Alex sat quietly at the dining table set for three at Nick and Kim’s. The couples’ spacious apartment in the Village put Alex’s shoe-box living space to shame. The décor was sleek and modern. Everything had its place, including their pet goldfish Bubble, who’s bowl resembled a studio loft on the upper west side.
Nick was sat restlessly to the left of her, busying himself with his phone and answering emails. Kim had yet to seat herself, she was too busy scurrying around her sparkling clean kitchen gathering napkins and utensils for dinner.
Thankfully, Nick looked up from his phone long enough to notice the bustle of his girlfriend. “Will we be eating anytime tonight Kim?”
“Hello! I’m getting it ready.”
“Getting what ready? We ordered Chinese.”
“And what do you plan on eating the Chinese food off of…Or with?” She came out of the kitchen flailing forks and spoons.
“We have these,” Nick held up a pair of chopsticks from the restaurant they’d ordered from. “We also have to-go boxes, what more do we need?”
Kim set down a place setting in front of Nick and Alex, then plopped down in the chair across from Alex and laid out a set of her own. “Well excuse me if I happen to enjoy eating like a human being, we don’t all come equipped with the sophistication of a bridge troll.”
Nick rolled his eyes and began to dig into each container of food with vigor.
Alex timidly reached over and picked up a container of pot stickers and set a few on her plate, “Oh how I’ve missed family dinner. It’s just like I’m back at home.”
Nick looked up from his now very full plate and smirked at Alex, “You too?”
Kim frowned at her friend and her boyfriend, “Could we please refrain from talking about our collectively screwed up childhoods, please? You’re going to make me lose my appetite.”
Alex giggled, “But that’s what we always talk about.”
Nick quickly chimed in, “Yeah Kim, if you’re not yapping away about your dad’s gambling habit I’m whining about my pill-popping mother. . . And then there’s Alex’s family…”
“Nick!” Kim looked to Alex and apologized, “My boyfriend has a problem with tact.”
Alex slouched back in her chair and crossed her arms protectively over herself. “Oh it’s fine, really Kim, we all know when it comes to dysfunction my family is the winner among us.”
Nick blushed with embarrassment at his insensitive comment, “I’m sorry Al, I just mean that ya know, we all have that in common.”
“I know, it’s not a problem. I like having you guys to talk to about that kind of stuff.”
Kim let out a long drone of a sigh and quickly changed the subject. “Anyway, Alex how did your meeting with Channing go?”
“Pretty good actually, she might have gotten me a part in this new film.”
“That’s great,” Nick applauded. “When’s the premiere?”
“Calm down bub, she hasn’t even auditioned yet, right Al?” Kim had firmly planted both hands on her hips and was staring back at Alex, waiting for a rational reply.
Alex swallowed loudly and rubbed the palm of her hand against the top side of her thigh. “Well yeah, I mean nothing is set in stone.”
Nick looked back and forth between his girlfriend and Alex mid-chew, “Way to kill a dream, Kimmy.”
Kim gaped at Nick and dropped her fork which clattered loudly on her dinner plate. She looked as if she were about to really let him have it when suddenly a strange look came across her face. Her hands flew to her stomach and then changed course to meet and cover her mouth. “Excuse me,” she
mumbled from behind her fingers, and scurried towards the hall bathroom.
Alex was on her way to wearing a hole into the thigh of her pant leg.
Nick starred in the direction of the bathroom for a brief moment, then turned back to Alex, “My girlfriend keeps getting weirder and weirder.” After his declaration, he picked up his fork and continued joyously eating.
“Yep.” Alex laughed quietly to herself. “She’s a real loon,” she rolled her eyes and picked up her own fork. Just as she was about to take a bite out of her pot sticker, a faint gurgling moan rolled through the house.
Nick looked up from his plate with a very concerned look on his face, “Maybe I should check on her.” He started to get up from his chair.
Alex panicked and shot up from her seat at the table. “No, you eat, I’ll make sure she’s okay.”
“Are you sure,” he asked, mid get-up.
“Of course! What if it’s a…Lady problem?”
Nick sat back down, now fully convinced eating was his better option. “You’re right, I’d just be lost in that area.”
“Right,” Alex scurried over to the bathroom door and gently knocked twice. “Kim, it’s me.”
After a short while the door clicked open for Alex to let herself in. Before she did, she looked back towards the dinning room to make sure Nick was still in a food-thoughts-only zone. He clearly was, so she swiftly opened the door to rush in, and closed it behind her.
The sight before her was nothing new. Kim was mostly curled up on her fluffy, green bath mat, with one arm outstretched reaching for the toilet. The reasoning for this particular behavior was a drastic change.
“That pesky fetus giving you grief?” Alex kept her voice down to a hushed tone and handed her friend the box of tissues that sat atop her vanity sink.
“You know it,” Kim attempted a small smile and gratefully reached for the box.
Alex ran some cold water and passed a washcloth through the stream a few times. “So I’m guessing your boyfriend still has no clue,” she said as she wrung out the damp cloth and bent over to place it on the back of Kim’s neck.
“You guessed right. I have no idea what to do,” she whispered.
Alex sat down, cross legged next to her friend and patted her knee. “At least you won’t have to worry about him figuring it out before you decide what to do. I love Nicky and all, but he’s living in the city of oblivion.”
Kim Chuckled and shrugged her shoulders, “He’s just distracted with food at the moment.”
“I’d say ‘distracted’ is a severe understatement. He’s out there practically having a love affair with a spring roll.”
“Hmm, I know. I was thinking of cooking him a stake before I tell him what’s up.”
“That could work…If you could cook that is.” Alex smirked
Kim groaned and carefully peeled herself off the floor. “We better get back out there, I’m not sure how long the food will hold him.”
“By the look of him, from when I came in here, probably at least a week.”
Kim swayed from one foot to the other as she came to a full, upright position. Alex’s hand sprung from her side to help steady her friend’s balance.
“It’s okay, I’m okay.” Kim protested, but she still took her friend’s hand in hers for extra support.
“Let’s get back in there. God forbid Nick runs out of food on his own plate, he might start skimming from ours…And I wanted to at least taste the shrimp and asparagus.”
Kim laughed and grabbed the door handle, “We’d better hurry then.”
Back at the dining table, the girls found their dinner companion dumping more food onto his now cleared plate.
As Nick acknowledged their presence approaching, he looked up at them with a sheepish grin and replaced the food container from which he was filling his plate with copious amounts of lo mien.
“Hey babe, are you feeling alright?”
“Yeah,” Kim replied quietly as she sat next to him.
Nick gave her an understanding shrug and reached over to give her hand a loving squeeze. “Lady problems, huh?”
Alex sat back down as well and couldn’t resist teasing her friend. “Actually, we think it might have been some kind of food poisoning,” She said with a completely straight face.
Nick looked from Alex to the plate of food in front of him, “EW! You mean this food?”
“Probably.” But Alex could no longer resist cracking a smirk.
Nick took in a deep sigh of relief, “Oh thank God!”
Alex suddenly looked back at her friends like her hand had been caught in the fortune cookie jar, “What?”
Kim giggled softly and patted Nick’s hand, “You, my friend, are a terrible liar.”
Alex’s hand fluttered to her heart in mock indignation, “I am not.”
Nick had only taken a short brake from stuffing his face, and now he was right back at it. Both women paused for a moment to stare at him with pure amusement shining in their eyes.
“Are too.” Kim interjected, tearing her eyes off the spectacle that was her boyfriend. “You can barely hold a straight face with a little white lie.”
Alex frowned, “Well that was just a silly fib, nothing serious. Maybe I’m just so good with mammoth sized lies, that I simply can’t be bothered with tiny fibs.”
“So, you’re really a man?” Nick perked up.
Both women squeaked out a simultaneous, “WHAT?”
Nick smiled broadly, “It’s the biggest lie I could think of.”
Alex looked from Nick to Kim, “Please tell your boyfriend to stop calling me a man.”
Kim lifted her butter knife towards him in a menacing manner, “Stop calling our friend a man, or I’ll have to cut you.”
“With the butter knife?”
“Please remember that I’m having a lady’s week, Nickolas if I have to, I’ll saw something off.”
Alex almost spit out a gulp of lemon water she had just taken, when her friends began to bicker. “You guys are into some weird shit.”
“You know it,” Nick said with a wink.
All three of them erupted into a fit of giggles, Alex waved her hands, “I don’t want to know anymore.”
Nick’s plate was once again cleaned after a few minutes of mindless banter.
“So how’s the play going Nick?” Alex asked
“Pretty good. The lead actress is a real bitch though. She’s been almost fifteen minutes late for the past three nights.”
“I know how that goes, Devon thinks he’s the second coming of O’Toole most days.” Alex shifted in her seat.
Nick laughed. “Channing is definitely on a roll this week though. I’m waiting for her to call me back about this audition she got me this morning.”
“How do you think you did?”
“Honestly? I feel like I nailed it…And it seemed like they liked me.”
“Well, that’s half the battle. At least none of the producers feel asleep during your audition.”
“Oh, Alex that was one time, and you know he had to have suffered from some kind of narcolepsy or something,” Kim scoffed.
“He didn’t have narcolepsy, Kim. He was just very old and very sleepy.” Alex began to rub her palm against her thigh again. She turned to Nick and gave him a reassuring smile, “I’m sure they loved you.”
“I hope so.”
The house phone rang, breaking the momentary silence that had fallen over the room.
“That’s funny, Channing never calls the house line.” Nick said as he got up from his place at the
table and headed to the kitchen to pick it up.
“Maybe I should tell him now,” Kim whispered over to Alex.
“Now, while I’m here?” She asked back in a squeak of a whisper, panic glittering in her eyes.
“He’s in a good mood right now, and I’m sure that’s Channing on the phone telling him he’s got the part.”
Alex sighed and searched through all the reasons why her friend was crazy. Luckily, she picked the most rational and ran with it.
“Kim, you know how Nick is about me getting in between the two of you…I want to stay neutral on this one.”
“Are you saying you’d agree with him if he freaked out on me?” Kim hissed.
Alex adamantly shook her head. “No, I’m just saying, this is between the two of you. The last thing you need is for me to look like the third party weighing in on your relationship.”
Kim sat back in her chair, quietly fuming and mulling things over in her head, while Alex stared back at her bewildered. Nick could be heard from the other room, talking animatedly about a subject neither of the girls had caught the tail end of.
Alex was sat stock still, waiting for something to happen. She hoped, before Kim could muster up the nerve to tell her boyfriend her fertile news, he’d be off the phone and her courage would deflate.
Kim suddenly let out a heavy burst of air, she had been holding in for what seemed like eons. “Oh, fine. I won’t tell him while you’re here.”
Alex looked down at her hands that she had kept clenched in her lap, “Thank you.”
“I am going to tell him though, and you better be there for me when I do.” Kim’s eyes began to red rim and watered slightly.
Alex switched her seat for Nick’s and patted Kim’s shoulder reassuringly. “Of course I’ll be there…I mean really, where else would I be?”
The two stared at each other for a moment, and simultaneously started to laugh in each others faces.
“When did my life become such a soap opera?” Kim said as she brushed away some tears that had escaped.
“You have been injecting the ‘Queen’ into drama lately.”
Alex returned to her original seat just as Nick came back into the dining room with the cordless in his hand. He stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed his girlfriend’s puffy red face and tear streaked cheeks.
“What happened?” He asked in an alarmed tone.
“Lady problems,” Both women spoke out in unison.
“You chicks worry me.” Nick shook his head and took his vacated seat once again.
“Yep, we’re crazy.” Kim said
Alex turned her attention to Nick. “So, what did Channing say? Did you get the part?”
Nick frowned, “Well it wasn’t Chan, so I’m not sure yet.” His frown quickly morphed into a smile. “It was Jeff.”
“Oh, how is he?” Kim seemed vaguely interested.
“He’s doing good. He’s leading the security team at that new club downtown.” Nick looked over at Alex and smirked. “You remember Jeff, don’t you Al?”
Alex rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yes, I remember him.”
“I honestly have no idea why my lunk of a life partner ever set you up with that meat head.” Kim chimed in.
“What’s wrong with Jeff? He makes a good living, he’s in the city, and you share the same gym.”
“He also has bad manners, smells like a meatball sub, and stares at me from a far at the gym we share.” Alex countered.
“I think you might be too picky Alex. You can’t have it all, you know.”
“Oh, please! Alex, don’t listen to him. He has no idea what he’s talking about. You deserve way better.”
Alex smiled apologetically at Nick. “Sorry dude, but I’d at least like to get through a dinner without my date belching out his words. . . I’m just that kind of girl.”
Before Nick could get his mouth open to retort, Kim interjected. “Any way, what did Jeff have to say?”
“Well, what I was going to tell you two snoots before I was so rudely interrupted…”
“To be fair, you were kind of asking for it.” Alex shot in.
“Can I talk?” Nick huffed.
“Sorry, go ahead.”
Before he proceeded, he turned to his girlfriend to be sure she had nothing to add. Kim held up her hands in quiet surrendered and gestured that he had the floor.
“Jeff invited us to a concert at that club tomorrow night. He said he can get us backstage passes.”
“That was surprisingly nice of him. Who’s playing?” Kim asked
Nick went on to list off several band names as both women stared back at him with confused looks on their faces.
Alex raised her hand and waited to be picked on. When Nick gave her the go-ahead, she asked in a small voice, “I’m sorry, but who are these people?”
Nick looked back at her like she had two heads. “Rock bands from overseas woman! Jeez. . . Uncultured much?”
William’s angered bellows and the harsh patter of rain filled room 275. Not a day went by in London without gray skies and buckets of rain. As Will argued over the phone he passed by his balcony window that overlooked Donington Park. Very little could be seen on such a dark night besides the watery twinkle of city lights.
“That’s not the point, Elise! I don’t understand why you’re mad at me anyway, you’re the one who cheated!”
Will screamed down his new red cell phone as he kicked a throw pillow away from his path. In doing so he also entangled his ankle around some strewn about bed sheets. The room was an utter mess. Most of the bedding was occupying the floor in a fluffy, tangled maze. Chinese food cartons and empty fortune cookie wrappers were scattered among any available surface, and the mattress had some how shifted out of alignment with the box spring.
“I don’t care if you didn’t know what you were doing at the time, that’s part of the problem!” Will boldly gesticulated with his right hand and threw off his already shaky balance. His ankle caught on the sheet maze, and he went sprawling down on the mattress.
“Are-You-Even-Listening!” squeaked the phone.
Will picked his cell back up and slouched down on the box spring. “Yes, unfortunately, I and many of the dogs in Donington are all ears.” He picked up a warm beer off his nightstand and chugged it. His stomach gurgled in pain from the unholy mixture of whiskey, cold vodka, and temped beer.
The room itself was dark and gloomy. The only light source came from a bedside lamp that was slightly off kilter. As Will sardonically listened to his ex rattle off reasons why they should stay together his hand brushed up against a small scrap of paper. As he brought it up close to his face he realized it was a fortune. It read ‘A certain someone enjoys your presence.’
“More of a statement really.”
A resounding “What!” squealed out of the phone.
“Yes, I’m listening!” Will huffed as he tossed the fortune to the ground, “Well I’m sorry if I can’t help losing interest in a one side conversation! I don’t understand what you want. Are you mad at me, or do you want to get back together? Or are you just too coked out of your mind at the moment to…”
A soft knock on the door through a chink in his train of thought. “Hold on,” he barked as he carelessly tossed his flip phone on the bed and made his way to the door.
As he peered through the peep hole, Dahlia yelled from the other side.
“Open the door asshole!”
“I don’t need any towels, thanks.” Will called back.
“Open the door, I’m not in the mood.”
Reluctantly, he reached for the handle but he was too late. It turned in his hand and suddenly his touring manager appeared in front of him.
“Dahlia, please do come in,” his comment heavily dipped in sarcasm.
A flourish of tall blonde brushed by him, “Don’t mind if I do.”
“Why did you even bother knocking if you intended on letting yourself in?”
Dahlia shrugged nonchalantly, “Common courtesy?”
He looked back at her with disdain as she took in the rather messy surroundings. Her pert nose crinkled in disgust, “What the hell have you been doing in here?”
“Hydrating.” Will smirked as he gestured towards a collection of empty beer bottles on his dresser.
She snorted, utterly annoyed, stepped closer to him and inhaled deeply,“You stink.”
“I do not,” he fired back appalled.
“Yes you do, you smell like a bag of ass…And Chinese food.”
“Well thank you for that graphic description. If the police ever switch from dogs to people for drug sniffers, you’ll have my recommendation.”
“I’d be so thankful,” she snarked as she stepped over to the nightstand and opened the tiny drawer. She reached in and lifted out a small packet of pills.
“See, you’re a natural,” Will mused.
“Nice,” she said over her shoulder as she headed towards the bathroom with the packet still in hand.
“The maids are going to have a fit when they see this shit hole.”
“Should I write them a letter of apology?” Will asked, surprisingly humbled.
“And say what exactly?” Dahlia sniffed as she dumped the tiny bag’s contents into the toilet and flushed them down. She then proceeded to go around the hotel room gathering empties and pouring them down the bathroom sink drain.
William shrugged sheepishly, “I’m good with words, I’m sure I could come up with something.” He self contentiously rubbed the back of his neck and picked up the nearest empty liquor bottle, attempting to help clean up.
A shrill “HELLO!” broke the uncomfortable silence.
“I think you’re being paged,” Dahlia said as she looked from the bed to the phone, and back to William.
Without giving it a second thought, Will walked over to the bed and yelled, “I’ll have to call you back,” in the general area of where the phone lay. He then flipped the phone shut and plopped himself on the bed.
“So how is Queen Elise? Bat shit crazy as ever?”
“How could you tell?” Will sighed
“Well, I could hear her chewing at the inner lining of her mouth from the hall, and that’s never a good sign.”
“If you don’t like her so much, why the hell do you keep giving her my new numbers?”
“Don’t look at me rock-star, I’ve only given her your number once. . . And that was about five phones ago.”
“Wonderful!” Will huffed and threw his hands up, “It was probably one of the roadies.”
“Oh please, none of the technicians have your phone number, you know that.”
Bottles clattered against each other as Dahlia tossed them into a large black garbage bag that she had produced from her oversized handbag.
“Could you please stop mucking about, I can barely think straight with all that racket going on.”
“You can barely think straight because you’re nursing a hangover with vodka, beer, and what ever I just flushed down the toilet.” Dahlia shot back without halting her actions one bit.
“Which, by the way, will be expensive to replace. I had a hell of a time getting it too,” he said sullenly.
“If you could keep the pouting over drugs down, that would be great.”
“Well, how else would you like me to cope with my current situation?”
Once the room was passably tidy Dahlia sat herself down on the bed across from William, with the big black garbage bag still clutched in her hand. “You could try what normal people do, though by your stumped expression I guess I’ll have to spell it out for you…”
Dahlia looked back at him with a hopeful expression, but to no avail, he had not a clue of what she was going on about.
With a deep sigh, she started, “They’re called feelings, you see…”
“Oh those, Dahlia if I had wanted to deal with those I wouldn’t have used all these.” He reached over and jangled the garbage bag to prove his point.
“You can’t numb yourself to whats happening around you forever,” she quietly countered.
The singer’s tone quickly turned from matter-of-fact to deeply embarrassed. “I know,” he flushed “I don’t want to go on like this; disappointing the band, and the label, being a mess. . . I want to get my shit together. There’s just no time right now. I’m not finished being miserable.”
Anger filled Dahlia’s eyes and her nostrils flared. “Well, you better get finished soon. I’m not going to ride this sinking ship forever, and neither are the guys. This isn’t just about you anymore. Some of us have families.”
“I know,” he professed emphatically. His face a mask of red now.
After Dahlia was sure at least some of what she’d said had broken through the liquor haze, she gently patted his knee and stood. “When you’re ready we’ll get you some help,” she said simply, then moved to leave him.
William sat with his head in his hands and mumbled, “I’m sorry if I screwed things up with those label blokes.”
Dahlia halted in her tracks and turned to face the crumpled man on the bed. “Don’t worry about it, I smoothed things over and Fisk was able to answer some questions for them.
“How did our ever brain-dead base player do?”
“You shouldn’t call him brain-dead, he’s just hard of hearing. You would be too if your job was to slap the sound out of things.”
“Yes… Well, deafness aside, he’s still not exactly the sharpest tack, and he plays the base for crying out loud! How was he?”
Dahlia flashed him an unamused look. “Pretty well actually. You don’t give him enough credit.”
“I’m glad then. At least last night wasn’t a total disaster for everyone.”
“Me too. Okay then, I’m going to get the others ready and check up on the techs. We’re leaving in two hours so be packed and somewhat alive. . . If you can manage.”
“Will do,” his simple answer was laden with sarcasm.
“Good. I’ll ring thirty minutes before you’ll need to meet us in the lobby,” with one last flip of her flawless blonde hair she was out the door.
After Dahlia’s quick departure, Will decided on a walk through the city to clear his head. The rain had subsided, leaving massive puddles behind. A thin layer or eery fog hung low on the streets, and the lights softly glittered in newly formed ponds of rain. As he walked he passed by a hole in the wall restaurant. Only a few tables could be seen through the store-front window. Most of the chairs had been turned up on table tops to rest until morning. One table was still occupied by a fairly young couple.
It angered Will to see such happy people out and about while he was so miserable. As they sickeningly gazed into each others eyes and leaned in for a gag-worthy kiss, Will had to turn away. As if what he was about to witness was completely gruesome and unbearable.
Thankfully he had left his cell phone back at the hotel. He knew Elise would soon realize he had brushed her off yet again, and she wasn’t nearly finished with her nagging tirade. Some how Will’s calming, head-clearing, walk had led him straight to the corner liquor store.
He waited, shakily in line with two bottles of cheap vodka in each hand and a large can of Guinness wedged under an arm. After he’d made his purchases he walked a bit quicker back to the hotel. The air, now filled with moisture, made the reek of alcohol emanate from his body. The smell shot straight up his nostrils and lingered there all the way back.
As he passed hastily through the hotel lobby, trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible, he caught a glimpse of Torgny. Luckily his friend seemed to be distracted by some girl. This gave Will the perfect opportunity to make a B-line for the bank of elevators just across the way. He scattered towards a circular ottoman that enclosed a large plant in the middle of it and rested there for a moment. He made his body tall like the plant, as not to be seen, and only when he was absolutely positive his friend hadn’t noticed him he made a run for the elevator bank.
Once Will was back in the privacy of his room he hurriedly went to the task at hand. He grabbed his well warn leather jacket off the back of the chair it had been planted on for two days and picked his flask out of the inner pocket. He popped the seal of one of the vodka bottles and held the flask and bottle up to a free standing lamp that stood over his jackets chair. When he was sure he was lined up correctly, Will stared to pour.
A good amount of vodka spilled to the floor because of his tremor laden hands. Once the flask was full, Will downed what was left in the bottle like it was water. He went to the bathroom to chuck the empty into the bin, then grabbed his suitcase that sat in the adjacent closet.
As he headed towards the bed to pack up, the door key clicked open and Torgny came walking right on through the room.
“You getting packed up?” His friend asked all business like.
“Nope, I’m playing a round of chess, couldn’t you tell?” Will dug into his back pocket for a cigarette. He struggled to get it lit, his hands violently shook.
Finally, with a heavy sigh, Torg walked over to his friend and took the lighter from Will to lite it for him.
“Thanks,” Will shuddered as he took a deep drag in.
Torgny nodded wordlessly, popped the beer Will had just brought in with him, and began to drink.
A bit slothfully, Will slung clothes into his opened suitcase that he had placed on his bed when his friend made his entrance.
“Who was that chick you were talking to downstairs?”
Torgny blushed a bit at his friend’s blunt question, “Oh nobody, probably just another bird trying to make her way to you.”
“You sshhouldn’t be sloo hard on ya-self mate.” The affects of downing most of his reserve vodka was beginning to emerge through Will’s speech.
“I’m sure she was here to see you,” Torg lamented while starring carefully down at his hands.
“Aaand’t how’d ya know that? Sshe was talking to you, not me.”
“I know, but she wasn’t talking about me.”
Will’s eyebrows shot up as if to say, ‘Go on.’
Torgny sighed and continued, “She asked a lot of questions about the band and touring. Just small talk really.”
“Well, thhat’s a start.” Will blinked rapidly, in an earnest effort to keep the room from spinning beneath him and stop his double vision. It was hard giving love advice to one Torgny Backlund, let alone an entire clan of them. “Did you get her number?”
“Yeah.” He revealed simply and took another sip of beer.
“Then call her you twat.” Will slightly giggled and hiccuped at the same time, practically choking out his last word.
Torg smiled, “Maybe. I heard you talked to the black widow.”
Will sighed and laid down on the floor, flat on his back with sorrow clouding his eyes.
“How’s she doing?” He asked tentatively.
“Bat-shit crazy as ever. . . And higher than a kite.” Will paused a moment with a thoughtful expression on his face, then lifted his head up off the floor to stare at his friend perched on the edge of his bed. “You didn’t give her my new number, did you?”
“How could I?” I don’t even have it yet.”
“Oh,” Will pointed above his head towards the nightstand where his new phone lay. Torg retrieved it and produced his own phone from his back pocket.
“I have no idea how sshe keepths getting tthese numberths.”
“She’s some kind of ninja I suppose,” Torgny mused as he quickly typed the new number into his own phone and replaced Will’s on the nightstand. “You’re not thinking of getting back together, are you?”
“No! She cheated, it’s over.”
“Yeah I’ve heard that before, but she’s got her crazy-bitch-claws hooked in you deep my friend.” Taking pity on his now fully inebriated friend, Torg got up from the bed and began to pack Will’s remaining belongings.
“I’ll be fine this time I think,” Will mumbled from his place on the floor.
“Oh yes, you’re doing mighty fine teetering on the edge of the curb, about to plunge head first into the gutter.”
“I’m coping!” He fired back, trying and failing to shoot up with indignation from his planked position. He barely managed to squabble onto his side.
“Your coping seems a lot like drinking,” said Torgny in a matter-of-fact way.
Will rolled to the side of the bottom of his bed and gingerly propped himself up by leaning on it and squirming up the side. When he was in a some-what comfortable position he rubbed at his temples, seemingly trying to remember something. “I seem to have already had this conversation today, so please hold all other comments on the subject until tomorrow.”
“Fair enough, I reckon Dahl read you the riot act already.” He chuckled as he finished up his pack job, inconspicuously leaving out the still unopened bottle of vodka. He sneakily laid it down on the other side of the bed and tried to push it underneath the low box spring with his foot.
“Did I miss anything?”
“That bottle you just kicked under the bed.”
Torg winced, caught red footed. “You have the ears of a bat,” he said as he picked up the bottle and placed it in Will’s suitcase.
“My ears are just very keen to the sound of liquid sloshing around a glass bottle.”
Torgny sighed, zipped up the case and set it on it’s side. Will’s phone buzzed to life where it sat on the nightstand. When Will didn’t move to answer after the third buzz, Torg reached over and flipped it open. “Hello. . .” Once recognition of who it was crossed his face he mouthed, “It’s Dahlia.”
“Oh, what a surprise.”
“…Okay…I’ll have him down soon, I just finished getting him packed…Okay Dahl! I get it.” Torg flipped the phone closed and handed it to Will.
“She’s in a rather bristly mood today.”
“How could you tell the difference? She’ always on edge when we’re on tour.”
“Yes, but usually she saves her special attitude for you,” Torgny said as he crossed his arms over his chest in a petulant manner.
Will laughed at his friends’ childish response. “Well, maybe you’re the one who pissed her off for a change.”
Torg paused a second to think then shook his head, “That’s very unlikely. I think her annoyance with you is beginning to bleed out to the rest of us now.”
Will scowled, “Are we going or what?”
“As soon as you pull your ass up mate.”
Rather sluggishly, but as fast as he could manage, William drug his parts into a standing position. “Lead the way,” he said as he made to grab the top handle of his bag and missed by a foot.
“I’ll get that for you,” Torg said as he placed the case on the ground and extended the pull handle to roll it across the floor.
“I can do it,” Will protested.
“Are you sure?”
“It’s got wheels!”
“And again I ask, are you sure about this?”
“Jesus, Torgny I’m and alcoholic, not a dunce.”
Torg smiled and headed for the door, “First step is admittance.”
Will’s lips turned up into a grin, “Maybe you could be my sponsor.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” he said as he wagged the can of Guinness in Will’s face.
Alex sat patiently in the lobby of her agent’s office waiting for Channing’s assistant to call her back. She was freezing to death. It made sense to turn the thermostat down during the summer but not to forty degrees! She knew Channing’s office would only be colder and she regretted not bringing a sweater to her meeting. It would seem odd to remember to bring extra warm clothing when the temperature outside was 104 degrees.
She tried not to think about how cold she was and quickly turned her attention to one of the magazines sitting on an in-table to the left of her. Alex leafed through it, completely uninterested in anything smattered across the pages. On about the twelfth page turn Channing’s assistant looked up from her computer and graced Alex with a rather obnoxious glance. She decided to stick with one page and stare at it blankly.
The office phone rang, thankfully breaking the silence. “Channing Frost’s office, this is Debbie
how may I assist your call?”
After Debbie’s salutations, Alex tuned her out almost immediately. Finally focusing on a page, she read about one of the many hot young starlets that were going down the wrong path. Yet directors were still tripping over themselves trying to sign her to their next big film.
“I just don’t understand Hollywood,” She mumbled to herself.
“What was that Miss Martucci?” Apparently, Channing’s secretary had the ears of a bat.
“Oh, nothing, I was just…talking to myself,” Alex replied completely deflated of self-esteem.
She looked back at her like Alex had miraculously grown another head, “ Oh…okay, well Channing is ready for you, you can go on in.”
“Great thanks.” Alex moved rigidly from her now warm leather chair and hastily snatched up the
magazine she had been reading.
Walking into her agent’s office sent shivers down her spine. She quickly plopped herself down in front of Channing’s glass-topped desk in a similarly comfy leather chair. This one, unfortunately, hadn’t just had a butt to warm it for twenty minutes. It felt more like sitting on a melted bag of ice. Alex vigorously rubbed her arms.
“If it was any colder in here there would be a blizzard warning!”
Channing looked up at her with wide charcoal lined eyes. Her soft alabaster cheeks turned up in a smile.
“What are you talking about?! I’m sweating like a whore in church.”
Alex giggled at that. It always made her laugh when her 56-year-old agent, that looked like the sweetest blonde-headed grandma ever seen, said something semi-dirty.
“Chan, I think you’re entering the change of life.”
“What! Are you crazy? I’m too young to be all dried up!”
“Alright, I’m just saying you might want to invest in some estrogen.”
“Anyway, that’s quite enough witless banter about my estrogen levels, I-”
“Yeah… I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I’m much more interested in this.”
Alex held up the rag magazine she had pilfered from the lobby, opened to the page that she had been skimming. Her interest piqued, Channing whisked the mag out of Alex’s hand and read the title of the piece out loud.
“Hillary Scott Snags Multi-Picture Deal Despite Recent Rocky Past.” She squawked and looked back to her client with a puzzled look.
“You’re interested in substance abuse? Do you want to play a crack head next?”
Alex blanched and sighed, “No, I don’t want to play a crack head next! I do, however, want to know why this particular cracked out bitch has a multi-picture deal with one of the best directors in
Hollywood. And I’m doing an off-Broadway play every night that is slowly killing a part of my soul.”
“Alex the only reason they want this drugged out diva is because she’s infamous now. She’s a hot ticket at the moment.”
“So all I have to do to become an actress with credibility is fall drunkenly out of a car without my underwear on?”
“Well yeah, that and doing a couple of lines off the Sunset strip curb wouldn’t hurt.”
Alex smirked at Chan’s blunt sarcasm.
“Do you really want to go back to Holly-Hell Alex?”
She thought about that for a minute. Going back to a place that had recently spit her out did not seem incredibly appealing.
“No…But I want something better than what I’m doing now. I hate this play. It depresses me even more than my already abysmal life.”
Channing paused at that and tried to collect her thoughts for a moment. Alex could tell she wasn’t going to like whatever it was she was about to lay on her.
“What are you thinking about in there?” She finally asked, pointing towards Channing’s head.
“Well, I was just wondering…How your personal life is going? Are you stressed out over anything in particular?”
“Only the normal stuff; friends, family, lack of love life.”
“Well shit Alex, is there any balance in your life at all?”
Alex looked around the room nervously and shuddered a sigh.
“I’m sure it’s not as bad as I make it out to be, you know I’m big on the worrying.”
Even though it was below zero in the office Alex’s temperature was heating up intensely. To the point where she was almost sweating.
“Alex I know it’s a sore subject but, how are your parents doing?”
She shifted back and forth in her squishy leather chair uncomfortably.
“They’re doing okay I guess. I’m still helping them out here and there…When I can, but other than that I think they’re fine.”
“And your friends? How have they been contributing to your stress?”
“I thought this was a business meeting, not a head shrinking session!”
Channing blanched at her outburst.
“It’s not. You’re not just a client of mine you know, I’d like to consider you as my friend. I care about what goes on in your life.”
Alex offered her an apologetic smile.
“My friends are fine, they’re just a bit unstable at the moment. Most of them are on the other side of the country anyway.”
“Well, Kim is here.”
Alex set her mouth in a grim straight line at that.
“That would cover the unstable portion.”
“Really? What’s going on there?”
“It’s nothing. She’s just going through something potentially life changing at the moment and I’m not really supposed to talk about it. But the thing is, for some reason even though she created the problem if I had done the same thing she would have judged the hell out of me.”
“I’m not sure I follow what you mean exactly.”
“Well…” Alex paused and sighed. She tried to put a smile on her face but it seemed like it pained her to stretch and skew her mouth muscles into something not so miserable.
“I know I’m not perfect but I haven’t done half the crazy shit she’s done, and I just know when this current problem blows over and I do one thing she doesn’t agree with you can bet your ass she’ll let me know about it.”
“It sounds like Kim has a major passive-aggressive issue.”
“Whatever it is it’s getting annoying. I just don’t get it. She comes to me with all of her wacky
problems, expecting me not to judge her on them, because I never would. In turn, she judges me for the most minuscule things.”
Alex threw her hands up in exasperation.
“It makes no sense!”
“Well I agree with that, friends shouldn’t judge each other. That’s just a good way to become enemies. And by you continuously not saying anything it’s just going to get worse. Then one day she’ll say something that will trigger you and you’ll blow up and rain down a shit storm upon her head.”
“…Yeah, that really wouldn’t be good.” Alex stared back at her dumbfounded.
“For someone that has witnessed the explosion of you before I would have to agree. Why can’t you talk to her about it ?”
“I want to, I just have no idea how! How do you tell your friend to stop being such a bitch? Things would just be so awkward after that, and I don’t want to rock the boat…Hell, besides you she’s the only friend I have on this island of misfits.”
Channing’s face softened as she sat back in her office chair and picked up her handheld mini fan.
“I understand that Alex, but what do you think is going to happen? She can’t break-up with you for crying out loud!”
“No, but she can refuse to ever see me again.”
“If she judges you and you find it annoying why would you want her hanging around anyway?”
“Because no one else seems to want to hang around, do they?!”
Channing could tell she had hit a nerve, as Alex sat out of breath with her head in her hands trying to compose herself. After a moment, from behind her fingers, she moaned, “Can we please separate business issues from personal tragedies?”
“Sure,” Channing replied meekly before getting up and grabbing a bottle of water out of her sleek black mini fridge. She didn’t hesitate as she came around to the other side of her desk and sat next to Alex, handing her the bottle and gently patting her shoulder.
“I do have some good news.”
“Really?” a glimmer of hope shown through in her voice as she peeked out from behind her hair that had fallen to curtain her face.
“There’s a casting going on in LA right now and one of the producers is interested in seeing you.”
“Do you mean ‘seeing me’ as in just me? Or as in me and all the other brown eyed brunettes that act and waitress in LA?”
“I mean just you crazy lady!”
“Oh…Well then, that sounds good.”
Alex seemed to have brightened up a bit at the prospect of a new gig, but Channing could still sense a hint of sadness behind her eyes. Unfortunately, the undercurrent of despair seemed to flow freely in Alex’s life these days. At times it seemed as if at any moment she could burst into tears. The moment anyone noticed, she sucked in her emotions and shut down.
“I knew I could put a smile back on that face.”
“So what’s next? Do I need to fly out soon?” Will I need time off from the play? Cause I have no problem with that.”
“Okay calm down,” Channing laughed.
“You’ll fly out in two weeks, I’ll book the flight of course. I’ll need you to pick out a hotel to stay at, and the playhouse will be dark during your trip so we won’t have to worry about that.”
“Finally some good news.” Alex let out a deep sigh of relief.
“In the meantime, why don’t you get out and try to enjoy yourself for a change?”
She looked back at Channing perplexed.
“I enjoy myself plenty.”
“Really? Cause you seem to be wound tighter than a steel drum.” She snorted back.
“You can’t progress as an actress and learn to become someone else if you hardly interact with other human beings. Stop being such a hermit and have some fun. You can only be a twenty something for so
“Really? Because I seem to remember celebrating your forty-ninth birthday three years in a row.”
“That’s enough out of you, I was born on a leap year…Get off my back.”
“Okay fine, I’ll let that one go. Are we done with business today? Because I must get back to my shoe box apartment and my shitty life.”
After she left Channing’s office Alex took a cab to Spark’s on West Broadway. Just because she was a hermit didn’t mean she was heartless. She wanted to check up on Kim. Usually, when her best friend was going through a crisis she threw herself into her work and tried to put her troubles on the back burner. This major hiccup in her life would be no exception.
When Alex entered the trendy cafe she immediately spotted her friend sitting at a corner table, furiously working through her lunch break. So entranced she was by whatever was flashing across her laptop screen, she didn’t even notice when Alex plopped herself down in the chair across from her.
“How many ginger spiced teas have you had?”
Finally, Kim looked up, startled and wide-eyed.
Alex giggled and gestured towards the stack of used paper cups that all had strings and tea tags still attached to them.
“Oh, well…Just these…And maybe one or two from this morning. You know, just to get the day going.”
“Right,” Alex responded uneasily.
Kim sprang up to attention, “Hey! Don’t judge me okay, I’ve got a lot I’m dealing with at the moment.”
“Calm down you loon! Nobody’s judging here, you’re just so hopped up on ginger root you can barely focus.”
Kim let out a deep sigh and sagged back into her uncomfortable wooden chair.
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m just paranoid and I still haven’t made a decision on what to do about my…Maternal Dilemma.”
“So I’m guessing you haven’t talked to Nick about it yet. Oh, by the way, I think ‘maternal dilemma’ is putting it just a skosh lightly.”
“No, I can barely look him in the eye right now. Every time we’re around each other I make some kind of lame excuse and rush off to work, or the drug store, or anything that will take his attention off me for long periods of time.”
“Well the way I see it, you have three possible scenarios to explore. You could not tell him at all and just you know, have it taken care of…”
Kim visibly cringed.
“… Or you could tell him about it and decide together how to handle the situation.”
“So far all of these options suck,” Kim whined.
“Well, then there’s option three.”
“Which would be what exactly?”
“You could tell Nick that you’re pregnant and just let him believe it’s his baby…In which case, there’s a special place in hell waiting for you.”
Kim nervously chewed on her perfectly manicured thumbnail.
“Which would you choose?
“I don’t know that I can honestly answer that question since I repel men and subsequently would never be in this particular predicament.
“Oh well, that’s just ridiculous! You don’t repel men. If anything your beauty is just majorly intimidating.”
Alex laughed hard. “You’re right I don’t repel men, I just seem to find the ones with so many self-involved issues they can barely see straight. And then I fix them, and then they leave. I’m more like
some kind of emotional car wash really.”
Kim chuckled, “Well that’s what you get when you insist on dating the pretty ones.”
“I don’t insist, they just seem to find me. I’m a beacon for the damaged and vain!”
“Better that than a beacon of fertility,” Kim frowned.
At that moment the sun peaked out from behind a puffy cloud and glared severely through the coffee shop window. Alex quickly threw up her hand to block the glare from her steady gaze on Kim.
“How can you stand hot tea? Besides the fact that it’s the middle of summer, it also happens to be the most miserable part of the day.”
“I don’t give a fuck! I’m trying to find my happy place right now Alex, and in my happy place there’s a lot of tea, okay!?”
Alex sighed, “ Okay jeez!…Your happy place wouldn’t happen to be Sri Lanka…?”
She shut her mouth quickly as Kim pinned her with her own severe glare.
Alex woke up with her heart pounding in her ears with a blaring thump. Her bedside clock read ‘2:43 am. Carefully and trembling she threw back her covers and padded unsteadily to her small kitchen. By the time she retched open the refrigerator door she’d realized how labored her breathing had become. As she reached in for a bottle of water flashes of the dream that had disrupted her slumber ran through her brain.
I probably ask myself this question every day, and miraculously, every day I come up with a new reason for my continuous stall. I tell myself things like, “You have a stupid job that you need in order to survive.” That becomes the excuse usually when I’m at the stupid job. Once I get home from work, “You just did a full eight hours of work, you’ve been up since 5:30 am and you have to start making dinner soon, so you should definitely take a 20-minute cat-nap instead of actually working towards your life goals for an hour or so.”
The excuses and procrastination continues into my days off, “You’ve had a long grueling week at work, all I want to do is enjoy my family and relax a bit before I have to go back to that soul draining place.”
It just seems to go on and on until I’m so fed up with myself, that I actually write something. Often I’ve thought, “Maybe this is just my process.” I want you to know that this is not any kind of process. . . Well, maybe the process of someone who takes their entire life to write their first book, lies to themselves all the time and then comes to the realization that once they die it won’t be the book that gets published, but their personal diary has potential.
I understand that not holding yourself accountable is not a ‘process.’ Making excuses until you feel so bad about yourself is only harmful to your piece of mind. I know great art and literature has come out of the direst situations, pain, and anguish. But I doubt the greatest writers of our time became successful by hating themselves.
I’m by no means a successful writer, but I do know a few successful people, and they didn’t build their businesses from the ground up and achieve their dreams by continuously beating themselves.
Those people all held themselves accountable for creating their own opportunities. One of the biggest misconceptions I had once I started freelance writing was believing that someone out there was going to give me my big break. That someone had to notice me and completely understand my voice, and what I had to say. I just had to find that right person who would give me my opportunity.
Since then I have talked to and lived with, many a freelancer that have all proven that way of thinking wrong. These people have taught me an invaluable lesson; You don’t wait for an opportunity to knock on your door. You create your own destiny and you own opportunity.
Have there been people who were plucked out of obscurity? Yes. Is that a common occurrence? No. So you’re going to have to work towards your own dreams because everyone else is busy trying to get their own shit together to bother with you right now.