“Action! Camera!” the director bellowed through the megaphone.
The two actors stared each into the other’s eyes for some seconds. Finally, the male actor spoke:
“What am I to do, Penny? These corny words are not the words I wish to speak to you…”
“Cut!” yelled the Director, Simon Foxwright, lifting his heavy body from the canvas chair, walking toward the actors, his bewhiskered face wrinkling in bad temper, his glasses about to fall from his nose, his left hand scratching his bushy and unruly black hair. “What are you doing, Foster? You’re not following the script!”
Foster Kendrick slowly turned his eyes away from Penny and stared hard down into the eyes of Foxwright, gritted his teeth, shoved the big man backward and walked menacingly off the set.
“Why the hell did you show up this morning, Foster, you lame excuse for an actor?” yelled the director, watching his leading star walk away. “You walk and you never work again, big shot! You hear me, jerk-off?”
Foster disappeared into the shadows of the sound stage and a visceral hush fell upon the set. The film crew stared at each other with raised eyebrows. Penny, the female lead, had not moved from the scene-opening position. Her lovely blue eyes were vacant as they gazed downward onto the powdery beige carpeting, her long blond hair curled and still upon her shoulders.
Foxwright’s wrath had him trembling as he turned to face the leading lady. “What the hell is going on, Penny? Foster was fine until the ‘action’ call. What happened?”
Penny did not move, and he spoke again. “Come on, tell me what’s going on! We’re losing time and money here!”
“I can’t talk now, Simon. I just…” Penny stopped abruptly, spun and walked hurriedly off the set.
“Come back here, Penny! Get back here, now!” Penny disappeared in the shadows of the soundstage. “You two are making huge mistakes!” he screamed, his voice reverberating in the large facility. He slammed the script board down, the carpet muffling some of its forceful sound. Simon then mumbled obscenities and threw his arms in wild swings through the air as he stumbled back to his canvas chair.
The silence was broken by the camera man from his perch ten feet above the floor. “What do we do now, Simon?”
The harried director flailed his arms. “I don’t know! I’ll go talk to them… You guys take a break but don’t wander far.” Simon looked at the script lady and assistant producer. “Take a break, ladies. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll see if I can straighten it all out.”
Soon the sound stage was empty.
Outside, the film crew drank their coffee, smoked their cigarettes and whispered among themselves.
Foster was reluctant to answer the soft door rapping in his dressing quarters. When it became more insistent, he yelled, “Go away! I don’t want to talk to anyone!”
The rapping continued. Foster angrily rose from his chair, rushed to the door, and yanked it open, banging his head in the movement. He tenderly rubbed his brow and could feel a knot forming. Wisps of his black wavy hair stuck to the sweaty forehead.
Penny did not wait to be invited into the suite. She timidly walked in and took a seat in one of two stuffed chairs, her eyes shifting from Foster to her nervous hands resting now on her lap.
Foster sighed, slammed shut the door and took a seat next to Penny. He took a deep breath and spoke: “Why, Penny? How, Penny? I just don’t understand.”
“It just happened, Foster, I…”
He interrupted her, “Just happened! Just happened! I fell in love with you. You felt the same way, you said. How can you turn so quickly?”
“I didn’t lie to you, Foster. I do love you but I’ve been lying to myself for so many years. When Ellie did the set scene with me, it was so real for me. I wanted her to touch me and I wanted to touch her…”
“Oh, sweet Jesus, stop! I don’t need to hear this. I’m not a homophobe, Penny, but this is true life hitting me in the face. The woman to whom my heart belongs is in love not with another man but with another woman…”
“Her name is Ellie, Foster. She is not just another woman to me. Yes, I love her…and I love you. Is that not possible, to love two people of opposite gender in the same way? It was not my intent to deceive you. I thought you were enough for me. Then, Ellie opened new desires within me…” Foster’s head was turning side to side. “I know this hurts you, Foster, but you cannot hate me… I love you…”
“And, you love Ellie! Where is this supposed to go, Penny? Are the three of us to form a ménage a trois and live happily ever after?”
“I would love the arrangement, but you don’t want that and neither does Ellie…”
“My God! I can't believe what I'm hearing! So it’s been part of your discussions, has it? How cozy! This is ridiculous, Penny. It hurts like hell, but I must somehow get over you… Now, will you please leave?”
“Foster, please! Can’t we talk more about this? I don’t want to lose you!”
“And, you don’t want to lose Ellie, right?”
Penny lowered her head to her lap.
Foster stood, gently took Penny’s hand and led her to the door. “You must go now. We have no more need for talk. I will make arrangements to either kill the movie or have Simon replace me and re-shoot the prior scenes.”
“But it will be a financial ruin for us and…”
He interrupted her again. “You think about finances at this moment, Penny? I’m seeing yet another side of you that is not appealing… Now, please leave.”
He opened the door for her exit. * The movie was made with Foster’s replacement, and the two actors never spoke again.
Foster left show business for aviation. He had been a Navy pilot, would get his commercial license and fly the international routes for a well-known airline. He would happily marry a first-class business passenger he chanced to meet on one of his flights to Singapore. They would have two sons, a daughter, and become a family favored with good tidings and joy.
Penny would part from Ellie in a year after discovering deception in their relationship. She would go on to become a famous actress but would never again have a serious love affair. She would become very private in her social activities and famous for the lovely starlets she introduced to the silver screen, many of whom sojourned as workers in her Holmby Hills mansion.
Flash Fiction authored by: Billy Ray Chitwood
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