Authors: Betsy Haynes
FABULOUS FIVE #10
PLAYING THE PART
NEW YORK • TORONTO •
LONDON • SYDNEY • AUCKLAND
RL 5, 009-012
PLAYING THE PART
A Bantam Skylark
Book / July 1989
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registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and
1989 by Betsy Haynes and James Haynes.
© 1989 by Ralph Amatrudi.
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PRINTED IN THE UNITED
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CW 0 9 8 7 6
5 4 3 2 1
"I really can't help it, Keith," Beth Barry said
in frustration. "I've got cheerleading practice tomorrow after school, and
then I've got to study for the play tryouts. You know how important getting the
part of Julie in the school play is to me."
Keith Masterson, Beth's boyfriend, had been complaining for
weeks about her being so busy she didn't have time to see him. And now she had
just told him she was trying out for a part in the play, and she would have to
spend more of her evenings studying the script.
"What's more important, me or the play?" he grumbled.
He was slouched angrily on the opposite end of the couch.
"You're important to me. You know that. How long have
we been going together? Since sixth grade, right? Doesn't that tell you
"It tells me you may be getting tired of me," he
responded with a sour look on his face.
"That's not so," she said, moving closer and
taking his hand. "I like you better than any other boy." She leaned
against him and put her head on his shoulder. "I mean it."
She looked into his eyes as his strong arms wrapped around
her, and she felt herself going limp as he drew her closer. A tingling
sensation ran up and down her back, and she started to close her eyes in
anticipation of his kiss.
"WAHOO! WE CAUGHT YOU!"
Beth jerked, bumping her mouth on Keith's and splitting her
lip. Alicia, Beth's five-year-old sister, jumped on Keith's back and puckered
her lips at Beth. "We caught you smoochin'! I'm gonna tell."
Beth shot her little sister a dirty look, then turned to
glare at her brother Todd. The fifth-grader was standing in front of the couch
holding his sponge-rubber football and grinning at Beth and Keith. Agatha, the
family sheepdog, sat next to him with a silly look on her face, as if she knew
what was going on. Beth stuck her tongue out at both her brother and the dog.
"Hey, Keith, how about some football?" Todd asked,
throwing the ball at him.
"Okay, partner," Keith responded, getting up and
tossing the ball back.
Beth's heart sank. In less than one second, they had gone
from a big love scene to a football game in her family room. She'd almost had
Keith convinced that she wasn't trying to avoid him with excuses about having
to study for the play, cheerleading practice, and her parents getting tougher
on school studies because she was out so much doing other things. It wasn't
fair. You couldn't do anything in this house without someone butting in.
"Get out of here, you two," she yelled at Alicia
and Todd. "Can't a person have any privacy around here?"
"Catch," said Todd, tossing the ball to her. It hit
her in the nose. "You and Alicia against me and Keith in a game of touch."
"Not fair! Not fair!" screamed Alicia. "Me
and Keith against you and Bethy."
"Boys against girls," yelled Todd.
"Okay," said Keith, smiling and winking at Beth. "Why
don't we let the girls have the ball first?"
"Aw, nuts," Todd said under his breath.
Beth frowned back at Keith but resigned herself to humoring
them. She and Alicia huddled at one end of the room, and Agatha stuck her head
in between them to get attention.
"Okay, Alicia. You hike the ball to me and run to the
fireplace, and I'll throw you a pass," Beth said, pushing Agatha's head
"What will Agafa do?" asked Alicia.
"Oh, she'll block Todd. Go on, hike it to me when I say
the number two."
Alicia bent over the ball, and Beth started to count as she
had seen the Wakeman Junior High quarterback do. "Hut! One! Two!"
Alicia centered the ball, and it rolled on the floor toward
Beth. Todd tried to run around Alicia and tripped over Agatha.
"Darn dog!" he yelled.
Alicia reached the end of the room, but Keith was waiting
for her there. Beth quickly stepped around Todd, who was scrambling toward her
on his hands and knees, and ran toward the fireplace goal.
Keith dashed forward and grabbed Beth, pulling her to the
floor. She could feel his arms holding her gently as she went down and knew
that he was trying not to hurt her. He came down half on top of her, and Todd
piled on his back. Agatha was jumping around and barking, and Alicia was
yelling, "No fair! No fair!"
At the bottom of the pileup, Beth saw a twinkle in Keith's
eyes as he held her. He was like his old self again. "There's always a way
to get close if I try hard enough," he said with a laugh. Beth smiled back
"Has anybody seen my fingernail polish?" Brittany
asked as she walked into the room. Brittany was Beth's sixteen-year-old sister.
"Oh, gross. What are you doing piled up like that? Alicia, Mom told me to
tell you it's time for bed." They peeled off the pile one by one, and
Keith took Beth's hands and pulled her up.
"I've got to go," Keith said. "Coach wants us
in bed by eleven, and you know I always do what I'm told."
They walked out to the front porch with their arms around
each other's waist. Beth quickly checked the windows to see if Alicia was
"Are you sure I can't come over tomorrow night?"
"You know I've got a cheerleaders' meeting tomorrow
night," she answered.
"That's the meeting for the school play. Mr. Levine
will be giving out the scripts. Kaci Davis, Taffy Sinclair, Laura McCall, and I
are all trying out for the part of Julie, the female lead."
"How much of your time is the school play going to
take?" he said, scowling again.
"I don't know. If I luck out and get the lead role,
quite a bit I guess. Practice will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after
school, and I'm going to have to practice like mad this week to even get the
Keith looked down. "And you've got cheerleading
practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That doesn't leave
time for us,"
"But this acting part is important to me," she
said, trying to make him understand. "This will be my first chance to star
in a junior high play, and Mr. Levine said that he has a friend who's a casting
director on Broadway. He's coming to visit and will be at the tryouts."
She looked up hopefully at Keith, but he was still frowning. He just didn't
"Don't be mad," she said, putting a finger on each
corner of his mouth and pushing it into a smile. "We can still be together
"When?" asked Keith. "Between midnight and
six a.m.? I don't think you even want to go steady."
"That's not funny," she said, making a pouty face.
"I'll see you at school every day, and we can go out on Friday and
Saturday nights. We'll still see a lot of each other."
"Maybe," Keith answered.
Beth looked at him closely. He seemed so angry about it. Why
would a little part in a play make him mad?
"You'll see," she said, trying to sound perky. "We'll
have lots of dates." She stood on her toes and kissed him on the nose. "Don't
be such a grouch. Smile."
She moved close and wrapped her arms around his neck.
Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him. His body was rigid, and he didn't put
his arms around her. It was like kissing a dead fish.
Beth's anger flared. "Okay, be that way. I think you're
the one who doesn't want to go steady, and that's just fine with me!" She
slammed the door behind her as she stormed into the house.
"Taffy, Kaci, and Laura?" said Jana Morgan as The
Fabulous Five gathered at their favorite spot by the school fence before school
the next morning. "Those are three tough girls you're going up against for
the lead role in the play, Beth. Besides modeling, Taffy's done professional
acting on television; Kaci thinks she's the queen of Wacko Junior High; and
Laura is convinced she can do anything. I don't envy you trying to beat them
out for the part, especially Taffy."
"I know it will be tough," said Beth, "but
don't forget that I've read tons of books on acting, and I was in all the
school plays at Mark Twain Elementary. Besides, Mr. Levine said he has a
friend, whose name is Mr. Stapleton, who will be at the tryouts. He's a casting
director from New York City. Maybe he'll notice me."
"You can do it," said Katie. "We'll help."
"That's right," said Christie. "We'll help
you practice as much as you need us to. Just the way all of you did for me when
I was trying out for the Super Quiz team."
"We'll do anything you need," joined in Melanie.
Jana Morgan, Katie Shannon, Christie Winchell, and Melanie
Edwards were Beth's four best friends and members of The Fabulous Five. The
five of them had been best friends since they went to Mark Twain Elementary
School together. They had even stayed close after starting at Wakeman Junior High
and getting involved in different activities.
"Dahlings, it's so nice of you to offer to help little
old me," Beth said in her most dramatic voice. The others rocked on their
heels with laughter.
"But hark! I think I hear my fans calling," she
said, putting a hand up to her ear. "Or is that Taffy, Kaci, and Laura
crying because they know I'll get to play Julie?" Melanie doubled over
with laughter, and Jana and Katie leaned on each other for support.
"Enough! Enough!" said Christie, holding her
sides. "I can't stand it."
"Look who's watching us," said Katie, nodding
toward the school.
Beth turned and saw Laura McCall and her friends Tammy
Lucero, Melissa McConnell, and Funny Hawthorne staring at them. The four of
them were a rival clique that had gone to Riverfield Elementary and called
themselves The Fantastic Foursome. They were always trying to outdo The
Beth put her hand up to her mouth as if she were telling a
secret and said in a loud whisper, "I'll bet they think we're talking
about them, don't you?"
Laura frowned at her, and Beth knew that was exactly what
"Is it true that the play you're trying out for is
about Romeo and Juliet going to school at Wacko Junior High?" asked
"Well, sort of. Mr. Levine has rewritten
and named the characters Ronnie and Julie. They go to Wakeman, and
their parents are mad at each other and won't let Julie and Ronnie date,"
"That's the saddest thing I've ever heard," said
Melanie with a little sigh.
"Wait until I finish telling you about it. It gets kind
of funny. Ronnie sneaks over to Julie's house late one night to borrow her
homework. Her parents come home, and Julie puts Ronnie in a hall closet to hide
because they'll be mad if they find him there. Her mom and dad hang around and
don't go to bed, and Julie can't figure out how to get Ronnie out of the closet
so he can go home."
"Oh, no," gasped Christie.
"Well, it turns out his parents have found out he's not
in his room and they go out looking for him," continued Beth. "They
spot his bike outside Julie's house and knock on the door. Julie gets into the
closet to talk to Ronnie while both sets of parents are arguing, and she closes
the door. When the adults look for her, they can't find her either, and they
start worrying that she's run off to be with him."
"Eeek," squealed Jana. "What happens next?"
Beth's friends were looking at her in anticipation. "Julie
and Ronnie are afraid to come out of the closet and stay there while the
parents are arguing," Beth said, enjoying the looks on their faces. "In
the end the parents are so worried about the kids that they make up. When Julie
and Ronnie finally sneak back out of the closet, the parents are so happy to
see them they tell them they can date."
"You mean Julie gets to spend all that time in the
closet with Ronnie?" asked Melanie. "That's cool. No wonder you want
to play the part. Who's playing the part of Ronnie?"
"I don't know. He hasn't been cast yet, but there are
some cute guys trying out—Chet Miller and Garrett Boldt."
"Chet's a ninth-grader," said Christie.
"And really cute," added Jana.
"I'll be so jealous if Garrett gets the part and you
get to kiss him onstage," said Melanie. "I'm the one who likes him."
"If they left out all the boys you like, there would be
no one left to try out for the play," said Katie.
Melanie stuck her nose up at her friend.
"Is there really kissing in the play?" asked Jana.
"I'd be embarrassed to kiss Randy in front of an
audience," Jana said.
"What will Keith say if you have to kiss some other guy
in front of everyone?" asked Melanie. "Won't he be jealous?"
Beth thought about the argument that Keith and she had had
the night before, and her anger at him returned. "There's no reason for
him to be jealous," she said with an air of assurance. "After all, it's
just acting, and professional actresses have to kiss good-looking guys all the
time. It's part of the job. Besides, he's mad at me anyway."
"What's he mad at you for?" asked Christie.
"He's mad because I'm so busy and can't see him every
time he wants to. He thinks I ought to be around for him all the time. He'll
get over it."
"But what if he doesn't?" asked Jana. "Is the
play worth it?"
"You bet it is. It's kind of like your breaking up with
Jon, Christie. Keith doesn't understand that there are things that are
important to me besides dating and watching him play football." Beth's own
words surprised her. She hadn't realized how strongly she felt about things
until now as she explained it to her friends.
"That's a very liberated attitude," said Katie. Then
grinning, she added, "Maybe there's hope for you after all."
"But do you
feel that way?" asked
"Sure I do," Beth declared. "I wouldn't say
so if I didn't, would I?"
"What if Keith asked someone else for a date?"
asked Melanie. "Wouldn't that just kill you?"
Beth let out a big laugh, trying to appear unconcerned. "He
could date anyone he wants."
Her friends looked at her doubtfully, but before Beth could
repeat what she'd just said, the bell rang. As she followed her friends inside
the school building, she couldn't help wishing that she could take back what
she'd just said.
Beth saw Keith in the hallways several times between morning
classes, and each time he looked away. The first time he did it, she was
confused. In the past when they had argued, they had always made up pretty
quickly. Why was he so angry this time? When Keith ignored her again, Beth was
furious. If he wants to be that way, she thought, well, let him.
For good measure, she hurried out of her English class in
the afternoon and leaned against the wall. The classroom was next door to Keith's
class, and usually the first one out waited for the other. Then they'd walk together
to their next classes.
Beth was prepared when he came out the door. She stuck her
nose into the air and sailed right in front of him without speaking. There! she
thought. That ought to put Keith Masterson in his place. Maybe now he would
realize just how foolish their argument had been. She giggled to herself.
Besides, it would be fun when they made up.