That first encounter with Percy happened near the beginning of the theatre’s fall season. Dozens of touring acts had come through town since then, and with each one, Bash improved his technique. He was still a rookie LD (lighting director) but his willingness to take instruction and inspiration from all available sources made him a quick study, mostly because he kept an ear out for the jargon. The outgoing LD who was making the transition from partial retirement to full, along with the transition from female to male, had once told him to learn the language of the job as quickly as possible because words were the pack animals of learning. He never forgot that piece of advice. Each day he’d add to his vocabulary, expanding his knowledge, bit by bit, tweak by tweak, however, those weren’t the only improvements made. He’d taken to calling himself Bash instead of Sebastian. His surname was Ashbarrow and Bash Ashbarrow could surely go places Sebastian could not. Bash Ashbarrow was a name that’d stick in the heads of other lighting directors, set designers, tour managers, and the thought of this was a cool balm on his burning ambition. But calling himself Bash felt wrong because it came from Percy and there hadn’t been a second meeting between them despite their mutual attraction. Dating, for him, was a bridge too far. A bad breakup in his twenties made him a wiser man, or so he thought. Still, guilty feelings over the use of the nickname built up and eventually he decided to give credit where credit was due. Dropping by the pediatric cancer ward to give his thanks in person seemed too formal, not to mention too daunting, so he wrote an Instagram message and, for lack of nerve, failed to send it until the following March, near the beginning of the theatre’s spring season.
His skillset continued to grow throughout the winter leading up to that spring and by March the twenty-ninth (the day the message was finally sent), his confidence was in full bloom to the point of him being proud of his work. Spanish pink and Egyptian blue had also become something of a professional trademark. If a band came through the theatre without their own lighting director, and therefore without specific directions regarding lights, then he’d dial-in the Spanish-Egyptian cure, or SEC, as he liked to call it. Don’t worry, I’ll have it done for you in a SEC, was a favourite thing to say to stressed out tour managers when they started needling him with talk of time constraints. Endless combinations of gobos, pans, and tilts made each show a little different, but the common denominator was always the SEC, which, of course, had its origins in Percy’s two-tone costume—a fact lost to him somewhere in the lush garden of his pride. Perhaps selective memory suppression was at play. Maybe his ego allowed him to give her credit for the slick nickname, yet not for the colours that he’d built a reputation on. Or maybe his forgetfulness was more innocent than that. Either way, her Instagram profile picture featured the costume in question and the sight of it yanked their initial pharmacy encounter up from the depths to the surface of his mind where it sat exposed, like the roots of Christ. Christians pooh-pooh the idea of Jesus being a hodgepodge construct of pre-existing deities, like, say, the Egyptian sky god, Horus, or, maybe, Saoshyans, the final saviour in Zoroastrian eschatology. This theory is not new and remains hard to refute. Especially when Horus, for example, was said to have been born of a virgin and was also rumoured to have had a dozen disciples. Then there’s the time he allegedly walked on water. Oh, and apparently, he even gave some kind of speech on some kind of mount before performing a few miracles.