TOM FOSTER was torn between pleasure and annoyance after the last notes of his postlude had ceased to echo around the stone and plaster walls of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. He was pleased that several members of the congregation had, as usual, come up to the organ console to tell him how much they’d enjoyed the music, and he truly enjoyed receiving feedback, favorable or unfavorable, on his playing and/or the choir’s singing. On the other hand, he was tired after a long week that had culminated in a hurried two-day trip to Philadelphia on Friday morning so that he could perform in concert Saturday evening and wanted nothing more than to go home and crash. A quick trip to the frozen north in January wasn’t his favorite thing to do, and he was more than ready to go home and crash for the rest of the day. But somehow he managed, as always, to keep his face set in a pleasant and interested mask as he chatted with the well-wishers. After the last of them departed down the aisle, he sighed inwardly and headed upstairs to the choir room to change out of his robes and secure the room. In the choir room, he found Noah Webster, his partner and star bass/baritone soloist of the choir, waiting for him.
“What kept you so long?” Noah said.
“The usual group of people who just had to compliment me on the music. Give me a minute to change and lock my office and we’re out of here. I just want to go home and crawl in bed.”
“Good,” he said, “because we’ll have the house to ourselves the rest of the day.”
“Your brother and his boyfriend have plans, I take it?”
“Yeah,” Noah said. “They’re going somewhere with another couple, so we’ll have to fend for ourselves in the kitchen.”
“As I’ve probably said before, we’re going to miss them when they start law school down in Gainesville.”
“Too true,” Noah said. “Giving Bobby and Chad a place to stay in exchange for utilities, groceries, and especially Chad’s cooking, was great while it lasted. Give me those robes. I’ll hang them up while you lock your office.”
A few minutes later, they were in Tom’s car and headed down Park Street, away from Riverside and toward Avondale. Eventually Tom pulled into the driveway beside their two-story brick residence, then into the garage. As they walked across the yard to the back door of their house, Noah said, “Do you want anything to eat before we go upstairs?”
“I’ll get a glass of iced tea and carry it upstairs. By the time I’ve finished it, I’ll have unwound enough to go to sleep.”
“I’ve got something that will unwind you quicker than tea,” Noah said.
“Yeah. A quick roll in the hay will tip the scales in favor of sleep—it always does.”
They fixed two glasses of tea and walked hand in hand up the stairs to the master bedroom, where they took care of each other’s needs, followed by a well-earned nap. Later, after they’d consumed a light lunch, they settled down at their desktop computer to finalize their respective schedules for the rest of the year as they currently stood.
When Tom printed out the monthly schedules and took them in at a glance, he said, “Damn! There isn’t a lot of time left over for anything, is there?”
“Was that a rhetorical question?” Noah said.
“Yeah, I guess it was. On the other hand, we’re both pursuing careers in performance and need to make the most of them while we’re young and in demand.”
“That’s why I’m glad that I’m not a soprano,” Noah said. “I can’t imagine having to plan for a career on stage lasting at most twenty or twenty-five years before the voice begins to show its age.”
“Yeah, there is that. In any case, by the time we’re both ready to slow down, we’ll have enough income from other sources to maintain our lifestyle. Not that we live all that lavishly.”
“Right now, I’m happy to take things one performance at a time, just like you do,” Noah said.
“Speaking of which, do you want to spend any time working on the music for your upcoming gig in Atlanta?”
“Not today,” Noah said. “Maybe not even this week. I’ve lived and breathed the title role of Mendelssohn’s Elijah so long that I can almost sing it from memory.”
“Don’t knock it. If Dr. Ambrose hadn’t heard you sing it, you wouldn’t have gotten that scholarship.”
“Yeah, I know, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Maybe I’m just feeling the same thing actors do when they start being typecast.”
“Noah,” Tom said, using that tone, “in another year or two, at most, you’ll have so many roles under your belt that you’ll never be typecast.”
“So Dr. Ambrose keeps telling me.”
“If you won’t listen to me, then listen to her,” Tom said. “As someone who taught at Juilliard for two decades, she knows whereof she speaks.”
“Yeah, there is that.”