“Cindy? Hi, it’s Deacon. Is Dino there?”
She handed the phone to Dino. Deacon heard him fumble with it, answering in a slurred fashion. God, has he been drinking?
“Hiya, it’s Deacon, I had a thought. You know, the set isn’t quite done, it still needs some painting and the final light adjustments made. How about we call off the rehearsal tomorrow night, and have a work call instead. Only volunteers. What do you say? We get the cops in there in their grungy clothing, put them to work? I’ll call Reyes and discuss it, you get some rest. Let me talk to Cindy really fast.”
A few carefully chosen questions and responses told him that Dino had been contemplating drinking, but not for long, and had stopped as soon as Cindy walked in. She was putting him to bed and locking up the alcohol.
“If you need us, all you have to do is call, all right?”
“Yes, Deacon.” She hung up.
“Are you sure about this, Deacon?”
He felt a twinge in his leg as if affirming what he was thinking and feeling. “Positive.”
Kacy put her arms around him, drawing him near, her head on his chest. “Promise me you will be very careful.”
“I will. I don’t want you there.”
“You’re not my master. I can go as I please.”
“Kacy,” he hesitated, was this the right time? “I’m asking you not to. Please? I love you. If anything happened to you, I’d never forgive myself. I want….” A deep breath and a surge ahead before his strength and determination failed him. “I want to marry you,” he whispered.
Her voice caught in her throat and he thought for a moment that she was angry with him until he felt her shoulders quivering under his touch.
“Oh, yes, Deacon! I want that too, more than anything.”
Joy tinged with foreboding flooded through him from head to foot. He wanted to shout from the roof top how happy he was. He would have danced a jig if he’d not been on crutches. As it was, he lifted her up, spinning around as well as he could. He nearly fell, but he had to express his happiness in any way he could.
“Kacy, I love you! I love you.”
“I love you, Deacon, more than I can possibly tell you.”
“Will you stay home tomorrow night?”
She shook her head, tapping his chest. “I have to protect my investment. I’m with you. I have to be there to work on the lights.”
He sighed heavily, despondent for a moment. “I suppose nothing I can do or say will convince you otherwise?”
“No, I’m in for the duration. It’s personal for me, too. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. The uncertainty is driving me mad.”
“All right. Just promise you will be very careful, and not take any chances?”
“I promise if you do,” she put out her hand.
Instead of shaking it, he put it to his lips. “I promise.”
Deacon and the others stayed on edge all day. Arguments brewed for no reason. Petty, peevish fits of temper flared up every time they turned around. The rehearsal was rescheduled for the daytime and no one could concentrate on their lines, the lighting cues or the sound effects. Overall, it was the singularly most horrendous rehearsal Deacon had ever witnessed. He felt sorry for Dino. He could see the deflated demeanor.
Dino spoke to him later after the cast had finished and gone home. “I guess Cindy told you what I did last night? Can you believe it? Three years without a drink, and I almost threw it all away, over a lousy criminal. I think I’m more upset about that than this, now.”
“So you slipped up, you’re not a god, Dino. We all make mistakes, and this is one you won’t repeat.”
“Cindy said she’d cut my balls off if I even look at a bottle. Scary thing is, Deacon, I believe her!” He chuckled nervously. “I asked her to move in. I think I’ve found the real thing this time.”
“Some good came from me breaking my leg after all, eh?”
Dino laughed loudly. “Yes. Hell of a way to meet a woman, though.”
He paused so long that Deacon thought he wasn’t going to say anything more, then he spoke quietly, hardly moving his mouth. “Are you sure about this?”
Dino shook his head.
“We can’t keep living in fear. We need our lives back. Either we catch him, or we don’t, but we have to do something, don’t you think?”
“Uncle Charlie used to say, the Lord helps those who help themselves. I guess this is my chance to prove that.”
“We can do this, Dino. When are they coming in?”
“They should start arriving any minute. I want the actors to go home. I told the crew that anyone who didn’t want to stay late, I’d understand. They all stayed, even the college kids. They have more balls than I have. I’m terrified.”
“We’re going to be all right, Dino. We’ll catch this bastard.”
“I hope to God you’re right.” He walked off, deep in thought.
“Me too,” Deacon murmured in his wake.
©2021 Dellani Oakes