Have you ever wondered how Claude and Judy Winchester got together? Read on!
It was also a good thing that Judy really knew how to pick 'em. She could see Claude Winchester's potential from day one. Even if he really did think he was the one who discovered her. She'd let him keep thinking that -- never hurts to stroke the hubby's ego. No matter who found who, it was clear that they made an incredible team.
While Claude catapulted Judy into super stardom, his reputation as a manager reached international proportions almost as quickly. Now, Judy's career would be fine on its own, while Claude's could advance as well...he was almost single-handedly responsible for the former lead singer of Nittle Grasper, Ryuichi Sakuma's rise to American fame. Judy would have to thank Ryuichi in part for helping her learn Japanese as quickly as she did...though she'd already learned a bit when Claude first took her to Tokyo as a tourist -- well, Judy was a tourist, Claude was there to decide if he wanted to work with Ryuichi, and when the answer was clearly yes, he was interviewed and eventually signed by NG Records president Tohma Seguchi.
When the time came for Ryuichi to return to Japan, Seguchi asked Claude if he would be interested in managing another band, on the contingency, of course, that Claude felt he could do something for them. The band called itself Bad Luck. Of course, that meant that Claude and Judy would be separated for long periods of time -- that could be hard on a marriage, not to mention a family -- their son Michael was only in preschool -- but Claude and Judy Winchester were determined to make this work.
Although he was still fairly young, Claude Winchester was quite experienced in matters that he was obligated to keep to himself. The secret service was like that...no matter how well he did his job, how many times he'd protected the president, or any given dignitary...how many criminals he'd brought down with his expert tactical skills, he would never get the public recognition he wanted.
Not that he minded working behind the scenes -- in fact, in many ways, stealth was his element...but even those who worked behind the scenes were entitled to some recognition. Unfortunately, the nature of his work was such that nobody would ever know about his accomplishments -- unless he wanted to be imprisoned for life...or more likely executed...assassinated quickly, quietly without being so much as a footnote in history. Even so...when he stepped down from his post, his record was so exemplary he was able to retain his permits, licenses, as well as most of his contacts without a lot of the usual red tape.
Since it was no longer classified, he could continue using his code name, K...not that he couldn't have anyway, seeing as though for all anyone knew, it was just a nickname...maybe his middle name began with K...or maybe it didn't. "K" was catchy and easy to remember. He'd definitely be using it in his new profession -- whatever that may be.
At any rate, he preferred it to "Claude"...which was just lame by comparison...really, though, he just didn't like how the Japanese pronounced it. His work had taken him to Japan more frequently than one might imagine, and he was already fairly proficient in the language...sure, he'd mix up words once in awhile, and get overexcited and speak English randomly when he couldn't think of the right Japanese phrases...what his words couldn't communicate, his magnum could, so it wasn't a problem. He'd keep Japan in mind for his future interests -- for now, he had to find something to do here in the States.
It was a good thing that he'd handled his money well and had considerable savings, because he really didn't want to accept the standing offer of a cushy desk job in the federal government, which would afford him good benefits and a regular paycheck, but nothing more stimulating than watching paint dry, and becoming gradually poisoned by the fumes so that if he was lucky enough to last till retirement, he'd end up spending his golden years in a substandard, federally funded retirement home. The thought made K cringe. There was no way in hell that was going to happen.
"No! No way in hell are you gonna cancel this show! I worked too hard for this...my first leading role, don't you know what that means?! There's no way that a little thing like no ticket sales is gonna stop me from performing tonight, and I'm sure the entire company agrees with me!!!"
Judy ranted and raved at the director and the producer of the fledgling theatre company whose first act may very well be their last. "If there is no audience, there is no play!" The director was firm, "You should know that by now, Judy. I'm sorry if it's not what you wanted to hear, but..."
The producer added, "The bottom line -- if we don't get at least twenty more butts in those seats, there'll be no reason to have a show, and no money to pay...the non-volunteers..."
"NO!!! We are NOT closing before we even open, damn you! Well?!"
Judy turned to her fellow castmates. "Are you with me?!"
Her leading man tried to console her. "Judy, you know I want to do this as much as you do, but..."
"But, nothing! Tell you what, if I can get us twenty more paying customers, will the show go on?!"
The director and producer exchanged looks...finally, the producer said, "Fine...go for it. You have until...say, five minutes till curtain to do this, or the show's cancelled."
Somehow, Judy was able to enlist most of the cast and crew's help in selling the show. Between several cast members talking extra family and friends into buying tickets, with some buying extra tickets themselves and literally handing them out to people in the street, by showtime they had secured nineteen audience members.
"Nineteen! Come, on, isn't that enough?!" Judy wailed, when the director informed her they'd still be cancelled if they didn't get one more. "Oh come on, just give me ten more minutes, I can get one more person...please?!"
The producer had just returned, fully expecting to shut down the show. "Why not? What have we got to lose? Ten more minutes, or you're done!"
Judy ran out the door, already in costume and makeup. She believed she could do this...but time was running out, and the half dozen or so people she found coming out of the nearby cafe were simply not interested or couldn't afford the price of the ticket. "Five more minutes, Judy!" called one of the minor cast members.
"Dammit! Doesn't anyone wanna come see my show?! I'll make it worth your while! COME ON!!!"
Judy hadn't wanted to cry...but damn, all that was keeping her from performing and maybe, just maybe, getting discovered was one stupid ticket. Sighing, and feeling defeated, Judy's eyes filled with tears, and she didn't see the tall, blond man approaching from the cafe. "Hey!" he said grinning widely as she bumped into him. "Did I hear you say you were selling tickets to that play next door?" Judy's eyes got huge...not only was he interested, but he was damn good looking! She quickly regained her composure. "Why yes, you did, sweetie! And you are one lucky man, since there's only one ticket left!"
"Judy! Come on back, you're out of time!"
"Oh, no I'm not! I've got number twenty right here...right?!"
Judy looked desperately into the man's utterly gorgeous blue eyes, imploring him. He nodded, flashing a bill at her for good measure. She took it, gave him the ticket, and dragged him in with her through the stage door.
Although the audience was very, very sparse, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The performance, while a bit tentative in spots, was overall very well done. K could not keep his eyes off Judy. The woman took over the stage. Incredible potential...if only someone would point her in the right direction.
To be honest, K had been watching her for some time before he decided to approach her for his ticket. He was watching as she used her considerable powers of persuasion up and down the street to try and get people to come in and see the show. Sure, anyone could do that, after all, that was how many women, and plenty of men made their living on the street -- but this woman was not like that. No. It was obvious to K that this woman was something special...not just beautiful, which she certainly was, but a force to be reckoned with...or would be with the proper guidance. Guidance that K would be more than willing to provide. He only had to figure out how.
After the show was over, K stuck around so he could introduce himself to Judy properly. He was shown into the dressing room, where Judy was getting ready to leave. "Hey!" he called, startling Judy slightly. "Oh, hi...I'm glad you came tonight. I'd like to thank you for helping me save the show...I -- I just wish..." It was more than Judy could take...she began to cry...softly at first, but soon she was sobbing uncontrollably. K didn't really know what to do, but he put his arms around her, and let her cry it out. After she calmed down a bit, K said, "Come on...let me buy you a drink..." Judy nodded yes, and they left the theatre together.
After going for drinks, K took Judy to her apartment, where they ended up ordering pizza and talking all night. They found they had a great deal in common, right down to a mutual respect and admiration for various types of weaponry. K promised he'd take Judy to the shooting range next time he went...which was fairly frequently, and he made another promise. "Tomorrow night, and for the rest of your show's run, I'll make sure the house is standing room only!"
"What?!" Judy gaped. "What makes you think you can do that?"
"You can trust me!"
"I just met you!"
"Well, if you don't want me to..."
"Of course I want you to...but why?"
"When I bought the ticket, you said you'd make it worth my while...and you have, so I wanted to see how much more worth my while you'd make it if I sold out the house!"
"Ah...an ulterior motive! You're my kind of guy, K...which is so not your real name!"
"So...what's it gonna be?"
"Well, of course I'm gonna have to say yes...and to make it even more worth your while -- after the show's run, you can do with me what you will for the night...within reason...on one condition."
"Your real name please?"
"I'm a simple woman of simple tastes..."
"Yeah, right...but you've gotta promise to call me K in public...all right?"
"Oh, you can trust me..."
"I just met you."
After playing at this for another half hour or so, K finally properly introduced himself as Claude Winchester. Judy was delighted, but decided she wasn't going to call him K anymore...after he'd held up his end of the bargain, of course.
Sure enough, and unbelievably so, the show's second performance was a sell out. Judy was absolutely flabbergasted. When K said he had a lot of influence in this town he was not kidding. What Judy didn't know was that K had called in several favors he'd been due, and these had somehow multiplied on top of each other. Soon, there were many powers involved and it all came together exactly the way K had intended. All Judy knew was that instead of performing in front of twenty people who had been essentially forced to attend, she was now performing in front of a house full of willing patrons, soon to be hardcore Judy fans, if she could allow her fantasies to come true. Of course, her performance and that of her castmates improved for all that. The little theatre company was now officially on the map, and Judy was eternally grateful to that handsome blond man she'd pulled in off the street.
At the curtain call for the final performance, Judy was surprised with the biggest bouquet of roses she'd ever seen...when she got backstage she read the note -- "You're mine tonight, pussycat! -- K" She bent down to sniff the flowers, and when she looked up, there was K, right beside her. "Oh! I can't believe it! You really did this for me, I -- " Her words were caught up in a passionate kiss... "Now for your part of the bargain, baby...how does Vegas sound?" "Really? Las Vegas? Oh hell yeah!!!" Judy squealed, wrapping her arms around K's neck, and kissing him soundly again.
"But, Judy!" The director called, "When are you coming back?" "Yeah, we need to talk to you about our next production!" added the producer.
K looked at Judy, and she looked back meaningfully, nodding her head. "When we get back, I'll let you talk to my manager...Mr. K!"
K grinned. "See you later, suckers! VIVA LAS VEGAS!!!"
When they came back, K set about making his new bride into the star she deserved to be. Claude Winchester had found his niche, and Judy Winchester couldn't have been happier.