Tales Of The ACTION MAN (Fiction???)

by Roger Neville-Neil

From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)


  1. Twice As Much Fun... Twice As Much Action... Man
  2. Faster Than A Commuter Train!
  3. Lights Camera, Action Man!
  4. If You Can't Breeze Through - Draw Attention To Yourself
  5. The Simple Art Of Slumming
  6. Shakedown On First Avenue
  7. Great Balls Of Fire

Chapter 6:
Shakedown On First Avenue

She breezed past me with a bisque stride. A small grey bag bounced at her side. If it was a purse she was planning on a long stay. It was rectangular and could easily house a toaster. Her long black skirt twisted with every step displaying a nice, neat, sleek package underneath. A gift wrapped brunette.

It was after dark. We were under the Burnside bridge walking past the Rescue Mission. The covered Market had closed down for the night. Both sides of the road were strewn with empty tents. Most of them in a huge maze-like collection underneath the bridge itself. Street people lingered on the sidewalks. It was only half 9. Too early for them to turn in for the night. They just ambled along ready to attach themselves to any organic object coming to a full stop.

This was not a place the lady in front of me was planning to spend much time in. She was headed quickly to her destination. The OHM. A lively night club along the cobblestone road of Fist Avenue.

Her hand clasped the door knob of the club. She suddenly released the handle, taking a step backwards.

A tall thin man, easily over six foot, stepped outside.

I stepped up just behind her. I would have anyway. But I must admit I'd be hard pressed to find someone nicer to stand behind.

Everyone looked each other over. She was getting the lion's share of the looks-- hands down. Then the tall thin man spoke.
"ID, Please."
The lady passed him her ID.
The tall thin man gave it the fast scan with his eyes.
Smiled and handed the ID card back to her.
"I'll have to look in your bag."
The lady pulled the bag around from her side, unzipping it.
"You don't have anything illegal or any weapons do you.?"

Apparently weapons are something other than illegal. It Looked like I'm in for another body search. I Wonder how long it'll take him to find my concealed equipment?

The lady passes inspection and now it's my turn. I step forward, handing my ID card to tonight's frisker. The tall thin man takes it from me. Looks at it. Looks at it some more. Looks at it much longer than he did for the Lady. Well, there's no accounting for taste.

He flips my card over. My signature is almost entirely smudged off the card. Imposable to read. A disclaimer on the back states "invalid if unsigned". Does anybody every read these warnings?
I try to look pleasant and charming.
He frowns. Then turns the card over. Takes one last look at my photo.
The tall thin man hands me back my ID card," Raise your arms out to your sides."
I raise my arms to my sides. I stand at a skewed 45 degree angle. My right side closest to him.
He frisks my upper and lower right arm. Gives me a frustrated look. "I can't reach your other arm."
"Oh, sorry." I turn my body, moving my left side closer to him and pivot my right side further away. My camera is in its case under my right arm. Almost out of reach. The tall thin man frisks my left arm. He frisks my front and back. His hands go to my waist and down one leg. Then up the other. He finds nothing and thanks me.

I am amazed. He missed the camera entirely and there it was right under my right arm-- in a case. A black strap running around my black shirt under my collar. If I had a woodsman's axe strapped to my leg, I'm sure he would have found it. Anything smaller than an icepick would have required a coin toss to find. A shoulder holster with a gat arranged for a quick left hand draw would never have been found. I guess he had me figured for a right hander not a lefty. That's what I was hoping he would think. That's why I offered my right side first. He'd be more interested in the other side. The side I was trying to keep farthest away from him. Simple misdirection.

Would I carry a gat? No. Haven't touched one since military service. Not likely that I ever will again.


I was out at sea. The fantail was setup as a makeshift range. A paper target of a human figure surrounded by a metal frame was mounted on the starboard side. I was standing on the port side. Opposite the target. This is not the side where fine wines are served. This was an American ship. Blue rules. No booze, unlike her Majesty's catered fleet.

As you can imagine, the horizon was rolling up and down as the ship sailed across the ocean. The backdrop behind the target was either sky or ocean. The view across the deck to the target alternated in pitch between up and down. My body performed a slow pendulum lean-- forward and back. Starboard to Port. Port to Starboard. Perpetual motion. Constant correction. The Sailor's waltz.

The scorer looked at his stop watch and yelled " READY... LOCK AND LOAD..."
I slid the clip into the 45.

I aimed and fired continuously, emptying the weapon. The air filled with the booming sound of angry slugs and the metallic clinking of spent shell casings against the deck. The slugs performed breathtaking aeronautic maneuvers straight out of the gunfight at the Okay Corral. Ricochet sounds zinged off of metal. Slugs flew in the wrong direction. The ocean behind me erupted in tall narrow splashes.

I removed the empty clip. Reached for my second clip and slapped it into place. The gunners mate yelled from his roost high up in the mast, "TAKE COVER!" I let loose another volley of screaming slugs. I heard the air whistling around me. I heard splashes of water behind me. I felt the impact of one of the slugs. A sharp pain pulsed in a circle on my upper right leg. Like I'd just grown a miniature heart there. The target was returning fire!

When the ricochet sounds died down and all my clips were safely empty, the gunners mate scurried down from his hiding place-- grinning ear to ear. "Wow, you had them singing! The slugs were tumbling in the air over your head. I haven't seen anything like it since the western movies."

"I was hit by one of them."
The gunners mate's eyes grow wide displaying pearly white oceans around his pupils and iris atolls, "you okay?"
"Yeah, it didn't enter-- it just stung like hell!"
"Here!" I pointed to the right front pocket of my bell bottoms--several inches away from my crotch. About half a foot.

The gunners mate whistled, "Phew. You're lucky!" I rolled my eyes, "Yeah...." Lucky to be the only guy with ricochet sound effects and a paper target that thinks it's a U.S. Postal worker forwarding my air mail slugs-- RETURN TO SENDER!

The Gunners mate turned to the others, "See we told you this can be serious stuff. So when we tell you to take cover-- WE MEAN TAKE COVER! This guy could have nailed any one of you, but he was kind enough to keep it to himself."

If you ever see Action Man with a gat and holding a mirror up to see behind him... take a wild guess where the safest place to stand is. Certainly not behind him if it's pointed in front of him.

Well, that's not too bad. The gunners mate liked me for getting the slugs to sing. He hated another guy in my birthing compartment that somehow managed to shoot out the new P.A. system in the helio hanger. He was the only guy onboard forbidden to be issued anything more dangerous than a toothbrush.

Joel really looked bummed out about the ridicule the Gunners mate gave him. The guys in After Ops cheered him up.
"You're famous. A hero. Nobody's ever shot out the P.A. before--now we won't have to listen to the old man's announcements on the fantail."

The most impressive person qualifying on the range was an American Indian Chief Petty Officer. He was a large man. Sombre. Rarely spoke. Almost never smiled. We just called him Chief.

Chief was qualifying on the shotgun. They gave him three shells. These he clasped between his fingers and knuckles of his right hand like a magician displaying three large coins fanned between his fingers. He held the shotgun causally at his right side. When the word "FIRE" was yelled, Chief threw each shell at the side of the shotgun he held low by his right hip. The shotgun belched three times. The target was shredded. Chief just turned his head with a bored expression and yawned.

I had the pleasure of escorting Chief back to the ship once. He was at the club unwinding with a few drink and a few people. Word was that he threw someone up against a wall. I wasn't so sure this was actually the case. I had a feeling the story could have been twisted around a little. He might have thrown a wall at someone. This I might believe. The other way around just sounded too tame.

The Duty Section asked for volunteers. I was volunteered. The idea was to send over four shipmates he would know and recognize as crew members. As fate would have it, all volunteers were much shorter and thinner than Chief. I guess they didn't want to intimidate him. We didn't. He intimidated us simply by folding his arms over his chest and saying nothing. His chin held high.

Chief just shrugged and confidently walked to the van. We joined in around him forming a Chief atom. One big unstable isotope circled by four tiny shore patrol electrons. He did nothing. He said nothing. But you could feel the dark clouds of his mood telepathically.

We just nervously smiled. Chief attempted to crack a faint smile when he looked over our faces. This just made us all the more nervous. Nothing happened. We all made it back to the ship safely.


After entering Ohm, I scanned the club for the band. KBA were located near the entrance. Eating. I strolled over to let them know I had arrived. Chatted briefly with Peter. Then I walked over to the bar for a drink while I sized up the joint.

I migrated to the end of the bar. This proved to be a nice vantage point to observe the club. It was still way too early for most people. But perfect for watching them arrive.

Behind me was a door. A rear door spilling out into an enclosed alley. Out there to the left was a cement fountain filled with various green plants and the mottled orange flashes of koi as they trolled the depths for food. In a recess in the back wall above the fountain sits a small statue. A deity with hands resting on its knees contemplated peace, harmony, and any stray monetary offerings that might plunk into the pool.

Inside Ohm, at my end of the bar, it was a different story. Overhead, fastened to the sprinkler system piping hung a long thin white veil. Resembling very much a wedding train fastened at the ends and mid section. Hanging like fishing nets with the night's catch--projected light. The net nearest me strained under the heavy images of mortar and black stone. The net farthest from me was brimming with drifting blobs of colour swimming in a psychedelic sea of tranquility. A visceral cornucopia of Carnaby Street splendour.

Out toward the dance floor, near the stage I could see a small table just through an arch portal. An older, white haired gentleman danced with himself or with his table. He was alone in his own world. Overdressed for the show in a dark-blue blazer, black pants, white shirt, brown and white spats, and a flashy tie that belonged in the Salvador Dali section of the Tate Gallery. His eyes never left his spats. His feet never left his spats. But his spats kept leaving the floor. With casual purpose and finesse. Gene Kelly on a mild dose of tranquilizers.

Something caught my eye. An ash-blond. She was walking in my direction. She was cute. Very cute. Dressed in a blue jumper over a short black skirt. Showing some leg and a good portion of sole. Her sandals were open toe with a gradual rise running back to the heel for an extra height of maybe 3 or 4 inches. She walked slow and graceful, her upper torso doing a nice broad side to side roll as her smile was ladled out to all takers. Royalty waving from her carriage to all the hungry peasants around her--A princess wannabe.

A bloke trailed behind her, offering to buy her a drink at the bar. She politely thanked him. Received a amber pint. Then floated out to the dance floor propelled by her graceful legs while her upper torso paddled the air around her in slow motion. I wondered to myself, if you attached oars to her soft solders--could she win first place in the Oxford/Cambridge boat race up the Thames?

Gene Kelly was oblivious to all. Still hoofing it with himself as the princess breezed past.

I took my drink on a journey,and joined the band at their table. We discussed their last show. Commented on the photos I'd taken so far at the various clubs they've played. This club seemed to be the best one for lighting. I also pointed out that themes similar to the Wizard of Oz seemed to be present in their music.

Daniel commented that he has watched the Wizard of Oz using The Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd as a soundtrack. The music syncs up with the movie in an almost erie way. He told me that this also happens if he used King Black Acid music as the soundtrack. Maybe it's just the nature of music and the human mind to find connections in everything. But it can be very uncanny to witness it in action.

Heather Duby and her band started playing. I liked the contrast of Heather wearing a long red dress while her female back-up singer stood beneath a green light. It was worth checking out with my camera.

I walked down front. Took out my camera. Clicked off a shot. Something moved to my right. Something fast yet graceful. It wasn't Gene Kelly.

I turned my head to find I was face to face with the Princess. She was turning on her charm. Increasing the intensity of her smile.

The guy she had been standing next to--suddenly abandoned. He didn't seem to notice. He didn't seem to care. He just seemed like window dressing. A silent window dummy, nicely dressed and very well behaved. It was like a mortician had done him up vertically for a display. A nicely dressed stiff.

The princess lean forward and buzzed into my ear.
I frowned, Shrugged, and raised my eyebrows sympathetically.
"Sorry, I couldn't hear you."
The princess leaned into my ear again. Her hair brushing against my face like a gold velvet whisk broom. Dusting my face. Her voice was just as soft. But still the same old general buzz... wasted on deaf ears.

I shrugged again. Shook my head in the universal negative. "Still can't hear you." She got a determined look and had at me again. This time the buzzing was much louder. More insistent. The Buzzing formed a word "BAND" and the question "ARE YOU HERE FOR?" "I'm a friend of King Black Acid," I buzzed back at her. "I'm here for the band."

She beamed a lovely smile. She was very easy on the eyes and she was playing it for what it was worth. She wanted something. I had a very good guess what this was. I'd wait for her to play her hand.

"I'm reviewing the show." An air of importance wafted from her like a rich fragrant perfume. Just my luck-- I'm allergic to perfume. I wasn't impressed. I knew what was coming.
"Can I have your card?"
"I don't have one."
She shot me an impatient annoyed frown.

The guy on the other side of her was still playing the stiff. Not once did I ever see him move or pay us any attention. I suspected he was a lap dog. Maybe she just wheeled him around as a prop. When I get the chance, I should look to see if he has coasters on his heels.

"Can I take a photo? I'm very good."
I hand her the camera. Might as well humour her and see how she handles. When the roll's developed, I'll see what she can do.

The princess exchanges her pint glass for my camera. She looks the camera over. Pauses... stalling.
I point to the release. "This one."
She nods affirmative.
"It's 1600. The lens..."
She looks up into my eyes. Then watches my left hand closely as I turn it slowly in a small circular spin.
"...Fully... open."
She digests this. Nods her head. Lifts the camera to her eye. Aims and snaps a photo. Quickly rewinds and moves closer to the stage.

I watch her advance toward the stage but am distracted by a taste appearing in my mouth-- BEER! Strange, I had been popping life savers the whole time I was using my camera. Why do they taste like beer?

The princess is taking aim at Heather. Sizing her up. I puzzle over the odd tasting life saver as I watch the princess in action. Then enlightenment. I look down at my right hand and the pint glass the princess had handed me. The taste had come from this glass in my hand. There was only one solution--I had unconsciously sampled her drink. Soon I'll learn if she is mortal or if she is Gentry. If she is mortal I'll find out weather or not her drink is spiked.

The princess turns the camera sideways and snaps a close-up of Heather Duby. I figure I have one of three paths I may now find myself walking: into the realm of the otherworld tricked by a beautiful fairy temporarily on this plane; into the fuzzy realm of Mickey Finn; or remain in the mortal realm of human night club beer.

The princess is scanning the stage for another shot. I realize I better retrieve the camera before she tries to shoot the whole roll. I beckon with my left hand in a come here fashion.

She looks quizzically at me.
I hold my empty hand out for the camera and raise the pint glass I'm holding for her.
"Thank you," she purrs, handing me back my camera.
I hand her back her pint.
"I want your name and address."
I remove a note pad and pen from my jacket. I pause giving the pad a vacant stare. The name yes.
The address no.
"Give me your name and address."
I write my name and phone number. Then Pause again.
"Your address?"
I write my e-mail address. Then flip the page to make sure I have only one page before I rip it from the note book.
The princess is poised, ready to snatch it from my fingers as soon as she can. She can taste it. Her eyes riveted to the page.

My fingers play with the page. Shuffling and fumbling with it. I recheck the sheets to build her anticipation. I'm trying hard to frustrate her. Finally I just rip the page out and hand it to her.

She smiles. The page vanishes as soon as it touches her fingers. She has secreted it away for safe keeping. Probably in some other dimension she carries around with her. I am quiet. I am wondering what comes next.
The princess draws near and buzzes at me.
I buzz back.

Her expression darkens. Her eyebrows migrate closer together. Her eyes become fixed and intense. Her hand raises quickly, level with her face. She glares at me. Our faces are very close to each other. Less than an palms distance away. I just watch in silence. Waiting.

Slowly, Her fingers touch her cheek. Then trail down the side of her face. Slow and deliberate. Her eyes never leaving mine. Defiant. She maintains her scornful HOW-DARE-YOU stare meant to cause mere mortals to grovel at her feet and offer to kiss her ass. She is used to getting her own way.

A lazy smile forms on my lips. Sorry princess, I don't grovel, and I don't do window dressing. Your call. The princess sees my smile and raises me an extra dose of loathing. My smile broadens mischievously. I throw in an eye twinkle just for good measure. Letting her know I don't give a flying fig leaf either way. If she can be a princess--I can be a heel.

The stiff on the other side of her hasn't moved a muscle. Maybe he's just a shade. A ghost or phantom only I can see. Something she conjured up to escort her in. Maybe she has a stretch broom stick parked out side and he's her chauffeur. I'll just have to wait for the clock to strike twelve before I find out if he's a man or a dormouse.

The princess turns to watch Heather Duby on the stage. Heather steps backwards away from the mic stand. Her long red dress catching the light. Glowing ruby red. She starts to do a horizontal shimmy.
The princess smiles at me, "That's a good shot."
"Yes it is." I make no move to even bother to take the shot.
Heather returns to the mic.
The princess let's out an exasperated, "AND YOU MISSED IT!"
I point to my camera, "The rest of the film in THIS camera..."
I raise my thumb up and give it a hitch hiking motion toward the table King Black Acid is sitting at behind us. "...is for the OTHER band!"
She lets out a gasp. "I thought you were here for Heather."
I shake my head negative. "I was just doing a few test shots for the lighting."

The princess fades back on the other side of her stiff. I switch lens to the wide angle. Snap a shot. Then walk back to rejoin the small gathering of friends around King Black Acid.

Denny is standing by a pillar next to a table near him.
I relate the events up near the stage.
He rolls his eyes. "These people are crazy."
"Yeah, I've found out." Found out that there are many surprises just waiting to be explored if you happen to be at the right place at the right time. This could prove to be a very interesting night.


I was talking to Doran about Heather Duby. He heard that she had just been signed to a major independent label. I hadn't heard this. Her band sounds pretty good live. Doran and I had never heard her band play before tonight. This seems strange as she's from this area but doesn't seem to play here very often.

I glanced over at the KBA table. It was vacant. "looks like it's time to go. Is the band getting ready?"
"Yes, I think they have left to set up."
"Then I better make a move and dig in. See ya later."
Doran smiles, "Good luck."

I grin, then dart around the pillar. Soon I am weaving in and out of the crowd. Working my way to the stage. Heather's band is removing their equipment while King Black Acid prepare to bring their's on stage.

Two waist high speakers sit side by side in front of the stage. Jeff, a guy who records ever show, is setting up to the right of the speakers. He is preparing two mics on a stand. The crowd is starting to move closer to the stage.

I look over at the arch to the left of the stage. The one leading to the bar. The crowd parts as a beautiful ash blonde suddenly appears. It's the princess, with a smile big enough to fill a rubber raft. She must have beat the crowd back with her shoulders as she paddled down stream.

I give her a long, steady, cold stare. Her eyes lock on mine. Her smile quickly vanishes. She pauses momentarily, then turns tail and swims back up stream. looks like she wont be watching the show next to the stage. And I'm sure she won't be ringing me up later to ask me for photos.

I smile to myself, which is rather hard to do without a mirror.

Another familiar face appears in the crowd. The woman that spoke to me by the stage during King Black Acid's EP release party. A groupie.

Miss groupie is wearing a small pack. She tells me that she brought her camera. A small point and click instimatic.
"...I go to all the KBA shows. I just can't get enough of their music... Daniel says I have a problem."
I chuckle. "It's been going around, I hear."
She looks at Jeff setting up. "What's he doing?"
"He's setting up to record the show."
"What's he do with all the recordings?"
"Gives them to Daniel I think."
"I wish I could have them!"

As the band prepares to play I move in front of the speakers. Jeff is to my left placing the mics on the stage in front of me.
I wink at Jeff, "I'll try not to sing."
He laughs, "Thanks."

I looks over at Miss groupie, beckoning her to move closer toward the stage. "You might as well get in here and have a good spot." Of course I have my own reasons. This will place her over where I will later move for some photos. I have the middle now, but having a nice friendly person planted to the right will come in handy later.

A list is on the stage near me. I take a look at it. It is turned around but I can just make it out. It is the set list. I pull out my note pad and jot down the songs: STAR SEED; COLORADO; D-G7; INTO THE SUN; BUTTERFLY BOMBER; CLIMB; ALONE ON MARS.

I flip my note pad around toward Miss groupie so she can read it.
"What's this?"
"The set list for tonight. Notice Butterfly bomber is earlier in the show not last."
"What about Tahoe?"
"I haven't seen her. I guess she isn't here tonight."
Miss groupie frowns.

The band finishes their sound check and start out with the slow STAR SEED intro. The crowd starts to sway along with the melody. It is a peaceful, gradual flow into the realm of King Black Acid.

I wait a few minutes for the music to build into dramatic strains of excitement. Then I lift my camera and prowl around the center for good shots of individuals. My eye catches Scotty on the drums. The screen behind him is beautifully illuminated by the film projected on it. From this moment on my mind spins off into a fuzzy fog of potential shots and real shots that I am chasing.

When I exhaust an area, I move on. Sometimes crouching low to the ground. Sometimes standing. But in most cases, I am mindful of who I might be suddenly standing in front of. I don't want to block anyone's view if I can avoid it. If I do, I try to limit my time. Then I move on to another area.

A guy off to my left has a good spot for a photo. I catch his attention by making hand gestures offering my spot right in front of the band. Dead center.

The guy's face registers surprise. He's just been offered a prime place to watch the band. He wastes no time trading places with me.

I take his former position and crouch down low. To my left is the classic blonde I always see in this area. Miss Veronica Lake. Still looking as lovely as ever. Tonight wearing a long dress. Her wavy blonde hair cascading down her shoulders. Soft and easy on the eyes like a slightly defused glimpse into a wonderful film noir dream.

It must be a dream. My right leg has fallen asleep while I had been crouching. I stand up and limp over to Miss Groupie. I move very carefully trying not to suddenly topple over to the right into the arms of the crowd. They might think I want to body surf and pass me overhead to the back of the club.

Miss Groupie is off in KBA dream land. Swaying entranced by their cosmic music.

I relocate to a pillar by the stage next to Jeff. From here I play a game of hide and seek with Daniel using my camera. I curl around the pillar focusing on him. Then dart back around to try it from the other side. After several ritualistic attempts at this I realize how silly I must look.

Jeff points to the screen. "Look at Daniel's shadow. That might be a good photo." "Yeah, I've been watching that. It looks cool."

It isn't long before I empty the camera several times. Time is fickle at shows. It speeds up. It slows down. But you can never master it. Soon time run out and the show will be over. Then time will shift to KBA withdrawal. You'll find yourself fanning through the pages of rock press papers searching madly for the cure--another King Black Acid show listing. Long gaps between shows are hard on the soul. It's solitary confinement. Escape to the freedom of another show is the only driving force. It is also the first sign of acute KBA addiction.

Alone on Mars is winding into the long instrumental jam. I stand listening to it in amazement. A Hawkwind like riff is entering the song. Scotty is going wild on the drums. His arms swinging faster and faster propelling the song into overdrive. The crowd is churning. No longer swaying. They are getting into this last number in a very big way. Somehow the roof manages to stay latched to the club. It is a fantastic moment many wished would last forever. But it can't and eventually ends with cheers and enthusiastic smiles from the crowd. Another brilliant King Black Acid show!

As soon as King Black Acid ends the set, the DJ starts his show. Dance music pounds out through the speakers. My trousers rippling to the beat. I am standing point blank in front of them. The house strobes and overhead moving lights kick in. Beaming down, spraying the dancers below in them. The dance floor is a sea of hedonistic dancers. A roiling sea of confusion. All orchestrated by the blue-haired DJ Up in his mixing tower.

I wander through the crowd. Alert. Scanning the faces for Doran. He may have cleared out immediately after the set. But it's hard to tell in the crush of all these faces. I take a meandering course. Weaving in and around people.

Two guys are talking to each other in high voices. Their mannerisms dainty. Their conversation pedantic. They strike me as the type that share a common interest. Men.

On the dance floor, intermixed in the intense search light like beams cutting swathes across the floor, are various groups of dancers. Some dancing alone. Some next to others dancing in circular orbits around each other. The large majority are women. Their partners are also women. Some do have men, but most of the men are not dancing. They are over at the bar.

I end up at the back of the club in front of the mixing desk. I stop and survey the crowd in front of me as I look toward the stage. No, it looks like Doran has split.

A tall black man with long dreadlocks approaches the guy standing to my left. He stands right in front of him and politely asks, "Do you want to dance with me?"
"No, not right now."
The black man walks past me on his way to the loo.

I turn and look at the back of the mixing desk. I look to my left and then to my right. There are no signs posted. I frown. Funny, this doesn't seem to be posted as the wall flower queue. There's no point in lingering here longer. My business is done for the night. I walk out the door onto First Avenue. Yes, it was a very interesting night.


It is Tuesday night. The phone rings. I answered it. The female voice on the other end of the line sounds indifferent The voice says little more than a feeble, "Hello."
"Hello," I answer back, stalling as I try to place her voice.
But I can't. She's talking in generalities. Not specific enough to pin to any solid topic that might narrow the field. She could be anybody.
"Uh, who do I have?"

A twinge of exasperation enters her voice, "Deborah... we met the other night." "OH, Saturday at the show!" I am surprised. She's the last person I expected to be ringing me up to talk. I'll give her this-- She's persistent. A satisfied "Uh-hu," followed by a pause. Then, "how did the photos turn out?" "The Heather Duby photos are not all that great. There are only four. Two you took and two I took. She moved during your shots, a shame, one of the photos you took would have been a good shot. The ones I took are okay, but are from a distance. I'm not too crazy about them."

A disappointed "Oh."
"Was it just Heather Duby photos you were interested in?"
"I'm reviewing the whole show."
"The King Black Acid photos came out fine."

Her voice fills with enthusiasm, sounding very interested.
"I just mailed them off to the record label and the band."
Another disappointed "Oh".
"But I kept a few back for myself. I could let you have those."
Her voice perks up, interested again. "You could e-mail them to me."
I laugh, "I'm very low tech. I can't do that, but I can mail them to you." Silence.
"Mail them to the place you are doing the review. Is it a weekly?"
"Okay, there's still time. What's the name of the publication you're doing the review for?"
"Premier Dance and Entertainment."
"Never heard of it."
"Where should I send them?"

She gives me the address. Telling me to send it "Attn: Deborah Lamar." I notice she left out the name of the publication. "And the name of the place?"
"Premier Dance and Entertainment, right?"
"Right." She laughs.
I repeat it back to confirm it.
"That's right. Oh, since you know the band, could you write a little review about the show for me. It would be very helpful for me when I write the review."

Wow, a real princess wannabe! She expects me to do all her work for her? What am I... her fairy godfather? She's just made me an offer I can refuse.

"You wouldn't want me to review it, I write mysteries. The review would end up sounding like a detective story."
"Well if you could write something, it would be helpful."
"Alright I'll provide you with some general info about the band and whatever else I can think of."
Her voice purrs, "Thank you!"
"No problem, I'll have it off to you soon."

I pick the phone back up and dial a local merchant downtown. His shop is closed. The phone recorder tells me to leave a message.
"Dan, this is Action Man. The blonde bombshell just rang me up asking for photos. Said she is doing review for Premier Dance and Entertainment. I never heard of it. Do you know anything about them?"

I hang up the phone. Walk over to the type writer. I type up two pages of notes about the band, set list played, where to find info on internet. Basic stuff. I address the envelope and retire for the night.


I pass the envelope to the woman at the window of the post office and ask, "Is the zip code correct? I suddenly realized this isn't downtown."

She looks at it. "Yes it's correct. It is over on the other side of the river. Out past the Lloyd Center."
"Okay, thanks."
I walk over to the library and look in a the yellow pages. Hmm, no listing for a Premier Dance and Entertainment. Okay. Interesting.

I sit down at a computer and log onto the internet. I connect to a site that provides postal zip codes and get the full zip code for the address Deborah gave me. Then I type in a site address that can do reverse look-ups on business addresses. I leave out the name. I just type the address. The computer pauses. Moments later the screen flashes: THE GLASS SLIPPER. Bingo-- a match.

Well, Deborah, the princess wannabe is using the GLASS SLIPPER as a mail drop. Must think she's Cinderella.

I leave the library and head toward my friend's shop. When I get there he is on the phone. I kill time by looking at what he has on the shelves.
Dan hangs up the phone, smiling. "So you heard from the blonde?"
"Yeah. And here's what I found out..." I gave him the complete run down. Filling him in on what I found out.
Dan rocks forward on his heels, smiling even wider. "I have heard of Premier Dance and Entertainment-- it's a stripper magazine!"

This floors me. It's an unexpected twist but an important piece of the puzzle.

"I only know because someone left a copy on my door step once. Dan Reed once wrote an article for them. He's into that sort of stuff."
I nod, "And Dan Reed owns the OHM... there's a connection."
Dan nods his head in agreement.
I grin, "so the princess wannabe either works at the Glass Slipper or using it as a blind for the post. I wonder if the magazine works out of there? What kind of place is it?"

"A princess wannabe and a Glass Slipper. Sounds like Cinderella."
Dan laughs.
"So is she a writer or a stripper?
"Yeah? You mean both?"
"Yeah. Well, when you described her to me... I thought she sounded like a stripper. Didn't she look like one to you?

I pause for a moment. "It didn't cross my mind at the time."
"You saw how she looked. You must have noticed how she was built."
"She was standing too close to check out the merchandise without being rather obvious about it. Her face was right here!" I hold my hand about 10 inches away from my eyes.

Dan smiles, "The type used to getting in people's faces!"
"So a potential stripper has my name and number." I roll my eyes.
Dan just grins. He likes a good story.
"I wonder. When the clock strikes twelve... Cinderella's clothes disappear."
Dan's eyes bug out. He chokes laughing.
I thank Dan for his information and leave his shop.

"Later!" It's now the waiting period. Wait and see what develops next. Or what other clues surface in the next few day or weeks. In a month the magazine should be out, if the princess is on the level. Only time will tell. Till then, there are always other King Black Acid shows to attend. This is more than enough to keep me occupied... the music... the crowd. And you can be sure of this-- Action Man will be there!

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