Artist rendition of Oliver Hannel as The Shock -
sketch by Nita – drawing by Eryn LaPlant
FALLING FOR SHOCK
“CUT!” the director called.
Oliver breathed a sigh of relief. He was in dire need of finding a bathroom; the straps of his flying harness were cutting into his full bladder. On the street below, the crew wasted no time disassembling set dressings and props. The cameramen turned off their equipment and congratulated themselves on a good day, while the dolly grips trudged the cameras down aluminum tracks. A twinge tightened in his groin and Oliver shifted, trying to redistribute the pressure. It was no use.
“Come on guys,” he grumbled, but he was thirty-feet in the air, who could hear him?
The more hustle and bustle beneath his booted feet, the more he was convinced they’d forgotten their superhero…again. With his thumb and forefinger in his mouth, he blew a shrill whistle. “Hey! Will someone get me down?”
Dean Clemens, the movie director, lifted his head to the sky. “Sorry, pal! Mike, let Ollie down.”
“Thank you!” Oliver called out and the rigging creaked and groaned as he slowly descended.
The moment his feet touched the ground, the grips were there disconnecting the bolts and wires from his hips and shoulder blades. When they came to the harness and its ten or so cinch buckles, Oliver shooed their hands away. He could get out of the hellish contraption faster than they could release him and time was of the essence.
Once free, he took off like the symbol emblazoned across his torso: a bolt of chain lightning. At his trailer, a fetid stench in the humid summer air greeted him before his assistant did. He leaned inside finding Will on his knees outside of the bathroom with long, yellow gloves up to his elbows and a white mask adorning his face. Oliver covered his nose and mouth. “What the hell happened?”
“Sorry, boss, you don’t want to come in here. The black water tank is backed up and overflowing. The septic truck broke down somewhere in Illinois. Your trailer, Kelli’s and Ira’s are all out of commission.”
Oliver growled and slammed the door. He didn’t care if he had a mere bucket at this point. He needed to GO. He surveyed the tiny town the production company had taken over, for some open business, but at one in the morning everything was closed.
“Hmm everything’s closed,” he repeated out loud to himself. He saw only the busy crew or bare streets with alleys in between the shops.
Whistling with casualness belying his desperation, he wandered across the street to the dark and vacant space between the post office and a furniture shop. In a flash, he dashed to the furthermost spot in the alley against the brick wall and wrenched the lycra and vinyl suit away from his body until he could get himself free and— “Ahh…”
“Look! I’ll get you the money, just give me some time!” A woman’s panicked voice made Oliver’s head swivel toward the entrance of the alley.
“Shit!” Oliver cursed. Where did she come from? He quickened and finished up, pulling his suit back on. The silver sleeves stuck to his sweat-slicked skin, making redressing with quick quietness impossible. But he had to stay soundless now that someone was around. A nightmare would ensue if his publicist found out he was caught half naked, using a public wall as a urinal.
“No more time! Pay up or tell it to the boss!” a male spoke.
Oliver could barely make out the shadowy figures twenty feet away. The street lamp on the sidewalk behind them created only a silhouette.
“No, don’t do that!” she cried, followed by a muffled, strangled noise coming from her throat. “P-Please. I j-just need a few more weeks. It’s a lot of money.”
“Uh-uh the boss wants it now. He’s waited long enough,” the man said, jerking her in close by both arms.
The figure was hulking, the woman petite, Oliver couldn’t let this continue despite whether the woman was at fault or not. Maybe it was his knighted British ancestry or the fact he was wearing a superhero’s costume, but he puffed up his chest and merged stealthly into the light.
The man bucked the woman’s back into the brick wall so hard, air rushed from her lungs in a heavy gust. Oliver winced then crossed his arms at his chest, the menacing biceps he’d trained so hard to achieve stood out strong and hard. “I suppose hurting a person two sizes smaller than you makes you feel like a real man, huh?” he said in his best Shock voice.
“Back off, pal, if you know what’s—“ the man’s gaze traveled from the woman to Oliver’s costume. “Who the hell are you?”
“Someone who knows better than to hit a lady.”
Much to Oliver’s surprise both the victim and her adversary sputtered at his statement. Determined to pull of this rescue, he stood firm. “Would you rather I let him continue man-handling you for whatever it is that you owe him?”
With widened, sheepish eyes, the woman shook her head.
“Good, then how about we work together and solve this in peace.”
The thug let her go and her backside hit the asphalt with a sudden heavy thwump! Stalking toward Oliver, he pushed his sleeves up revealing two meaty forearms. “I’ve got a better idea, freakshow. Why don’t you mind your business and let me finish my transaction?”
He stopped at Oliver’s toes. Without a pause Oliver darted out for the man’s collar, yanking him into his face. They were evenly matched on height, but Oliver had at least a stone and a half on him in weight. “I like my way better.”
“Not gonna happen.”
The guy sent a fist straight for Oliver’s gut. It took his breath away, making him want to be sick. But before the bloke could get another jab in, this one lining up with his face— his livelihood, Oliver threw a solid right into the his jaw. Pain vibrated from his knuckles all the way up his shoulder. He grunted, loud and strained at the burning ache.Movie punches don’t connect…don’t hurt.
Shaking out the ache, Oliver had just enough time to see the stunned man leap to his feet. He lunged for him with a wounded yell.
Adrenaline surged and Oliver stepped back into a crouch, dodging him and leaving him in position to whip a chop into his back. Oliver’s right hand stung again, his shoulder overextended, but this time he shrugged it back into place, ignoring the pain.
The man, on the other hand hit the pavement face first, yet still managed to scramble up on all fours. Already coiled to strike a final blow, Oliver snapped a weighted side-kick into the man’s head, like he was taught in practice. The tosser fell to the ground with a lifeless thud.
Amazed that the kick actually worked, Oliver backed away, breathing from both exertion and excitement. It had been a long time since he’d been in a real fight and even then those were mere drunken pub fights or brawls with his older brothers. He’d just faced a professional handler! Remembering who the guy was collecting from, Oliver spun around, finding the young woman still at the alley’s entrance. She was frozen in place, mouth and eyes wide with surprise and fear.
“Are you all right? It sounded like you hit the ground pretty hard before.” He did his best to curb the Shock’s American accent, and revert to his own British dialect in hopes to quell her apprehension.
Slowly, she nodded; hair, the color of warm honey, bounced against her shoulders as she did. “Who are you?”
“Oh, right. Well, like this I’m the Shock but—“ he reached behind his head and untied the blue mask outlining his eyes. “But normally I’m Oliver Hannel. I’m an—“
“An actor?” she went from bewildered to disenchanted in a second flat.
“Yes and certainly not a karate expert, so I suggest we get away before he comes to.”
“Yeah, good idea.”
Oliver held out his hand for her to take, but instead she held her breath, hesitant to grab hold. “It’s all right. I won’t hurt you.”
“Then where are you taking me?”
“To my trailer, so I can change and perhaps drive you home. I can’t really fly,” he joked, hoping she knew his character did.
He was rewarded with a less than apprehensive titter and she took his hand. From behind, the man began to stir and without waiting another moment, Oliver took off with the girl in tow.
“Lucy!” they heard and ducked between the Star Waggons on the movie set.
“Hurry!” Oliver said, weaving through the maze of trailers until they reached his. He pushed her up the metal stairs and entered, closing and locking the door behind him.
Will was no longer in the bathroom, but the putrid smell was, except now it was overwhelmed by some kind of rose-scented air freshener. Embarrassment wasn’t word enough to describe seeing her cover her nose.
“I’m sorry, Lucy. We’ve had some septic trouble this evening.”
“It’s Layla and it’s all right. I guess it proves the old saying that celebrities are no better than the rest of us. Their stuff still stinks.”
A laugh escaped Oliver, leaning against the kitchenette. “I’ve never heard that one before.”
“Guess you have to be one of the normal folks to know it.”
“Perhaps. Now, tell me…if your name is Layla, why did that fella yell out ‘Lucy’?”
*********************** FALLING FOR SHOCK – COMING SOON – APRIL 25th, 2014 **************************