The Magic Of The Movie by J E F Rose
Daffy woke barely one half hour before landing. A steward had to gently wake him. Daffy groaned and then hurriedly showered and dressed in old clothes as the steward packed his expensive couture very neatly in his suitcase. Then he ran down the sinuously spiraling staircase to the lower deck to join Von and his ever present human shadow Fetchit Maere the up and crawling bit part actor. They were inhabiting in the lower observation deck of the command pod of the majestic airship.
Fetchit Maere was pristine in his Teutonic fashion, every detail perfect, his white gloves immaculate, a beautiful gold bracket on one wrist, an expensive watch on the other wrist. He sat smoking rich cigarettes as the light danced off his monocle. His hat and fashionable cane were by his suitcase. He sat in the central chair. He did not bother to get up.
“Greetings” Fetchit Maere said in that Teutonic accent that was now so commanding one could hardly remember when he used to whine. The one time extra seemed a long way from the ‘I am too ‘umble’ sycophant that Daffy used to mock him with. In fact today Fetchit Maere appeared to be magically promoted from Dickens’s fawning Urriah Heep Reincarnated to his mater’s doppelganger. Von Haught’s alter ego. Fetchit Maere did not even get up when Daffy motioned to sit down. Daffy, dressed in shabby old clothes with tousled black curls and a scruffy day old beard threw him a dirty glance. Fetchit Maere smirked condescending. “Late night eh Daffy?”
“Mr. Gilbert-Blackheart to you Maere!” Daffy retorted. “Where is …..oh…. there you are! Are you ill Von?”
Von was crumpled up in a chair in the corner, rumpled, tousled, disheveled even. Definitely atypical to Von’s normal behavior. Von always appeared absolutely immaculate in every perfect detail. But today he was not shaved. He was not wearing his monocle. He was not dressed to Prussian perfection. And he was smoking nervously. “No. Not well” Von muttered. “I did not sleep well. Nightmares. I will be all right. Just a bad night. Where were you last night Daffy? I cried out…..”
“I talked all night with Prince Bear Sherker” Daffy explained as he sat down by Von. “Von? Where is your beautiful gold bracelet and watch?” Von flinched involuntarily. Daffy lunged so fast Fetchit Maere was caught off guard. Daffy yanked the gold bracelet and watch off as he shoved Fetchit Maere violently off the chair. Daffy turned each item around. The engravings proved they were the deeply personal property of Eric Von Haught. Daffy held them up to Von. “Why is that maggot wearing precious tokens given to you by your beloved ex-wife?”
“Fetchit Maere primly stood up and tucked at his beautiful clothes. “Von gave me the bracelet and watch as mementos.” Fetchit Maere gestured arrogantly for Daffy to return them. Daffy stared at Von who turned away to look of the window.
“I……..gave them to….. him…..” Von replied very softly.
Fetchit Maere fussed with his monocle and then arrogantly gestured to Daffy, COMMANDING him to return the items.
“You gave away treasured gifts from the one woman you most deeply loved? I don’t think so!” Daffy tucked them into a pocket of Von’s rumbled jacket and suddenly, so suddenly it was a blur, Daffy wheeled about and slapped Fetchit Maere in the face. The monocle went flying. Daffy’s foot stomped it. The glass smashed. Daffy yanked Fetchit Maere around as one hand quickly frisked him. He produced Von’s gold cigarette case and Von’s wallet. Daffy dropped them in Von’s lap. Von sat mute, cringing. Utterly atypical of Von’s normal arrogance. Daffy then yanked Fetchit Maere around by one arm held behind in a vise grip until Fetchit Maere crumpled down to the floor in pain. At that moment the steward appeared, shocked, to announce The Havens Airport was in view. The phone had been ringing but no one had heard it. Daffy was not ashamed.
Then Daffy grabbed the suitcase of Fetchit Maere and ripped it open and dumped everything out on the floor. He kicked the clothes apart looking for more items. Von’s expensive vanity case of sterling silver was quickly returned as well as Von’s larger cigarette case plus his monogrammed silver case of spare monocles. Daffy cleaned his dirty boots on the clothes strewn all over the floor as if cleaning muck off the bottom of his boots. Then he picked up the magazine with Daffy playing tennis opposite King ADA and tossed it to a chair. That was airship property too.
Fetchit Maere glared at Daffy as if a wolf glaring at a wolfhound debating whether or not he could take him down. He snarled feral. Then Fetchit Maere slunk into a chair and nursed his aching arm which Daffy had violently twisted as if to twist it right off.
“You will be sorry you did this!” Fetchit Maere hissed.
Daffy slapped Fetchit Maere’s face back handed in utter contempt. “You are fired.”
“No! Daffy! No!” Von suddenly cried out as he held one hand cradled in his other hand which was oddly bandaged. “No. No. Please. You don’t understand what is happening….”
“So tell me Von!” Daffy replied. “Why is this human maggot acting as if he is your doppelganger taking over your life?”
“It’s ….it’s……complicated. Don’t worry….. Please! I will handle it……Daffy! Please!” Von gestured cravenly as Fetchit Maere leered at him from the far chair.
“What is going on Von?” Daffy asked.
“The film will start on schedule Monday!” Von whispered nervously. “I will be fine! I will be ‘One Shot Sammy’! Don’t worry!” Von stared cravenly at Fetchit Maere who leered at him. Then Von sagged into his seat as if a deflated balloon as Fetchit Maere sat up ramrod straight before producing another monocle. He screwed the monocle into one eye socket and glared at the two men arrogantly, as if he was suddenly promoted from bit player to movie star. The steward, embarrassed knelt down and gathered up the mangled clothes.
“Don’t bother!” Fetchit Maere replied cavalierly. “That shabby suitcase is not mine anyway!”
“It has your name on it Sir?” th steward replied confused.
“It is not my suitcase any more!” Fetchit Maere replied.
Daffy stared at Von. Von cringed. Then Daffy shook his head. “We are landing. Do you want me to take you home Von?”
“No…….I……” Von stammered cravenly as Fetchit Maere stood up arrogantly and clicked his booted heels together as if in command. Fetchit Maere leered at Von. Von turned his face away and cringed. One hand cradled his other hand with its odd bandage. “Daffy. Please … .I will explain latter. But right now go ahead and check in with Tiger. Leave me ….. and I will …. be …. fine…. Monday …. when the film starts filming….. and…. just do the preparation rehearsals without me… you do handle actors better than me anyway……”
Fetchit Maere stood arrogantly as he glared at Daffy patronizingly. Daffy spat in the man’s face as he exited the airship. As he was leaving he heard Fetchit Maere hiss to Von “Remember Von! All I have to do is pick up a phone and call THEM! You know who THEY are! And you know what THEY do to THINGS like you……”
“……Well Maere is obviously blackmailing Von but what that cretin could possibly have over Von I can’t imagine!” Daffy told Tiger later.
“I tried to contact Von and he did not pick up his phone. The filming starts Monday at 5:00 AM Daffy! Four days from today! If Von is AWOL then you are directing! No ifs about it!”
“Von is in trouble. It happened that night I spent jawing with Bear. Stuff about… well…. off the record stuff! Anyways! Von implied as much when he said he cried out and I did not answer ….to come to him in the night. So something happened on board Airship Panoptic! And that airship is secured! Locked up at night! I would have to call via the wireless electro-graph to get in. That was why I stayed and jawed with Bear. I was locked out and did not want to get the stewards up.”
“So whatever happened to Von, happened on the ship that night and that ship was locked up” Tiger said. “So Von was attacked by someone on that ship! Did you question the crew?”
“Yes. Later. No one remembers anything except Von crying out late, around two o’clock A.M. A steward came and rapped on Von’s door. Von cried out he had a nightmare. The steward told me he heard nothing else and went back to sleep. But the steward told me when he was cleaning up the suite …”
“I bet your suite was immaculate” Tiger interjected.
“….Yeah but the steward said he found a towel with blood on it. In Von’s suite. In the trash. A towel bloody as if wrapped and used as an emergency bandage. But Von did not tell anyone he had been injured and there was no signs of broken glass or anything to explain how he might have gotten injured. And I noted that Von held one hand cradled in the other hand and the glove was bulky as if that hand had been bandaged badly. I can’t say if I saw blood but the gloves were dirty and Von never wears dirty gloves! He looked as if he had not slept all night! And then just threw on any old clothes! That is not Von! An Von is letting that maggot just take over! Take over! Why?”
“I will hire a private detective” Tiger said, “to investigate Von and investigate that Maere guy! That bit player as always a creep but now…. well! Did you save that towel by the way?”
“Yes” Daffy replied softly.
“Give it to me” Tiger said as the female producer and movie star took the evidence. “Let me handle this. Right now you have to get ready for the next four days of rehearsals!”
“Well! I am not rehearsing with Maere!” Daffy replied. “That creep is not highjacking my life the way he is highjacking Von Haught’s!…..”