The following one-act play is based on a true story.

CURTAIN.

New York, 1959: I am in an off-Broadway play, F. Garcia Lorca’s “Blood Wedding,” playing a Spanish bridegroom. In character, I had not shaved, had a haircut or changed clothes in three days. A worn, old, black peacoat given to me by a flamenco dancer was my only protection against the wind.

I’m standing at a bus stop on Sheridan Square. It’s starting to snow. I consider a cab, but it would cost at least five bucks to get to the Upper East Side, to the second floor of 1100 York Ave., where She lives. “She” is an actress who is waiting to make dinner for me.

Months ago, we had met cutely on the escalator in Bloomingdale’s department store. A cloud of magic swallowed us up, and a month later she rescued me from my five-roommate, one-bedroom apartment on the West Side, stipulating that it was a gesture of mercy and there would be, for me, “no action.”

Understand, this is a sweet girl from Maine, with obvious good taste and breeding, with a good Catholic women’s college education.

She either made great money at her job working part time as a dancer-waitress in a Roaring Twenties-themed swank Upper East Side club or enjoyed family money from home. I suspected the latter.

The rug was thin, the floor hard, but the apartment was clean and warm with a full fridge.

And now, on this snowy day, I was eager to get back to her, to inhale the smell of her, and hear her snore each night on her day bed, 30 feet from my rug. This would be, for a very long time, my “action.” What’s not to like?

The snow stops, but a bus is coming. I jump aboard and sit across from the driver.

Six or seven stops later, an older, elegantly attired woman climbs aboard, wearing a nice scarf and pretty little hat on her head. Fifth Avenue matron, I’m thinking.

She sits directly behind the driver, opens her pocket book, and takes out a coin purse and looks over at me.

“I don’t know how much these buses charge. Can you tell me?”

The driver and I answer in unison.

“Fifty cents.”

I offer more: “You drop it right in that slot.”

“This is my first time in New York,” she whispers. Then after a pause: “Are you a New Yorker?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I’m tired. I don’t want to talk to an old lady with a New England accent. I close my eyes.

“What do you do for a living?”

She wants to chat. I glance out the window past her head.

“I’m an actor.”

“Oh, my goodness,” she says. “I’m talking to a New York actor. You’re my first celebrity. Are you on Broadway?”

I hesitate. I should shut down now, close my eyes and pretend to sleep. But some inner voice, some practitioner of fate, compels me to speak.

“No, ma’am. I’m not working right now. I’m just a poor, unemployed actor.”

“Well,” she says, reaching in her purse, “I can tell by looking at you that you’re going to be successful.” She pulls a dollar from her purse. “Here, let me be the first to help you.”

I muster a smile “No, ma’am. I’m fine, thank you.”

“Have you eaten today?” she asks.

“Not yet.”

She extends the dollar. I refuse. The bus driver is watching this one-act play from his rear view mirror with a smile.

“What a surprise,” she says. “My first starving actor. Wait till I tell them at home.”

I should shut up now. I don’t.

“Where is home?”

“Maine. I’m from way up in Maine.”

OK. It’s a nice coincidence. What can it hurt. Maine must be a big place, I think, full of woods.

“My girlfriend is from Maine.”

“Oh!” She sits up. “Where in Maine?”

“I don’t remember. I guess she told me, but I’ve forgotten.”

“What’s her name?”

“Kay.”

“Her last name?”

“Joly, Kay Joly.”

“OH MY LORD! KATHERINE JOLY? JUDGE CYRIL JOLY’S DAUGHTER?”

Suddenly everything changes. The oxygen leaves the bus.

My new, little, elegant lady friend’s eyes widen, her mouth drops open as the words explode from her lips.

The passengers in the bus snap awake. Newspapers rattle and drop. The bus driver laughs. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I pulled the cord and got off at the next stop, eight blocks from my destination.

1100 York Ave. Eight o’clock that evening.

Kay Joly, daughter of Judge Cyril M. Joly, of Waterville, Maine, has ordered take-out Chinese dinner for us with wine and candlelight.

“You didn’t tell her we’re living together?”

“We’re not living together.”

“We’re living together,” She snaps.

“I sleep across the room on a rug.”

“We share the bathroom. That’s living together.”

“I didn’t tell her about the bathroom. I just said you were my girlfriend.”

“You looked like this?” She asks, waving her hand around me.

“We had a matinee. How else would I look? And besides, doesn’t your father know you date actors?”

She puts down her take-out chopsticks and looks out the window. A deep sigh leaves her lungs. After a long moment: “He does now.”

Oct. 7, 2018. Happy Anniversary.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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