Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 18

Shorofsky didn't get to see much of Julie during the next two weeks. She was there in class and she was there at the orchestra rehearsals, but she kept herself back as just another student in the crowd. He couldn't help wondering how she was getting along with her difficulties, but he knew better than to ask. An excess of interest from outside wouldn't help her now; it would only distract her and slow down the process of healing . . . assuming that a process of healing was taking place.

Even if Shorofsky had believed otherwise, he had other things on his mind; however responsible he felt towards the difficulties of any of his individual students, he was also aware of his responsibility to the student body as a whole. As always there was a lot to do, and seemingly insufficient time to do it in.

Troy was the least of his worries. The strong support of everybody in the school had given him the confidence that he needed, and the Chase School for the Educationally Handicapped had booked a block of tickets for students and their families that promised an even stronger turnout than the one Martin Gish had been able to muster at the scholarship finals. It was hard not to feel confident when your backup contingent out-numbered everybody else, performers and theatre staff included.

As for the orchestra, they read up on their parts and came prepared to rehearsal just like any set of professional musicians turning up for a concert or a recording date. They meshed almost from the first moment that Shorofsky raised the baton; his was the job of leading them through, adjusting, encouraging, standing back from the work as a whole and giving them the feedback that they needed. It was a pleasure to survey them, none of them past their teens, all relaxed in their concentration. Moments like these were what made Shorofsky's teaching career worthwhile.

Nights like the one on which the Festival was booked to take place, however, sometimes made him question it. The early evening skies had opened, turning the sidewalks into splashing mirrors and the gutters into sluices. Shorofsky sheltered in the entranceway to the Sixty-Sixth Street subway station, watching for a cab and telling himself that he had no chance. Whenever it rains, all the cabs go and hide somewhere - everyone knew that, even though Bruno Martelli often insisted in his father's defence that it wasn't true. Martelli said that the drivers just put their flags up and then cruise around laughing at all the cheapskates who gave them quarter tips in the fine weather. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

In the end, Shorofsky decided to run for it. The rain wasn't letting up, but it was only a block or so. The original plans had been for the Festival to be held in the Allice Tull hall in the Juillard School attached to the Lincoln Centre, but as the event had developed and become more ambitious in scope they'd had to rethink their plans and relocate in the larger and more prestigious Philharmonic Hall across the way. The decision had pleased Shorofsky; it would be a good experience for his students to share a venue with the Metropolitan Opera Company and the New York State Theatre. He only hoped that the Met could stand the competition.

Shorofsky would never have passed the auditions for Chariots of Fire. Although his conducting tails were safe in a zippered nylon suit bag that he kept close under his arm, he arrived backstage feeling as if he'd taken a shower with all his clothes on. There was no great rush - the school's contribution was scheduled to open the second half of the programme - but he wanted to be there and available from the earliest moment.

But he couldn't move without squelching. He couldn't raise his arms without splashing more water onto the floor.

'Mister Shorofsky,' Julie said from behind him, 'you're soaking wet!'

He turned, smiling patiently. He hadn't needed to be told. 'It's pouring with rain out there,' he said.

Julie seemed surprised. 'It is?'

She must have been here for an hour or more already. She was in her long, simple concert dress and wearing a touch of makeup. She looked . . . better. Shorofsky couldn't be annoyed. He said, with a wink, 'And they were lined up for blocks.'

For a moment Julie didn't understand, but then she remembered the reassurance that he'd given her after the scholarship finals. Put Julie Miller in the music, and they'll be lining up for blocks. She looked away sheepishly, but it wasn't real embarrassment.

Shorofsky knew that if he didn't get towelled of and changed, he was going to get pneumonia. He was too busy to get sick. But as he was about to go on to the dressing room complex, he remembered something.

'Is he here? he asked Julie.

She knew who he meant. 'No,' she said, 'he isn't.'

'He had to go back to Michigan?'

'I didn't invite him.'

It wasn't what he'd expected to hear. 'I thought we agreed on this. The music is for sharing.'

'I know you say that a lot . . . and maybe you're right when you tell me the music's ready. But there's only one person who can say when I'm ready, and that's me.' And then, with decorous politeness; 'I mean, I don't have to follow all of your advice all the time, do I?'

He had to laugh. His clothing was soaked through and every time he moved it was like cold sponges were being squeezed out under his shirt, but he had to laugh.

'Miss Miller,' he said, 'for such a young girl, you are quite a young lady.' And he took her right hand and kissed it lightly. 'And now I have rosin in my beard,' he said.

In the dressing-room corridor, he found Troy Phillips.

Troy was sitting on a cane-backed chair and reading a Spiderman comic book, not one of the special remedial reading editions but the real thing. He looked up as Shorofsky came by; he seemed calm, relaxed, ready for anything.

'Well, Troy,' Shorofsky said. 'How does it feel?'

Troy thought it over for a moment. 'Like it's showtime, Mister Shorofsky,' he said.

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