Pantomime Dwarf Pt. 03byjeanne_d_artois©
As we walk across the car park to the hall and the pantomime read-through I have worrying thoughts about my relationship with Alan.
I have persuaded him to consider taking part in this pantomime even though he will be humiliated on stage by every woman in the cast, all eight of them. As a dwarf he faces humiliation and discrimination on most days. Am I being fair to him? What are my motives for our newly changed relationship? Am I being entirely honest with him? My last two men had been controlling bastards who diminished me in every contact. Perhaps they were trying to compensate because I was larger than they were, as I am taller than almost everyone in our town. Am I compensating for their abuse by making Alan, a man who can never be a threat, my new partner?
Alan is holding my hand. Anyone seeing us walk across that dark car park would take us for a mother and child. The size difference is that great. Alan’s head is only a few inches above my waist as we walk. My long trench coat’s skirt swirls around him.
“I’m not exactly happy about this either, Alan. Do you want to change your mind and turn them down?”
“No… I said I would. I’m just not sure how I’m going to cope. With you it’s different. I trust you. I think I’d trust Andrea. I’m not sure about the others and worried about Teresa and Emma. I think they hate men. Do they?”
“I wouldn’t put it as strongly as ‘hate’ but they do have reason to be wary of men in general and those two had bad experiences with the men they had as partners. So have most of our group, including me – remember?”
“Yes, Marie, I remember. I don’t know why anyone would want you to be less than you are but I appreciate that some men are like that. So are some women.”
“True. But what do you want to do, Alan?”
“Go in and face them. Could I have a hug first? I’d like to know I’ve got at least one friend in there.”
I pick him up and hug him. Then we kiss. I am supporting his whole weight but I could stand like that for a long time. I sling him to straddle my hip and look at him.
“Ready?” I ask, walking towards the door.
“Yes, but I should walk in. This is nice but not good for a public entrance.”
I put him down. He grabs my hand again, takes a deep breath, and we walk into the hall. He lets his breath out with a ‘whoosh’ as we see that the hall is empty. We hear voices from the side room.
I am surprised when we walk in on the group. Andrea comes to meet us and drops to her knees to kiss Alan. He responds. Still on her knees, she takes Alan’s hand.
“Alan, this is going to be difficult for you. I know it is. Please be aware that it is difficult for some of us as well. You are not the only one who will be uncomfortable with this script. If you are willing, I want you to kiss everyone here. You are going to have to do things far more intimate than that if we go through with the pantomime. If you can’t kiss them, or they can’t kiss you, then we stop right here. Are you OK with that?”
Andrea looks straight into Alan’s face. He nods.
“Yes, Andrea. I’ll try.”
She kisses him again.
“That’s me.” She says. “Off you go.”
Alan walks straight towards Teresa. I see her shrink back, clamp her legs together and turn them to one side before she opens her arms to him.
He presses against her legs, between her open arms, and tilts his head back. They kiss and her arms close around him. As he withdraws Teresa’s eyes glisten and a tear rolls down her cheek. Alan lifts her hand to his lips.
“Thank you, Teresa.”
He moves to Emma. She spreads her legs wide and tucks her skirt down. Alan moves between her legs. They kiss lightly. Alan starts to retreat but Emma’s arms stop him. He looks up at her. A faint smile greets him. They kiss again, a proper kiss this time. As he moves away her hand strokes his cheek.
The kisses with the other four are easier. They kiss as if they are used to kissing and there is none of the hesitation shown by Teresa and Emma.
Andrea claps her hands to get everyone’s attention.
“Thank you Alan, and all of you. Judith has been called away on a course so Teresa is taking her place. We've revised the script so that we all use our real names at the moment. That will changed before the performance, if there is one. The purpose of this evening is to establish whether we can live with the embarrassing aspects of the script. Nothing more. If we can’t, or if any of us can’t, then we have to rethink the whole project. The quality of the script, the production details, everything other than the embarrassing bits, are irrelevant tonight. Alan will be in action almost all the time but everyone will have to get down to business. April will set the scene for the first entrance of Alan. Everyone got their scripts ready? Yes? April – over to you.”
“Right,” says April. “The premise is that Princess Marie and her ladies, us, went away from her father’s court to study female magic for a long weekend, taking Marie’s tutor, er, Teresa, with them. Marie will be a witch Queen when she inherits the throne. Her father is a Wizard King. As yet Marie doesn’t know enough magic and her father can’t teach her the female magic. Marie has her dead mother’s book of spells but doesn’t know how to use them because the spells assume basic knowledge her mother didn’t have time to teach her. All Marie knows is that using magic without understanding is dangerous. Unfortunately Teresa has other plans. She wants to rule with Marie as her puppet. Teresa can’t use all the spells herself so she wants to enslave Marie and make her little more than a tool. That has to be done before Marie falls in love with a man. Once Marie knows love Teresa can’t override that and her plot will fail. OK so far?”
“We have read the script, April,” comments Chloe. “Get on with it, please.”
“I’ll try. Teresa has some magical powers.
One. She has built a magical hedge barrier around the retreat. That barrier is impassable by man, woman or child but has one flaw. An adult male who is child sized can get through it.
Two. She has a magical potion that makes whoever inhales it obey the person who has administered a mist or spray in the face. That potion is cumulative. Each application lasts longer and eventually becomes permanent but that would take longer than the planned weekend. It can be reversed by a kiss on the lips from a person of the opposite sex. The commands given to somebody under the influence of the potion can be either explicit and known or can be like a instruction under hypnosis where the subject doesn’t consciously know the command has been given. Teresa has commanded all of us not to let a man approach our faces. If an adult male dwarf penetrates the barrier we are told to capture him under our skirts, to hold him between our legs, and wait until someone else can take a message to Teresa. That is why we wear full long skirts. She could not risk us trying to tie the intruder up because in the struggle our faces may be vulnerable.
Three. Teresa has accomplices, Emma and Julia, who will aid her once she is the power behind the throne. She sprays them as well, but her instructions to them are to watch Marie carefully for signs of rebellion. If they see any they are to spray Marie at once and send for help. Three. Teresa has made the area inside the barrier a different time zone. Outside it appears as if the ladies are away for a long weekend. Inside time is passing in weeks and months. At the end of Teresa’s plots, she will emerge with a controlled Marie after an apparent couple of days.
That is the situation just after the prologue. Marie is sitting on a bench in the open air close to the hedge barrier, reading her mother’s book of spells when she hears Prince Alan crawling through the hedge. She rises, bends down and peers into the hedge and sees the top of Alan’s head. She looks around for help but there is no one. She can see a hole in the hedge where Alan will come out. She lies down placing her feet either side of the hole. Her skirt forms a tunnel into which Alan crawls.
Ready, Alan and Marie?”
“Not yet, April,” I say. “I haven’t got my hoop petticoat on.”
I struggle to heave the petticoat up under my skirt, then lie down. Alan crawls across the floor looking embarrassed. He crawls into my skirt. I roll over, wrapping the skirt around him. I look at the script lying on the floor beside me.
“Help!” I shout. “Anyone there? I’ve caught a man.”
The rest giggle nervously. This script is unbelievable.
“What are you doing?” cries a muffled Alan. “Let me out!”
I scissor my legs around him making a production of our struggle. Alan’s head tents my skirt. I push the bulge down with a hand.
“Shut up!” I say.
Alan’s head wiggles.
“What are you doing? What… Oh! That’s nice! Oh! Oh!”
I move sensuously on the floor. Then I sit up suddenly.
“The bitch! That bitch Teresa!” I shout. “I’ll get her for this! She isn’t going to control me!”
Alan wriggles frantically.
“Sorry,” I say. “I’ll let you out.”
I lift my skirt to my knees. Alan backs out and emerges red-faced.
“What was that for?” he asks.
April stops us.
“Skip the explanations. I’ve already done that. Go to Emma’s entrance.”
“OK,” I say. “Someone’s coming. Prince Alan, get under my skirt, please. Quickly.”
Alan burrows under my skirt. I wrap it around him hiding him completely.
“Emma! Thank goodness you’ve come. I’ve caught a dwarf creeping through the hedge.”
“You have?” says Emma, moving her hand to her skirt pocket. “Where is he?”
“Under my skirt, where else? Where he should be. Will you tell Teresa or will you hold him while I go?”
“I think you should tell Teresa, Princess Marie. You caught him. I’ll take him.”
“Get ready to swamp him. Lift your skirt.”
Emma lifts her skirt. I pull Alan out and push him under Emma’s skirt. Alan wriggles and Emma starts writhing. It isn’t all acting. Emma is really embarrassed and unhappy. I am supposed just to touch her shoulder but I hug her. Emma looks at me. Her lower lip is trembling as if she is about to burst into tears.
“You can do it,” I whisper in her ear.
She nods almost imperceptibly.
“Oh! Oh!” she says. No one would believe that she was in ecstasy but she is trying.
“Now do you know what Teresa is up to?” I ask.
“Yes. I know the whole plot.”
Her hand dives into her skirt pocket and produces an imaginary atomiser which she pretends to spray in my face. I slump back.
“Yes, Marie, I know all about it. I’m part of it. Thanks to you, I’m now my own person, uncontrolled by Teresa but you… You have to be controlled if we are going to succeed.”
Emma’s voice is more confident.
“Now you listen to me,” she says, “Take off your belt and tie his ankles together.”
I do it.
“You use my belt to reach under my skirt and tie his hands.”
“What are you doing?” says a muffled Alan. “Princess Marie! Stop.”
I ignore his protests and lash his wrists together.
“Take off your scarf and gag him as he comes out,” Emma orders.
As she lifts her skirt I wrap my scarf around Alan’s mouth.
“Now bury him inside your skirt.”
I slide Alan under my skirt. At this point April is supposed to arrive.
“April,” says Emma. “Take off your belt.”
“Tie it around Princess Marie’s legs over her skirt,” orders Emma. “She’s trapped a dwarf. We want to keep him there.”
April swathes my skirt around my legs. She makes a pretence of tying my legs together.
“Take your stockings off, April.”
April pretends to take the stockings, that she isn't actually wearing, off.
“Tie Princess Marie’s hands behind her back. Then gag her with your scarf and tie it in place with the other stocking. Marie! Stay still. Let April do it.”
April pretends to tie and gag me.
“Now, April, stay here and make sure that Marie doesn’t move and that the dwarf doesn’t get out. I’m going to get Teresa.”
Emma goes back to her chair and sits down.
April removes my imaginary gag.
“Marie!” she hisses. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” I say dully. “I can hear you, April.”
“I’m going to untie you and release the dwarf.”
“Mustn’t” I mutter.
“Yes we must. Keep still.”
April pretends to untie my hands, unties the belt around my skirt and uncovers the gagged and bound Alan. He shakes his head vigorously to try to dislodge the gag.
“You want to be ungagged?” April asks.
“I don’t see any harm in that. You are still tied up.”
April removes my scarf from Alan’s mouth.
“Back in there,” Alan says, nodding towards my skirt. “In case someone comes.”
“I suppose so. It can’t do any harm.”
April pushes Alan under my skirt which billows as he moves.
“Oh!” I say but with much less emphasis than before. I shake my head groggily.
“April! What’s happened?”
“You’ve caught a dwarf. Emma’s gone to get Teresa.”
“Oh no. She can’t. Help Prince Alan out.”
“Are you sure? Isn’t he dangerous?”
“If you are worried, put him under your skirt, April.”
“I will. I’m not happy about this. Emma forced me to tie you up. I could have refused but that would have let her and Teresa know I’m not as controlled as the rest of you.”
While April is speaking she covers Alan with her skirt. Now it is her turn to writhe.
“Wow! That is wonderful. Do it again, Alan.”
April wriggles wildly.
“I’m free! Even the small compulsion I had to serve Teresa has gone. How?”
“I think it happens when Alan kisses you on the lips. We were ordered not to let him close to our faces. Teresa forgot that women have lower lips. Let Alan out now. He’s done what he needed to do to you.”
“He can do it again, anytime. He has a real talent, and not just for making spells of compulsion end.”
“I know, April, but we are still in danger. Teresa and Emma will be here soon.”
April uncovers Alan. We untie him. I pick him up and sit him on my lap.
April claps her hands. Alan and I stare at her. That isn’t in the script.
“OK. That’s a good start. Time for a coffee break. How does everybody feel about it so far? Alan?”
“It wasn’t easy but I think I could do it again.” He replies.
“I admit I was worried. Alan behaved very well. So did Marie. They helped. I didn’t like having a man close to my… you know, but Alan actually kept away from it. He was being very tactful. I could hug him for that.”
“Then why don’t you?” I say.
Emma holds out her arms to Alan. He walks over to her. She pulls him tightly against her breasts and kisses his head. His eyes twinkle at me.
During coffee we discuss the first scene. We won’t be doing the next scene because it is between Teresa, Emma and Julia. In the third scene Alan has to perform again, this time with Andrea and Sandra.
Neither Alan nor I are worried about Andrea. Sandra we think will be reasonably tolerant. Emma was one of the women we were really concerned about. She ties Alan up. She could overdo it.
Alan still has to face his ordeal of Julia and Teresa. This is only the first read-through. Can he, and the women’s group, really go through with this on stage?