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Daniel David McCallister
Farewell and Goodbye
Sun Apr 16, 2006 23:47
66.244.88.49

“Ugh, you still smell like smoke.”

“I’ll have you know that’s a very high grade leaf, Mister Holmes.” Snorting at Caleb’s look of disgust – how could he say anything when he had sat in his office smoking a cigarette before?! – David motioned to the sheet music on the piano. “I figured maybe you came by to do something other than sniff my clothing?”

Apparently his imperiously lofted brow and accompanying expression did squat, because Caleb merely leaned over to Lucy, whispering something in her ear, before the pair began grinning – and finally giggling – like a pair of loons. David couldn’t help but raise his eyes towards the catwalks, silently asking himself, Why me?, and receiving no answer. Of course not. Why would he? Any God had abandoned him long ago if he kept getting idiots during auditions.

Studying the newly married couple, David allowed his thoughts to meander. Sometimes it was still difficult not to call the man Gino, and wonder at his east coast accent. That had been one of the biggest shocks of a lifetime, but it all seemed so damned unnecessary as well. Maybe not on Lucy’s end, but wouldn’t it have been easier to just go vigilante and kill a bunch of schmucks? Hm, maybe not.

“’Ey Dave?”

“What?” He, Daniel David McCallister, absolutely abhorred being called ‘Dave’. Almost as much as being named ‘Daniel’. But it was the seventies, and three-word names had been all the rage. Damn those hippies.

“I’ll stop by tomorrow with the rest of the accounting paperwork.” And he cared why? “Yeah, yeah, I know you hate it and can’t count over ten without your toes, but you need copies on file.” Uh huh, right. Whatever.

Waving the two off, he waited long enough until he was certain they had actually left the building, before trundling off into the back, side-stepping stage props and scenery along the way, before heading back into his office. For all the ranting and raving he had done the day Caleb had refinished the small space, he actually was pleased with it. Though he’d never tell the actor that. He’d never be able to live it down.

Once in his office, David punched up the playlist for JCS on his computer, and set the surround sound up. He only had to design a couple of sets, mainly props, though the wardrobe was going to be something else completely. No more of this ‘I’m stuck in the middle of the desert’ messiah. He wanted something new, modern. And while he may be anathema to a great deal of directors, producers, and playwrights out there, they could all kiss his ass. This was his Playhouse, and if they didn’t like it, they could write a bitchy review for the Village Voice. Did anyone still read that paper?

Listening to Judas, and vainly hoping that the actor with an identity crisis could pull off a performance a tenth as good as that, David set to work. Not immediately on the play, mind you, but with a little bit of homegrown goodness and a ceramic pipe. His best ideas came around when he was open-minded, and damned if he wasn’t going to use it to his advantage. He’d been off the hard stuff for ages now, or what felt like ages. Nothing wrong with some herbs.

Across the theater, as our dear director and producer was tamping down a pipe, something innocuous happened. A small lamp, hovering over the director’s desk off stage right, sputtered. Once, twice, then it fizzled out with a small sound. The small area was plunged into darkness, not that there was anyone to notice. Yet, the oddest thing happened. Something… flickered in the blackness. A few lone sparks, brought about by old wiring and shoddy craftsmanship, but it was more than enough.

It took long moments, and the heavy stage drapes that likely hadn’t been changed out for new in decades, before a wisp of smoke wavered, hanging in the dim light much like an ethereal creature. The gentlest breeze from poor insulation fanned the small ember, breathing life into the fledgling flame. It was a slow, steady process that was snuffed out several times. But the weighty black curtains eventually could not withstand, and the achingly tedious progression soon began to spread at an alarming rate.

Meanwhile, David was happily typing away at the computer, clicking the mouse a few times as adjustments were made to the script. A notation here, a pause there, before the costume work began. They were still without a seamstress, which was rather infuriating. And while they may be a not-for-pay theater, it still helped with the costume fittings and what not.

Sniff. Sniff-sniff.

“Yuck, Caleb was right.” The smell of smoke really did reek in here. Frowning at the computer, he tried to return to work, but the smell was overwhelming. “Damn it!” Right, he could just go down the hall to the janitorial closet, grab some air fresheners, and get back to designing. This was, what he believed to be, an absolutely brilliant idea. Besides, he’d pass by the small kitchenette area, and he was positive there were still some ice cream bars in the freezer. Sounded good.

One step out of his office, and he knew something wasn’t right. Certainly, with the lights dimmed, the backstage area always looked a bit hazy. But this was down right smoky, like he had stepped into a speakeasy from the prohibition era. Curiously peering toward the exit, he saw nothing. Towards the stage was the muted glow from the desk lamp that was usually switched on. But even to his fogged mind, something didn’t feel quite right. Usually, he would have ignored it, and gone about his frivolous duties. But tonight he was feeling unnaturally paranoid, and thought it better to be safe than sorry.

Ten yards later, David was feeling very sorry. Shocked, even stupefied, he stared at the curtains wreathed in flame, virulent hues licking at the walls and stage. For several long moments, all he could do was stand there, numb with fright, the sweat beading upon his features from the immense heat. Smoke billowed and rolled towards the rafters, scorching and scarring the wood older than him. Weren’t there supposed to be loud alarms, shrieking noises that accompanied events like this? It somehow felt surreal.

A falling backdrop, burning brightly, shocked David from his reverie, and pushed him into action. There was a little used fire extinguisher tucked underneath the table used for excess props during plays; it was even used as a prop on more than one occasion. Yet, no matter how he tried, there was precious little he could do to thwart this disaster in the making. Only thousands of gallons of water would avert—He was such a fool! Hurriedly, the director rushed down the hall, reaching for the fire alarm held underneath a protected case. Before he could reach it though, his world was plunged into darkness.

Flood lights came on, punctuating the thick smoke that was now roiling through the halls, chasing him. The fire must have reached the off stage fuse box, causing the alarm to begin its incessant ringing. For one, he was glad of the precautionary measures he had previously thought to be silly and a waste of several thousand dollars. Rushing down the access hallway toward the front lobby, he garnered one last look at his precious Playhouse.

The fire had spread quickly from when he last viewed it. Now the stage boards were merrily dancing in bright warm shades, taunting him. The first few rows of the audience seats were ablaze, the stench of melting foam almost over powering. But worst of all was the noise, so hushed, growing in intensity before it groaned aloud. The remains of the stage curtains fell every which way, only adding to the chaos, and bringing the flames that much closer. It was amazing to witness, in a twisted sort of way

Yet David knew it to be true. It was the end.




We all lived in a yellow submarine! A yellow submarine! A yellow submarine!

Caleb groaned, burying his face in the pillow, before warily eyeing his cell phone on the nightstand. He never should’ve let John use the damned thing the other day. He always managed to change the ring tone on it, and he could never figure out how to change it back. Instead of asking for help, he suffered – though making everyone else around him suffer as well.

Fingers numb with sleep reached for the phone, fumbling with it for a few long moments, before it silenced. Damn it! He had missed the call, automatically forwarded to voice mail. The caller ID was blank, which definitely wasn’t helping matters any. And the phone wasn’t signaling that a message had been left, so he laid back down.

“Who was it?” Lucy’s sleepy voice drifted out from beneath the blankets, causing him to smile and wrap an arm around her.

“No one. Go back to sleep, sweetheart.” And just when he was ready to drift back off…

We all lived in a yellow submarine! A yellow submarine! A yellow submarine!

Fukk! This time Caleb rolled into a sitting position on the bed, and snatched up the phone. The caller ID was still blank, which wasn’t much of a surprise. So help him, if it was a prank caller, he’d bring the government down on the asshole’s head.

“Holmes here.” There was a long pause from Caleb, before his features displayed the utmost shock in the darkness. “What?!” Repeat ad nauseum several more times. “Is he all right? No, no, that’s fine. I’ll be right down.” The phone was flipped shut, and he leapt out of bed with an impressive variety of muttered curses.

“Caleb?” Er. Crap. Lucy sounded groggy, but worried, and he hated hearing that tone of voice from her. Hopefully a kiss would assuage her a little bit.

“Sleep, hon. Something happened at the Playhouse, they want me there.” He knew why, because of the insurance policies that had been rectified last year. But, he couldn’t believe it. The place burned down? Surely the officer had to be exaggerating.

Twenty minutes later, Caleb stood in front of what remained of the Playhouse. Fire had gutted great holes in the structure, while in other places it was absolutely untouched. The stench of burned lumber and scorched metal hung heavily in the air, bringing about a crowd of onlookers. Eventually he shouldered his way to the front, and managed to get under the line after producing identification. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the theater. It was… gone.

“Mister Holmes?” Blinking, he turned toward a man dressed in an oversized brown suit that looked more like a burlap sack. By process of elimination, he supposed this was likely the detective on scene. “Mister McCallister is right over here. Now if you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions…”

A few questions turned out to be a dozen, then two dozen, and the firefighters were packing up by the time everything was answered to the detective’s satisfaction. David had been fed some oxygen from the back of an awaiting ambulance, but thankfully he hadn’t been injured. It was funny, for all the times he wished he could have broken the infuriating director’s neck, now he was absolutely ecstatic that the man was relatively unharmed. Never mind the babbling, they said it was shock. He was inclined to believe the paramedics, after taking a look inside the building.

It had been recommended that David not be alone, as well. This put him in a bit of a quandary. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the room, it was just… well, odd, to think of bringing David to his home. To sleep there. One thing was certain, though. If the director hadn’t been high as a kite, and so absorbed in his work, then this could have been possibly averted. Bad wiring hadn’t helped the endeavor, but still…

Caleb knew he would take David home, and get him cleaned up. Then in the morning, before it was light out, he’d take the director to a place where he could get some help. It hadn’t been a crisis, but it most certainly could have been he realized, shuddering at the look of the charred lobby.

This wasn’t going to be easy.

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