The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) continues, and I’m thinking of changing the title to this and would love to hear your opinion: A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — I like spelling out that supernatural forces are at play in the title, that it is a horror story, and that a demon, or demons, may enter at any time. Here is the 11th chapter, which officially makes the story a novella with over 14,000 words. I see the story down the line and the ending, and the words keep piling up. Roger makes copies of the play and each person he meets, he tries to recruit for future auditions. More to come . . .
“We are all demonic!”—Queen Stormag
One of my favorite paintings my father finished before his passing almost two years ago while living in an assisted living home. He was a master of abstract compositions as well as figures and his knowledge of philosophy and art history made every conversation interesting.
The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — Part 11
The very next morning, on a longer than usual break, okayed by his boss, Cheryl, who always had a small crush on her apparently-not-so-available single underling, Roger Compish drove to the copy and print shop and arranged for a hundred copies of The Queen’s Idle Fancy to be made. He insisted on being there, watching how gently the clerk turned the pages of the ancient manuscript, making sure the copy machine lid wasn’t pressed into the book.
“Can you please just close it enough. Let it hover over the book? It’s more than four hundred years old.”
The clerk, Becky, grew bored with the lecture, the obvious concern that always ticked her annoyance level upwards.
“No worries. I’ll have this done within the hour. Probably less if you let me be,” and she laughed as if telling a joke. Roger knew Becky, but not well; he’d always been friendly to this worker, but after that last comment he imagined placing her in the wet cement foundation of a new construction site out near the ferry pilings . . . silence her whining for good. And this devious thought stayed there and then changed once more. The play needed to be protected. He felt this so strongly.
“I’ll be right over here. Watching. This is one of those times where I don’t appreciate your sense of humor whatsoever, but no worries. Have you ever considered trying out for one of FITE’s plays? I believe you’d be perfect for The Queen’s Idle Fancy. You wouldn’t even need a speaking part—just be one of the villagers, part of the mob scenes.”
“Sorry, Roger, really. Just trying to lighten the mood. What’s the play about?”
“Queen and country, her castle and her village filled with an energized populace, all under her beneficent command. She’s a forgiving ruler, a humanitarian in a time when men ruled the world, charitable when kingdoms rose and fell because of greed, or religious fervor turned to horror and torture in the name of godless beings. The play begins when two minstrels enter the valley in pursuit of something mysterious, a man of dubious lineage—a force beyond the realm. It’s a farce, really, until something even more wicked enters the kingdom and the queen has to rise to protect herself and her people—there’s even a dragon.”
“Sounds like fantasy. I don’t care for the genre much. Could barely stomach those Lord of the Rings films—fell asleep watching them with my boyfriend, who, of course, loves them as much as that Gollum freak loved his precious. Baloney.”
“I liked them, and the books. To each his or her own. If you read this play, you’d have a change of heart.”
“Just touching it gives me the creeps . . . you don’t want to hear me go on and on.” The features of her face tightened, her thin lips forming a rigid line.
“What? I’m not offended by anything you say.” Inside, Roger called himself a liar, a big fat raging duplicitous fool. He wanted to rip this woman’s head off. No one had ever taught Becky that her every negative criticism did not need to be shared, even when asked for it.
“I’m being silly.” She flipped the book’s pages and pressed copy and collate and the job neared completion.
“I encourage you to audition. All of your friends too. I’ll leave you a copy to read and then you can decide. The costumes will be incredible, and the staging I imagine will be eye-popping.”
There wasn’t anything else for Becky to say and she finished collating and then stapling the books together. Instant press. She placed all the copies into an extra copy paper box and gave it to Roger.
“There you go.”
“Please read it, Becky. Auditions should be sometime in the next three weeks, the beginning of December before the holiday preparations go full swing.”
She let out a laugh, and said, “I haven’t been on stage since high school. I wasn’t part of the popular crowd.”
“In this play the mean spirited villagers, the popular crowd, are often knocked down a peg or two. You’ll see.” He handed her a copy of The Queen’s Idle Fancy.
“Well. I’ll think about it.”
“That’s all I ask. Thanks, Becky.” After paying on the theater’s account, Roger took the box and thought about making deliveries. He wanted everyone he knew to be in the play, part of the townsfolk, protesters, the paranoid mothers, wives, whose husbands and sons were being asked to go on a crusade for the queen and this new stranger to the hamlet.
He drove over to Leonora’s real estate office first. She was on the telephone in her large corner office decorated with statues of bears, figurines of polished wood, metal, crystal, grizzlies, polar bears, cubs holding cutesy fish, glazed, animated poses. She motioned Roger to sit in the black leather chair across from her.
“Yes. The house has been on the market too long at that price. That’s my opinion, yes, and I’ve been in this game as long as any of the others.”
Roger thought about Kate Denisov, one of several competing real estate agents in an office closer to the historic downtown section of town, how the comment from Leonora grew barbs, thorny subtext. Only for a moment did he forget that the two of them competed on and off the stage, and he understood why they felt such enmity towards each other while at the same time hiding it as best they could behind frosty glances and abrupt departures when in the same area. It’s a small island, and they both knew the art of benign fakery.
“If you’re willing to lower your price, I’m sure there will be more buyers interested. I can think of two right off the top of my head. Buyers want a bargain. Okay. I’ll be available all afternoon. Thank you.”
Leonora hung up and directed her gaze at the booklet in Roger’s hand.
“Is that it? Hand it over.”
Roger stood and gave Leonora a copy of the play. She stared at the cover, turned the page and saw the name Huffins Mackepeace in spidery handwriting.
“Does anyone know who he was?”
“No. I’m going to meet with the owner of the play when he comes back to town this weekend. At least I hope so. I’ll ask him then.”
“You’re a peach for dropping this off for me. Saves me time.”
“It’s the least I could do. I want everyone interested to have time to read and think about the cast, the production. I can’t wait to read it again. It’s all I think about.”
“Yes. Tell me, are you going to deliver one to Kate?”
“Maybe later. I’ve been away from the toll booth too long as it is.”
“Do you think she’s right for the part of the queen? That’s what Martin believes. Carole isn’t so sure.”
“If I had to choose, you’d be my first choice. There’s something about the way you transform yourself, approach every role with a professional desire. I’ve seen that.” Roger didn’t know why he spoke such blather, gracious compliments to Leonora, who sucked them up with a theatrical ego. He’d lied to her. Kate was the one. She could embrace the imperious haughty nature of Queen Stormag, a deceitful royal poisonous journey of character from the beginning of the play to the bitter end where change was preordained. He had doubts about Leonora’s stamina.
“Well. I’m going to go for it. Kate will see. She’s not right for the part. Just holding this copy I can feel that.”
“I’ll see you at the theater then.”
“Good.” Roger left Leonora’s office and drove back to the ferry terminal, checked in with his boss, who glanced at her watch, but didn’t scold him for having been away for two hours on a busy Friday. Roger felt, at that moment, lucky, as if he could get away with murder, as he entered his booth and greeted the next driver on his way to Lopez Island.
“That’ll be $36.”
The thought of murder thrilled Roger, and he wondered how that early moment in the play would be staged. And then he thought about what tasks a second director would be given. He was up for anything.
To read the next chapter of A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy), simply click HERE for Part 12!
Thank you for following along to the theatrical beat. Auditions will begin soon enough. Please let me hear your thoughts in the comment section below. They energize and I’m more than happy to hear your own wants and desire where the play is concerned.
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In a week’s time, the players would gather for the final dress rehearsal.