Tanner! Over My Dead Body!

Written by: Ray Stone
The plan had to work. If not, Louise reasoned, some of the crew, including herself, would leave. The meeting in the Blue Room Café was noisy and, surprisingly, Tanner put the simple idea forward. Everyone agreed with the plan but became sceptical when Tanner proposed it should be him taking the lead role because he could convince Marge of his intentions.
“Penny for them, love.” Lionel, the café owner, placed a coffee in front of Louise. He rubbed both hands in the folds of his apron, his half-smile more an expression of comfort rather than a friendly greeting. “Always sad when they go. I did my stint all over the smoke for nearly thirty.” He bit his bottom lip, sighed, and picking up her breakfast plate, walked back to the kitchen.
The door opened and Tanner, grinning and chatting with Lennie, breezed in and sat next to Louise.
“Guess who’s gonna’ play his part and confirm your story.” Lennie signalled Lionel and ordered two coffees. He tapped the table firmly. “He has a headache. We get to the end of this season and then it’s the Flower show for three weeks. He’s gonna’ be in trouble alright.”
Tanner bubbled with enthusiasm. “We just put it to Mr bleedin’ Darlin’; this was the last chance. We have two more weeks to sort this out. The advert has been out there for a few weeks and in 'Stage'. No takers.” He waved a hand in the air. “I think…well, we think tonight might be a good idea for you to get her goin'.”
Louise pushed her coffee away. “This is not funny, Tanner. Managers like Marge are fast disappearing. If she goes, this theatre will suffer.”
Lennie patted her hand. “We know darlin’…we know. Don’t forget another meeting tomorrow night – here. ”
Louise flicked the tannoy switch. “Ladies and gentlemen. Please leave the dressing rooms before eleven fifteen. From the stage, goodnight.”
Marge sat at Sparks’ desk making notes.
Louise took a deep breath. “Marge, are you still going?”
Marge smiled. “If you think-”
“I wondered if you would write me a reference for the job.”
“Louise, you have a lot to learn yet. It’s-”
“We need to stop Tanner. Mr Darling fancies him for the job. The crew are going to walk out.”
Marge sat open-mouthed. “I’ll kill them.” Her eyes narrowed as she clenched her fists. “First Tanner and then the office pussy.”
Tanner walked onto the stage. “Hi, Marge.” He smiled at Louise. “Want a lift?”
Marge leapt from her chair and grabbed Tanner with both hands around his neck, their noses touching. “The job is not yours, you brainless piece of smelly snot. And by the time the joe soap  in the office sees me, he is going to feel my boot.”
Tanner smiled and winked. “You see, I know you like me really, Marge. Mr Darling likes me too. Reckons I’d make a great SM.”
Tanner wriggled free and ran off stage.


And ... one of Ray's bodies almost makes it onto the page. Very nicely done. Tanner seems to have more depths than meets the ear. But will Marge relent? And what will Ronnie Darling do once he finds Tanner's application on his desk, if it is the only one he receives?

You've left me a lot of challenges.