RUNAWAY ROSE
Chapter Eight

Rose walked from place to place, looking for work. After the third restaurant owner turned her down, she was getting frustrated. Upon seeing the look on her face, the manager suggested that she try the theater district, where waitresses came and went so fast that there were almost always jobs available.

Rose thanked him and headed across the city. She was somewhat worried that someone she knew would show up at one of the restaurants, but hoped that if she sought work in a lower class establishment, she could avoid old acquaintances.

As she headed down one of the side streets in the theater district, Rose noticed a Help Wanted sign in the box office window of one of the small theaters.

Stopping, she looked at the sign in consideration, wondering what kind of help they were looking for. Shrugging, she decided to find out. If she didn't like it, she didn't have to take the job, and this was one establishment that was hiring.

Rose knocked at the back door of the theater. She could hear music and singing coming from inside.

No one answered. Rose tried again. Finally, after several knocks, she heard footsteps coming toward the door.

A short, heavy-set man with three days growth of beard yanked the door open. "What do you think you're doing?" he demanded. "Can't you hear the rehearsal going on?"

This was not the reception Rose had expected. "I'm here about the job," she told him, hoping that this was not the man in charge of hiring.

He scowled. "Wait here," he told her, slamming the door in her face.

Rose felt like kicking something. She was still tired from the previous day, and no one seemed to want anything to do with her. Had Jack ever experienced this?

The door opened, and a tall man in a slightly rumpled suit beckoned to her. "I'm Norman Baker, owner of the theater. You want the job?"

"What kind of job is it?" Rose asked, hoping it wasn't anything that required references.

"I need someone to sell tickets in the box office." He realized that several of the actors who had been rehearsing were gathering around, listening curiously. He gestured to Rose. "Come with me."

Rose followed him backstage to a small, dimly lit office. Baker yanked the curtains open, letting in the light.

"Excuse the mess," he told her. "We're about to open, and I've been working the ticket office myself, as well as doing all the financial stuff and management." He sat back, putting his feet up on a pile of scripts. "Do you have any sales experience, Miss..."

Rose almost answered Miss DeWitt Bukater, but caught herself in time. All Cal would need to do to find her was mention her name. DeWitt Bukater was not a common name.

"Dawson," she answered. "Rose Dawson."

"All right, Miss Dawson, do you have any sales experience?"

I sold myself to save my mother, Rose thought, but she answered, "No, sir."

He looked dismayed, but went on. "How are you at math?"

"Excellent, sir. I earned top marks in school."

He raised an eyebrow at this, evidently unaccustomed to the notion of a female who was good at math.

"How are you at interacting with people?"

"I can get along with anyone, sir." Except Cal, she thought.

He steepled his fingers, thinking. "I would prefer someone with experience, but that sign has been in the window for two weeks and we've had no takers. I need someone to work the box office right away." He paused. "Can you present a cheerful face to anyone who comes?"

Since Rose had put on a cheerful face, whether she felt like it or not, for years, she felt she was an expert in this area.

"Certainly, sir."

"All right, Miss Dawson, I've give you a try. The job pays one dollar and fifteen cents a day prior to production, except for on the last three Saturdays before the show, when the cast does teasers on the street to attract ticket buyers. You will accompany them to sell tickets, and will be paid an extra one cent for each ticket sold. During production, you will be paid one dollar and fifty cents a day, except for Saturdays, which are very busy. On those days you be paid one dollar and sixty-five cents. You work Monday through Friday, nine AM to five PM, prior to the show opening, plus those three Saturdays. During production, you work Monday through Saturday, three PM to ten PM. Sundays are off. I will pay you at the end of each week. If I catch you skimming money, you're fired. Is this clear, Miss Dawson?"

"It's clear, sir," she answered. "Could I have a piece of paper to write down the schedule? It's a little...complex."

Mr. Baker dug through a pile of papers, coming up with a schedule. "Take this. If there are any unforeseen changes, I'll let you know." He looked at her. "Any more questions, Miss Dawson?"

"What kind of theater is this?"

"We do a combination of comedy, musical theater, and vaudeville. We also do one serious production in the fall. We'll be starting rehearsals for that in mid-July, while other shows are running. Pre-production is mostly in early spring, while we do casting and rehearsals. We mostly have the same actors year after year, but we bring in about five or so new ones each year to replace the ones who leave. We have a different group of supers for most productions."

"Supers?"

"Extras, they're called in the motion pictures. They're basically background. They don't say anything, although in musical productions they're often called upon to sing. They basically fill out the stage."

Rose nodded. She had never heard of supers before, but she remembered the information for future reference. She might be able to break into acting that way.

"When do I start?"

"Today, if you can. The box office opens at three." He pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it. "It's one o'clock now. I suggest you take your belongings to wherever you're staying, and then be back here by a quarter to three so I can explain what you need to do. Oh, and one more thing, Miss Dawson."

"Yes?"

"People who work here tend to be on a first name basis. I want you to call me Norman, instead of Sir."

Rose laughed. "All right, Norman. If you will call me Rose."

They shook hands.

Chapter Nine