Cherry Smack

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Kelly (Part II)

They were evacuated by Helicopter straight to emergency. Kelly was unconscious, bruised with some broken ribs. Jimmy was relatively unscathed and stayed by Kelly’s side, so he was there when she came to. He caught up with Peter and Derek later back at the Novotel.

“The Police caught them back at their hotel. They didn’t mention the first three shots just the one that took out the Silverback.”

“That’s rich, no mention why they happen to be up there armed to the teeth then?” asked Jimmy.

“Said they were hunting forest boar. That’s their story, that’s how they’ll spin it.” said Peter.

“No matter guys we got the footage to prove otherwise. This is mammoth, Kelly was amazing, you’re all amazing. This is just the beginning, trust me.”

Jimmy was unimpressed. He witnessed an entire family wiped out in seconds and all Derek could see was his name in lights.

Two days passed before they were back in England. The documentary was cut and poised to make a huge impact. With Francois’ bankability on the line, his team made a calculated pre-emptive strike. A highly distorted account of the story was leaked to the French press. When they caught wind of the footage, Jean Pierre, Francois’ agent, rang Derek who spoke immediately after with Peter.

“Have you seen Le Figaro Pete. It’s breaking big.”

“Are they in for a shock. Still it’s great hype.”

“I got some news. They rang me. They want to cut a deal.”

“I’m not surprised they must be reeling.”

“They offered £400k,” It fell quiet. “Did you hear me?”

“I heard you.”

“Francois is a national hero and they want it to stay that way.”

“£400k fuck, they know their game. What do they want?”

“They want us to pull it, keep quiet, give them the shot of Jimmy only. As far as they’re concerned Kelly does not exist.”

“You’re not seriously considering it? What about the Pulitzer?”

“It’s a sensational scoop, I won’t deny that but award material? No. Get real Pete, no-one really gives a shit, the draw is Boutillion, but £400k?”

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing.”

“We got them by the balls. I’m 100% sure I can get double. Before you start preaching think about it?”

Peter was no fool. He knew after the hoo-ha died, the world would move on. He would receive union rate pay, a pat on the back and be left out in the cold. With £400k he could produce and direct a screenplay he had been working on for years; with £400k he could leapfrog straight to the dream. He recalled the desperation he felt after Ghost Guns was dropped and knew beneath it all Derek made a lot of sense. He began to tip.

“What about Jimmy and Kelly?”

“We give them a touch to play along.”

“That won’t be easy.”

“You have to convince them it’s for the best.”

He wrestled his conscience; fumbling for the kill switch. After all he had endured, he was poised to take moral victory but knew he was too far gone, Fiona saw to that.

Peter invited them to The Plough on Wimbledon Common, for what they thought was a pre-celebratory drink. They sat round a rustic wooden table. The waitress set down a pitcher of Pimms and three glasses.

“Can I take a peek? When’s it going out?” asked Kelly.

Peter stiffened his resolve determined to go through with it. “It’s not going out.”

“What, I thought it was all sewn up?” said Jimmy.

“We got a better offer.” Peter cut to the chase, laid out the deal and offered them £20k a piece.

“I don’t believe it. This man is a fraud and you want us to keep quiet,” said Jimmy.

“You think we are going to influence the Congolese corrupt. The PM, Mobutu, chartered Concorde for a shopping trip while his people starved. You think this is gonna spook them, get real.”

Peter drew hard on his cigarette. He knew it was a sell-out. It weighed heavily on him. In the end it all came down to money, cold hard cash.

“I know how it looks, I was ideological once, fighting the system but you can’t win. It will beat you.”

“It ain’t right Pete, not after what we been through.” said Jimmy.

“I wrestled with it too. It pains me to the core but it’s not a question of doing the right thing.” He poured a glass of Pimms.” In WWII my dad fought for the allies. He was a war hero, said no matter which side you’re on, you’re wrong. Sometimes there is no right and wrong only what’s necessary.

Kelly remained buttoned lip, taking it all in calmly, apparently unmoved.

“You know don’t you Kelly? You’re an actress, you know how hard it is? Talk is cheap, failed promises, waiting for the call that never comes. This is a real chance to do something for yourself, take control.”

Kelly excused herself and went to the ladies.

Peter shot a killing stare. “Come off it Jimmy, what you playing at? I need you onside here. You of all people should know, help me out for Christ sake.”

Jimmy had nothing to add. Truth was he was only interested in the money but held the line to impress Kelly.

Kelly waltzed back in and looked Peter in the eye. “I want £30k and a roll in a movie.”

Jimmy was astonished her halo slipped irrevocably down. Peter got through. She wanted to take a stand but knew this was her only real chance to break into acting.

“Ok fine,” Said Peter.

“Not as an extra, something bigger.”

“Ok I’ll see what I can do.”

“Not good enough; like you said I know how it is. I need a signed contract or no deal.”

Peter weighed it up. “Okay deal, £30k a piece and a movie role, but there’s one last thing.”

Francois was in town promoting his latest blockbuster. They demanded Jimmy pucker up for a press call. Jimmy could handle the lie but the thought of playing friendly with the French was hard to stomach. He refused out of hand but was persuaded to brave it for the sake of the team.

They met at the Marquee and waited in the back whilst Francois gave interviews on The Last Time, his latest movie. The paparazzi gathered; Francois went back to prep Jimmy.

“Hi.. Jimmy isn’t it?” He passed across some notes. “I wrote down a few words for you to say- -” Jimmy took the paper and ripped it up “- - or not as they case may be. Can you at least smile you’re getting paid well for this.”

“You got the footage that should be enough.”

“Ok relax, take it easy. Just be yourself, just… well, you know smile a little okay? Did you bring your girl?”

“Did you bring the contract?”

“My lawyer’s waiting.”

After an excruciating ego battering, budding up for the flashes, Jimmy led Kelly to the lawyer in the lobby who bought her up to Francois’s suite and left. Francois was feeling smug. He stood in front the balcony doors diluting a jug of Pastis.

“If I am going to get you a part I need to know you can act.”

“What an audition?”

“Yes, I can probably get you a cameo; perhaps something better. Anything is possible it depends?

“On what?”

“On how much you want the part?” he smirked.

“That wasn’t the deal.”

“The deal has changed. You had something we want. Now I got it you have nothing.”

“This is bullshit, I can still talk.”

He grew agitated. “You think you know me, you know nothing? Enjoying the money are you? You are worse than me. Now why don’t you cut the act and come over here.” She realised she had been out played and was left with little choice. She smiled and walked across. “Okay that’s the truth of it isn’t it?” She threw her drink in his face, kneed him in the groin and ran down the stairs to Jimmy.

“Let’s get out of here.”

“What’s wrong?”

“He’s full of shit.”

They headed toward Broadway. Jimmy hailed a black cab to St. James Park.

They pulled up at the entrance to the Park. He sparked up a doob, “You need to de-stress.”

Kelly tried the gates. “They’re locked.”

He knew a break in the fence where they could slip through. They squeezed

behind some bushes, through a gap in the railings and snuck in. They now had complete run of the park. It was dusk. A row of spot pendants lined the way. Jimmy took her hand and guided her to his favourite spot, a lake by the pavilion. He used a paper napkin to wipe the bench clean then placed his Jacket round her shoulders and a paper cup in each hand. He reached into his bag and presented a bottle of crisp Chardonnay he swiped from the green room.

“I can’t believe I was so stupid to think it would work.”

“Don’t be silly it wasn’t your fault. You are the hero and he knows that. He plays at it, pretends to be what you are and he can’t take it.”

“Do you think I’m a sell out?”

“You’re a realist just like me. Peter was right, what did Fossey get for her troubles? We did what we could in the moment and that’s the truth of it.”

“Peter told me what you did after I was knocked out. Why didn’t you tell me? You’re the hero Jimmy not me, you could have died,” He played it down, a little embarrassed and diverted attention.

“Peter has asked me to be second camera on a film he’s making and I am pretty sure he will give you a part.” She perked up. “Don’t get too excited it expenses only.”

“Oh my god thank you. You’re a good friend Jimmy.”

“Yeah, I’m trying it on for size.”

She gazed upon him in new radiant light and kissed full on the lips, rushing his senses. “Just friends ay?”

“No,” he whispered “Not anymore.”

They prepped for a month before filming started on Peters’ feature, Sven Katz, an apocalyptic and rather bizarre chronical of the end of the world; quite an ambitious storyline given the miniscule budget. They shot it mostly at Three Mills in East London. Jimmy marvelled at his new surroundings, it was a sea change; Studio flats transformed into dreamscapes of unimaginable depth and realism. Film was the Daddy, Film had the magic, the kudos. On press days they were spoiled rotten by dedicated caterers serving round the clock repasts the Ritz would die. At night they’d hang out with the pretentious coke-head actors constantly looking for a fix.

They felt special part of the privileged set. People would whisper ‘he’s one of them.’ Lanyard in hand he’d slide pass security like VIP with minor celebrity status. Word spread, his folks were proud; friends bemused and to his family’s friends the one who does movies.

Kelly played Eileen the Interstellar Astral guide and teamed up with Jimmy as an extra on a big day at Aldwych, a disused tube station. They performed hand in hand; chatting in a waiting room, prostrate on the platform floor and their DeMille close up waiting for the Train of Doom. Kelly was enamoured with Jimmy and rebuffed all advances from her acting peers. He finally won her over, not with tricks or gimmicks but with good old fashioned chivalry. The shoot came to an end and they started dating. He would go up on the weekends to her campus and she’d come down on long breaks.

They were close, had intense history and now a career in the same industry. Perhaps they moved too fast in a rush to make up for lost time. Jimmy gave Kelly the keys to his flat. She came down one weekend as a surprise and let herself in. As she entered, curious sweet acidic tones of vinegar led her to the bedroom. She pushed the door open and next to rubber ties and a tar stained spoon, was Jimmy’s stash of H.

Jimmy walked in later to find her quietly brooding. They argued, they fought. She ran out in haste, crying.

What Jimmy didn’t know was, the innocent girl he thought he knew was an ex-user. She got hooked on heroin at University and her supplier was Roger. That ‘girl’ she knew, the adult performer, got her taking it and introduced her to him. Pra spotted the signs, dilated pupils, flushed skin limp and lifeless limbs. He knew because he had been there, he managed to kick it unaided. Kelly let it slip and came to him at a low ebb, suffering from depression. Her dependency on Roger and lack of self-belief in her career left her desperate with low self-esteem.

Hold up in a dorm Pra weened her off and nursed her back to health. She wouldn’t take methadone. Dad would kill her if he found out. Despite the severity of it, Pra knew first hand it was the best way as the pain was the one thing preventing him from going back. Even though he still took all manner of drugs he would never go back to H. She spent hours hunched over the toilet convulsing, chucking up in pain through the night. Then the muscle aches and spasms. He fed her a course of garlic tea and sympathy. By the end of the week she was through the worst but it would be months, with Pra at her side, before she was strong enough to stand on her own.

Jimmy knew nothing of her past. He called, she ignored him. He went around to confront her face to face. She left the door ajar wanting to avoid a welcome no matter how slight.

“I’m sorry, you got to believe me.”

“Sorry you got caught?”

“No, that I hurt ýou. I’m not into heavy, I swear I only done it a couple of times?”

“That’s how it starts. You can’t handle it,”

“How do you know?”

“I was an addict ok.” she yelled. “It was hell and I’m not going back there.” She sat curled up, rocking back and forth afraid to be around it. They broke down. Jimmy held her. He promised to clean up his act. No more drugs, nothing around to tempt her. The moment bought them closer together, striping them to the core. He had new found respect for her having faced it, for her having the courage to beat it.

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want you to go through that hell. If you’re in a bad place you give into it, then you’re hooked and you can’t get out, you don’t want to get out.”

They made up, gave it another chance and slipped back into the routine but things were not quite the same. Jimmy was unsettled, wary of her hidden past. Couples argue, they grow tired and apologise for an easy life but neither really forgets.

Jimmy arranged a cosy weekend. She came down especially. He led her to Blockbuster, closed her eyes and placed Sven Katz, the video in her hand. She was delighted. It took her back to the time before the trouble started. Jimmy popped out to fetch some wine. Before he got to the end of the path the phone rang. Kelly picked it up. A female answered, a female with a foreign accent. Jimmy returned fresh, invigorated clutching a box of Blue Nun.

“You had a call.”

“Oh yeah who was it?”

“Kayla.” He froze cold, paralyzed beneath the burning cross.

He told her she was just a friend but the sharpness of the American’s tongue spelled otherwise. He confessed there was something more once but it was over, believing their bond strong enough to take it; he was wrong. She grabbed her coat, Jimmy held her arm, she broke free and left. “Don’t call me.”

The door slammed tight. He was frantic, angry at God’s betrayal. He told the truth and the truth knocked him down, he played it straight and got nothing in return. If anyone deserved the benefit it was him. He kicked off his shoes picked at the slow cooked bourguignon and drank the left over Red.

Kayla sprang to mind, creeping back innocent, tantrum free. He went to the bedroom and dug out the only picture he had of her, a polaroid Rawl took in Vegas. His mind screamed back through their time leaving him pale from broken promise; his head span, displaced by Kelly’s turmoil. The phone rang, Jimmy hoped it was Kelly. He let it run onto the answer machine.

“I know you probably won’t get this but I have to try. Something’s come up, I got us a meeting with Neptune Records.”

Jimmy picked it up. It was Kayla armed with a proposal of such gravity it sucked him back to the center of it. She went onto explain a sting she had set up.

“You know that jam we had in a Hojo back in Frisco? I left a copy after a session at Neptune and they played it….I labelled it Sex Tape! you know to get it noticed,

“I see.”

“They binned the tape but not before they heard the track. The next morning Kacey, the Head, couldn’t get the song out his head. He panics, rings reception tells them to grab all the trash off the sidewalk for the number and rang me.”

“Are you shitting me?”

“No he loves it; wants to know if we have anymore?”

“What did you say?”

“I said yes.”

“.. but that’s all we wrote, we only had the one track.”

“So what, this is our chance. We are talking about Neptune Records. They get two hundred demo tapes every day. Do you know how many they listen to? I’ll tell you shall I? None, nada, zip. We are way ahead of the game, trust me.”

There was a thoughtful pause. Kelly’s bruising was still uppermost in his mind.

“So what do you want from me?” he asked.

“Is that all you can say? It wasn’t that long ago you told me it was the dream.

What’s changed?” He kept quiet. “I know you want this. Don’t spend your life wondering what if? Those are your words not mine, remember?”

A cliché takes on a whole new meaning when it applies to you. All his life he’d been searching for success and now he had a shot. He grabbed his jacket and went for a walk to clear his mind, circling the block. The more he weighed it up the more enthused he became. Music was the improbable dream, the only exit from mediocrity. If there was any way he could make it reality he had to try. The only thing holding him back was Kelly. He was torn, this was incredibly bad timing but he knew he had to go.

He went home necked a scotch and rang Kelly. She was expecting an apology and got a slap in the face. He tried to reason with her, told her it was business, something he had to crack.

“First you tell me she’s your Ex. Now you say you’re going to the States to live the dream with your Ex. Sorry, am I supposed to be happy for you?”

He held the phone away to save his ears. The air turned stale, blue with obscenities, the odds lengthened on hopes of a fond farewell. In his naivety he expected to keep things going based on new found trust. He accepted his lot and took the flack before she slammed down the phone. He sat tight, hoping she would calm down and call back. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes to hours; the situation made itself clear.

Her rage fuelled him, he felt indignant after all the help he’d given her, now it was his turn she turned her back. He felt betrayed as if their time together was nothing more than a convenient play. Things were not the same after the trouble. The trust had gone and the solid belief that he once held was sucked into the void. The scales tipped back to NYC, he began to appreciate the draw and at a stroke fell into its grip.

They had to move fast before things went cold. He rang dependable Pra to steady the ship and got more than he bargained for.

“Well if you’re going I’m coming too.”

“I thought you had plans?”

“Are you kidding? Programming a cleaning rostra at Guesthouse Forte is more like a death sentence than a plan,”

“But what about your folks, your degree?”

“Let me weigh it up; boffin with no future versus Rock Star. Mmm.. what do you think Jimmy?”

“Pack your Bass mate we’re leaving for New York.”

The London light faded. New York loomed, heralding a new dawn.

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