Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 2

A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?

So last week I posted the first installment of The Ring Toss, a short story sequel to my holiday story The Santa DragJump HERE if you want to check out Part 1.

This time, Mack's been cast to play a bridesmaid in an equity-waiver production of "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", though the play's director wants to talk to her. Sorta like being called to the principle's office, but not as relaxing...

Dusty Squires, our director, had commandeered the only room with a window. It was a narrow slice of sunshine set high in the wall, an opening that would let in all the smog anyone could want. The room itself was smaller than most of the others, with barely enough space for a computer desk and a rolling rack for costumes. Dusty directed plays at the Houstonian a couple times a year and had turned the room into his space.

I put a few solid raps on the door before I pushed it open, knowing Cheyenne had headed in this direction. She and Dusty were a very affectionate couple and I so didn’t want to catch the two of them between “costume changes.”

“Hi-ho,” a deep baritone voice called in response to my knock.

I pushed the door open. “You beckoned, oh fearless leader?”

Dusty stood behind his desk, his precision haircut just barely flecked with grey. Between his voice and the way he carried himself, I half expected him to be wearing a beret and a cashmere scarf wrapped around his neck, even though eighty degrees and sunshine would discourage both of those things. Cheyenne was across the room, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed.

“Well if it isn’t the girl of the hour,” Dusty said. I heard Cheyenne tsk as she re-crossed her arms.

“What’d I do now?” I glanced from him to Cheyenne and back. She didn’t look nearly as sprightly as she had when we’d met up at the back door. Something was wrong. I shook my head, indicating he should go on.

“Candi’s flying out in the morning to shoot a series of Coke commercials up in the Bay area.”

“That’s fabulous,” I said, even as my mind was putting the pieces together. “We open tomorrow.”

“Yeah, so, like, I figure you can take over the role of Brittney.” He only sounded a little desperate.

“The bride? I…um…I guess.”

“I’ve got the part memorized already,” Cheyenne blurted.

Okay, issue identified.

“Cheyenne, sugar, the costumes won’t fit and, well, I want Mackenzie to do it.” So there was a downside to dating someone in the cast. Dusty’s smile was a mix of chagrin and embarrassment. This dirty old man wasn’t going to get any sweet, young loving tonight.

“I can manage it,” I said, bringing them back from the brink of war. “You want me in all of Candi’s costumes?” I sure hoped not, because that meant wearing a trashy little dress for the party scenes and a wedding gown at the end.

Dusty showed me his inner hard-ass. “Yeah, because I’m going to play Kenley so I’ll need your jeans and things.”

I looked away so he wouldn’t see how fast my eyes were rolling.

“I’ve done drag before, Mackie, and God knows I remember your lines better than you do.”
He had me there. “I guess, sure. I’ll do my hair quick and look over the script.”

“I can do your hair, Mackie.” Cheyenne squared her shoulders and did her best to act like there was nothing bothering her. Kudos to her for that.

“Cheyenne.” Dusty would die before he’d grovel, but something in his voice came close. I made for the door, figuring Cheyenne wasn’t going to make things easy for him. I didn’t want to get in the middle if I could help it.

“Great,” I said, and gave her a half-smile. If she could play nice, so could I.

She crossed the room in about three strides. “Worked as a hair stylist back home. We’ll get you fixed up in no time.”

Dusty smiled at me, trying to share his bulletproof confidence as I followed Cheyenne out of the room. He was right about one thing. My raspy, lady-tenor voice sounded masculine enough no one was likely to notice the difference with him playing Kenley.

“Someone should pinch his head off and use it for bait,” Cheyenne whispered as we walked up the hall.

I totally knew how she felt.

An hour later I was perched on a folding chair in front of the big mirror in the dressing room. Cheyenne was behind me, making my hair a whole lot straighter than God had ever intended. She was also pulling just hard enough I could tell she was still pissed Dusty had asked me to play Brittney. I wanted to sympathize, but it was hard when I was worried about losing my hair.

It took some negotiation and a lot of patience to find the right position and hold still. The fan was at the opposite end of the room, too far away to do me much good, and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d avoid sweating off the make-up before I hit the stage.

In between strokes with the flat iron, Cheyenne was feeding me lines. “C’mon Brittney, the limo will be here in a minute.”

With barely a pause, I responded, “I want more champagne. Can we drink champagne in the—” My cell phone chirped and I jumped, blowing my concentration and making her swear. “Joe.”

It’s beer-thirty. Where are you?

I’d never been so happy to see a text message. I ran my fingers quickly over the keys, letting him know about the change in my role. He was in New Orleans filming a zombie-vampire thing, about two weeks into his eight-week shooting schedule. Even with the time difference, he must have knocked off early. He described his role as “second hellspawn on the left.” I scolded him for making fun, because it was a speaking part and he was making decent money. Meanwhile, Miss Lonely Bits—that would be me—was making do with daily text messages and the occasional phone call.

“Type faster. You’ve got a couple more scenes to run.” Cheyenne had found her inner schoolteacher and was coming at me full force.

 She’d see me in the mirror if I rolled my eyes, so I blinked slowly a couple times to get over the temptation. “I totally miss him.”

“Must be living in a state of textpectation.”

I laughed. “What?”

“When you’re expecting a text, it’s texpectation.”

I groaned and she came close to chuckling.

She shifted around to reach the next section of my wavy hair. “Yeah, texting is good for some things, except when you want a little lovin’. Then you need ‘em right up close.”
I groaned even louder. “The other night I tried to get him to send me a picture of his…you know…so I wouldn’t forget what it looked like.” I laughed. “He wouldn’t do it.”

Silence. I looked up, but her eyes were stuck on something behind my back. I slowly turned. Geneva stood beside the rolling rack of costumes in the middle of the room. Her normally polished semi-smile looked a little tight, betraying the fact she’d just heard me say I’d wanted her ex-fiancĂ© to text me a picture of his johnson. Timing is everything and all that.

“Hi Geneva,” Cheyenne said, waving the flat iron like an oversized spatula.

Geneva stared at me like I was a bug. “Dusty thought maybe we should run through a couple of scenes.”

I scrambled up from my seat and faced her, hoping the movement would distract her from the burning blush washing up my cheeks. Geneva is gorgeous with high cheekbones and the body of a swimsuit model—which she is. She also has a remote, Mona Lisa quality men can’t get enough of. Joe might be the only guy in history who had broken up with her. Because of me. The thought made my brain hurt. “Are you about finished with me, Cheyenne?”

“You know, I think I could use a pop.” Cheyenne propped the flat iron on the nearest tabletop and zipped out of the room.

Geneva raised an elegant eyebrow and smiled after her. “Does pop refer to something she and Dusty do together?”

I answered with a surprised huff of laughter. “I think she means soda—like, soda pop.”

“I hope so.”

“Nah, she’s not looking for Dusty. She’s pissed at him because he’s got me playing Brittney.”

“Aha. Ambitious little kitten, isn’t she?” Geneva pulled a chair closer to where I had been sitting and opened her script. She was in a turquoise sports bra and a pair of black yoga pants that slid down over her butt like fabric paint.

“She told me once that to save enough money to move out here, she only allowed herself twenty dollars a week for spending money.” I turned my chair to face Geneva’s and sat back down. It was way easier to talk about the other actors than to acknowledge the elephant squatting between the two of us. Geneva had always been nice to me, and in fact she’d married a studio executive a year ago. Guess she figured a guy in a suit would help stabilize her lifestyle. Even though she wasn’t the competition, she still made me uncomfortable. Which made her uncomfortable.

“Came all the way out here to hook up with Dusty Squires.” Geneva shook her head.

“Yeah, well, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. He’s helping her make connections and she’s, well, twenty-two.”

“And he’s forty.”

“She’ll have her SAG card in about another minute. It’s kind of surprising he didn’t give her the part.”

Geneva sighed. Getting older in this town sucked. “Okay, what scene do you want to run?”

We smiled at each other without any particular warmth. Truce declared. In all honesty, I knew most of the lines in the play just from having heard them so often. There was only one scene where she and I were the only characters onstage. If things were going to get weird, it would likely happen then.

“Since it’s just the two of us, let’s go to the third act, after Brittney runs out of the nightclub.”

She turned to a page near the end of the script and we got to work.

Isn't it nice how fate is giving Mack the chance to work out her bridal issues? Jump HERE to see how she and Geneva get along...
Happy Weekend!


  1. Ahh, so Mack has an arch-nemesis :)

    Really nice job setting up multiple layers of conflict in such a short space, Liv.