The Juggler's Act

A teenager who plays everything safe battles his desire to sing and dance which refuses to stay buried while he struggles to accept his force-of-nature grandfather’s laser-focused expectation his grandson will become the third generation to run the family business.

It's Los Angeles, in the 1970's, and the time when a young Italian man was the legacy of his family. A time when a young man was destined to step into his father's and his grandfather's shoes. A time when a young man was not encouraged to chase his dreams of being the next Hollywood or Broadway singing and dancing sensation and of being in love with someone of the same sex.

Mike Demetriano is that 16-year-old third-generation Italian young man, and he has a lot on his plate.

His best friend Kait knocks him upside his head (literally) and tells Mike to follow his dreams. His boyfriend is carrying as many secrets as Mike is, and not just about also being gay. A dance instructor tells Mike he's the most naturally-gifted dancer she's ever met, and she offers to teach him for free.

Mike just wants everyone off his case. He just wants to be the good little Demetriano and do what his beaten-down father and his tyrannical grandfather expect him to do. And Mike knows it's the right thing to do, because he learned very early on, when he was five years old: if you don't play things safe, you don't keep your head down and your nose clean, then this life eats you alive and spits you out.

Then Kait demands Mike's gift to her be that he sing and dance her off her feet at her Sweet Sixteen party. Mike fights her, but his best friend knows she's the one person Mike can never deny. Mike gives Kait her gift, and it just So right. So...him. So perfect.

No! The family business -- the one that supports all of them, lets them live the incredible life they do as Hollywood elite -- needs a third-generation Demetriano at the helm. That's him. That's what's expected of him. That's his security. That's playing it safe. Every time Mike turns off the light, every time he shuts his eyes, he's that alone, terrified, abandoned five-year-old all over again in that dark alleyway in that foreign city.

Then there's that night that everything falls apart. Mike's right back where he's always right back to when he runs away from his problems: that dingy, garbage-strewn, flickering-streetlamp courtyard outside that instructor's dance studio. His feet, his whole body, his very soul, take on a life of their own, and he starts to dance. And right there, for everyone to witness, most especially his father and grandfather, Mike dances like he's never danced before, enough to open the gates of Heaven itself. In the ecstatic agony of the moment, he grabs his boyfriend, and these two young men, each a lost soul, make it very clear, in front of everyone, how they feel about each other.

What choice does Mike make, this Italian young man, the pride of his family and their hope for the future? Play it safe for the rest of his life? Or risk everything and reach for the stars?

Written by:
Starring Roles For:
a teenage Jonatas Faro as Mike
Timothée Chalamet as Josh
Christina Schmidt as Kait
In the Vein Of:
Fair Haven
Strictly Ballroom
Author Bio:

Contest Results:
BlueCat Contest (Quarterfinalist) [2019]