At Hospital

…or “The Long-Awaited Sequel”
First posted 08/01/10

I’m in a car. It picked me up some time ago and is driving me somewhere. I answered an ad in the paper looking for someone to talk about musicals. The ad didn’t require an expert, just someone who had seen a few and liked talking about them. And someone who liked Phantom of the Opera. I must have sent in an acceptable response, because this car came to pick me up.

The car stops at a hospital I’ve never seen before. From the outside it’s hard to tell it’s even a hospital. Inside people know why I’m here and I’m sent up an elevator, down a long hallway, and through a door. A man is sleeping on the bed, there are machines everywhere and on the screen is a musical I know I’ve never seen but which feels very familiar.

I’m told to wait here.

There are two chairs, one beside the bed and one further away. It feels presumptuous to take the chair by the bed so I take the other. There’s food there, untouched and still warm. I watch the TV screen and that feeling of knowing but not knowing persists.

There are people in carnival dress. Midgets, bearded ladies, and a man who is playing a woman’s part. I become wrapped up in the story and don’t realize that I’ve been eating the food.

I hear someone at the door just as it opens into the room. It’s Patrick Stewart.

He tells me the man on the bed is his brother and he’s in a coma. His brother loves musicals, but Patrick doesn’t know much about them so he likes to hire people to sit and talk about them by his brother’s bedside in the hope that it brings him some comfort in his long sleep. He even plays musicals on the TV which people bring in from far away. His brother’s favorite musical is Phantom of the Opera.

It’s then I realize that I’ve been watching something rare indeed and I explain that to Patrick. The video playing is a recording from London of the sequel to Phantom of the Opera. (For some reason, a man is playing the part of MadamĂ© Giry.) Patrick gestures for me to take the chair by the bed while he takes the one I was sitting in. Nothing is said about the food I wasn’t supposed to eat.

I alternate talking to Patrick and his brother so he doesn’t feel left out of the conversation. He asks questions, some I can answer and some I cannot. We discuss parallels between different musicals such as plot and the ratio of chorus songs to arias.

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