Single Chapter Story
The line in front of Wray Nerely's table stretched far into the hall, almost reaching the ballroom of the hotel. That was good news and bad news. The good news was that at his going rate for autographs it would more than pay his rent and also buy his beer for the month. The bad news was that he would have to smile and listen to the inane chatter from the stream of Captain Raakers, Cash Waynes, and assorted other characters only some of whom he could identify. He wondered what was worse, this or being in the Spectrum movie Jack was fighting so hard to produce. It had to be this. Being in front of a camera for anything, even a redux of Cash Wayne, always gave him a charge. That was why he'd stayed an actor instead of going into real estate like some of his frustrated acting school classmates.
Suddenly a vision appeared before his eyes. For a moment he wasn't even sure she was real. She was tall and blond with impossible violet eyes and lips Angelina Jolie would have envied. Her white robe was soft and flowing, skimming over the promise of generous breasts. It fell to her ankles revealing golden slave sandals on perfect feet. Her voice caressed him like whiskey and smoke. "I'm such a fan. I saw you in a Midsummer Night's Dream in Indianapolis. You were the perfect Puck. So full of mischief."
"You - you mean you're not here about Spectrum?" Wray stammered."
The woman's laugh fell on Wray's ears like a torch song. "No, I thought it was kind of cheesy, not you of course, but that Jack Moore, he makes Shatner look subtle. And that web musical he did? Talk about cheesy. You could have put his performance on bread and grilled it. You give your parts nuance and depth."
"Thank you," Wray murmured, breathless with wonder. "What would you like me to sign?"
She pushed a Playbill across the table. A young Wray with golden curls and an impish grin smiled from the cover. "Here, I saved my program. My name is Angel."
"Angel," Wray repeated. "You couldn't have a more appropriates name." Wray usually signed autographs with the Spectrum catch phrase, "I'll see you in Hell!" With Angel, that seemed wildly inappropriate. Grabbing his bright silver Sharpie®, he wrote, "To Angel, you've made a heaven from my hell. Love, Wray." He handed back his program and reached into his pocket. "I never do this with fans, but you, you're so special." He wrote on a card, usually reserved for casting agents. "My cell is on here and this is my room number. I have to do the Spectrum panel, but later, I'll be there. I'd love to talk with you more."
Angel shook her head. "I'm sorry Wray, I don't go to men's rooms, even a man as special as you. But here..." She picked up a pen, wrote on the card and handed it back to him. "This is my number. Call me."
The moderator was forced to repeat questions as Wray sat dreamily through his panel. And when the chime of Skype sounded on Wray's phone announcing an unsurprising surprise call from Jack, the audience in the ballroom had to urge Wray to answer it. Usually Wray enjoyed Jack's lighthearted silliness, but today his friend seemed as cheesy as Angel had described him. To Wray, everything was Angel. All else at the con merged into a multi-colored babble. When would it be too soon to call her? Tonight? The con would only last another day and some of what was left would be taken up with photo ops. He'd call as soon as the damn panel was over.
The members of the panel stood up and waved to the cheering crowd. As soon as he was out of view Wray sprinted for the door only to be hailed by Bobbie, in a wig of purple curls. "Wray, I have a thing! Maisie Parmenter, the casting director for the Missouri Jones reboot was hiding in the corner of the bar, but I tracked her down. She's agreed to meet with you tonight."
Wray backed away. "Oh no, no, NO! I met the woman of my dreams. I can't be busy tonight!"
"Wray, Missouri Jones! You could be a double icon! Your autographs and photos will be worth twice as much. You'll make more money. That means I'll make more money. I'm not letting you walk away from this," Bobbie insisted.
"I don't care!" Wray declared. "Money can't buy love and I'm in love. I'm not going. That's final."
Bobbie grabbed his arm. "I never thought it would come to this but..." Bobbie whipped out a zip tie and secured Wray's wrists. "You're meeting with Maisie. After that you can still call your perfect woman."
Wray had never read lines so fast in his life. He was sure that Maisie would stop him any time, but she was smiling, and half of Bobbie's's face was taken up by a grin. Wray was given scene after scene to read. When he finally finished, Maisie extended her hand. Congratulations Wray, you're on the short list for Staccato Sims, fastest talker in the archaeological world. She nodded at Bobbie. "I'll be in touch."
Wray rushed up to his room. He locked the door and attached the privacy chain before pulling out his phone. Bobbie was not following him in tonight! It wasn't that late. He could still take Angel to dinner and then maybe..." With a shaking finger, he punched in her number.
Angel insisted on meeting Wray at a restaurant. He was surprised by her choice. The colors were bright and raucous and a small cover band played the latest and loudest pop songs. The sign in the entrance announced that customers should seat themselves and Wray chose an isolated table in a corner as far away from the band as he could get. The specialty of the house was a slider tray accompanied by a huge platter of fries. All the available drinks were soft. It wasn't Wray's idea of a romantic rendezvous, but at least he was with Angel.
Angel consumed more sliders than Jack Moore did custom sushi, and not a fry remained on the gigantic span of stoneware. Angel sucked on the last of a chocolate shake. Wray couldn't take his eyes off the pout her lips formed around the straw. Finally she settled back, closing her eyes in satisfaction. He leaned across the table plunging his hands into yellow strands not nearly as silky as he'd imagined. "You want to go somewhere we can get a drink?" he asked.
"No, I'm great right here," Angel replied. Wray moved closer. Then maybe we can just..." The golden wig slipped, revealing spiky short hair streaked with blue and magenta beneath. As he leaned in, Ray realized her breasts were wrinkling beneath him. They remained flat as he drew back.
Wray searched her face. A multitude of bumps were concealed under heavy make up. "Wait a minute! How old are you?"
Angel pulled her wig the rest of the way off. "I guess I really screwed this up. Fourteen, but I'll be fifteen next month."
Wray scrubbed his hands over his face. "Oh shit! Fourteen! I could have gone to jail. I could have been banned from the cons. I could have been a joke on Kimmel!
Angel dropped her eyes to the surface of the table. "I'm sorry Wray. I just wanted to meet you. I really love Cash Wayne, but I read on Twitter you didn't like Spectrum, so I said I didn't. The Playbill belongs to my mother. She's a Shakespeare freak and she loves you too, but she was busy working today, so I took it.
Wray sighed. "Yeah well give her my regards. I need to get back to the hotel now."
Wray let himself into his room. Bobbie had broken in again. Her wig had morphed from purple to blue and she was busy checking her emails on her phone. A loud bang vibrated through the air as Wray slammed the door. "You just had to be here didn't you? I couldn't just drink myself into a stupor by myself? Can I as least celebrate getting the part?"
Bobbie sadly shook the her blue curls. "No part Wray. Maisie was waiting for a call back about Morgan Beaumont, the guy who does all those warnings at the end of ads for pills. You know he can spit out all those horrendous side effects without breathing? His voice is deeper than yours too. He was always her first choice but he had a conflict. I guess his agent was able to work it out. But look Wray, I got you an extra photo session tomorrow. There're so many Speckies here, we're going to clean up. It's a great con, right?
Wray pulled open the mini-bar and downed the first bottle that met his hand in one swallow. "Yeah Bobbie, it's freaking terrific."