Rather than going home and getting some sleep Charlie worked on the advertisement he had due the next morning. He worked on the phrasing for an hour before he called Randy over to help him make some sense of it.
“You are looking too deep into this dude! Come enjoy our new tasty dessert menu. There is something for everyone.” Randy put emphasis to the end of the ad sweeping his arms in front of him. “That is good enough, no one is going to be upset about that ad.”
“Look, I need these contract gigs, so they ad copy has to be perfect. Are you sure that is better than… Our new dessert menu has something for everyone. Come enjoy something tasty.” Charlie was frantic and tired and truthfully sick of working on this ad campaign.
“Dude! Just send the damn thing.” Randy had given up and laid dead on the couch.
“Fine, I’ll send it.” Charlie sat down in front of his laptop when a soft knock came from his door. “Will you grab that, Randy?” Charlie was determined to send off his finished work.
Randy popped up from the old corduroy couch walked across the minimalist loft to the front door. He peeked through the peephole before he opened up the door. The city wasn’t Randy’s idea of a safe place. When he saw Jenny on the other side, he put himself in the right frame of mind, brushed his hair behind his ears and opened the door with a single smooth movement.
Jenny watched the thick wooden door swing open to the dark apartment. She could see a stained concrete floor, brass fixtures with an early electricity motif, some dark and dingy furniture and then right in front of her was Randy. Not the person she was hoping to see welcome her to the apartment.
“Randy.” Jenny acknowledged the man as she walked by him to enter the apartment.
Randy leaning against the door attempted to look as suave as possible, but he was of no interest to the girl. He closed the door behind her and slowly walked behind her. “Did you have fun at our little soirée?”
“Soirée? The meeting at the diner? Yes, I thought it was awesome. And congrats again on that script sale. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a walrus love story.” She tried not to giggle at her backhanded jab at the sleazy guy behind her.
“When you write for art students that produce trash. You write artsy trash.” Randy didn’t take any offense to his work, as far as he was concerned, he got paid and that made him a professional writer.
Jenny swiveled on the balls of her feet to face Randy. “You know I hadn’t thought of it that way. Good point. Congrats on selling trash.”
Randy snorted at the constant attempts at insulting him. He walked past the girl casually calling back to her, “You want a drink or something?”
She waved him off as she saw Charlie sitting at his desk, she had work in a couple hours anyway, it was no time for a drink. She slowly crept her way towards him giving a small childish wave when she grabbed his attention.
Charlie finished sending his email and spun his chair around to face his new friend. “Hey, welcome. Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to look at your work yet.” He motioned to the pile of paper on his coffee table. “I have been focused on this contract work.”
Randy flopped back down on the couch, “Yep, a couple hours of enjoy the tasty menu versus enjoy something tasty. I don’t know how he ever finishes anything he writes.” Everyone in the room laughed over the statement. “But while he was complaining about menu advertisements, I read some of your stuff. And it is pretty good. It’s girly and emotional and is begging me to drum up some tears, but it is pretty good for chick lit.”
Jenny took a deep breath giving into her need for critique and turned her attention toward the man who she knew was trying his best to come on to her regardless of the existence of his fiancé. But she was being given the attention that she had been trying to lure out of Charlie. All she wanted was someone to take an interest in her work and if that had to come from the little rat faced man then that would have to do.
Charlie watched as the two writers talked back and forth over their writing styles and what constituted good literature. He felt a little left out, but it was his own fault. He had taken on too many responsibilities. He was boxing himself out of the career he had sacrifices most of his life to.
Charlie joined in the conversation but didn’t have a lot of feedback for Jenny since he hadn’t taken the time to read what she gave him. He instead started feeling bad for Missy who was probably at home planning their wedding while Randy flirted with someone else.
Eventually he snuck his way into the conversation by attempting to get a bit of feedback on his own script. “Guys, I kind of wrote myself into a corner. I got this young kid who is leading a small platoon of soldiers, think like Ender’s Game, but not with all the space stuff. And he is having to overtake an amusement park that has been infiltrated by terrorists. Think Die Hard, but in Disney World or something. And they have to strategize to keep from killing hostages. Think Speed, but without the bus. Anyway, all I have is action at this point. I don’t really have much to drive the story other than troop movements and war strategy.”
Randy immediately spoke up, “Anytime you are dealing with a war type situation…”
Charlie jumped in before his friend could give any real advice, “No, sorry. No walrus love in my scripts.” Even Randy laughed. The walrus jokes were starting to get a bit old, but when they were well timed.
Randy threw his hands up in surrender thinking his pal might be looking to get some input from Jenny.
“What is the situation? Does the kid know the hostages? Does he know his troops? Is he in danger himself?” Jenny immediately started throwing questions.
“Yeah, I guess. I mean it’s the kid’s hometown and an amusement park that he goes to, so he might know some of the hostages. And of course he is in danger he is fighting terrorists. But what I need is to move plot.” As Charlie laid out the answers Randy took the hint that the other two should get some private time. He gathered his things and made an excuse to leave, although his fiancé at home waiting for him was more real than an excuse.
The door made its customary involuntary slam as Randy left the apartment. Jenny continued, “Charlie, I get it, it’s an action movie, but as a writer we are supposed to elicit emotions. Maybe the kid sees an old friend with a gun to his head, maybe he sees an old rival executed. There needs to be some kind of emotion making this kid’s decisions for him, otherwise it’s just…” She didn’t know how to finish the statement. She tried to regroup to keep from hurting his feelings. “What was it that inspired you to write this?”
Charlie perked up at the question, “When I was younger, I worked at an amusement park and there was this group of hoodlums that hung out there. And I realized that everyone who worked there worked in specific zone or ride or game or restaurant. So it was kind of like the game risk.”
“No. Charlie.” She paused with a short sigh. “What experience in your life made you feel the need to write about terrorism and hostages?”
“That’s just where the plot took me. My real idea behind this was more of a live action strategy board game.” He was starting to move things off the coffee table to create a mockup for better clarity.
“Charlie. I would love to read what you have and see if there is anything I can contribute to. But I think you should consider writing more from your heart and experience.” She had a look in her eyes that Charlie knew. It was a look of sympathy, a look of compassion, but he didn’t read it that way. He saw pity. She pulled a napkin out of her shirt pocket and handed it over to Charlie while looking for something in his eyes.
“I guess I left my notes behind at the diner.” Charlie wouldn’t return the gaze. He held his head downwards.
“I’m sorry. Is it your mother that is having trouble?”
“Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it.” She reached over and gently lifted his chin with her pointer and middle fingers. As their eyes met Charlie jerked back and pulled away from the girl. “It’s fine, it’s something I have to deal with.”
“I’m sorry. I just wanted to tell you I’m here if you need to talk.” She watched him get up and refocus himself in the kitchen. She knew she had pushed him too far. She didn’t want to be a burden on his day. “Look, I have to go get ready for my shift.”
Charlie cleared his throat and called to the other room, “Sure, have a good night. I will read through your stuff tonight and let you know.”
Jenny retreated out of the apartment somewhat ashamed of the way she went about the delicate subject. She heard his words as the door swept behind her. Just as it closed leaving its loud bang echoing into the hallway, it overshadowed her response to Charlie, “Call me.”