It's been a while since we last posted to this story, but it was never far from our minds.
We're happy to present you with the next 3 chapters of Acting the Part.
Ellie and Hanny.
“Where’s Jimmy?” Teaspoon asked the next morning. “We're scheduled to shoot the bunkhouse scene now, aren’t we?”
Tyler DeWitt sat in a canvas chair nearby, making notes on his copy of the script.
“Teaspoon, he’ll probably be here shortly…” Buck started.
“He should have been here ten minutes ago!” Teaspoon yelled. “I’ve had it with Hickok and his unprofessional attitude.”
“Teaspoon, he had a rough night…” Cody tried to calm the older man, looking nervously at Tyler, who looked up sharply.
“He went out drinking again last night?” Tyler demanded.
Ike coughed. “Maybe he came down with something.”
“Yeah.” Kid mumbled to himself. “Alcohol poisoning…” Cody jabbed Kid in the side with his elbow.
“What was that?” Tyler asked pointedly.
“Nothin’. It was nothing.” Kid mumbled.
“Yeah, Teaspoon. Give Jimmy a break. I’m sure he’s just feeling… poorly,” Cody said.
“Could happen to anybody,” Ike volunteered.
Buck nodded vigorously. “I heard a bug’s going around.”
“I heard that, too. Avian flu, I think - - or was it Legionnaire’s disease - -” Cody clamored over the others.
Teaspoon stood and watched his young actors. All the men stood together, begging him to not punish Jimmy. Angry as he was, he couldn’t help but feel proud of them. His eyes darted towards Lou, who stood silently, watching the others.
“You have anything to say on this, Louise?”
Lou was surprised at being addressed and felt her face blush as all eyes turned to her.
“I… Um… It’s probably something he ate… I didn’t feel too good last night either.”
Teaspoon looked closely at her and finally shrugged. “Okay. We’ll reschedule the shoot, then, if he’s really that sick. This time.”
Tyler cut in. “You tell your friend that this is his last chance. Next time he doesn’t show up on time he’s fired. We’ll just have to tell the writers to kill Slade off.”
Teaspoon nodded, turning to Emma. “Emma, can you be ready if we move up your scene at the hotel?”
"Sure, Teaspoon," Emma agreed. "It’s even the same costume."
Tyler interrupted again. "Speaking of that." He snapped his fingers at the wardrobe girl. "Alice, do something to make this dress more flattering. Clara isn't a nun, and she shouldn't be dressed like one."
Emma bristled. "Alice and I did a lot of research for Clara's look, Mr. DeWitt. This is historically accurate to 1861 --"
"And this isn't a documentary. Lower that neckline, Alice."
During the distraction Cody turned to Lou and whispered out of the side of his mouth “‘Something he ate’? Really, Lou? What was that?”
“What did you want her to say, Cody?” Kid intervened. “The truth? That he partied too hard last night? That he was so drunk he could hardly walk straight and I had to practically carry him home? You really wanted Teaspoon to hear that?”
“I’m beginning to think that maybe instead of covering up for him, we should get him some help.” Lou said aloud before she realized what she was doing.
“You don’t say,” Kid snapped. “You say this from your many years’ experience with addicts?” At Lou’s hurt look, he bit his lip and looked away.
“Just because Jimmy tied one on last night doesn’t mean we should rat him out or that he needs “help”, Miss Goody-two-shoes. Jimmy’s a big boy and he doesn’t need your two cents.”
“Leave her be, Cody.” Buck intervened. “She has a point.”
“We’ve been covering his ass for days,” Ike added. “He’s been unprepared, messing up his scenes… We’ve all had to put up with that, and he’s not getting better.”
“So, what should we do?” Lou asked.
Kid looked at her. She was so full of hope, but he knew better. “I’ve had enough of him. He’s yours to take care of.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Joe looked at the tub, filled with hot water and thick foam, as she stripped from her dusty clothes. She stepped into the tub and smiled happily, leaning her head back and resting her legs up on the tub edge. She picked up foam in her hands and blew into it, giggling.
“Cut!” Teaspoon called.
Louise rose from the tub, clad in a skin color strapless bathing suit. Jesse was at her side immediately, helping her into a robe.
“Louise,” DeWitt called, rushing to her side. Lou looked at him, alarmed. “You were absolutely great just now.”
She raised an eyebrow. “It was just a tiny scene with no lines, Tyler. Nothing complicated.”
“But you were wonderful. I knew you’d be perfect for this job.” He reached his hand toward her face and she took a step back, clutching her robe around herself tightly.
“Louise,” Teaspoon called. He rushed over. “Go get dried off, fix your makeup and come back here for the next scene. Tyler, I’m sorry, but she needs to go get ready.”
DeWitt lifted his hands and moved, letting Lou scurry past. Tyler watched her intently as she disappeared around a corner.
“How’s she doing, Teaspoon?”
“She’s doing great, Tyler. Now, excuse me, I need to continue here…”
Tyler looked sharply at him. “Who’s stopping you? Get back to work.”
Teaspoon gritted his teeth and turned around to leave.
“Oh, and Teaspoon… “
Teaspoon looked back impatiently.
“Be sure to let me know when Louise’s next scene starts shooting. I have a… special interest in her work.”
Teaspoon’s eyes narrowed, and he started toward his boss, stopping a few inches away from him. “Is that a fact?”
Tyler gulped slightly. “Well, yes. A… professional interest. That is.”
Teaspoon’s eyes bored into Tylers’. “See it stays that way, DeWitt.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The federal prison dining hall bustled with men in khaki uniforms. They lined up with cardboard trays to have their food served to them, then filed to their tables. Their lives were ruled by the clock. Breakfast at 6:00 a.m., then work detail, Lunch at 11. Back to work until knocking off at 3:30 in the afternoon, and dinner, the same bland cafeteria-style fare every day, at 5:00.
One thing that broke the tedium, that every inmate, from the hardest to the most victimized, prayed for was visiting time. Mondays and Tuesdays, that was 5:15 p.m. and it was well worth coming late or missing dinner entirely.
It was Tuesday today, and one inmate who might have been handsome once but whose face was now deeply lined and worn, was in the dining hall as usual, not the visiting room. He picked at the starchy mess on his plate, keeping his eyes down.
Another inmate passed by, and stopped, tray in hand. He had a piercing gaze and an air of authority, even in prison issue khakis. “Hey, Ray.” Without any ceremony, he plunked his tray down at the table and sat down, gesturing to two men behind him to do the same.
“Hey, Boss. Long time, no see.”
“Well, I scored a great job, in the library. So I guess we’re on different schedules these days. You still sorting those cans and bottles eight hours a day?”
The Boss changed the subject. “Still no word from your kid, I take it?”
“No. Don’t expect any, either. My letters … Never got an answer. Not even once.”
The Boss looked down at his food, with a sigh. “I know how that is. Toughest part of being in here. If there’s anything I can do to help out ...”
“Thanks, Boss, but no,” Ray said, carefully avoiding the finishing thought. You’ve already done enough.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
“My parents called when you were out.” Doritha said when Kid entered their trailer after the shoot. “They want us to come for the weekend. It’s my dad’s fiftieth birthday.”
“This weekend?” Kid asked, unbuttoning his shirt.
“No, next. Is there a problem?”
Kid sat on the bed and took off his shoes. “The premiere airs that weekend. We planned to watch it together with everybody. Tyler’s having a party.”
Doritha stood in front of him, her hands on her hips, clearly annoyed. “Kid, you can’t be serious. I've been stuck here for weeks away from my friends and family. This is a big occasion! My parents don't ask much. We owe them at least that much.”
“You mean I owe them.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“No, but that's what you meant, isn’t it? God, Doritha, is this how it’s going to be from now on? We need to drop everything and do as they say?”
“Kid, they are my parents. And it’s not just any thing. It’s my dad’s fiftieth birthday. And I want to go see him!” Doritha yelled.
“Fine! We’ll go!”
“Fine!” She entered the bathroom and shut the door behind her angrily.
Kid exhaled and went outside, barefoot and barechested, and sat on the stairs of his trailer. After a few minutes Doritha came outside and gently touched his shoulder.
“I don’t want to fight, Kid.”
He put his hand on hers and pulled her to sit in his lap. “I don’t want to fight either. I just hate feeling so obligated all the time.”
“I know, honey. What if we go there but be back in time for the show Sunday night?”
“Thank you,” he said and kissed her softly.
“Great! Hey, it’ll be fun sleeping in our old rooms, won’t it?”
“In your room, you mean.”
“Kid. Not before we’re married. You know better than that.”
Kid closed his eyes in annoyance. “Don’t you think it’s time they knew that we share a room, Doritha? I mean c’mon. We’re engaged.”
“You know how religious they are, Kid. Mom would freak out if she knew I wasn’t a virgin anymore.”
Kid relented, and kissed her neck. “Come on, then. If I’m going to have to spend next Saturday night in my old room alone, I want to use the time I do have with you wisely.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
“Hey, Buddy, ain’t that the same guy we met yesterday?” Virgil asked as he, Buddy and Slade walked the station yard towards Clara and a strange man she was talking to.
“Same clothes anyway.” Buddy answered.
“Howdy,” the man said.
“Can you not stand so close to me,” Kid hissed towards Jimmy.
“Aren’t you gonna introduce me?” the man asked.
“Boys, this here is my husband.” Clara said.
“Cut!” Teaspoon called and came to stand next to them. “Kid, what’s with all the fidgeting? You need to go to the bathroom?”
“What? No. It’s nothing.”
Teaspoon looked back at the crew gathered behind the camera. He sighed when the soundman shook his head and pulled Kid aside. “Listen, son. I have no idea what went on between you and Jimmy, but the mic caught you asking him to move. You can’t do that while we’re shooting. You need a minute to get everything straight between you two?”
Kid shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
Teaspoon nodded. “Let’s get this done before we’re stuck here the whole weekend.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Jimmy rushed back to his trailer. He hoped Kid would just forget about what had happened, but apparently, he wasn’t ready to let go. Ever since Kid pushed him away in his kitchen, Jimmy cursed himself for his carelessness. He was always so careful about it, always so deep in character, that the fact that he let his guard down like that, and in front of Kid, of all people, really made him question maybe he did have too much to drink that night.
He thought of saying something, apologizing, but what could he say? ‘Sorry, I forgot you’re not gay?’
And Kid was obviously repulsed by him, couldn’t even stand them standing close during shooting. Jimmy couldn’t risk letting Kid keep acting like this - somebody else might put two and two together. As much as he hated the thought, Jimmy knew he had to clear it up with Kid. He waited outside his trailer for the others to arrive.
“Kid, can I talk to you a sec?”
Kid looked at him, then at the others for help. “What?”
“Alone…” Jimmy almost begged, and he almost hated Kid for making him.
“Fine,” Kid muttered.
He stalked inside the trailer, and let Jimmy go past him into the kitchen.
“You want a beer?” Jimmy called.
“Are you serious?”
Jimmy looked over at Kid, who was standing tensely by the door. He shut the refrigerator and sighed. “Kid. About the other night. It’s not what you think.”
“It’s not that you tried to shove your tongue down my throat? Because it felt like a pretty good imitation of it.”
Jimmy twisted the cap off his beer and took a swig. “I mean, I was just drunk. I’m not gay, and even if I was, I wouldn’t be into you, so - -“
“Oh for the love of God,” Kid yelled, rolling his eyes. He turned on his heel, jerking the door open and stomping out and down the steps.
Jimmy panicked and went after him, grabbing his arm. “Kid - -“
“Get your damn hands off me!” Kid shouted, shoving him hard. Jimmy stumbled back and landed on his backside on his trailer steps, still grasping his beer. Kid snatched it from his hand and flung it away, then turned to point at Jimmy angrily.
“If you were so drunk you thought I was a woman all of a sudden, or whatever happened that made you make a pass at me, maybe you should cut back, Jimmy. Because I’ve been pretty drunk in my day, but never that drunk.”
“Are you going to tell everybody about - - about me trying to kiss you?” Jimmy asked, his voice low.
“You really think I’m going to brag about it?” Kid snapped. “It’s bad enough it happened, I certainly don’t want to go around talking about it.”
“So … we’re okay? You won’t keep acting weird around me on the set?”
Kid wiped his face with the back of his hand. “Let’s just agree to steer clear of each other except when we have scenes, and then do what we’re paid to do. Act. Okay?”
“That’s it, then? We’re not friends anymore?”
Kid looked away. “I don’t know. It makes me uncomfortable being around you, especially after what you did the other night. And I’m not gonna lie, I was raised to believe that it’s not right.”
“I see,” Jimmy said.
“It’s nothing personal, Jimmy. I know if you’re like that --- I know you can’t help being gay, but it’s still what I was taught.”
“Got it,” Jimmy threw back over his shoulder, his tone biting, as he returned to his trailer and slammed the door with a bang.
Kid felt oddly … guilty, as Jimmy walked away, guilty and unsettled by the whole incident. Why couldn’t Jimmy have just let it alone, he wondered, fretting as he turned to head back to his trailer, and bumping squarely into Lou.
“Oh. Didn’t see you there,” he stammered. Lou looked up at him with big, solemn eyes.
“What?” he asked, irritably.
“You were pretty hard on Jimmy,” Lou said.
“How much did you hear?” Kid asked cautiously.
“Well, enough to gather Jimmy’s gay and you have a problem with it.”
“I have a problem with the fact that he hauled off and kissed me the other day!”
She shrugged. “So what?”
“So what?” Kid said, astonished. “So what? It’s disgusting!”
“Oh, come on. Somebody kissed you and you didn’t want it. Big deal. No woman alive hasn’t had some man do the same to her. But God forbid one of you gets kissed when you didn’t want it. It’s the end of the world,” Lou mocked him.
Kid spluttered, “It’s not – it’s not the same –”
“It’s exactly the same. You kissed me at the audition without asking me if I was okay with it. Maybe I ought to be mad at you. Jimmy shouldn’t have kissed you without permission, but I think you’re being a little homophobic about the whole thing.”
“I – I’m not homophobic. I just don’t like - -”
“Homosexuals?” Lou cut in.
“I don’t like men. And I don’t like kissing them. And why am I explaining this to you? The Bible says it isn't right.”
“That's interesting. There's a few parts of the Bible you don't follow too well yourself, but I guess you get to pick and choose which parts are important, right?"
"I have a right to my opinion. And that’s how I was taught back in Virginia.”
"You’re a long way from Virginia, Kid. And your opinion sucks.” Lou walked away, giving a disappointed glance over her shoulder.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~