A STAR IS TORN
(Part 2 of 3)
 

Tale Spin and its characters are the property of Buena Vista Television/Walt Disney Co.  This short story was adapted from the televised episode written by Dev Ross.  No profit was made, so please don’t sue me.  Some extra parts were written and minor changes were made in order to improve the narrative flow for the written page. I would also like to thank my good pal Ted for his invaluable feedback and advice.

 

by Michelle “Gidget” Beaubien

 

Rebecca found herself hurled through the doors of La Rotune Restaurant, landing hard on the sidewalk.  She shook the loaf like a long fist.

 

“I wasn’t hungry anyway!” she yelled at the closed doors.  Painfully, she tried to stand. Three thousand shaboozies?  All I’m getting is bruises from this place.

 

Meanwhile, back inside, Baloo was reluctantly excusing himself from the table. 

 

“I’d better see if she’s okay, Kiki,” the pilot apologized. “I’m real sorry about all this.  I just can’t seem to take her anywhere.”

 

Kitten smiled. “Perfectly understandable.  I’ll give you a couple of minutes to smooth things over, then I’ll meet you outside… Baby Bear.”

 

Hot diggity --- I’m her baby bear!

 

He hurried outside, not bothering to wipe off all the spaghetti.  He cut a comical figure but didn’t care.  As soon as I check on Becky, I can go back to Kiki.

 

Rebecca was brushing her pants off when he found her.  “Becky, what gives?  It’s my job to embarrass us, not yours,” he chided.

 

She glared at him fiercely.  “You said we were friends.  Why did you tell Kitten we weren’t?”

 

“Now, Becky, we are friends,” he tried to soothe her.  Then a ludicrous yet disquieting thought rippled through the quiet pool of his brain.  “Wait a minute!  You’re not jealous of her, are ya?  Aw, that’s just perfect.  That’s all I need.

“Jealous!” she shot back, outraged. “Of an empty-headed bombshell with a body that can stop a moose at fifty paces?  Hmmph!”  Rebecca turned away from him, folding her arms.   I’d like to see that phony blonde pregnant with twins, no-- the Peon Quints…and bald. Definitely bald.

 

“Good!” Baloo was relieved.  “I only said those things ‘cause stars are so sensitive...you know.”  He took her arm and guided her to a nearby bench in the outdoor patio of La Rotune Restaurant.  They sat and he added, “You’re such a bright, capable woman.”

 

“True,” she agreed, somewhat mollified. “Kitten might feel a little inadequate around me.”

 

“Right!  And if she got upset, she might fire me from the stunt.”  He fought the urge to knock on wood---or in this case, rap his knuckles on the bench’s wooden slats.  No more Kiki, ---it was a terrible thought.  Beautiful women were almost never interested in ol’ Baloo.  All he got were lady hippos.  “Broadcast Sally”, his last date from a few months ago, was a sweet gal with a silky voice but a big crush on him.  Yeah, she nearly crushed me ta death, carryin’ me off the docks when we got back from Thembria.   That Cleanser’s Comet mess was not an experience he wanted to repeat.   And Plane Jane was another great gal, though she looked a lot better with a veil over her face.

 

Suddenly, Rebecca remembered and started to stand up.  Like a seesaw, Baloo’s considerable weight brought his side of the bench down with a ‘whump’.  He lost his balance and landed on his back, and she landed on his soft stomach, accidentally flipping the end of his long tie across his nose, landing in a heap.

 

“The stunt!  Baloo, you’ve got to quit immediately.  All kinds of terrible accidents have been happening---it’s as if someone is trying to sabotage the film!”

 

“Accidents?  Sabotage?  Two of my least favorite words!”  They got up and Baloo grabbed her hand.  “Come on, pal, we gotta talk to---”

 

“Oh, Balooey?  Here I am,” A sexy, velvety voice interrupted them.  All thoughts of imminent danger dissolved and the big bear’s brain seemed soft, like it was full of pudding.  His eyes glazed over and a foolish grin spread over his face and his tongue rolled out.  He was again under her spell.  Kiki, you came back for me….

 

Oh no, Rebecca groaned inwardly.  Before she could elaborate, Kitten had somehow slipped between them and with one shapely, hard hip, bumped her hard, sending her into some bushes lining the walk.  That rotten little floozy did that on purpose!  There was no longer any doubt in Rebecca’s mind that Kitten hated other females. 

 

Kitten playfully chucked Baloo under the chin and patted his face, cooing in the lisping, doting tones one reserved for a spoiled pet.  “Kiki’s got a big surprise for her baby bear, “ she purred.

 

Baby bear? I’m going to be sick.  Rebecca glowered at the other woman, trying to imagine her with leprosy.   Baloo squirmed with boyish embarrassment, blushing and forgetting to roll his tongue back into his mouth.  Catching the end of his tie and pulling it like a leash, Kitten gently pulled him behind her and briskly signaled a Starrywood cab, which immediately screeched to a stop at the curb.

 

Kiki. Kiki.  Big surprise. I’m her baby bear, Baloo sighed.

 

Aloud, he said absently, “Well...see ya around, Becky.  Thanks…let’s do lunch.”   He crawled into the back seat after the actress, shutting the door in Rebecca’s face.  The cab roared away, leaving her standing in the middle of the street

 

She shouted after the shrinking vehicle, “Baloo!  You’re acting like a complete idiot, even for you!” Well, if he won’t do something about this, I will.  I’m going to get to the bottom of this accident business.

 

* * *

 

 

She returned to the studio and managed to find the director’s office, where the platypus and his gander assistant were having a hushed conversation.  The door was ajar, so Rebecca put her ear to it and peered through the small opening.

 

“I feel terrible about these accidents, Montgomery, but the public loves the intrigue,” C.B. was saying earnestly.  “It’s guaranteed big box office success.  Perhaps I’ll win my Oscar at last!”

 

Rebecca’s mouth fell open.  He’s the one causing the accidents? Wha--!” She was so surprised that she tilted too far, and fell into the room in a heap. Uh-oh.

 

CB didn’t bat an eyelash.  He bent and with warm, sweaty hands, helped her up.  “Ah, the actress I sent for.”

 

Rebecca was outraged.  She advanced on him, and grabbed the lapels of his cheap polyester shirt.  “So!  Sabotaging your own film.  Admit it now, and maybe the police will go easy on you.”

 

Good-naturedly, he detached himself and waved her off. “No need to audition, young lady.  You’ve already got the part.”  He turned, seized the megaphone hanging on an elastic cord from his assistant’s long neck and shouted into it, rustling the feathers of its owner.  Montgomery!  Get her into costume immediately. 

 

“You won’t get away with this!” she yelled, “Causing accidents is against the la--!” 

 

Montgomery took firm hold of the ranting woman’s elbow and firmly marched her out of the office, en route to the wardrobe department.  C.B. continued to hold the handle of the megaphone, forgetting that Montgomery was still wearing it.

 

“Actresses are so temperamental.  Sheesh!” He spread his hands in a ‘why me?’ gesture, releasing the megaphone, now stretched taut.  Like a slingshot, it snapped through the doorway back to Montgomery, knocking both him and Rebecca down with a crash.

 

* * *

 

Rebecca found herself spirited away by a couple of wardrobe mistresses, stripped of her street clothes and quickly fitted into a fake leopard print loin cloth; the snug cloth clung in all the right places.  The alluring fit suited her very well.  She looked like Jane of the Tartar movies.  Except she was not to be the love interest of a sweaty jungle hero, but of a mechanical gorilla.  She was on the set of Ding Dong, to be exact.

 

The giant simian was built in two units: The fearsome, snarling head of the beast had a huge, hinged jaw, and was rigged to snap open and shut.   Rebecca, squirming ‘on her mark’, was clamped in a “fist” on a wheeled platform, lined on train tracks.  When two technicians pushed the platform toward the snapping jaws, filmed in a few takes, it would appear as though the beast was bringing the struggling woman closer to its mouth.  The polished sheet metal teeth were as sharp as needles.  Every precaution was taken to ensure that in the first take, the fist platform would stop before brutal contact could be made.   State-of-the-art special effects were tricky, the director knew---but the expense was well worth it.  “Action!” C.B. yelled. The man at the control box flipped up two levers and the heavy platform began to roll glide smoothly along the tracks.  The other techs activated Ding Dong’s jaws.  They creaked open and slammed shut.  Opened wider.  Slammed shut.  The incisors gleamed wickedly. 

 

“You’ll never get away with this---!” The ‘damsel-in-distress’ continued her tirade, her voice penetrating the back of the set.

 

“Hey, just stick to the script, okay?” was the only answer she got.  A metallic ping interrupted her and she paused.  A screw popped loose, then another.

 

Rebecca began to scream.  Those points of shiny metal slammed together with the inexorable finality of a guillotine.   I’m going to die, she thought wildly.  Oh, dear God, Molly!  

 

“The girl’s a natural!” C.B. told Montgomery excitedly.  That gold statuette was as good as in his sweaty hands right now.

 

Then Rebecca felt a slight change in the momentum.  The platform’s speed was accelerating.  C.B. finally noticed that something was wrong. “Cut!” he shouted.

 

The man at the controls gripped both levers, tried to yank them down in the ‘off’ position.  They would not budge. The crew began to shout at each other, others stared in mute horror.

 

Kit walked by, attired in cowboy duds, boots, and hat.  During this entire morning, he’d tried auditioning as a gangster, a saloonkeeper, a sailor, and even a pilot, which really hurt.  This time, he’d gotten tangled in the rope when told to lasso a stunt man.

 

“Boy,” he said sourly, looking up at the commotion.  “How’d she get a part?”  It just wasn’t fair.  He continued to walk past them until he was finally out of earshot.

 

“I said CUT!” C.B. bellowed.

 

Why do I always have to…” The platypus grabbed the megaphone, stretched it from the gander’s neck and bellowed into it, making the assistant lose a few feathers, “…repeat myself?  I said CUT!”

 

Wires stretched taut, then snapped, the swinging wildly around the crew’s heads, narrowly missing them.  C.B. ran to the front, arms outstretched, and tried to hold onto the gorilla’s massive fist to ward it off, but the momentum would not let up, forced him backwards, his feet pedaling frantically to avoid being run over.

 

 “Please!” he begged, “pleasepleaseplease…!”

 

The wheels of the ‘fist’ platform squealed, emitting tiny sparks as it reached the end of the line. Like a felled tree, the fist tipped forward, losing its iron-grip on the leading lady.  Rebecca would either fall, smashing into the pavement below or be bitten in half.  She stared into the thing’s shark-like mouth and prayed that the end would be mercifully quick.

 

Arms flailing, she was sailing in mid-air, and managed to grab the edge of the Ding Dong’s rubbery lip.  Crash! The structure that held her in its precarious grip was now a twisted maze of broken wooden planks, metal and sizzling electric sparks.

 

A small wooden plank bonked C.B. on the head, but otherwise, no one else was hurt. 

 

“Do ya want another take, C.B.? Do ya? Do ya?” Montgomery asked his boss excitedly, as the director sat up, moaning and rubbing his head.  Rebecca managed to climb down the monster’s face, hand-over-hand, using clumps of its hairy face as hand holds, and climbed down the hairy arm until her feet touched the ground.  Something black dashed from behind the gorilla head, disappearing out the door in a blur of motion.  Rebecca blinked.

 

“Hey!  Over there--!”  She pointed, but the thing vanished. Gee, maybe the director wasn’t the one causing the accidents…Rebecca was looking over her shoulder where the mysterious figure had been standing as she walked away, distracted by her thoughts…and bumped into something big and soft.  It was Baloo, holding a bunch of dainty pink posies, which looked ridiculously perky in his massive fist. 

 

“Beck!  You’re crushin’ the flowers I got for Kiki.” He patted and straightened them back into shape.  He did not notice her loincloth costume.

 

Rebecca said impatiently, “Baloo, look.  Whoever that mysterious figure was is causing the accidents.”  He looked at her blankly.

 

“Accidents?” Then he got it. “Oh yeah, right --- the accidents!  Come on, pal, we’d better go find---!”

 

“Balooey?  Here I am,” A familiar female voice purred. Baloo’s foolish, besotted expression returned; Rebecca grimaced and moved away from Kitten, jockeying for a position on Baloo’s right.  Kitten stood at his left side, and noticed the flowers.

 

“For me?” She accepted the flowers, smiling. “Come, Poopsie.  Kiki’s going to take her baby bear out for a final fabulous meal before he flies his big important stunt.” She took his arm and led him away, slyly glancing at Rebecca.  It was that smug look at galvanized Rebecca into rushing forward and grabbing the pilot’s other arm, trying to hold him back.

 

“Baloo, you can’t go!  You have to listen to me!”

 

“Hey, simmer down, we can talk later.” Baloo gently detached himself from her frantic grip. 

 

“Later?  You might not have a later!” she shouted after him.

 

 To Kitten, he apologized, “You’ll have to excuse her.  She skipped lunch.” Kitten smiled understandingly and gave his arm a squeeze.

 

“Fine, Baloo.  Don’t listen to me.” Rebecca stalked to the wardrobe department to change into her street clothes.  But someone is causing these accidents, and I’m going to find out who it is…

 

Rebecca found the stunt plane outside in an airfield set, climbed up and sat in the open cockpit, making herself comfortable…even if I have to guard your stunt plane all night!  I’m doing this for you, Baloo.  Wherever you are.

 

…..

 

 

At the Rotune Restaurant, Baloo and Kitten were talking and laughing, completely ignoring the world around them.  Kitten laughed at his corny jokes and made him feel special, like they were the only people in the room.  He didn’t want the feeling to end.  Finally, during dessert, Kitten rose gracefully from the booth, smoothing the creases out of her long white dress.

 

“Excuse me for a moment, Sugar Loaf.  I’m going to go freshen up.”

 

Baloo waved her away genially. “Of course, take yer time.”

 

* * *
 

 

A black-cloaked figure stole slid along the walls of the building near the stunt plane.  He was covered from head to toe in a long, wraithlike black sheet, like the Dickens’ hellish Ghost of Christmas Future.  Rebecca curled up in the cockpit, dozing.  She stirred a little, but remained asleep.  He silently padded to the back of the plane, opened a panel and, with a wrench, dismantled a small metal, cog- toothed gear.  His gloves made the task difficult, and he clumsily dropped the piece.  It landed on the ground with a loud metallic clang! Rebecca’s eyes flew open and she sat up fast, breathing hard.  “W-what?”  She looked around wildly, then her attention was arrested, riveted on the menacing figure below.  He looked up, startled.  All that were visible were two white slits for the eyes.  He dropped the wrench, picked up the hem of his robe and took flight and disappeared through the emergency exit of the set building.

 

He’s tampering with the plane! “Hey! You!”  she yelled, slinging one leg, then the other over the lip of the cockpit and jumping to the ground.  She felt the shock sing through her legs, and grimly absorbed it, wincing with pain.

 

“Come back here, you…you…Starrywood saboteur!” Then, wisely deciding not to waste her breath, Rebecca grimly pursued her quarry into the building then gave the interior a desperate glance.  She heard loud footfalls---the mysterious figure rushed up a flight of stairs.  When Rebecca followed, she found herself surrounded by a bunch of paper mache buildings no taller than her waist. It was the Ding Dong set, complete with a miniature city for the monster to stomp through and wreak terror and destruction.  The black-robed figure brushed the fragile buildings, knocking most of them over with a clatter.  Rebecca nearly tripped over the structures, picking her way quickly through the mess and continued the chase.

 

Ahead, the saboteur glanced in her direction---then spied several pairs of stilts leaning against a wall, in case technicians working on the elevated ‘city’ structure needed to move around the set without the added nuisance of retracing their steps all the way back to the staircase. He lost no time in hoisting himself onto a pair and hurriedly tottered away.  The determined businesswoman grabbed another pair of stilts and stiffly followed.  She heard the frightened squeak of a mouse as it ran for cover, grunts and yelps of pain below and almost tripped over two actors: A lady hippo and her stork husband, lounged on a sandy beach set, pretending to enjoy the imitation sunshine beaming from the hot overhead lights.

 

Ropes weighted down by sandbags on pulleys hung from the rafters like twisted jungle vines. The robed figure tottered over to a sandbag, and wrapped his body around it and stepped off the stilts, where they tipped over and landed on the couple below.  The ropes spun through the whirring pulley wheels as his weight sent him to the ground.  As he landed, the aardvark tech that was holding on to the other end of the rope shot upward like a rocket.  Rebecca wrapped her body around the startled man, dropped her stilts and their combined weights, in two stomach-turning seconds, sent them plummeting to the ground—fortunately they landed on their feet.  

 

Ahead of the robed figure was a huge black wall.  Rebecca picked up speed, shortening the distance between them.  Yes!  Rebecca thought triumphantly.  I’ve got you now!  The triumph turned into dumbfounded amazement when he didn’t slow down, didn’t stop.  He kept a straight course toward the black wall.

 

On the other side of the wall, a night-lit graveyard was being haunted. It was amass with grave markers, dying flowers and freshly dug loam.  Out of the shadows cast by tombstones, an actor in a ghost costume leapt forward, moaning hideously---and was rudely interrupted.   He shrieked with surprise as a strange black ghost-thing suddenly burst through the graveyard backdrop, leaving a large ragged hole; it shouldered him roughly aside, and he tumbled backwards onto a grave, into the dirt.

 

A backdrop! Rebecca gritted her teeth and ran through the hole, past a ghost trying to assess his filthy sheet.

 

Dismayed, he moaned, “I’ll never get these stains out,”

 

Several wheeled flights of stairs leading up wooden scaffolds seemed to mingle into each other.  She heard footfalls—saw a flash of black cloth above her on a catwalk.  There!  Rebecca raced up three flights of wooden steps, only to bump into a door. She turned and saw him again, standing across from her on a similar scaffold ---the two structures were separated by several feet of huge, dizzying open space.   She looked down past the floor of the scaffold on which she stood and color drained from her face. From where she stood on the wobbling set, the ground was easily a hundred-foot drop.

 

Don’t look down, she ordered herself.  She backed away a few steps, took a deep breath.  Arms outstretched, she ran forward…and jumped.

 

Rebecca sailed over the open chasm and got a frightening glimpse of tiny people scurrying around like ants.   The edge of the scaffold ahead seemed further away than she thought…then her hands slammed into the hard wood, and agony sang through her palms.  Without thinking, Rebecca called up every ounce of flagging strength in her aching body and hoisted herself up, rolling onto the platform, panting. Her palms absolutely stung, burning with raw scrapes and splinters.  I did it. I don’t know how, but I did it! 

 

Rebecca ignored her stinging hands and got to her feet once more.  A good businesswoman never quit.

 

She saw him head for the exit. Adrenaline seemed to fill every pocket of her body until it overflowed.  She gritted her teeth, shot forward in an extra burst of speed.  And hurled herself in a flying tackle, landing on top of her tormentor with a resounding crash.  Her prisoner flailed at her, twisting, but was pinned to the floor under Rebecca’s weight.  He tried to push her off, swearing coarsely.  Get off me!  Get off!

 

Rebecca’s lips thinned as she reached over, gripped the hood and roughly tore it off.  When she saw who it was, she was so surprised that she did not resist when her quarry finally rolled over, breaking her hold.  The words tripped out before she could stop them.

 

“It’s you!”

 

End of Part 2

 

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