Vivianne smiled as the cameras split to show her on one screen and a darkened section of audience to one side of the studio. As the lights came up on them, they all stood and extended their middle finger in salute, a tradition on the show. Vivianne stood and there her hands up in excitement, and she realized he had filled the entire section with her family.
Not only were all her brothers and sisters there, but also her parents, grandparents, her Uncle Mike, and even Bob. Vivianne laughed and ran out to them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a round of applause for Vivianne Demonte Porter and her big-ass family!
The audience roared as the show went to commercial. When they returned, Vivianne was in the audience with her family, and the host was still bewildered by the size of them.
“By the way, the Porter family will be staying with us for a while. We only had enough money to pay for their flights in, so they can’t afford hotels or flights home. If anyone wants to put them up for the night, see them after the show.”
The audience laughed and he moved on to his next guest. Once the show was over, the family gathered at the hotel where they were staying and Vivianne met up with them after signing some autographs back at the studio. They all sat down in a private room of the hotel restaurant set aside for events and enjoyed a meal together for the first time in ages.
It was good to catch up with everyone after having spent so much time on the road. Her parents looked amazing, having hardly aged in the twenty-five years since she’d been born. Of course, that wasn’t abnormal for wolves, who aged slower and lived longer than regular humans. Only Bob was beginning to show his advanced age, but Vivianne sometimes wondered how much of that was just sadness reflected outward.
“I have a message for you, Bob,” she told him as she sat down beside him.
“Yeah? From whom?”
“You’re shitting me. What could that old bastard possibly have to say about me after all these years?”
“He said to tell you that you owe him two hundred dollars.”
Bob laughed and looked at her sheepishly.
“What?” she said, smiling back at him, not in on the joke.
“Well, on the day that he fired Vivianne, I was a bit upset. She sent me back to her trailer to gather her things for her while she waited in the car and I might have carved something into a prop that had been left behind.”
“There may have been a sign they’d had specially printed for the movie. It was one of those wooden jobs with jagged edges like you see in parks. It was supposed to just point in a certain direction, but it had been covered to show something else. During filming, the covered part was supposed to drop after Vivianne passed it to show the real directions.”
“I have a feeling it said something much more interesting.”
“Yes. I carved ‘Nathan Parker is a prick’ on it.”
“What? I can’t believe you never told me that. No wonder it took you so long to get back to the car,” Travis chimed in.
“Well, it was childish. I only told Vivianne about it months later. She was always saying that, so I thought it was an appropriate message to leave behind.”
“I bet she was proud of you,” Travis said.
“I don’t know about that, but she was amused. She’d have loved that your Vivianne repeated it today on the talk show. You’ve done her proud by carrying on her name with such a mixture of grace and spunk.”
“I wish I could have known her. She sounds like a remarkable woman.”
“That she was.”
“Hey, what are you weirdos cackling about?” Mike asked as he moved his seat closer to them.
“Just old times.”
“Ugh. I’d prefer to forget about those.”
“Yeah, you’re lucky the Diamondbacks didn’t end you,” Kat added from across the table.
“True, but now they are my biggest customer. I just sold off those old cabins they had me holed up in last week.”
“They sold those cabins?” Travis asked, sounding alarmed.
“Yeah. They are moving their entire pack further north and selling off all their property.”
“Who did they sell the cabin land to?” Travis persisted.
“Some developer who wants to expand the lake and make a retreat of some sort on it.”
“Mike, do you remember the night we pulled you out of that cabin?”
“Not really, and what I do remember, I’ve tried to forget. It’s not exactly a time in my life that I’m proud of.”
Travis shook his head. This was no place to discuss it further. Instead, he excused himself and went out to the hallway. Vivianne slipped out behind him, lurking down the hallway a bit to listen in. She had always been in tune with her father and knew something was bothering him.