Two Bachelors from Tacoma

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Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:16 pm

It was exactly three minutes past the appointed hour when Fleiss flung the conference room door open and strode in.  Even before he was all the way seated at the head of the table, he began speaking.

"Are the viewers getting tired of Chris Harrison?" he asked the assembled Fleissmice.  "I mean, I hear he's boring," he said, looking around with genuine puzzlement and concern on his face.  "No more affable Uncle Chris?"

"Oh, you know how it goes," ventured one of them.  "People like to be critical.  They get on those message boards and say anything that pops into their heads."  The rest of the Fleissmice nodded.  A couple of them reached for the cheese platter.

"I was wondering if we should have tryouts," Fleiss continued.  "See if anyone else can step into the role."

The Fleissmice were stunned.  It appeared the boss was serious.  "Got anyone in mind?" one of them asked.

"I don't know," Fleiss mused.  "Maybe somebody like Carson Daly from The Voice."  He looked around the room at the nodding Fleissmice.

"Good idea," said several of them in unison.

"How would we do tryouts?" asked the one way in the back.

"Well," said Fleiss, warming to the idea, "we're about to hold auditions to see who's going to be The Bachelor.  Let's have Daly interview them and introduce them to our panel of judges."

"Outstanding idea, boss!" said the Fleissmice in near-perfect chorus.

*****

Phone calls were made.  Promises to keep Daly's potential willingness to jump ship were offered and accepted.  A panel of executive producers, deputy producers, assistants to producers, and a couple of college interns was assembled.  Everyone took his or her place at a long table, and each one put his or her water bottle on the table as a place marker.  A group of seven nervous Bachelor wannabes sat just off stage.

Carson Daly took the stage, looking very comfortable.  He had met with each of the young men previously, and felt he knew them well enough to do a decent introduction.  He cleared his throat, picked up the microphone, and began.

"Our first hopeful is Matthew," he said, nodding at Matthew to join him on the stage.  He gave a brief bio, then let Matthew do the talking.  He guided Matthew skillfully through his interview, bringing out the young man's best attributes.  As they finished, Daly encouraged the panel to consider him approvingly.  "Give it up for Matthew!" he said in upbeat tones, urging the panel to clap for him.  The panel did.

"Our next young gentleman is Joshua," said Daly as Joshua made his way to the stage.  He gave Joshua the same upbeat treatment.  "Give it up for Joshua!" he said, nodding to the panel.

"Next we have Daniel," prompted Daly as Daniel worked his way onto the stage.  Daniel was also given positive treatment.  "Give it up for Daniel!" said Daly.

"And now, please meet Andrew," said Daly as Andrew joined him.  He got the positive treatment, too.  "Give it up for Andrew!" Daly encouraged.

"And here's Kyle," smiled Daly as Kyle came forward.  He, too, was given great treatment.  "Give it up for Kyle!" Daly urged.

"Next is Brandon," said Daly as Brandon came onto the stage.  Like the others, he was given wonderful treatment.  "Give it up for Brandon!"

"And finally, here is Victor," said Daly with no loss of enthusiasm.  He also was given terrific treatment.  "Give it up for Victor!"

*****

The panel joined the Fleissmice in the conference room.  Exactly three minutes later the conference room door was flung open and Fleiss took his place at the head of the table.  "Well?" he said, looking at the panel.

There was a moment's hesitation before one of the executive producers spoke.  "Who first?  Daly, or the wannabes?"

Fleiss nodded.  "Let's pick the next Bachelor first."

The producers exchanged quick glances.  The same executive producer spoke again.  "We haven't had a chance to discuss it," she said.  "We don't know if we agree."

Fleiss smiled.  "Good.  I like it when it's raw."  He winked and leered at one of the interns.  She blushed, but didn't drop her gaze.

The executive producer cleared her throat.  "Well," she began, "I liked Victor best.  He's got good manners, he seems to be able to hold a conversation, he seemed to have something to bring to the party.  He's great looking, of course, but then they all are."  She looked at the rest of the panel.

"I liked Victor well enough," said one of the male members of the panel.  "I also liked Daniel.  He seemed like he would take direction without putting up a fuss."

The others offered their opinions in turn.  Victor was clearly either the first or second choice of all of them.

"That's settled, then," said Fleiss.  "Victor it is."  He took a drink from his bottled water.  "OK, what about Carson Daly?  Do we like him better than Chris Harrison?"

The members of the panel looked at each other and seemed less comfortable with this decision than they had the first one.

"Again, we haven't had a chance to talk among ourselves," said the same female executive producer.  "Speaking for myself only, I'd say there's nothing wrong with him and I'm sure we'd learn how to work with him, but..." she hesitated.

"But?" encouraged Fleiss.

"I don't know," she finally confessed.  "I don't know what there is about him that makes me stand back."  She cleared her throat, then looked straight at Fleiss.  "I'd rather keep Chris."

The others nodded in agreement.  "He seems good at encouraging people," one of the male panel members said, "but he seems to have certain canned lines that he repeats."

They talked about that for a while, Fleiss listening closely.  "I trust you people," he said.  "You have good instincts.  Looks like we should keep Chris."

Finally a voice from the back spoke up.  It was the young intern at whom Fleiss had winked earlier.  "Frankly," she said, "if Carson Daly had told me to 'give it up' for one more guy, I'd have become the town ho."
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:29 pm

On the one hand, Victor was astonished to have been chosen.  On the other, he'd had a feeling something wonderful was supposed to happen to him as a result of leaving Tacoma, and clearly this was it.  He met Fleiss and Chris Harrison, and both men lavished praise on him as the best choice for the upcoming season's lead.  They had told him the show's fans had been begging for someone new as the lead and not someone recycled from the previous season and they were sure he would thrill the whole audience.  What they hadn't told him was the runners-up had all refused to do the show and they were left with no one to carry over into this season.  Nobody needed to know that, they reasoned, when so many fans had asked for someone they hadn't met before.

Victor was to stay in his hotel a few more days until they got the women contestants finalized and moved into the mansion.  The night he first got the news, he rushed back to his room and called his best friend, Peter, in Tacoma.  They had first met in fourth grade and had been inseparable since then.  As they grew up they played baseball in the summer and soccer in the fall, each trying to out-do the other in scoring.  They looked quite a bit alike, as it turned out, with both ending up at 6' 3" with light brown hair and blue eyes.  They went to university together as well, and that was when things changed between them.  In their senior year Peter met Julia in a history class and fell in love.  Julia, however, was a bit coy.  She gave Peter some encouragement but hesitated at making a full commitment.  After graduation, Julia went to work in a local law office and started law school. 

Victor and Peter both continued in school, each earning an MBA and receiving a number of interesting employment offers.  Peter wouldn't consider any that took him away from Tacoma and Julia.  Victor scoffed at him.  "You're only 25 years old," he said.  "Why are you tying yourself down now?"  But Peter wouldn't budge.

Finally, hoping to light a fire under Peter, Victor announced he was leaving for Los Angeles.  "Maybe I'll take that job with that big firm," he said, temporarily forgetting its name.  "Or maybe I'll try out for The Bachelor.  Who knows?"

Peter laughed himself silly over that idea.

"You'll be back in a month," he predicted.  "You'll miss Tacoma and, good grief, who could tolerate LA?"

After his selection, Victor loved telling Peter that he had been chosen as the lead.  Peter was, at least, enthusiastic and proud of Victor.

*****

When the season started shooting, Victor had surrendered his cell phone, as required by the show.  But that was merely the cell phone the show knew about.  Before he had come under the complete control of the producers, he'd bought a disposable cell phone at a convenience store and hid it.  He didn't plan to use it much, but he also didn't like the idea of being under the producers' complete control.  He had called Peter several times as the show had continued, letting Peter know which women he'd kept and which ones he'd sent home.  Peter occasionally teased him with threats to report the entire conversations to Trending Today, the rag mag most interested in every purloined detail they could get their unethical little hands on.  They both laughed over that, each knowing Peter would never do it.

"Peter," Victor began, "I'm at a bit of a loss over what to do next.  We're down to the final four women."  His tone was serious enough that Peter knew not to make smart remarks.

"What's the matter?" Peter asked.

"I'm really falling for one of them," Victor admitted.  "Her name is Sarah."

"And that's a problem because..."

"Because Fleiss is really pushing Ashley."

"How come?"

Victor's voice became softer.  "Because Sarah is so hot Fleiss wants her as one of the ones remaining and available to be the lead for the next season of The Bachelorette."

"Oh, dude," said Victor, the sympathy in his voice genuine.  "What are you going to do?"

"Just keep Sarah in it as long as I can," Victor said.  "I just hope I can keep her to the end."

"What happens next?" asked Victor.

"Tomorrow I go horse back riding with Ashley," Victor responded, sounding unhappy.  "It's the last one-on-one date.  Then we'll have a rose ceremony and I'll send one of them home.  The final three will get hometown dates."

"You can keep Sarah through that, can't you?"

"Yep, and I will." 

"Dude..."

"Yeah, I know," said Victor.  "Glad you're on the other end of the phone, Peter.  It means a lot to me."
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:44 am

Victor and Ashley were driven to what was called a "guest ranch" a couple hours outside Los Angeles.  There they were each given a tame horse to ride on a well-groomed bridal trail with a guide leading the way.  Cameras had been set up before they arrived to catch them as they came around bends on the trail, which removed the guide from view.  They meandered along at a plodding pace, smiling and pretending to be having fun each time a camera came into view.  As they neared the end of the ride there was a long, straight stretch leading back to the barn.  The horses picked up the pace a bit.

"Obviously they know they get rid of us in a few minutes," called Victor back to Ashley.

"I know, right?" she responded.  "Mine is looking forward to munchies."

Victor turned again to say something to Ashley, but it was lost as his horse suddenly reared at the sight of a snake on the path.  Victor, who was already turned at an awkward angle, fell off and landed hard on the ground with the snake under him.  He felt the snake bite his shoulder.  Ashley screamed.

Crew members came running.  A debate broke out over whether they should try to move Victor, who kept whispering in a raspy voice that there was a snake under him and he couldn't move, or do what they'd always been told and not move an injured person until medical help arrived.  Finally one of the burly equipment operators lifted Victor enough to remove the snake and confirm it was a non-poisonous garter snake.  Victor wanted to believe him and hoped the man knew one snake from another.

It took the EMTs a bit to get to Victor.  By then Ashley, who was shaken up over seeing the accident, had been taken to the ranch house and given a cup of tea.  The EMTs worked over Victor for a bit, then announced to the crew they needed to take Victor back to the ranch house, then have him air lifted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a Level I trauma hospital.  They were afraid Victor's neck was broken.  Victor wondered idly if he were going to die.  One of the Fleissmice phoned back to the office to get the boss's OK to let Victor be taken to Cedars-Sinai.

"Nothing less expensive will do?" came the question.

"The EMTs insist," came the answer.

Fleiss sighed.  "Okay," he said finally.  "Maybe he won't have to stay there very long."

However, when Victor arrived at Cedars-Sinai the medical staff found he had four broken ribs, a bruised and collapsed lung, and a non-venomous snake bite that could possibly become infected from whatever the snake had been eating.  The good news was his neck was not broken and he would not be paralyzed; he would recover fully.  The bad news was it would be at least four weeks and a lot of physical therapy before that happened.

As soon as it was allowed, Victor's room was filled with Ashley, who felt terrible that he'd been turned to talk with her before the accident and might not have fallen off otherwise; Sarah, whom he was happy to see even when hurting all over; Megan, whom he had decided to keep for the hometown dates; and Kayla, whom he had decided to send home before the hometown dates, but hadn't yet had the opportunity.  The medical staff wouldn't let the young women stay more than five minutes, so the visit was all over nearly as soon as they had arrived.

Chris Harrison and Fleiss arrived a bit later, pulled up chairs, and began to fret aloud.  There was no time to start filming all over again with a new lead.  They couldn't bring in a new bachelor at this point in the season and expect the home audience to buy a change in leads at that point.

Victor was tired.  He wanted them to go away.  Finally he had an idea, and hoped it would work.

"Call my friend Peter," he suggested.  "We look a lot alike.  You could do long shots, or shots from behind his head, or whatever.  It's going to be hometown dates, so let the families and scenery be the focus.  I'll be out before the final rose ceremony and can do that part myself."

Harrison and Fleiss stopped talking and listened to Victor.  Then they both talked at once.  "That could work," Harrison said, tentatively.  "We could even use computer generated imagery to do a few close-ups, putting Victor's face on top of Peter's," said Fleiss, thinking aloud.  They spent another half hour figuring out how to pull it off before a nurse saw them and made them leave.

"I thought I had chased everybody out of here a long time ago," she said, scolding them.  She hustled them to the door and told them not to come back any more that day.  It was the first time Harrison had seen Fleiss look embarrassed and willing to mind a woman.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:10 pm

When Peter heard Victor's voice, he knew something was terribly wrong.  Victor sounded tired and dispirited. Once Victor explained the situation, Peter understood his life-long friend needed the kind of help only he could provide.  But leave his job?  Leave Julia?  He asked Victor for 24 hours to see if he could make it work.  Victor agreed, given he had no other choice.

Peter knew his bosses liked him.  He explained the situation to them, asking for four weeks of unpaid leave.  "He's like a brother to me," Peter explained.

"Brother?" said the helpful Human Resources Director.  "You can use the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act if he's your brother."  She paused.

Peter was hesitant to tell an outright lie.  "Like a brother," he finally said.  "We grew up together."

"Kind of like an adoptive brother, maybe?" she prompted.

"Yes," said Peter, "very much like that."

"We can approve the leave," she said, smiling, to Peter's vast relief.

He worried the conversation with Julia wouldn't go quite as smoothly.  He stopped at a jewelry store before picking her up to take to dinner.  Once they were seated and had ordered their meals, he explained the entire series of events to her.  Before this, she had not known Victor had been chosen to be The Bachelor and was in the middle of filming.  At Peter's insistence she promised to tell no one.

"You guys don't look that much alike," she said.  "You'll never fool the girls."

"I don't have to fool the girls," he said.  "They'll be in on it.  And Victor will make the final choice at the end."

"Do you really think you can fool the audience?" she asked, laughing a little bit while shaking her head in disbelief.

"The show does," he responded.  "I don't know all the magic tricks they can do in an editing booth."

Julia continued to smile and shake her head.

"I just want you to know," he began, "that nothing about this, including the dates, the kissing, the Fantasy Suites... any of it!... will have anything to do with how I feel about you and what I want for us."

"Kissing?  Fantasy Suite dates?" The smile disappeared and a frown took its place.

"I have to pretend to be Victor," Peter reminded her.  "That's what's left before the Final Rose Ceremony."

"Oh," she said, reaching for her wine glass.

He reached into his pocket.  "I got something for both of us," he said, pulling out a small box and setting it on the table.  He nodded at it.  "Open it."

She hesitated.  "It's not..."

"Relax," he said, smiling.  "No, it's not that.  But it's a commitment, none-the-less."

She took the lid off carefully, and saw a heart with a key-shaped side missing and, separately, a key that fit the missing side.  Each had a gold chain.

"I'd like you to wear the heart," he said, "and I'll wear the key."

A look of tenderness was evident in her face.  "Yes," she said.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:31 pm

Peter felt a bit unsure of himself when he found out the first thing he was to do was a rose ceremony.  He looked at the remaining women, Sarah, Ashley, Megan, and Kayla, and wondered how he would choose any of them to eliminate.  Fortunately, he had Victor's choice and all he had to do was deliver it.  The producers told him they would focus camera shots from behind him onto the women, as well as shots of his hands holding the roses.

"Victor, when you're ready," he heard Chris Harrison say, and it was just a quick beat of time before he remembered he was supposed to be Victor.  The producers had told him in what order he was to hand out the roses.

"Sarah," he heard himself say, then watched Sarah smile and step forward.  "Sarah, will you accept this rose?"

"I'd love to," she whispered, giving him a hug and an air kiss near his cheek.

He picked up the next rose, and gave the camera operator times to focus on it, then on the three remaining women.

"Ashley," he said, and she stepped forward.  "Ashley, will you accept this rose?"

"Of course," she said, also hugging him and air-kissing his cheek.

Chris Harrison stepped out of the shadows.  "Ladies," he began, "Victor, this is the final rose tonight.  Victor, when you're ready."  He stepped back into the shadows.

This time he held the rose longer.  The cameras panned Megan and Kayla as they stood nervously waiting.  Megan licked her lips several times.  Kayla sucked in her cheek.  Peter cleared his throat.  The camera returned to the rose he held.

"Megan," he said, at long last.  She stepped forward quickly before he could pull a Steve Harvey and change his mind.  "Megan, will you accept this rose?"

Her relieved exhale was loud, even though she tried to appear composed.  "No problem," she said, as if she were a restaurant server responding to a request for more bread.  Her hug was strong and her kiss on his cheek touched more than air.

Chris Harrison reappeared.  He looked sad.  "Kayla, I'm sorry," he said, sympathy in his voice.  "Take a moment and say your goodbyes."

Peter had been coached that he was to offer to walk her out to the waiting limo.  He watched her hug the three remaining women, then approach him.  He offered his arm. 

"Not a chance," she said.  "You're just unreal."
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:35 pm

                                                                                       Trending Today©
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Trending Today has learned exclusively that something is fishy as The Bachelor winds through its final days of filming.  "You'll see," our informant told us.  "Watch how he walks.  Listen to his voice.  Something odd has happened and The Powers That Be aren't saying what it is."

We contacted one of the producers for their side of things but, as is usually the case when they are filming, no one would say anything except that filming was continuing and this would be the most amazing ending ever.  "Or," said the producer, "maybe it's astonishing.  Or surprising.  Or stunning.  Or breathtaking.  Or mind-boggling.  Or spectacular.  I can't remember which ones we've used and I left my thesaurus back in the office."

We will continue to report the latest developments as we learn them.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by Ughwhatname on Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:58 am

Smile

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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:27 am

Hahaha!  Thanks, Ugh!
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:16 pm

The first hometown date was to meet Megan's family.  Megan hailed from Parsons, Kansas, down in the southeast corner of the state.  They flew into Tri-City Airport, which looked like something out of a low-budget movie, and rented a car.  They drove the 11 miles to town, then a few blocks northeast to her parents' house.  Peter, still acting as Victor, was surprised to see that no downtown building was more than two stories tall.  "Folks like it that way," was Megan's explanation. 

They were greeted by Megan's parents, her younger brother, and her grandmother.  "Welcome to God's country!" her grandmother said with enthusiasm.

Peter wondered exactly how angry God had been when he designated this as His country.

They had a tour which included Bender's Mountain, a hill that might have been a few hundred feet high, and that had a bloody history nobody wanted to talk about.  "We ski here in the winter," said Megan's brother proudly, as if it rivaled Aspen or Vail.  Peter tried to appear appreciative, even though he knew his face would not be shown closely enough to register such emotion.

Still, Peter enjoyed Megan and her family.  His mother's phrase "salt of the earth" came into his mind.

He flew immediately from Megan's hometown to visit Ashley, bearing in mind that she was the one Fleiss wanted Victor to choose.  Ashley lived in St Petersburg Beach, Florida, and she met him at the airport in Tampa.  He enjoyed the drive across the causeway to St Pete, as Ashley encouraged him to call it, and was absolutely entranced by the pelicans swooping in and out of the water.  "You'd think they'd get one helluva headache," he mused as one struck the water full force.

Ashley's parents and her older sister greeted them upon their arrival at their home.  "Let's take Victor on a quick tour of the beachfront," suggested Ashley's mother.  They seemed particularly interested in showing him the Don CeSar Hotel.  "It's called 'The Pink Lady' because, obviously, of its color," said Ashley's mother, making a sweeping gesture that took in its bright pink exterior.  "It has a long and fascinating history," she continued, "starting as the hotel of the rich and famous during the jazz age, then falling into utter disrepair, then serving as a military hospital in World War II, and finally to its rejuvenation forty-some years ago which returned it to a five-star hotel!"  She couldn't have been more proud if she had rescued the hotel herself.  Peter nodded and smiled.

Dinner was fresh seafood prepared beautifully by Ashley's mother.  Conversation around the dinner table was easy, and Peter joined Ashley's father on the back patio for brandy and cigars.  The night was soft, and various chirping and clicking noises could be heard from the yard and beyond.

"I need to ask," began Peter-as-Victor, "if things should progress further, whether you would find it acceptable for me to ask you for your daughter's hand?"

"Well, son," her father began, "we barely know you.  What we've seen of you is fine, of course, but I'd hate to think this is all some kind of act and you're really an imposter trying to seduce my daughter for nefarious reasons."

Peter choked on his brandy.

"Oh, no, sir!" said Peter between coughing spasms.  "I have only honorable intentions toward your daughter!"  He continued to cough.

"How honorable could they be when you're going to take her, and then another young lady, into a bedroom for an overnight... um... date?"

Peter's coughing had subsided.  "I don't plan to do anything untoward there," he replied honestly.  "That wouldn't be fair."

Ashley's father perked up at that, then he frowned.  "You some kind of fruitcake, boy?  She's a beautiful young woman!"

"She is, indeed, sir," Peter agreed.  "And she deserves better than to be treated callously."

Ashley's father leaned back in his chair and took a big puff on his cigar.  "Well, well," he mused.  "Maybe there still are a few good ones remaining."

Peter smiled.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Thu Jan 14, 2016 12:00 pm

And then Peter met Sarah.  He'd met her on his first night there, of course, when he did the rose ceremony in Victor's stead, but he was too nervous that night to pay much attention to any of them.  Besides, the whole thing was over with in minutes.  But now it was the hometown dates, and he was getting to spend significant time with each of them, and Sarah...  Well, now he understood why Victor had fallen for her.

The first part of the meeting struck him funny: Sarah lived in Seattle, only thirty miles up the road from Tacoma.  She met him at SeaTac International Airport, which was about halfway between the two cities, and it felt odd only for a moment when they turned north to go to Seattle rather than his familiar turn to the south to go home.  She lived in a neighborhood called Ballard, an area originally settled by Scandinavian fishermen because of the large sheltered cove in which to moor fishing boats.  Now it was a popular, trendy place to live.  Peter was impressed when they pulled into her parents' driveway and he saw the view from their house high on the bluff overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains on the other side. 

She smiled at him. "Takes your breath away, doesn't it?" she asked, gesturing to the view.

"Spectacular," he agreed, returning her smile.

But what he really found spectacular was Sarah, herself.  Her brown hair was about one shade lighter than his -- and Victor's, he remembered -- and her eyes were light blue sometimes and slate blue at other times.  She seemed utterly unaware of her beauty, yet she must have been told how beautiful she was over her entire life.  She was charming, considerate, upbeat, intelligent, and seemed to regard the world as a fascinating place.  She looked as though she believed something wonderful was just about to happen.  He realized he wanted to be the wonderful thing she anticipated.

Her parents were much the same.  They welcomed Peter into their home, although they were told his name was Victor, and engaged in conversation that had some depth.  Because they were all from Western Washington, they had topics of conversation available to them that someone from another place wouldn't understand.  They complained about the traffic, they admitted they didn't really mind the rain, and they found they all enjoyed boating.

"Some day," said Peter wistfully, "I'll have a boat."

"I've never wanted a boat," said Sarah's father with a twinkle in his eye.  "I've wanted a friend with a boat."  They all laughed together, knowing the cost of boat ownership was high.

At this point in a hometown visit, the young woman usually took the lead on a tour of the town.  Peter had seen the Space Needle many times, as well as the Pike Place Market and the Fremont Troll statue.  The producers wanted hometown footage, so finally Sarah and Peter took them to Green Lake, a city park just north of the downtown area with a lake in the middle.  It was just about three miles to walk around the lake on a well-groomed path, crowded with walkers and bicyclists and parents pushing strollers and people exercising their dogs.  "How could anyone not love the Northwest?" wondered Sarah.  Peter shook his head in shared bewilderment.  They sat on one of the benches facing the lake.

Sarah, it turned out, was a librarian.  She worked in the big downtown library and loved it.  "Do you know who the bravest people on earth are?" she asked.  "Librarians!" she pronounced, before he could answer.  "Any time despots take over a society, the first thing they want to do is burn the books.  Librarians have stood in their way -- literally! -- many times, and saved the books.  They've hidden books, too.  People joke about old maid librarians.  Well, ugly tyrants are no match for librarians!"

He loved her passion.  He loved her willingness to fight for a culture's heritage.  He loved everything about her.

"I think I'll kidnap you," he said.  He laughed as he said it, but it reflected his feelings.  "I'll just spirit you away and let Fleiss figure out how to get the real Victor healthy and let him choose Ashley or Megan."  He scratched the top of the clip-on microphone on his shirt to make his words inaudible.

"Ha!" she said, laughing along with him.  "I've just told you how feisty librarians are.  And you think you can just kidnap one?"

"Let me think," said Peter, pretending to be absorbed in solving the problem.  "I know!  I'll drug the crew with white raisins.  Then I'll leave a bogus script showing Victor's choice as Ashley."  He scratched the microphone some more as he said it.

He pulled off his shirt to soak up the sun.  She looked at him.  "What's that key you're wearing?"

He had forgotten he was wearing it and the promise he had made to Julia.  "Um... it's the key to my heart," he said, thinking fast.  "Someday someone will own it.  Maybe you!"  Julia had become a faint memory.

After a few more minutes Peter put his shirt back on and they got up from the bench.  "You know you're beautiful," Peter said as they continued around Green Lake.

"Thank you, and I don't mean to sound unappreciative, but so what?" she asked.  "That's not an accomplishment.  That's just the luck of the gene draw.  I'd rather you admire me for something I've actually done."

He was even more enchanted by her for that response, and told her so.  She smiled up at him.

Later he found himself in the inevitable after-dinner conversation with Sarah's father, who still called him Victor.  "You like Tacoma?" he asked.  "I was born there, but we moved to Seattle when I was little."

"I like Tacoma a lot," Peter-as-Victor replied.  "It's close enough to Seattle to take advantage of what it offers, and still offers plenty on its own."  He paused, not wanting to offend Sarah's father.  "And the traffic isn't nearly as bad."

Her dad nodded.  "No kidding," he said.  "It's gotten gruesome."

He took a sip of wine.  "So now you take my daughter to the Fantasy Suite?" he began, sounding a little tense.

"Sir," replied Peter-as-Victor, "I'm crazy about Sarah and will not put her in any kind of compromising position.  Nothing will happen until and unless we've made a total commitment to each other."

Her father visibly relaxed.  "Thank you, son.  It's good to know there are still some young men who were brought up right."
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:36 pm

Julia was beginning to wonder what was going on.  Or, more correctly, what was not going on.  Peter had called her every night to tell her about that day's adventures as Victor's stand-in, but now he hadn't called in the last two nights and tonight looked like it was about to be the third.  She felt sure she would be notified if he had suffered an accident like Victor's, but still she worried about why he hadn't called.  She knew she couldn't call him because she might interrupt shooting.

She was a bit surprised at how much she missed him.  She had been so wrapped up in her job and law school that she hadn't really considered seriously his many urgings that they get married.  She hadn't known if she wanted to get married at this point in her life, and she hadn't dated widely enough to be sure she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.  As she realized her current longing for him, however, she began to suspect she had taken him for granted these past several years and hadn't really appreciated how much he meant to her.

He was, as she thought about it more, her best friend as well as being her romantic interest.  They approached life in much the same way.  They found the same things important and other things ridiculous.  Their ideas of right and wrong were the same, and they each had a strong work ethic.  Each came from a tightly-knit family and each enjoyed, and was accepted by, the other's family.

She stared at her phone, but it remained silent.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:26 pm

"So what are white raisins?" Sarah asked Victor as he lay in his hospital bed.  He was looking a bit more comfortable in the last few days, and the doctors had said he could be out in another two weeks. 

"Oh, man," Victor began.  "It's kind of an in-joke.  It goes back to Emily's season.  People were always talking about whether some contestant or another was there for the right reasons.  On one of the message boards, some of the posters changed 'right reasons' to 'white raisins,' and claimed they were highly addictive and could be laced with some kind of knock-out drops."  He paused.  "Why?  Where did you hear about white raisins?"

"Something Peter said," she replied.  "I think he was joking.  He said he'd like to give the crew some white raisins and kidnap me away."

Victor was alarmed.  "Kidnap you away?  What's he doing?"  Victor looked a little angry.  "Is he falling for you?" 

"Well, he acts that way," Sarah admitted, "but isn't he supposed to?  I mean, he's pretending to be you, after all."

Victor relaxed a bit, then had another thought.  "Did he say the kidnap stuff when you were on mic or off?"

"On," she said, "but he seemed to be scratching on his.  I doubt that part of the conversation was audible."

Victor looked worried and angry again.  "He'd better not be trying to steal my girl!"

Sarah smiled.  "I'm not a thing lying around, passively available to be stolen," she said.  "I have a mind and a will, too."

Victor sunk back into his pillow.  "Of course you have," he said, feeling reassured.  "And Peter has a long-time girlfriend in Tacoma.  He's probably mentioned Julia to you."

"Julia?  No, he hasn't."

"Hmmmm, that's odd," Victor mused.  "They've been going together for several years.  He's just waiting for her to finish law school before they get married."  Victor wasn't entirely positive marriage commitments had been given, but he thought he'd let Sarah know that Peter wasn't without entanglements.

"Then he was probably just joking about the white raisins," Sarah said.  "Too bad I didn't get the joke."
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:29 pm

Victor had just nodded off when Fleiss and Chris Harrison came into the room.  Neither thought of entering quietly, so their noisy conversation as they came through the door woke him up.  Victor glanced at the clock and saw it was exactly three minutes past the hour.  Evidently he'd been asleep about thirty minutes.  He opened his eyes with a start.

"How ya doin'?" asked Fleiss as he pulled a chair up next to the bed.  "Better, I imagine."

Victor nodded and started to give more of a report, but Fleiss kept talking.  "Ashley been to see you?"

Victor started to say Sarah had just left, but Fleiss continued.  "Great girl, that Ashley.  You'd be a fool not to pick her."

Victor pulled enough air into his lungs to be able to out-shout Fleiss.  "I care more for Sarah," he said looking directly and firmly at Fleiss.  "I intend to pick her."

Fleiss sat back in his chair.  "Won't work," he finally said.  "I need her to be third.  That way she can be The Bachelorette next season.  You'll keep Ashley and Megan after the Fantasy Suite dates, sending Sarah home."

Victor had a thought.  "Maybe I won't get to do that at all," he began.  "Sarah thinks Peter plans to drug the crew and kidnap her.  Evidently he's quite taken with her."  Victor paused to let that sink in.  "That would certainly blow the fiction that I've been the lead all along.  Imagine the fun the rag mags would have with that!"  He turned to Chris Harrison.  "Most Two-Faced Season Ever?"  He chuckled.  "True on so many levels, too!"

Fleiss and Harrison let that one pass.  "Out of idle curiosity, did Sarah indicate how Peter planned to drug the crew?"

"White raisins," Victor said, and Fleiss and Harrison snapped to full attention, exchanging fast glances.  Victor watched them.  "Yeah, I know," he said, misreading their look.  "It's just word play some viewers made up and posted on some message board."

"Um, yeah," said Fleiss almost too quickly.  "That's all it is."  He and Harrison exchanged glances again, and nodded.

"Just so," agreed Harrison.  "Only this and nothing more."
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:31 pm

Peter received the message from one of the Fleissmice that the boss wanted to see him.  He arrived in the conference room at the appointed time and found he was the only one present.  At precisely three minutes past the hour Fleiss flung the door open and strode into the room.  He pulled the chair from the head of the table and sat, Peter on his immediate right.

"Howzit?" he asked, laying his file folders in front of him.  "Going OK?"

Peter was a little nonplussed by the abrupt opening, but recovered.  "It's going well, sir," he responded.  "Everyone has been very helpful and friendly."

"Good, good," replied Fleiss absently.  "What do you think of the final three girls?  Getting along with them alright?"

"They're lovely."  He stopped and smiled shyly.

"Good, good," repeated Fleiss.  "OK, coming up next is the Fantasy Suite dates.  First Sarah, then Megan, then Ashley. Victor will ultimately choose Ashley, so we're going to send Sarah home after this round and keep Ashley and Megan for the finale."

Peter was surprised.  "I thought Victor was going to choose Sarah."

"Where'd you hear that?" Fleiss demanded.

Peter hesitated a little.  "Well, that's what Victor told me."

"Negatory," said Fleiss.  "I need Sarah to be The Bachelorette next season.  Victor's picking Ashley."

Peter chuckled.  "Good deal.  Then I won't have to drug the crew to get Sarah away."

Fleiss pretended to be surprised.  "Drug the crew?  Get Sarah away?"

Peter suddenly realized he'd gone too far.  However, given that Fleiss had already said he wouldn't let Victor pick Sarah, he decided there was nothing to lose.  "I'm very taken with Sarah," Peter admitted.  "I wanted to grab her and run."

"And expose the fact that we've had you as a stand-in?  A well-paid stand-in, I might add?"

"Um, well, yeah, I guess it would have done that," Peter admitted.

Fleiss gave him a cold look.  "You're fired," he said in a calm but firm voice.  "Victor will be well soon enough.  This won't delay shooting by an impossible amount of time.  You are banned from the set.  I'd suggest you catch the next plane for home."

Peter was stunned.  Fleiss made a small gesture under the table and almost immediately a couple of Fleissmice appeared.  "Please escort Peter off the premises," he told them.  "He won't be back."  The Fleissmice nodded.  "Ever," Fleiss added for emphasis.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by Buckeye Belle on Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:58 pm

Superb writing, as always, WW.


But didn't the bridal trail for the horseback ride with Victor and Ashley turn out to be more of a . . . um . . . a breakup trail?  Giggle


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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:59 pm

Thank you, Belle!
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:22 am

Julia reached a decision that surprised even her.  Her Con Law final had wrapped up the afternoon before and she was free for about ten days before the new term started.  She checked the flight miles she had saved up on her credit card and realized she could fly to LA and surprise Peter.  She called the airline and was amazed to discover she could catch a plane at noon.  She arrived at SeaTac two hours ahead of time and was able to board.

When Julia arrived in LA she realized she didn't really know where or how to look for Peter.  Her cab driver, however, knew exactly which bar the program's crew frequented and offered to take her there.  She was very grateful to him for that tidbit, and tipped him well on their arrival.  The name of the bar, she was amused to note, was Unscripted.  She went inside.

It was going on 4:00 and was still bright daylight outside.  She wasn't sure if anyone would be in the bar at that hour, but as soon as her eyes adjusted to the dim she saw a knot of people who seemed to be discussing show gossip.  As she focused in on them, she noticed a beautiful woman who was standing with some guy's arm around her.  Then she noticed the guy was Peter.  She staggered back a couple of paces, then collected herself.  Maybe this was still part of his act on Victor's behalf.  She cautiously approached the group.

Peter seemed to be trying to pull the woman closer.  The woman seemed less interested than Peter did in getting close, however she didn't actively pull away.  Julia couldn't figure out what was going on, given there were no cameras filming it.  Peter looked up and, with a jolt, saw Julia.  He immediately dropped his arm from the woman's shoulder and looked guilty.

"Julia!" he called to her with false enthusiasm.  "Come meet my new friends!"

She smiled and approached the group, who had stopped talking and begun staring at her.

"This is Julia!" he said to the group, again using too much animation.  He introduced her to the crew, and finally to the woman he'd been hugging.  "This is Sarah," he said at last.

Sarah smiled and extended her hand.  "How do you know Peter?" she asked.

Julia smiled in return and accepted Sarah's hand.  "He's my boyfriend," she replied.  "I'm from Tacoma and flew down here to see him while I'm on break from law school."

Sarah seemed stunned.  "Oh!" she said finally.  "Well... he's a... um... interesting guy."

Julia continued to smile.  "He is," she agreed.  "And he has the key to my heart."

A vision of their day at Green Lake popped into Sarah's mind's eye.  She saw the key Peter wore on the chain around his neck, and knew Julia was speaking nearly literally.

"He's a lucky man," Sarah said.

Julia thanked her as Sarah moved away to talk with others in the group.  Julia, too, began to circulate, and that's when she found Peter had been let go from the show, although no one would tell her exactly why it had happened.  "Oh, Victor's going to be well enough pretty soon," said one of the crew.  But Julia wondered if that was really all there was to it.

Sarah, meanwhile, had waited for an opportunity to talk with Peter separately.

"You night-blooming idiot!" she hissed at him when she got him alone.  "You have a perfectly lovely girlfriend.  Yet you were willing to cheat on her and betray your friendship with Victor.  What kind of scuzzbucket are you?"

Peter was embarrassed.  He knew she was right, and that his behavior had been despicable.  Before he had a chance to say anything more to Sarah, she had walked away and was saying goodnight to the group.  He watched her leave, feeling very ashamed of himself.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:55 pm

                                                      Trending Today©
                                       THE MAGAZINE FOR SERIOUS FANS

                                      *BREAKING*BREAKING*BREAKING*


Trending Today has learned exclusively that somebody associated with The Bachelor has been talking about white raisins, along with the possibility of a kidnapping.  Keep checking back as we learn further developments.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Mon Jan 18, 2016 1:04 pm

Victor was surprised when a nurse came into his room with discharge papers.  He thought he still had another week or so to wait before being released, but he certainly wasn't about to question it.  He was very tired of being locked up, and boredom had overtaken him ages ago.  The nurse gave him some pain pills in case he needed them, but otherwise said he was free to go.  His clothes were hanging in the closet in his room, still dirty with caked-on mud from the fall, but otherwise wearable.  He brushed off as much of the dirt as he could before putting them on.  He wondered if Fleiss knew he had been released.  He thought probably not, given that he and Chris Harrison had not come to his room with a host of directions as to what he was to do next.

He wasn't sure where he wanted to go, until he remembered the bar at which the crew hung out.  How he would like a drink!  And, if anyone later questioned his whereabouts, he could point out that he had reported immediately to the show's producers.  Yes, that sounded better all the time.  Now, what was the name of that bar?  Un-something.  Or Something-scripted.  Unscripted!  He got a cab and gave the driver his destination.

As he arrived at the bar, he saw a skirmish taking place on the sidewalk.  Three men seemed to be grabbing a woman, who was screaming.  Victor jumped out of the cab and ran to them.  Adrenaline must have taken over, he later told the cops, because he was able to fight all three of them and chase them away.  It was only when the fight was nearly over that he realized the woman was Sarah.  Sarah!  Nearly grabbed by a gang!

Others were now rushing forward.  Julia arrived first and, to Victor's surprise, seemed to know Sarah.  "Are you alright?" she kept asking, looking Sarah over for any signs of physical harm.  Sarah, a bit out of breath, assured Julia she wasn't hurt. 

"How did you...?" Sarah began, looking at Victor. 

"I don't know," Victor replied, thinking of several possible endings to her question.  "I thank the Fates for getting me here in the nick of time, though," he continued.  He hugged her close to him.  "Can I say to you what I'm not supposed to say, yet?"

She smiled up at him.  "Let's leave it there and I'll understand it.  Then we won't have broken any rules."  She paused.  "I won't yet say back what I'm not supposed to say back," she said, smiling up at him.

"What a great couple you make!" enthused Julia just as Peter caught up to them.

"Unlike Victor, I can say whatever I want," said Peter.  "I've been fired from the show and I no longer have to pretend to be someone else."  He took both of Julia's hands in his.  "Julia, I love you.  Please say you feel the same way."

She smiled and nodded at him.  "I do," she said simply.

Peter turned to Victor.  "We've been lifelong friends and I've treated you badly," he said.  "I deeply apologize and hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

"Of course I do," said Victor.  They held a manly embrace with much back-slapping, then smiled.

"Now comes the next part," said Victor, wincing.  "I have to convince Fleiss to let me choose Sarah."


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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by Buckeye Belle on Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:00 pm

                    Two Bachelors From Tacoma
                                                                                           MESSAGE BOARD




Cynical Cynthia
You gotta wonder, when you twist the plot like this, are TPTB doing it for the white raisins?

Savvy in Savannah
So they're gonna give the backup bachelor a digital makeover?  Heck--haven't they been doing that all along to these bachpeople?  I even thought Jake Pavelka ane Juan Pablo were holograms.

Cynical Cynthia
Well, it's not a bad idea.  it's a lot cheaper than plastic surgery.

Torrid Theresa
A key to a heart?  How sappy is that?  I think twisting a "key" in quite another lock is way more exciting.  Just sayin' . . .

Prudence
Well, I'd a lot rather think sweet than sour, if you don't mind.

Reality Checkers
With all these plot twists, aren't the viewers going to get confused? 

Mystery Miss
Why, no.  The viewers will start thinking in depth about values and commitment.

Holy Toledo
I wonder if Victor has started calling that road between LA and Seattle "the five" yet.

Heartbreak Hannah
There's got to be a lesson in there somewhere.

Joyous Jill
Well, one of them will be a beautiful couple.

Alice in Wonderland
I take it this isn't Downton Abbey.

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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:37 pm

The Fleissmice usually gathered for their meetings at ten minutes before the hour, even though they knew Fleiss would never be early.  It was a chance to get a head start on the cheese trays and to have a few private minutes among themselves.  It was a chance to have some calm moments together out of their usual hectic days. The new guy, Ronald, didn't quite seem to get the picture, though.

"Fleiss isn't really running this place any more," he began.  "He has no respect any more.  Contestants are doing whatever they want and he doesn't do anything to stop it.  He's just not the leader he used to be."

The long-established Fleissmice ignored him, although a couple of the very old ones were quietly nodding.

"The show is dying," Ronald continued.  "Nobody respects it any more.  It used to be a big deal.  Nobody dared try to run a show against it.  The other networks just used to have re-runs on opposite it because nobody would tune in to their stations during The Bachelor.  Now other networks run prime time stuff and they're taking The Bachelor's audience.  And what does Fleiss do?"  He paused dramatically.  "Nothing!  He does nothing!"

Some of the old ones, the ones with white whiskers, nodded again.

"If I were running this outfit, we'd be respected again!  Nobody would dare run anything against us.  It'd be Number One again!  It would be YUUUUUUUUUUGE!"

Ronald sat back down just as the clock struck the top of the hour.  The rest of the Fleissmice looked at the door uncomfortably.  At exactly three minutes after the hour, it flew open and Fleiss entered.  He put his usual stack of file folders on the table in front of him and sat his water bottle next to them.  He sat down and surveyed the table.

"What's the matter?" he asked.  "You guys are looking all stirred up."

Nobody said anything.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:25 pm

Fleiss pulled Victor and Peter into a small conference room.  "OK, OK, he began, addressing Victor.  You're going to pick Sarah.  I guess I can't stop you."  He shook his head in disgust.  "I really wanted her for the lead next season," he said wistfully.  He looked at Victor.  "Which of the remaining two would you find more attractive?"

"Ashley," Victor said.

"Agreed," Peter said.

"OK, then she'll be Number Three.  Send her home next and make Sarah and Megan the Final Two."

"Can do," said Victor.

He got through the Fantasy Suite dates chastely.  Film crews were invited to stay in the rooms all night, and they did.  Nothing beyond hot tubs and conversation took place.  The camera operators were disappointed.  Ashley was sent home at the next rose ceremony.

To add something different before the ending, Fleiss decided to reveal some of what had happened during the season, starting with the horseback riding accident.  A live audience, as well as the viewing public, was shown how Peter had substituted for Victor and the various camera angles that were used to hide his identity.  Gasps and squeals came from the audience as questions were answered.  The next day's rag mags were full of stories about the switch, and many of them claimed they had known it all along but had kept quiet for the sake of the show.

"Bullbleep," said Fleiss.  "Nobody knew a thing."

The night of the finale was upon them.  Victor's choice was, of course, Sarah.  But before she arrived Victor asked Peter to be on the waterfront patio with him.  Two women emerged from the limo and walked together down the path to the two men.  As Julia stood in front of Peter and Sarah in front of Victor, each man dropped to one knee, reached for his lady's left hand, offered a dazzling diamond ring, and asked her to marry him.  Both women said "Yes" in unison, stood, and hugged and kissed their men.

The camera panned out to show gently lapping waves along a sparkling shoreline just as the sun began to set.  The clouds along the horizon turned bright red before the picture faded out.


The end.
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Re: Two Bachelors from Tacoma

Post by WidderWoman4 on Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:25 pm

Sorry.  Belle always was the one who figured out plots.  I never could.
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