The plans were brilliant. They’d been handed the blueprints for a show that would set the industry if not the world on fire, complete with funding and an offer to join the Eye. Any illusionist or showman would jump at the chance. And so they’d all leapt, giving each other a week to return to their old lives and tie up loose ends.
A week after they received the plans, Henley stood outside their pre-arranged apartment with Danny and Merritt. The last member of their quartet was late.
“This is ridiculous.” Danny fumed. “We agreed to meet here at a certain time. He’s late.”
“Maybe something happened to him.” Henley suggested, even though she felt antsy as well. She’d caught the red eye back from L.A., and wanted nothing more than to collapse and sleep for a few hours. The Starbucks that she’d picked up at the airport had long since worn off.”
“Oh, quit your clucking and stop being such a mother hen.” Merritt chided. “The kid’s old enough to be on his own. It is what it is, and since I’ve got a powerful need to take a leak, I say we quit being pansies, and go ahead and enter the damn apartment.”
Henley rolled her eyes.
“You’ve got a point.” Danny pulled out the key they’d been given, put it into the lock and opened the door.
The apartment was beautiful, furnished and modern.
“Wow.” Henley said, “Talk about moving on up.”
“You ain’t kidding.” Merritt agreed with a low whistle. “I bet the toilet even comes with seat warmers.” He took off down the hallway at a swift jog to settle his bet.
“Yeah.” A voice sounded from the shiny black leather couch in the living room. “Ain’t it cool?” Henley jumped at the sound.
“Jack? You’re here?” She exclaimed, calming down after the minor fright.
Danny dropped his bags behind her. “How’d you get in here, Jack? I had the only key.”
Jack shrugged. “Getting into impossible places is kind of my bread and butter. And I live in Brooklyn. How many “loose ends” did you think I had to tie up?” He said, complete with finger quotes.
“You’re an ass.” Danny said. “You know that?”
“Takes one to know one.” Jack smiled back.
“I’m living in a horrible version of The Real World". Henley sighed.
It would be a miracle---or maybe it would take magic, Henley thought, for this to work.
The last few weeks had not been easy. Getting four distinct and powerful personalities to get along and co-exist within the confines of a small apartment- no matter how ornate, was a greater magic than any of them knew. They could put aside their differences for long enough to work on the show; but when they weren’t working, life in the apartment became a disaster.
They could never agree on the simple things, like what to watch on Television. Jack was constantly wanting to watch ”The Wizards of Waverly Place”, because apparently “Selena Gomez was a hottie hot hot.” Merritt only wanted to watch the infomercials that featured him; and Danny was only happy when watching snarky news commentary shows like ”The Colbert Report” or ”The Daily Show”. At times, they could agree on sports. Henley very rarely got a chance to control the remote- mostly at night when the rest were all asleep- and missed the days of her own apartment and sole possession of the remote control.
There were similar disagreements over food (marking your name on food and putting it in the refrigerator did not guarantee that it would be there when you came back for it), overnight guests in the apartment, parties, and use of the bathroom. The bathroom was a touchy issue with Henley especially- as none of the boys could ever remember to put the seat back down.
Things came to a head one sweltering hot afternoon in July. The heat was getting to everyone, making the minor squabbles they’d had with each other into major issues. They were yelling and screaming, and as they did, the power went off with a pop, as if it had blown it’s top too.
“What the hell?” Merritt said, as the lights went out.
“Brownout.” Jack said. “The energy demand is way too high for the amount that everyone needs to keep cool. It happens.”
“What do you do?” Danny said, pulling out his cell from his pocket. “Call the power company?”
“Nah. You gather flashlights and candles while you can still see, get batteries and shit cause you never know how long it’ll take until they’re able to get everything back online. And you eat all the ice cream and good stuff from the fridge, before it goes bad.”
“Ice cream? Now that sounds like a plan.” Henley said with a grin.
They retreated to the balcony of the apartment, where a little breeze was making it just a tad bit cooler than it was outside. Forced with no outside distractions, the roommates were having to spend time with each other. They had cleaned out the fridge and were feasting on ice cream and beer.
“C’mon you stupid thing.” Danny said, slamming his cellphone down in disgust. “Long lasting on a charge, my ass.”
“You’ve been live tweeting this blackout for hours.” Henley said. “You should have conserved your power, instead of letting every one of your five followers know how miserable you are every thirty seconds.”
“Capturing my life online is a way to document my own personal history.” Danny frowned. “And besides, I have more followers than you.”
“Yes, the world will miss hearing every blistering thought of J. Daniel Atlas. What a loss to humanity.”
“Oh would you two quit flirting?” Merritt exclaimed.
“We’re not flirting!” Henley protested. “Me and Danny? No way.”
“You’re telling me that the two of you were never a thing?” Jack exclaimed. “Really?”
“The past is in the past. Completely.” Henley took a big spoonful of mint chocolate chip ice cream. “I’m focused on my career now.”
“I’ve never thought that a monogamous relationship makes too much sense. Good on ya.” Merritt said with a smile.
“It’s too hot.” Danny sighed. “Isn’t extreme heat like, one of the signs of the apocalypse?”
“You’ve never experienced summer in New Orleans.” Merritt smiled. “Kind of feels like one of the circles of Hell.”
“Hell and the apocalypse.” Jack sighed. “What an uplifting conversation. You really think we’re going to pull this whole thing off?”
“Yeah. I do.” Henley said. “We’re the best of the best, and they obviously brought us together for a reason. This is gonna be legendary….if we can stop arguing long enough to get our act together.”
“Don’t we need a name? I mean, I’m all for Merrit and The Pips, but that might be a little bit for a marquee.”
“If anyone gets top billing, it should be me.” Danny sighed.
“No.” Henley shook her head. “We’re all equal. The four of us. We’re the Four Horsemen.”
“I like it.” Danny smiled. Merritt and Jack nodded in agreement.
And so, on a steamy evening in New York City, the Four Horsemen were born.