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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 23


A Novelette 

Nicholas Cochran 

Chapter Four


Now that Grant was warm—and politely appreciative, Zach made for Studio One, where he immediately sought out Cec Johns, the master Lighting Director. Cec was short, sixty, and sported the most amazing crinkly hair; a series of waves that looked as though Cec had just taken off three or four pairs of industrial strength ear muffs. He also had a wide and commanding smile, supported by a candid sense of humor. Zach found him edging along a catwalk thirty feet off the floor, bent over a large light that he banged with a wrench until it came on.

“Hey Cec! Is that why all your programs have such shitty lighting?”

“Absolutely young  Zachary, but even that can’t salvage your shitty control of my programs,” a laughing pause, “what the hell’s so important to bring you here?” with warmer laughter. Like Cec, everyone who came in contact with Zach, found him to be a ‘really good guy’; one who became surprisingly good at his job quicker than anyone they could recall.

“Well, first; my shitty control is because there’s never enough light to see what I’m doing; and I’m here for a favor.”

“Jeeez, Zach, with praise like that, I simply can’t deny you anything you want,” smiling, “what is it?”

“Well Cec, I’ve got the Grant Patrol plus the Babysitting Detail on our friend with the Steinway, for the whole week; in here through Wednesday’s show and then Friday in Massey Hall; by the way, are you guys doing that one too?”

“Sure thing, me lad; he wants the best, so ___”

“So why are you doing it?”  Zach could barely keep a straight face for a moment. Then they both laughed.  

“I could say ‘back atcha’, but we could keep this up all day; what’s the big favor?”

“Who said anything about ‘big’? Zach deadpanned.

“You did, when you climbed fifty stairs and came out on this catwalk. You know you can yell up here from the studio floor.”

“Got me,”sincerely, “Cec, you know this guy way better than I do; you’ve worked his shows, right?”

“Sure have; can’t forget ‘em; try as I might.” He wasn’t laughing.  Zach immediately picked up the vibe.

“Yeah, I heard. I asked the other A.D.s about him yesterday morning and by the time they stopped cursing him and laughing at me, it was close to quitting time. All they could tell me was to roll with the punches and keep him warm. But Mr. MacDonald has already told me that.”

Mr. Macdonald?”

“Yeah, Russ MacDon ___”

Breaking in, “Oh, Russ; yeah, well Russ would know. He’s had him the last five times; you know; his department—where you are. He’s had to deal with him. God knows on how many turns of temperament; and temper. Boy, that guy has a temper, Zach.”


“No, Russ; Grant’s the silent but deadly type; never raises his voice—well, not much. He just smiles that smirky smile and watches you as you dance to his various tunes. Jesus, Zach, what did you do to deserve this assignment?”

“I just showed up, I guess; no other reason. I haven’t even been here three months, and the other guys, well some—like Frank—have been here for ten years, for crissakes.” He was beginning to get angry all over again.

“Well, you know, Zach, you might just be the guy to tame this fellow. You’re sure as hell bigger than he is—by a lot; but for advice, hmm, I don’t know.”

Somewhere on the floor below, doors were opening and voices were clamoring up to the catwalk. Out of the corner of his eye, Zach saw a camera sliding out of his vision just as another entered it. “I really don’t know, Zach, but maybe one thing I could do. You know he’s a heat freak.”

“Tell me about it; I have the halls and his dressing room at Death Valley temperatures and he hasn’t even taken off his gloves.”

“Well here,” Cec moved past Zach and walked along the catwalk toward the stairs where he stopped in front of a cluster of five lights, directed on various areas of the studio below. Zach edged up beside him. “Here’s a couple of lights I can move without spoiling the overall lighting of the set.”

“Okay.” Said Zach with ignorant eagerness.

“And I can direct one—or even both of these, right smack dab on him; really toast him up,” turning to Zach, “if he wants to be warm, these babies will make even him want to change into a bathing suit.” He said the last with a firm and dense sense of glee. He was looking for any way to punish ‘this snooty jerk’ while also keeping him off  Zach’s back for not being warm enough.


“Zach, me lad, I can get him so royally baked that he won’t be cool even after an hour or two; hell, he’ll have to walk outside for an hour before he realizes that he’s not in the Gobi.” Cec laughed. Zach joined in, as a voice came over the sound system.

“Zachary Kell? . . .  Zachary . . . are you in here somewhere?” It was the voice of Peter Kashoo, the producer-director of the upcoming Grant Specials. Cec handed Zach his two-way radio and  Zach answered. “Right here Peter.”

“Come up to the control room, would you please, Zachary. Thank you.”

“And we have the ding-dong producing this whole mess,” laughed Cec as he slapped Zach on the back before pushing him toward the stairs.

Peter Kashoo began in a patronizing tone, “Now Zachary, we have a very—no, extremely sensitive man performing in our studio on Tuesday and Wednesday and in Massey Hall on Thursday, with his concert being staged on Friday evening.  I think you should know a few things about him, Zachary.” Kashoo began to read from a checklist that included everything Zachary already knew, except for one new nugget. “When he’s relaxing in his dressing room  Zachary, he will often hum—you know he hums while he plays; even during live concerts—and his humming can become very loud. Now, you must wait, Zachary, until the humming stops before knocking and entering. If you don’t, well; he may start singing and it is impossible to make him stop singing without providing him with a stiff drink—cognac—or maybe some Ho Hos.” Kashoo dropped his eyes while relating this last, lest he be forced to endure a look of puzzlement; disbelief; rage; humor . . . or disgust, at least one of which had been exhibited, without fail, by every previous listener over the years.


Kashoo looked up.  Zach was slowly nodding, “Okay.” He was determined not to be swayed one way or the other by anything Kashoo said. Not that he disbelieved this bizarre revelation, it was just that Kashoo was not a favorite of Zach’s; in fact, he did not like him. ‘Phony’ was the first word in his mind at their meeting two months ago. He added pedantic, overbearing, and insufferable over the last month.

Kashoo was unnerved by Zach’s indifference. “Well, ah . . . ,” sputtering. He waved a dismissive hand, “away you go Zachary. I’ll call you when we have any more news, or requests. I’m sure there will be some,” pausing before speaking in a tone saturated with sarcasm and spite, “no; actually a lot.”  Zachary instantly understood  Kashoo deeply despised and resented Grant’s notoriety. To Zach, the reason was obvious: Grant was more unconventional than Kashoo and world famous as well.

“Yes sir.” with acidic consent. He turned and left.


“Well; how did it go?” Bert waited for the endless verbal onslaught, detailing pages of ills and mistreatments suffered by his client on his very first day of orientation.


Bert looked up from his magazine as he held an unlit match in his hand and a fireless cigarette in his mouth. “Garth?”

“Yeah, I heard you.”

“Well?” Bert rose, and still holding the unlit match, came over to the Steinway where Grant was resting his hands on the keyboard cover, “are you all right, Garth?”

“Yes yes; yes, Bert,” quietly, “I’m fine.”


“Well what?”

“How did your ___”

“I heard you the . . .” quieter, “already.”


“I don’t know Bert, it’s really strange; it was like . . . like—well, there wasn’t much wrong.”

Bert, disbelieving, lighted his cigarette and drew heavily on it before asking, “Nothing?”

“Bert, you know I hate smoke,” but not asking Bert to stub it.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Garth?”

“Of course, I’m okay, Bert,” getting up, clenching and unclenching his hands, wearing no wool half-gloves, “everything seems to be going well; for a change.”

I’ll say.” Bert instinctively stepped back, expecting the usual loud verbal retort from his client.

“That’s right, Bert,” calmly, “so far.”

End of Chapter Four

Submitted: February 27, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.


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