It felt good to work with power tools again, or maybe it was just the feeling he had working on something made him feel good about himself. Creating the set for Danny was one part atonement for being an ass, but the rest was just how cool it would be to see the play come to life with all the bells and whistles.
Measuring out the last piece for the ring frame, he cut it and carried it over to the rest of the pieces, then set about assembling the base and building up the sides and the small set of steps in the back that would allow the actors to step inside without having to navigate the ropes. Was a good thing he knew a little about wrestling and what it was supposed to look like. When Danny had suggested painting the base blue, Jax had balked, explaining it was supposed to be fabric.
Little had he known that would send him on an excursion to a fabric store to find something that would work. Hours spent wandering the racks and rolls of material had finally yielded something that would mimic the right color and consistency, and as he spread it over the base, he was feeling pretty pleased about the way it was all turning out.
“Holy shit that’s nice.”
Jax jerked his head up to see a guy in a mask watching him. Phillip, he thought Danny had said the man’s name was. He was playing Az, that Jax knew for sure, and would be one of the actors performing inside the ring. Jax watched as the guy fiddled with the mask before finally peeling it away from his face.
“Damn that thing is hot, it’s gonna be a bitch when all the lights are shining on the stage.”
“I bet,” Jax replied conversationally, wondering what in the world the guy wanted.
“Seriously though, awesome job on the ring, it looks really real,” Phillip said. “I wasn’t sure at first what Danny had in mind when he was trying to explain all the scenes to us. I’ve never watched wrestling, I thought about watching a match or two when I got the part, but work and rehearsals and shit, I just never really got around to it.”
“I’ve watched it a few times, enough to figure out what I’m doing anyway,” Jax admitted.
“Cool. I just wanted to come back and see it, get a better feel for what I was in for, ya know,” Phillip said. “I’d better get back out there, but thanks for stepping in and helping.”
Jax watched as Phillip wandered back out towards the front of the stage, then he turned his attention back to his work. Turned out Phillip wasn’t the only one grateful for his help, several times over the course of the day members of Danny’s crew wandered to the back and introduced themselves, admired the ring and made casual conversation with him. It was odd, but not at all unpleasant to feel like he was a part of their team.
The way he saw it, this was the easy part. No way could he ever see himself doing what they did, standing out on the stage for people to stare at and securitize. He was pretty sure he’d puke before he ever stepped foot on the stage. He had to admire the courage it took to do what they did, which just made him even more pleased to have a small part in making it happen.
Doubling his efforts and his focused, he finished using the staple gun to get the floor covering in place, then moved on to constructing the ring posts. 4 x 6’s had to be shaped into posts, then wrapped in paper mache to make them thicker. Those would have to harden for the next two days before he could spray several coats of black over them until they looked like shiny metal. Best to get started at them next, to make sure they were ready for Friday. The ring ropes would be hose material painted blue and red, since they would best mimic the thickness.
Bending to his task, he quickly lost track of time, so much so that when Danny tapped him on the shoulder after he’d turned off the machine, that he jumped and looked around.
“Hey,” Jax said when he saw Danny standing there.
“Hey, yourself, it’s getting late. I know you have to be at work in a couple hours, I thought you might want to grab something to eat before you had to go.”
“Naw, I’m good,” Jax said. “I want to get these wrapped in paper mache before I leave for the day, so they’ll be ready to paint on Friday.”
“You don’t have to rush, you know, we’ve got a little over a week before dress rehearsals, and with all the progress you’ve already made, I don’t have a doubt everything will be ready.”
“So, join us for dinner?”
“Thanks, but I’m not really hungry.”
Danny shuffled from foot to foot, frowning.
“What’s up?” Jax asked, looking around at the pieces he’d already completed. “Did I fuck something up?”
“No, not at all, everything is awesome, I don’t know how you found the old posters for the gym walls but between them and the office set you finished yesterday, everything looks amazing. I can’t believe what you’ve been able to do in just a week.”
“The set designs were pretty simple, it helped that you had the supplies and everything already here, it really saved me some time.”
“I’m glad. I know it was kind of last minute, you helping out, so at least we had most everything you needed.”
“Yeah, and folks helping paint really made things come together quicker too,” Jax said.
“That’s what a production is all about,” Danny replied, a small smile crossing his face. “It’s not a division of actors and tech crew, it’s everyone trying to work together to make a performance happen.”
“That’s cool. What you guys do here is pretty awesome. Never would have imagined so much went into it.”
“What we do here.”
“You said, ‘you guys,’ but you forgot to include yourself,” Danny pointed out.
“Some screws and bolts aren’t the same as what goes on out there.”
“Don’t do that.”
Jax frowned and studied Danny, confused by the sudden look of fury on his face. “Do what?”
“Undervalue what you’ve done to help.” Danny snapped. “And don’t think none of us have noticed the way you never seem to take a break, not for a snack, not for lunch, you just guzzle water and that protein stuff you carry with you.”
“I grab something on my way to work.”
“Okay, then come on, let’s go grab something,” Danny insisted.
“Why are you making such a big deal of this?”
“Someone has to,” Danny said. “I’m worried about you. I know it’s none of my business, but I um, I think you’ve got an eating disorder.”
Jax blinked, stunned at the words that kind of sat in the silence between them. He wanted to lash out at Danny, tell him to fuck off and storm out of there, but he couldn’t desert the show and he couldn’t deny the truth in what Danny was saying.
“I’ve had one for a long time. I manage,” Jax grumbled defensively.
“Have you um, ever talked to someone about it, like, a professional, someone who might be able to help?”
“Yeah, just haven’t needed to in a while.”
“I kinda think you do. I don’t mean to be pushy or anything but, it’s getting hard to miss.”
Jax crossed his arms and glared at the ground, “Yeah, well, I’d rather it to being a fatass.”
“Look, I used to be really fuckin’ fat okay. I used to overeat and sometimes I pig out on stupid shit, like ice cream and pizza and other crap, so, sometimes I skip a few meals after I do that shit, to kinda balance it out.”
“Not sure it’s the healthiest way to balance it out.”
“Yeah well, it isn’t your body, so, it shouldn’t matter to you.” Jax grumbled, checked his watch and set about unplugging things. “I’d better go, don’t wanna be late to the shop.”
Before Danny could get in another word Jax hurried away, the sudden sting of the cold air on his face as he stepped outside a harsh reminder of the tears that were flowing down his cheeks.