Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Outlandisher - Chap. 7 - "An Actor?"

May 27th, 2009

William Wallace Swort
Chap. 7
"An Actor?"

Claire: You're an actor, you say?

GMcB: Aye...

Seated near the hearth once more and nursing a second glass of the same sour tasting remedy after another rapid trip to the chamber pot, the uncomfortable McButler glances sheepishly at Claire McFraser.

GMcB: ...although if ah were a better one ah might be able tae hide the mortification an' flush that seems tae ha' taken up permanent residence on ma face since ah walked in yer door.

Waving away his embarrassment with a gesture, she can't help herself from adding...

Claire: (grinning) I did tell you it wouldn't stay with you long, didn't I?

Before he can answer, she continues on.

Claire: Are you a stage or a screen actor? Or like Lawrence Olivier, do both?

GMcB: (taking the bait) Well if we're talking antediluvian, ah have tae say ah'm more in the mold o' Errol Flynn than Sir Lawrence.

Claire: Errol Flynn? You mean you do swashbucklers?

GMcB: In actual fact, ah do a bit o' everything but ah guess ye could say the "swashbucklers' ha' been ma bread and butter in the past.

As she questions him, McButler fills her in on his career to date, trying hard not to embellish in his usual exuberant manner, as his own words had occasionally come back to haunt him when he let his enthusiasm go too far on movies that had been less than stellar in hindsight. Selling movies was part of an actor's job and, depending on the movie, not always his favorite part.

Wiser now, he tried to save his superlatives for the truly rare ones, walking a fine line between losing the enthusiasm with which he tackled every role at the risk of appearing hopelessly naive or, on the other extreme, becoming cynical and jaded in a business that bread that in some. Truth be told, he loved what he did, though not always some of the fools he had encountered along the way.

Having to massage other egos, he tried hard not to become like some of them, but not always succeeding. It was a business built on hype and press and it was an easy trap to believe in your press, whatever way it went...and hard not to go through the peaks and valleys without building a shell around yourself that sometimes kept you out of touch with reality...which in Hollywood sometimes meant that yesterday's star was tomorrow's has been. It was hard to keep it real...but he kept trying.

On the other hand, he had met some exceptional and generous souls along the way...who shared some of his insecurities, yet had managed to build a solid career in a field they loved. These were his heroes today... and included friends who maybe caught a glimpse of the boy from Glasgow and recognized something of themselves in his drive for the pieces of the dream they all clung onto with some part of their being...because there was really nothing else they wanted to do or be.

In the end, Gerremy McButler had decided he just had to be himself and he tried to live that way, again, not always succeeding.

As he stared at Claire McFraser now, he knew he had not conveyed all that to her, when a loud, insistant knock on the door stopped his wondering mind in its tracks.

A startled Claire, who had been observing the dance going on in his face, went to answer the summons.

After several minutes of conversation with the party at the door, she sat back down, frowning and lost in thought.

All of a sudden, as if struck by lightening, she smiles at him.

Claire: (narrowing her eyes) Just how good an actor are you, Gerremy McButler?

GMcB: (hesitating) Good enough...ah think. Why dae ye ask?

Claire: Because I find myself in need of your talents at the moment.

GMcB: (grinning) Ma talents? Kin ye elaborate a little? That's a very invitin' statement...since ah got several ah'm told.

Claire: (looking him over critically again) I've not much room to maneuver at the I need to trust you as perhaps Jamie did.
And since that scoundrel has seen fit to disappear, I've no one else to turn to for help.
(giving him her prettiest smile)
If you are willing to be put to the test, I've got a part for you to play.

GMcB: (returning her smile) Is it a good one?

She nods, happy to see his quick grasp of the situation.

Claire: Quite juicy, in fact... But you must be discreet and very good because instead of losing out on another role if you are bad... you may end up losing your head......and mine, come to think of it.

Nervous now, but smiling nonetheless.

GMcB: Want to tell me about it?

Claire: As much as I can....but at some point, and hoping you know your may have to fly by the seat of your pants.

GMcB: (wryly) Well, since ah'm lacking in the pants department at the moment....
(looks down at his kilt)....ah shall rely on ma Da's gift o' blarney, which I'm told I've inherited.

Claire: Fair enough. You see, it's like this......

An hour later, costumed in the best of Jamie McFraser's clothing...Gerry McButler appears every bit the part of the great Scottish laird he was about to play.... in perhaps the toughest challenge of his career.

He was now one Ian McButler McFraser, second cousin, once removed, of Jamie McFraser. Supposedly well skilled in the art of swordsmanship and strategic warfare, he was to step in for the absent McFraser and attend a gathering at Inverness castle, where his highness, bonnie Prince Charlie and his followers were holding court to drum up support for their beloved Jacobite cause.

Inverness Castle

If one were a fly on the wall, the entrance made by Claire McFraser and Ian McButler would be judged a grand exercise in humor and audacity on behalf of the pair. Dressed in Jamie McFraser's best Kilt and tartan, down to the bonnet with the colorful feather, the actor does his best impression of Johnnie Depp's Libertine, as he bows saucily in front of the Scottish pretender and the lairds in attendance.

He glances quickly at Clare to see if she's watching, to find an appreciative smile on her face.

Emboldened, he stretches to his full height, trying to look dangerous in the company of the rugged looking Highlanders and thankful the pinching new boots he is wearing give him an extra two inches of advantage.

Lord Kilmarnoc: (narrowing his eyes) So ye are McFraser's cousin? I wis sure ah knew the McFraser family tree, but I dinna hear tell o' the likes o' ye.....tho ye are another big fellow..... Who'd ye say yer mother was?

GMcB: (not skipping a beat) Well sir, that would be cause ah dinna happen tae mention it tae ye...

Putting on his best impression of haughtiness:

GMcB: ...But if ye must know, ah'm the bastart offspring o' McFraser's father's second cousin's first son.

Showing confusion, Kilmarnoc pretends to understand, not understanding at all. He looks the actor over cautiously, trying to take his measure.

Kilmarnoc: Weel, ye certainly have a look o' the McGuinnesses about ye. Are ye sure yer mother dinna hook up wi' one o' them prior tae marryin' yer father?

Now confused himself, he looks to Claire?

GMcB: (shrugging his shoulders) Weel, anythin's possible...

Suddenly realizing this might be an insult to his mother, he hardens his stance and raises his voice.

GMcB: .....though ah take exception tae ye speakin' o' ma mum in those terms, Kilmoron! The woman was a saint!

Prince Charlie and several others laugh under their breath as the older Kilmarnoc's face goes a florid color.

Kilmarnoc: (eying McButler's biceps) No need tae get nasty.  I meant no offense. Tis just yer looks, cep fer yer eyes, yell McGuinness.   'Twas a natural mistake on ma part.

GMcB: (his hand on the hilt of his sword,he bows) Apology accepted, sir.

Trying to hide his satisfaction, McButler turns to another of the Jacobites.

GMcB: What was it ye were askin' mate?

Claire rolls her eyes at the close call and deciding he's holding his own well enough for the moment, she slips away to pay her respects to some of the others present.

Observing him from across the room, she had to admit that this Gerramy McButler cleaned up quite well and certainly did justice to Jamie's clothes, although where Jamie was smaller through the waist and had a rounder arse, McButler's bulkier figure and smaller ass, was not altogether unpleasant.

Once in character, she also noticed the difference in his posture and carriage. He might not be a highland laird, but he sure looked the part, despite his short locks and refusal to wear a wig....much as her Jamie had often done.

As for the actor, with his watch and bottle of pills now tucked safely away in the sporran at his waist, there was little to give him away as anything other than what he appeared.

Charles Stewart had been talking to several of the other lairds, when he turned to address McButler again.

Charles Stewart: Well McFraser, any relative of Laird Brook Troutrack is quite welcome here. It is my understanding that like your cousin, you are well versed on the use of the broadsword and other weapons. What campaign saw you test your metal sir?

GMcB: (thrusting his chin forward) Campaign?

Thinking quickly, he takes his time to reply.

GMcB: (casually) Weel, in actual fact, ma lord, ah am a student o' history and it's strategic battles, wi' special attention to the skills o' great warriors like Attila the Hun as well as the tales o' the great Viking killing machine otherwise known as Beowulf.

Waiting for the words to sink in, he continues.

GMcB: Another favorite o' mine is King Leonidas of Sparta.

Charles Stewart: (raising his eyebrows and clearing his throat) You don't...say?

GMcB: Ah do say. As a matter o' fact, ah'm also a fan o' the skills o' William Wallace an' have even had the good fortune tae swing his swort a few times.

Charles Sewart: (looking over at Kilmarnoc with surprise and not a little amusement) You certainly get around. William Wallace's sword, is it?

GMcB: Proportedly....

Claire has wondered back and, pretending to make polite conversation with others, is evesdropping.

Charles Stewart: And the Spartans ye say? What can we learn from these austere Greeks?

GMcB: (grinning mischievously, as the import of the situation strikes him) Tae distract yer enemies by showing em yer teeth?

Charles Stewart: (bewildered) Your teeth?

GMcB: (giggling) Tis a joke, yer majesty. The genius o' the Spartans was protecting their mates wi' shield and body, in some sort o' strict formation. They were a formidable force!

Chalres Stewart: Why yes, I've heard your cousin Jamie mention the importance of fighting as a group of one or two of your comrades to protect each other's flanks.

GMcB: One impenetrable fightin' unit. (grinning) O' course it would be helpful havin' some o' those f-uckingly big and heavy Spartan shields, but....

Kilmarnoc has been listening intently.

Kilmarnoc: Attila? I've no' heard of the lad. Not one of ours, I take it?

GMcB: (smiling) No, yer lordship. Most definitely not one of' ours....but no less a fierce warrior. He fought the legions o' Rome an' carved out an empire tae rival the Romans.

Kilmarnoc. Just so. An' what would ye say was the secret o' his success on the battlefield?

GMcB: (lowering his voice) One hell o' a stunt coordinator, some green eyeliner, an' a plastic swort.

Kilmarnoc: I beg yer pardon?

GMcB: (raising his voice) The Huns were skill horsemen in addition to their archery skills, though like the Scots, they probably scared the crap out o' their opponants wi' all the racket they made during an attack.

Seeing that McFraser has no whisky, Kilmarnoc pours out a generous cup and hands it to him.

About to protest, he catches sight of Claire nodding her head in the negative.

Kilmarnoc: (raising his cup) Tae yer health, McFraser! Ah understand ye are going to show us a demonstration o' yer skills wi' young Killem McQuinn there....

He points to a hugely muscular young man out in the courtyard who has just vanquished a bloody opponent being dragged away by his friends.

Kilmarnoc:' a man cannot be expected tae have a clear head wi'out a drap o whisky, can he now, laddie?

His eyes bulging at the sight in the courtyard, McButler absently takes a swig from the cup handed him and chokes. Trying not to make a face...he promptly bows, excusing himself.

Grabbing the nearby Claire by the arm, he pulls her out into the hall.

GMcB: (his face suffused with color) Are ye crazy? I dinna sign up tae be fuckin' killed when I agreed tae this!

Claire: But you said you could handle a sword. I just assumed....

GMcB: Handle a swort, sure...but not tae risk bein' cut intae little pieces in the prime o' ma career! Ma mum wouldn't like it an' neither would I!

Screwing up her face in thought, she tries to reassure him.

Claire: Okay. Go back in there and drink with them until I can think of something.

GMcB: I dinna drink!

GMcB: (horrified) What? Whattaya mean you "dinna" drink?

GMcB: It's ma poison. Ah'm a recovering alcoholic. Ah've not had a drink in 9 years until now an' ah'm not about to risk 9 years o' sobriety fer one f-uckin' , horrible nightmare.

Claire: (surprised) Are you allergic to it or what?

GMcB: It nearly kilt me...that's what. And besides, once ah stairt, ah canna stop. Dae ye understand? Ah'm not responsible fer what happens tae me when ah indulge. Ah get crazy!

Seeing the panic and determination on his face, Claire laughs at the absurdity.

Claire: And that makes you different from most of these men? How?

GMcB: What?

Indicating the room full of Highlanders.

Claire: (with anger) They're beautiful and brave and fierce and foolish, thinking they can prevail by the sheer will of their bravery and their stubborness, when we both know they don't stand a chance in hell!
In eighteenth century Scotland....whisky is a part of their bravado before they go down in flames.

GMcB: (serious) Well that's one thing that hasna changed much. The reasons may be different, but....
(he shakes his head, becoming pensive) ...Ah've tasted oblivion an' it didna work fer me. Ah got enough devils doggin' me wi' out that old one.
(turns to her, pleading)
Help me here?

Claire: (eying him with sympathy) Alright. Give me a few minutes!

She disappears in the vicinity of the large kitchens, desperately looking for an answer.

After several minutes she returns and pulls him aside again.

Claire: Don't swallow it!

GMcB: (looking at her like she's insane) Don't swallow it? That's yer answer?

She pulls him into the hallway again, looking around to make sure they are not being observed, and hands him what appears to be some kind of bag, shaped like a balloon she has been hiding in the folds of her skirt.

Seeing the blank look on his face, she continues.

Claire: It's a pig bladder I found hanging in the scullery. They dry them out to use for making bagpipes.

He makes a face and is about to hand it back to her, when she continues.

Claire: You'll raise suspicion if you don't pretend to drink. When no one is looking, spit the whisky into this!

She proceeds to tuck it into his shirt.

GMcB: Ye've got to be fuckin' out o' yer mind! How dae ye propose ah do that?

Claire: Keep your conversations short and your swigs manageable!

GMcB: Have ye noticed how they're pourin' the stuff?

Claire: You'll just have to manage. I can't think of everything.
(testily now)
Besides, you're the fucking actor, not me. Just do it!

Patting the bag, she pushes him back into the room.

Finding a quiet corner, she swigs down a glass of whiskey herself and watches him with mute fascination.

Next: The Pissing Contest! 

Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction that exists only in the twilight zone of the writer's mind. Any and all resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

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