Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Hat Trick
Book 2 of the Bradford Exiles series
Wes Boyd
©2004, ©2010

Chapter 26

The next few days were odd, especially in retrospect, odd mostly because, once the natural dynamic between Hannah and Andy had been revealed, Dayna fell right into it with them. While Andy was still Hannah’s master, Dayna was also a master worthy of respect, and was always respectfully referred to as "Ms. Berkshire." Once the dynamic was revealed there were certain protocols that fell into place naturally, and it got Dayna to thinking about her off-the-cuff statement about being a latent dominant. In all the time she’d been with Sandy, most of the time she’d been the leader, even much of the time when they’d decided to play rough; most of the time when she took the submissive role it had been to be fair. Thinking back and reflecting on those times when Sandy played the dominant, she seemed to be working at it a little. Could it be? Or, could it have been? Did it matter anymore?

For that matter, as she thought about it over the next few days – and talked it over with the only people she knew who could understand from that viewpoint, Mr. and Mrs. Baker as they now were to her, it grew to be more of a truth revealed. Speaking not so much in the sense of her relationship with Sandy, but in general, yes, she was a dominant. She enjoyed dominating crowds, molding them in her hands, persuading and shaming them into giving her money. She liked to have control of her life, rather than letting it control her. For centuries, liberated, dominant women have found a safe, more or less respectable haven in the world of entertainment, and she was hardly the first.

Even her relationships with men started to make sense. While she liked sex with men, she’d never come close to a serious relationship with one, mostly because she’d never come across one who really rang her bell. She much preferred to use them as much as she needed, then let them go. Again, with the perspective of looking at Mrs. Baker on her knees before her master, she began to understand that she’d have to be the dominant in a relationship with a man, and she’d never come across a submissive man who had seemed worth the effort. A man would have to be pretty accepting of her odd tastes, her entertainment-centered life, her independence, to want to get serious about her, anyway.

That seemed to make one thing pretty clear – somehow, she’d have to stay in entertainment, rather than giving it up. Emily may have been able to accept being a clerk at the Spee-D-Mart, even though she had obvious organizational and people-handling skills – but there was no way Dayna could do that. She would be controlled, not controlling.

It even gave some perspective to how she could have lost Sandy so easily. For almost six years, they’d spent almost all their time together, with Dayna being mostly the leader. When Dayna was no longer there to be the leader, and probably in not much shape to think for herself anyway, Sandy’s natural submissiveness must have latched on to whoever seemed dominant – her mother, who did the natural thing and dominated. It wasn’t a happy thought, and there didn’t seem to be much that could be done about it, but at least it gave some perspective. Sandy had managed an escape once, when she’d gone to Cedar Point for the summer after high school, then on to college. It didn’t seem likely that she’d be escaping again.

What she’d told Hannah about missing Sandy had been dead correct. She still missed her all the time, and as nice as it was to have friends on this trip, they were just partially filling the space. It was true; she was learning to get along without her, but it didn’t mean that she liked it. It did mean that she was going to have to accept it, and go on from there, no matter what she might wish.

*   *   *

Especially after a second weekend of being King Shahriyar and Scheherazade, it seemed a little strange to have Mr. and Mrs. Baker convert back to Andy and Hannah for the last day together. It seemed stilted and unnatural now – for Dayna now realized that it was; the two had to work at it and didn’t always get it right. But their replacement would be around for a day, and the replacement would be Vicky Pabst, formerly Varney, another Bradford ’88 who had been Emily’s bosom buddy in high school.

So, in a sense, Dayna said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Baker the day before Andy and Hannah left. She’d made another pair of very special friends. "Please be our guest sometime," Mr. Baker had offered formally. "Mrs. Baker and I rarely have guests, except for one couple who are our best friends, although Andy and Hannah occasionally have visitors."

It was with real sadness that she saw the two off at the airport. "They’re nice enough people," Vicky opined, "but she seems a little uptight to me, and a lot of it must have rubbed off on him."

"That’s about how I read it," Dayna said. "But they’re both very interesting people once you break through their reserves. Once you’ve done that, they’re something else."

"Boy, they sure do that King Shahriyar and Scheherazade thing well," Vicky laughed; she’d seen a full day of it, the last show day Andy and Hannah had been with them. "They really get into it."

"Yeah, they do," Dayna grinned. "It shows that there’s more to the two of them than meets the eye." She wouldn’t say any more; Vicky was still pretty close with Emily even though they didn’t get face to face much. Letting any hint of the real Mr. and Mrs. Baker get to Vicky would be as good as telling Emily, which was about like publishing it in the Bradford Courier, except that the paper only came out once a week, and Emily could heat up phone lines any time, day or night.

Vicky had, of course, had the full briefing from Emily about babysitting Dayna, but by now Dayna was improving steadily and was starting to resent being babied all the time, so she took on more of the responsibilities and tried to think of Vicky as a guest, rather than a babysitter, and for the most part things went all right. Vicky could only stay through the following weekend – she could only take a full week off, not start in the middle of the week – and the girls had a good time, even though it wasn’t much like the last two weeks had been. During that week, Dayna had another three school shows and a college show; the last went very well, and she was nowhere near as tired as she had been the last time she’d done one. That told her as much as anything that she was slowly getting back to normal.

On their way back to the renfaire camp following that show, they took a swing by the airport, to pick up Mandy Engler (formerly Paxton) who flew in from Orlando, where she and John both had jobs. The next shows went well; the evenings were filled with gossip and talk about the old days – with plenty of teasing about Vicky’s twenty-first birthday party, in which Mandy had been a participant. Vicky had to take the redeye out for Michigan Sunday night after the show, but Mandy was with her for the following week and a couple days of the week after that. It was a good time; Dayna was feeling better yet, and Mandy was about as good a friend as Dayna had had in school, except maybe for Jennlynn. So it was with more than a little sadness that they parted after ten days, knowing they might not see each other again for years.

When Dayna and Mandy got to the airport, Emily and her husband Kevin were already waiting for them, having flown down for her second act – he’d managed to weasel some long-promised time off, so it was sort of a vacation. It had been six weeks since Emily and Dayna had seen each other. While they’d talked on the phone once and sometimes twice a week, and Dayna had told her she was feeling a lot better, Emily wasn’t quite ready to buy it and still insisted on mothering her. But it wasn’t a terribly big deal and she owed Emily big time, so Dayna just sat back and let Emily have her way. Emily was trying to act as much like a servant as anything else, she rationalized, and considering the dominant personality Dayna now realized was in her, she could get along with that.

The renfaire closed with four straight days over Thanksgiving weekend, and between shows they were packing up for much of it. On Sunday morning, they loaded the things they’d need for the day and travel clothes into the Olds well before dawn, and Kevin took off with the RV on the long drive to Michigan, intending to go pretty much straight through and still have a few hours sleep before he had to go to work Monday morning. Once the last show was done, Emily and Dayna were following in his trail, although they planned to break it up a bit. As it turned out, they made two night stops and arrived back in Bradford late on Tuesday.

Dayna spent much of the trip back assessing the experience, both to herself and to Emily. Financially, it had been a big success. A fair-sized dent had been made in the boxes of CDs, well into five figures worth, and the hats from the shows had been strong, which proved to Dayna that she could carry a solo show, despite all the misgivings she’d had beforehand. Moreover, she’d learned that she could carry a solo show outside a renfaire. There had been expenses, of course, so everything wasn’t profit, but when everything was said and done she’d come out well ahead on the deal. She now had some financial reserves to work with, although not enough if she was going to record, self-publish, and promote the solo album that she’d considered. But that was still off in the future; the priorities the last two months had been elsewhere, and she hadn’t even thought about it much. It would take a considerable amount of preparation to bring it off, and maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do since it would take her away from her proven venue of renfaires.

But at the same time, while the trip had been a big success, it would not have been successful, or even possible, without the gladly given assistance of her classmates filling in as roadies. While Emily would accept gas money for the trip down and back, no one would accept Dayna’s offer to reimburse them for their air fares, or many of the other expenses that they’d had. On top of that, they freely gave of their time – their honeymoon, for God’s sakes, in Andy and Hannah’s case, although it worked out well for them – and gave their talent, their interest, their support, and most importantly, their faith in her. She had busted her tail to prove worthy of that faith her friends had placed in her – and it had worked.

On top of that, there were plenty of insights gained out of this trip. The epiphany about being a dominant wasn’t even near the head of that list, although it gave some perspective to it. Really, the most important thing that she learned was that it was possible to get along by herself, without Sandy. True, she’d had a lot of help from friends at the practical details of life all the way through, but it had been getting cut way back toward the end before Emily arrived. Although she didn’t consider herself all the way recovered yet, she was getting there. Though she still wanted to keep the schedule light to aid in recovery, and didn’t want to consider taking the RV out on a trip by herself until the weather warmed up, she realized that she wouldn’t need the same level of support – or, for that matter, much of any – when the time rolled around for the show in mid May through June in California five months off. After that, Mackinaw City lay there, although she wasn’t sure how badly she wanted to return to that place of so many good experiences with Sandy and that one supremely bad experience. Tentatively, she decided to investigate July and August on the western circuit, then return east in the fall.

As she and Emily drove the Olds northward into progressively colder country, one thing was clear to Dayna: she couldn’t stop now. She had to take what her friends had helped her to build up and do something with it. Exactly what that would be wasn’t clear, but at least there was a road ahead, thanks to their help.

*   *   *

With the level of inspiration that the positive experience of the fall renfaires had given her, it was hard to slow down for the winter. It would be the first winter in years that Dayna had spent in snow country, and it was refreshing, in a way, although a bit frustrating to stay in one place, at her parent’s house. Figuring that driving the RV in the winter was an expensive, hard, and possibly dangerous way to get around, she took some of the money that she’d saved and bought the clunker that Diane Gritzmaker had loaned to Emily – it had proved to be reliable. Given that, Dayna started sending out flyers and making phone calls to get school acts, contacted a booking agency that got her several club dates, mostly in the Chicago area, and at odd times still walked into the Briarwood Mall and sat down by the fountain with her guitar.

As before, she heard nothing from Sandy, other than just a Christmas card with the words, "Hope things are going well for you." inked on it. She sent off a Christmas card of her own, and let that be that. Under the circumstances, it was probably just as well; Sandy was probably finding it as much of a struggle to be without her as she was with the concept, and much contact between them probably wouldn’t help. It was in the past, and let it lie there.

Though Dayna realized now that she could get along without Sandy in the shows, it was still going to be tough to get along alone on the road. She kicked around a number of alternative ideas to have someone with her, if nothing more than just be along for the ride, although if they could help with the show, so much the better. She spent some time nosing around the music department at Western Michigan University to see if there might be a kid who would like to be a summer intern, but the ones who expressed interest she just didn’t seem to click with. She hadn’t really worked too hard on the issue in the fall tour – since she’d had people with her, it hadn’t seemed imperative – but slowly came to realize that she was just going to have to bite the bullet and do it.

By the time February was easing into March, she felt she was fully back to strength, and there was nothing left but to do it. It was still pretty early to be on the road that far north, but she figured she might as well be at it. There was a busker’s festival in Boulder, Colorado in the middle of April. The thought crossed her mind that she might well turn up someone there who would be the type of person she could travel with and pull into the show, maybe temporarily as an employee, rather than as a partner. Failing that, she could take a last shot at a college kid for the summer. That settled it; she got with her booking agency, managed to set up a few dates, mostly college show dates, between Michigan and Colorado, and figured on doing a little busking and maybe see if she could promote a school date or two along in there. Her plans between Boulder and the start of the renfaire in mid May were deliberately vague; if she turned up a musician there, presumably they’d have to have time to work up an act; if she didn’t, there were still colleges to look at for a summer companion.

On the first of April, her birthday, she got into the RV with a touch of sadness. If it hadn’t been for getting sick, and all that followed, it would have been Sandy’s turn to pull something on her for a birthday present – probably something evil and agonizing, but fun in its way. It was considerably more agonizing to point the RV up the on-ramp onto I-67 without Sandy than anything she could have done in person.

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