The Day Mark Lewis Saved My Life
Created by sandeygrinn on 11/12/2014
I have experienced with so many of you the blessed joy of being a part of the magic and artistry that was Mark Lewis. I also had the honor of sharing a stage or two with this man over the years, treasured times to be sure. He was by far the finest storyteller I have ever known and today my heart is grey and empty at his passing.
In his memory, I humbly share with you a story - the story of when Mark Lewis saved my life...
"superman came (late) to the renaissance faire"
Yeah yeah, I drank some white gasoline during a Cock and Feathers night show once. Someone put it in a beer cup on the edge of the stage, I thought they were offering it to me and I took a sip. It made me really sick but didn't kill me so a good laugh was had by all (well, almost all. I still don't find it funny). But as bad as that was, it didn't come close to being the most frightening thing that ever happened to us during a Wizard Show. That happened in Agoura, during the day and on the main stage...
It was the one year back in the 80's when Billy couldn't play good wizard Belvanore and our friend Mitchell Evans was filling in. We just started our 1:00 show on the Maybower to a full and already appreciative house of about 800. Belvy and I had just finished our audience argument and had made it back up onto the stage when suddenly a man in a monk outfit stood up and faced us in the third row. Now maybe if I had just said my next line and ignored this guy none of this would have happened but, back then, I was known to - occasionally - reach "outside" the limitations of our humble script and, distracted as I was by this mysterious monk, that's exactly what I did.
"Is there something I can help you with?" I asked him. He didn't answer me but instead walked to the aisle and right up on to the stage with us, stopping directly in front of me. I watched his procession from the bale and straight to my side with mouth agape. Even though I had no idea what he wanted, the crowd seemed to be really excited about this "new addition". We had a lot of regulars who came to our show back then who seemed to enjoy it when ever we would veer even a little bit from our normal routine...and they seemed to suspect (rightfully so) that this strange monk guy was about to lead us into a major detour. Boy, did he ever!
"What? I'm in trouble with the church?," I asked bemused, scratching my pouch casually. He responded by putting his hands around my collared neck and began to choke me. I mean really choke me. The crowd roared but I knew right away that this could be bad. I wanted him off of me without hurting him so, remembering a move I used to do in wrestling, turned my head and, as gently as I could, flipped him over and onto the stage. Unfortunately he didn't let go of my neck so I went down with him. "This isn't what I meant to do at all," I said, and I remember being surprised at the time at how difficult speaking suddenly was, for this man's strangle hold was getting tighter, and my breathing was becoming strained. I laid there on the stage, spooning this aspiring murderer of mine, looking out at the many faces in that audience, all howling hysterically, hoping to find even one out there who I might get to help me. "What a great crowd," I thought. It was then I realized that I was beginning to lose consciousness. And that wouldn't be good at all.
I was saying things like "help me" and "this guy's not kidding" but either no one could hear me, or no one believed that I was really in trouble. It suddenly came to me that I could actually die up here and they'd never know it until it was too late. I looked around, hoping to make eye contact with anyone out there in order to let them know I needed help and - thank God - I found Mark Lewis. He was sitting about ten rows back, dressed as the executioner (axe and all) and when our eyes met, he got it. He jumped from his seat and marched up to the stage, standing over us and, all in black, this gentle bear of a man, in his deepest, most commanding voice, growled, "Get up."
And for what ever reason, the monk let me go. He stood up and, as quietly as he came, let Mark lead him by the collar off the stage, up the aisle and away for good. "You're in trouble now buddy!" I yelled out after them but my voice came out like a whisper (later I heard that it took six of our goon squad to hold my monk down until the sheriffs could arrive and take him even further away...angel dust is such an amazing drug, isn't it?). I stood up slowly, rubbing my neck and looked around. The crowd was obviously delighted by the way things were going and were all sitting forward, anxiously awaiting our next surprise. I looked around me on the stage and both Mitchell and Marque were standing there in shock, looking back at me.
"Where the hell were you?" I asked as the crowd roared.
"I thought you were trying something new," said Marque, innocently.
"You thought I added a murdering monk? Without telling you?!"
I was furious and the crowd was now laughing so hard that many were gasping. It sounded like we were playing before an infirmary. I didn't get it, but I guess a pissed off wizard in Kiss make-up must have looked pretty funny.
"What the hell are you laughing at? That monk tried to kill me!" People were falling off their bales. I looked out at them and Islowly smiled. They were loving the show. We were doing our job. And it was time to give them the rest of it. I gestured for Mitchell to take his place again and was just about to say my next line when he finally showed up. Superman.
I don't know how long he had been standing there. It felt at the time he just appeared right in front of the stage. I looked down at this guest, at his his red cape, his blue tights, his big "S", his shiny red boots and I stared.
"Well, it's about time you showed up!"
He waved his signature Superman wave and, crossing in front of the audience, walked away, and was soon lost in the crowd. I watched him go as the audience cheered. I looked back at them then and everything that had just happened hit me all at once. I started to laugh and once I began, I could not stop. I giggled through juggling, guffawed through the battle and snorted through the slow motion fight. I was completely useless and when we finally finished what was left of our show, the crowd went wild...
Thank you Mark. For all of it. I wish I could have returned the favor.