2. The Driver
When Anabelle had first sent her script in to the little known Rupture Studios, she hadn’t expected an answer at all, let alone an offer to join on as the main writer for the project. She’d been ecstatic (until about five minutes after she arrived in L.A.). Of course, things had only gone downhill from there. And now, having been escorted to her hotel like a child by a tart twenty two year old intern named Karina who wanted to be an actress and treated Anabelle like a inbred retard from another planet, she was significantly less enthused by the whole ordeal.
“I don’t need a babysitter.” Anabelle protested for probably the hundredth time as Karina riffled through her laundry, spreading the clothes over the large, perfectly made bed.
“I’m going to see to the basics.” Karina replied shortly, shoving some clothes into the cloth laundry bag provided by the hotel.
“I’ve got it covered. You already said the hotel will do my laundry.” Anabelle whined.
“Yes.” Karina said condescendingly, “but tomorrow you’ll be flying to England, you have no coats, no gloves, no shoes!” Karina threw up her hands. “You only have one pair of sandals, do you even own a pair of heels? And whats this? A blue light special?” She asked, holding up the blue reusable grocery sack.
Anabelle put her hands on her hips, “No. But why the hell will I need heels in the English countryside? And besides, I’m only taking carry-on. Oh shit.” Anabelle slapped her forehead, and rushed over to her purse, pulling out a large bag of pot and holding it up in the air. “What am I going to so with this? I can’t take it on the plane. Do you want it?” She asked, holding it out to Karina.
The big breasted bottle blonde shuddered, “Ew! no. Besides it’s a private plane. You don’t need to worry about it.”
“Really?” Anabelle breathed, clutching the bag to her breast.
“Of course.” Karina folded her arms over her chest. “Anyway, you need proper luggage and at least a coat and some boots.”
“I don’t wear boots.” Anabelle protested.
Karina gave her a flat faced stare.
“I’m serious. I don’t wear shoes. I wear sandals. Rain. Snow. Flood. Sandals.” Anabelle informed her. “Don’t waste your money on boots.”
“It’s not my money.” Karina flipped her hair. “This is my job. They tell me to buy you clothes for England, I’m not going to send you to the airport with nothing but falling apart gladiators.” It was Karina’s turn to throw her hands over her hips. “You have plenty of scarves, so we only need a hat,” she ticked them off on her fingers, “gloves, socks, boots, coat.”
“Oh god.” Anabelle groaned, flopping down on the bed and grabbing the clicker. She found reruns of True Blood and tried to zone out, but Karina plucked out her iPhone and dialed a number.
“C?” She asked when someone answered. “I need you right away.” She gave this mystery C person the address and hung up. “Okay.” She said, “C will get your measurements and pick up all that stuff for us. Now just for luggage. Hmm.” She said errantly, putting her finger on her chin and thinking for a moment.
“Who is C?” Anabelle asked.
“I’m sure they have luggage in the gift shop. Hmmm.” She ignored Anabelle’s question and grabbed the phone by the bed and dialed the front desk. “I’m in 346, I need laundry service for pick up tonight.” She paused and Anabelle rolled her eyes. “Yes.” Karina continued. “And do you carry luggage? I need two medium travelers put on my room. Of course. Thank you.” Then she hung up. “There. All settled. Now, for a drink.” She dusted off her hands and went straight for the mini bar. “Want one?” She asked.
Anabelle, who pulled out her smoking tin and started errantly rolling a joint, shrugged, “Sure. Why not.”
Three tiny bottles of tequila later, C, who turned out to be a (shockingly attractive) drag queen seamstress slash personal shopper, showed up on Anabelle’s proverbial doorstep.
“Oh no, girl,” C shook her head upon seeing Anabelle for the first time, “Tell me this is not her.”
“Oh, it’s her.” Karina said darkly.
Anabelle, who was more than a little in awe with the well toned, beautiful person who suddenly appeared into her tequila soaked life, five inch red stilettos and all, could do nothing but stand there in hesitant reverence, arms crossed over her chest.
“Oh lord, you better have money.” C told Karina with a point of her finger. “Stand up girlie.” C ordered Anabelle, who was already standing and didn’t know what to do. “Stand up, sweetie, straight and tall, don’t be slouchin’.” C said, batting Anabelle’s Oprah handles until she’d straightened her back, stuck her tits up, and held her head high.
“There we go!” C exclaimed. “Phew! There is someone in there. Okay.” She shook her head, and began to unravel her measuring tape from her wrist. “Let’s see what we can do.”
After several more minutes of bullying from C, and several more tiny bottles of tequila between all three, the queen had went (credit card in tow) forth to procure decent clothing, the laundry was well underway, the luggage had been delivered and they were both lounging on the chaise, passing the joint between them and talking about the absurdity of life.
Anabelle finally admitted that the tart twenty two year old intern, who was actually twenty six, wasn’t so bad after all.
“I think I may have misjudged you,” Anabelle hiccuped, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s all good. I misjudged you too.” Karina replied with a squinty eyed smile. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Anabelle laughed. “So have you always wanted to be an actress?”
“No. I used to be a fashion designer.” Karina shrugged. “Now I am like every other pretty girl in L.A.”
“I think you could be a good actress.” Anabelle nodded knowingly, or perhaps drunkenly, taking a drag from the joint.
“Have you always wanted to be a screenwriter?” Karina inquired.
Anabelle blew out her smoke and shook her head. “Hell no. Never. I’m a novelist. That is what I’ve always wanted to do. This kind of happened. And I’m not sure how I let myself get talked into it.”
“Freeguyl is like that.” Karina informed her. “He’s good though. Sees talent. He’s got the nose for it. You are so lucky you get to go. Only production and the top actors get to go to the last meeting.” She said in a rare moment of wistfulness.
“God, I’d let you take my place if I could.” Anabelle scoffed.
“Why?” Karina asked, starry eyed and longing.
“It sounds awful boring to me.” Anabelle said morosely, taking another sip of her vitamin water and tequila. In fact it sounded terrifying to Anabelle, but boring was a much more kosher word to say out loud.
“But you get to go to all the important meetings, you get to stay in Theo August’s castle for christ’s sake, Anabelle, that is cool enough. But to think, Darren Dileero will be there, maybe even Prester Reeds! Everyone says Jennifer’s dating him. And Guy Gary will probably stop by, and one movie by Guy Gary and an actress is set. I mean, think of the opportunities.” Karina gasped.
“I guess. But I’m confused, because, I was under the impression that this was some meeting. A castle? Really?” Anabelle questioned dubiously.
“Really.” Karina said with a wide eyed nod. “They’ll be filming there, so its like the advance party. The last meeting is just what they call it, anyway. Basically they are going to lock themselves in the castle until everything is set in stone. It’s like a fucking filibuster with champagne. Theo’s father was the one who started the tradition. His father is a famous British actor, you must know?”
Anabelle shook her head. “Um, sure?”
“He is, and anyway, I think it must be the reason Freeguyl likes working with Theo so much.” Karina smirked.
“But a castle?” Anabelle scoffed, suddenly more intimidated than she had been previously.
“Yeah. You know that old British film, Bread, Bed & Mercy?” Karina asked, when Anablle only stared at her blankly, she continued, “Well anyway, Theo’s father, Gregory August bought the castle in the sixties so they could film it there. Most period pieces are filmed there now anyhow, but I guess when you hire the son, you get the castle for free.” She finished off with a shrug.
“Do they always have the last supper or whatever at the castle?” Wondered Anabelle.
Karina chuckled, “No. The last one was in downtown Clover City and was miserable, or so I hear. But then, thats because Freeguyl deviated away from Theo at the last minute, and went with Josh Major instead, you know, in Big Fat Heart? Big Fat Mistake. Theo would have looked way better as a crackhead.” Karina shook her head.
“How long have you been an intern at Freeguyl Studios?” Anabelle tried to steer the converstation away from the erg factor from earlier that day.
Karina looked away, “Five years.”
“And you’ve never been to the last meeting thingy?” Anabelle asked incredulously.
“I’ve never even been paid.” Karina said, her eyes flashing dangerously.
“What?” Anabelle gasped.
“Not officially anyw…” Karina said absently, leaving off when the door knocked from the outside.
Jumping up off the chaise Karina answered it with gusto. It was C, or at least, Anabelle thought it was C, but she never could remember much after that, only that she woke up at about four o’clock in the morning, with a headache and an entirely new outfit, complete with a wool coat and some boots, still in place.
She climbed out of bed, pulled off the coat, kicked off the ridiculous shoes and padded barefoot into the bathroom. Flipping on the light, she screamed and jumped when a previously sleeping Karina bolted upright in the tub and knocked off all the shampoo and soaps.
“Shit!” Anabelle cried as Karina looked around, startled. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” She said, backing out of the bathroom.
“It’s okay.” Karina said hoarsely. “I just passed out I think.”
Anabelle stood in the doorway for a moment, struck with a thought just forming. “I’ve had a thought, just forming, mind you, but a thought. Yes. Do you want to go to the meeting?”
Karina nodded drowsily.
“Are you willing to do whatever to get there?” Anabelle countered.
Karina blinked back the harsh light of the bathroom and thought a moment, then nodded. “Yes.”
“Then you are my new writing assistant, and you’re coming with me.”
Which is how they found themselves, standing upon the tarmac, each in their ridiculously hot wool coats, boots and sunglasses, with equal parts horrible hangover and exhaustion, facing the sunlight and other passengers who were all comfortable with their short sleeves in the warm L.A. morning.
“Good morning.” Theo said cordially to them when they passed. Anabelle grimaced and gave the barest of nods before picking up the pace.
“I need birds.” She said loudly over her shoulder to Karina who followed close behind.
“What?” Karina asked.
“Birds. In the sex scene. I need to write in birds. Make a note.” When Karina only gave her a deadpan stare, Anabelle nodded and whispered, “I told you, go along with it.”
“Okay,” Karina sighed, stopping right there on the tarmac and fishing out her iPhone. Anabelle looked over Karina’s shoulder and saw Theo catching up to them.
“Oh forget it.” Anabelle intoned, “Let’s go.”
“I’m starting to question this.” Karina mumbled under her breath.
“You said anything.” Anabelle reminded her as she climbed the stairs to the plane’s open hatch.
“Welcome aboard Charter Travels.” A perky stewardess greeted them as they stepped in. “Just right through there.” She smiled.
“Thanks.” Anabelle said awkwardly, heaving her new piece of hideous designer luggage through the passageway and into a plush, warm cabin furnished with leather chairs and side tables.
Freeguyl looked up as they walked in. “What’s this?” He barked out immediately. “You!” he pointed at Karina, “Go home. She’s here now, thank you.”
“No.” Anabelle said with oomph, making a point of not removing her sunglasses. “She’s my new writing assistant. And she’s coming with us. And,” Anabelle added in her best imitation of a diva, “you are going to start paying her.”
With that, Anabelle walked past him to a seat near the back window, Karina following dazedly, Freeguyl sharing a half bemused look with Theo and shaking his head. “Women. They figure it all out sooner or later.”
Theo had no response to that, so he sat down to the side and opened the book he’d brought for the flight, and positioned himself slightly tilted, enabling him a sneak peek at the hurricane sharing the plane with him.
Anabelle, oblivious to the goings on around her, pulled out her shiney new laptop and started writing.
Dierdre Whitethrop, her once perfectly coiffed curls in compelte disarray, done up in her three shawl, six petticoat ensemble, stood upon the heaving deck of the passenger liner and stared at the shadow of land with a mixture of dread and relief. But mostly, she reflected, relief. Her feet ached to be on solid ground. Even if it was English soil. And so it was with some measure of propriety and compusre that she found herself being handed into a waiting carraige by a crude, if not handsome looking gentleman, (who looked like no such thing, gentlemanly, that is) and spirited her away through the port streets and off into the countryside.
Dierdre found the jostling of the carriage at extreme odds with the swaying of the boat she’d been on for the last so many months, and she felt it rather abrupt and well, quite ghastly for her host to require her travel so soon upon landing, and not having provided for her at least a meal and a nap before shoveling her forthwith into a moving vehicle.
She was alone in the carriage, that much she could say was happy happenstance, at the least, but her driver would not have been her choice companion, given the opprotunity to edit fate. Tattooed, with an earing no less, he looked rather unsavory to Diedre, who, while having been born in the wilds of the colonies, was still a rather refined lady of high birth and plenty of money, who was not to be swayed by delicious brute men in various vagrant dishabille.
Of course, then she rememebered she was in a forgeign country, practically against her will, to marry an old rich lord to solidify the family investments against the crown. And all the etcetera. So what did it matter, anyway? Opening the carriage door, she promptly stuck her head out and vomited.
Bringing the horses to a halt, the driver calmed them, then jumped down and offered her hand out of the carriage. She took his proffered hand, preoccupied with not splattering her shoes, stumbled into the grass and vomited once more for good measure.
“Are you okay there lass?” He asked, leaning over her, disappointed she favored puritanical clothing so many of those damned colonists were calling fashion.
Dierdre, who happened to notice a rose tattoo behind his ear and wondered absurdly what it meant, vomited in answer, wiped her mouth, then said authoratatively, “I could have used a meal, or perhaps a scrap of bread upon disembarking. But apparently Lord Whillowford is deaf to the needy ills of a world voyager. And I am to suffer through it. So by all means, Driver, drive!” She intoned heatedly.
“Well, lassie, you’re in luck. I happen to have myself a scrap of bread, just here, in me pants.” He winked, and as he reached in his pocket for the bit of bread wrapped in a napkin, she gasped scandoulously and slapped him across the face.
“How dare you try to accost me thus!” She fumed, pushing herself up, her anger bolstering her reserve, and her gastrointestinel system.
“I was only trying to help, your highness.” He grumbled.
Brushing off her skirts she looked around herself, saw her own pool of vomit and turned back to her driver with a tad smidge of politeness. “Please, take me to my destination.”
He nodded and moved to the carriage door, offering her his hand once more.
When she took it in her own he said, “If you need to relieve your innards again, holler first, I haven’t the mind to be scrubbing this down of bile.”
She sniffed and climbed in the carriage.