Note: The results of this month’s draw (from Hawaii, how cool is that? 🙂 ) were a romance, involving a VHS cassette, set in a fire watch tower.
The Men Upstairs
By Jeff Baker
He could see for miles, but that was the idea of building the observation tower at the top of the hill. Accessible now through a stone staircase in its base, it reminded Bailey of a cabin he’d vacationed in once. But that had been with his family when he was about six. Now, he was twenty-five and had a bottle of wine and maybe a boyfriend. He’d left a note at the motel for Preston to meet him here at sunset. The tower hadn’t been used for watching for fires in years, now it was part of the historic park service. Bailey set the bottle and the bag down; glad the place had an electrical outlet.
Bailey heard someone behind him and turned to see Preston bounding up the steps.
“Didn’t think I’d make it,” Preston said. Almost got lost on the path back there.”
“Come on in and sit down,” Bailey said. “We got some snacks, and this.” He held up the wine and a couple of plastic glasses. They sat down in the wicker chairs, side by side as Bailey poured the wine and set the glasses on the small table. “Annnnd, we’ve got this.”
Bailey got up and put the old VHS tape in the machine and the T.V. set whirred to life. He sat down and they picked up their wine glasses, tapping them together.
“Which one’s this?” Preston asked, looking at the T.V.
“You’ll see,” Bailey said, sipping his wine and smiling. “They didn’t have the opening credits on this one.”
After a few moments, Preston recognized the show. “Oh, yeah, ‘The Man Upstairs.’ Syndicated, 1974-76. 32 episodes. Jake Krolac inherits a house and a restaurant and the tenant in the house’s upstairs, back room apartment turns out to be a 387-year-old alien who’s writing a book. Basically a rip-off of ‘My Favorite Martian.’ Yeah, they used to show the reruns in the afternoons when I was in junior high.”
“Mmm-hmm.” Bailey said. He and Preston were both walking T.V. trivia encyclopedias.
“And this is the pilot, I’m guessing. Yup!” Preston said. “Pilot.”
“Keep watching,” Bailey said, pouring them some more wine. After a few more minutes, they were watching Jake Krolac wander into the restaurant he’d inherited and pull out his I.D. because nobody believed him.
“I don’t remember this scene coming in this early,” Preston said.
“It didn’t. This is the first pilot. The one they never aired.” Bailey said.
“Yeah? I didn’t know they made another…” Preston’s voice trailed off. On the screen, Jake Krolac was in the kitchen talking to the kid washing dishes. Tall with grubby brown hair. “Wait a sec. Is that? That’s not…oh, my God!”
“Jonathan Yowmosky, credited as John Yates,” Bailey said. “They re-cast him when they did the second pilot.”
“My God! That’s my Mom’s uncle!” Preston said. “I mean, my Mom’s brother! My uncle! He died before I was born! He was an actor for a while, but I never knew…where did you find this?”
“I looked around,” Bailey said with a grin. “Wasn’t easy! The video isn’t even online. Found it from a dealer. Dealer. That sounds so Mod Squad.”
The two of them laughed. They held hands as they watched the video.
“I watched it through once,” Bailey said. “I don’t think your Uncle has any more lines, but I think we see him in the background towards the end.”
“Awwwww! You sweet, wonderful sentimental man,” Preston said.
Bailey tried not to grin as they kissed.