A budding playwright has made waves with her newest Broadway production. There are rumors of a Tony. Maura extends an invitation to a former schoolteacher, whom she has not seen in nearly 20 years. A story of calculated revenge, Jennifer Jacobson’s “Flight” unfolds with commanding skill.
“They’re perfect killers,” she says. “They focus and strike. There’s no suffering. That’s the mercy of their kill, the grace of it.”
Maura starts at the top of the balcony, the highest point in the theater. Every night, before the stage manager calls places and the hawk handlers settle in, she touches the first seat in each row, marking her territory. She knows the number of steps from the last row to the edge of the balcony; and in the small private boxes as well, the loges, she’s memorized the number of steps from the door to the seats and from the seats to the edge of the half-wall, built to allow patrons to view all the action on stage and to keep them—agents, press, family, lovers, producers—from falling into the audience.
The stage left loge is where the more experienced bird handler is stationed. Of course, Maura had to fight with the producers to include the Red-tailed hawks in the production. It costs a fortune to insure two wild birds in a Broadway house. But her instincts had paid off: once word got around about the hawks, the play had sold out and the producers had extended the run.
The loge door opens and a man in a knee-length, camel hair coat steps onto the private balcony. Maura recognizes his broad shoulders, takes stock of his large hands. She makes her way up the stairs to the nearest exit.
In the loge Pierce finds three seats covered in crushed red velvet, old world and elegant. The one next to the wall is marked reserved, but that’s not the seat he’s been assigned. His ticket places him closest to the balcony with a sweeping view of the stage. Below him is a wooden deck that juts into the audience. The deck has been stained to appear weathered, yet he can smell the tang of new pine. Across from him, she’s built a watchtower. Pierce puts on his glasses and grins when he reads the hand-painted sign, Poet’s Seat, a reference to a field trip in his English class, how exquisite to be included. He settles his expensive coat across the back of the seat, the cloth pooling out across the floor of the intimate space, its creamy silk lining exposed; a gift from a student that he only wears on important occasions.