Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sing for Their Supper - 32



 "What can we make with what's in here?" Ricky asked a while later, surveying the meager offerings in the fridge in the guys' cabin.


"I'd say, sandwiches—or sandwiches," Sam replied with a laugh. "Lunch meat or peanut butter."


"There's no jelly," Mace complained.


"We'll put it on the shopping list," DJ called out from the living room. He was on the sofa, scanning the script Tuck had given him.


"We have one?" Mace called back.


"No. But Tuck does—or rather, Brent, he said." DJ returned to what he'd been doing.


"I'll butter," Sam told Ricky, opening the bread packet and laying out slices. "You can put meat on and, hmm. Peanut butter's the only condiment we have."


"No way in hell," Ricky replied. "I've eaten some pretty gross things in my life but I put my foot down on peanut butter and lunch meat sandwiches."


"Chicken," Sam retorted.


"Nope. Just not crazy."


They finished making sandwiches for everyone while Mace poured the milk.


"Dinner's ready," Sam announced, setting the plates on the table. When DJ didn't respond, Sam went over and tapped his shoulder.


"Okay. Coming," DJ muttered, bookmarking the script.


"What are we going to do after dinner?" Mace asked while they ate.


Sam shrugged. "Explore?"


"With or without the ladies?"


"We'll leave it up to them." Sam snapped his fingers. "We can make a bonfire down by the lake."


"And roast marshmallows. Or we could if we had any," Ricky said.


Sam grinned. "We'll pretend. We're actors."


After finishing dinner and washing up, they went to the girls' cabin to see if they wanted to join them. That was met with enthusiastic cries of "you bet."


There was still enough light when they got down to the lake that they were able to find fallen branches to make the fire. Ricky had matches, so lighting it was no problem. Then he went in search of some twigs for their imaginary marshmallows. They had great fun pantomiming cooking and eating them. After that, "Since this is a campfire," Mace pointed out, they sang songs they remembered from their childhoods.


As they sang, Sam noticed Ricky hadn't joined in after the first few. Then Ricky got up, walking down to the edge of the lake.


"Is he okay," Dena asked, watching him with concern.


"I don't think so," Sam replied. "Why don't you put the fire out and head back while I find out what's going on with him."


While they did as he'd asked, Sam went after Ricky. He found him kneeling on the shore, staring out across the water, so he sat down beside him.


"What's going on?" Sam asked quietly.


Ricky sighed. "I was remembering when things were good at home, back when I was a kid. We used to go on picnics. We even camped out one time." He smiled sadly. "I thought life would always be like that, me and my dad doing things together and having fun. Then I grew up."


"It's a bummer when that happens. Have you— No, never mind. You wouldn't be here if you'd tried to reconnect with him."

Friday, August 7, 2020

Sing for Their Supper - 31


"Why aren't you playing some of the parts?" Ricky asked. "That's what you do. You act." He frowned. "I mean, what else will you do, if you're not in the show? Oh." He nodded when he obviously got it. "You're directing."


"I am," Tuck agreed. He smiled. "It'll be a learning experience, but if we all work together, I suspect I can make a halfway decent director and turn you into actors."


"With very rough edges," Roma said.


"At first. But by the time we open, we'll have polished them off. Before you ask, that won't happen until all of us feel we're ready. This is a joint effort, so all of you have as much of a say about the big things as Brent and I do."


"Great," Mace said. "Can we decide on pizza every day for lunch?"


Brent fielded that one, telling him and the others, "We're going to stock the kitchens with more food than you have now. It will be up to you to decide what to have for meals and make them. Hopefully, at least a couple of you know how to cook."


"Oh, boy," DJ muttered. Then he looked at Evie, smiling winningly. "You can cook, can't you?"


"Of course. But I'm in the girls' cabin. You guys are on your own." That rated her laughs from the other girls and Roma.


"Bummer. I guess we'll be having hamburgers noon and night."


"Have faith," Mace said. "I can cook—or I used to be able to. It's been a while."


"Maybe it's like getting on a bike after a long time off?" Ricky asked hopefully.


"Let's hope so."


Tuck clapped his hands to get their attention again. "We'll have our first read-through Monday morning. I've got scripts for you, so you can look at them before then."


"What about music?" Roma asked.


"I thought we'd abscond with one of the pianos from the plaza," Tuck replied. When she flipped him off, he told her, "Brent talked with a man who owns an instrument rental store. He has an older upright piano in good shape he's willing to sell us for much less than it's worth, to help us out."


"That works," Roma replied. "Are we sticking with just a piano? And who's going to play it?"


"Not you," Tuck told her. "We haven't found anyone, yet."


"That might not be a problem. I know just the person. He comes by the piano plaza in the evenings. He's not concert quality, but he's good. If you take me back with you when you leave tonight, I'll talk to him. Okay?"


"Is he homeless?" Brent asked.


"I think that's a no duh question," she told him, shaking her head with amusement. "That's the only kind of people I know."


"I should have figured," Brent admitted. "Talk with him, and if he's agreeable, we'll hire him."


"Is there anything else you all want to ask or talk about right now?" Tuck wanted to know. When everyone shook their heads, he suggested they break up the meeting. "Feel free to explore the area. Just remember, no swimming without having someone else around."


Evie held up her hand. "If you're leaving, and taking Roma…umm. Is it safe for us to be here on our own?"


"A lot safer than you were on the streets at night," Tuck replied. "You know how to handle yourselves, and I doubt anyone's going to come by. We're well off the main road."


Evie crossed her fingers, but she didn't seem reassured. She did smile when DJ said, "I'll be around if you need me."


"A budding romance?" Brent said to Tuck as everyone left the theater.


"It wouldn't surprise me. And probably not the last one. You throw a bunch of teens together like this, add in raging hormones that come with the territory, and sparks are bound to fly."

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Out today - 'A Shattered Life'!

A Shattered Life

'A Shattered Life' is a re-release—re-titled and reedited.

Fair warning, this story, like the man it's about, can be very violent. The pairings are m/f [primary, with no overt sex], with m/m, and m/m [secondary characters—committed couples who are definitely into each other on every level.]

GENRE: Erotic Romance Thriller
LENGTH: 120,234 words
RATING: flame rating 3

Horribly abused by his mother, Van eventually goes in search of his father. When he finds him, his life is radically changed. His father works for the FBI, and has contacts to a covert group, run by the Old Man, that goes after the worst of the worst criminals. Van is recruited to join both -- and does.

Van handles every job he's sent on with cold efficiency, letting nothing stand in his way of gaining the information he seeks and stopping his foes. Eventually, he's offered a team of his own within the Old Man's organization. He accepts, with one caveat -- none of them can be female. Because of his mother, the only woman he has ever trusted is his handler, Makie.

His attitude takes a hit when he meets Ginna, a cop, while on a job for the Old Man. When it's over, much to the shock of everyone involved, he requests that she be added to his team if she's willing -- which she is, as long as the organization can promise to keep her young son safe while she's on assignments.

Ginna fits in well with the team, and though she is appalled at some of the tactics Van uses to gain information, she finds herself attracted to him. Can she break through the walls he's erected around his emotions? If so, then what? Only time will tell.

    Turning off the computer, Fortier leaned back in the chair. giving Vance a measured look. "The reports on you are mixed at best and to be quite honest I for one am not certain the Old Man’s making the right decision in putting you in charge of a team."

    Vance’s eyes went cold for a moment at the implied insult and then he laughed. "Honestly, I’m with you on that one, though probably not for the same reasons. I prefer working alone, although I have occasionally had to join forces with someone else while doing jobs for the Bureau. Generally that didn’t work too well because I do what needs to be done and the hell with what anyone thinks. In my book the end always justifies the means. When we go up against scum, we have to be just as dirty as they are if we’re going to win."

    "No matter what?"

    "No matter what. The only thing I won’t do is put a kid in danger or use one. Everyone else is fair game. But then I know you’ve figured that out just from reading the reports you have on me." Vance’s gaze was icy as he stared at Fortier. "You put me in charge of a team and I’ll expect them to do whatever I tell them to. No holds barred, no quarter given when we’re dealing with the enemy." He paused for a long moment before adding. "I have no morals, Mr. Fortier. I had to lose them a long time ago in order to survive."

    "I don’t believe that. I’ve heard what you did for that boy two years ago."

    Vance shrugged. "Like I said, kids are the only weakness I have, if you want to call it that. You hurt one and I find out, you’ll pay for it one way or another and that goes for anyone, friend or foe."

    "Other than that it’s ‘take no prisoners’?"

    "Oh, I take prisoners," Vance said with a snort of amusement. "You can’t learn anything from a dead man, or woman."

    "Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve never heard of you getting information by dint of pillow talk."

    Vance snorted again. "Nope, because there’s no way you can trust that what some woman is telling you in bed is the truth. Women are as devious and underhanded as any man, often more so in my opinion. They actually make good agents as long as you keep them on a short leash and don’t let them get involved with the subject they’re after."

    "That’s a very cynical point of view."

    "I’ve never met a woman who hasn’t turned out to be a bitch in sheep’s clothing, to mix metaphors. Well, except Makie. Her I’d trust with my life but she’s the exception to the rule."

    "So putting a woman on your team wouldn’t work."

    Vance shook his head. "Women can be sneaky and underhanded but they don’t have the guts to do what’s necessary when the chips are down, unless they’re psychotic."

    Fortier cocked an eyebrow. "So it’s all right for you to torture someone to get the information you need, but if a woman does it you label her psychotic?"

    A smile quirked Vance’s lips. "Oh, I’m as psychotic as they come, but I know I am and that’s the difference."

    There was a long silence as Fortier put one hand to his ear, nodding occasionally. Vance watched him and understood immediately that everything that had been said in the room had been heard by the Old Man. "So?" he said when Fortier looked at him again.

    "Tomorrow morning you’ll be meeting with several people whose files I’ll give you. Pick any or all of them, your choice. They’ll make up your team."

    "Shit, and here I thought I’d talk you, and the Old Man, out of doing this."

    Fortier laughed. "When he makes up his mind there’s no arguing with him." Turning serious he said. "I will warn you here and now that this is a test. Fail and you’re out, lock, stock and barrel."

    "Out, or dead?"

    "That I’ll leave you to ponder to your heart’s content." Fortier stood, holding out his hand. "It was good to meet you, Mr. Montgomery."

    Vance looked at his hand. "Obviously you don’t know everything about me," he said, giving it a quick shake before pulling away.

    "Oh I knew. I just wanted to see if you’d break precedence and actually do it right because I’m your immediate boss."

    "Mr. Fortier, I wouldn’t care if you were God, I don’t do personal touching, even handshakes, unless I'm forced to be civil."

    "That must play hell with your sex life."

    Vance laughed. "I don’t have I sex life. I occasionally fuck a woman for physical relief. That’s it. And there’s nothing personal about that trust me."

    "You know, somehow I believe that. This has been interesting, Mr. Montgomery, to say the least." He handed Vance a slim stack of files. "I shall see you again tomorrow morning."

    Vance nodded. "I’ll be here, with bells on."

Sing for Their Supper - 30

"When do we start rehearsing?" That came from Sam. "And, I guess what's more important, who will we be? I mean, what characters?"

"Let's go into the auditorium and I'll tell you."

When they were all seated, Tuck sat facing them on the edge of the stage. "This is all very tentative right now. I've told you the basic plot of Oliver!, so you know the characters. Sam, I think you'd be good as Fagin."

"But he's a man. I mean a grownup."

Tuck smiled. "Makeup can do wonders to turn you into him. Mace, how do you feel about playing Bill Sikes and Dr Grimwig?"

"Sikes is the bad guy, right?" When Tuck nodded, Mace thought for a long minute then nodded. "I can do him, I think. The doctor too, if he doesn't have many lines."

"He doesn't. I'm sure you can handle both of them," Tuck replied. "Ricky, I see you as Dodger." Tuck grinned. "He dances a lot."

Ricky clapped his hands together. "Yes!"

DJ took a deep breath as he obviously understood what that meant. "I'm going to be Oliver?"


"Because I'm the smallest guy here?"

"To be honest, that factored into it. Still, I wouldn't have chosen you for the part if I didn't think you could handle it."

"You don't even know if I can act."

"I don't know if any of you can. I'm going on my instincts." Tuck looked at each of them, one by one. "You're all singers. You convey the feelings of the songs you perform. That takes a form of acting, and so does making people feel sorry enough for you that they put change in your cups or cans."

"That's because we look homeless," Sam said.

Evie glanced at DJ. "It takes more than that. I taught DJ how to act it, too. How to be more pathetic. He picked it up real fast."

DJ nodded. "I guess I did. I've made a bit more since then. Of course, singing with you helps, too."

"I'm your muse," Evie told him, giving his arm a squeeze.

"Okay, now on to the female parts," Tuck said. "I want Roma as Nancy."

"And I want to play her," Roma said. "I think I have what it takes."

Tuck knew she did, after her revelations to him before lunch. "You do," he agreed. "Evie, how would you feel about playing Bet?"

"I can do it," she replied confidently.

"Jolie, you're going to play Charlotte Sowerberry, and Dena, you'll be Mrs. Sowerberry. Okay?" Both girls nodded. "You're also going to be part of Fagin's gang of kids. At first I was going to leave you as girls, but I've thought about it since then. People expect his gang of pickpockets to be boys. With the right makeup and clothes, and your hair up in caps, you'll pass with flying colors."

Dena ran her hand through her mop of curly red hair. "It better be a real big cap."

Tuck chuckled. "I'm sure Peg can come up with one. Ricky, you'll also double as Noah Claypole."

"Aren't there other characters you're missing?" Sam asked.

"The other adults, like Brownlow, Bumble, Mrs. Corney, etcetera, will be played by two people from the theater where I work—Andy and Fran Rogers." Tuck replied. "They'll be double and triple cast, but they've been acting forever, so they'll be able to handle that."

Monday, August 3, 2020

Sing for Their Supper - 29

"It's time to show you the theater," Tuck said when everyone had had their fill of pizza. They'd eaten in the guys' cabin, the adults at the table, and the kids on the sofa or sitting on the floor.

He led the way through the theater's front door into the lobby. "The ticket office," he said, gesturing to it. "The refreshment bar." Again, he pointed. "We'll have chairs along one wall, when we remember to order them."

"On my list," Brent told him with a laugh.

"And this," Tuck said, when they entered the auditorium, "is where you'll be performing."

"It's not as big as I expected," Sam said, looking at the stage. "It's still great," he added quickly. "Intimate, I guess you'd call it."

Ricky stood, hands on hips, as he surveyed the stage. "No curtains?" he finally asked.

"Not yet," Norm replied. "We thought maybe, since we're going for minimal scenery, due to the size of the stage, the changes could be done in the dark"—he paused, grinning—"by elves."

The kids laughed but Tuck had the feeling they half-believed Norm. "Not really," he told them. "Norm has a crew of, what? Three people, at this point?"

"Yep. Guys I've worked with who are very interested in this project. They'll be building the set pieces, painting, and be the stage crew, too. Any of you who want to help out with the construction, when you have free time, are welcome to join us."

"Me!" Mace said, waving his hand. He lowered it seconds later, looking embarrassed.

"That would be great," Norm told him. He jumped up on the stage, gesturing for the kids to follow. "On your right is the lighting board, and through those doors is the scene shop." When they'd all trooped down the ramp into it, he showed them where everything was stored—or would be when the supplies arrived—and explained a bit about what it took to build scenery.

"I didn't know any of this," Jolie whispered to Sam.

"You're not the only one." He turned to ask Tuck, "What about costumes?"

"Come on. I'll show you."

Tuck took them down to the basement. "Here's where Peg will work her magic," he said when they were in the costume shop. "You'll meet her sometime soon."

"What's the big table for?" Dena asked.

"To cut the fabric for the costumes. The racks are for storing fabric, and we should have sewing machines and a couple of dummies by the end of the week."

Back in the hall, Tuck opened one of the doors across from the costume shop. "This is the Green Room. There's also two dressing rooms, male and female, and a laundry room."

"Green Room?" Dena and Jolie said at the same time.

"It's where you can hang out when you're not on stage. It's not really green." He showed them. At the moment, the room—with its white walls—had a sofa and two chairs, but he assured them there would be more seating in time.

"It's on my list, too," Brent said, getting laughs in response.

When they were back upstairs, Tuck asked, "Are there any questions?"

"Can we use the laundry room?" Evie wanted to know.

"Of course. That's the reason it's there, for you and for the costumes."