Thursday, July 9, 2020

THE CUTIE-PIE MURDERS -Chapter 1


dontravis.com blog post #396

Courtesy of Pinterest
If you’re reading this, then I suppose the Prologue to the Cutie-Pie Murders did its intended job. Seriously, I hope it worked for you.

Now we go to Chapter 1 of the novel, and I warn you, it’s a long read. But I hope you’re drawn in. If you want more, it might help the process if you emailed Dreamspinnerpress.com and told them to hurry up and publish the full book.

Now to Chapter 1.

*****
THE CUTIE-PIE MURDERS

Chapter 1


New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, Thursday, March 8, 2012

          “B. J. Vinson, you’re an idiot!” I told myself for the umpteenth time. Why in the hell was I driving up to the state penitentiary to see an inmate I remembered well and detested vehemently?
          Why did Jose Zapata want to see me? The lawyer who called last week to make the arrangements claimed not to know, said he was merely passing on a request. Not sure I bought his answer. In order to gain access to a Level VI prisoner, I either had to be on Zapata’s visitor list or his attorney’s investigator, neither of which was true.
          Zapata—better known by the tag of Zancon because of his long legs and lanky frame—had been the underboss of a vicious gang called the Santos Morenos, or Brown Saints. He’d played a prominent role in the case file I’d labeled The Zozobra Incident. José Zapata had  kidnapped the human being I treasured most on this earth, my life companion Paul Barton, and attempted to murder him before I literally dropped from the heavens to put a bullet in Zapata’s gut before he could accomplish the deed.
          Committed now, I sighed aloud and put the car in gear. When traveling from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, I normally drive straight up Interstate-25 for a pleasant trip of something under an hour, but the prison lay fourteen miles south of the state capital on the Madrid highway—better known as the Turquoise Trail—so I pointed my Impala’s nose east on I-40 through Tijeras Canyon and picked up State 14 North. Two lanes instead of four; a twisting drive rather than one as straight as the proverbial arrow but also more interesting.
          For the first leg of the trip, I turned on the car’s stereo to catch Kelly Clarkson warbling “Stronger”—or what I knew as “What Doesn’t Kill You”—and a newscast dominated by speculation of whether oil restrictions would end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Wary of icy stretches of mountain road where the sun didn’t reach—something unforeseen—I snapped off the radio to concentrate on driving.
          I manfully resisted stopping in Madrid, a former coal mining town now turned artist’s enclave. Shortly thereafter I had to quell a desire to take a turn around the tiny square of yet another old western town called Cerrillos before eventually pulling into the visitor’s parking area at the penitentiary.
          Upon successfully maneuvering the prison’s metal detector, a piece of equipment no self-respecting airport would accept as adequate security, I addressed a corrections officer. “B. J. Vinson for Inmate José Zapata, Number 79805. His attorney arranged my appointment.”
          Although this was the new state penitentiary, iron bars threw the same ragged shadows as in the old one, as if emphasizing the blackness hiding in every man’s soul, be he inmate or custodian. I mentally shook my head to clear photographic images of the riot at “Old Main” on Cerrillos Road I’d been required to study at the Albuquerque Police Academy.
          Thirty-three inmates died and two hundred suffered injuries in February 1980 in the worst prison insurrection in US history. Endless streams of scholarly studies and airy articles and outright fiction vied to describe in minute detail the overcrowding, poor food, official incompetence, and lack of training that birthed the uprising. I’d gone to school with a kid whose father died in the bloodbath. The family subsequently moved out of town because of harassment. People can be real shits… even grade schoolers.
          The officer I’d addressed scanned a list of names on a clipboard while metal doors clanged in the distance and voices echoed up and down the hallway. A prison was never silent.
          The man made a check mark on a list he was holding before responding. “Yessir, I’ll have him brought up.” He nodded to a man standing nearby. “This officer will take you to the interview room.”
          Nodding, I told him this wasn’t my first time at bat before taking another look at the man’s ID. “Simmons. Weren’t you with APD a few years back?” I referred to the Albuquerque Police Department where I’d served for ten years.
           “Yessir, it’s Detective B. J. Vinson, isn’t it?”
          “Not since 2005.”
          The man loosened up a little. “I remember you getting plugged when you and the commander were apprehending a murder suspect.”
          “Gene Enriquez was a lowly detective just like me back then. And now you know why he’s in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division and I’m not.”
          Simmons laughed. “Yeah, he let you take the bullet instead of him.”
         “Thanks for reminding me.”
         My escort, a young corrections officer named Pierce, took off down the hall, pulling me along in his wake. The absolute absence of odor in the stark hallway tempted me to believe the institution was pristine and sanitized… but I knew better. In the bowels of this concrete and metal beast, the intestines would stink. We reached the interview room a few minutes before Zapata.
          When the inmate arrived in restraints and with his own escort, as was required for Level VI prisoners, I struggled to tamp down a surge of sudden anger. Not only had he manhandled Paul, his gang had killed a young man named Emilio Prada by hacking him to death in Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Park while thousands of people gathered there for the annual Burning of Zozobra ritual. Emilio had been a hustler, but he didn’t deserve to die.
          Now Zapata looked more like a sick old man than the forty-four-year-old thug I knew him to be. My bullet apparently hadn’t digested well. In the place of healthy—if malignant—swagger, I now detected decay.
          After the inmate was seated, his guard checked Zapata’s handcuffs, leg shackles. and belly chain to assure himself the prisoner was properly restrained. Then he and Pierce took up stations on the other side of the interview room door.
          Zapata didn’t wait for them to exit before speaking. “Vinson,” he said in a gravelly voice stronger than expected, given his appearance.
          I settled into a chair on the other side of a bolted-down metal table and addressed him by his nickname out of habit. “Zancon.”
          “Thanks for coming.”
          “Surprised to get a call. Even more surprised it came from Brookings Ingles. Didn’t know you went for the most expensive defense attorney in the state.” Brookie was long rumored to be a mob lawyer.
          Zancon waved a cuffed hand. “He wasn’t my trial mouthpiece. I was a cooked goose then. But now he takes care of things a man can’t take care of hisself. You know, when he’s locked up like this.” His black eyes looked filmed over with something… exhaustion, disease, hopelessness? “I got a brother with some coins, and he helps me out with the lawyer’s bills.”
          I took that statement to mean Zancon had managed to hide some of his loot. The brother was merely managing the inmate’s assets.
          “I got a problem. At least, my brother Juan has. But I figure you owe me, so I’m the dude putting the question to you.”
          “If you’re referring to the slug I put in your gut, I owe you nothing. But if your brother has a legitimate problem, I’ll listen to what he has to say.”
          Zancon flushed, showing a trace of the hood he was before he relaxed and spread his hands over the table as far as his restraints would allow. “Fair enough. Everbody was shooting at everbody that night you’n the cops ambushed us, but I’m the one who can’t eat or take a crap like everbody else because of the lead poisoning you give me.”
          “Now that’s out of the way, what’s your brother’s problem?”
          “Some son-of-a-bitch offed his boy. And I want him to pay.”
          I leaned back in the hard chair. “A gang killing?”
          He shook his head. “Naw. Kid wasn’t into gangs. My bro ain’t either. Stayed righteous while I was outlawing. He’s got a car lot offa South Coors.”
          “So what happened?”
          Zancon looked uncomfortable. “Juan’ll give you the details. He’s waiting for your call.”
          My antenna went up. “Look, if you’re not straight with me, then I can’t—”
          “I’m telling it like it is. No gang stuff. Mateo wasn’t in no gang.”
          “Mateo. He’s your nephew?”
          He nodded and seemed suddenly tired. The prematurely old man was ascendant now, but the gutter snipe was still in residence. “Yeah. Mostly went by Matt.”
          “How old was he?”
          “Eighteen. Wasn’t but eighteen.”
          “Give me some details.” The warning look returned. “Okay, at least tell me where he was killed.”
          “Albuquerque.”
          It was my turn to spread hands over the table. “Hell, you don’t need me. ADP will take care of it.”
          Zancon gave a sour smile. “Yeah, right. They’ll see what you seen. Another gang member offed. Good riddance.”
          “That’s not the way things work, and you know it. They’ll give it their best shot.”
          He leaned forward and tapped the table with a long fingernail, determination back in his eyes again. “Maybe so. But I know you, Vinson. You’re a damned good detective. And I want you to finish him.” He dropped his voice. “You know, like with Puerco.” He referred to the Saints’ top man whom I’d shot to death the night I wounded Zancon.
          Now it was clear why this hood wanted me on the case. He wasn’t interested in APD finding the killer. He was offering to hire me to settle with the murderer. Why did these guys always judge others by their own lights?
          Zancon studied my face and must have assumed he was losing me. “Talk to my brother.” He held my gaze for a long moment before dropping his eyes. “Please.”
          “All right. Do I work through Ingles?
          “Naw. All I wanted the lawyer for was to get you in to see me. Work with my brother. Juan’s a straight-up guy.”
          From what he’d told me, Juan Zapata was a used car dealer, and I wasn’t sure the two things held together. But maybe I painted with too broad a brush. We’d let time determine that factor.
          “Do you know who killed your nephew?”
          “Naw. One day he was doing good at the university, you know, UNM, and then the next he was dead.
          “Okay. How do I contact your brother?”
          Zancon lurched to his feet and cited a telephone number before shuffling to the door and tapping it with his knuckles.
          The same clank of metal, the same hollow, echoing voices, the same ghosts from Old Main followed me all the way out of the prison. I took the quick way back to Albuquerque—Interstate 25.


          “Why would you give that creep the time of day?” Paul asked later when I told him of my meeting. “Forget about him nearly shooting me, I damned near choked to death on the gag he stuffed down my craw.”
          When I’d found Paul that night almost six years ago, he’d been trussed up with a rag in his throat held in place by a handkerchief over his mouth. I grinned at the handsome hunk glaring at me with hands on hips, stance wide. “Maybe Zancon is right. Maybe I do owe him.”
          Paul’s mouth fell open and he dropped into an easy chair in our den. “Huh?”
          I reached out and tousled his dark brown hair. He batted my hand away. “If he hadn’t kidnapped you, I couldn’t have ridden in on my white horse and saved you, earning your everlasting love and gratitude.”
          “Ha! Ha! I was scared, Vince.” Paul called me Vince. The rest of the known world addressed me as BJ.
          “As I recall, you were spitting mad.”
          “That too. But why do Zancon a favor?”
          “Not a favor. A job. Remember, there’s an eighteen-year-old kid lying on a slab somewhere. I don’t like killers, particularly those who kill youngsters before they’ve had a chance to try their wings. Believe me, I’ve seen more than my share of adolescent corpses.”
          My lover gave me an uncertain smile. “Can’t cure the world, Vince.”
          “No, but maybe I can catch whoever did this one killing. See he doesn’t do it again. Regardless who pays for my time, it’s Mateo Zapata I’m doing it for… providing I take the case.”
          “Mateo, huh? I remember him as a little guy.” Paul was a South Valley kid who’d avoided joining a gang, and like most of the neighborhood, grew up to be a decent, law-abiding citizen. “Matt was nine or ten years younger than I was. Cute kid. Smart.”
          “How about his father, did you know him?”
          Paul brushed a stray lock from his brow. “Juan? I remember him as a solid citizen. He’s about ten years on the other side of me.”
          “Was he close to his brother? To Zancon?”
          “Yeah.” He thought over his answer. “In some ways. Always got the feeling he stayed away from the Brown Saints. Skirted the gang stuff as much as he could.”
          “And now he’s a used car dealer.”
          “Last I heard. Who knows? Maybe he got his start pedaling cars the Brown Saints stole.”


*****
Sure hope that caught your attention and motivated you to contact Dreamspinner and ask for the novel. Feel free to let me know what you think of the book so far.

Next time? Who knows at this point.

The following are buy links for my last BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

Thursday, July 2, 2020

THE CUTIE-PIE MURDERS - Prologue


dontravis.com blog post #396

Courtesy of Pinterest
Enough of the Drama Club for the moment. We’ll leave Jarod basking in the glory of seducing—or being seduced by—his new drama coach.

This past Wednesday, I sent the completed manuscript of my 7th BJ Vinson novel to the publisher. Now comes the long wait for the process to run before a yes/no decision is made. Well, I want some reaction before that. So, I’m devoting the next two postings to Cutie-Pie. Today we’ll see the Prologue to the book. Prologues are important to me because they set the tone of the novel. I’ll let you tell me if it did the job. Warning, an earlier version of the prologue may have been posted, but this is the one that counts.

*****
THE CUTIE-PIE MURDERS

Prologue


Albuquerque, New Mexico, Monday, March 5, 2012

          The curly-haired young man strode up Central east of the university, slipping gracefully past fellow students, merchants, housewives, and giggling children. Intent on the coming assignation, he was oblivious to the admiring looks thrown his way. Had he noticed; he’d have ignored them. After eighteen years of being first cuddly cute and then staggeringly handsome, conspicuous attention failed to elicit a response from him. Not even the rumble of heavy traffic on Route 66—now reduced to an aging, neon-speckled Albuquerque city street—penetrated his awareness. Nor was he distracted by the tempting aromas wafting from a hotdog joint a few doors away or the more pungent odor of a passing homeless man, the sole of his left shoe flapping in imitation of a muffled duck.
          The recollection of what this venture had cost him triggered a misstep, but you only live once, and besides, he hoped to salvage that relationship without giving up his dream. A sudden image of his mother and father jarred him again. How would they look upon this venture? Cray, of course, but, cripes, he was in pursuit of a goal. The script from rendezvous like this would finance the career he was born to pursue. One day soon a client would recognize his potential. Then he’d walk the runways. The big-time runways, turning heads, setting trends, and making the big bucks. He knew it. The bones of his body, the fibers of his being incessantly crooned that lullaby.
          The address he sought appeared to be one of the new apartments in the next block. Cool. Fancy digs meant easy money. He was new to the business, but he’d already learned a few things, and that was one of them. Prime start for an almost spring Monday.
          He dashed across the side street against the light and halted before a set of big double doors. After scanning the communications panel—and with a heart playing pitter-patter in his chest—he reached out a tremulous forefinger to push the proper red button. After a moment, a pleasant baritone reverberated through the speaker.
          “Yes?”
          He moistened dry lips and put some life into his speech. “Hi, this is your—”
          “Fourth floor. Door’s open. I’m getting in the shower but won’t be a minute. Go down the hall to the bedroom on your right and make yourself comfortable.”
          Excited by the timbre of the voice, he couldn’t resist. “How comfortable?”
          “Surprise me.”
         Galvanized by the sound of a buzzer, he hastily pushed through the heavy doors into a vacant lobby, removed his aviator shades, and called up the elevator. His date was a man. He’d been left guessing because the message was simply signed Anxious. This was only his third engagement of a personal sort since starting this new vocation. The first had been an attractive woman a bit older than he liked. Nonetheless, he’d played his part well enough to earn an encore in the near future.
          The second was a good-looking middle-aged man who’d kept himself fit. In a critical review of the two trysts, he judged the second more enjoyable than the first. His client had begged for more and more… until there was no more to give. In all honesty, the second date had been less… heavy.
          Now another man. And wow! If the dude matched the baritone on the intercom, it was full speed ahead.
          As promised, the door to 4201 stood slightly ajar. He eased into the apartment and looked around. Nice! Black diamond floor tiles in the vestibule. A heavy mirror in a gilded frame hanging to the left of the door allowed him a quick inventory of himself. He approved of what he saw… a young man in his prime who belonged in a place like this. He pushed a wayward chocolate brown curl into place and turned to examine the ritzy apartment.
          How long before he’d be able to afford a place like this to moss around in? Probably about a bazillion years. He paused to take in a pleasant blend of bentwood contemporary couches and antiqued ball and claw-foot chairs, all lent a touch of elegance by ornate occasional tables and French ormolu lamps. His mind’s eye saw friends sitting around sipping wine or guzzling beer and engaging in intelligent conversation as they looked down on the busy street. He smiled to himself as he imagined repairing a fractured relationship by nuzzling on the long sofa.
          The only sour note to the Better Homes and Garden atmosphere was the corner of what looked like a big canvas laundry cart visible in the kitchen area. Maybe his host was planning on messing up the sheets big time. Go for it, dude!
          The faint, sensual scent of lavender teased his nostrils as he turned right and headed for the big bedroom at the end of the hall. From somewhere, he heard a shower shut off. How much time did he have before the man with the voice showed? He closed the blond oak bedroom door, wanting his client to open it and get a sudden, stunning glimpse of what he was buying.
          Standing beside the king-sized Tuscan bed, he ran a hand over the satiny yellow and cinnamon spread… or was this a duvet? Whatever, it felt dope against his fingertips. He eased off his loafers while debating over how comfortable to get. He’d heard some clients liked to undress their merchandise, but maybe he should go all the way and display what he had to offer. And without being smug about it, that was considerable.
          He shrugged out of his windbreaker and tugged a polo shirt over his head, careful not to muss his shock of dark hair. After hesitating briefly, he slipped out of his cargo shorts and lay back on the bed. A second later, he kicked off faux leopard skin briefs and lay naked except for socks. After plumping a pillow, he scanned a hairless torso to admire his pecs and abs. How would he look to the guy about to come through the door any minute now? He nodded to himself. Probably hella bad. Everybody said he wore a pretty, girlish face on a toned man’s body.
          When the door opened, he threw up his hands and shouted, “Surprise!” The first sight of his date sent shivers down his back.
           The man with the beautiful voice moved bedside, balancing two glasses of white wine in his hands. “Well, well, aren’t you a cutie.”

*****
Interesting enough to continue reading? That’s the entire purpose of a prologue… to catch your attention and give you an idea of what’s coming next. While I write the BJ Vinson mystery book in the first person (I…me), my prologues are written in the omniscient so that the reader knows what the actors on the stage have no way of knowing. Hope that comes through.

Next time, I’ll give you Chapter 1, and then I’ll move on to something different.

The following are buy links for my last BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

Thursday, June 25, 2020

DRAMA CLUB – The Coach (Part 3 of 3 Parts)


dontravis.com blog post #395

Let me get another little matter out of the way before we start on the Drama Club. I finished my 7th BJ Vinson mystery a couple of weeks ago—The Cutie-Pie Murders. Needs one final read-through before submitting to Dreamspinner Press. Wish me luck.

Now back to the Drama Club. Jarrod’s punishment for getting lost cost him the mattress he had in the loft. Of course, that didn’t stop Bobby from coming around for a second helping. I don’t know about you, but I sense an increasing awareness of Thad Reid the drama coach on Jarrod’s part. Wonder what happens this week.

*****
THE DRAMA CLUB

THE COACH

Jarrod was impressed by Mr. Reid’s audition technique. He not only had the actors read, he had them do some business like, walking to a table and picking up a book or opening a door that was set up in the middle of the stage.
On Friday, Jarrod left his loft early, thinking he’d take in a movie in town. He descended his rope to find Mr. Reid sitting on the edge of the stage watching him. The man had a sheaf of notes from the try-outs in his hand.
“You do that quite well,” the coach said, nodding at the rope.
“Been doing it for three years.”
“It’s helped develop your body,” the man noted approvingly.
Jarrod blushed. The word “body” held a sexual connotation for him.
“Making the final casting selections,” the coach went on. “Have you seen the set designs?” Jarrod nodded. “Can I have a tentative lighting schematic next week?” Jarrod nodded again. “Good.” Coach Reid placed a hand at his back and stretched. “It’s been a trying week. If you still had that mattress, I’d be tempted to sleep here tonight. Probably too tired to climb your rope though.”
“There’s a ladder. And an elevator, too, if you’re that feeble.” Jarrod couldn’t believe he was joking with the man.
Thad Reid looked at him sharply. “What’s your fastest time up the rope?”
“Dunno. Never timed myself.”
“You go up, and I’ll time you”
When Jarrod stepped onto the loft, he looked down, Reid looked up from his wristwatch.
Twenty seconds. All right you time me. Now!”
“Twenty-two.” Jarrod crowed as the man came over the edge.
“Two seconds? You got me by two seconds? Don’t believe it. Your watch has to be wrong!” He insisted on comparing second hands, and Jarrod was keenly aware that they stood with their forearms touching. “Aha! You hit the half-minute mark a second behind mine.
“Okay,” Jarrod conceded, “I only beat you by one second.”
“Mattress still missing, I see,” the coach said looking around.
“Some hard-ass made me lose it,” Jarrod tried to keep the mood light.
“I’ll have to sleep at home because of some hard-ass, I guess,” Thad Reid smiled at Jarrod, almost melting him where he stood.
“It’s in the back. I can get it in five seconds flat.”
“Just kidding, Jarrod.”
“No, really!” he protested, moving swiftly down the catwalk. He halfway expected the coach to be gone when he came dragging the thing back with him. Reid wasn’t. He was standing in the middle of the loft, hands on hips, watching quietly. “Here. See, here it is,” Jarrod stammered, dropping it into place on the floor.
“Do you really spend some nights here?” the man asked.
“Sometimes.”
“Were you going to stay tonight?”
“Yes. Going to get something to eat, then coming back.” Jarrod looked around the place and felt compelled to explain. “Sometimes it feels more like home than the dorm.”
Reid smiled. “That’s a bad sign. It means you have the theater in your blood. And to a special few, that’s more home than home.”
Jarrod swallowed hard. “But you can have it tonight. Or…” He shrugged.
“Sheets? Blankets?” the coach asked. Jarrod scampered to get them and spread the mattress. Jarrod gawked when the man shucked his shirt and trousers. The white jockeys glowed against his dark skin in the semi-darkness.
“D-do you want me to leave?” Jarrod asked around a thick tongue.
“Only if you want to. But tell me I’m not making a mistake, Jarrod.”
“No…no, no mistake. I wouldn’t do anything to…well, hurt you, Mr….uh.”
 “Thad. In private, it’s Thad.
Jarrod shivered in the throes of a delightful tingle. “Why me, Thad?”
“Because you’re the sexiest young man I’ve seen this side of the Mississippi. You’re real, not phony. Your good looks aren’t pretty-boy handsome. Because you’ve got a body that probably needs to be naked to be fully appreciated. And because despite the mattress and what I saw happening on it the other day, I don’t believe you’re promiscuous.”
Jarrod swallowed hard. Nobody had ever described him like that before.
“Now either undress and come to bed or go home,” Thad said, sliding the shorts over his thighs.
Galvanized into action, Jarrod ripped off his clothes with his eyes glued to the coach.
“Turn around,” Thad said when Jarrod stood naked. “Nice,” he breathed. “Very nice. I don’t know what your experience has been, Jarrod, but we’re going to pretend this is the first time. Come here.”
As if in a dream, Jarrod walked to him. The man’s strong arms went around him, drawing him close. Firm muscles. Silken flesh. the hair on Thad’s chest. They all left him woozy. When Thad kissed him, long, sable lashes brushed Jarrod’s cheek, sending an electric charge straight to his groin. Before it was over, Jarrod’s knees threatened to give way. When Thad knelt before him, they almost did. Nobody had done such a thing for him since Kahn some two years back. He almost lost it like a kid on his first time. He couldn’t help himself. He came! When the orgasm hit, Jarrod collapsed on the mattress.
“How was that?” Thad asked, lying beside him.
“Wo…wonderful!” Jarrod responded, fighting for breath.
“You’re a handsome, sexy man, Jarrod. I’ve wondered what that would be like since I first saw you. When I saw you and the Lyles kid, I knew I had to have you. I made up my mind then. Has Bobby been back?”
“Once. But I won’t anymore.”
“It’s okay, Jarrod,” Thad said, turning to him. “We’ll have to work out things as we go. Right now….”
“It’s my turn. Jarrod pushed the man flat on the mattress and played in the light mat of hair, devoting time to the brown nipples until Thad laughingly complained his chest was sore. Then Jarrod moved on down the long torso to his lover’s core. Before long, the drama coach spasmed.
They leaned back on the mattress and sighed in unison. “That was great, Jarrod. You’re good.”
“So’re you. What… what do we do now?”
Thad looked at him. His teeth glowed in the semidarkness as he smiled. “Oh, we’re not finished yet. Not by a long shot.”
Jarrod’s sphincter twitched at the words. A wave of emotion wracked him as he imagined all that Thad’s words implied.

*****
So finally, Jarrod gets his macho drama coach. Or was it the other way round? Thad Reid got Jarrod Gray? Depends upon your viewpoint, right?

Until next week.

The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

Thursday, June 18, 2020

DRAMA CLUB – The Coach (Part 2 of 3 Parts)

dontravis.com blog post #394

Theatrical Spot Lights
Last week, Jarrod Gray got caught servicing a freshman in the lighting loft at Casa Verde College’s Thespian Hall. This week, we’ll see the price he has to pay for such shenanigans.

*****
THE DRAMA CLUB

THE COACH

Nothing happened for three days except that Bobby didn’t come around to bother him. On Friday, the drama coach sent for him.
“Hello, Jarrod,” Thad Reid responded cordially to his knock. “Have a seat.” Jarrod sat and waited wordlessly. He was impressed by the coach’s cool. “I’m taking Bobby Lyles out of the booth and assigning him to sets, okay?”
“Fine,” Jarrod said calmly. “Who are you sending upstairs?”
“Let’s get through the first production and worry about that later.”
“Sure. Whatever.” Jarrod hesitated. “He ask to be reassigned?”
“Well, yes. Felt he’d do better backstage on the sets. Guess one of his buddies is on sets and scenery.”
“Yeah, sure. That all?”
“No. When someone does his job well, I don’t like to interfere… but I’d like you to remove that mattress. Probably the easy chair, too. Give the loft more of a professional air.”
“They’ve been there for three years, Mr. Reid. I spend a lot of time up there working on control panels, setting up new lights. Sometimes I need to study, so I use the chair. When I need to rest, I use the mattress.” Jarrod clamped his jaws shut. “You tell me to bring them down, I will. But I’m asking you not to. I need them.”
“Son,” the term didn’t fall from Thad Reid’s lips gracefully, “college is about more than just classes. You need to develop socially, not just academically. There’s more to your world than the lighting of a stage production."
“I don’t care about any of that stuff.”
“Someday you will. Thanks for stopping by.”
Jarrod left the coach’s office confused. He was certain Reid had seen him servicing Billy Lyles. Yet all he’d done was reassign the freshman and ask him to remove the mattress from the loft. It didn’t look like he was going to make a federal case out of what he’d witnessed.
Figuring he was lucky to have gotten off so lightly, Jarrod went about his business. Then one day, as the club began working on the first play, he ran across Reid on the Thespian Theater’s stage. They exchanged greetings before Jarrod ascended to the loft by the rope.
A few minutes later, he noticed the rope going taut and beginning to jump as someone on the other end ascended. In no time, Coach Reid stepped onto the stage.
“Neat way to get up here.” Reid wasn’t even puffing hard.
“Quickest too.”
“Thanks for getting rid of the mattress. You understand why, don’t you?”
“I just stowed it away in a closet at the back. If I’m gonna sleep over, I’ll haul it out temporarily,” Jarrod responded a little defiantly
“No reason to sleep in the theater, is there?”
“Sometimes when there’s a play on, I work on changing the lamps at night. It’s easier to sack out there. Wrestling them around and getting them bolted in place is hard work sometimes.”
“And you do it all alone?”
Yes, sir. Always have.”
‘Well, if you need assistance, let me know.” Coach Reid changed the subject. “Have you read the play yet?”
“Few times. Blocked out some ideas for lighting although I gotta see the sets before I can bring anything to you.”
“Good. Tryouts start next week, and I want the stage backlit softly with a highlight halo in the foreground. No spot. No filters. Just plain light.” The man rushed on in front of Jarrod’s objection. “I know, you usually work the lights and make everyone look as good as you can. And I understand you’re scrupulously fair about it. But I want to judge the raw material. I’ll narrow the field and have a second round of tryouts. Then you can do your thing. Okay?”
 “Makes sense. Sure, I’ll do that. You’re the boss.”
Reid left shortly after that, departing the way he came. Jarrod watched him cross the stage, noting the power and grace of the man’s movements. A little shiver ran down his back.
An hour later, he looked up from rewiring a portion of the control panel to see the rope dancing again. His heartbeat increased at the thought of Reid paying him a second visit. To his surprise, Bobby Lyles stepped onto the loft platform. Jarrod smiled. The kid had made the climb easier this time. He nodded his greeting as Bobby stood there uncertainly.
“Hi. You doing okay?”
Jarrod nodded. “Fine. What are you up to?”
“Just wanted to check the place out. Haven’t seen much of you lately.”
“See you in class,” Jarrod said.
“Yeah. Look, Jarrod, I didn’t fink on you. Mr. Reid found out about what we did some other way.”
“I know. He came up the ladder and saw us.”
Bobby’s fair skin reddened. “He… he saw us?”
“Yeah. Don’t worry. All he had me do was remove the mattress. That’s the price I paid.”
“So you don’t have any place to….” Billy turned scarlet again. “You know.”
Jarrod indicated the worn overstuffed chair. “Sure I do. He asked me to remove the chair too, but I didn’t. Apparently he’s okay with that because he was up here and didn’t say anything.”
An awkward moment passed before Jarrod spoke up. “You plop that trim butt of yours in the chair, and I’ll know what you really came up here for.”
Billy met his gaze briefly before his glance slid away. But he covered the distance in three steps and settled into the chair.
Jarrod stood in front of him. “Take your shirt off.”
“W-what if he comes back.”
“He just left. He won’t be back. If he does, he’ll just make me get rid of the chair.”
Billy licked his lips before shimmying out of his shirt.
Nice. Good pecs. No six pack, but the belly was trim.
“Now the pants.”
“But what if someone else comes up?”
“No one else has come up here in three years unless I asked them up.”
Billy stood and dropped his trousers, revealing he was ready.
Jarrod knelt and gave the frosh what he wanted so desperately.

*****
What was the punishment? Stowing away the mattress Jarrod had had in the loft for three years. How will he survive without the mattress? Oh, yeah. There was the easy chair, wasn’t there? But the tale isn’t finished yet. Check it out next week.

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