Special Effects

Written by: Ant Gavin Smits

“I’ve had enough. I want to go before the Summer season starts.” 

“No Marge, please.” Ronnie held his hands out, a pleading expression on his face. “Our producer, Suratta Gooing, will be here lunchtime. She wants to discuss the show and look at the facilities backstage.”

Marge finished rolling a thin cigarette and nipped stray strands of Old Holborn tobacco from one end. “Let someone else take over,” she said, lighting up.

A strong smell filled the small office. Ronnie Darling reached across his desk to a small window, pushing it open.

“I’ll meet her and show her around,” said Marge, “but I am giving you a month’s notice. If you advertise right away, you can have my replacement in place before next season.” Coughing, she left, leaving a curl of smoke.

At the stage entrance, Lennie confronted her. “We’ve got a problem, boss. This walk-around by producer Gooing.” Lennie paused and took a deep breath. “It might be a good idea to avoid the costume room. Tanner is brewing lager in there.”

Marge closed her eyes and sighed. “Alcohol? He’s fired.” 

“Well, actually, the brew is part of a surprise a few of us planned for your birthday. Two weeks away, right? We thought we’d have a party on stage with food and some homemade beer. Extra strength. Tanner said he’d made some before so we okayed it. Mr Darling knows. Well, not about the beer, but I’m sure he’ll go along. Anyway, don’t let Tanner know you know. He’d be upset.”


Tanner finished removing the stoppers and opened the bag of sugar. He carefully poured a half teaspoon of sugar into each of the fifty bottles standing on the wooden slates above the hot water boiler. As he replaced the stoppers, he noticed some bubbles forming in several of the bottles. Behind him, the door suddenly opened and Lennie appeared.

“You're wanted. That producer’s here. Marge wants us all to meet her.” 

As he followed Lennie out, Tanner glanced at the wall where he’d pinned his ticket. He’d decided to enter the talent show.

They found Louise and George in the passage, and walked with them onto the stage, where Suratta Gooing shook hands all round. 

“I am so pleased to be...” Her voice morphed into a shriek as a huge bang rocked the building from somewhere below. As the stage vibrated momentarily, dust and plaster shards fell from the fly tower.

The gang looked at each other open-mouthed. Tanner reacted first, bolting off stage. 

Lennie ran after him, followed by Marge and Gooing. Tanner greeted them with a grin in the lower passage. Broken bottle fragments lay in a pool in the costume room entrance. The door hung awry and a strong smell of half-cooked beer filled the small space. 

“Too much sugar,” Tanner said. “I should have left the stoppers off. Now we don’t have any beer.”

Marge and Gooing began to laugh. 

“Just tell me there are no dead bodies,” said Gooing.


Dead bodies? Where did that line come from? Very funny, Ant, and very visual. I wonder what Tanner will do next. Well written, Sir. It's an excellent chapter to follow. Let's hope I don't trip up on any dead words. Loved it, Ant. Well done, mate.
This is an excellent chapter. Loved the description of Marge rolling a cigarette l and the ironic...no dead bodies. Nicely crafted with good flow and variation in intensity. From this... 'At the stage entrance, Lennie confronted her. “We’ve got a problem, boss...' to this 'Tanner finished removing etc...
Suratta Gooing - love it. This was funny, witty and well constructed. A lovely chapter Ant.