Out Of The Frying Pan

Sprinting out of the bank empty-handed Frank pulled his balaclava off and turned left down the sidewalk. The sound of sirens caused him to change direction and he ran until his lungs felt like they would burst. Soon there were sirens coming from both directions and he knew he had to hole up or he’d be behind bars in no time. He craned his neck every which way, but couldn’t see a place that would be safe. A barbershop, a café, another bank, no, none of them would do. Looking behind him he saw a non-descript door with no sign above it. Any port in a storm, he thought, and barged his way in.

He found himself in a dusty hallway with several doors. He slumped against the wall and tried to calm his breathing. Where the hell had that second guard come from? There had only been one when he had cased the place the day before. He was lucky to have gotten away. That old bastard had snuck up on him and nearly had him in a full nelson.

He stood up and wiped the sweat from his forehead and walked to the nearest door and put his ear against it. There didn’t seem to be anyone inside so he tried the knob. The door was locked. He tried the next one with the same result. Only one left.

He listened and at first he heard nothing, but then he heard someone who seemed to be giving instructions or something. He waited a few minutes longer then decided the hell with it, he needed to find a back way out, and he’d just have to bullshit his way through.

Entering the room he saw a group of people in various poses dressed in strange clothes, some lounging on chairs and sofas, others just standing about. All eyes were upon him as he entered.

A strange looking woman with garish makeup strolled over to him and walked around him twice before putting her hand on her chin and fixing him with her stare.

“They say the chickens will be growling tonight. Me, I’ll believe it when I see it. What say you?”

Frank stared at her for a moment and stepped back. He looked around at the others, but they didn’t seem to be paying him any mind.

“I have no idea what you’re on about lady. Can you tell me where the back door is?”

A man lounging on a sofa and dressed like a hobo whistled to him to get his attention and then addressed him.

“So you’re a back door man, are you? I thought as much. You have a hungry look about you. Most like one who was raised by wolves and frolicked long in the land of the forgotten.”

“What? Who the hell are you people? Look, I just need to find the – “

“What you need is to avoid eternal damnation. Have you ever considered how you might go about that?”

Frank whirled around to see a dwarf standing there with his hands on his hips, the propeller on his beanie whirling with abandon as he spoke.

“What is this, some sort of loony bin? Who are you freaks?”

A woman in florescent green tights and a paisley silk jacket sauntered up to him and put her fingers to her lips.

“Do not speak ill of that which is beyond knowing. Are you a member of the TLA?”

Frank was beginning to feel like his head would explode.

“The TLA? What’s that?”

“Why, The Tofu Liberation Army, of course. Wait a minute, you’re not a vegetarian spy, are you?”

A chorus of shouts went up from the others:

“Seize him! Seize him! Spy! Spy!”

They ran at him as one and Frank bolted toward the back of the room screaming. Finding a door on the far wall he wrenched it open and bolted into an alley, not looking back as he ran for all he was worth.

A minute later the Director came in the same door Frank had entered by and addressed the assembled actors.

“What the hell was that screaming about?”

Several of them shrugged and one piped up.

“That guy you sent in for the audition was a dud, man. He didn’t know any of his lines. We tried improvising, but he really didn’t have any talent.”

“What guy? The actor the agency was sending called to say he couldn’t make it today, I scheduled him for tomorrow. I just got off the phone with him. Never mind, we’ll call it a day and meet back here tomorrow morning at nine.”

The players went off to change into their street clothes, shrugging off recent events. It was, after all, The Theatre of the Absurd.


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