B(ee)-Grade Material

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

B(ee)-Grade Material

When I jumped off a roof in Cannes in a bee costume, I looked ridiculous. But this is my business; I have to humiliate myself.” -Jerry Seinfeld

“All right fellas, I’ve got quite the story for ya.  You’re never gonna believe it, but I bet ya anything this’ll knock yer socks off.  It’s a gasser, I tell ya.  A real smash!”

Johnny looked at the assembled group in their expensive suits and knew that he would really have to break out the big guns.  It was like looking at a pride of animals at the zoo.  For the moment, the large desk was enough to keep them at bay as they blinked at Johnny with boredom and disinterest.  Their attire was regal, but their viciousness was legend.  Johnny needed to make each move skillfully and cautiously.  He could only hope to leave the room with the angry crowd smiling and well-fed, not hungry for his head on a plate.

“Now ya see”, Johnny began as he wiped the sweat from his brow, “we have a killer story here.  It’s a real knock-‘em dead adventure.”  Johnny suddenly became aware that he had left his laptop in the car.  He would have to improvise.  Removing his gray suit jacket and exposing his white shirt and button-up vest, Johnny felt very much like a slab of pasty veal.  The higher-ups looked at the young fellow, realized just how ripe he was, and started sharpening their claws.

“Mr. Goodspeak”, the largest, oldest, and baldest of the man said as he sat forward in his leather chair.  “We really don’t have time for-“

“Right!”  Johnny clapped his hands and threw his arms up in the air and gestured for the men to sit back.  When he saw just how much he had sweated through his armpits on his shirt, Johnny hurried to pull his limbs back down.

“You’re busy fellows!  I get that; let’s cut to the chase.  We’re in ancient Egypt.  We have views of pyramids being built.  We really have to bring out the history here.  I mean, the story is a fun one, but there’s educational value to it as well.  That’s how we pitch it.  See, everyone knows about the giant pyramids.  They’re a wonder of the world, for crying out loud.  But what they don’t know is that there was a corner that had never been opened.  It’s location off to the side, and underground, kept it hidden until we had the technology to find it.”

“And in this tomb?”  The largest man spoke with venom in his voice.  If he hadn’t started shooting daggers at Johnny yet, he was certainly sharpening them.

“A bee”, Johnny said.  “A giant, mummified bee!”

“A bee”, the man replied, clearly bored.  “You’re wasting our time with… a bee?”

“Now wait just one second fellas.  Ya gotta hear me out.  I said it was a giant bee.  We’re talkin’ about a creature the size of a Volkswagen Bug!”

Johnny paused for a chuckle in response to his joke.  He heard none.  The wailing and gnashing of teeth had not yet begun, but he could sense it approaching ever closer.

“Anyways”, he said as he pulled his tie looser.  “This giant bee has been mummified the whole time.  But somehow; magic, honey, amber; we don’t need to understand right now, the bee’s alive!  We meet this bee when the wall comes down and he sends the people into a frenzy of panic.  This deep and booming voice comes bellowing out of the giant mummy-insect.  As strips of fabric fall off of its rotted face and his ancient wings beat frighteningly, the bee manages to call out in tone of doom, “Bee-warrrreee.”

“Bee-ware?  Honestly?  That’s the story you have for us?”

“I, that is, if we got the right person to voice the bee, it’d work.”  Johnny felt the sweat dripping down his back but did nothing.  At this point, all he could do was stand and face his attackers head on.  Fleeing for safety was no longer an option.

“And just who, dare I ask; did you have in mind for this?”

“Christopher Lee”, Johnny answered timidly.

“Christopher Lee.”  The man laughed.  “You think the man that did Dracula, and Tolkein is going to be associated with this stupid tale?”

“He was in Star Wars”, Johnny replied.

“Pff.  That proves nothing.  He was a Bond villain, for crying out loud.”

“Yes”, said the man to the right of the leader, pointer finger out-stretched in proper correcting form.  “But it was a Roger Moore one.”

“So?  Heath, you’ve really got to get over this whole Sean Connery obsession.  It’s annoying.”

“You’re just jealous that I played golf with him and you never did.”

“Because you didn’t invite me!  He called later and asked why I didn’t come!  I told him I didn’t know anything about it.”

“I still consider that a favor to the great Sean Connery.”

The leader roared in anger and rose up to his full height.  The dissenter got the message, sunk back in his chair, and picked at what was left of the T-bone steak in front of him.

“Look son”, the leader said, returning his attention to Johnny.  “We’re just not interested.”

“But I’m telling you, it’s a great story!  It’ll be scary and educational and if we shoot in the desert we can save all our efforts and production funding for the bee!”

“I’ve been in this business a long time, kid.”  The man stood up, his display of being an attentive audience member was over.  He leaned back slightly, tucked his hands into the pockets on his vest, and pulled out a solid gold pocket watch with the left.  “You simply don’t have a hit on your hands.”

“You haven’t even let me tell you about the main character.  Sandy Trapps confronts the bee in the dusty tombs and finds out a way to kill it!”

“Let me guess, this Trapps fellow finds a way to drop a giant piece of stone on the bee at the last minute?”

“How… how did you know?  I just wrote the ending last week.”

“Story as old as time kid”, the man said as he made a show of checking his timepiece.  “And your time is up.  We’re due for dinner.”

“Wait, there’s just one more thing!”  Panic had fully set in for Johnny.  He needed something that would save his skin.  “What if… what if Sandy Trapps is a hot female archaeologist?”

A silence fell over the room.  Johnny could see mouths closing, minds at work, and cash registers adding in the men’s eyes.  “You mean, like Tomb Raider?  We don’t want to get sued over this.  I mean, it has potential.  But I don’t want to be in litigation and get bad press.”

“No, no, she’ll be blonde.  Sandy blonde; get it?”

“Does she have to be blonde?”  The man to the right of the alpha-male had spoken up once again.  “I hear Catherine Zeta-Jones is in terrific shape.  She was in that movie with Sean Connery, y’know.”

“Jenkins!  Enough with the Connery!  I’ll lock you in a cage and melt the key if you don’t keep quiet.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now son, this is a promising idea.  Blonde, that’s inspired.  Genius.  What else did you have in mind for her?”

“Smart, adventurous; she’ll be able to talk her way out of trouble with tomb robbers and supervisors that don’t want her in the field.  She’ll cause too much ruckus out in the ‘quiet’ world of history.  She’ll be capable and savvy.”

“Okay, but will she be wearing a tank top?  We’re gonna need her in tight clothing.”

“Oh yes, sir.  Absolutely, sir.”  Johnny mentally shook his head sideways, but outwardly nodded in agreement.  You gotta give a little to get a lot, he told himself.

“Terrific.  And maybe there can be some underground lake that she swims in and gets trapped.  Movies with women in swimsuits are dynamite.  We’ll blow the box office lid wide open!”

“Yes sir”, Johnny agreed again.

“I tell ya what boy, why don’t you come and prowl the town with us?  We were going to have some lamb skewered and served raw, but I think we could all use a drink.  What say you join us down by the watering hole?  My treat.”

Johnny scrambled for his jacket and nodded excitedly.  He had survived his first meeting with the dominant-crowd.  But a part of Johnny couldn’t stop worrying that he would end up devoured by it all.

Award-Winning Attire

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Award-Winning Attire

Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim.” -Jane Austen

Nicolette was ready for her moment in the spotlight.  Not even the unreasonably cold weather outside could deter her excitement.  She gave herself one last glance in the mirror.  The actress had worn many elaborate dresses, but this one she had selected personally.  The long blue gown was, by Nicolette’s standards, quite lovely in the front.  It was a solid dark blue color and covered her legs and arms rather well while still letting her feel swanky.  That impression was further perpetuated by the back of the dress.

Nicolette craned her neck and twisted to take one last look at her gown.  The dress cut away dramatically, exposing most of her shoulders and back.  The fabric returned midway around the small of her back and Nicolette liked how she was showing off a nice chunk of skin but not too much.  She breathed a sigh of relief at the butterfly tattoo that she had almost gotten during her high school days.  She thanked her teenage self for chickening out.  Nicolette was trying to cultivate a reputation as a serious actress. She didn’t feel that a tattoo on her lower back that had been acquired in a third-world country under drunken circumstances would have helped her image.

Many choices had been made to preserve Nicolette’s profile.  She seemed to be the only one of her actor friends who had escaped being in a horror movie.  Granted, she had missed out on a few paychecks and the chance to work under some fun directors, but the roles simply didn’t appeal to her.  If Nicolette was going to run around in a white tank top and short-shorts, she wanted it to be for a better reason than portraying “girl who gets attacked in the cabin”.

Ever since playing the leads in her high school’s productions, Nicolette had done her best to only audition for roles that she truly wanted.  She liked being the responsible and studious character.  There was value in being the female lead that ran around with the action hero and acted in front of a green screen, but it was not for Nicolette.  She preferred to adopt period costumes and act off of other actors rather than scream and reply to computer graphics.  Of course, she too had made a kids movie where she was the plucky lady that the dad falls for, but happily the script had been well-written and the small boys had some experience in the craft.

The buzzing of the door shook Nicolette from her pondering.  She grabbed a small purse and wondered one last time if she could get away with wearing sneakers.  Her dress was certainly long and it seemed to flow enough.  She once more reminded herself that she had the possibility of winning tonight and the last thing she needed was her photo taken with an untied shoelace peeking out of her gown and decorating the red carpet.

She adjusted her hair a final time.  Nicolette was glad that her hair was pulled back in a simple fashion, but that one strand that dangled down was going to be trouble.  When it was positioned just right, it added an air of mystery to her charming face.  However, when the hair became tempestuous, it flapped against her nose and blocked her vision.  Nicolette moved the strand one more time and headed for the limousine.

ImageSitting in the back of the spacious car, Nicolette tried to gather her thoughts and fine tune the speech that she hoped she could give.  She didn’t really want to thank her agent, but she knew that she had to.  Once again, she was grateful that she hadn’t bothered with a date tonight.  Companionship was all well and good, but she had too much to do without checking in with one person over and over.  She had established herself as a capable and confident woman; she didn’t need any males to drape herself around.  Nicolette liked men just fine, but she was unfocused enough this evening without their tuxedos distracting her.

Much like the actor herself, the roles Nicolette took on were about strength.  She had been the intelligent and outspoken daughter on the dramatic television show, become the college student that in a movie where she raged against the chauvinistic professor, and gone back to being a high school student who took the field to win the game for the hometown.  Withering push-overs held no draw for Nicolette and her most recent role was evidence of that.  Susan Flin had quarreled with a father that ignored her while taking care of a mother that had cancer.  Then there were the advances of her boss who sought to fire her for not having an illicit affair with him.  All of that had gone on while World War I waged in the background and she found her family threatened due to their heritage.  Then, in the second act, her character had been struck blind and lost a leg when she fell down a well during a tornado.

Nicolette had known as soon as she heard about it that the role was one that she could relish.  Upon the film’s release, multitudes of fans and critics alike had rushed to extol her with accolades and admiration.  The role had not been an easy one.  Many days she had wanted to remove the brace that held her leg out of sight, but she had pressed on regardless.  She had spent three months walking around her apartment and the neighborhood blindfolded and had broken more than her share of appliances and décor in the process.  In the end, it had all been worth it.  The film had turned out well, she had felt pride in a job well executed, and now she was on her way to hopefully win the award.  Nicolette told herself that awards were not everything, but they certainly would help her career.  Best of all, she was doing it on her own terms.  There would be no squealing actress who giggled and had footage of swimsuit shots.  Nicolette was determined to survive the world of acting with class and dignity.

That was how Nicolette found herself ascending the stairs to the podium.  The walk out of the limousine had been a bit of a challenge with the cold air whipping against Nicolette and her dress, but she remained confident that she had posed for all the photos without shivering.  The food had been too rich, but at least the host had been amusing enough.  Nicolette had even gotten to exchange a little pre-scripted banter with him during the intro.  Her film had been awarded Best Actor, and her fellow actor had taken the stage again to announce her category.  With a wink and a broad grin, the actor read Nicolette’s name and the audience cheered and applauded.

The situation was entirely under her control.  Nicolette had practiced her walk and climbed to the stage without once stepping on her dress or stumbling.  The joy and delight of the moment was starting to wash over her.  She was truly happy to be having this fleeting time in the spotlight.  Nicolette was the picture of professionalism.  Unbeknownst to her, Nicolette’s fellow actor was about to change all of that.

Her speech started exactly as she had planned.  Nicolette had the initial and unplanned wave of emotion, but she regained her composure before she came off as unstable.  She hugged her fellow actor who elbowed her jovially.  She thanked her parents, her teachers, a remarkable cast and crew, and made sure she mentioned her agent.  She made a comment about how blessed she felt to be awarded such an honor.  Then, right as her time ran out, she thanked the audience and heard the music begin to play.  She took the award and held it triumphantly in her hands.  Then, her handsome actor friend put his icy hand on her back to lead her off stage.

Frigid sensations like icicles shot into Nicolette as the man’s cold hands shocked and chilled her.  Nicolette let out a scream and crouched forward in a quick move to escape the frozen fingers that had attacked her.  The music stopped.  The crowd gasped.  An awkward silence filled the giant auditorium as all eyes fell on Nicolette.

The award-winning actress felt her improvisation skills failing her.  She couldn’t explain the unfortunate complication of her attire; she’d look like a fool.  Still, Nicolette knew that the actor was about to put his hand back on her naked back to lead her off stage and she would shiver yet again.  She had only seconds until she became one more freak in the gossip columns.  Nicolette clutched the shining statue in her hand and straightened up to her full height.

“What can I say”, she said with a laugh.  “I’m just so excited!”

Her gambit worked.  The audience now bought that her outcry was merely an outpouring of her elation, not an explosion of shock.  They laughed along and she floated off stage with all the grace she could muster.  Nicolette’s reputation remained intact and she made a mental note to save her backless dress for warmer days.

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