Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Studio Time: Forty Eight

Turning off all the lights

Slim and Bonni Savage
201 Fire Island Road
South Beach

His father was waiting for him on the front porch as Will strode up the walkway toward the sprawling estate. Slim looked tired and Will was sure the fatigue wasn't from having a new baby in the house. They hugged briefly, one of those one-armed pats on the back, but Will sensed his father holding the embrace a little longer than normal.

"Hey, Dad, thanks for meeting me so late."

When Will called his dad from Duff Tyson's house and recounted all he'd heard from Camilla, he half expected Slim to laugh and tell him that she was making a mountain from a molehill but that hadn't been the case. Instead, he'd been silent until finally confirming Camilla’s story although he would not go into details over the phone. And Will had expressly asked for details about this Gemma Wilson and why she was out to ruin his dad.

The house was quiet and dark although Will suspected his mom would be awake and not-so-patiently waiting for news. For as long as Will could remember, his parents had never kept secrets from each other. In fact, he could distinctly recall a father and son talk when he was a teenager where his dad advised him to be open and honest in his relationships with people, especially the girls he dated. That talk was one of the reasons he and Randi lasted all this time. He still did not know the reason behind Gemma Wilson’s vendetta against his dad but he knew it wasn’t an affair. Will’s mom could tolerate a lot but she’d never put up with his dad cheating.

Will followed his dad into the front room and set the files he'd put together at Duff's place onto the table. Slim stared at the stack of papers and after a long, uncomfortable moment, offered Will a drink, which he gladly accepted. They sat in silence neither of them making eye contact. Will realized with some surprise that he felt awkward and ill at ease. This was his father, not some impersonal client, and the gravity of what would transpire hit Will hard. He would be asking his own father to sign away his life’s work.

Slim was the first to break the silence. "You might want to consider crashing here tonight, son. It's a long way back to the university and I don’t like the look of that fog." Slim threw back the contents of his glass, rose from his seat, and poured another. He took a few more sips, set down his glass, and moved toward a wall that held framed family photos.

"I was around your age when Coop and I founded Hitman, maybe younger. God knows we were both ambitious and full of big plans for our futures. We always knew we'd succeed, knew what we each brought to the table. Words and music, kid, my way with words, his musical genius. Back then, we were unstoppable. You couldn't throw anything at us that I couldn't deal with and believe me, taking care of Cooper Stanfield was never easy, even when we were kids. A long, tiring, and never-ending job but I was glad to do it because that was my role in this thing and he was my friend."

Will shook his head slightly. He was still doing it, his dad, worrying over the long drive in the fog, looking out for him like he did for Cooper. Slim rubbed the back of his neck, a gesture Slim often made when he was overly tired or irritated. Slim nodded quickly toward the files and said, "I can't do it anymore, Will. You want to give me the Cliff Notes version or do I need to read the whole damned thing?"

Will knew in his gut that giving up Hitman was not a choice his father would be making now, not when he was in his prime. Behind the hardened expression, Will could see the anger and pain in his father's face. The details he'd pressed his father for over the phone no longer mattered to him. All he cared about was helping his father in any way possible. So, Will laid out, in brief, what he, Duff, and Camilla had agreed to in principle and what would need to happen if Slim agreed as well, right down to the lawyers, financial audits, and everything else.

Will gestured toward the papers. "This is just the quick and dirty version. We'll need to draw it up more formally. Rayne is talking to her dad about this too. The consensus was that it would be best all-around if neither of you had an interest in the business for Gemma to go after."

He hesitated briefly, took a long sip of his drink, set the glass down, and continued. "I don't know what's going on between you and Cooper and this Gemma woman and I don't need to know anymore. It's not important. The only thing I care about what this is doing to you and I can see this is not an easy thing. So tell me, Dad, forget about Camilla, Rayne, Duff, and Cooper Stanfield, leave them out of this thing, what do you want to happen? What can I do to help? Whatever that is, I'll do it."

His dad drew a deep breath and exhaled before moving toward Will. Slim picked up the files, flipped through them, smiling occasionally, and then set them down. "For quick and dirty, this is pretty thorough."


"It's okay, kid. Just tell me where to sign."

Cooper and Beth Stanfield
103 Fire Island Road
South Beach

Rayne parked her car in the space her mother normally used and slowly walked across the pavers outside her parents house.  She was clutching the folder Will had given her, the one with the papers that had to be signed. She did not want to be here, did not want to do this, did not want to confront her father and demand that he sign papers.  She had Camilla on one hand and her father on the other. One of them had lied to her, and this time she knew it had to be the man she had spent years protecting.

And there he was.  Cooper Stanfield opened the door and said quietly in that famous voice she’d always known, the voice she’d grown up with, “Come on inside Rainie, let’s talk.” 

Rayne hadn’t been here but once right after they purchased the place and it had been fitted up since then with furniture and paint and plants and those rabbits Hugs always treasured. A fire burned in the new fireplace. "This is the third house in ten years.  Was there something wrong with the last one?"

He looked around, a quick survey, his attention fractured.  “Your mother wanted something different.  It makes her happy to play around with the designs, and I like to make her happy.”

Well, that was thoughtful of him. He let her mother buy new houses to keep her happy.  Rayne tossed the file on the table in front of the sofa and sat down.  Like everything else here, it was new.  

“Then I hope you bought her a whole lot of chairs.”

He was visibly stunned.  At first, she thought he would strike back at her but he didn't, he just stood there.  Smart ass he'd called her when she was a child.  Don't be a smart ass he'd said.

"You're here for a reason Rayne and it's not to discuss your mother's furniture.  You want to tell me in detail what Camilla dropped on you?"

She'd already told him.  Will and Duff stood right there with her when she called him just in case she got something wrong, not that she needed them. They were selling the studio because Gemma Wilson was blackmailing her father.  Gemma Wilson was taking revenge by going after his best friend, or something close enough to that to make no difference.  It wasn't at all clear what her father intended to do about it, and she was afraid, deeply dreadfully afraid, that he intended to do nothing at all until someone forced him to.

"Along with her usual garble, Camilla said Gemma's blackmailing you and wants Slim's half of the studio or she'll tell all, whatever 'all' is.  We have absolutely no time to fix this but you'd know that, wouldn't you.  I'm here to try to make sure you clean up the mess before the world comes crashing down.  I have paperwork.  Will's at his father's house with similar paperwork.  We need both of you to sign to sell the studio to keep Gemma from tearing things apart. I'm sure you know why.  That's about it."

Cooper briefly stared down at her, eyes flashing, then he turned and walked into the kitchen.  “Rainie can I get you coffee, something to eat?”  He picked up a bottle of Jack and a glass as he waited for her to respond, looking at the counter, then put the glass back down, doing nothing, just staring at the counter, and her own temper flared. 

“No, I don’t want coffee!  Just a couple of hours ago Camilla of all the people in the world told me that whatever happened between you and Gemma Wilson really did happen and that it was bad enough to give her a way to blackmail you.   She didn't trick you or overpower you or drug you or make something up.  And on top of that, what's even worse, you're letting your best friend fall on his sword to save you!  No, I do not want any of your damned coffee!”

Her father came back out of the kitchen and quietly sat down on the sofa and looked at her.  They looked at each other, speechless, and she saw not anger but pain.  “Rainie I’ve made mistakes, and yes, you're right, I wasn't honest, but at no time have I ever deliberately done anything to hurt you.  I tried to shield my family from the consequences but made mistakes there too.  I'm sorry, that's not nearly enough, but I am.”

She leaned forward in the chair, facing him directly and found her hands were shaking. “But Dad your best friend is losing what he spent his whole life building. You say you're sorry but what are you doing about that?  Are you going to keep your half of the studio like nothing happened?  Have staff meetings with Gemma? What is wrong with you?"

Rising from the chair, Rayne went to the fireplace and stood next to the fire like she'd done just a couple of hours ago with another fireplace in another home, tears hot on her face.  This was her father, she didn't want to do this, somebody else should do this.

" I should not have to come over here to make you do something you should have done on your own.  It's not fair, it's all inside out, you're my father, you're supposed to be telling me what to do, don't be a smart ass, don't go out with that guy, don't drive in the fog. You have to stop it. "

“I know Rainie.  I'm sorry sweetheart, of course you shouldn't have to do any of this. I'm trying to find a way...find a way to keep hurting you, hurting everyone in my family. I'm so sorry.”

She bit her lip to stop crying and it didn't work, it never did. "You have to sign the paperwork.  That's what you have to do and you have to do it tonight.”

"Of course I'll sign it.  I'm not questioning that Rainie. Give the thing to me and I'll gladly sign it."

Rayne picked up the folder and put it down carefully on the dining table next to some blue flowers and Hugs' laptop.  Will had marked them so she spread them out where he couldn't possibly miss the marks.  Her father glanced at them then actually smiled.  “Duff and Camilla?"  He hesitated then shrugged his shoulders. "She's always had Slim's back so if he's okay with it, that's all that matters."  He started signing, going down one page after another.  "You mentioned fog.  We've got fog and it's going to be a bitch tonight. Be careful driving back."

She was going home to Duff - fog wouldn't stop her.  She watched her father use a pen from Hugs' little glass cup to sign away the studio he'd owned with Slim since they were younger than she was, the studio and everything that went with it, the ambitions and the dreams and the plans. He would keep his music and that was what made him who he was, not the studio, so what he was losing wasn't all that horrible.  He scrawled his name across the page in his long angular handwriting:  Cooper Stanfield.  With that name on that paper, this would end, not a good end but an end.





  1. What a great update, you could really feel the emotion from all parties. That was an easier settlement than I thought it would be! I guess Cooper and Slim have everything they need, they've had their time in the spotlight, they have their mansions & their music, but most important-their family, and losing the studio was never going to be worth the fight when it came down to it.

    Love the last two shots, a great way of ending the chapter. :)

    Also, "She was going home to Duff - fog wouldn't stop her." Argh, my heart! I love this!

    1. Hey Jennifer!

      You're right, they get off without losing their fortunes, and they protect their families, but the man who's always saved his friend takes one last huge hit for him, one he's never going to get over.

      Slim loses what he's worked for and built since he was a teenager, pretty much everything, a business that his identity as a person was wrapped around. He loved creating and building and managing that studio. He'll have money but the whole inside of his life is torn out. His friendship with Cooper is never going to be the same if it survives at all. In the end, his wife is trying to comfort him when he cannot be comforted.

      And yes, Coop will get over it. He has his music and that's his main love. I don't think he understands yet how hard this is going to hit his friend or what it's going to do to their friendship. For him, it's a way out that doesn't require him to sacrifice what he loves most outside of his family. He's been tangled up in this mess, one he created, to the point where he couldn't think of anything else. His family is safe. It's a relief. It'll dawn on him that this is not an easy way out for his friend. For Coop, he can sit on his deck and play his guitar for his wife, the comforting going in the other direction. He'll be fine.

      And Rayne is beginning to see Duff as the fulcrum of her life. She's going home. I love those two.

      Thank you so much for continuing to read and take the time to leave comments. We both really appreciate it!

    2. Hi Jennifer and thank you again for reading and leaving us your thoughts!

      What is happening here goes deeper than money and ownership changing hands. The deep fracture between Slim and Cooper may never be settled and that is the thing that goes beyond having a fortune or the work - in Slim's case that was running the studio and in Coop's it was the music that no one can take from him. From Cooper's perspective it is win-win. He isn't looking at what Slim loses - it never crosses his mind at this point. If he had taken the time to consider everything, I think he would have resisted more. Right now, all he feels is relief.

      Rayne and Duff we so unlikely a pair that it had to happen. I really love the two of them together.

      Thank you again!!

  2. I was expecting Cooper to resist Rayne a little more than he did. In fact, I thought maybe he might not sign at all for a while there. I'm glad he saw sense in the end though and signed it over. It's just business, you know and it could well prevent a lot of trouble.

    I liked the little role reversal of sorts, with Rayne instructing her dad what to do! I've found myself in moments like that with my mother (nothing so momentous as a big business decision!) and it's always a little bit strange. :)

    Sorry, I haven't commented in so long!

    1. Hello Carla! First of all, please don't worry about commenting but know that we appreciate the fact that you read our work after all this time.

      The thing about Cooper signing without resistance is that he dodges another bullet aimed at him and his family. He doesn't see beyond that, only that he avoids publicly embarrassing and hurting them. Someone has "taken care of him". He really doesn't lose anything, not money and not his music. He hasn't looked beyond this to see what it will do to Slim. The only thing Coop has seen in the past is that Slim took care of things but he never really saw the effect it had on Slim. In this case, Cooper didn't see a solution, thought Slim would throw a hail Mary and fix it, and when Slim didn't do that, Cooper still held onto hope that this would go away. And now it has - for him.

      Thank you again for reading!

  3. How heartbreaking for Slim. He's always been the one to hold everything together and get Cooper straight in spite of himself. This time he couldn't dodge the bullet without getting grazed. When I think back on all that has happened sometimes I imagine Rayne just running away again like she did as a child. I wouldn't blame her. I still see so much of that girl in her but she's older now, a bit wiser and fiercely loyal as ever. I'm glad Cooper didn't put up a fight that would've made it so much harder on her.

    1. Hey lady it's so good to hear from you! I'm hoping you're going to give me something to comment on. :)

      Slim took the heat for his friend and probably for the last time. He kept warning him and Coop wouldn't listen, just expected someone to take care of it. Well somebody did but yes at great cost to his best friend. I love the guy but over the years have come to see him as feckless, irresponsible, and frequently clueless about the nuts and bolts of the business behind the music. Kind of a Peter Pan.

      Rayne is torn. Her complete and blind loyalty to her father has begun to shred. She's growing up. She sees he's not perfect. Other people weren't always doing bad things to him that he didn't deserve. It puts her in a role she's deeply uncomfortable with - she has to tell him what to do when she believes he's going to argue or even refuse. (Been there with a parent - it can be awful). She has backup now with Duff though so she's not as reluctant as she might otherwise be.

      We're close to the end of this story and wrapping up the relationship between these two friends is important to us.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave us a comment. You know how much that means.