The Return of Julius Tyler
The Board of Directors of the Mt. Griffin Playhouse was holding its monthly meeting on the stage of their theatre house, sitting in folding chairs around an old plastic table used in numerous shows. The main topic of business was, as usual, finances and the collected seven stared at the dismal balance sheet once again fretting about the solvency of the non-profit theater group.
"We need to come up with a meaningful fundraiser beyond the dinner dances and car washes in costumes," Vice President P. Reynolds McMurtry said. "We need to find a way to generate some real cash flow."
The seventy-four year old thespian had been with the company for fifty years, through the good times and bad, and he worried that the group might have to sell off their playhouse if they couldn't add equity to the coffers. He sat in his tweed coat smoking his pipe, sending smoke signals toward the rafters as if calling for help.
The theater premises could use some upgrades, repairs, improvements and renovations but there was never enough money to pay for more than the basics and the eighty-two year old structure looked antiquated and daunted despite the group's efforts to keep the place attractive and comfortable.
"We need a big name draw to come in and do a show for us," Board Secretary Bill "Bizz" Saunders remarked. "An overflow standing room only crowd packing the high school auditorium at thirty bucks a whack."
"That place seats what, five hundred?" P. Reynolds asked.
"Even after expenses we'd still rake in around twelve grand," Bizz said.
"Maybe we could have a meet and greet and charge for photos," Board Member Sally Helrin suggested.
Sally and P. Reynolds had been co-stars for years and, rumor had it, lovers decades ago. Sally wasn't particular glamorous which gave her the ability to play just about every role in any show.
"Too bad we don't know anybody rich and famous," fellow board member Queenie Lizotte sighed.
Queenie was an eighty-year old woman who liked to think she was thirty. Her hair color this week was various shades of pink.
"Well, actually, we do," Board President Prudence "Prudy" Burnett volunteered, tossing Bizz a look.
"Who?" Sally asked with confusion.
"Oh, I know, that Quinn Blake guy who made that baseball movie here a while back!" Queenie said with excitement.
"No, not him – although he would definitely fill the place," Prudy said. "I was thinking about Julius Tyler, actually."
Prudy saw Bizz roll his eyes and everybody heard his audible groan.
"That guy from the TV show?" Board Treasurer Bob Brondecki asked, the only non-actor among the group – and he looked it with his conservative wardrobe and horned-rimmed glasses. "The singer who won American Idol or The Voice or whatever it was?"
"You may recall he went to Mt. Griffin High," Prudy said.
"For one year," Bizz grumbled with disapproval.
"That's still a connection," Prudy reasoned.
"You guys knew him?" Sally asked with interest.
"Our paths crossed," Bizz said with obvious sarcasm dripping from his voice. "That was thirteen years ago though."
"He'll remember us," Prudy said knowingly.
"Do you think you could contact him?" An interested P. Reynolds asked.
"I'm pretty sure I could track him down," Prudy said confidently.
"Yes, I'm sure he'd be happy to hear from you again," Bizz said with annoyance.
Prudy ignored her friend and she told the group that she would take the Jasper Tyler item for personal action.
"We definitely need to try something," Treasurer Brondecki said urgently.
The rest of the board meeting flowed easily and when the agenda was finished the group adjourned and most left the premises with goodnights and small talk.
Bizz remained seated in his chair with his arms folded across his chest as he stared at Prudy who was organizing her papers into a small satchel. He knew she was avoiding his eyes. He was struck by how much she still looked the same as she did in high school- her jet black hair bouncing off her shoulders, her dimpled cheeks and wide eyes. Was she really that same high school girl swept away by Julius Tyler after all this time?
"Seriously?" Bizz finally said when he tired of Prudy ignoring him.
Prudy threw him a look. "Get over it," she mumbled.
"Apparently, you haven't," he growled.
"Hey, if he can help us out with a fundraiser I'm all in," she reasoned.
"You honestly believe he's going to come back here for you after all this time?"
"He might be willing to do us a favor," She said stubbornly.
Bizz laughed bitterly. "Hasn't he already done us enough favors?"
"Are we really going to rehash this again after all this time?" Prudy groaned.
"You're the one who brought him up," Bizz complained.
"I'm just trying to help out our theater," she reasoned. "This has nothing to do with what happened."
"Right," Bizz said cynically. Then he gave her a look of disbelief. "You honestly believe he's going to remember you? Come back for you? You're still pining over him!"
"I am not!" She seethed.
"Oh, what do you care for anyway?" She said angrily before storming off the stage and into the dimness of the theater house.
"Don't come crying to me when this all turns to shit - again!" Bizz called after her.