The next morning they met up bright and early for dress rehearsal after a quick trip home to shower and shave.
I hate these shoes, Peter growled, crossing his arms over his chest.
I just hope I can change fast, Davy sighed.
I hope you can get that rouge off quick, Mike shot back.
If I use your sleeve I can, Davy returned.
Oh no you dont! Mike chuckled. Blue and red dont mix!
Peter straightened the very realand very heavychain mail on his shoulders. Gavin, this costume is great, but what are these doing on my feet? He pointed at the hideous black and white saddle shoes he wore.
Those are your magical shoes that will enable you to scale walls. Gavin grinned at him. Hed gotten over the night’s trauma rather well, sleeping on cushions taken from an old couch in the back room and waking up refreshed and with a renewed sense of purpose. From the way he was moving, calling out orders left and right, it was apparent hed found a renewed source of energy as well.
Peter just glared, the tiniest hint of a smile appearing under the helmet and mail. What? Gavin asked.
I feel like a fool. And I cant hear in this thing, Peter said, already starting to laugh.
Micky snuck up behind him. Hello in there! he laughed, tapping it.
Ow, Micky, for the love of C
All right, thats enough, Mike said, still smiling.
Gavin was tapping his lip. Hmm. Maybe I can loosen the mail over his ears.
What? Peter said, giggling.
He said youre a wailing tease! Micky shouted. Mike pulled Micky back before Peter could strike.
Well, Gavin, things are looking good! a deep, overly cheerful voice said.
They all turned and Gavin sighed. The man was dressed similar to Peterchain mail and a helmet, but all in black. His bushy eyebrows raised as he looked from Mike to Gavin and back. I heard you found someone who looked like you but this?
Guys, meet Richard ValjeanSir Harold in the play. Each of Monkees introduced himself; Mike shook hands with Richard, his skin crawling as he did so. Micky went quiet, his eyes narrowing.
Nice to meet you. Richards expression turned mildly patronizing. And just how much acting experience have you all had?
Enough, Davy gritted out.
Richard tsk tsked and shook his head. Gavin, Im surprised at you.
Gavin frowned. Surprised? Why?
That youd put the entire play in the hands of . . . amateurs.
Davy gritted his teeth, his hands shifting to hit.
We are very familiar with being on stage, Mike said. Were musicians, but we also
Musicians? Richard interrupted. Gavin, you hired . . . rock and rollers to perform in this play?
They were highly recommended, Gavin shot back. And theyve been friends. He smiled at Mike. Besides, I like that ones face.
Richard sneered. Well then. I . . . look forward to working with you.
As he walked away Peter growled, Be nice if he meant it.
Dont worry about him, Gavin said. Hes always been a snob-nosed jerk just because hes done Shakespeare.
Who? Hamlet, Lear, Richard III? Mike asked.
Gavins grin turned nasty. Dogberry from Much Ado About Nothing.
The Winds, as one, burst into laughter.
You wanted to see me? George said as he entered the private dressing room. He pulled the black helmet from his round, pasty face, his thinning blond hair sticking out in sweaty tufts.
Richard turned to him. Yes. Its about time to make our move.
So soon? George said, leaning on the table. I thought we were going to wait.
We were. But those four newcomers have interfered for the last time.
George nodded. So whats first?
Gavin. Then we take care of the newcomers.
George, whose personality closely matched his character, blinked. Whatre we gonna do?
Richard smiled nastily. Ill take care of Gavin. You go spy, find out what you can about the four.
George nodded and put his helmet back on.
Focus on the best way to take them downespecially the blond. He looks the wimpiest.
George gave a nasty smile as he left, shutting the door. Richard smiled after him and snuck to Gavins dressing room. Once inside with the door closed he poured a liquid into the pitcher of water on Gavins dressing room table. Good night Gavin, he murmured, sliding the vial back into his pocket.
Peter pulled on his shirt with a sigh. Im glad were done practicing those chain mail scenes.
Mike straightened the belt on his purple and blue tunic. I feel for you, man. Just be thankful youre not wearin that dress.
Oh, I am, I am! he laughed. But I do like being able to hear.
Mike looked over at Richard and George, who were milling around the carriage with the two horsemen, who were each wearing fake horses around their waists in addition to their mail and helmets. I still dont like that Richard guy, Mike murmured. He especially didnt like the fact that he kept catching George staring at them. It seemed like every time he turned around George was lurking nearby.
Me either, Peter growled. Theres just something about him that sets my neck crawling.
Well keep an eye on him. We wont let him outta our sight.
You two ready? Gavin asked, walking over as best he could in the gaudy dress.
Ready to be a bridge, Peter said, puffing out his chest.
Gavin laughed. Lets do it then. Places, people!
Where are we starting? Peter asked as he stretched out on his stomach in front of the carriages false front. Behind the simply hinged door was a box for Gwen to stand on.
Right after Gwen says Harold, youd better get this carriage out of the mud!, Gavin said as he took his place to Peters left. Everyone ready? Action!
Richard opened the door gallantly for the princess. Thy carriage, fair pearl.
Peter braced himself as Gavin stepped on his back, resting his weight on it for just a moment as he climbed back into the carriage. Richard closed the door, then turned. A malicious smile crossed his face and he kicked the Monkey right in the ribs. Then, adding insult to injury, he trod heavily on Peters lower back as he went to his place at the rear of the fake carriage.
Micky started to surge forward, but Mikes hand on his arm held him in check. Davy tried to get around him, but Mikes other hand closed around his arm, and he held both impetuous ones back.
Gavin, who hadnt seen or heard the kick, smiled from behind the cardboard conveyance. And cut! That was just great, folks!
Richard was winding up for a second kick when Gavin called out. He reluctantly lowered his foot. Peter shot to his feet, his face flushed. What the hell was that!?
Part of the act, Richard smiled at him.
What next? You planning to stab me?
Richard shook his head. Calm down! Youre overreacting!
Whats going on? Gavin said, climbing through the door of the carriage. What happened?
Mickys voice was cold, controlled. Richard here kicked Peter full in the ribs.
Gavin turned a formidable glare on Richard. Is that so?
He shrugged. Hey, you said make it real.
Real doesnt mean real, Richard. Making the kick look real doesnt mean bashing Peter with your boot. Richard just shrugged again. I need a break, Gavin muttered, pulling off the tall hat and wig. Take five, everyone.
None of the Winds missed the gotcha grin Richard sent them as he walked away.
You okay, Peter? Mike said, worried watching the blond rub his side.
He took a deep breath, wincing slightly. Yeah . . . nothings broken.
Good, Mike said darkly, his eyes following Richard. Otherwise Id have to break every bone in his body.
Plays day after tomorrow . . . we can do it after that. Peter was smiling, but it wasnt reaching his eyes.
Gavin came back out, a glass of water in his hand. He drank deeply, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. Its hot in here.
Hot? Davy frowned. Its not that hot.
Gavin drank again, pulling at the collar of his dress. Gavin? Mike stepped forward. You dont look so good
Dont be silly. Im fine, he said, panting a little. The glass slid out of his hand and shattered on the ground as he staggered backwards, his eyes rolling up into his head.