CHAPTER Twenty-One

This is the the beginning of Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD. It includes the Prothalamion (prologue) to Book 2, a continuation from Book 1, and the first scene.

Trilogy Chapters are numbered from Book 1 through Book 3.

The formatting is slightly altered by this WordPress theme. Enjoy!

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WHEN THE COVER IS READY, ITS IMAGE WILL BE DISPLAYED HERE.

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DEPT. OF CELEBRITIES

MIXED-UP MARRIAGE?

Schadenfreude: knickers in a twist—publicly?

BY D. L. HUNTER

…Fascination with how celebrities mate, marry, and break up runs rampant in the decadent American culture. Indeed, all Western culture: witness the European fascination with their royalty.

When a commoner marries a royal, we ask ourselves: Why not me? How did she (it’s usually a she) land the prize?

The answer of course, other than a bit of luck, is an enormous amount of hard work driven by a vision and a determination that doesn’t waver long, because time’s a’wastin’: I essay that no commoner marrying into royalty has ever worked harder in her (his) life. And if the first wife doesn’t do it, there is always another. There is, by definition, a lot to learn.

Americans don’t have royalty. We have politicians (temporary, but occasionally useful if they run to families). We have rich people. Business and tech genii. And we have Hollywood, which will have to do. Our fascination has a lightning rod, and we know what’s expected of us. But we have no standard by which to judge, no tradition…

The New Yorker, October 23, 2006, cont’d

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Book Two

NETHERWORLD

 Chapter 21

“Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook?”

(Job 41:1, KJV)

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“In 1775, people like Col. Strathmore tried to keep the American colonies loyal to a weak king who had no interest in their welfare.

“On a day exactly like today, two hundred and thirty years ago, people like young Winston here declared their Independence, and told King George where he could put his taxes.

“The world is still in shock from ‘the shot fired round the world,’ here, in Boston, at the real Battle of Bunker Hill.

“Ladies and gentlemen, John Robbins!”

Andrew O’Connell, Boston, MA, June 17

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What an Irish actor and an Australian actor were doing taking center stage at the celebration of the beginning of OUR Revolutionary War, and getting half of it wrong, I’ll never know.

http://www.wayneblackburn, June 17

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ANDREW

Night Talk; New York City; Friday, June 17, 2005; 11:30 P.M. EDT

“You, sir, are on top of the world.”

“I am.” Mind, eejit: no Kary, no Dodgson.

“Two days ago, you finished Incident at Bunker Hill…”

The audience cheered.

“…and you’re about to go back on tour for Roland…”

Louder cheers.

“…and there are rumors of more…”

Cat calls.

“…which you are going to tell me everything about.” Shark Dana Lewiston grinned at him with sharp white teeth framed by blood-red lips.

“Aye. I’ll do me best.” But if he, Andrew O’Connell, bait, wasn’t careful, lolling in her Night Talk guest chair, he’d find himself the main meal. Keep yer wits about ye, boyo. “It’s a crazy world. Who would’ve thought?”

“First, though—” the beauty eyed him severely, “—we can’t go on meeting like this.”

“A little waltz? In front of millions of yer fans?” He indicated the appreciative audience.

“Innocence personified.”

Applause peaked, faded.

Dana tented her fingers with their graceful scarlet nails before her face, and shook her lovely head at him. “Keep this up, and they’ll expect a full-fledged Broadway extravaganza next time. Top hats, tap shoes, and canes.”

“As long as there is a next time, luv.”

“We’ll hear how you do this time, sir. This is a talk show.”

“We’ll talk.” He included the audience with an easy wave. He owed them entertainment; ’twasn’t their fault it had left without him, the plane to Ireland. Maury Gibbs, Agent-to-the-Stars, filched the talk-show slot when some unfortunate guest capitulated to some unmentionable illness. “Eventually.”

Laughter.

“With the collusion of my own staff.” Dana glanced off camera to where Melly waved, unrepentant, and the show’s six-piece band restarted the Minute Waltz. His hostess cut them off with the pirate gesture at her throat. But the backup camera would have broadcast the producer’s wave to home viewers. “You are here to give me the inside dirt from the set of—”

“After I offer me congratulations, from a desolate and devastated heart.” He put soul into it.

She seemed a mite confused. “Thank you?”

“Whilst I had the honour of holding yer hand, how could I miss the upstart ring cozying up to yer diamond? The wedding band?” He stood, bowed to the camera. “Brian, ye are proven the better man. I salute ye.”

“Clown!” But she laughed as he resumed his armchair.

“Yer obedient jester, m’lady.” He slumped, dejected. “I leave ye one minute…”

“Four months, and not a word.”

“Me most profound apologies, m’lady. They held me captive.”

“No carrier pigeons?”

“We ate them, m’lady.”

“Likely story.” A very stern look from his hostess—she was enjoying this.

“Cross me heart.” Follow the lady’s lead. He stared pointedly at her ring, raised his gaze to hers. “Ye’ve made me punishment eternal.”

She shook her head in amusement, segued firmly back into control of her own show. “And the dirt you promised me?”

“No dirt, m’lady. Work, work, work.” Careful!

“All the time.”

“All.”

“The gossip?”

“Lies. All lies.” He gave her the hangdog look, stopped himself from twisting his signet ring. “Nothing but peace and harmony till the big battle. Then everybody dead. Well, almost.” He could keep this up as long as she liked. “Dirt for them?”

“Uh huh. Thanks for filling in, by the way,” she conceded. “I understand traveling’s in your future?”

Damn Maury. “Ah, ten cities in ten days. Including Hollywood. Meet meself coming back.” The new schedule. After that, finally, home. “Me pleasure stopping by. Happened to be in yer… fair city.” That’s what they all liked—admiring their city.

“Do you even know what city you’re in?”

“Ye wound me deeply. New—ah—?”

Laughter.

Dana Lewiston rolled her eyes with their exaggerated TV lashes at him. “You were at the Boston Commons this morning.” Determined.

“Indeed we were. To say a few words for an anniversary?” He shrugged and lifted an eyebrow at the incongruity. “Johnnie gave them what for. Magnificently.”

“Two hundred and thirty years since the real Battle of Bunker Hill.” She stated it primly as Americans always did, as if it were one of the most important events in the history of the globe.

“Aye. Seventeen hundred and seventy-five.” He mirrored her serious mien. “Ye kicked the Brits out for the rest of us.” Give ’em their due. Even surprising little Bianca had found American steel in her backbone when he pushed her on set. “It was an honor to be in yer Revolutionary War.”

Titters.

“You’ve completed principal photography…?”

“We have. John Robbins and meself, we went straight after to Boston to celebrate.” For the unavoidable post-filming letdown. Johnnie’d be a mite queasy now on his flight to Australia.

“And you’re still celebrating.” Faint disapproval.

“Days are long.”

“Did you get any sleep?”

“Sleep? No. No sleep. Beer.” Without George, and more’s the pity.

“But you played the English colonel. You lost.”

“Yer point?”

Whistles and cheers.

Dana gave them a beat to settle down. “There’ve been rumours about your lady-loves on the shoot. Ladies. Plural. One you met—” Dana’s attention was caught by a signal light and a frantically waving producer. “But we’ll have to wait for a quick word from our sponsors.”

‘ON AIR’ winked off. Standard applause from the tiers, where he already saw people rising and excusing themselves to head for the restrooms during the brief intermission.

Dana said, “Hold that thought,” raised an index finger, and headed off stage herself.

Reprieve? Thank the Lord there’d been time to think in the limo from Boston. Would he ever see Sanctuary again?

The makeup girl blotted his face wordlessly.

The last thing on Earth Kary needs is me name bandied about with hers.

But he knew perfectly well what Dana wanted.