Chapter 26 marks a narrative turning point in A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy), and it stars Leonora Rabkin, one of the dueling divas of the local FITE stage . . . get to know her and her husband, Jim, listen to their wants, needs, and hope Leonora’s jealous nature doesn’t unravel. Try not to feel sorry for her. It’s a good thing she doesn’t know what’s in store for her. You’ll be ahead of her. Please read and feel free to let me know how this episode strikes you. I always appreciate comments and discussion about the story . . . the demons love it too.
“We are all demonic!”—QUEEN STORMAG
A series of snapshots of one of my father’s artwork accompanies this post. He would always be up for a good tale on a cold winter’s night.
If you’d like to read A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) from the very beginning, simply click HERE to begin with Part 1. If you would like to refresh your memory from the last chapter, click HERE to read Part 25!
A Play Demonic (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) — Part 26
Leonora Rabkin fretted most of early December away, and got on her husband’s nerve too much; he couldn’t soothe the aching feeling of injustice she always picked at; she loathed playing second-fiddle to others and became a martyr in more melodramatic moments. Jim Rabkin could only listen, sympathize when his wife’s overabundant psychological need to point out unfairness reached a boiling point. He blamed this new play, the one she wouldn’t shut up about. She even wanted him to read it. He refused, time and again, acting was her thing, and even this made Leonora even harder to handle. He spent more time in the garage with his car. They loved each other unconditionally, made a good team, but defined the phrase opposites attract. While Leonora still thrived, working and building up her own realty office, the thrill of the sale, her husband enjoyed early retirement from a technical manufacturing business (Leonora told people her husband loved gadgets). He now drank scotch while watching Cosmos and MSNBC, shows about building treehouses; those that revealed a discovered secret from history (the Industrial Age especially caught his enthusiasm) were his favorites, and he’d share his observations with Leonora over dinner. Lately, even this had become a chore.
“I wouldn’t worry yourself so much. You’ll get the part, or some part, honey. You’re so good.”
“I only want the lead in this play, and I won’t underestimate that conniving Kate Denisov again.”
“I find her a bit icy.” He was saying what he knew his wife wanted to hear most evenings. She’d go read the play again, practice her lines, while Jim watched a few hours of television before shutting the house down for the evening. He’d run a bath for Leonora, try to soothe her nerves, and she was getting on his nerves more and more as Christmas day loomed close enough to touch. He was at a loss this year on what to get his wife, and even thought of a retreat, something that involved counseling, not psychiatry, but a group where she could talk to someone, maybe get help with her manic thoughts. He googled retreats and couldn’t find one that sounded fun. He’d have to go too, and if there wasn’t a nearby golf course available for his own needs, he continued looking. A silent retreat popped up in his search online one early December day and he read about those who attended and how they were comforted, group yoga, hikes, meditation, energy building, aura study, all in complete silence. No word could be spoken from the moment of arrival to the departing wave. He’d like to send Leonara there, box her up and ship her toot sweet.
Jim spent his retirement days tinkering with the ’71 wood panel Vista Cruiser he’d polished and maintained in pristine condition, what Leonora, with cheery affection, called The Land Boat—this station wagon with hundreds of thousands of miles carried their entire brood of five. Three adult children left the nest, all three struggled through the next two decades after graduating from college with varied job skills. Their only daughter, the youngest of the three children, in Portland, the oldest son in Bellevue, and the middle child, the most wayward, following his introverted dream way out in Fairbanks, Alaska, teaching biology at the University there, freezing, trying to find himself, all three kids still unmarried but in long-term relationships. Fiona hinting that her lumberjack landscaping-owner partner was going to pop the question any day now, maybe by Valentine’s Day. Leonora couldn’t help but drop hints about not getting any younger to each of her kids—it would be so great to finally hear news of a grandchild. “Mom, none of us are even married yet!”
“What’s stopping you?” she wanted to say, and sometimes she did, and braved the feedback. She took it personally that her three children spent most of their young adulthood unmarried and without children—what did I do that would turn them away from having babies of their own? She asked Jim from time to time, “Was I too controlling?” That loaded question Jim refused to answer.
Leonora and Jim had been married for over forty years, and got on each other’s nerves easily, for thoughtless reasons, but they never went to bed angry. She could get Jim to write scolding, scathing letters to the local weekly paper when a competing real estate agent received an article that went beyond simple advertising, a colorful story about an island resident, his or her history jotted down on the front page for all to read about, and these ads-masquerading-as-stories didn’t fool Leonora for an instant. Most of the time this overview was a thinly-veiled human interest story where at the end it’s noted that this person is selling the estate, the house with the stunning view and Blue-Ice granite kitchen countertops. Free advertising was what it was, and this steamed Leonora to no good end because she’d never been given the same space. Jim got steamed too, hated to see Leonora’s attempts at local marketing get shoved aside, and would sign his name to these letters complaining about the bias . . . they thrived on this and loved to see others fail. Sell the house, but no one should get preferential treatment.
Kate Denisov came to mind most often as someone who received this kind of white glove awe and red carpet glad-handing. The town loved her. The theater loved her. She sold more homes than Leonora. A single spinster actress had the time to devote to her work, her craft, and Leonora would never admit to an enormous green jealousy she stashed away, except to Jim, who listened and began to dislike Kate Denisov almost as much as his wife. Loved writing letters to the editor. It was unusual for the weekly paper to come out with no complaint letter from him. Even with the same last name, most didn’t connect him to Leonora, and she let him do her dirty work; they clinked martini glasses with relish during cocktail hours.
Leonora decorated their large modern home every Christmas, inside and out, the latest lighting and ornaments, gilt, twinkling, and this paid dividends. Their Christmas party was always seen as the event of each season and had a guest list most wanted to be on whether they were naughty or nice. The stunning modern home had a Lopez Island view from just outside Skyline Marina, the Sound a sparkling blanket in the distance, other smaller uninhabited islands appearing like mounds of gumdrops. Their view was to die for.
It really didn’t rain as much as outsiders thought even though Leonora’s home was located 70 miles north of Seattle. The island effect was cherished, a microclimate, banana belt mentality the locals often brought up first whenever speaking to a visiting tourist—to feel superior. “See this paradise? It’s temperate. Couldn’t ask for a friendlier place to retire!”
None of Leonora’s listings were moving, not even a bit, and she threw her hands up. She ran her own boutique realty office, which was still attached to one of the larger statewide chains in the area. With her impressive sales record, she demanded a bit more leeway, felt that her autonomy, her personality, large and colorful, helped her stick out in the crowd of rubbernecking island realtors. She even had a billboard greeting visitors to the island after they drove over the twin bridges: (the words large across the top) Rabkin Realty . . . Call on Leonora! A photo with her smiling widely, the memorable Rabkin logo, a huge fish with a hook in its mouth, the fishing pole a trident held in Leonora’s hands . . . Let Me Find Your Catch Of A Lifetime!
The fishing community loved Leonora. Yearly, her company competed in the boatbuilding event at the Waterfront Festival, and even though they never won, Leonora thought it was good theater, terrific exposure, and, twice, their hand-built boat sunk during the race. The referees gave each of the four competing teams a small amount of funds to buy building supplies, wood, nails, paint even, for design, and then eight hours to construct the floatable craft. In early evening, with crowds gathered on the in-town marina docks, the race would begin, paddles thrashing, laughter, catcalls egging the rowers on . . . one year none of the boats crossed the finish line. They had to paddle out to the buoy and back, about 500 yards each way, and every now and then participants took a bath in the frigid water. Leonora laughed and laughed. The winner had bragging rights.
Her team, that’s what she was thinking about, what should they try to do next spring, maybe a Popeye The Sailor and Olive Oyl theme, perfect. She could get Armand, one of the young assistants, who had real muscle, to play Popeye, and she could easily convince the office clerk, Belinda, to dress as Swee’Pea. Of course, Leonora, tall and stately (if not the thinnest at the moment—something to diet for), thought only of herself in the Olive Oyl role . . . and then this thought made her switch subjects: she wouldn’t have to think about the boat race until a month after the play’s debut. She’d read The Queen’s Idle Fancy through dozens of times. With the business phone not ringing, she studied each line, memorized Queen Stormag’s dialogue, thought about the audition next month and then what she needed to do to convince the unknown director that she deserved the role over Kate Denisov. She didn’t trust Roger Compish or Martin Belloon. She had to impress. Trust her natural instincts.
The weather outside, windy, predicting temperatures below freezing over the weekend, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, made Leonora decide to go home early. Close the office, tell her secretary, Diane, an older woman nearing retirement, who Leonora should’ve forcibly retired two years ago, to finish up any paperwork—they were getting tax forms and other contractual obligations in order. She’d go home to her husband, enjoy the weekend. Batten down the hatches.
“A Mr. Frenalto for you on line one,” Diane called out from the front office, something that irritated Leonora. She’d told Diane to simply buzz her.
Leonora stood and shut the door between them. Took a second more settling herself into her comfortable office chair, and then a deep breath, clearing her head of any lingering thoughts about the future, the Queen . . .
“Hello. This is Leonora Rabkin. How can I be of service?”
Frenalto’s voice, deep, yet sibilant, issued forth, and Leonora listened to every word. Her lips parted. She felt perspiration under her blue blouse and stylish jacket, tailored by the local magician she’d found at a newer seamstress buisness on Commercial Ave.
“A house on Havekost? Yes, that’s a stunning place. You say you’re new to the area?”
“Yes. Just the two of us. My wife and I, but we’d love a house filled with great expectations. We’ve wanted to settle down after a life filled with travel. Business mostly. That house, from what your website shows, sounds perfect. Can you show it to us tomorrow with such short notice?”
“Of course . . . the owners aren’t there now. Moved to Sedona. I . . .”
“Can we get in tonight?”
“I can’t promise that.”
“We, I’d do anything to help change your mind. Tomorrow we may have to fly back . . .” He didn’t say where . . .
“Let me make some calls. How do I reach you?”
Frenalto gave Leonora a cell number and they disconnected.
To read the next chapter, simply click HERE and begin reading Part 27!
Thank you for reading this far . . . heading into the next ten thousand block soon enough with almost 38,000 words. Please share the demons with your friends who may like this supernatural tale.