The Con Show Floor
Wray checked his watch to see how much time he had to kill before he had to sell his soul, er, be at his booth to sign autographs for the fans milling around this particular con. He wasn't even sure which one this was.
He rarely walked around these things, but when he did there were usually enough cosplayers that he wasn’t recognized. Unless he was wearing the iconic Spectrum flight suit or standing directly in front of a picture of himself in the suit, pen in hand, he was effectively invisible.
He was grousing over the fact that Jack would never find himself in this situation when he overheard two very attractive young women talking about an old co-star of his.
The redheaded friend exclaimed, “Hey, remember that time Bruise Camp Bell walked RIGHT BY US last year? I’m so sad that he passed away.”
The curly-headed friend gushed, “Oh, I know! That was so awesome! I wish I’d gotten a photo op with him that day. Who would’ve thought that’d be my last chance? Life is so fleeting, you know?"
The girls nodded their heads solemnly, then Curly Hair immediately brightened and said, “Oh well, live and learn! Now I’m off to meet my future husband! No way I’m wasting another opportunity!”
Laughing, the redhead replied, “Yeah, good luck with that, Maddie. You’d better be planning on making quite an impression in that 3.5 seconds you have before they shove you along like cattle.”
Wray was thinking how accurate that assessment was when Curly Hair, Maddie, her friend had called her, raised her shirt sleeve to reveal ¾ of her tiny arm covered in what he was guessing was supposed to be a henna portrait of Jack’s face. In reality, it looked like an alien with a mouth guard had been ravaged by a wolverine (definitely not the good kind) and the result had been immortalized in blood. Maddie, clearly oblivious to the hours of therapy she was about to impose on anyone who gazed upon her arm, smiled coyly and said, “Oh, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.”
“Wow...wowie wow wow.” Wray thought he’d reacted out loud when he realized it was the redhead responding with a surprisingly good Christopher Walken impersonation.
Maddie frowned, “What? What’s wrong? You only do Walken when you feel awkward about something!”
Wray noticed the redhead ignored her friend’s accusation and conceded, “You know, you may be the future Mrs. Jack Moore after all,” She laughed nervously, “I doubt that’s something he’s seen before!” Under her breath she added, “Thank God that isn’t permanent.”
“What? What did you say?”
The redhead smiled and said, “Nothing! Just make sure I get to walk down the aisle with Wray at the wedding. God, I love that man.”
At this Wray’s ears perked up even more. He felt like the attractive female fans (and male fans too, honestly) usually flocked to Jack, so for this woman, who was stunning, by the way, to prefer him was a breath of fresh air. He scooted closer to listen better. Oh, who was he kidding? He was straight up eavesdropping, and he didn’t feel even a little bit bad about it.
Maddie laughed, “You jest, but it could happen! So,” she continued, “What will you be doing while I’m wooing my love? You should do a photo op! Or get an autograph! You know Wray has a booth, and his line usually isn’t too bad!”
“Not too bad for you, maybe,” Wray grumbled under his breath.
The redhead answered, “I’m too cheap to pay for photo-ops, and I don’t really want a record of how much better-looking celebrities are than me, thank you very much,” Maddie frowned, but the redhead persisted, “and I think autographs are weird, just in principle. I mean, celebrities are only people when it comes down to it, so it would basically be me going up to Wray and saying, Hi, my name is Lydia. Will you please sign your name for me? I mean, it’s weird, right?”
Wray was shocked. This woman, Lydia, was perfect! Her friend was less impressed.
Maddie pouted, “So why do you even come if you don’t want to meet any celebrities?”
Lydia laughed, a sound that set Wray’s nerve endings on fire, as she said, “I love people-watching. And it’s not that I don’t want to meet a celebrity; I don’t want to pay to meet a celebrity. Big difference. I’m pretty much banking on the theory that if I come to enough of these, I’ll eventually walk right into one. I came close with Bruise, so maybe this time it’ll happen.”
Wray looked to the heavens and stage whispered, “Alright, Universe! I’m listening!” and with that threw himself directly into the path of the unsuspecting redhead to prove her theory, thereby crafting the perfect meet-cute.
He was so enthusiastic in his pursuit that he underestimated the force of impact, resulting in an unfortunate collision between his future lover and a table of Lego minifigures. In a spectacular spray of little yellow men and miniscule weapons, Lydia collapsed to the floor, yelping in pain as a tiny blaster embedded itself in her eye. Involuntary tears flooded the site in an attempt to flush out the offending object. She covered her injured eye with her hand, and with the unobstructed one shot daggers at the man who had knocked her down.
Wray knew this was bad. He’d always heard redheads had tempers, but he’d never been on the receiving end of one like this until now.
Lydia roared up at him, “What the actual fuck, man?! I mean, seriously, watch where the hell you’re going! Rude! You realize we’re all crammed in here like sardines, right? A little self-awareness and respect for your surroundings goes a long way in preventing this kind of shit. Jesus H. Christ that HURTS!” The woman, who had been singing his praises mere seconds ago, turned on him so fast and with the vocabulary of a well-educated sailor, his head physically snapped back as if she’d struck him.
He tried to diffuse the situation by saying, “You know what? You’re absolutely right. I’m so sorry. We celebrities are so self-involved. Heh. I mean, selling our signatures for money? Who do we think we are? In the end we’re all just people, right?” He extended his hand to help her up. He couldn’t wait for their skin to make contact. She would feel their connection, he would see the recognition in her eyes (or rather, eye, since the other still contained the tiny blaster), and they would laugh at the absurdity of their situation.
In reality, Lydia glared at her assailant as she shoved the hair out of her face revealing the bloodshot, watery orbit. “We celebrities?” She sneered. “Look, even half-blind I can see you make a decent Wray Nerely, but trying to pass yourself off as the real deal is quite pathetic.” She shoved his hand away and took her friend’s hand for help off the floor instead.
She railed on, “The real Wray Nerely would never be out here alone on the show floor; he’d get mobbed by Spectrum fans! And no offense, but he’s much better looking. Sorry, but you’re going to have to find some other fangirl to scam.” She shot him one more contemptuous glare - the woman could freeze hell with that look! - before stalking off with her friend, laughing at the loser who thought he could fool her into thinking he was the real Wray Nerely.
At least she still thought the real him was cool enough to be mobbed by fans on the show floor.
Wray rolled his eyes and sighed. “I hate my life.”
Out of seemingly nowhere, Bobbie materialized at his side and chided, “Oh, suck it up, crybaby. Hey, where have you been? You should have been at your table 5 minutes ago! Come on! We’ve told all the fans you’re late because you decided to do this signing in costume, so we’ve got to get you into a flight suit pronto unless you want a mob of irate fanboys! Hurry up!”
“I really, really hate my life.”