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Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a slight elaboration of the free preview some of you might have read back in chapter twelve of "The Magical Empire Strikes Back." Note to Asukafan: I was unable to access the rest of the semi-mandatory descriptors this story would've called for.
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(MAY 1, 2010)

Aryc Omcic--the American-born son of Slovak immigrants--looked around him. And, if it were not for the lavish surroundings, he would have sworn he was at a convention of hearing aid salesmen!

Albeit, some very well-dressed (and proportionately well-armed) hearing aid salesmen.

Little Jeff Manley chuckled from where he sat, in a dollhouse chair, atop the nearby coffee table.

"Pretty intimidating, aren't they?"

The brown-haired, bespectacled young reporter from CNN nodded. He then added how it was quite understandable, given what had happened in Spain, three years earlier.

"Which is where I believe we had left off in the interview," Jeff reminded him.

Aryc nodded, consulting the notes he had electronically stored in his cellular videophone via its DragonNaturallySpeaking app.*

"You and Shakira had served as celebrity judges at the annual International Congress of Belly Dance competition, at the Sahara Hotel in Vegas. The winner of which would make a special cameo appearance (along with the three runners-up) in 'Harem Nights.' The ARABIAN NIGHTS fantasy swashbuckler spoof where you would be playing the heir to the throne of medieval Baghdad, magically shrunken by Eddie Murphy's character."

Little Jeff nodded again, before resuming narration.

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(MAR. 1, 2007)


The four belly dancers in question were Alia Kushnir (stage-named "Leila") from the Ukraine. Hannah Zalanskas (stage-named "Il-Nara") from Moscow. Another Russian belly dancer, stage-named "Yassmin," from the original St. Petersburg. Although, she came by way of the Moroccan Pavilion at Epcot Center's World Showcase in Orlando, Florida. And, last but not least? Myryka Zafinkova (stage-named 'Nunya') from Belarus, via Bullhead City, Arizona!

The cast and crew had set up shop in the same desert region where Christopher George and Eric Braeden (nee Hans Gudegast) had filmed that TV adventure series, THE RAT PATROL, back in the Sixties. And, on the particular day I'm talking about (the day where everything went haywire), the prop men had pitched this big, circus-style tent. Underneath that tent is where the film crew would shoot my first scene with the aforementioned quartet.

The script called for Farouk Yusef (Eddie's character) to leave me with the lean and lovely ladies while he went to abduct my beloved fiance' (played by Shakira). And, while they literally danced circles around me, I would be helplessly bound-and-gagged atop a tall wooden table. My body virtually mummy-wrapped, from shoulder to ankle, in a bright green ribbon. And my mouth covered with a yellow strip of sticky paper!

Raven-haired Leila went by first, wearing a lovely blue outfit. Then came buxom Yassmin, also with long black hair. But, offset by a sequined outfit in emerald green (including a bra that looked one size too small for her). Followed by blonde, blue-eyed Il-Nara in pink; and Nunya (with long brown hair and matching eyes) in sequined brownish-gold!

Now, the script also called for me to lie very still while they danced. Yet, something went wrong. Because, for some strange unexplainable reason, everytime I saw their hips undulate in time to the music, my own upper torso started wriggling in perfect unison right along with them!

Which frustrated our director, Cameron Ridley, no end.

"Cut-cut-cut-cut-CUT!" he yelled at the top of his lungs (after the fifth such ruined take): "Jeff! Sweetie-baby-honey-mate!! What is up with you? You're not supposed to move in this scene. You're supposed to be virtually hypnotized by their dancin'!"

I tried to answer him. But, with the gag on my mouth, naturally all that came out was "Mmmph-mmmph-mmmph-mmmph-mmmph!"

All four women giggled. But, as Nunya was the only one of them who spoke English, she was the one who acted as their spokesperson in mollifying the aggravated Australian.

"Mr. Ridley? Why do we not break for lunch? We might all feel better after some nice food and cool drink. If you wish, we could even have him lunch with us! Show him how to keep himself disciplined during the rest of this scene."

Cameron looked at me and grinned...wickedly.

"You got a deal. Okay, everybody. ONE HOUR FOR LUNCH!"

Chapter End Notes:
*DragonNaturallySpeaking: forerunner of Dragon Speech Recognition.

App: short for "application."
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