It was quiet, the enigmatic hush in the room making my return seem somewhat eerie. Though it was the holiday season, I felt like some phantom who had loomed in from outside through a strange morning mist.
My odd mood was interrupted by an expected knock on the study door. "Coffee, sir," came a stiff, masculine voice on the other side.
The door opened and a tall, beefy man, late 50s, dressed smartly in butler's livery, entered the room carrying a silver tray with an over sized coffee cup placed neatly in its center.
"Ah, thank you, Morris," I managed to smile. "I think I'm going to need this potent brew. Just set it down here."
"Very good, sir."
Maintaining his aplomb as he approached me, the butler set the tray on the edge of my desk. Then in a gravelly voice, he deadpanned cheerlessly but politely, never losing stride in his well-mannered behavior, "Sorry, sir, I'm not Morris. The name is Bollero."
My smile disappeared, my mind off the coffee. "Bollero?!" I looked at him quizzically, the eerie feeling resurfacing. I swear you're a dead ringer for Morris. You're not a ghost, are you?
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
I wondered if it was against Bollero's nature ever to smile. "Never mind. What happened to Morris?"
The wrinkles appeared to tighten in Bollero's face. "He left many months ago. You've been absent from blogging for such a long a time --- I believe your last full blog post was June 12, 2012, that it was more than he could endure. He...well, became fed up and left, if you can pardon my frankness, sir."
"Fed up?!" I grimaced with a disbelieving air. "For crying out loud! You know where he is?"
"Not my business, sir, but I expect he's associated with other blogs. Those that blog on a regular basis."
"He'll come scampering back. Few blogs can match this one."
"Yes, if your blog posts were not so far in between, sir. That is the problem!" Bollero's thick eyebrows jumped in reprimand. "Even the blog followers are on the verge of revolt, demanding more frequent posts. There's a huge collection of complaint emails...even a few letters. Very nasty, if I may say so, sir."
"You've read them?"
Bollero shrugged his hefty shoulders. "Beats the boredom in your absence, sir."
"Well, as you can see, I'm absent no longer. I'm back! A short break from this hectic movie business and book marketing madness."
Bollero's dark, gloomy eyes finally displayed a hint of cheer. "May I assume, sir, that you will finally be making another blog posting?"
"Yes. Maybe a biggie!"
It was as if this was too much for Bollero to contain, forcing his eyes to sparkle as he was overwhelmed by an uncontrollable rush of excitement. Momentarily, he was lost for words. But he needed some expressive release, so said in a more genial manner, "Sir, your coffee. It will become cold."
I immediately picked up the cup and took a sip. "Ahhh," I savored. "Tastes heavenly!" As requested, the coffee was blended with brandy. "Thank you Bollero. You've earned your keep." A faint smile softened Bollero's features. "So enough of this "sir" business. From now on, address me as Gerald."
Bollero fought the idea of such familiarity, but lost the fight. As I sipped the coffee, he replied, "Yes si...uh, Gerald." It was slowly dawning on him that our relationship was changing. Emboldened by this realization, he asked, "May I inquire as to the substance of your new posting?"
Bollero hesitated, furrowing his brows in confusion. "Gerald, what does that mean?"
"Simple. I'm going to invite the readers to audition for roles in the Of Good And Evil movie. Not the major characters, you understand...such as Ron Sheffield...Amber Ash...Jonathan Ash...Drew Vandiver...Dominick Valenti...Rachael Di Salvo and such --- those roles are reserved for the big name actors."
I paused a moment for more coffee sipping, then lit a cigarette. "But you see, "I hastily continued, "there are plenty of minor characters who the readers can choose to audition for, roles I can have an influence with --- Mafia...nurses...doctors...villa staff...government people...people at fashionable parties...FBI agents...terrorists...secret society members. The list goes on. A cast of hundreds."
"I know," Bollero readily interjected. "I've read the book in your absence. Several times. Fantastic story!" His eyes actually beamed, relaxing further his guarded composure.
I knew there was something behind his ostensible praise. "What do you want?" I calmly asked.
"I want to audition for the villa butler," he answered excitedly. "Where do I sign up?"
"Right here. On this blog posting."
"Then I'm home free!" Bollero was outright jovial.
"Not so fast," I quickly cautioned. "You'll have to do what is required of all the readers before they can request an audition."
"Like, first, reading the book. How else can the reader come to know the characters and get a feel for which character best suits his or her audition preference?"
"But I've read the book, so surely, Gerald, you'll select me to play the butler. I want that role! The acting will come so naturally, be so realistic!"
"Now, now, Bollero. No favoritism. Others may want the role of that butler."
"How do you know the others you mention will read the book?"
"We'll have to see that they do...at least give them the chance. For those who haven't read the book, and who wish to do so for the auditions, they can obtain a copy Of Good And Evil by clicking the "Buy the Latest Book!" box at the top of where this posting appears, the HOME page, and simply follow the clear and easy instructions popping up that will take one directly to the novel's page at another site where the thriller can be ordered."
Bollero smiled impressively. "Fine. Help them. See what good it does. No one can beat me in the role for the butler!" Bollero smirked.
"There's more to the requirements.!
I leisurely sipped more coffee, then enjoyed a long puff of my cigarette, slowly exhaling smoke rings upwards, their circles hanging indifferently in the air as I stated emphatically, "Each request, including yours, my confident one, must be accompanied by a narrative, as brief as possible, stating what there is you like about the character you've selected to audition for, and why you feel you're suited to portray the character in a movie."
Bollero smiled more confidently. "No problem."
Downing the remainder of my coffee and dashing out my cigarette in an ashtray, I added, "These requests are to be submitted as a comment to my new posting here and, at the end of each request, an email address must be provided, the means by which, if I accept the request for person-to-person audition consideration, I can contact the party and we proceed from there. Requests must be submitted no later than March 1, 2014.
"There you have it: read the book; select a character and state your case for playing the character's role; and submit your audition request as a comment, with email address."
"Easy requirements to meet," Bollero enthused ecstatically.
"Okay. As a movie director would say, 'That's a wrap'. Now I'll arrange the new posting." With a wink, I said to Bollero, "You can help, and with your help, who's to say ---"
"Awwriiight!" Bollero shouted lustily, hitting my hand in a rowdy, high-five salute. "I play the movie butler!...Say, more coffee, Gerald?"
"Why, yes. Thank you, Bollero."
Bollero laughed. Then he began shaking up and down, the laughter quickly elevating to hilarity. His laughter subsiding, he turned and grinned foolishly, gleefully, and did a hop and a skip to a little jig and sang merrily, "The butler's mine...so divine...leaving me so fine..."
Bollero's transformation was eerie. But that's the movie business. Intoxicating!
Let the auditions begin!