The music played on in the wings as the lights faded to black. The crowd stilled in anticipation.
The pin spot came on, finding a single antique gramophone sitting in the center of the previously empty stage, platter turning, playing a thready tune clearly audible to all from its single ornate horn. The track finished, and the platter stilled.
The second light that came up found George seated and apparently asleep, pipe still lit in one hand, smoke wafting and eddying in the warmth of the lights. Abruptly, the lights went out, staying dead black for a short beat before the music began again.
Again, the spot found the gramophone. And again, a second spot found George, now prone on top of a smoke cloud, several feet above his chair. The pipe was the source of the smoke, resting in an ashtray beside the chair, remaining visible as more lights came up to reveal a still mostly bare stage.
As George dreamed, a large jaguar wandered in looked up at George, shook her head, and lay down in a circle of light. George’s cloud drifted over to cast a shadow over her. The lights flickered and changed, and a large panther stepped out of the shadow, stretched, yawned to show her considerable number of sharp teeth, and leapt into the cloud and vanished.
With her passage, the audience let out a sigh of relief, the cloud abruptly dissipated, and George woke up with a start just in time to land gracefully on his feet in the spotlight where the jaguar had rested.
The lights went out as the applause began, with only a pair of green cat’s eyes visible. Which winked slowly, then faded.