Single Chapter Story
A Fishy Tale
"I saw the set up for your captains thing, Jack," Wray told his friend. "The promoters are going all out. There are separate tickets and everything. I guess it makes sense. They have Shatner and Stewart, Bakula, you, and Boxleitner. That's kind of a convention in itself."
"Why so down, Wray?" Jack asked. "Your pilots thing is pretty spectacular too. You've got Takai, Wheaton, you, and Hamill, for God's sake. That's a downright iconic group."
"Sure," Wray agreed glumly, "iconic except for me. They'll all enter to rousing cheers. I'll get polite applause."
"You know that's not true, Wray. The fans love you. Something else is wrong. C'mon. Tell your buddy."
"Promise you won't laugh," Wray demanded.
I swear by P.J. Haarsma, creator of all rings," Jack declared.
"My goldfish died," Wray confided.
Jack used all his acting prowess to keep a straight face. "I'm sorry Wray. I lost a couple of those when I was a kid, I know it hurts. But they really don't have that much personality. You can get another one."
"You don't understand," Wray insisted. "I had nine of them, the whole Spectrum family. The one that died - Jack it was me. Not a good omen."
"Look Wray," Jack proposed, pulling out his phone. "We've got a couple of hours before things really get underway. We drove here, for a change. We've got my Tesla. Let's find a pet store and get you another one. You can have it with you when you do the pilot experience. It will be the new improved member of the family. I'm sure the fans will love it. They'll ask questions and you'll get all the attention. How would that feel, getting more attention than Wheaton?"
Wray smiled at the thought. "I like it Jack. Are you sure you're all set up here?"
Jack snorted. "You know my assistant. She knows what's going on better than I do."
"That's certainly true," Wray agreed, drawing a sidewise look from Jack. "I mean, you chose right. She does a great job."
"Damn straight. She can handle it." Jack swiped at the display on his phone. "Okay, I found a place not too far from here. You want to go or not?"
"Look at them Wray, there are some handsome fish there," Jack exclaimed staring into the tank. "That one kind of looks like you - pale eyes bulging slightly - but he's good looking for a fish."
Wray tapped on the glass and the fish swam over. "See, he likes you," Jack insisted.
Wray set the bowl with his goldfish in front of him at the pilots' panel. He noted with glee that the first questions were to him, about his fish, rather than to his more famous compatriots. He was more than pleased to explain about his fish Spectrum family, happily throwing in tidbits about other cast members, especially Jack, and snippets of plot lines. Despite a glass of wine almost being tipped into the fish bowl, Wray considered it the best panel he had done since the howling outcry of the fans when Spectrum was first canceled. He resolved to bring a fish to any panel he could from then on. "I do have Jack to thank for this," Wray thought to himself, "but I'll be damned if I'm going to tell him."
After kicking back in the hotel bar, pouring his second beer on top of the wine he'd had at the panel, with his fish swimming happily in his bowl on the table beside him, Wray felt the call of nature. Leaving the mens room with his fish under his arm, Wray felt himself grabbed from either side. A hand was put over his mouth and he was quickly hustled out a back door to where a car waited, motor running, in the parking lot. Wray was pushed into the back seat, his captors blocking him in while they pulled the doors shut. Wray screamed for help, knowing it was very unlikely he could be heard outside the car.
"Chill out," one of his captors, a red head, advised him. "We're not going to hurt you. We'll just score our points and let you go."
"Score your points? What are you talking about?" Wray demanded.
"It's a scavenger hunt," Red explained. "We have to get a celebrity and getting one with his pet is a five thousand point bonus. It would have been nice to get someone more famous, but you've been on TV, even if it wasn't for very long, so you count."
"I'm so gratified to know that I count," Wray replied sarcastically. "And what's to keep me from calling the police and charging you with kidnapping?"
"Well for one thing, it would be your word against ours and everyone in the game," Red informed him. "Also, you'd look really stupid pressing charges over a scavenger hunt. And oh yeah," he added, pointing to his friend, "his uncle is the police chief. So good luck with that. You might as well just relax and enjoy the ride. You don't want to scare your little friend, do you?"
Wray was led into a fraternity house at a local college. "I should have known," he thought to himself. He was taken to the basement and pushed into a bean bag chair. "What is this, the seventies?" Wray asked.
The frat boys just laughed. "There is a bathroom down here, and beer in the fridge if you want it," Red told Wray. "As soon as our games master comes, he can check you off and you can leave."
As Wray tried to pull himself up from the chair while holding his fishbowl, the boys made it up the stairs and threw the bolt. Wray finally struggled upright, his knees protesting at the effort. "I am too old for this," he told the fish. "If these idiots are going to keep us here, I might as well drink their beer." Wray had visions of smashing a bottle and using it as a weapon to secure his release when the boys returned, but when he opened the small fridge, he found that the beer was in cans. "Cheap jerks," he commented to his friend in the bowl. "I hope they're at least decent enough to recycle. Probably not. I don't suppose you'd like some? Nah, one of us should stay sober."
Wray was lazing on a piece of old shag carpet and feeling no pain, when Red finally returned with another boy Wray hadn't seen before. "That's Nerely and that's a fish," the other boy confirmed, making check-offs on a tablet. "You're all set."
"I can take you back to the hotel, Wray," Red offered.
Wray desperately wanted to tell him to piss off, but rising unsteadily, thought the better of it. He let Red drop him and his fish off and made his way to his room, managing to put the bowl down before falling face first onto the bed.
The sun was streaming through the windows when Wray heard a knock on his door the next morning. He pressed on his throbbing temples and wobbled his way to answer it. Jack stood there beaming, until he caught sight of his dissipated friend. "Oh, Wray, too much celebrating?" Jack asked sympathetically. "I heard your pilots thing went really well."
Wray tried to summon some moisture into the desert in his mouth. "Oh yeah Jack," he forced out, "and I have you to thank for it."
"No problem, buddy," Jack smiled, "but listen I may have to desert you in the booth today. I'm doing some narration for a documentary, Worst Fraternities in America. The producers have a line on one around here and they might want me to do a stand up on the road in front of it. They just have to double check which frat it is."
Wray grinned and put his arm around his friend's shoulders. "Jack, my friend, have I got a frat for you."