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Authors: Taylor V. Donovan

Heatstroke (extended version)

BOOK: Heatstroke (extended version)
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HEATSTROKE
Taylor V. Donovan
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2013 by Taylor V. Donovan
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Published by Taylor V. Donovan
New York, New York
Visit http://
www.taylorvdonovan.com

 

Cover Art by L.C. Chase
This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is
illegal and a violation of International Copyright Law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon

 

Taylor V. Donovan Heatstroke

 

conviction, fines and/or imprisonment.
This eBook cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this eBook can be shared or
reproduced without the express permission of the publisher.

 

At twenty-one years old, Richard Lewis Bancroft was on the fast track to fame and fortune. An
award-winning start on the Broadway stage led him to the silver screens of Hollywood, where his
star began to rise, and his heart fell hard for professional baseball sensation, Manuel Guzman. But
there was no script for living out loud with the man of his dreams in the world of 1964.!
Then Richard disappeared without a trace.!
Forty years later, Michael Spencer discovered a journal in his grandmother's attic that would change his life forever, and quite possibly, solve the mysterious disappearance of Richard Lewis Bancroft.!
Chapter One
Michael Spencer wiped his nose with the back of his hand and waited a few seconds, making sure

 

the most recent sneeze attack was under control before he opened a box and started going through

 

its contents. He wasn't surprised when he found nothing but ties, belts, shoes, some sports shirts

 

with awfully wide lapels, and a lot of dust. He put the box away and grabbed another from what

 

looked like a pile of at least a hundred, neatly stacked against the far wall of the attic. This time he

 

found ancient women's gowns and gloves under a thick layer of dust.

 

"Are you okay?" His best friend's voice reached him from the phone he was holding between his

 

cheek and shoulder.

 

"The dust is killing me."

 

"Did you find anything?"

 

"Not yet, Charlie."

 

"Where are you looking now?"

 

"Some old dresser." Michael closed one drawer and opened the next, hoping he would find

 

something he could use.

 

"Please, don't tell me you're touching your granny's vintage unmentionables." "Of course not." Michael moved said unmentionables and other articles of clothing to the side

 

to make sure nothing was underneath. "Why would she keep old underwear up here anyway?"

 

"You
are
touching them."

 

Michael chuckled at the mix of horror and disgust in his best friend's voice. He could never fool

 

Charlie. "So what if I am?"

 

"You're a freak."

 

"I'm a freak?" Michael moved from the dresser to the box that was on top of it. "Should I

 

remind you of that time you were making out with a blowup doll in the middle of the school's

 

football field at three o'clock in the morning?"

 

"That was once, and I was highly intoxicated."

 

Michael chuckled again. Intoxicated or not, too-horny-for-his-own-good Charlie would never live

 

down getting caught fondling the male blowup doll the rest of their friends had given Michael as a

 

gag gift on his sixteenth birthday.

 

"Find anything?"

 

"Nope." Michael closed the box and looked around the room, trying to figure out where to look

 

next.

 

"You looked in her bedroom, right? What about under her mattress? Old people like to hide their

 

shit under the mattress."

 

"First place I checked." And only for good measure, as somehow Michael had known he wouldn't

 

find anything there. He started opening boxes randomly, growing more impatient with every passing

 

second.

 

"You should've let me come to the lake with you," Charlie said for the hundredth time. "I could

 

be helping you."

 

He couldn't answer right away, as yet another sneeze attack left him with itchy, teary eyes, a throbbing head, and a running nose. The dust was killing him for real, but Michael refused to give

 

up. He'd been waiting for an opportunity to search this house for almost two years and wasn't about

 

to let some dirt and snot stop him from doing so.

 

"You know I would've killed someone just to have you here with me, but Mom's still in a snit

 

after Paul's phone call. She says I'll be grounded until I leave for college." Michael wiped his face

 

with his T-shirt and looked around the attic, wishing everything was labeled and he didn't have to

 

sort through fifty years of boxed junk. He wasn't entirely sure what he was looking for, but he

 

hoped he would find something that either confirmed or denied his suspicions, preferably well

 

before his family came back home.

 

He sneezed again.

 

Michael disliked dust almost as much as he disliked visiting Grandma Elizabeth. Her place,

 

located on Lake Tahoe, was so far from their house in California it took forever and three weeks to

 

get to it. And if that wasn't bad enough, they had to deal with her attitude to boot. His grandma was

 

a recluse and seemed to resent her own family's sporadic visits. She didn't bother to hide the fact

 

that she preferred to be alone either. Bitterness surrounded her, and it was almost suffocating to be

 

around her.

 

Grandma had never been a happy person. None of his recollections from when he was a kid

 

included tender hugs or homemade chocolate chip cookies baked especially for him. In fact, the

 

older he got, the colder her demeanor toward him was. There were never cute birthday cards or long

 

talks about happier times in her life. But Michael clearly remembered her slapping him in his face for

 

touching her things and forbidding him from going near this very same attic the one time he'd

 

ventured inside and opened a few trunks.

 

To Michael, it had been nothing but an innocent game of treasure hunt, but now that he was

 

older, he could see that Grandma had reacted as if he had uncovered the family's darkest secret. He was nine then, and hadn't uncovered anything, but now he was determined. He would find whatever

 

Grandma was hiding.

 

"Dude, you'll be eighteen in like, a month," Charlie pointed out. "She can't ground you."

 

"I dare you to say that to my mother."

 

The dust was so bad that all of a sudden Michael found himself needing a reminder of why he

 

was there, risking both his lungs and the wrath of his grandma.

 

He wiped his face again and very carefully pulled the picture he'd been carrying with him for the

 

past two years out of his jeans pocket. It was black and white and not an original, as he had printed

 

it out from the Internet. But it was clear enough that he could see the striking resemblance between

 

himself and the young man posing in front of the 20
th
Century Fox Studios logo some forty-five

 

years ago.

 

The man in the picture was an actor named Richard Bancroft and had become an obsession to

 

Michael the moment he started suspecting who he could be. Since then he'd printed out everything

 

he could find on the guy. He had also purchased his movies online and watched episodes of the T.V.

 

shows he'd been on hundreds of times on the Internet. And all the time Michael had been

 

impatiently waiting for the chance to get to his Grandma's house and take a look at the things she

 

guarded like a Doberman would his favorite bone.

 

He folded the picture and put it back in his pocket before going through a few more boxes, his

 

impatience growing as quickly as the minutes were passing. There didn't seem to be anything but old

 

clothes and shoes, and he was running out of time. After another sneeze attack it occurred to

 

Michael that heavier things such as documents and photo albums would be under everything else.

 

He moved the boxes from the top of the pile out of his way and opened a few of the ones from the

 

bottom. There had to be something inside at least one of them that would answer his questions

 

once and for all. "But you're an adult now," Charlie said. "She doesn't have a say anymore."

 

"I'm not an adult just yet, and she says she can do whatever she wants, especially when I

 

misbehave."

 

"That's so much BS," Charlie complained. "You weren't misbehaving. You're a teenager, and your

 

hormones are all over the place. She can't expect you not to take care of that. I mean, what are you

 

supposed to do? Jerk off all the time?"

 

"Maybe…"

 

"And to not let us hang out for an entire month because you had your hands all over some boy's

 

bits is just plain wrong. Your mother is evil, dude."

 

"You know what's evil? This damned attic!" Michael sneezed. "I'll never be able to find anything."

 

"You gotta take it easy and concentrate," Charlie rushed to say. "You've been waiting to get in

 

there like, forever, right?"

 

More like forever and a day, but who the hell was counting?

 

The first time Michael suspected there could be some skeletons in his grandma's closet, he was

 

only fifteen years old and away at a very exclusive boarding school in New Jersey. Academic elitists

 

that they were, his parents decided they'd jumpstart his extremely well planned Ivy League education

 

the moment he turned twelve by sending him to a school literally down the road from Princeton

 

University. It was also about three thousand miles away from their home in Silicon Valley, California.

 

Michael knew he'd been sent to that particular school because it had a rigorous academic reputation

 

and the best science program in the country. Luckily for him it also had supportive teachers, an

 

inclusive policy, and a rich arts program. He had loved it.

 

It was during his third year at Worthington Academy that he got involved in the drama club. He

 

loved the stage, the lights, and the costumes, but more than the acting, it was all the aspects of the

 

production that really fascinated him. Helping things move along backstage made him happy, and he wished for nothing else.

 

He got it anyway.

 

During his fourth year at Worthington, he landed one of the male lead roles in the school's

 

revival of
Café Au Lait
, a very popular Broadway musical. The director of their drama club swore

 

Michael was a dead ringer for Richard Bancroft, the young actor that had made the character of

 

Bernard Collins famous in the early 1960s. He demanded that Michael take on the role; no buts, no

 

excuses.

 

Truth was Michael hadn't made a big deal out of looking like some famous dude from years ago,

 

but his flippant attitude changed a few months later when he traveled home during the school's

 

holiday break.

 

For reasons he couldn't remember, Grandma Elizabeth happened to be staying with his parents

 

at the time, and she lost her shit when Michael mentioned his theater director thought he looked just

 

like this Richard guy. She had screamed that Michael didn't look anything like that perverted actor

 

and demanded from his father that he put a stop to that theater nonsense. She also said his father

 

shouldn't allow him to have anything to do with acting, because that world was one of pure evil and

 

sin. She had then looked at Michael and forbidden him from ever speaking that man's name again,

 

just like she'd forbidden him from going into the attic all those years ago.

 

Michael's curiosity had been so piqued by his grandma's extreme reaction that he had started

 

looking online for information on Richard Bancroft the moment he got back to school. There had

 

to be a reason why his grandma had looked like she'd seen a ghost the moment he mentioned the

 

actor's name.

 

He wiped his nose and looked around again. "There's shit all over the place!" he complained to
BOOK: Heatstroke (extended version)
11.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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