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Authors: Joan Lowery Nixon

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BOOK: Sabotage on the Set
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“In your trailer?” Max answered. “Of course not. Why do you ask?”

“Because I think someone was in the trailer. While I was waiting for you a few moments ago, I decided to check out my trailer. The minute I was inside the door I saw that things were slightly out of place. There was a magazine on the floor, and I’m sure I left it on a table by the doorway. A bottle of hand lotion had moved a few inches from where I always keep it. There were a few other little things like that.”

“Had anything been taken?” Max asked.

“No. I double-checked. I don’t keep anything valuable in the trailer, which is why I usually don’t lock it.”

“This time, lock it,” Max said.

As the voices moved farther away, Brian said, “Let’s get out of here. We don’t want them to see us. They’ll think we’ve been spying on them.”

“Well, haven’t we?” Sean asked.

“Not exactly,” Brian answered. “Private investigators call it

“How did they get in, and how are they going to get out?” Sean asked.

“Max seems to be in charge of a lot of things. He probably has a key to the padlock,” Brian answered.

“Then it seems to me that Max has the means,” Sean said.

“Maybe so,” Brian said. He wheeled his bike out into the street, and Sean followed, heading for home.

Brian and Sean sat on the edge of Brian’s bed while Brian finished writing in his notebook.

“I may be wrong,” Brian told Sean, “but the way it looks to me we can narrow the suspects down to the only three people who seem to have both motive and means: Frank Hightower, Ralph Wayne, and Dakota Wayne.”

“What about Maria and Max?”

“Max would have been hired about the same time Maria was,” Brian said. “Neither one of them would have been with the production company when the trouble started.”

“Yeah,” Sean said. “I remember. Maria said she wasn’t hired until the production company was ready to shoot the film.”

“That’s right,” Brian said, “and I can’t see that she’d have any kind of motive.”

“Then what was she doing on the empty set tonight?” Sean asked.

“I’m guessing that she came to keep Max company while he looked for his pocketknife.”

“If that’s what he was really doing,” Sean said.

“Do you think he was lying to Maria?”

“I don’t know. He could have been.”

“We don’t have proof one way or another,” Brian said. “Why don’t we go through the rest of our list?”

“Okay,” Sean said. “How about Mrs. Moore?”

Brian shook his head. “She wasn’t on the set either, until filming began, so she didn’t have the means. And she wants her son to look good in the film, so I don’t think she has a motive, either. Just like I said, I think the person causing all the problems is either Frank Hightower, Dakota Wayne, or Ralph Wayne.”

“How are we going to find out which one it is?” Sean asked. “And, even if we know, how are we going to prove it?”

“The culprit won’t be through causing trouble until the film is totally shut down, with no hopes of it being made,” Brian said. “So we get ready for the next disaster to take place on the set.”

A shiver ran up Sean’s backbone. “What disaster are you talking about? Is it going to be anything that could hurt somebody? I’m allergic to disasters!”

Brian put a reassuring hand on Sean’s shoulder. “No one’s been hurt … so far,” he said. “When the set caught on fire, no one was there. When the light fell, no one was supposed to be in its path.”

“But next time …”

“Don’t worry about the next time,” Brian grinned. “Thanks to something you just said, Sean, I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen next. And I think I know who’s going to cause it. All we have to do is be there when it happens.”


Sean and Brian arrived on the set, Dakota was already seated in the big chair in Maria’s makeup trailer. Ralph Wayne, his hands jammed into his pockets, stood a few feet away with Frank Hightower. Their heads were close together, and they spoke quietly. Some of the crew worked nonstop, setting up lights and reflectors and rolling the heavier cameras into position. A lot of people seemed to just stand around, watching.

“Hi,” Dakota said, when he saw Sean and Brian in the open doorway. “Come on in.”

“I didn’t think you’d be here so early,” Sean said. “I thought it would be like Saturday, when Justin was first.”

Dakota rubbed his chin, but Maria pushed his hand away and repowdered the spot. “Dad told Mr. Hightower that Justin should get as much rest as he could. He volunteered to have me do some of my scenes first.”

“That was very thoughtful of your father,” Maria said.

Sean wished someone had thought of telling Justin’s stand-in that he could stay in bed late, too. He yawned.

Maria smiled at Sean. “Check with Max for your schedule for today, Sean. You’ll probably be free to go back to school this morning.”

She whipped off the makeup cape that covered Dakota’s clothes and escorted him out the door.

“Stop rubbing your ear,” she told Dakota.

“It itches,” Dakota complained.

Maria took a good look at his face. Then she gasped and peered even closer. “Uh-oh!” she said.

Puffy red blotches were beginning to spread all over Dakota’s face, ears, and neck.

“Dad,” Dakota said. “That rash … that allergy … I’ve got it again.”

Sean barely realized that Brian had jumped up and gone to Maria’s makeup stand. He was more concerned about Mr. Wayne, whose face grew so angry it turned the color of tomato soup.

“Look at Dakota!” he bellowed at Frank Hightower. “He’s a mess! You can’t film him like this! I’m taking him off the set—for good!”

“You can’t. I told you—,” Mr. Hightower began, but Ralph Wayne was louder.

He jammed his hands even more deeply into his pockets and yelled, “It doesn’t matter what you told me. This isn’t my fault! And it isn’t Dakota’s fault!”

Maria gasped. “It’s the jinx!”

“Maybe you’re the jinx, Maria,” Mr. Wayne snapped. “You’re to blame! How could you be so careless?”

Brian stepped up and joined them. “Don’t blame Maria,” he said. “Someone switched Dakota’s allergy-free makeup with the kind he’s allergic to.”

“Only Maria could have done that,” Mr. Wayne insisted.

Brian shook his head. “It will be easy to find out. I wrapped the jars and put them into a paper bag. The police will probably get fingerprints from them, and that will tell us who was handling the jars.”

“Don’t play detective,” Mr. Wayne said. He hunched over, his hands still in his pockets. “I want those jars thrown out. Get them away from here so they can’t contaminate Dakota.” He glared at one of the nearby crew members. “Get those jars,” he ordered. “Dispose of them—now!”

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Brian told the crew member. “I’ve already labeled them for the police. Detective Kerry won’t like it if someone disposes of evidence.”

The crew member stopped and stepped away from the trailer.

“All the evidence we need is on poor Dakota’s face,” Mr. Wayne insisted.

“And on one other place,” Brian said. “You have the same allergy to the makeup, Mr. Wayne. You would have had to touch the makeup to put it into Dakota’s special makeup jars. I think that’s why you’ve been keeping your hands in your pockets. They probably look as red and blotchy as Dakota’s face.”

“Nonsense!” Mr. Wayne snapped.

“Dad?” Dakota stared in horror at his father.

Frank Hightower yanked at Ralph Wayne’s right arm. “Prove it to us!” Mr. Hightower yelled. “Let’s see your hands.”

“I’m not going to let you …” Mr. Wayne twisted away so fast that he tripped over the heavy electrical cords leading to the lights on the set. To catch his balance and keep from falling, his hands flew out of his pockets.

Sean stared. Just as Brian had said, Mr. Wayne’s hands were red and blotchy.

“Dad! You did this?” Dakota said. He groaned. “You’d go this far to get your own way?”

“I did it for you, Dakota!” Mr. Wayne cringed as he looked from Dakota to Mr. Hightower. “I had to do something!” he whined. “This picture is going to ruin Dakota’s career. You have him playing a twelve-year-old, and look at him—he’s a tall teenager!”

“Oh, yes!” Debbie Jean said as she stepped up beside Sean. Her eyes shone as she added, “A truly gorgeous tall teenager!”

“Yuck,” Sean muttered and moved a foot away from Debbie Jean.

Mr. Wayne clapped his hands over his forehead and moaned. “Audiences will be laughing at Dakota and at you, Frank Hightower. Your career’s going to go down the drain, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“Sure there is,” Sean heard himself say. As everyone turned to stare at him, he gulped and started again. “Change the script. You can keep the same story line. Just put Dakota Wayne in high school. Take him out of those kid clothes.”

“Make him real,” Brian added. “Give him a girlfriend.”

Debbie Jean squealed. “Oh, yes!” She squealed again.

,” Mr. Hightower said. “A new teenage idol? I suppose it could work.”

“I like it,” Dakota said. He grinned at Brian. “Especially the part about the girlfriend.”

“Someone like
,” Debbie Jean murmured.

Dakota smiled at Debbie Jean.

She sighed, leaned against Sean for support, and tromped on his foot.

Mr. Wayne jiggled up and down with excitement. “Dakota—the new teenage idol! It
work. … Look,” he said to Frank Hightower, “I’ll pay for what I cost you.”

“You’re darned right you will,” Mr. Hightower said.

“Then everything’s okay. We can move right ahead.”

“Not exactly,” Brian said. “What about your giving Justin Moore all those candy bars and then a soft drink? You knew he wasn’t used to eating candy and he’d get a stomachache.”

“It’s not my fault that he wolfed down the candy,” Mr. Wayne said.

“Aw, Dad, how could you do that?” Dakota said. “Justin’s just a little kid. You’re going to have to apologize to Justin and to his mother.”

“Yeah,” Sean said. He couldn’t help hoping that if Mrs. Moore got mad enough at Mr. Wayne, she’d forget about the candy bar Sean had given Justin in the hospital.

Mr. Hightower frowned as he thought. “If Mrs. Moore doesn’t press criminal charges against you, she might sue you in civil court.”

Mr. Wayne looked really scared.

“Why don’t we give Justin co-billing with me?” Dakota suggested. “His mother would like that, and maybe she wouldn’t be mad at you.”

Mr. Wayne’s face grew red again. “You want to be only a costar instead of having top billing? Impossible!”

Dakota put a hand on his father’s arm. “Not impossible, Dad. Look what you did to the kid. We’re going to have to make it up to him big-time.”

Mr. Hightower looked surprised. “Dakota, do you mean it? Would you really be willing to share your screen credits on an equal basis with Justin?”

“I mean it,” Dakota said. “If we’re going to start over, we’re going to do it right.”

Mr. Hightower paced to the trailer and back again. “Okay, let’s get Joe Miller back to rewrite the script. Max, Miller’s in Malibu. Call him. Get one of the attorneys on the Donner Productions staff to take care of changes in the contract. Get the accounting department. Get wardrobe. Get someone to scout new location shots at the high school.”

“And a film test for Debbie Jean Parker,” Debbie Jean said quickly.

“Yeah, a film test, whatever,” Mr. Hightower said. He whirled and pointed a finger in Mr. Wayne’s direction. “Ralph, you take Dakota to a doctor immediately and get that rash cleared up.”

“Let’s see …,” Mr. Hightower went on. “We’ll take a week to make changes, and then we’ll be off and running. Somebody telephone Justin’s mother. I want to talk to her. Let’s get going! I want action!”

Brian and Sean grinned at each other. “That’s a wrap,” Sean said. Sean and Brian burst out laughing.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook onscreen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 1996 by Joan Lowery Nixon

cover design by Omar Olivera, Andrea C. Uva


This edition published in 2012 by Open Road Integrated Media

180 Varick Street

New York, NY 10014

BOOK: Sabotage on the Set
12.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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