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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Book One - Chaper 10

Chapter 10

The summer roared past with the speed of the cars he drove. He had a great year. Chester tried to keep him abreast of where he was in points but but Rafe waved him off.
“Don’t bother me with the details, Chet. I just want to drive. I’ll handle the cars. You take care of everything else.”
The fan club continued to grow.  He didn’t know how many members it had now but there was always a different woman available when he wanted one after the races and usually he did want one.

He struck up a small dalliance with Carole, the Channel 5 anchor, although he never did give her another interview. He figured the dalliance was what she was angling for anyway and the interview was just the excuse.

His parents spent two weeks in Aspen, Colorado and rented a villa on the coast of Italy for two more so he was able to keep Laney relatively contented.
August added rock and roll to his agenda. Regretfully, Duke watched him on the stage and wished it wasn’t for just a month.  He’d never seen a musician who could exercise such dominance over his audience. As far as the women were concerned, the rest of the band might as well not even be there. Their eyes stayed locked on the black hair and the flashing smile and the rolling hips. When he turned his back to the stage, a murmur of appreciation always went up from the females. A woman had told Duke once, with a longing tone in her voice, that Rafe had the hottest little ass she’d ever seen, whatever that meant. Frequently, they ended up with bras and panties on the stage and that never happened when Rafe wasn’t there! They mobbed him on breaks, asking him to autograph shirts and menus and napkins and sometimes themselves, meanwhile touching his hand and arm and back and butt. Duke swore Rafe could ask one of them to drop to her knees and blow him right there in front of God and everyone and she’d do it without even hesitating. Duke was a good looking guy himself and he’d benefited plenty from being a gi-tar man but Rafe took it to a whole new level.

Chas and Vic came to one of the races and he had to grin at how elegantly out of place they looked in the dirt track crowd. They took him out to dinner afterwards. He was genuinely happy to see them.
He pulled the small gold good luck piece out of his pocket and showed them.
“I always have it with me.” His smile gleamed. “Maybe it’s why I’ve been winning.”
“We hope it helps you win, Rafe,” Chas told him, “but even more, we want it to bring you back safe to us in the fall.”

And it did. He headed off for New Jersey, Hawk in the seat beside him, thinking – “down to the last year and then I can put Princeton behind me.”

That nine months passed quickly too, if uneventfully, at least uneventfully to Rafe, although it might not have been to anyone else. It was pretty clear he’d graduate as valedictorian, the first Vincennes to do so although all his brothers had all been in the top five percent of their class. He was Mathematics Student of the Year again. It was almost like they decided, “what the hell, just give it to him and be rid of him”.  (This time, he RSVPed promptly, before Renny had a chance to order him to do it). He was going to complete his college athletic career with some records it would probably take a while for anyone else to match – most homeruns ever hit in a single season, an unbelievable 100 percent free throw record in basketball (reporters started calling him “CMV for Can’t Miss Vincennes”), most yards per carry (by a mile) in football. Scouts from all three sports approached him urging him to consider going pro but he blew them all off. He was followed constantly by the sports media paparazzi, all determined to be the one to get the coup of convincing him to give them an interview before it was too late and he was gone for good. But he eluded them (none of them had a vehicle that could keep up with the Corvette) and once he made it home, he was protected by the gay mafia that seemed to take it as their mission to be his first line of defense. And if they somehow got past that obstacle, they faced a huge, growling German Shepherd.
“Hold up, Hawk,” Rafe would tell him, smiling at the offending reporter. “You’ve got two minutes to get off this property. He’s trained to go for the groin.” A few of them might have been dedicated enough to take a chance with an arm but a threat to their privates was a pretty effective deterrent.

One memorable event that year was Annecy’s wedding, not especially memorable for Rafe himself, of course, but to the Vincennes as a collective body. The family held nothing back when it came to celebrating itself and everyone was expected to cooperate fully in paying tribute.
Annecy and Mark were married at Saint James in front of the high altar in the original gothic church surrounded by vaulted ceilings and soaring stained glass windows and elaborate stations of the cross as well as what seemed to be at least a million candles and equally as many banked pots of autumn-hued Chrysanthemums – gold and yellow and rust and burgundy and plum. Branches of copper leaves and flame-colored berries decorated pillars and arched over the aisle where litters of colorful leaves covered the floor.
The wedding party consisted of Annecy’s five brothers and and Mark’s one brother and two best friends wearing deep brown tuxedos. Eight Vincennes sisters and sisters-in-law glowed in long satin dresses in the same jewel-tones as the Chrysanthemums. Raquelle Vincennes the flower girl, adorable in her long yellow dress, threw blossoms from her basket while Mark’s pudgy four-year-old nephew, Christopher, served as the ring-bearer. Annecy was radiant in her white Empire gown with a beaded bodice and 12 foot train. Rafe was happy for Lane. All his sisters were brightly beautiful but he thought she was the loveliest of them, thrilled as she was to have been included in the wedding party.
Like most Catholic weddings, the ceremony seemed to drag on forever until the priest finally declared Annecy and Mark husband and wife. Rafe swore to himself that if he ever got married, which he doubted he would ever do, he’d run off to a justice of the peace and have it over and done in five minutes.
After the wedding itself, the family and guests repaired to Heron Point where the seasonal theme had been maintained. Huge autumn wreaths hung on the outside double doors. Arrangements of corn shocks, pumpkins, squash, Indian corn and pots of fall flowers were massed around wide verandah and bittersweet vines wound through the railings of the balustrade. Inside, the copper branches and flame berries decorated the banister of the golden oak open stairway. The living room was like walking into a fall woods with the flowers and leaves of autumn all around. Branches of bittersweet covered the fireplace mantel while banks of flowers filled the hearth.
One end of the room contained a silver champagne fountain with elegant crystal champagne flutes engraved with the names of the wedding couple and the date which guests could keep as a memento.
More flowers covered the center of the dining room table and surrounding them, a celebration of harvest, containing every possible ingredient for making a salad including heaping bowls of greens, hard-boiled egg slices, cherry tomatoes, rings of pepper, a dozen kinds of grated cheese, broccoli florets, cauliflower buds, carrot curls, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, onion slices, cucumber rounds, thin strips of filet mignon, chunks of seasoned chicken, crumbled bacon, bite-sized pieces of ham, fresh shrimp, slices of salmon, as well as fresh, crusty loaves of French and Italian bread, various types of crackers, chunked cheese, caviar and more. On the carved buffet was the towering cake, decorated in fall blooms.
“I think my parents are absolutely stunned,” Mark whispered to Jocelyn’s husband, Edgar, an African-American. “I’d warned them that the Vincennes were rich but the reality is so much more than they expected.”  
Edgar laughed his deep, rich laugh. “Imagine what it was like when Jocey and I got married. At least, you grew up middle class. I was raised in Boston in the ghetto. Both my folks worked hard and we never went hungry but they struggled to pay the bills. Then suddenly, they go from their little house in the ‘hood and old clunker car to here at Heron Point. You want to talk about some culture shock. Bless their hearts, they were intimidated as hell. Scared they’d embarrass me by speaking bad English or using the wrong fork. Then Renny and Magdelene swept them up and the next thing I knew, they were all laughing together like they’d been friends forever. The Vincennes are filthy rich but they aren’t snobs and they know how to make anyone feel at home.” 

A month before graduation, he got another summons for his presence. This time the e-mail told him to come to the office of the President, Mr Murray. He couldn’t think of anything he’d done wrong so he wasn’t too worried about it.
When he got there, the Pres spent about three minutes just looking at him so Rafe just looked back. The office was large and impressive but Mr Murray was, well, average looking compared to what Rafe thought a college president would look like. His suit was obviously expensive but it didn’t have that custom tailored sharpness that his Dad’s suits had. His hair was sandy but thinning on top. Nothing distinguishable about the rest of his face, just a regular nose, blue eyes with pale blonde lashes. His slight smile when Rafe came through the door seemed somewhat distracted. (Rafe didn’t try to play his little game with Mr Murray because he didn’t sense any threat from this meeting. He just let the older man point him to the seat he was to take.)
Finally, Mr Murray said, “I’m retiring this year so we’ll both be leaving Princeton for good.”
“And why do I care?” Rafe thought but didn’t say.
“You probably don’t know this but your father and I roomed together here when we were students. We’ve remained close over the years and I’ve taken it as an obligation of our friendship to look out for his sons.”
(Aha, the mystery of the mole was solved).
“Your brothers were all perfect students. Smart, athletic, sociable but, you know, keeping it all within the parameters of normal student behavior. Do you remember the opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, Rafe?”
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”, Rafe quoted.
“Yes. That line reminds me of you. You have been the best of students and you’ve been the worst of students. At times, I’ve been awed by your genius and your outstanding achievements but running counterpoint to that, you’ve caused me one fucking headache after another.”
“I hope you know I didn’t set out to do that, Mr Murray?”
“Oh, I know, Rafe, it just all flowed from who are are, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had to deal with the mob of complaining professors and coaches you’ve left in your wake – because you wouldn’t attend their banquets or you were screwing all their students or you wouldn’t give the media an interview to pump up their program or you wouldn’t join Honor Society although you were at the top of your class or you embarrassed your English professor by refusing to read your prize-winning poem in front of the Poet’s Convention.  You’re becoming the stuff of legend, Rafe, with your dog and your Corvette and your gay support group and your reputation for sexual prowess that matches your record in other areas. Of course, everyone knows the broad outlines of why Helene Barnes quit Women’s Studies and they know it had something to do with you although they don’t know exactly what, and the stories have gone around about the suicide of the man who beat up one of your landlords and that is attributed to you as well. To the students, you’ve become a kind of cult figure although a distant one and maybe that aura of untouchability adds to it. You’ve been here almost four years, Rafe, and no one knows who you are.”
Gil sighed heavily. “I guess I just wanted to meet you after all these years of your being such a thorn in my side. Bureaucracies don’t appreciate legends, Rafe. They prefer predictability and they believe they are the ones who deserve hero-worship, not you.
Rafe didn’t say anything because what could he say? Anyway, Mr Murray wasn’t really asking him any questions.
“I’ll be curious to see what your future holds, Rafe.” He smiled an unexpectedly humorous smile. “Somehow I suspect I’d end up knowing whatever you do next even if I wasn’t friends with your dad.”
He stood up and held out his hand. “At any rate, good luck, Rafe. Having you here has been has been a fascinating, if often unsettling experience. Tell Renny I said hello when you go home.
They shook. “I will, Mr Murray.”

It was over and the only thing he’d miss was the carriage house and Vic and Chas. They’d had a party for him the night before he was to leave with the crowd in attendance for barbeque. They all hated it that he was leaving. Who would have thought in the beginning they’d all end up loving this straight boy so much?
The next morning, Chas and Vic hugged him so long, he didn’t think they were going to let go but he hugged them back and didn’t try to rush them.
“Do you promise, Rafe, that you’ll come and see us?” Chas asked.
“I promise, but you have to come and see me too.”
“Oh, we will, we surely will.”
“And will you e-mail me and let us know how you’re doing?”
“Well, Vic, I’m not the most reliable e-mailer so I’m not saying how often it will be, but I’ll e-mail you sometimes. And you have my cell phone number so you can always call me.”
“You hardly ever have your cell phone on, Rafe.”
“Yes, but it goes to voicemail and I’ll call you back. So have you put an ad in the paper for the carriage house yet?”
“No, not yet, and maybe not this year. We can’t stand to think of anyone living there but you.”
They both gave Hawk a hug too and then he was gone.
“It feels like the sun just went behind a cloud, Chas, and I have a feeling it’s going to be that way a while.”
“Do you think we have Empty Nest Syndrome, Vic?”

They packed a picnic lunch and rode up to the Cabin. He’d teased her all along the way while they were still riding along, reaching over to run his hand between her legs or under her blouse. Before they ever got there, he had her top unbuttoned, her bra unfastened and her jeans unsnapped so that she could hardly wait to dismount, tie up Des and Lisbon and get through the door to throw her arms around him.
He pulled her away though and went to sit on the corduroy sofa.
“Undress for me, Lane. Don’t rush. I want to watch.”
“Rafe…,” she was panting a little but he shook his head.
“No, we’re going to do it my way.”
So she slowly took off her blouse and slipped her bra over her arms, then removed her boots and socks, before pulling down her jeans and sliding out of her underwear.
“God, Lane, do you know how beautiful you’ve become?”
From his sitting position, he ran his fingertips across her breasts and down her belly and lightly across her mound and thighs as she stood trembling before him.
He stood. “Now undress me. Don’t hurry with that either.”
Her hands were clumsy with desire as she undid the buttons of his shirt, kissing his nipples as she slid it off his shoulders. Then she unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans and tugged them around around his ankles before doing the same with his shorts. He sat again so she could pull off his boots and socks and get his pants off. Kneeling, she kissed the tip of his hard cock and ran her tongue around the head.
            “Lie down on the rug on your belly.”
            She could sense him coming over her, then felt kisses so teasingly light she had to concentrate to actually know they were there, on her neck and down her back and onto her butt. It had the effect up making her want to lift herself higher, to bring herself closer to his mouth. He slid his finger inside her but only once. Just enough to bring her to the very cusp of a climax, then postponing its completion.
            “Roll over, Sweetie.”
            “Please, Rafe, please, I can’t wait any longer.”
            “Yes, you can, Lane, you can wait.”
            Now his tongue tickled her ears and her mouth and down her neck, darting across her nipples, making its way down her belly and her inner thighs. He held her open as it went dancing across her clit and around her labia.
            “Do you want me to make you come, Laney?”
            “Yes, yes!”
            “Tell me how much you love me first.”
            “Whatever the highest number in the world is, Rafe, I love you way more that that!”
            And then his mouth homed in on her sweet spot and her legs curled around his neck and her back arched and she flew to heaven and as she was floating downward, he put his cock inside her and started his slow stroking, and she went right back again.

            He sat up and gave her a light smack on the ass. “Get up and get the lunch stuff out, Lane. Don’t get dressed though.  I want to be able to reach out and touch you.” He put one hand on her breast, circling his fingertip around her nipple. “Like this.”  His hand moved down to massage her butt cheek. “Or this.”
            “Don’t start, Rafe, if you really want me to get up.”
            He laughed. “I do. I’m hungry. Go on now.”
            They sat naked around the oak pedestal table, chowing down on croissants filed with lobster salad and deviled eggs and big pieces of cheesecake, all of which they’d found in the cooler when they raided it.
            “So, Rafe, do you think I made a good decision to go to Skidmore?”
            “Sure, Honey. It’s probably not as far away as I’d have gone if I’d been able to choose but at least it’s the mountains, completely different scenery than here, and far enough away, you won’t still feel like you’re at home. I’m going to get my pilot’s license so I’ll be able to fly up to see you.”
            “It’s going to seem strange to flip positions with me gone and you here at home alone.”
            “Except it doesn’t bother me to be alone and I probably won’t be home that much anyway.”
            “Is all you’re going to do is race, Rafe? Full-time, I mean?”
            “I guess. I can’t think of anything else. Can you picture me as a banker or a chemist or a teacher?” (He’d graduated with a double major in Math and Science and a minor in English Lit – haha.)
            She giggled. “No, I can’t see you as any of those things, Rafe, although you’d probably be a good teacher. All the girls would be in love with you and all the boys would want to be like you.”
“Well, I don’t think instructing the kiddies is my cup of tea so I guess I’ll race unless something else comes along I think I’d like better.”
He looked around the room.  He didn’t know how old the cabin was. Certainly it had been here ever since he could remember but he thought it dated back at least to their Grandfather, who’d had sort of an obsession with Vincennes history. Maybe this cabin was supposed to represent the first Vincennes settlers who had to rough it to make it in America. Except Rafe didn’t think any Vincennes had had to rough it since oh, maybe, the Dark Ages. So far as he could tell, the American branch of the family had been rich from day one.
Of course, Renny had maintained it, replacing the roof and the old chinking with some new modern miracle material that looked like the old but was longer lasting and more weatherproof. He was the one who wired it for electricity and added the bathroom with the whirlpool tub and the oak linen closet and the long sink and mirror. Magdelene had renovated the rest of the inside, although keeping the rustic look, so the kitchen featured granite countertops and bricked floors, and all the modern conveniences. The centerpiece of the living room was still the enormous stone fireplace that took up one end of the cabin and the inner walls of the whole place still gave the appearance of logs and open beams but Rafe knew it had been insulated, so the outside logs and the inside logs weren’t the same. Because, of course, you had to be able to keep the place warm, both to protect the modern plumbing, and also so you could lay comfortably naked on the rug as he and Laney had just done (not that it was a problem this time of year) and sometimes you wanted to get right to it without taking the time to build a fire. After all, that’s why the place existed, at least in modern times, not as a monument to the Vincennes pioneer spirit, but as a monument to Vincennes lust – in the case of Renny and Magdelene, a place where they could indulge themselves away from their kids and in the case of the kids, so they could gratify their needs away from their parents.
Rafe thought maybe that was always the excuse for the cabin because the bedroom was the biggest room in the place and he didn’t think that was usually the case with the typical humble abode of preceding generations. It was plenty big enough for the four-poster bed that dominated the room and some tables and chairs and lamps besides.
“Between Mom and Dad and all of us, I wonder how many sex acts this cabin has seen? I bet it would put some whorehouses to shame,” he remarked.
“How many girls did you ever bring here, Rafe?”
“Oh, hell, I’ve never tried to keep track. Lots, and lots more other places. You know, though, Lane, I’ve actually only slept with two women – you and everyone else. The rest of them are sort of lumped together into one generic female.”
“God, we’re so different, aren’t we, Rafe?”
“We’re exact opposites of one another, Lane – light and dark, good and evil,” he agreed, pulling her to him. “You know, in any contest between good and evil, evil almost always wins. Let’s see if it does this time?”

Chester was puffed with pride. His discovery was making waves in the racing world. Chet had already worked a deal with the Corydon Racing Team, owned by Ron Corydon, who’d been a friend of his for many years. He’d sold Ron on the idea that Rafe was the best young driver he’d ever trained. Rafe would be driving for them in three Busch series races early in the Nascar season. If he did well, maybe they’d eventually consider giving him a full-time ride. If he kept winning the way he was, Chet could imagine Rafe at the top of the heap in a few years.  Chet didn’t know what that meant for himself. He’d have to release Rafe because Chet had no illusions about where he fit into the scheme of things. He was strictly small-time. There was no way he could compete in the big leagues.  Still, Rafe was so disinterested in anything except actually being behind the wheel of a car that he thought he could convince Rafe to hire him as a full-time manager. Well, they’d see how that worked out when the time came. He was getting a little ahead of himself.
The fan club was thrilled too. They thought they owned Rafe and when he won, it reflected on them. It was like they’d had the foresight to get in on the beginning of something that was going to turn out to be huge, like buying a stock no one has ever heard of and then later, it becomes Microsoft. They’d started collecting dues to put in a travel fund. Jeri said when he hit the NASCAR circuit, they’d use their tried and true drawing-names-out-of-a-hat method to see who got to go.  Their membership had grown so large there was no longer any possibility that all of them would eventually get to spend the night with Rafe, as had been the case when they were just a handful. Now it was more like the odds of winning a lottery. Still, someone won the lottery so…. Jeri herself was back in contention because after you’d had your turn, two years later, your name went back in the hat again.

“Mr York? Rafe Vincennes here. You left a message on my voice mail to call you?”
“Oh, yes, Mr Vincennes, I’ve been eager to talk to you. Do you think we could make an appointment to get together next week?”
“What is it you want to talk to me about?”
“We’re convinced you’re perfect for a role in a film we’re getting ready to start production on.”
“A film?” Rafe asked blankly.
“Yes, but I’d rather tell you the details in person. I could fly in whenever you say.”
“Fly in from where?”
“Los Angeles.”
“Are you sure you called the right person, Mr York?”
“Oh, yes, Mr Vincennes, quite sure.”
“Well, my weekdays are fairly free, except for Thursday when I have flying lessons. Why don’t you just come on into Baltimore. I’d recommend the Renaissance, the Marriott or the Radisson. Just give me a call when you get there and I’ll meet you.”
“That sounds great. I’m anxious to talk to you so why don’t we tentatively shoot for dinner on Monday night. If my secretary advises me that’s not good, I’ll call and let you know you, but I’d really like to do it then.”
“I’m always around. Let me know.”
Rafe shook his head in amusement. “What the hell?”

Gribben York was exactly what you expected from a, well, Rafe wasn’t sure what his title was, but a representative of a film studio anyway, Benchmark Productions. Perfectly barbered golden blonde hair, sky blue eyes (colored contacts?), tanning bed brown skin, muscular build that Rafe assumed was helped along by the professional expertise of a personal trainer, designer jeans with a pale blue silk shirt and and fawn leather jacket, along with a thin gold Rolex watch, a large diamond ring and a smile that held all the sincerity of a cobra right before it sinks its fangs into you.
Still, as far as Rafe was concerned, that didn’t necessarily mean their interests might not converge somewhere along the line.
“My friends call me Grib,” he told Rafe, showing his orthodontist-enhanced perfect white teeth.
“My friends call me Rafe,” showing an even whiter, but perfectly natural smile.
Gribben York had delusions of grandeur if he thought he could out-insincere Rafe.
“So, Grib, lay it on me.”
“We’ve got a project everyone is fired up about. It’s been kicking around for a while until we got all the different elements put together – financing, casting, locations, writers. The two stars have already signed on. Preston Buckley will be the male lead and Rhiannon, the female lead.”
Rafe whistled. Preston Buckley had won an Oscar last year for his portrayal of Franklin Roosevelt. Everyone knew Rhiannon, of course. She was one of those people so famous, she only used her first name. She’d been Hollywood’s darling for a while now. Just her presence automatically guaranteed any movie would be a hit. She had a reputation for being tempestuous and demanding as well as delectably gorgeous with her heart-shaped face framed by dark chocolate curls, smoky gray eyes and a sensuously full mouth, punctuated by a charming beauty spot, that made every straight man who saw it dream of kissing her.
“Exactly,” Grib agreed. “You’ll be playing with the heavyweights if you do this, Rafe. We’ve been trying to cast the part we have you in mind for all along but nothing has come together. We offered it to a couple of people. One had a scheduling conflict and the other wouldn’t take anything but a starring role. No one else struck us as being right for the part.”
“So whatever made you think of me?”
“One of our girls saw your video on YouTube, the one that went viral.”
“I have a video on YouTube?”
“You don’t know about it?” Grib asked in disbelief.
“No, probably my fan club president, Jeri, did it.”
“Well, you might want to take a look, Rafe. Over a million other people have.”
“No shit?”
“No, shit, Rafe. Anyway, Ashley sent me an e-mail message with the link and a note that said, ‘I think I’ve found your perfect Kelan McCrea.’ After I saw it, I agreed and I forwarded it on to a bunch of other people and all of them were excited about the possibility of getting you to do it. You have just the look we need for this character. The story is set in Ireland during the worst of the Irish conflict. Press is a British Captain, Rhiannon is his wife and your guy is the I.R.A. terrorist. You end up kidnapping and raping her to get back at him. It’s going to be a great film, Rafe. It has adventure and intrigue and sex and magnificent Irish landscapes.”
“What makes you think I can do it?”
“You weren’t even in any school plays or Drama Club or anything?”
“Well, you don’t have to be perfect at acting. We can coach you enough to get you through.” Grib assured him. “It’s, like I said, that particular look is what we’re seeking. In your video, you come across as sort of a dashing outlaw type.”
He gave Rafe’s darkly handsome face some professional scrutiny. They were seated in an out-of-the way table in the hotel’s luxuriously appointed dining room. A beautiful view of Baltimore’s harbor, acres of white linen tablecloths. Usually Grib liked to hold forth from the most visible table in any public room, demanded on the strength of his Hollywood credentials, but he’d asked for a private location for this particular discussion. Still, he noticed that Rafe was one of those people who drew others, especially women, to look at him even if they had to go out of their way to do it. It didn’t escape his notice either that Rafe was aware of the attention he received and to acknowledging it with a flashing smile and that he didn’t reserve it just for the beautiful ones. The pudgy little woman over in the corner had turned beet red when that quick grin came her way. To Grib, that democratic quality was a very good sign in a would-be movie star because after all, it didn’t matter what people looked like when they lined up at the queue at the box office to buy their ticket.
“So, are you’re saying you’ll settle for mediocrity?”
Grib was reluctant to accept that characterization. “I wouldn’t say mediocrity, maybe more like willing to work around inexperience.”
“I don’t think that would satisfy me though, Grib. I’m used to doing whatever I do very well. I don’t think I’d be happy with so-so.”
“That’s why we want you to come to Los Angeles for a screen test. We’ll do a run-through. We can look at the results and so can you. Everyone can make their decision after that. So, Rafe, can you make a trip to sunny California later this week? Like tomorrow? I went ahead and got you a ticket on my flight in case you said yes. It leaves Baltimore at 2:00.”
“You are hot for this, aren’t you?”
Everything about making a movie is dicey. So many things can go wrong. You have to move quickly when all systems are go or it can all fall apart. You’re all this film is waiting for.”
“Okay, I’ll have my sister bring me in and take us to the airport.”

He called Denis that night.  He could hear the kids laughing in the background.
“So how goes it with being parents, Denis?”
“It’s great, Rafe. I think they’re adjusting pretty well considering what they went through.” He laughed a little. “And I think we’re adjusting too despite how drastically our lives have changed. I never thought I’d be worrying about researching pre-schools or choosing the perfect pediatrician or trying to get cough medicine down a three-year-old or braiding a little girl’s hair but it’s fine, really fine.”
“That’s good, Denis. Hey, can I talk to Jeff a minute if he’s there?”
“Sure, hang on.”
When Jeff picked up the phone, he explained about the movie and asked for a short tutorial on actors’ contracts, assuming they offered him one. He thought being in a movie sounded interesting but it wouldn’t be huge disappointment if it didn’t pan out. Still, he didn’t want to wander in like a babe in the woods and get totally shafted out of ignorance. Rafe believed in always being prepared.
“Lord, Rafe, sounds like a strong part, supporting two stars the caliber of Press Buckley and Rhiannon. Hope it happens. We’ll be able to say we knew you when.”
“Yeah, well, thanks for your help, Jeff. I’ll let you know.”
“Do that, Rafe.”
“You know what’ll happen, don’t you, Jeff?” Denis said when Jeff told him about the conversation.
“He’ll make the movie and become a huge star without even trying because that’s the way it always is with him.”
“Well, cracking Hollywood may not be so easy, even for Rafe.”
“You don’t know him like I do, Jeff. Hollywood will be child’s play for Rafe. They’ll love him precisely because he won’t care.”

On the plane, Grib gave Rafe a bound manuscript. He flipped to a highlighted section.
“This is the whole script but all you really need to read right now is this part. That’s what we’ll use for the screen test. You won’t remember it all it but this way, you’ll be familiar with what to expect.” Of course, Baltimore to Los Angeles is a long flight. Before they landed, Rafe had read the entire script and memorized the highlighted area.
He liked the character, Kelan McCrea, and thought they had enough in common that he’d feel comfortable being him. He sort of had the same code of vengeance Rafe himself had although he didn’t put it in the same words. Rafe figured he’d probably turn out to be a pretty good actor because, after all, he’d been acting all his life.

The test was over. They’d just watched it on the screen.
“Wow,” said Sylvia, the assistant director. “Just, wow.”
She’d been a dubious at first, not quite convinced that pulling some kid, good looking as he might be, off the street was going to work. After all, she had to deal closely with these people to try to get them to come through on the screen and she preferred working with professionals who knew the ins and outs of acting, not some newbie who had to learn the ropes from scratch. But it hadn’t been her decision to make. She was only the assistant director.
Sylvia was 38 and hoping to be the executive director the next time out and maybe this film would do it. She had her fingers crossed. Sylvia was sleek, from top to bottom. Sleek slender shape in black silk slacks and a red knit sweater. Sleek cap of black hair, washed with raspberry highlights, sleek porcelain-perfect face with jade green eyes and narrow, determined mouth. She’d worked hard to get where she was and she wanted everything perfect.  
The scene was between the British Captain, Andrew Stewart, and Kel McCrea. A stand-in was playing Press Buckley’s part. He’d just finished telling Kel that the British would crush the Irish rebellion because they had unlimited money and material and manpower and could go on forever. Kel was supposed to shout back that the Captain might be right but the British would pay a huge price for their victory.
“I don’t really see this guy as a shouter and I’m not a shouter myself. Will you humor me and let me try it my way first? Then if you still want me to read it as it’s written, I will.”
“Go ahead,” Syvia had told him impatiently, a little irritated that this novice thought he knew more than the professionals.
Instead of loud and threatening, Rafe played him softly menacing, with a dead on Irish brogue. (One of his team mates on the Princeton football team had been from Ireland and he could recall the guy’s phrasing and lilting speech from memory.)

“Aye, Captain Stewart, I have no doubt ‘tis true that before it’s over, ye’ll get me. ‘Tis an end I’m prepared for. But I promise you, Captain, by all I hold holy, yer victory drink will be harsh and bitter in yer mouth and ye’ll get no bit of satisfaction from it.”
Hugely magnified on the screen, Rafe’s twisted smile, the lock of black hair fallen to his forehead and the chilling midnight eyes were riveting.
Sylvia gave him his head after that, acknowledging that Rafe’s interpretation of Kel was hugely more attractive than their own view of who the character was.
Everyone who saw it agreed – this kid was born to play the part.

He flew back to Maryland with a contract in his pocket. He’d got them to agree to fly him back and forth so he wouldn’t miss any races. The first scenes to be shot would be the ones they could do in California. Then they’d be leaving to go on location in Ireland for the scenery scenes. They were doing some things first with Press and Rhiannon. He didn’t have to return to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks.

Grib had told Rafe that Rhiannon was originally from Ireland and that’s one reason she was so looking forward to going there for the shoot.

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