to look at the details required for such a tour. I am sure that you have guys like Cummings in England, so let's just say that the bad eggs are not indicative of the whole race." He turned to Antonia. "And speaking of bad eggs. It would appear that you and Simon are getting married. So is there a streak of insanity in your family that you should make such a bad decision?" The smile on his face told her he spoke in jest.
"The same streak that got me into dance, I suppose. Si is my Galahad. He has been so since I was eleven. He just seems to turn up when I'm in trouble and rescues me. It seemed like a good idea to keep him around."
"I knew the English were crazy." Richard returned.
Jake joined the conversation. "Talking about being crazy. Richard has a hankering to play at St. Andrews." Jake told us. "God alone knows how many balls he will slice there, so I have to go along to keep count. You had better let us know when and where the wedding is. We'll try to arrange our trip at the same time. We could drop by on our way up to Scotland leaving our wives in London..."
"With plenty of credit cards." interposed Richard.
"Yes with plenty of credit cards, and we'll go and find out how many balls we can lose on the old course."
Henry coughed indicating that he had something to say. "If Miss Berwick and Simon are willing, I would extend hospitality to them to plan the wedding at Holland Hall. There's a rather pretty Chapel in the grounds. It would be perfect for a wedding." I knew about the Hall and it was a very gracious place indeed. It was in North Essex, close to the county border of Suffolk.
"Henry." I replied. "That is so generous of you. May we talk about it?"
"Of course my boy. Think about it and let me know, one way of the other."
Antonia and I took a walk to discuss this generous offer. It seemed to be perfect as our respective families, although living close when we were young had moved to different parts of the country. So there wasn't a place that either of us would really refer to as home territory anymore. Antonia wanted to know how much Henry would charge us for the use of Holland Hall.
"If I know Henry he will not charge us anything." I told her.
We were strolling alongside the hotel's swimming pool which was not being used at that time of the evening. The evening chill brought a warm mist from the water. With the underwater lights glimmering through the mist it was a magical scene. Our heads were so close together as we spoke that neither of us noticed the figure walking towards us. It was only when we heard his words that I realised we had been disturbed by Edgerton Cummings, who was not in a good mood.
"Ah, how sweet, the two lovebirds together. You interfering Limey bastard! You have cost me a load of money." If anyone had cost him a lot of money it wasn't me, nor Antonia. Perhaps he should look to himself or even Richard Easton. Antonia was on my right side and I moved slightly to get her behind me. I was going to say these things when he swung at me. It was a wild punch, and I automatically ducked my head. I played rugby from my schooldays and into university and it wasn't unknown in the scrum for a punch or two to be landed. As hooker my head was a convenient target, so I and many other hookers adopt the Boxer's stance. Head down and chin ticked in. Any wild punch would then land high on my forehead where the skull is thick. That's where Cummings wild swing landed. My reaction was automatic I'm afraid. My right fist crashed into his cheek bone. I shouldn't have hit him as he was obviously emboldened by drink, so his toppling over into the pool was not entirely unexpected. What wasn't expected was his inability to stay on the surface.
"Oh shit." I exclaimed as I realised that he could drown. I slipped off my shoes and tore my coat off handing it to Antonia. I dived in and grabbed Cummings. I caught hold of him and at the same time realised I had hurt my hand. I hauled him to the side and hands reached down and pulled him out. Those same hands then reached down and got me out. The hands belonged to two security guards.
Between gasps I managed to croak. "You got here quickly."
"Yes Sir. We watched it all." He pointed to the CCTV cameras. "The police are on their way."
"Surely there's no need for the police?"
"It's the hotel policy, sir. You were attacked so we have to call the police department. The incident has been recorded." Antonia shocked at first at what had happened became the carer very quickly and was impatient to get me back to my room, after all I was standing there in soaking wet clothes, and there was a chill. She argued with the security guard even as he unfolded a foil blanket.
"If he stands here soaking wet until the police arrive he will catch a cold. Let me get Simon back to his room and into dry clothes." The guard had put the blanket over my shoulders, but that wasn't sufficient for Antonia she wrapped it securely around my body tucking it in wherever she could.
"Of course, Ma'am. May I just get your name and room number, sir?"