It’s a busy week here on Fidalgo Island, both in real life and for the players gathered together in A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy). A ton of huge milestones have happened . . . Some, like life, hitting the highs and the very lowest of moments as well, a yin and yang. I will say that after twenty-five years of a very long engagement, I have officially tied the knot as of June 30th. Does wedded bliss feel any different? Nope. Was there a huge celebration? Nope to that too. Most of our friends and family feel as if we’ve already been married for a long time now, and that’s a wonderful thing. I once lived with the thought that marriage wasn’t in the cards. Not in my lifetime. But times do change. I hope for the best. May your huge moments in life also stay curious and wondrous.
“We are all demonic!”—QUEEN STORMAG
Another fitting painting that captures the stormy mood of this current chapter. You can view more of my father’s work at www.bogdanovitch.com.
To read A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) from the very beginning, simply click HERE to read Part 1, or, to refresh your memory from the last chapter, simply click HERE for Part 13—the unluckiest of moments are found within these cursed pages!
A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — Part 14
Roger’s dreams troubled him upon waking early Sunday morning. His palm ached. The insubstantial slice from a theatrical prop dagger. In his dream the blade was real. Waltzcrop, with devilish pleasure, plunged the entire wicked thing straight through Roger’s palm, blood flying, the howl of coyotes ringing forth, an insistent dark chorus, as they raced freely, hunting, weaving through wooded hills, capturing the heavy red scent. He swore his hand grew heavy, leaden as he made coffee to face the day. His sleepy gaze resting on the blinking light of his answering machine. Instead of listening to more vitriol, he pressed the delete button and the blinking stopped. Those who wanted the play so badly, would receive a copy today. Soon, he had no memory of his disturbing dreams.
Roger spent the next hour planning, rain a constant companion, counting the stack of The Queen’s Idle Fancy, worried he’d not ordered enough. He’d left copies for the three young ladies behind the counter of the print shop on a hopeful whim—must fill the nonspeaking roles, the pages, pigeon keepers, laundry women, cooks, hunters, and farmers, their starving wives and daughters, sons, brothers who turn into a hungry mob. The three girls were locals all, newly graduated and holding down jobs in town, something to be proud of, and he encouraged them to make it to the first audition. (He didn’t hear one of them laugh after his departure and the other saying she felt creeped out by him just standing there talking about a musty old play. How he stared at them. “Gave me the shivers.” Still, almost as if compelled to do so, and despite their playful devious gossip, all three took a copy of the play home to read.) He imagined a series of auditions throughout the month of January, winnowing the players, the major and the minor cast members, down to the perfect gems, shining facets.
Here is your mark. This is your moment. Make it count.
There was so much to prepare for. Firstly, he placed all of the copies of the play in a waterproof bag, and set that in a large cardboard Avocados carrying box he’d kept from his last trip to Costco. Who demanded a copy? Kate. She was the only person on his list this morning. The other copies he imagined sprinkling about town like a jaunty elf, gifting them to those he held in high esteem. Morton and Sally after Kate. They’d been acting strangely around him and maybe he could convince them to go out again tonight for beer and secretive, theatrical gossip at The Brown Lantern. Catch up. They’d been so taken with their initial reading. And, secondly, he tucked the dagger, the prop, the gift from Waltzcrop, into the large front pocket of his winter coat. He imagined taking it out and sharing it with Morton and Sally. Scaring—scarring—the mighty Kate Denisov with it, as he had been scared.
He grew anxious—paranoid—in his small home. The weight of the responsibilities worried him. He’d never felt this way about one of FITE’s plays before, and a part of him was fully aware of this. A distant part he’d buried deep blossomed, one of the philosophical voices that helped everyone second-guess personal choices.
In the next moment, driving to Kate Denisov’s home, Roger felt refreshed, clearheaded. The weather didn’t even flay his mood. He moved to Anacortes after college, and married (and separated) with hopes and dreams alive, and he remembers that time, how happy he was to find this larger than small island life, a tight community—the gothic weather became something he loved, could fall asleep soundly to, understand. He did need new windshield wipers on his truck. All in due time. The gloomy messages in the songs of Lana Del Rey filled the car . . . “I can see my sweet boy swaying . . . I’m in love. I’m in love.”
Roger parked in front of Kate’s home, and stared out at the castle across the street. He found the castle-house an interesting anomaly, the gray stones placed there with a focused purpose. They must’ve been constructed with a deep love. Long ago he’d read the story of the builder, creating a castle for his doomed leibenspartner—he could hear Waltzcrop saying that word and let out a chuckle and then stopped, worried that someone would see him sitting in his car cracking up—he wondered if the widower still lived there, ancient and shuffling in his keep. The door, wide, arched at the top, held darkness at bay. He noticed the yellowing curtains in the small circular front window moving back into place as if someone had been staring out, and this quickened his pulse. Lana stopped singing when he opened his car door. He wished he could contact her in person, cast her as one of the singing gypsies traveling through the village that fateful week where all the action comes to a head.
Roger’s inner mind, his operating system, shouted this feeling out to him, and he laughed, which sounded more like a choking engine.
He took a copy of the play and shoved it under his jacket opening so it wouldn’t get wet, and made a run for the front stoop. There was little shelter from the downpour with no overhanging eave. All front-facing business to Kate’s home, Roger was soon soaked. Denisov, as far as Roger could imagine, didn’t attend church. The subject had never once come up. Night owls, theater hounds, tended to eschew early morning religious rituals.
He hit the doorbell.
And once more. There was the sound of an awkward stumble, a swear word cut off, and then the door opened. The great Kate Denisov stood before him, hair askew, pulling a see-through bathrobe tight against her ample front. She scowled, her lips slanting viciously.
“You’ll hear about this effrontery, Mr. Compish. I blame you!”
“I brought you a copy. Just like you asked.” He pulled the play out from his jacket and Kate snatched it out of his hands. She could feel slighted quicker than a punter who missed the winning kick in the last second of the biggest game of the season.
“Leonora’s already read it three times. Last night, she called to tell me this. To gloat. What am I supposed to do with that? Are you playing favorites here?”
“I’ve got a mind to call Martin and ask for your walking papers. It won’t be the first time I’ve helped him see who is helping and who is a bad seed.”
“Please.” Roger placed his palms together in supplication. “You’re the second person I’ve given the play to. Home delivery in this mess is problematic. I’m sorry I couldn’t leave work Friday.” Roger patted his jacket pocket.
“What happened to you yesterday? You didn’t even attend the holiday practice, which is just plain sloppy, unprofessional, and you were missed. They had to get Wayne to run the lights. You better hope I get the queen’s role.”
“Stop your bitching.”
Kate Denisov’s features shook with fury as she sputtered. “You can’t speak to me like that.”
“I can and I will if you don’t shut your dirty, condescending yap.” Roger pushed into Kate’s home, barely grazing the apoplectic woman on the side, making sure the door shut behind him. He turned, his own fury a new masque. “You’ll calm down and listen to me.” He grasped the handle of the blade in his pocket, but didn’t take it out. It felt solid to him. And he imagined that it could rip and rend.
“Get out of my house this instant.” Kate Denisov tugged her iPhone out of her bathrobe pocket and added, “Or I’ll call the police.”
“I want you to play the part of Queen Stormag. I’m on your side.”
His words made Denisov pause. Her energy slow. “Why didn’t you say so?”
“Leonora’s no threat to you.”
“I’ve made new friends who tell me differently.”
“I’m not saying you won’t have to fight for this role. I’ve got a plan, but there are those who don’t understand the play, who will have huge issues every single step of the way, and there’s only half a year until opening night. Six months. The blink of an eye. As second director, I’m going to push for more input, and you’re going to love my assistance when necessary. Don’t start out against me.”
“Look who acts all fancy with just the slightest taste of power. You’re not even the director. Second director. Who’s ever heard of such a position? Our company isn’t large enough.”
“That will change for this play. And Martin placed me here. He’s also on your side.”
“Carole’s not. That’s obvious.”
“Carole’s viewpoint is in the process of weakening. Martin’s taking care of any doubts she may entertain.”
“You’re speaking my language now.”
“I’ve always been a fan of yours, Ms. Denisov.”
“You’re lucky. I would’ve called the police if it’d been anyone else banging on my door so early on a Sunday morning.”
Roger moved closer to Kate, who clutched her copy of the play in one hand, fingers tightening, long nails awash in fiery red, and her iPhone in the other. She retreated a step, her back now touching the front door.
“What are you doing?”
“Did I say you’ve always been a favorite of mine?”
Roger stopped touching his pocketed blade, and, with two fingers, picked the iPhone out of her hand. He placed it on a nearby foyer table.
Alarmed, Kate Denisov breathed too rapidly, deeply, snuffling, bedhead hair a halo.
“You’ll need to hang onto the play. I suggest we go read it together. Preferably, somewhere more comfortable. You can be the Queen. Consider this your first audition.”
Roger gripped Kate around the back of her neck and pushed her head forward, her mouth meeting his own, his lips pressing hers—insistent. They kissed.
She shoved against Roger with both hands, and then her strength lessened, and she returned the kiss. They lingered there in the front entryway. So close.
After the kiss, he backed away.
“Yes. Let’s go read the play.”
Roger followed Kate Denisov to her bedroom and they stayed there all day and the following night, reading the play three times in between the most frenzied bouts of dominating lovemaking the two of them had ever taken part in—their slaps, shouts, yelps of pain, could only be heard by those who listened closely. They both were late for work and blamed this on the simplest of excuses: it was Monday.
Across the street, the curtains parted, and Camoustra and Frenalto talked to each other about their next step, and made noises of their own, sweet sucking sounds to banish memories from the past. Mr. Pommeroy wept on his basement air mattress, and covered his ears.
Frederick Waltzcrop, now in a looped habit, had vacated the castle for the weekend. Camoustra and Frenalto never asked where he went. They did so once, and knew better to ever make him that angry again. Underneath Camoustra’s long, wavy hair, across the back of her neck, a white scar burned in memory’s tight grip—she could still feel the chunk of the executioner’s blade as it smacked, sliced, sawed through, severing her sweet pretty head. How long ago was that? Frenalto and Waltzcrop watched, as entertained as any couple of brazen ravens on high, from the front row of the clapping horde. She’d been lucky. If not for the play’s evening performance hundreds of years distant, she’d be dead dead dead, head on a pike in the village square.
To read the next chapter of A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy), simply click HERE for Part 15!
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