See Part 1 for Disclaimers.



Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope you'll continue to bear with me as it takes far less time to read a section than it does to envision it, write it and get it edited. As always, comments, suggestions, praise, criticisms or other forms of feedback are accepted and desired. I'm begging here - Well, maybe not begging. But, I seem to stay at the grind when I get encouragement and writing really is tough for me to stick to. So, please, if you've got a thought about the story, I would really like to hear it. Just drop me a word or two at: Dreams2Fly Thanks and enjoy.


Part Nine

Lee strode smartly across the gravel-strewn lot. Like the rest of the property, the parking area still bore reminders of its original use as a farm in the crabgrass that fought tenaciously to retain its hold on the old cow pasture. Lee saw no reason to pave the lot, though, since the tough plants seemed capable enough of surviving the wear of vehicle tires and it left the area with the feel of the natural. He liked that feeling.

Lee breathed deeply as he wove his way through the crowd of vehicles parked in the lot. The air was still a crisp 40 degrees and the sky was clouded over and giving the first hints that it might snow again later that afternoon if the temperature dropped just a hair more. Despite the likelihood that he’d be a popsicle covered in muck before the day was out, he was smiling and looking forward to the work ahead.

He’d had a good week, and even the weather wasn’t enough to dampen his mood. His second meeting with the production crew the day before had been more productive than he expected. They had worked out all of the preliminary details of the first two weeks of shooting for his movie and were ready to begin reserving locations and blocking in when the talent would be needed for each shoot. If the money was released on time, they would be burning the first rolls of film by the end of April.

Lee glanced curiously at the white PBX vendor's minivan tucked between two overpriced, oversized SUVs near the end of the lot. The blue and gold sunburst logo shone proudly from the rear window which, like the side windows, was tinted nearly black. Huh, he thought as he stepped onto the stone path that lead up to the converted farmhouse. The phone system must be on the fritz again.

Almost subconsciously, a hand reached back to verify that his cell was attached to his belt. As big a pain in the butt as the thing was to lug around and keep track of, Lee was glad he had it and didn't have to rely on the iffy office phone system. Despite the battery backup and voltage regulators he had on system, the cheap switch still managed to go down about once a month. Only Cass knew just how often he was in the phone closet babying the system back online. But, it had been the best they could afford when they'd originally set the old farm up as a studio and, now that there was money coming it, it all went right back out again to bring more people in for the show. Guest spots by famous people were expensive when they couldn't use you as free advertising.

"It’s Friday," Lee cheerfully greeted the parents and children loitering in the lobby as he strolled across the room to the combo locked door that led deeper into the house.

Most of the kids he passed looked like they were probably older siblings to those who would be in today's shoot. A few, though, appeared to be in the right age group and were likely waiting to be processed in. Regardless, the kids all enthusiastically returned his greeting while the parents stared at him with looks ranging from haughty indifference to outright hostility. Lee shook his head as he pushed through the security door. He suspected they would all be happier people if they stopped trying to live through their children.

As soon as the door closed behind him, thoughts of unhappy parents were lost to the bustle of shoot day hysteria. Lee found his smile broadening as he dodged the hectic people. This was one of the reasons he loved his job: the energy levels made him feel alive in ways that no other job he'd ever held had.

Smile in place, Lee gave a wave to Christa as passed an open doorway. She flashed him a smile in response as she lifted a digital camera to her shoulder. Her attention had returned to her sound tech before the door frame had cut her from Lee's view.

"Whoa!" he yelped when Laurie stepped out of another doorway right in front of him.

"Whoops," Laurie laughed. "Sorry!"

"Oh, hey," Lee said as he stepped back away from Laurie. "Just the person I was looking for." He flashed her a grin. "Uh, I don't suppose Lori's here yet?"

"Of course she is." Laurie's tone dripped with sarcasm as she flicked a hand towards the back of the building and continued, "She's out compensating for the glorious weather we've got to work with today. Why?"

"Ah. Well," Lee combed his fingers through his hair. "I just wanted to see if she could trim this mop before we got started today."

Laurie's brows rose and the corner of her mouth lifted in a smirk as her eyes raked across Lee. "Oh? We got VIPs coming today?"

"What? No. What made you think of that?"

Laurie laughed. "You're kidding, right?"

Lee frowned, his good mood draining away in the face of Laurie's humor. Her laughter quieted as Lee waited. He was sure the scowl that had his face feeling tense had something to do with her sudden loss of mirth. He couldn't stop the reaction, though. He hated being teased.

"Aw, c'mon, Lee,” Laurie sighed. "Look at you. You're going to be outside today, doing a shoot that's likely to be in the rain, in the mud and on sweaty horses. And, you're dressed better than you usually do for a meeting with the producers for your movie!"

Lee looked down at himself briefly, his brows furrowed. I'm not that dressed up, he grumbled silently. Am I?

"But, don't worry," she continued, patting him on the shoulder with an ingenious grin. "I'm sure she'll be impressed."


Laurie chortled as she ducked around the jamb to the room Christa and her crew were prepping in. Lee was sure that, if he had been a superhero of some kind, the doorway through which she had departed would have been noticeably wider considering the glare he shot after her departing form. That thought was enough to restore at least some of his good mood.

"Humph," Lee sniffed as he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and turned to continue his trek through the house. "Maybe," he confided to the carpet, "she won't even come today." He couldn’t decide, though, whether it was relief or disappointment that accompanied that thought.




~Continued in Part Ten~

©April 2005

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