Subject: Sarita's Big Show
Date: Sat, 10 Oct 1998 20:54:39 EDT
Mrs. Kaliman addressed the school assembly, concluding the announcement of casting for the school play. "Prince Peerless will be Roy Timilty, and Princess Sunshine will be Donna White," she said. Most of the students burst into applause, but there were a few groans, and one shout of "Fix! Fix!"
"All members of the cast will remain here. The rest of you are dismissed to your classes. And, Sarita, I've talked to you about your outbursts before. You don't want me to call your mother in for another conference, do you?"
Sarita Villamonte scowled, but she shook her head.
As the children filed out, Thomas Watson fell into step with Sarita. He had to shorten his stride, since he was the tallest boy in fifth grade and stood half a head taller than Sarita, even though he was five months younger. "You're right, Sarita! You would have made a much better princess than Donna. And I don't see how they could choose Roy over me!"
Sarita shrugged. "Aaah, it was a boring play anyway. Who's interested in some old fairy tale? Give me a modern story any day, with plenty of sex, violence, and car chases!"
Juan Gomez, a fourth-grader who lived across the street from Sarita and who had just been rejected for the role of Prince Curlicue, came up. "Car chases? On a stage?"
"It can be done!" replied Sarita. "Mama took Pablo and me to see "Sunset Boulevard" last year. But it would present a problem. A very interesting one..."
Janice Mulrooney, a tiny second-grader, came up to what was becoming a small group by now. "What's going on? Why didn't any of us get parts?"
Sarita looked around, and a gleam came to her eyes. "We don't need the school play. Let's all go to Tom's house after school. His parents have a swimming pool."
"But they haven't taken the cover off yet!" said Tom. "It's still too early in the spring."
"Fine!" replied Sarita. "It's a raised pool, so it's perfect for a stage... and the yard is fenced, so we can rehearse in private. We'll put on our own play, and make the school's look sick."
"Don't we need to pay a royalty?" asked Tom. "Mrs. Kaliman said..."
"Not if I write the play!" announced Sarita, reveling in her growing audience. "And I think it can include sex, violence and even a car chase! Janice, why don't you bring..."
That afternoon, Sarita addressed the five other children who had gathered with her in Tom Watson's back yard. Besides Sarita, Tom, Juan Gomez, and Janice Mulrooney, there were fifth-grader Debbie Wardell and Dan Levine, a third-grader. "I have to look after him after school," Debbie had explained.
"I haven't had time to write the whole play yet," said Sarita, "but I did up a few of the key scenes during study period today. I should have the full script by the end of the week."
"What's it about?" asked Debbie.
Sarita lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "It's about a kidnapping! A pair of crooks named Dumbarton -- that's Tom -- and Baeza -- Juan -- decide to kidnap a rich little girl named Clarissa deVine." She gestured at Janice, who beamed.
"But they get their signals crossed. They think they have Clarissa, but instead they catch a poor Latina girl, Maria Mendoza." Sarita thrust out her chest. "Me. Naturally, Clarissa's parents and the police keep things quiet, 'cause they're afraid the kidnappers will kill the kid if they know they got the wrong one. And, after a lot of hilarious complications, all ends happily!"
"How come you get to be the star, Sarita?" asked Juan.
"It's my play, isn't it? But don't worry... you've got a good part, too. You all do. Remember, there's no such thing as a bad part... just a bad actor!"
After a bit of discussion, Sarita went on. "Janice, you brought your car? We'll need it for the first scene."
"Ye..es," said Janice uneasily. She was proud of that car, which her parents had saved for the previous Christmas. It was radio-controlled, and big enough so a child... at least a small child... could ride in it while someone else operated the controls.
"Great! Get in it! Debbie, you're Miss Parmenter, Clarissa's nanny. You're manipulating the controls. Here are your scripts."
"'Whee!'" said Janice as her car zoomed across the stage. "Sarita, you're sure you want it set at the very top speed?"
"Positive!" said Sarita, as she slipped into character. "'Hi, Clarissa! Gee, I love that car of yours!'"
"'Would you like to try it?'" Janice read from the script. "Sarita, no!" she said as Sarita began to pull her out of the speeding car. "Let it slow down first!"
"But the whole point of this scene is that your nanny can't see us!" said Sarita. "There'll be some prop trees between here and that bench." She set the unsteady Janice on her feet and ran after the now-empty car.
As Janice looked on with uncreasing unease, Sarita vaulted into the moving car and wedged herself into it with some difficulty. "Don't do that!" whined Janice. "You're too big for it, Sarita!"
"Excellent line!" beamed Sarita. "But be sure to call me Maria. Remember, Maria's never had a toy like this, and is really anxious to ride in it!"
"She's not the only one!" put in Juan, as he and Tom came onstage.
"Juan, remember that black eye I gave you last February?" snapped Sarita. Juan stepped back as Sarita continued, "Now you and Tom read your lines, and then pull me out of the car."
"'You're sure this is where Clarissa deVine will be, Baeza?'" Tom asked Juan. "'There're an awful lot of kids in this park!'"
"'But none of them has a car big enough to ride in, Dumbarton!'" replied Juan. "'Her nanny brings her here every day... ah, there she is!'"
The two boys awkwardly yanked Sarita out of the car, barely managing to do so without dropping their scripts. With Tom holding her hands and Juan her legs, they carried her offstage as she continued with her directions. "No! Stage left is that way!"
Debbie walked onstage with the controls, and screamed, "'CLARISSA!'" Then (as Janice heaved a sigh of relief), Sarita directed her to turn off the controls and let the car come to a stop.
* * *
"'I'm tired of hamburgers!'" screamed Sarita. "'Why can't we have fried chicken for a change?'"
"'Because the nearest KFC is thirty miles away, Clarissa!'" protested Tom. "'Can't you have another Godiva chocolate instead?'"
It was the following afternoon, and Sarita had handed out more extensive scripts for the latter part of the play. Now she continued to berate the hapless kidnapper as Juan entered from offstage.
"'Listen, Dumbarton!'" he said. "'There's something you've got to know!'"
Sarita continued to scream as Tom threw up his hands in despair, and went to listen as his comrade whispered in his ear. He strode back toward Sarita, who stood up indignantly. "'These hamburgers are cold! I want them warmed up in the microwave!''"
"'Very well!'" said Tom. He grabbed Sarita's hand and dragged her toward the armchair they had placed facing sideways near the back of the stage.
"'You forgot the hamburgers, you idiot!'" said Sarita imperiously. "'And the kitchen is that way!'"
"'Oh, I won't need the microwave for this!'" read Tom. He goggled as he read the next line, and pulled Sarita face down over his knee.
"Go on," said Sarita.
"You want me to lift your dress?" said Tom. "But you're not wearing a dress!"
"I will be. In the dress rehearsal, appropriately enough. Just go through the motions for now."
"I... I guess," stammered Tom. He lifted an imaginary dress, and read the next line:"'And it's not the hamburgers I'm going to warm up!' Sarita, do you really want me to pull your pants down?"
Sarita twisted to look up at him. "Of course! What do your parents do when they spank you?"
"They don't! They don't punish me very often, but when they do, they ground me!"
"Well, you can't very easily ground someone who's already a captive, and Dumbarton is not a nice man. In fact, he's a very angry man. Believe me, after finding out it's not Clarissa who's been running him ragged, he'd give her a spanking. And he'd pull down her pants."
"Well... if you say so," said Tom. Grasping the back pocket of Sarita's faded jeans, he pulled them down several inches.
"No! NO!" screamed Sarita. While Tom tried to figure out if this was Sarita's protest or her character's, she added, "I mean my underpants."
With a great deal of embarrasment, Tom moved his hand to the narrow strip of Sarita's panties that was now exposed to his view. She brushed his hand away and stood up. "NO!" Sarita said as she yanked her jeans up. "First you lift my dress, then you pull down my underpants. But that's in the dress rehearsal. For now, you just go through the motions. Clear?"
"I think so," said Tom. "Should we do it again?"
"Tomorrow. I can see this scene needs more work. Right now, I think the scene where Maria sets the water trap for Dumbarton and Baeza needs some more work. Juan, are you ready?"
Juan fingered his shirt, which had barely dried from the last time. "I'm ready," he said resignedly.
By the following afternoon, several others had been added to the cast, in the roles of Clarissa's parents, policemen and various other characters. As she had done with the others, Sarita swore all of them to secrecy. "Remember, not a word about what the play's about... or even that we're doing one until a few days before the performance. Let it be a surprise to everyone!"
As they worked their way through various scenes, Tom Watson found that his mind kept wandering to the upcoming spanking scene. He'd always found Sarita a little more interesting than the other girls in his class, most of whom spent much of their spare time in less imaginative ways than Sarita did. In the past year he'd found her increasingly interesting to watch, especially in the summer when she'd come over to his pool in her bathing suit. He knew that normally there were things one simply didn't do with girls, at least until one was much older and she gave her approval. The prospect of spanking her, even on her jeans -- and would he really be spanking her bare bottom in the actual play??!!--was one he simultaneously found frightening and strangely fascinating.
Sarita read her lines even more vividly than she had before, jumping up and down as she complained about the cold hamburgers. Arrogance remained stamped on her face until Tom turned it away from the still-imaginary audience and pulled her over his knee.
"'And it's not the hamburgers I'm going to warm up!'" He lifted an imaginary dress, pulled down an imaginary pair of panties, hesitated a moment and gave the seat of Sarita's jeans a gentle slap. It felt unexpectedly soft and squishy.
"You need to spank a lot harder than that!" said Sarita. "Don't worry about hurting me... I'm used to it. Besides, I've got a sofa cushion in the seat of my pants."
"OK!" said Tom, not knowing whether to be relieved or disappointed. He gave her several swats so hard they raised clouds of dust; Sarita had spent much of the rehearsal sitting on the none-too-clean stage. But she screamed incoherently, throwing in a few Spanish words Tom didn't understand. But Juan did.
"Hey, watch your language, Sarita! And you've spent most of the play dumping on both me and Tom. Why don't I get to spank you?"
Sarita shot him a scornful look from her position across Tom's knee. "For one thing, you're so small it wouldn't be convincing. You look as if you'd end up over my knee instead... and, if you don't stop interrupting, you may yet!"
Juan shrugged and read his line. "'Now where do we go, Dumbarton?'"
Tom let go of Sarita, who pantomimed adjusting her clothing as she shrieked at him. "'Straight to jail, as soon as my father learns how you've treated me!'" She rubbed her bottom as hard as if the spanking had actually hurt her.
Tom put his hands on his hips. "'Your father hasn't been heard from in the last six years, Clarissa! Or should I say... Maria Mendoza?'"
Sarita stepped back in shock. "'Then... then you know?'"
"'That we snatched the wrong girl? You bet your red butt we do. Baeza, lock her up until we decide what to do with her!'"
Juan led her to the backstage door that actually led to the locker rooms, opened it, and shoved her inside. Sarita immediately dashed out again in her director's role. "Excellent! You both did really well! Now we'll need everyone for the final scene!"
The following day was Saturday, and the cast of "Who Kidnapped Clarissa" spent most of it continuing to rehearse. All the cast members brought small items of furniture to fill out the deVine home and the kidnappers' hideout. Debbie drew trees, painted flats, and continued to manipulate the controls of Janice's car and commiserate with the deVines and Maria's mother. Juan and Tom yanked Sarita out of Janice's car, had water poured on them, and tripped over wires. Juan talked on the phone to his contact in the deVine house as Tom continued to beat the dust out of the seat of Sarita's corduroy slacks.
On Sunday afternoon, Sarita had asked Tom to come to her apartment to help her with the largest stage prop. In the storage shed that served the Villamonte apartment, she pointed to a tall dining-room cabinet. "This is just what we need! Can you help me get it over to your place?"
That was easier said than done, but, with Tom lifting and Sarita pulling, they finally got it into the Villamontes' wheelbarrow. Even so, it was unbalanced and required Tom's constant attention to keep it from falling out of the wheelbarrow as Sarita pushed. Finally, Sarita suggested they take a break.
"You know, I was wondering..." said Tom. He paused a moment and continued, "...why you wanted that spanking scene. Wouldn't it work just as well without it?"
Sarita sat down beside him on the curb. "Not at all. Remember the ending?"
"Yes, I see. But where did you come up with the idea?"
Sarita was silent for a minute or two. "Well, I'll tell you if you promise not to tell anyone else. Not even Juan. Especially not Juan."
"Remember when I ran away a few months ago?" said Sarita. "Well, I told myself I wouldn't come home until I'd gotten a screen test in Hollywood, and I managed to get a ride with a man who was going to L.A. But before I could get my test, he found out who I was, and took me straight home."
"Yes, I know."
"But I still wasn't ready to give up. When he was driving me home on the Interstate, I threw a screaming fit at the rest area to try to get him take me back before bringing me home. I figured I didn't have anything to lose, anyway. He just might've got so tired he'd take me back to Hollywood, and at worst he'd just take me straight home, which he was going to do anyway. After all, he wouldn't dare hit someone who was almost a stranger, would he?" Sarita sighed. "I was wrong."
Tom's eyes opened wide. "You mean he..."
"Took me in the men's room and whaled the proverbial tar out of me. I suppose it was the risk I'd taken, though I did wish he'd chosen the ladies' room instead. I mean, he wasn't the one who had his pants pulled down."
Tom was gaping now. "He did that?"
Sarita shrugged. "Not at first. Some cop suggested it, but I did think it was going a bit too far. I didn't bite him that hard. But the thing is, people were clapping while he was spanking me. It was applause to die for! The kind of applause I've dreamed of all my life, and where do I get it? In a rest room, with my dress around my waist and my lingerie around my knees!"
Tom could only stare in amazement. Sarita went on, "Of course, I know they were clapping more for him, but then I was part of the act, too. I suppose I overdid the tantrum. And so I thought, maybe I could get that sort of applause again. But this time on my terms!"
Sarita jumped up. "And you will, too. At least for a time. A writer has to engage the audience with all her characters to some extent, and this sets up the ending so people will sympathize with Maria more after everything's over. Now let's get going... there are only two more blocks to your house."
* * *
Monday afternoon after school, Sarita had recruited still more performers. It was a warm day, and Tom noticed with fascination that she was now wearing blue stretch pants. She had panties on underneath -- that was especially evident whenever Sarita bent over, as she frequently did to draw pencil lines on their stage -- but no sofa cushion, and Tom's mind kept wandering to what it would be like to spank her. He wondered if the tantrum she'd thrown at the rest stop had been as loud, or as extreme, as the ones she was performing in her role as Maria Mendoza.
When it came time for Tom to drag Sarita to the armchair, his path led them behind the tall cabinet. To his surprise, one of the new cast members was waiting there... a third-grader Tom recognized as Gwen Sanders, a girl with hair as deep black as Sarita's and almost as tall. "Cut!" shouted Sarita.
Tom looked around. "Who's she supposed to be? I didn't think there was supposed to be anyone else in our hideout?"
Sarita smiled. "My stunt double. You know a star always uses a double for the scenes that are physically demanding, don't you? Gwen heard about the play from her brother, and really wanted a part in it... so she's filling in for me in this scene. You know this is going to hurt a bit, don't you, Gwen?"
Gwen's reluctance was evident on her face. "Not... not too much, I hope?"
"Not seriously. And after the play, I'm going to take you to Computer Fun and let you play games all afternoon! At our... that is, my expense. You've always wanted to play Jovian Invaders for longer than you've been able to, right?"
Gwen nodded, looking more enthusiastic. Sarita went on, "OK. Tom, you'll drag me behind the cabinet, then drop my hand and take Gwen's. Gwen, Tom will bring you over to that chair and spank you..." --Gwen winced, but set her jaw--"and then you'll run back here, where I'll take over. Then you leave through the door behind the cabinet. All clear?"
Sarita turned to Juan, who was holding a stopwatch. "But first Tom will drag me straight across, the way we've done before, while you time us. We've got to do this fast, so it'll look like one single move, and the audience won't even suspect the substitution. Of course, we'll have the same clothes and hairstyle in the actual play... ready, Tom? Gwen? Juan?"
Tom spent the next fifteen minutes running back and forth with Sarita and Gwen, until even Juan had to admit the timing was perfect. Even Gwen's running speed was almost a prefect match for Sarita's... as was her skin, which sported a deep tan recently acquired on Gwen's family's vacation to Hawaii. "OK, Tom. This time, continue with the spanking scene!"
Tom complied. "'And it's not the hamburgers I'm going to warm up!' He punctuated the line with his first swat on the seat of Gwen's red slacks. She didn't have a cushion inside, either, and Tom was slightly embarrassed as he felt the curves of her bottom.
Gwen screamed as Tom spanked her again. "Ow! Stop that, Tom! That hurts!"
Tom let his hand drop as Sarita came over. "Go on, Tom! And, Gwen, a spanking's supposed to hurt! Surely Tom's not hitting you as hard as your parents do!"
Gwen glared at Sarita. "They don't hit me! They usually stop my allowance!"
Sarita threw up her arms. "Aiii! Is my mother the only one who believes in old-fashioned discipline?" She dropped to the floor so she could talk to Gwen face to face. "Look, you can use the sofa cushion if you want, at least for the rehearsals. But since your parents don't spank you, I wanted you to know what it felt like, so you'd have a chance to back out. And so you'd know how to react while you're being spanked."
"Did you let Tom spank you without the cushion?"
Sarita struck a dramatic pose. "I didn't need to! I am versatile enough to know how such an experience must feel!"
Juan snorted. "Besides, she's got plenty of experience! I live across the street from Sarita. Last month her mother and big brother found out she'd added on an extra box of Godiva chocolates last time she was translating for her mother at the store, and they forgot to close the curtains when they came up to her room. She was struggling so hard it took them both to handle her, but finally they got her pants and underwear pulled down, and then they took this big spatula and..."
"That's enough!" roared Sarita in Spanish. "One more word out of you and I find someone else for your part!" Juan shut up. Sarita went on, "Well, do you think you know how to scream? You won't be saying anything, so they won't recognize your voice."
"And do you want the cushion?"
Sarita ran to fetch the cushion, then pulled back the elastic waistband of Gwen's slacks as she lay across Tom's lap. Gwen began to protest, but Sarita ignored her while she shoved the cushion inside, on top of Gwen's panties. "Oh, come off it, Gwen!," said Sarita as she pulled the other girl's pants back up. You'll have to overcome your shyness if you're going to be a stunt woman. Carry on, Tom!"
Tom commenced spanking Gwen's now-padded bottom, as Sarita walked around them, shaking her head critically. "Tom, you want to swat her where she's padded the most... naturally padded, I mean; she won't have the pillow during the performance. A little farther down... maybe move her a little farther across your lap?"
"Listen to the expert!" remarked Juan. But he said it in Spanish, which only Sarita of the others present understood, so she merely glared at him.
The afternoon of the dress rehearsal finally arrived, and the cast had raided the closets of brothers, sisters, friends, and even parents to costume themselves as convincingly as possible. With a bit of flour in their hair (Sarita's suggestion that Juan shave himself a bald spot had been emphatically rejected by both Juan and his father) and Sarita's considerable skill with makeup, Tom and Juan almost looked as if they were truly in their forties or early fifties, rather than their actual ten and nine. They read their opening lines as Sarita, wearing a very short dress that barely covered her thighs, appropriated Janice's car. The actual kidnapping was clumsy at first, with Tom tripping up as the cuffs of the trousers he'd borrowed from his father unrolled while he and Juan were carrying Sarita. They stumbled back, righting themselves only after Juan's foot had crashed into Janice's car.
"Watch out for that car!" wailed Janice. "My parents won't like it if it's scratched!"
"Ex-cuuuse me!" retorted Juan. "It's not easy with the car moving so fast, and Sarita's underwear in my face!"
Sarita tried to pull her dress down as the boys brought her offstage, shooting a contemptuous look at Juan. "Isn't that dress a bit short?" Tom asked her.
Sarita put her hands on her hips. "You try to find two identical dresses to borrow, with only two weeks' notice, in anything even close to your size. You both be a bit more careful with me; the Anderson twins will want these back." She walked closer to the stage, satisfied with the way the follow-up scene with the deVines and the police was progressing. "True, I am a bit old to be displaying my lingerie... but Maria is two years younger than I. And Hollywood is always looking for child actresses who can portray characters younger than themselves! An actress who can convincingly portray a cute little girl of eight..." --her voice dropped an octave--"but with the intelligence and maturity of a girl of almost eleven!"
"What intelligence and maturity?" asked Juan.
Sarita stuck out her tongue at him.
* * *
"'I'm tired of hamburgers!'" screamed Sarita, jumping on the chair. "'Why can't we have fried chicken for a change?'"
"'Because the nearest KFC is thirty miles away, Clarissa!'" replied Tom, as Juan waved at him from a distance. "'Can't you have another Godiva chocolate instead?'"
"'Listen, Dumbarton!'" Juan said. "'There's something you've got to know!'"
Sarita had long since overcome any shyness about her short dress, in her zeal to do justice to Maria Mendoza. She was rolling on the stage and pounding her fists on the floor when Tom returned. "'These hamburgers are cold! I want them warmed up in the microwave!''"
"'Very well!'" said Tom. He grabbed Sarita's hand and dragged her toward the cabinet
"'You forgot the hamburgers, you idiot!'" Sarita told him. "'And the kitchen is that way!'"
"'Oh, I won't need the microwave for this!'" recited Tom. He pulled Sarita behind the cabinet, where Gwen was waiting, wearing a dress and shoes identical to Sarita's, though much cleaner. Sarita mentally noted the discrepancy with some concern, but then a blast of inspiration struck her. In the actual play, she would wear Tina Anderson's dress and Gwen would wear Tana's, so they'd both be equally dirty when the switch was made. Of course, they'd both have to go to the cleaner's afterwards, but she'd planned that all along.
Tom smoothly dropped Sarita's wrist as he grasped Gwen's. He dragged her to the chair and put her over his knee. Like Sarita's, Gwen's dress was so short that her panties were half uncovered anyway, but Tom, remembering the setup, nevertheless lifted it high and draped it around her waist.
"'And it's not the hamburgers I'm going to warm up!'" Tom continued as he began to pull down Gwen's panties. Gwen squirmed in discomfort, but tried to make her struggles look authentic.
"Not that way!" said Sarita from behind the cabinet. "You don't just grab the seat of her pants and pull. You grasp the waist and peel them down."
"How would Dumbarton know that?" asked Tom. "Has he ever spanked a girl before?"
"Look, you want to do this the right way!" snapped Sarita. "You don't want to tear her pants, do you?" Sarita didn't bother to add that the panties were her own... she'd been careful to make sure every bit of clothing matched. She walked over and delicately grasped the elastic waistband. "See? Right here where the label is. Now you pull them straight down... like this. Now you do it, Tom."
"I don't like this, Sarita!" complained Gwen. "Are you sure nobody's going to know it's me with my butt on display?"
"I promise. You never see stunt people's names in movies unless they want them, and you never see body doubles' names. You don't really think that was Val Kilmer's butt we saw in 'Batman Forever,' do you?
Sarita nodded in satisfaction when, after several tries, Tom got Gwen's panties down in a smooth motion. But suddenly Sarita slapped her forehead with an agonized "Aiii!"
"What's wrong?" asked Tom.
"Just look at her!" wailed Sarita. "How could I have been so stupid!"
Tom was already mortified enough. Even two weeks of rehearsals hadn't quite prepared him for this particular situation. "I don't see..."
"She's a real-life Coppertone ad!" With her finger, Sarita traced the line where Gwen's pale buttocks met her tanned legs. "I should have realized she'd have worn a bathing suit in Hawaii."
"And why not?" snapped Gwen. "I'm not accustomed to exposing my rear end in public, whatever you want me to do!"
Sarita looked dashed, then suddenly ran up to Daniel Levine, who was handling the lights originally installed to illuminate the pool during late summer evenings. "Turn the light down low, Dan. And Tom, pull Gwen's pants right up to the line I showed you... there! Now, hopefully, nobody will notice the difference... now go ahead! See how well you can tan her hide!"
Tom swatted her bare bottom hard, but not too hard. As her cheeks began to turn a bright red, Tom tried to lessen the intensity, but Gwen still began to scream. "OWWW! Tom, that hurts! Please, please *stop!"
Sarita gave Gwen a critical look. "Good ad-libbing, but you shouldn't do anything but scream. If you say anything, people will recognize your voice."
"I wasn't ad-libbing! I can't stand it!"
Sarita sat on the floor facing Gwen. "Look, a lot of kids go through this every month or more, so consider it a job. It won't injure you permanently."
Gwen vigorously rubbed her reddening bottom. "It won't?"
"Of course not! Why do you think they spank kids there rather than punch them in the nose or poke them in the eye? And remember, after this there's just the play, and then we'll take you to Computer Fun for a whole afternoon. And take you out to dinner in the best restaurant in town afterwards!"
Gwen thought. Finally she said, "Mordillo's?"
"Anywhere you like. Are you in or out?"
Gwen thought and nodded, wincing as Tom's last few swats came down on her soft buttocks. Then Sarita signalled him to let her go, and she immediately fled behind the cabinet. Sarita followed, immediately emerging as Maria Mendoza, rubbing her bottom every bit as vigorously as Gwen was doing behind the cabinet."'Straight to jail, as soon as my father learns how you've treated me!'"
Sarita proudly read the program the cast members were delivering to the children and occasional grownups who were filtering into the Watsons' back yard.
SARITA VILLAMONTE Presents
"Who Kidnapped Clarissa"
A Dramatic Comedy
THOMAS WATSON JUAN GOMEZ
JANICE MULROONEY DEBORAH WARDELL EDWARD BLAKE
Juan lifted his head without reading the cast list further. "You're sure you didn't forget anyone, Sarita?"
"Well, I thought of crediting my set design, but I wanted to leave room for everyone's name. We're all listed with our characters in order of appearance on the second page, anyway. Wow! I didn't expect this big a turnout!"
"Not bad for a Saturday night when a lot of grownups are busy, either!" said Juan. "Even my dad's coming... he wanted to see my on stage. Too bad your mother and brother both had to work tonight, Sarita."
"Yeah," Sarita agreed. In fact, she'd chosen the night with that in mind... she didn't want to give Mama and Pablo too many ideas. But there was one particular grownup she'd been desparately hoping for, and probably would never see. Unless... that blonde woman in the white pantsuit, talking to Tom...
Sarita strode over to the woman. "Uh... Ms. Halliday?"
"Yes... this is 483 Brown Street, isn't it?"
"It is. You're here for the play?"
Ms. Halliday nodded. "I'm looking for a Sarita Villamonte..."
Sarita beamed. "You're talking to her."
The woman stepped back. "I... I thought you were at least in high school. From your letter and sample program..."
Sarita put as much emotion as possible into her voice. "But, Ms. Halliday, you've come all this way, and we've worked so hard. Please watch our show. You won't regret it."
Ms. Halliday looked at her watch, then shrugged. "All right." Sarita joyfully ran back to the stage.
"Who was that?" asked Juan.
"Lenore Halliday. A big Hollywood talent agent specializing in children and teenagers." The others clustered around Sarita as she concluded, "So knock yourself out and break a leg! Maybe we'll all get Hollywood contracts!
The curtain rose on the opening scene, as Janice's car careened across the stage. "'Whee!'" exclaimed Janice, as Sarita entered in Tina Anderson's dress.
"'Hi, Clarissa! Gee, I love that car of yours!'"
There were a few laughs as Sarita got into the car and took a ride, but all, she and the others were delighted to hear, in the right places. Sarita was sure she even heard a chuckle from Lenore Halliday.
Tom and Juan had entered by now, and Juan said, "'Her nanny brings her here every day... ah, there she is!'"
This time the kidnapping went smoothly, if once again a trifle immodestly. As she was being carried offstage, Sarita heard six-year-old Ronny Dooley chanting, "I see London! I see France! I see Sarita's underpants!" Of course, as she'd said, an actress couldn't be shy... but she was still grateful to Emma Dooley for giving her brother a shove that shut her up.
* * *
By the final scenes, all shyness was forgotten, as Sarita was convinced she was giving the best performance of her life. Maria Mendoza virtually writhed on the floor, giving herself up to absolute rage at the kidnappers. She was the picture of incensed indignation as the newly-disillusioned Dumbarton confronted her.
"'These hamburgers are COLD!'" Sarita screamed at the top of her lungs. "'I want them warmed up in the microwave!''"
"'You forgot the hamburgers, you idiot!'" said Sarita as Tom dragged her to the cabinet. "'And the kitchen is that way!'"
"'Oh, I won't need the microwave for this!'" recited Tom, releasing Sarita and reaching for Gwen's wrist.
Which wasn't there. Nor was Gwen herself. There was nobody behind the cabinet but Tom and Sarita themselves.
There was only an instant to think, and Tom instantly grabbed Sarita's wrist once again, pulling her toward the chair without missing a beat. Tom felt her trying to dig in her heels, but couldn't tell if it was Maria or Sarita herself trying to resist him. In either case, the pattern of innumerable rehearsals with both Gwen and Sarita herself took control, as Tom pulled Sarita to the chair and over his knee.
Tom raised her dress high, and delicately lowered her panties the way Sarita had shown him. It wasn't until he was halfway through the procedure, with his fingers inevitably tracing the crack between Sarita's flexing buttocks, that it struck him. Her stand-in gone, he was actually about to spank Sarita Villamonte! In front of the whole neighborhood, with no sofa cushion, nor jeans, nor even panties to protect her. The world seemed to spin around him as he finished uncovering her bottom... which at least, he couldn't help but notice, was (unlike Gwen's) the same color as the rest of her.
He took refuge in his next line, which he knew was a bit late: "'And it's not the hamburgers I'm going to warm up!'" He punctuated it as always with a hard slap on Sarita's bottom, which seemed to be much harder and tougher than Gwen's. Her comments about it not being permanently injurious came into his mind, reassuring him as he administered several more swats to her reddening buttocks.
From the misty haze beyond the stage, Tom was aware of initial gasps of shock when he first lowered Sarita's panties, but it quickly dissolved into laughter and then wild applause. A few disapproving comments, especially from the adults in the audience, were still evident. "How can they do such a thing!" came one woman's indignant voice.
"Speak for yourself!" replied a voice Tom recognized as that of Carlos Gomez, Juan's father, "If you knew that Villamonte kid the way I do, you'd pay double for this performance!"
"Well, really!" said the female voice.
"Really is right! Why, do you know what she did to my $200 lamp last year? She.." Most of the other voices had turned into "Shh!" alongside the laughter and applause, and the conversation faded away. Tom continued to clap his own hand on Sarita's bottom, realizing suddenly that he'd lost track of the time. But she hadn't uttered anything except the incoherent screams she'd scripted for Gwen, so he must be doing it right so far. But how must she be feeling?
Sarita was utterly stunned, overcome by events. She'd thoroughly drummed the ironclad rule that "The show must go on!" into her cast's heads... and now her protege was litterally drumming something entirely different into her. Madre de Dios! The whole neighborhood was staring at her bottom, which must be red as a fire engine by now. Why, oh why hadn't she at least staged this scene so she'd be facing the other way, and the audience would be looking at her face... which any real actress would want, anyway... rather than her other end?
But of course she'd staged this with her face turned away so the audience wouldn't spot the substitution. And to hide a certain other bit of business which she suddenly realized she'd forgotten to perform. And suddenly she stiffened with new resolve. She wasn't Sarita Villamonte tonight. She was eight-year-old Maria Mendoza, kidnapped by dangerous men, and she'd deliberately provoked that spanking for a specific reason. She took care of that reason immediately, and Tom took the cue to loosen his grip.
Sarita pulled her dress down as she stood up, both flustered and thrilled by the new round of resounding applause. Mr. Gomez bellowed "Encore!," which Sarita thought was unfairly mean- spirited. If that lamp had been so damned valuable, he should never have had it so close to the door.
She was relieved to hear him shushed by the rest of the audience.
Sarita didn't need to go behind the cabinet to make the second switch Gwen would have, but she did so anyway to pull up her pants. As she'd told Tom, Dumbarton would hardly be generous enough to do so for her, but pulling them up under that short dress would just give the audience yet another glimpse of her butt... or worse, if she were facing them. She emerged again as Juan joined Tom.
"'Now where do we go, Dumbarton?'"
"'Straight to jail!'" screamed Sarita, "'as soon as my father learns how you've treated me!'" She didn't need any cue to rub her bottom vigorously.
"'Your father hasn't been heard from in the last six years, Clarissa!'" said Tom. "'Or should I say... Maria Mendoza?'"
"'Then... then you know?'"
"'That we snatched the wrong girl? You bet your red butt we do. Baeza, lock her up until we decide what to do with her!'"
Juan shoved Sarita into the backstage door. "'I say we kill her. She saw our faces, and can pick us out of a lineup!'"
Tom stroked his chin. "'We'd better. I've had enough of her already!'" The doorbell (one of several sounds recorded on a tape player) rang.
Debbie Wardell... Miss Parmenter... rushed in and fell into Juan's arms. "'Oh, Fernando! I've been so worried... where is the child?'"
Tom glared at her. "'Diane, I told you there couldn't be any contact with us until we got the money! You shouldn't even have called Baeza!'"
"'But I had to let you know you had the wrong girl! All these days, with Clarissa hidden and her parents and the police trying to get you... I couldn't be sure I wasn't being followed until I got a chance today! I called you at once, then came right here!'"
Tom folded his arms. "'Well, we're here now. Baeza, get the kid and warm up the car. We're headed out...now!'"
The kidnappers and their accomplice spent the next few minutes gathering personal belongings and forcing Sarita toward the door. Juan opened the door... and three boys in police uniforms rushed in, struggling with and completely overcoming the crooks.
"'Diane, you idiot!'" roared Tom. "'I told Baeza not to let you make contact! The police followed you after all!'"
Debbie gave him an aggrieved look. "'I swear they didn't follow me!'"
"'We didn't!'" said one of the police as the girl playing Maria's mother rushed onstage to embrace Sarita. "'We were called!'"
"'But how...'" Tom looked around in shock. "'Who could have?'"
"'This young lady!'" said the policeman, gesturing toward the smirking Sarita.
"'She couldn't have! We made sure the phone was in a locked room, and I have the only key!'" Tom reached into his pocket, and suddenly began frantically feeling around inside. He turned the pocket inside out and let change rattle to the floor, then started feeling around in his other pockets.
"'Looking for these?'" gloated Sarita, removing a keyring from her dress pocket. "'I took them out when he was... er, occupied with other things.'" She rubbed her bottom again, and Tom dashed his hand to his face.
The police hustled the kidnappers out, but not before Sarita stepped up behind Tom and kicked him in the leg. It seemed to Tom she kicked him a lot harder than she had during the rehearsals.
Janice came in with the actors playing her parents, and there were embraces and thanks all around. At length the boy playing Mr. deVine said, "'Well, it looks like we're short one nanny. How would you like the job, Mrs. Mendoza? $30,000 a year, with free room and board for you and your daughter!'"
"'I'd love it!'" was the enthusiastic reply.
"'Does that mean I'll get to play with Clarissa every day?'" asked Sarita. Mr. deVine nodded. "'And ride in her car?'" Janice threw a look of anguish, not entirely imaginary, onto her face.
"'Actually,'" said Mr. deVine, "'I thought I'd buy Maria a car of her very own. A slightly bigger one. It'll probably take a few weeks to order, though.'"
"'That's OK,'" said Sarita, rubbing her bottom one last time. "'I really don't feel like riding in any more cars for awhile!'" The audience laughed, and applauded as the curtain fell.
It rose again as the cast came on for final bows: first the minor players, then the deVines, then Janice and Debbie, then Juan and Tom. Finally Tom escorted Sarita onstage, and she curtseyed with a flourish to wild applause.
As they all took one final bow, Juan disappeared offstage and returned with a large bouquet of flowers. He passed it to Tom, and they both presented it together to Sarita. She stared at it in stunned surprise, then threw her arms around the astonished Tom and kissed his cheek. She did the same for Juan, who was equally astounded, but happy. Juan was glad now that he'd let Tom talk him into buying the bouquet as a gift for their producer, director, writer, and star. He'd liked the idea of a gift, but in retrospect she probably wouldn't have appreciated... especially under the circumstances... receiving a fancy sofa cushion.
Just as the curtain was about to fall, Ms. Halliday stood up and came onstage. Nobody moved to stop her; most of the audience had learned by intermission who she was. She turned to the audience. "Let me tell you, I've seen more amateur plays than I can count... but this was, beyond a doubt, one of the best organized and written I've ever seen! Especially for actors and actresses your age! So I think you should all give a big hand to this wonderful cast!" They did. "And an extra big hand for the young lady who literally put her butt on the line for it... Miss Sarita Villamonte!"
There was laughter, but a new round of applause, broken only by Ronny Dooley's sudden, "I saw Sarita's bee-hiind! I saw Sarita's bee-hiind!"
He was immediately shushed, but Ms. Halliday whirled and snapped at him, "Don't be ridiculous! Of course you didn't!"
The audience began to murmur in surprise. Lenore Halliday went on, "Don't you realize how easy it is to stage a spanking? Flesh- colored, form-fitting tights on the girl, rouge on the palm of the boy's hand... very convincing, too! But, as I said, I'm truly impressed by the professionalism of this group! I'd like to see them put on this play again for some friends of mine next month... and hopefully many more!"
There were a few more soft comments from the audience, which seemed to reflect vague disappointment from the children and a certain relief from the adults... although Mr. Gomez, as he departed, was heard to mutter, "Should've known she'd make sure her ass was covered!"
"Just a couple of things," said Lenore Halliday. The audience had long since departed, leaving only the leading players on their improvised stage with the agent. Tom and Juan were seated on the stage; Sarita found it more comfortable to stretch out on her stomach. "Sarita, was that story an original one?"
"Entirely my own!" Sarita said enthusiastically. She hesitated and added. "Of course, I was inspired by a few things especially one story I'd read about a couple of kidnappers whose victim is a real pain..."
"'The Ransom of Red Chief' by O. Henry?" asked Ms. Halliday. Sarita started, but then reluctantly nodded. The agent laughed. "Don't worry. Everybody rips off that story. It's public domain, anyway, so it's quite all right. Now, about that spanking scene..."
Sarita looked abashed. "No, I didn't really have any flesh-colored tights."
Ms. Halliday smiled. "I guessed as much, but it didn't hurt to let everyone think you did. Here's $30... that should be enough to buy a pair before the next performance. They sell them in all sizes and shades at Lefkowitz Costuming in Indio. You can get there on the bus."
Sarita hugged her. "Do you really think you can get me a job in Hollywood?"
The agent smiled again. "That's probably a long way away. But I want to take your picture before I go, and my friends definitely will want to see your performance. Just watch that scene, though... the world really isn't ready for naked fifth-graders on stage."
After she'd departed, Gwen Sanders, who had been shyly hanging back in the wings, walked over to Sarita. "I'm so sorry!" she wailed. "But I just couldn't go out there in front of all those people with my pants down! I tried and tried, but my feet wouldn't move!"
Sarita glared at her for several seconds, but finally shrugged. "Well, it just goes to show," she said dramatically, "that some actresses have it and some don't!"
"Won't you please forgive me? I'll do anything you ask! Anything!"
Sarita folded her arms and thrust out her chin, looking back and forth at Tom and Juan. Finally she said, "Well, there is something you can do for me." Gwen winced, and Sarita went on, "Don't worry... nobody's going to hit you."
Sarita gave Gwen the money the agent had given her. "Go to Lefkowitz Costuming and get me a pair of flesh-colored tights. We're the same size... and skin color, if you make sure they match your legs and not your butt. It's better if I don't buy them, since I'm supposed to already have them."
Gwen nodded eagerly. Sarita went on, "And do you think you can go out there tomorrow?" Gwen nodded again, and went out.
"Why does she need to go so soon?" asked Tom. "We won't be giving the play again until next month."
"A couple of reasons," said Sarita. "First, her skin won't be the same color as mine if we give her tan any more time to fade. Besides..."
Tom looked at her questioningly. Sarita blushed, and looked over at her the places where journey in the wheelbarrow and the activity of the play had left several scrapes and gashes on the cabinet. "Not that I think they'd really fool anyone close up... but it wouldn't hurt to have 'em before my mother sees her cabinet again."