Dear readers of The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy), I do hope you enjoy this new section of my ongoing horror story. It’s only a bit longer, but the scene needed the extra details. The play’s team is coming together, and the psychology of each character involved is important, how each mind changes after reading The Play . . . this is what drives me in my unknown adventure. Stay tuned for more, and enjoy.
“We are all demonic!” —Queen Stormag
Once more, this is one of the final paintings created by my father, George Bogdanovitch . . . this embodies the darkness seeping into the island’s playhouse.
The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy)
“When will you be finished reading?” Carole stalked the lower rooms of the house while her husband kept his nose in the play Roger Compish had left for them—she even spent three hours on her Facebook page wasting time, deleting friends who weren’t really friends, those that only gave lip service to unpaid promises, most of them family. “It’s almost cocktail hour, Martin, and need I remind you that your daughter expects a call, and probably a big fat check to help her out with the latest setback.”
“Almost done,” Roger mumbled in reply.
“This is your second read-through. It can’t be that interesting. Really.”
“It’s wondrous. You’ll see.”
“If I had more time in the day. Peggy. Remember to call her when you’re finished. I’m going to get changed. We see Mack and Ivy later—and they’ll owe us big-time. Since I’ve heard they’ve invited the Byrnes as well, Cary and his insipid bubble-headed wife, Gabriela, that social-climbing young couple who moved here four years ago. Call Me Gabby says they absolutely love the theater. Drinks in two hours at The Majestic.”
“Get off my back and let me read. Leave the gossip for later. I told you I was almost finished.”
“Martin! You’ll be going out to dinner alone if you raise your voice to me like that again.”
Martin kept his silence and studied the illustration of a fire, flames sprouting from a castle turret, drawn, meticulously, on the edge of one of the pages in the final Act—nearing the conflagration that cleansed the kingdom. The ink appeared to be faded over the centuries, a pinkish red. He couldn’t recall what year Roger said the play was written. The ornate language could be updated, modernized so that the peons paying good money could understand the language—one of the reasons he had a love and hate relationship with most of Shakespeare’s canon. The most famous playwright on the planet got nothing but grief from Martin. Why would he embrace The Queen’s Idle Fancy then?
“I’m going to get ready. Don’t think you can get away with speaking to me like that.”
“I’m sorry, dear. It’s the play. You’ll see once you read it.”
“Whenever that will be. You’ve kept it to yourself all afternoon.”
“When we return from dinner with your friends and the new couple who seem to have dollars to spare—I’ve heard they’re flush enough to contribute nicely to the theater-seat replacement campaign. Best to keep them nice and toasty and completely buttered up. You’re so good at that.”
With no real apology forthcoming, Carole sniffed.
“I’ll be down in an hour. Call your daughter.”
“I heard you the first time.”
Martin’s wife left the living room and went to sulk alone in the bath, wash, apply another deep layer of beautification powders, and wonder why she remained married to a man so distant to her own needs and wants.
“We are all demonic!”—Queen Stormag
Martin relished the archaic language as he reread the play’s final dialogue exchange between the blacksmith and the demon forces. As he sought his own doomed revenge for the death of his daughter, Queen Stormag shouting to the end, unknown curses pointing at darkness, threats, the queen’s acknowledgement of power wasting away for nothing, pettiness, mingled with her truculent fears as the stage became engulfed in flame, the players screaming (the cast dying in a cleansing burst—yelps of pain from behind a closing curtain). Martin could imagine this end and how brilliant the pyrotechnics would be with a final fundraiser to improve the sets and the lighting and special effects budget over the long winter. Maybe hold another auction.
The queen’s final statement repeated in his mind: “We are all demonic!”
The layered meaning sung off the pages, hitting him—revolutionary work. We all hide our demons, he thought. Some of us can’t help showing them off. What a play. He wished the playwright’s name had survived on the opening pages. Only the dedication to Huffins Mackepeace survived as a link to anyone real. The name conjured redemption and fire, a glorious burning. Curtains closed.
He heard his wife stub her toe on the bathroom wastebasket and the sudden yelp of frustrated pain. He smiled at this. She’d love the play. He knew she would; it played to her vanity, but was she worthy of it? That’s the new thought worming its way into his head. It stayed hidden there as he placed The Queen’s Idle Fancy on the coffee table.
He picked up his cell and called his daughter, Peggy, the only child from his first marriage (dissolved fifteen years ago when Peggy was but a newly sullen teen of thirteen) who remained insolent and blamed him more than his first wife for every problem she now had as a young adult. She lived in Chico, California, and tried to earn a living as a massage therapist, but there were never enough clients to afford her the lifestyle she thought she should lead. Martin could imagine how the queen would speak to her if she were hers, and this made Martin laugh.
“Of course. Just calling you back.”
“I’m surprised Carole even told you I called.”
“Yes. She can be a bitch.”
“Dad!” Martin could hear his daughter’s shock and surprise—her mirth too. “What’s gotten into you? You’ve never spoken like that to me about Carole. I’m usually the one. Trouble in paradise?”
“She’s been on my nerves all day. That’s all.” Martin pulled himself back from his darkening thoughts.
“She’s been on my nerves ever since you married her. She’s nothing like mom.”
“Your mom was a bitch too.”
“Sue me. That’s how I feel.”
“I think I like this new mindset of yours.”
“Carole said you were after extra funds?”
“Now you’re making me laugh. I only wanted to catch up with you. Now that you’ve called my real mother a bitch I don’t know if you want to hear the news or not.”
“What’s she up to now?”
“Last month on a trip to Las Vegas she married an ancient troll of a guy from Santa Barbara, someone filthy rich, and she wants me to move down this weekend to be closer. She listed the house for sale and I haven’t seen her in over a week. I think mom’s lost it.”
“Moving to Santa Barbara with no strings attached, I’m sure. There go your money worries. Good for you. Good for her. I wondered why I hadn’t heard anything from her in ages. She’s been nesting. It’s her pattern.”
“Yes. But the guy’s a jerkoff. He’s a perv. He’s always asking me if he can make a massage appointment—he leers. And he’s a lurker whenever I visit his palatial mcmansion. I don’t want anything to do with him.”
“Then don’t go.”
“I can’t afford not to.”
“Is this where you ask me to up your monthly allowance?”
“You’re such a kidder.”
“Well. Don’t disappoint your mother. Did you tell her about the perv?”
“Yes. And she’s oblivious. She’s always been oblivious when it comes to family.”
“Hallelujah. My daughter has seen the light!”
“Listen, whatever happens, move to Santa Barbara or not, but know you can always come up here as well. We have a spare room.”
“And Carole? She’d just welcome me with open arms? I think she’d stock up on breadcrumbs and take me on lots of enthusiastic hikes in unmapped forests.”
“Come back. Regroup. Think about going back to college. I’m here for you.”
“Thanks, dad. Love you.”
“I love you too. Carole’s calling.”
They both hung up at the same time. Martin cocked his head. He wanted to cancel the dinner. Speaking to his daughter had made him anxious to get to work on the new play—staging, casting, directing. Of course he wanted to produce it. He’d be damned if he’d ever let Roger Compish direct it, but he could raise him to second director, throw him a bone. He still didn’t want Carole to read it though. Just didn’t seem right. She wouldn’t appreciate it.
This thought stayed in his mind as he walked up the stairs to change for the evening. His wife would have to change.
To read Part 5, simply click HERE!
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