Two days with David Hedison at Stan Lee’s ComiKaze October 30-31, 2015


I was awake early on Thursday, October 29. I had to catch a 6:00 AM flight – it is better to get through Atlanta early, before the traffic backs up on the taxiways – for departure.  My plane showed up and we made it into Atlanta without circling. I made my connection.  I was able to board Zone 1, because I have a Delta credit card.

The two men in front of me wanted to sit together so I asked the guy where his seat was – he had the same seat one aisle back, so I gave him mine. They chatted with each other the entire flight, so it was the thing to do.  I had a nice fellow travelling home to Mexico, as my new seat mate.

About half way through the flight, someone behind us had a low blood sugar crisis. They called for a doctor and six people got up. They worked on her and got an IV going. We thought we might have to divert to Denver, but nothing was said. The plane then speeded up another 50 miles an hour.

So we actually got into Los Angeles half an hour early. They told we had to wait until the paramedics took the lady off.  I’m sure she was embarrassed, but we were glad she was okay and that we were able to land in Los Angeles as scheduled. I had to wait for C.J., my roommate, so when I finally left the plane and found her gate was over by mine, I waited there for her.

My phone rings. My limo service wants to pick me up. I tell the guy he’s too early, it’s only 11:30 AM and I ordered my car for 1:30 PM.  No, he says I have to go now, my plane has landed.  I said maybe so, but I had a friend in a wheelchair and there was no way I am leaving her stranded at the airport. Come back at 1:30. We’ll be ready.

Half hour later, my phone rings again – the company I booked with is insisting I get picked up right now.  I tell them again, not until my friend’s plane lands. They agree to wait for C. J., but now I have to pay a late fee.  Fine, I said. Send the car at 1:30 PM, as I requested and I will pay the bloody late fee!

About this time C.J. arrives. My phone rings again. It’s my driver. I tell him we all here now and he can come get us. 40 minutes early. He shows up in a Tesla. I tell him he can’t be for me, I ordered a town car.  No, he’s for us. So we get in, his phone rings and they tell him he can’t take us anywhere unless I pay him $80.

I won’t agree to that. I tell him to have the original booking company call me. I tell her I will pay the original late fee I agreed to, nothing more. Or we are getting out of the car. I also tell her this is no way to treat a customer who made a good faith reservation for the time she WANTED the car, not when her plane landed. FINALLY, he took the late fee I agreed to and drove us to the hotel.  I almost didn’t tip him, but I figured it wasn’t his fault he worked for a greedy company. It was a very nice black Tesla. One more thing off my bucket list. And I didn’t have to catch a ride with Jay Leno OR Jerry Seinfeld.

So be aware, if there is more than one of you being picked up; always give them the last flight number that is coming in. Then they can’t pull this dodge. I may never use that shuttle service again.

Our hotel was very nice. They gave us a high floor room away from the con noise. We were very happy with that room. We unpacked; I retrieved my box of books from the hotel and emailed David we had arrived. C. J. had brought the laptop. I brought Voyage DVDS and we turned the room TV into a big screen. We had a blast watching The Mermaid and Monster from Outer Space and Magnus Beam.

Sherry got in touch with us fairly quickly. We decided to meet up and go over to the Convention Hall and pick up our badges. Because we could. There was SUV service from the hotel that dropped us at the convention center.  C.J. could not walk far, on account of her car accident, so we parked her. I walked all over, looking for early badge pick-up. We found several booths, including Celebrity badge pick-up, none of which was what we needed.

Finally, someone directed me to go outside the hall and through some unmarked side door. There we found badge pick-up. There was one chair outside the door and we parked C. J. in it until she rested enough to make it down to the cab stand.

We caught a cab and went downtown to a bar (and grill) listed in our hotel guide. It was further than we thought but the food was great. It wasn’t crowded and we ate and drank and had a really good time there. Bar food, but really good bar food. Then we cabbed home.

Sherry came up to the room and bought one of every book I had there, for David to sign. So we got everyone all set for David to sign everything they had on Saturday.

We got up early Friday morning. It was a leisurely morning as the con did not open until 1:00 PM. We decided, after the run-around getting our badges on Thursday, we would let the con get good and open, so we could get C. J. a wheelchair. There was no way she would be able to do the con without one.

So we got ready. I did the supply run down to Ralph’s grocery, which was walkable, except I got all hot and sweaty again. So with everything finally done, I took yet another shower, gathered what we needed and called Sherry. We went down together and flagged down the SUV drop off service. We paid his $10 and were let out in front of the South Hall. We found C. J. a place to sit down, while I trudged over to the nearest check in. They sent me to another desk. No help there. I finally asked a convention center person. He directed me over to the other hall to ask at the information desk there.

Once there, the information desk said to go over to the aid station, which luckily was close by. The aid station said there was one chair left. In the South Hall! So I walked back over THERE and claimed the last chair. I had stashed C. J. and Sherry in the South Hall coffee shop while I walked all over. On my way back in, I picked up C. J’s ID. We got the last wheelchair. It had seen better days and they could not find any footrests to fit on it, but at least it rolled.

I went back to the coffee shop, picked up C. J. and we decided we should (at least) go find David’s table. Even if he wasn’t there until Saturday, we would be off to a running start on Saturday when that hall opened because we knew where he was. David is prompt to a fault, so we knew we could bring all our items over to sign then as his first customers.

We went too far up row 18. So we crossed over to 19 and came back, counting down the booths. We saw Gary Lockwood first; then there was Keir and someone who I did not know sitting in David’s booth. We rolled a little farther and there David was with his thatch of white hair and new dark tortoise shell eyeglasses. We did not expect to see him sitting there.

David’s pictures were out. He looked all set up to sign. I swung C. J.’s wheelchair around so she faced him and parked her in front of the table, then blurted, “You are not supposed to be here today. The web site said…”

David cut me off. “I am too supposed to be here. The con messed up. There is Friday autograph signing in the South Hall.” It was 2:00 PM. The hall had been open an hour. We were (apparently) the first people David actually knew to come to his table.

So I took my smartphone out of my bag, lined up David for a table shot and immediately put on Facebook that he was signing and everyone who follows him there should come on down and get a signed picture. That didn’t help the three folks in Los Angeles I had already told, no, go sightseeing on Friday, the web site said, David won’t be signing until Saturday.

At least we had come in to check out where his table was. Taking his picture was easy. Getting it off the camera roll and on to Facebook took a few more clicks. I was working at it, when David asked, “What is taking so long?” The photo finally went out over the slow CC internet connection. I told him it was done. David grinned. We already were helping.

David wanted to know what to charge for the two books of mine he had put out on his table. “You have a sign for that,” I told him. “Back at the hotel, because the con (website) posted, you would not be signing in the South Hall until Saturday. I have also money for you and books for the table.” David grinned even wider. “But we left everything at the hotel. I’ll go get them.”

David answered, “No, that’s all right. Bring them tomorrow.”

C. J. and Sherry had also left the items for David to sign, back in their hotel rooms. I introduced David to C. J.; he had already been told about her car accident and then to Sherry. I left them there to talk to David. I told him I’d be back as soon as I could; with his books and his money and the 6 items I had brought to the con from other people for him to sign.

I did not wait for a cab. I could walk the three blocks in the time it took one to get there. So I got all hot and sweaty (again) walking back to the hotel. Up in the room, I grabbed the money, threw the sign and books into my rolling suitcase. I then paid the SUV drop off service (again) to take me back to the CC.

Everything was still packed from the airplane trip. The books travel better in saran wrap. So finally about 2:45 PM, I rolled back up to the table. C. J. and Sherry were waiting for me. I didn’t have room to bring their items over, but I had brought enough back with me to set up a six book display, plus I had all the pre-paid items for David to sign.

I zipped open the suitcase on the floor behind David’s table and began stripping the saran wrap off. I did the sign and book box John had made to fit into my rolling suitcase. I almost had the book box attached to the sign with masking tape, when David pipes up behind me. “I thought you said you had things for me to sign.” David gets impatient when he knows he has signing to do.

“I’ll get them out in a minute,” I told him. “Let me put up the table display (the sign and the books) first.” All the sale books were also saran wrapped. I had planned to spend Friday night in the hotel getting everything (unwrapped) ready for Saturday morning. I am cursing the con (under my breath) at this point, for not listing David as signing on Friday so I could have been at his table at the 1:00 PM opening, with everything ready to display.

David insisted he wanted to sign something. Right now.  I stopped putting the sign together, turned around, and took his money out of my wallet. I tossed the money down on the table in front of him. “Here, count your money and I will find something for you to sign.”

David looked at the pile of money on the table and winked at C. J. “Now I can retire,” he joked, as he scooped up the bills and put them into in his pants pocket. Trust me, it wasn’t that much money, but David was happy to get it. I unsaraned the first book and laid it on the table for him and told him who it was for, and how to spell their name.

I was working on the “wrong” side of David. He hears better out of his right ear than his left, but Lauri was sitting there. I didn’t want to ask her to move. David had introduced me to Lauri as the person running his table. I said hello and shook her hand.

David immediately asked me to speak up. He had left his hearing aids at home on the table, instead of bringing them. He wasn’t happy about that. So I raised my voice a bit and spoke clearly, while everything was signed.

We were going to write down names for him, but it never came to that.  David appropriated a few of my identifying index cards from the pre-sales and tore them in half, but once he had “paper,” he didn’t really need it. I offered him post-its. He turned me down. I offered him a bag of almonds as a snack for his labor. He said, “Maybe later.”

I turned around to repack the signed items to go back to the hotel. I hear rustling behind me. David has pried the almond bag open and is having some. He managed to eat about half of the almonds before Gary Lockwood came over, saw David had food and ran off with the rest of them.

I gave David a chewy granola bar and an oatmeal square that he promptly stowed away in his black leather bag with his initials on it, probably so Gary wouldn’t see he had even more food. I did see David turned away from the table, “counting” his money, later on.

C. J. helped me get the signed stuff stowed. Then we took the books out. I got the book box up on the table and put six books into it. It was a nice narrow box, taking up the same space as the two books David had laid out. Those books were his personal copies, so I gave them back to him and put up mine, with the price sign up in front of the box. It looked good.

David then asked me how I was. “Was I in a good hotel? Did I have a good flight?” I told him yes and yes, my flight was even early. I spared him all the medical emergency/shuttle pick-up bait and switch drama. David has always made sure I have a good place to stay and am eating right and getting enough sleep. It’s nice that he cares.

Since I was working so closely to him, I rubbed David’s shoulders a bit and asked him if he was doing all right. I asked after Bridget, his wife. He said everyone was fine. Then David told me all about his set–up.

I had a feeling on Thursday, when I saw the celebrity check-in booth that David would not like having his table in the South Hall and his badge pick up in the West Hall. And he didn’t. The parking was also a mess. David ended up parking in the wrong (West) Hall, taking the first handicapped space he could find. At least he was already over there to get his badge. “Too much back and forth,” David told me.

I’m sure he loved dragging his rolling suitcase full of pictures over to the South Hall, once he was done getting his badge. His picture suitcase does roll well. I was amazed how light it was on my hand. It had to be much more expensive than mine, to be that good. I would have gladly come over early on Friday to help him, but David didn’t ask me to. I didn’t book this con. I did not have the right badge to get in early. So David managed.

They had changed his booth number at the last minute, so Carol’s group was all together in row 19. I had (luckily) been able to announce on-line, prior to the con, where his (new) booth number was. At least that worked. People who came to get items signed did find David’s booth both days he was there.

So we spent an amenable Friday afternoon with David and Lauri and Carol and Keir and Gary. Gary would stroll over when he was bored and chat up David. C. J. and Sherry chatted up David. I chatted up David.

Lauri and I got acquainted. I told her she was on the “right” side of David to be heard and she should stay there. Carol already knew who I was, she had run Brett Halsey’s table at two other Hollywood shows I had done with David. I wasn’t sure why Brett opted not to do this con. I looked for him but he was never on the guest list.

Carol asked me about my most recent experience with BearManor; as she had published books about Alan Young with them in the past. I detailed some of the process of getting my most recent book published, what David had approved and so forth. We didn’t get to talk as much as she wanted to. Keir Dullea was busy as David. Carol kept having to leave to take pictures of people with him. Keir was quite popular. 2001 is a classic film in its own right.

My book came out six weeks before the con, so I wasn’t as under the gun to get it there as I could have been. I did push earlier in the year, so the book would be ready for David’s table at Comikaze. I had sent David his copy a few weeks prior to the con, in September, when the book came out. I inscribed it to him, for all the material he had given me and all the interviews with his friends, David had arranged. The book would not have been as good as it is, without him. David told me he had read the Five Fingers book I had sent him. He said it was good and he liked it.

C. J. kept trying to get pictures of me working with David at the table. I wasn’t very cooperative. Finally, when everything was (finally) set up and I had cooled down enough that I wouldn’t be sweating all over David; I put my arm around him and posed for a couple more pictures. We were very fortunate in that David’s booth had a lot of open space in the back that we could stage out of and there was room for both rolling suitcases and C. J.’s wheelchair.

Both Sherry and I pushed C. J. around the Hall, so she could see everything she wanted to. We then came back to the back corner of David’s booth. C. J. was out of the traffic flow and could (easily) watch everyone stream past to exit the hall. C. J. had never really done a cosplay convention, so I would stand beside her and tell her what the costumes were. We would watch David interact with the fans who stopped at the table. The afternoon went very quickly. David would get up out of his chair and pose with us on Friday, whenever we asked him to.

Both C. J. and Sherry went over and purchased photos from Keir and Gary. Sherry went off on her own and did a panel and visited some other booths, before coming back and plopping down on the floor next to C. J. I really did not like Sherry sitting on the floor, but if she was fine with it, I had to be. She and David compared canes. In fact, in one of C. J.’s photos, of the three of them, we decided between the two canes and a wheelchair – that picture should be entitled “the gimp patrol.”

David would get up: to stretch, I think, then take his cane and stroll off. He asked me once where the men’s room was. I pointed out the hall door and off he went. He was gone a while, so I stationed myself out in the aisle, so he’d find us again. He did fine. I saw him coming back and waved and he nodded. I did not have to go chasing after him down another aisle. After that, he always found his way back. The hall was fairly wide open, particularly toward the back so you really couldn’t get turned around or lost in it. There were spaces between booths, so you knew where you were. Most of the time. At least I did.

C. J. and David hit it off. They like many of the same things. David was amused when C. J. told him about her nickname. David would make a point to acknowledge us whenever he got up and left the booth, asking us questions or kidding around. He seemed genuinely happy to have us there hanging out with him.

During one stretch, David told me the (plastic) seat was hard. I said I could bring him my inflatable air plane pillow, if he thought that would help.  He said, no, it wouldn’t, he didn’t have hemorrhoids. That was not the discussion we were having, but I decided at that point not to offer my pillow again. 

David had decided not to stay until the Hall closed at 7:00 PM. He planned to stay until 6:00 PM, if it was busy. The hall started to really empty out around 4:30 PM. David packed up his black leather bag and took his two personal books. He told me to be responsible for my book display and take everything in it back to my hotel. I told him I would. David put on his khaki jacket that had been hanging over his chair the entire afternoon. It was very warm in Los Angeles that weekend. I got quite tired of getting hot and sweaty, every time I did something.

David told us he was looking forward to dinner with Bridget and the glass of white wine she would have ready for him. Cabernet Blanc, he said. He didn’t say which brand, but I can tell you when he does tell me a brand, and I look it up, it’s usually a very good wine. One I can’t afford!

David was concerned he would not find his car again at the other hall. Since Carol had to stay to help Keir, who was signing until 7:00 PM, I told her I would walk over with David. We both tried to explain to David where he should have parked (VIP parking). He said send an e-mail with directions, saying he couldn’t get all the details right with no hearing aids, and he would try to park there on Saturday.

I came up next to him, on his good side and announced I was ready to go. He looked at me, hefted the black leather bag he had in his hand and dropped it down onto my shoulder. So I carried his bag over to the West Hall. He was walking all right with his cane, no wobbling. If anything he was steadier than he used to be, without it. David had told me last October, he had a cane. This was the first time I had seen it. It was thick, sturdy brown wood and he was quite adept with it.

I told David to lead me, he knew where he was going. He actually did. David only needed the encouragement that I trusted him not to get us lost. And he didn’t. We found the West Hall garage entrance and he remembered his stall number. He led me right to his car. I held his bag up to him so he could get his keys out.

He took the bag from me, complained it was too heavy and took out the two demo books. “Hang onto these for tomorrow,” he said. I slipped them into my shoulder bag on the other shoulder as he got his car unlocked.

David looked down at me and then gave me a really nice, long, strong good-bye hug. Probably for all the pre-sale money I had brought him. I normally do that for any show I book. Several people had specifically asked me to carry items out to L.A. for him to sign. So I did.

I hugged him back. I promised I would send the email he wanted with the parking instructions. That way he’d be parked at the right hall on Saturday. David told me to throw his cane into the back seat and handed it me. He didn’t seem to like it, but he used it. We agreed on which way he had to go to get out of the garage. David got in and drove off. 

I then schlepped back to the South hall to pack up my books. I reported to Carol we had successfully found his car and David was gone. I texted the sightseeing crew for the third time: David had left the building. They should come see him Saturday. They said okay.

Lauri was curious about me and my book so she was asking me questions as I was packing up. The usual. How did I met David? When did I start writing books with him? I handed her one of the Five Fingers paperbacks. I told her she could take the book home overnight and look at it, as long as she brought it back the next day to sell, since we weren’t doing anything with them, except storing them in my hotel room overnight.

I asked Carol if she wanted me to take David’s suitcase full of pictures back to my hotel. Carol had seen me set up and break down David’s table at other shows, so she knew I could be trusted. She said okay. I was to have the suitcase back by 10 AM the next morning for Lauri to set up the table. I said I would. So they packed up David’s pictures and I took them back to the hotel. We were calling a cab (for C. J.) to go back, so it was no problem to have another rolling suitcase.

I couldn’t push C. J. and roll two bags, so Sherry stepped up. She wheeled C.J. back to the aid station where we reclaimed her ID and left off the wheelchair. I wasn’t sure Sherry could push the chair. She had a cane, but she managed beautifully when I wasn’t there; to push C. J. around. Sherry went to what she wanted to see several times that weekend. We never had to wait for her, she was always came back and was ready to go with us when it was time to go anywhere. It was cheaper to ride the three of us together. I told Sherry she was in charge of David’s rolling bag of pictures, going back to the hotel. She said it was an honor. She got it back to the hotel, too. 

Friday night, we decided not to call a cab to go eat. We walked two blocks down to the Diner by our hotel. We had considered closer Mexican and/or Italian restaurants, but neither one looked open. You never want to go to a place that doesn’t have a line out of the door. I had passed by the diner we chose, around noon, on my way back from Ralph’s and there was a line OUT the door there. It was hard on C. J., she is only beginning to walk again, but she made it and the food was really good. And cheap. There wasn’t a line out the door, until about 15 minutes after we were seated. Timing is everything.We walked home. Sue Clark was texting me she had arrived. I found her in the lobby. She came up to the room and we visited for about an hour while I repacked the books for Saturday and put together my “Fly” costume for Halloween. I also found C. J.’s costume and all the other bits of claws and fly t-shirts. Sue got a T-shirt and the bug glasses, so we would be all set for Halloween as David’s “fly girls.”

We planned for an early morning. We had to eat breakfast and then get there to claim a wheelchair by 9:00 AM. We wanted to be set up and waiting for David when he arrived at 10:00 AM. Sue said she had better go check into her B&B, so we bid her goodnight. We ran another Voyage episode to go to sleep by, while I got my electronics working with the free hotel Wi-Fi and sent David the email he had requested telling him exactly where VIP parking was; up the ramp in back of the South hall, by the loading dock.

Neither, of us slept well Friday night, so we were up early. I did the breakfast run. I now knew what to bring up on the second day, so C. J. had a really good breakfast. We donned our “Fly” duds. Sherry came down, wheeled out David’s suitcase full of pictures and we were off.

We were dropped off at the South Hall. I took the ID and walked ahead to get the wheelchair. The Saturday one they offered was even clunkier than the Friday one, but at least it had footrests. Until one fell off… but that was later in the day. I managed to put it back on right, so it stayed on. I’m used to dealing with John’s wheelchair, which isn’t that fancy, but is miles better than the one the CC gave us.

We took a few costume pictures of each other in the lobby, before we went in, trying the various combinations of claws and masks and bug glasses. Multiple Andres having lots of fun. We loaded C. J. and I pushed off.  Once I got going, it would roll, but the chair wanted to pull left all the time. Bad wheel or something.  So I pushed and course corrected and pushed and course corrected. All day. If we ran anyone down, I apologize. Excuse me, wheelchair!

It was now 9:30 AM, so we went into the hall. We were the first to arrive. I set up my book display and laid out hand sanitizer, a small 16 oz. bottle of water and some throat drops for David. I had more items in my bag, but that was enough to get him started. I had noticed on Friday that David was using his water bottle to prop up his price sign. So I figured having another bottle handy would help, so his sign wouldn’t fall down every time he wanted a drink. I also put down a few other things on table that I knew he would take home with him.

When I was done setting up, I put my Fly mask on display on the table, branding our space. So David would see it and play with it, if he wanted to. I turned to C. J., after looking at my watch, and said, “It is 10 AM. David should be here.” I turned back and there was David coming up the aisle. He had his price sign that he taken home to make larger and his parking instructions email in one hand and his cane in the other.

Again, David was not happy with the parking, despite the fact we had emailed him exactly where he was to go. He pulled into the ground floor garage instead up going up the ramp. He was in a space that wasn’t a marked space and hoped his handicapped sticker would keep him from being towed. He got lucky. He didn’t get towed.

 I could see David had his (behind the ear) hearing aids on, so I hoped today would be better sale-wise and less of a struggle. “Oh, good,” he said. “You‘re here.” Then he saw the fly mask centerpiece on the table and laughed.

 He sat down, set up his sign against his water bottle (from yesterday) that he took out of his bag. He put his markers out. Then he asked why the table wasn’t set up with his pictures. I told David (truthfully) that I was specifically told not to do that. He would have to wait for Lauri and Carol to come.

David wanted to get going. I asked him if he wanted me to set out his pictures, since they and I were there. He said yes. I had put up the suitcase and was starting to unload picture files when Lauri and Carol rushed in. She told me they would do it. I scooped my fly mask up off the table, stepped back and let them.

Lauri started to do the set-up, but then Carol came back over to help to get it done faster. David wanted his small water bottle opened. He can’t twist with his arthritic hands, so I did it for him. Carol asked me to step aside again. I told her I had three paying customers there waiting. We were giving her the courtesy of the time to set up the table before we brought our items around to David to be signed. Then I stepped back.

When everything was set the way David wanted it, C. J. and Sherry came around to the front of the table to have David sign their books. I should have pulled their money from the pile I had given David on Friday, but I didn’t. So their books were finally signed. Sherry got three books signed, even though we had not originally planned to have David sign her Fly at Fifty book. So she gave him even more money.

I took a picture of David signing her double-signed photo (with Robert Dowdell) to put up on Facebook, so people on social media would know David was now at his booth and signing. Gary came over and insisted David owed him five bucks. They had a bet and Gary sold the first picture on Friday. David took five bucks out his pocket and gave it to Gary. Gary said it was because David was Armenian and it was bad joss not to pay up. I didn’t really get that whole conversation and was surprised Gary did not know David was Armenian before this. 

After we got everything we had or wanted signed, we decided to leave for a while. Let Lauri do what she was hired to do. I told David I would go find Amanda and Charlotte, because I knew they had several things they wanted him to sign.

I pushed C. J. over to the Hot Topic Stage. There was no one we wanted to see on stage. I pushed her the length of Autograph Alley (along the back wall). No one there she wanted to stand in line for. C. J. had been interested in the Babylon 5 reunion, but the two actors signing on Sat. weren’t not anyone she wanted an autograph from. They had combined their booths and banners as the con had them split up and in separate booths, after advertising them as a “reunion.” That made no sense to us, but then the con didn’t seem to be very organized (at all) about anything in the South (autograph) hall.

We saw a short line for Carrie Fisher; who was set up behind a curtain along that back wall. Apparently, if you paid for an autograph or a photo op or anything else, you were taken behind the curtain. If not, there was no going back there. I guess that worked. For her. I had seen her. Years ago. In San Francisco. A friend of mine worked her signing line there.

We rolled over to see how Nichelle Nichols was doing. She seemed fine, a bit tentative, but smiling and posing and genuinely enjoying her fans and her (short) line. Walter Koenig was next to her, also not that busy. Next to him were the two CHiPS officers, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. They seemed to be selling a lot of posed pictures and not much else. For an autograph area, it wasn’t that busy, at least not like a Saturday at other autograph shows I have attended.

Having done our fill of gawking, we rolled back to the table to find Amanda and Charlotte there. Sue Clark was also there. So there was a lot of signing and talking and posing for pictures. Amanda went off to the ATM to get more money. When she came back, she saw our Lab coats and it reminded her she wanted her (real) lab coat from work signed, so she got that done. Then I pulled out my binder of extra pictures I always let her leaf through. She found four more she didn’t have. Amanda has a lot of signed pictures of David, I was surprised there were that many for her to take out of the binder to get signed.

We took group photos. I chatted up Charlotte’s mom, Janet. Amanda and Charlotte hugged David. He told them to go easy on him, his back was bad. There is nothing David can do about that, he has the spine of an 88 year old, unfortunately. David was really game, always smiling. He was amenable to all our numerous requests and never once refused to get up out of his chair to pose with us. We did cut him a break, once or twice, and let him stay seated while we crouched next to him or stood behind his chair or beside his chair.

For the large group shot, I wheeled C. J. up to the table next to him. That #hedisonharem shot came out really nice. Lauri took it with Amanda’s phone. I told Amanda the Hedison harem was coined in 2005 at the con in Louisville. She also gave me a look when I referred to us as “his fly girls.” I know that means something else, depending on the slang that is being used, but that was not how I meant it. We are fans of the “original” Fly (1958) movie. That predates any other usage out there.

David told Janet how much he loved the Crane rag doll they had given him at the Birmingham show in England in 2012. Janet was very pleased and replied, “If she knew that he, his wife and his housekeeper liked it that much, she would have to make him another one.” I have one of Janet’s handmade Crane rag dolls. I can attest she does a really good job on them. My Crane rag doll came with a mermaid, of course.

Charlotte had a picture of David in bed, from the TV series Family. No one else knew where it was from. So I told David. ‘It was the scene where Meredith Baxter told David she was leaving him for Tommy Lee Jones.’ Hedison fans tend not to like this episode. David was going to marry this girl and she leaves him, because he’s too safe. Given that choice, none of us would ever leave David for Tommy Lee Jones. Or at least I wouldn’t.

Amanda informed David that Kemek was currently on Amazon Prime and that she enjoyed watching it over and over, because she could. Amanda then showed him Pauline Owers’ screen cap 2016 Voyage calendar that she had ordered from England. It is really good this year, all the screen caps were flattering to David – this is not always the case. David really enjoyed looking at all of them.

Amanda showed David where Derrik Lewis had signed the calendar and asked David to sign her Birth month, June. David even circled her birthday. There were three of us standing there with June birthdays. What are the odds? David liked the December picture the best; Pauline had put Christmas hats on all of the crew on the picture from Man of Many Faces. David remarked this set of screen caps were not “all stretched out” like other ones he had seen in the past. I guess the software is getting better at grabbing them.

After all the pictures were taken and all the photos were signed; Sue had to leave us for the airport. Amanda decided she wanted to go check out Erik Estrada. Janet decided she wanted to go eat at the Food Court. So we pushed off in search of lunch. Janet said the other two would catch up, they always did, but right now she wanted some food.

We all bought something and I found a table with enough chairs for us to sit, so we had lunch. Janet was right, they did find us. Everything was overpriced, but it was food. I told my cashier she should be getting hazard pay, because of the hordes she was waiting on and she laughed. It was busy.

David really liked having “his fly girls” there. He chatted, now he had his hearing aids on, posed and listened to all our stories. Asking us questions, nodding and basically enjoying each and every one of us. C. J.’s Saturday wheelchair was not good for getting through crowds, so I pushed her where she needed to go and the rest of the time she sat at the side of David’s booth and people watched and took scads of pictures. David would come over and they would compare notes on the people they had seen. It was fun to watch. 

C. J. had some fresh baked oatmeal cookies, from Ralph’s, that she shared with us. I walked the baggie over to David and asked him if he would like to join our “cookie break.” He said he’d try one of the broken off ones, so I gave it to him. He liked it, so I gave him a bigger piece. Deliberately. David said it was too big, but he ate it. I told him they were C. J’s cookies.

I didn’t get to see when the items I left for him on the table disappeared into his bag, but the water bottle was empty by mid-afternoon. Before that, he was using it to prop up his price sign. He ate the chewy granola bar I had given him. David likes them soft. So I was happy. 

David got up to stretch at one point and informed us he was going to go to the men’s room. He has only gone about 10 seconds when C. J. said, “you know, the bathroom, is a good idea, let’s go.” So as I am pushing her OUT the hall, here comes David back IN to the Hall.  As we pass, I tell him, “This is all your fault! She didn’t have to go until you said something.” David laughed and winked and went back to the table.

We came back from lunch to find David across the aisle, taking pictures. Something about the Hollywood Sci Fi Museum wanting David to attend their opening next year. Next thing I know, David is strolling down to the museum booth to have his picture taken in the Star Trek command chairs they had on display. So I followed him down there to see what was going on. The guy put him in the Captain’s Chair and told David to press some buttons, which he did. Hopefully, those pictures will show up when the museum opens.

I walked him back, but I think he had already spotted me taking pictures of him. David always seems to know when there is a camera pointed at him. Later on when he got up (again) to hit the men’s room, he was like, “Do you want to come, too?” (Payback!) I said “No, I was good from the earlier stop, but thanks.” After he left, C. J. and I looked at each other and cracked up. David was in fine form Saturday, for sure.

C. J. only had one request left to fill. She wanted to get a picture of her standing next to David. So I consulted with Janet and Amanda – Amanda runs a lab and Janet is a nurse, and I figured they knew more about getting C. J. up out of her wheelchair than I did. And we found a way to get her up and walking -- with support.

When we came back, David was chatting away with Charlotte, about her SLR camera, but he graciously got up and C. J. got her standing picture. It meant a lot to her. She’s still in rehab from the car accident, but getting better all the time. Coming to see David was really good for her.  

At another point David got up and stretched. “Oh, that’s better,” he said. I asked David if he needed me to press my thumb into any tight muscles. He has asked me to do this before. This time, he looked dismayed at that suggestion and quickly said, “No. You’ll probably make me worse than I already am.” So I put my thumb away and we watched him stretch instead. His arthritic hands were also stiff and did not move well. David could write, but he couldn’t get much of anything open, by himself.

One of the last visitors we got on Friday was Kevin the Fly. He had almost a perfect copy of David’s movie costume, from the dun colored lab coat to the turkey feather feelers. A really first rate recreation.  David’s eyes lit up when he saw him. I was on my phone with John and looked up and said, “Oh, my God, we have a Fly! I have to call you back.”

Kevin was wearing an industry badge and he had several questions for David and me. He told me he had used the cover of my Fly at Fifty book as the model for his costume and wanted to know if he had gotten it right. I told him. “John colorized the picture for the cover. He had taken the colors from the film, so yes, it was right.” Kevin seemed very pleased I liked it. What was not to like?

After Kevin had his picture with David (of course), he took me aside and we found we had the same base mask, but he had taken his and covered it with fur and added so much, he made mine look pale in comparison. I told him I was glad he made the effort to come. I know it made David’s day.

It really started to cool off in the hall in the late afternoon. I was seriously thinking about putting my lab coat back on, after taking it off because I got too hot trying to push C. J. through all the people milling about. I was tired of continually getting hot (and sweaty) that weekend.

David asked me if I had a jacket. I know he gets cold easily (another age thing) and I was surprised he had not brought one of his pullover sweaters: his con outfit of choice and said so. “Well,” he answered, “They said it was going to be hot (it was) and the hall heats up with the Sat. crowds, so I didn’t.” Our hall was never that crowded. So I offered him my lab coat. It was all I had.

I put it on him. David felt it and said, “Oh, good, polyester. That will warm me right up.” So he wore John’s old hospital lab coat, until he left. David had been so kind and generous to us all day. Especially with C. J., laughing and joking with her about her nickname and poker and all kinds of things.

David had pretty much decided Saturday was going to be it. There were plenty of people attending this comic trade show, but they did not seem interested in buying autographs. We were there and other people came to the table and spent money, but the big crowds stayed in the other hall. C. J. and I went in there on Sunday, but we couldn’t immediately tell what the difference was. Comics, apparently.

David started packing up around 5:30 PM. He handed me back the lab coat and asked me if I wanted his badge. His way of acknowledging my help. I said thank you and yes and took it. He then asked me to wait for him and walk out with him. “You’re with me!” he said, before he sat back down to pay off his table help. 

I helped him get his rolling suitcase up onto the table, flat out telling him, “There was no way you are lifting that bag, up or down.” So he let me do it. Once he had everything packed to his liking, I lifted the bag down and rolled it out after him. I was pretty sure David wanted me with him in case they had towed his car. He stopped on his way out and leaned down to give C. J. a good-bye kiss. She was surprised, but I wasn’t. David is like that. She gave him oatmeal cookies. David really made her day and her con and her year by doing that.

This time I led him down to the South Hall garage entrance, since I had come in that way and knew where it was. No one and I mean any of our drivers, ever dropped us off or picked us up at the same place at the CC! David knew where he had parked his car, on the wrong side of the post. Apparently his handicapped sticker saved him, because his car was still there. It was unticketed as well. He got lucky. So I put his bag on the back seat handle out, the way he taught me to, and then stowed his cane.

David sighed and gave me another big hug and a heartfelt kiss. He thanked me again for bringing all the people and money I did, and for coming out and supporting a con that I did not book. I assured David I had fun and I didn’t mind doing it, because I liked doing that for him. Then I kissed him back.

We hugged once more and then he drove off. I hung around long enough to make sure he cleared the pillar with his car, which he did. Off he went. And that was the last of David at this con.

We, however, still had another day of con before we all flew out on Sunday. So we packed everything up and went back to the room. I went to call the cab and they told me the address I was giving dispatch for the last two pick-ups was incorrect. They needed the street number, not the corner I was standing on. So I walked down until I could read the street sign and gave them that number. I chalked it up to being Halloween night and someone being pissed they had to work.

We did not have a good livery experience at the convention center and coming in from the airport. I know I was branded as a tourist, but I didn’t appreciate the drivers constantly trying to take advantage of me and my lack of a car. I guess it was because we were in Los Angeles, at an event.

We made it back to the Hotel. Sherry went looking for dinner and then came up. C. J. and I decided to clean out the fridge and eat up all the leftovers.  She had her omelet and a banana and I had fruit salad and yogurt and Sherry watched her favorite Voyage episode, while she had her salad from the lobby food stand.

We were wiped out from the really awful wheelchair they had given C. J. It did not push well, and I ended up with a sore left hand from trying to make it go all day. They said they would have a better chair for us on Sunday, now that the one the employee was using was available, since that employee was not working on Sunday. Gee, thanks. We know what your priorities are.

I repacked the books to mail out. I had prepaid labels for them and for the one book that was being mailed to a town in CA. It was ridiculous to haul it back to Florida. I did take all the East coast books back with me and mailed those and the foreign packages and the prepaid UPS when I got home. I figured they would get there faster, if they flew home with me.

I had everything packed up by the time Sherry left.  She wanted to go to Church in the morning and she had found a service to go to, so we bid her good-night. C. J. asked me to put on another favorite episode. So I did, laid down on the bed to rest my sore feet and promptly fell asleep.

I did sleep Saturday night. It had been a hectic two days looking after David. So we got up, had breakfast before it ended and went over to the convention for about two hours, since we had paid for three days and we had yet to make it inside the West Hall. The promised wheelchair was better, but it was two days later than we needed it.

West Hall was mostly vendors. C. J. enjoyed the costumes, she kept asking me who the people where. I could identify most of them, except for some of Japanese anime. We had stilt walkers and even a dinosaur. I felt something brush my head and it was the end of his 8 foot rubber tail. Hey, watch your tail! I was dressed as a purple minion, so C. J. took my picture with a minion R2D2. We had another overpriced lunch at the food court.

We went back to the South Hall to say good-bye to Keir and Gary. John had emailed me a message for Keir. I delivered it. John loves 2001. One of his all-time favorite movies. Keir was gracious and kind. I told him John had a Spanish Madleman Bowman astronaut figure about half the size of the figure on his table. He didn’t know there was a Spanish figure of him. I told him it was old (1990) and John bought it years ago.

We wandered back along Autograph Alley and there was still no one C. J. wanted to get in line for. I decided to pay for a picture with Casper Van Dien. John had a message for him as well. And Casper said thank you. Nice guy. Didn’t overcharge for the posed picture, either.

Things were winding down, so we went back to the hotel, took our luggage out of storage and camped out in the lobby waiting for our town car to arrive. Sherry’s shuttle came. They said it wasn’t her prepaid shuttle, so she had to arrange and pay for a different ride. The whole hired livery thing was a fiasco.

Our car came on time, with no surprise upcharge, but they had moved up C. J.’s flight. So once we got her there, we had to check her in, get her a wheelchair and then hustle her through security. Luckily, they let me go with her. They were going to board me with her, as well, but I told the gate, no, I was merely the pack mule. I was on another flight. They liked that term, pack mule. So once she has everything that was hers, we said good-bye.

I set off to Terminal four to kill three hours until my flight left. I had an expiring pass to the Admiral’s Club (American) so I went through the underground tunnels from Terminal Six to Terminal Four and found the club. They let me use my pass. The food was very good and the charging station was even better.

Kier Dullea wandered in. I went over, said hello. I don’t think he remembered me, but he wanted help with the food. I took him over to the station, Keir got what he wanted and left. C. J. called me. She said she was on ground hold on the tarmac. I reached over and pulled up the weather map on the console and told her where the weather was. Portland was worse, so she was basically stuck waiting for Seattle to clear. I told her she could call me back, if they didn’t take off, but she didn’t.

I packed up about an hour before my flight and went back through the underground tunnels to Terminal Five and boarded my flight. Flight took off and we got into Atlanta on time. I tried to sleep, but woke up again. I played concentration on my seat back. Once we landed, we couldn’t get across the runway to the terminal, mostly because planes kept landing. Finally, he gunned it and we peeled out and got across before another plane landed. I got off walked down 20 gates and they were boarding my plane, so I skipped an entire zone lined up (zone 2) and boarded as the Zone 1 I was. We took off very quickly – for Atlanta. My neighbor picked me up and I was home by 11 AM.

I had to go out and get food for John and I mailed out a couple of the pre-orders while I was doing that.

It was a good trip. I had never done Downtown Los Angeles. Interesting place. Everything is overpriced but we still managed to have a good time. And it was great to see David again.

Diane Kachmar