Monday, 24 March 2014

Fade To Black - 24 March 2014

When last we looked in on Allan Baird and his talented, but troubled ingenue, Annalee MacDonald, the two were about to pair up for what they didn't yet know would be the roller coaster ride of their lives!  Allan needed a special young lady for an important role in his first full length film, and Annalee was going to be that lady.

As we now get into the remainder of ACT ONE, we'll soon see just how right these two artists are for each other, as the doors open on what will be a journey from which they cannot turn back!





Fade to Black

© 2008 CL Seamus


     It had been awhile since Allan had sunken into the sexual treats of the female, yet he found himself undeniably aroused by the lady for whom he held open the door of his black XJS. Already a walking hardon, he considered this one a novelty since it had been inspired by a girl. Strange, but not entirely unexpected.

     She sat and examined his ride. He must have money to have wheels like this. She took an envelope from between her feet and read the label. Okay, his name was Allan Baird. E Allan Baird to be precise. I wonder what the E stands for. Does he really have a movie? Her mind went through its paces. At the Avalon, she’d often been approached by excitable men, but always kept guards at the gate.

     When he was behind the wheel, she handed him the envelope. “It was under my feet.”

     He threw it distractedly to the floor behind his seat.

     Annalee hugged herself. This is such a big, big mistake.

     Both his smile and his hardon disappeared when he noticed she was trembling. He held up a hand to calm her, then rifled through his leather case.

     When he faced her again, he tried not to react to her wet eyes. “This is it,” he soothed, holding up a bound screenplay. “‘Older than Dirt’. The character I’d like you to play is ‘Henna James’.”

     He opened the glove box and passed her a packet of tissues.

     “I’m sorry,” she whispered, eyes down.

     He brushed strands of hair off her forehead. “It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, that a maiden there lived, whom you may know, by the name of Annabel Lee. And this maiden she lived with no other thought than to love... and be loved... by me.”

     She wiped her nose. “That’s nice. What is it?”

     He started the car. “A verse from ‘Annabel Lee’.”

     As he backed from the stall, she leafed through the script. “The story’s about a monster?”

     “Among other things. You can keep that.” He dialed on the car phone. “Daniel Kopanski, please.”

     Allan exhaled hard as he waited. He’d never before been so moved. Her eyes were scared and sad, and it had nothing to do with being in character from what she’d read.

     Actors often shared their souls with demons, and he’d just met a few of Annalee’s. He wanted melancholy? He got it.

In spades

     “Hi Dan, it’s Allan Baird,” he said when the call got through. “Would you please tell Michael Hope that Ms. MacDonald says he can shove the callback up his ass, for she will be making my picture instead.”

     Happy to feel playful again, she grabbed for the phone. “I did not say that, Mr. Kopanski! Don’t listen to him!”

     Allan pressed her shoulder to ease her back. “She also wants him to know he’s ugly, and probably has a small cock.”

     Annalee swatted him several times. “You’re going to get me in trouble!” She tried to keep from laughing.

     “Yes,” Allan continued. “That’s right. Small cock.” He winked at Annalee, slapped her fingers as she grabbed. “But she sends nothing but warmest regards for you, of course. All right then. Buh-bye.”

Allan Baird - 1 Michael Hope - 0

...and a small cock

     Breakfast was on the patio of a beachfront restaurant. Allan had stripped off his vest, loosened his tie, and rolled up his sleeves. The breeze tousled his hair, and he was damn near normal looking. He’d hung his pretentious airs at the door, and was nothing but real and easy-going. If he’d been holding his dick in his hand before, he’d put it away to become someone with whom Annalee felt safe.

     As they chatted, she admitted she’d never heard of Vampire Life, or the underground culture it serviced. “Probably for the best,” he shrugged. “It means you’re still pure of heart and soul. Makes you even better as ‘Henna James’.”

     The way he talked made Annalee ask, “If you have money, why do you need investors? Pay for it yourself.”

     “Dan said I shouldn't. He said I should have backing. He told me, ‘You’re not making one picture. You’re making five’. The only things I've ever paid for were short films in college. I've never done anything this big before.”

     She shrugged. “Makes sense to me. What are the other four pictures about?”

     “The others are my tributes to Ingrid Bergman. There’s one character in each film dedicated to her.”

     “I don’t think I've seen anything of hers.”

     “We’ll have to rectify that. Maybe I can convince you to take part in all five films. You could grow into the roles.”

     As food gave way to coffee, they linked fingers across the table and shared an easy compatibility. Allan noticed her reluctance to say anything about herself or her life. He talked about his past. She did not. He recounted an anecdote from childhood. She did not. He let it be. Not everybody was as gregarious as he. He opened her up somewhat with questions of the Avalon, but it seemed the only place she was willing to go. No problem, thought he - it was nice just to sit and absorb her haunting eyes.

     It was two hours before they moved. “Can I take you somewhere?” he offered bravely as he held her chair.

     “Um, just back to the studio. My car’s there.”

     “Right,” he chuckled, amused with her naïveté. As the waiter brought the bill, Allan paused to admire his clean good looks. Without consideration of the amount owed, he tucked a fifty in the boy’s shirt pocket. “Thank you, Brent,” he said, taking his name from the uniform.

     “Thank you, sir,” the boy smiled awkwardly.

     On the way to the parking lot, Annalee grabbed Allan’s hand. “Thanks for breakfast.”

     “My pleasure. Are you feeling better?”

     “I’m fine. I was a jackass before.”

     “Oh, now.” He squeezed her shoulder in a reassuring hug. “You were probably tense from the audition. Nothing wrong with being nervous, hey?”

     “When does the picture get underway? I don’t want to be a nag, but I have to consider money.”

The picture? Underway?

     He drew a breath. “Um, I have a meeting on Monday. Did you need some walking-around cash? An advance?”

     “I don’t know. What am I supposed to be paid? I don’t know how this works.”

     “Do you have an agent? Manager?”

     “No, but the guy who told me about the audition said he’d help me if I got hired. His name’s Paul Mallory.”

     Once behind the wheel, Allan rummaged for his chequebook. “Your deal will be sorted out once we get moving, but this is to show you I’m not just playing with your ambitions.”

     She fiddled with her fingers. “How much of an advance?”

     “I’ll give you five thousand, but if you need more...”

     She blinked several times and tried to keep from laughing out loud. “You’re giving me five thousand dollars?”

     “We might be in negotiations awhile, so just let me know when this runs out.” He scrawled his signature and ripped off the cheque.

     She stared at it. “How much is the whole job worth?”

     He pressed his hand to his chest. “To me, it’s worth everything. Just let me know if you run out of cash, okay?”

     A frown. She turned the cheque over in her hands. “I can’t do that. I can’t just ask for more money when I haven’t even done anything yet.”

     “It’s okay. Part of the deal.” He leaned across the seat. “Can I get a kiss? It’ll be our contract.”

     She tucked the money in her pocket and leaned to him. Allan closed his eyes at the touch of her soft cool lips.

It had indeed been awhile

     On the drive, she leaned back cautiously against the door to watch the passing scenery.

     For the first time since the meeting, Allan worried. What if the deal was rejected? Was he really prepared to finance five pictures himself? Maybe the bravado had been a mistake. The lorazepam had faded, and with it his calm façade. He had a feeling he wouldn't long be able to continue the done-deal routine with her. It was the way she’d sized him up at the studio. Read him like a book. Seen through everything he’d thrown at her. She likely knew right off the hop that he had no deal yet. She knew and went with him anyway - on faith and hope. It was for the same reason she’d timed the fortuitous sigh to hit his ears. She was taking risks to get a break.

     Being the creative genius he knew himself to be, Allan had a plan. He took up his phone and popped off a call.

     Annalee was ashamed of having gotten in the car. Ashamed for having taken his money. She never thought she’d suddenly detour like this to be in a monster movie. But if it meant better money, she just might be willing to sell herself for it. And she hated knowing that.

     Allan winked and waited for his recipient to pick up. When some-one answered, he gathered his veneer back together. “Good morning!” he sang. “Court shall be held in the salon tonight. Please proceed with preparations.” He hung up. “Want to come to a party?” Hopelessly coy.

     Annalee couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re such a freak.”

     He squirmed. “Will you come? Please don’t say no.”

     “What’s the E stand for in your name?”


     She pushed her hair off her forehead. “...are you gay?”

     His shoulders shook in restrained laughter. “You’re so sweet, truly. Please say you’ll come.”

     “There’ll be no party if you don’t keep your eyes on the road, Empress.”

     He turned back to his driving. “Is that a yes?”

     “What kind of party?”

     “Just for you. I want to show you off.”

     “I’ll think about it.”

     Allan usually held Court on Saturday nights, but this was special. With the deal pending, it was important to invite a ménage of friends, as well as the new Conversion contacts. He started with the Triple Threat from VL - Tim Wallace, Howard Spence, and Stuart Gold. They usually came in various configurations anyway, but for this coming of age, he wanted all three. Without her consent, Allan had even offered up Annalee for her first interview.

Balls, hey?

     Debbie Christian would come. She’d been a student on Allan’s side during the censorship scandal. She was also his last female liaison, sexually speaking. The guitarist and drummer from Tasteless would be there, two former no-hard-feelings writers from the defunct Night Times, the entire line-up from the Goth band Nife, indie director David Kane, a delightful drag queen named Blossom Rude, and her entourage. A real who’s who of his artsy-fartsy world.

     Dan Kopanski and his wife Carol were summoned at the last minute. Allan already knew Dave Banks from Conversion, and so naturally invited him to show Ted Coleman he was already in.

     Madge Hart and her boyfriend were coming. Madge was a TV personality on local access cable who conducted midnight interviews with everybody from strippers to male prostitutes. Add to the list a few performance artists, painters and snobs, and there would likely be fifty guests, what with the hangers-on and all. The short notice might mean some wouldn't make it, but Allan had no trouble making even a small gathering an interesting affair.

     Planning for Court was always left to Rennie Raymond, Allan’s lover and partner in matters creative. Rennie was five years older and six inches taller than Allan, a lean, well-muscled athlete. He was known for his long skunk-striped mohawk. Rennie was a maker of porn films; he and Allan had been close since college.

Friends with benefits, tra-la-la

     When the time came to gather, Rennie posed in front of Allan’s bedroom mirror to fix his look. That look was a biker jacket with chains hanging down to the pockets of his camouflage pants.  Heavy combat boots and a military hat. “I look like shit,” he sighed, disappointed.

     Allan lolled on his back in bed and watched the fuss. His own get-up was a pair of tight black leggings and a purple pullover. White sockettes on his feet. His eyes were made up, his nails manicured. “You look fine,” he yawned, as he drew up his knees.

     Rennie turned. “You expect her to go for you dressed like that?”

     He stretched like a cat. “I have to look young.”

     “She’s a girl, Allan, and unless she’s a dyke, she would probably prefer someone who dresses like a boy.”

     “This is boy,” he clucked irritably. He jumped up to look at himself in the mirror, turned to show his behind, and squeezed his ass cheeks. “Genteel boy.”

     Rennie took off his jacket and tried on a ripped sleeveless T-shirt. “I thought you were done with girls. And come on. Seventeen?”

     “You haven’t seen her. She’s special.”

     “Yeah, yeah. She’s gonna fuck you silly, right?”

     “It’ll be kinky,” he purred as he examined himself. “Besides, I really do think she’s perfect. I saw her and said, ‘There’s my Henna James’. You should see her eyes. The weight of the world.”

     “Does she have a boyfriend?”

     “Oh, good Lord. Who cares? Now stop it. You’ll jinx me.” He tugged Rennie’s T-shirt. “Skip the shirt. You’ll look tougher.”

     “Kiss me, motherfucker. How’s that for tough?”

     Allan pressed close and snaked his arms about Rennie’s neck for a lazy, lingered kiss. “Mad at me?”

     He grabbed a fistful of Allan’s hair. They bumped foreheads in familiar affection. “Have a good time.” He swatted his ass and watched him dance from the room.

     Allan rushed back in and began to strip naked. “You’re right. I look terrible. I’m going to wear the corduroys.”


     The Baird abode was an imposing three-storey mansion outside Woodland; so the story goes, the same house in which Allan was raised. When his parents moved to Scotland, Allan stayed. As only child, he had no competition. Mother and Father simply moved out and signed over the place to Junior, along with the Trust he inherited at twenty-one.

     The interiors were normal spaces with a well lived-in look. There’d been no snobbery in the Baird parents, so the place was not a shrine to designer names and overpriced showpieces. The compartmentalized rooms were cosy and real in their trimmings. The wall art was a mix of odd bohemian works and those canvassed by Lisa Baird herself.

     Lisa was Elisabeth, Allan’s mother, the runaway hippie child who’d given birth to her only son at fifteen. She was an artist, ethereal by nature, with a serious jones for Poe and Victorian architecture. Allan’s father, Arthur Richmond Baird - nicknamed “Mondo” by his girlfriend - had also been fifteen when the baby had come along. It’d been a free-love teen romp that Mondo’s father, Daniel, feared would snap his son’s leash, and ruin the goal of having the boy carry on the family name in the world of serious, respected museum grade art.

     Mondo had been warned that if he married some grubby waif, or didn’t at least encourage an abortion, he’d lose his inheritance. Daniel and his wife had never even met Lisa, yet they tried to throw her out of their son’s life.

     Mondo was huge for his age. A whopping six-two, two-hundred-twenty-five pounds, he’d been taller than his father since turning fourteen. He was also a mature and serious boy who bravely stepped up to face Daniel when the time came. No threats would keep him from Lisa and his unborn child. He was fully prepared to go through all the education necessary to satisfy his father’s plans of grooming him for the business of buying and selling museum pieces, but it would be done with Lisa and the baby at his side. He would fight for them, all the way to the poor house, if necessary.

     Daniel not only started to plan the inheritance cut-off, but also came very close to throwing the impudent boy out of the house. Mondo had been spending all his time with Lisa anyway, at a flop she shared with six friends, so being thrown out wouldn't have hurt him much.

     On the day decisions were about to be made, Mondo brought Lisa home. There she stood, belly poking forward in the fifth month of her pregnancy, strawberry hair dusting her shoulders, and eyes shining clear blue. She wore a cheap gingham sundress and sandals. She greeted Mondo’s parents with a sweet hopeful smile and a picked daisy, which she passed to Daniel along with the words, “I love you, Father.”

     And that was it. Allan was born in the spring of 1969. Mondo and Lisa married in 1974 and remained passionately in love through-out Allan’s entire life. Mondo eventually earned a curatorship and took the family inheritance with him.

     Annalee stopped her car at the iron and stone fence outside the house. A metal plate on the left post said BAIRD, and nothing more. The gate was open so she eased her clunky red Malibu up the drive to the collection of cars by the house.

     Out she stepped to examine the big mansion. Very old world, very gothic. She laughed. Yep. Allan would pretty much have to live in a place like this.

     From inside came ground-thumping bass. People milled about under the overhang of the front door. The sun was going down and the party heating up. The seventeen-year-old tried to relax and get into party mood.

     Not one for big gatherings, her time at the Avalon had nonetheless taught her the value of schmoozing and glad-handing. She reminded herself of the whopping advance Allan had given her, and though she still wasn't totally sure the whole thing was on the up-and-up, she was here. The house was real, the party was real, and maybe - just maybe - Allan Baird was real, too. She opened the door.

     Heads turned right away as she merged with the waves of hard-pulsing music. She couldn’t help but move to the beat. Dressed in black dungarees and a corset top of iridescent blue - laced only part-way up her braless cleavage - she was already breaking hearts. She slapped on her performer’s face and made ready to showcase her-self as an actor.

     Rennie flagged her right away. “Jailbait,” he whispered. Allan’s date had arrived. Two suits from Conversion had already begun to go for her, kissing, shaking hands, circling the hole. If Rennie didn’t take control she’d be swallowed in a sea of sex-starved men.  He remembered Allan going to the basement where the real party would be, so he stepped up to be Annalee’s champion until she could be properly presented. He poured a shot of vodka and excused himself from his friends.

     Through the overwhelming veil of testosterone, Annalee spotted the approaching mohawk.

     He put the shot glass in her hand. “There you are,” he smiled as he drew her from the mix.

     She frowned. “Thank you. Who are you?”

     “Take the drink, girl. I’m Rennie Raymond. Allan sent me to find you if you decided to come.”

     “What’s the drink?”

     “Vodka shot. Loosen you up. You’re gonna need it.”

     She bottomed it in a gulp. “I’m not much of a drinker.”

     Rennie smirked. “So I see. Come with me, please.” He set down the glass and took her hand.

     Her half angry, half curious eyes watched the men they left behind. “They don’t hold back, do they?”

     “Fuck ’em. Suits mean nothing to you right now. You’re going to be in the picture? You really should think about changing your name. Has Allan mentioned it?”

     His pounding strides meant she had to jog a little to keep up. “My name’s no good?”

     “It’s terrible. Annalee MacDonald? Please.” He led her through the clusters of people. The estimated fifty guests had easily grown to sixty. If it got out of control they’d have cops to worry about. Again.

     Faces turned to watch her, comments whispered.

     They trekked through to the kitchen, where four men gathered ’round the table to pass a joint and share slow conversation.  Rennie pointed at Annalee and motioned to the basement. “Is Court in session?”

     One of the men blinked through stoned eyes. “Her Majesty’s on the throne. Is this the special treat?”

     “So it seems.”

     She offered a hand. “I’m not a treat. I’m Annalee.”

     “I’m sure you are, baby.” He kissed her hand - when she drew it back there was a joint in her palm.

     Rennie led her to the landing atop the basement stairs. “Don’t mean to be a prick, honey, but are you sure you’re ready for this?”  He lit her joint. “You’re only what? Seventeen?”

     She blew smoke in his face. “I’m a legal adult.”

     “Such a grown-up, I know. When I was seventeen, I was cruising men’s rooms in SoHo. Nice to be mature, isn't it?”

     “What’s your point?”

     “I’m not sure I have one. I just think you might not be ready for Court.”

     “Which is...?”

     “Smoke enough of that shit and you won’t care. It’s probably got K in it, you know.”

     “What’s K?”

     “You’ll find out. Look, just be careful. What kind of party did you think this would be?”

     “Allan said he would introduce me to Movie People.”

     “And I’m sure he will. Ready?”

     “I think so.”

     He linked her arm and threw back his mane of mohawk stripes. “Then let us retire to the parlour.”

     There occurred an abrupt shift in atmosphere from the main floor to the basement. Homey touches gave way to flat-black painted walls with neon piping along the edges and corners.  Small inlaid blacklights illuminated everything disco style. The acoustics changed, too. Though the music got dangerously loud compared to upstairs, it wasn't bouncing off the walls or traveling through the air.

     “What’s wrong with the--” she started, but couldn’t figure it out. A thick deadness, echoless and flat. “It sounds funny.”

     Rennie took her joint and sucked a lungful. “It’s the sound-proofing.” He poked his finger to the sponge-like padding that covered the walls. “Keeps it from disturbing anybody anywhere else in the house. It can get pretty loud down here.”

     “So I hear!” she shouted. “Give me that.” There were but a few drags left before the roach became too hot to handle. She took every last one then dumped the coal in an ashtray.

     Two men leaned against a padded door. A nod in Rennie’s direction made him veer toward them. One gave him a rolled bag of weed, payment for which seemed to be nothing more than a hug. A thumb was jerked toward Annalee and there was more whispering. Faces turned to see.

     In her spreading nervous buzz, she closed her eyes and imagined going on stage for a dance number. Get scared, then get to it. PROTECTION MODE kicked in right on schedule - she took a man’s hand and pulled him to dance. As they moved together, he stole a kiss and squeezed her ass.

     Rennie watched. She seemed one of those rare creatures who controlled every dick in the room.

Fortunately, you have a natural immunity

     After the song ended, Rennie took her hand. “I guess you’re better at this than I thought. Come with me.”

     A laugh. “I am hiiiigh. What’s K?”

     “This should be interesting.” He opened the padded door.

     Strobes, neon, and flashing blacklights. Thick hash smoke and the scent of alcohol filled her nose. Though the air conditioning was on, the room was warm with sweat and perfume. This was a black-walled den with a hallway leading to back rooms.

     In one corner loomed a monstrous sound system with three-foot speakers that boomed a dance beat. People undulated to the thunderous music. Several were naked or in states of partial undress. Along one wall were sectional sofas and over-sized armchairs, each occupied by guests doing whisper-in-your-ear close-talking. Some dispensed with talking and got right down to the business of making out. Others partook from assorted drug paraphernalia.  Women in one corner watched porn on a pull-down screen - a pair of naked broads engaging in a sweaty sixty-nine.

     Rennie checked Annalee’s reaction. Dancing in front of strangers was one thing, but this was Allan’s Court, and it wasn't everybody’s bag. Somewhere inside, he hoped she’d leave.  Unfortunately, she seemed game. It was definitely unnerving but she continued to take it all in.

     She tugged on his arm and he leaned his ear close to her face. “Where’s Allan?” she asked. If she could find him, she was sure she’d be as relaxed as during their beachfront breakfast.

     Rennie smiled and pointed. She followed his finger.

     On one of the couches was a huge bodybuilder, tanned and tightly ripped with muscles. Six foot six if he was an inch. Three hundred pounds of beefcake with open shirt and open jeans. Curled on his lap was Allan, bare from the waist up. The big guy - later to be known to Annalee as Brian Holden - was semi-reclined, his meaty hand squeezing Allan’s thigh as the two of them played sucky-face. Allan’s left hand was behind Brian’s shoulder, his right inside Brian’s pants.

     That affected Annalee. PROTECTION MODE didn’t fix everything. Nowhere to go. She was supposed to be his date and assumed she held a special place at the party. Was it a pang of teenager’s jealousy? Was it discomfort at seeing Allan with a man? It just hit her the wrong way.

     When Beefcake relaxed from orgasm, Allan straddled him, kissed his sweaty neck, and poked wet fingers into each of their mouths.

     Rennie patted her hand. “Wait here!” he bellowed loudly enough for her to hear over the noise.

     Across the room, he bent to speak with Allan, who looked over his shoulder at Annalee alone in the doorway, swaying a little to the music, but obviously out of her element. She didn’t need to see that. Not tonight. Allan shot Rennie a scowl for the sabotage and clambered off Brian’s lap to wash up.

     When he returned, his hair was combed and he’d splashed himself with water. His cheeks were flushed, his eyes bloodshot and stoned. He stumbled up, arms wide in a silly drunken greeting. “Darling!” he shouted. “You made it!”

     “Yeah,” she nodded.

     He closed his arms about her. “I worried you’d cancel.”

     “I’m in the picture, aren't I?”

     “Completely true.” He swayed her to the music. “You look gorgeous. Love the top.”

     She nodded, still unnerved by what she’d seen. She rested her head to his shoulder and tried to find that special place she’d enjoyed over breakfast. “...Allan?”

     “Mmm,” he purred in the close dance.

     A light brush of her lips to his neck. He was warm and smelled of alcohol. “Are you my date for tonight?”


     “So why were you making out with that guy?”

     He knew it had bothered her. “Brian? Oh that’s nothing. I just like to make my guests feel welcome.”

     “By jerking them off?”

     He laughed. “Ouch. Make me feel bad, why don’t you?”

     “If you’re my date, you can’t be messing with others.”

     “Hmm, possessive, too.”

     “Can I tell you something?”


     “I’m waaaaaay too high.”

     He snuffled his nose to her powder-scented hair. “Whoops. When did that happen?”

     “Some guy upstairs gave me a joint. I was nervous so I smoked it. Plus Rennie gave me a shot of vodka.”

     “Never drink anything Rennie gives you. He’s just as likely to slip acid in your glass.”

     “Do you think he did?”

     “I guess we’ll find out if you get off.”

     “What’s K? Rennie said the joint might've had K in it.”

     He laughed softly. “Whoops, again.”

     “What is it?”

     “Just something to make you feel good.” He squeezed her. “Do you feel good?”

     “Oh, yeah.” She closed her eyes for the next song - a smouldering psychedelic instrumental with heavy snaking rhythms.

     Annalee liked Allan. She had from the moment she’d sighed to get his attention. He was affectionate but not aggressive. It was child-like enthusiasm mixed with obvious creative energy. She knew his affectations were an act. In reality, he probably cried a lot and liked kittens and baby ducks.  His was a yielding touch that loosened and moved with her. He didn’t own her in the dance - he liked the feel of her next to him, and held her only tightly enough to savour it.

     She liked that he wasn't a big man - it made it comfortable. If she felt threatened, she could probably kick his skinny ass all over the room. Big men could restrain Annalee. Big men could manipulate her like a doll. She closed her eyes to it. Not tonight. Just keep an escape plan in the back somewhere. Be prepared. Even the nicest guy could get ugly.

     She tingled with each cool kiss to her ear. Where she tingled made her defensive - she never admitted when it felt good down there. Allan himself was quite noticeably aroused, and not the least bit self-conscious. She wanted to chalk it up to the encounter she’d seen with the body-builder. If it was because of her, she wasn't sure she was ready. It was a good thing she had a raging buzz.

     “This is very strange,” she finally whispered. “Making out with a man and now snuggling up with me.”

     “That’s strange?”

     “Maybe not to you. As I said before, you’re a freak.”

     “Can I get a kiss anyway? You smell so good.”

     She lifted her brow. “After where that mouth has been?”

     “Kiss, kiss.” He nuzzled. When she accepted, he gave her a simple closed-lip smooch.

     She smiled. “Most men are all tongue.”

     He shrugged. “I’m not most men.”

     “No shit.”

     He closed his eyes when she initiated the next kiss. This one lingered a bit longer. The next few lingered even more.

     Meanwhile, Dan mingled with a group upstairs in the living room. All were loose with drink - some with hash or weed - but it was mild compared to Court downstairs. The conversation was whether or not Conversion would make Allan’s pictures. Dan, Carol, and director David Kane relaxed on the couch on one side of the coffee table. The Vampire Life contingent perched opposite. Howard Spence reclined against Tim Wallace. Stuart Gold reclined against his girlfriend’s ample breasts, and they all seemed content with the arrangement.

     Dan drew a suck on the communal joint then passed it. “So after she reads for Michael Hope, he grabs her in the hallway and convinces her to bugger off with him. Next thing I know, he’s got the perfect teenager for the role of ‘Henna James’. Wants me to tell Michael to go fuck himself.”

     The entire group laughed. Tim Wallace bit into a quesadilla wedge with his fangs. “Shit his pants, did he?”

     Dan shrugged. “He never let on, but I knew he had boiled over about it. He’d made notes that he wanted her. He was this close to hiring her. Allan made a preemptive strike and scooped her up. Did I mention he invited Michael to come tonight?”

     More loud laughter.

     Carol Kopanski was dying to meet these two. Dan had talked about Allan all day, excited at the chance to work with him. He knew Ted would sign - he just wanted the weekend to decide how best to handle it.

     When the joint came her way, Carol passed, but did enjoy a sip of her cocktail. “When do I get to meet them?”

     “You can meet us right now!” The voice came from behind and made them all turn. Arm in arm, Annalee and Allan staggered in. Allan squeezed Carol’s hand. “You must be Mrs. Co-Dan-ski. Pleased to meet you... acquaintance.”

     The VL guys snickered at his intoxication.

     Carol smiled patiently. “I've heard a lot about you.”

     “All good I hope.” He reached into the mix and lifted a fresh joint from the coffee table. “This is Annabel Lee MacDonald. She’s going to be in my pictures.”

     Annalee extended a hand to Carol. “Hello. What’s K?”

     Howard and Stuart exploded in laughter.

     Carol’s eyes searched for the answer among the faces. “I... don’t know,” she apologised.

     Tim Wallace stood, stole from her a kiss. “Nice to meet you, angel.”

     The tipsy teen looked up from under heavy eyelids. “Oh, my goodness. You have fangs. Are you a vampire?”

     He nodded. “I am.”

     She tipped her neck. “Well, you can just bite me.”

     More howling laughs.

     Allan snuggled up behind and kissed her neck. “That is Tim Wallace, Vampire Extraordinaire. This is Howard Spence, and this is Stuart Gold. I told you about the magazine.”

     She nodded. “Are you two vampires as well?”

     Stuart, all done up in extreme Goth regalia, waggled his long, painted nails. “Just a regular human.”

     Allan pointed to the big set of hooters. “That is Stuart’s lady-date, but I don’t know her name.”

     “Robert,” the flouncy toy responded, her boobs jiggling on their own without encouragement.

     “So there we are,” Allan grinned. “We are retiring to the salon. Who among you shall accompany?”

     “When are we going to get our interview?” asked Howard.

Quiet, you She doesn't even...

     “Later, later,” grouched Allan with a dismissive wave.

     From behind strode the burly form of Ted Coleman. “You’re the one who’s causing all the fuss. Annalee?”

     “Whoa!” she started. “Look at the size of this guy. Did you see the other big one downstairs? His name’s Brian, and he’s a verrry good friend of Allan’s.” She bumped into him. “Whoops. Hey, are you going to be in Allan’s picture, too?”

     Howard almost hit the floor from laughing as Ted righted the small girl back to her balance.

     Allan pulled her away. “We are going back downstairs.” He kissed her neck and marched her from the room.

     Dan noshed from the dish of dainties. “Okay,” he snickered. “I’m not sure that was the same girl we saw this morning, but...”

     Wallace’s eyes followed the departing couple. “How old is she? I really can’t afford to be arrested.”

     “Seventeen,” said Dan through a mouthful of chocolate.

     An unconcerned brush-off from Stuart as he snuggled to his girl-friend’s breasts. “Allan will take good care of her.”

     “Here’s how I see it,” said Howard. “He gives her a snapper and talks her into a threesome with Rennie.”

     “I’m going down,” said Tim. “I’d hate to miss it.”


     Chin in hand, Rennie slumped at his kitchen table. Tired and unshaven, he smoked and waited on breakfast.

     Wearing only a maid’s apron and black boots, Allan flipped pan-cakes at the stove. Unlike Rennie, he was awake and giddy. “You go for me,” he said as he served the food, then dropped his bare ass to a chair. “I’m too nervous. Tell him you’re officially acting as my manager. Bring any paperwork back here and I’ll sign it. Tell him we’ll get back to him.”

     Rennie shoveled his food. “Make sure Heather looks at it first.”

Yes, yes, Mr Fussbudget

     Allan poured coffee for both. “If they want a meeting, set it up later in the week. Wednesday.”

     “Why don’t you quit fucking around and just get it done?”

     “You never support me.”

     “I do support you, but you’re not being serious.”

     Allan eased as he munched a strip of bacon. “Of course I’m serious. I just don’t want Ted Coleman thinking he’s in control of my work.”

     Rennie took a cautious sip of his hot coffee. “By the way, Wallace brought cocaine the other night. If we get busted with that shit, we’ll be in jail instead of making movies.”

     “Did you try some? I did. It was wild. Between that and the snap, I fucked like an animal.”

     “What? You fucked an animal? That’s no way to talk about the young lady.”

     Allan stood and wiped his hands on his apron. “I’m leaving. You’re grouchy, and I want nothing to do with you.”

     Rennie took his arm. “I’m only grouchy before I've had my morning blowjob.”

     Allan snickered. “Of course. How thoughtless of me.” He untied his apron and flung it into the sink. Rennie stood, held him by the hips, and followed him down the hallway.

     Approaching steps distracted Ted as he filled his coffee cup in the reception room. Sashaying toward him was one of the men from the party - the one with the skunky mohawk. His biker chains clanged; his heavy boots echoed on the tiles.

     Ted sipped. “It’s Rennie, right? Where’s Allan?”

     Rennie sucked a lollipop and offered a handshake. “I’m representing him in these matters.”

     Ted laughed out loud. “You guys are too much. Come sit down.”

     Rennie followed. “The documents are ready, I trust. I’m a busy boy. Our lawyer will review the offer, of course.”

     They marched into the office. “You know, if you tried to get away with this shit at a big name studio, they’d throw you clowns out on your asses.”

     Rennie sat. “Well then, I suppose that’s why we’re here at your third-rate outfit, Teddybear. So we can get away with shit.” He sucked his lollipop and swung his crossed leg. “By the way, what sort of deal do you offer the young lady?”

     “Annalee MacDonald? Talk to Dan. She’s in for sure?”

     Rennie exhaled. “Oh she’s in, all right. And by the way, she’s no longer Annalee MacDonald. Henceforth, she’s officially to be known as India Bowman. It’s her stage name.”

     “It’s catchy.”

     “It is, yes. They came up with it at the exact moment of their first sexual encounter together. How touching, right? One popper and the deal was done. He just pretended he was fucking Ingrid Bergman. India Bowman, Ingrid Bergman.”

     “Excuse me?”

     “You should have come down to the basement the other night. You might have seen creativity at its finest. I think she even felt the sting.”

     “What does that mean?”

     “Oh, it’s just Allan’s little pet name for the Big O. You know? Sexual gratification?”

     “They had sex in front of everybody?”

     “Not exactly. We peeked. Just a little. He doesn't mind. Not really. I think he actually gets off on it.”

     “I thought he was gay.”

     Rennie leaned back. “Don’t worry about it, Teddy. All you need to know about Allan is that he may not be your cup of tea, but he’s going to put Conversion on the map. Your job is to shake your head in disbelief at our terribly outrageous antics, then sit back while we put this thing together. We’re gonna knock your socks off.”

     “Listen, tell me something. He just sent you to mess with my head, right?”

     “Of course. It’s what he does best.”

     “India Bowman, eh?”

India Bowman

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