James sat in the white armchair across from Josh Monroe, a coffee table between them with two cups of coffee on it. The two men shook hands and exchanged pleasantries before the beginning of the show, then when the red light came on the camera, the journalist spoke.
“Good morning everyone, I’m Josh Monroe and I’m here today with James Kent. I’d like to thank James for allowing this interview as we’re going to talk about some delicate issues. Thank you for being with us today, James,” the journalist said and the camera moved to the actor’s face.
James smiled, and his usual charm illuminated his face, stealing the attention from his cuts and bruises still slightly visible under the makeup.
“Thank you for having me, Josh. I’m glad I had a chance to talk with you today”.
The man nodded.
“Let’s dive into it, shall we? So a few days ago I came across what looked like a very distressing video of yourself in which you were involved in a brawl. When I contacted you for comments you came clean to me and admitted your fault and asked to speak up today about what led to that episode, and I thought it was really important for you to firstly explain yourself and second, speak about a very important issue that could affect many other people”.
Lucy was observing the scene from behind the camera, her hands together in a prayer pose in front of her mouth. She looked at James for any signs of distressed, but he nodded instead and with a serious, confident look he began to talk.
“Yes, Josh. First of all, I’d like to apologise for my behaviour in that video which, I can’t stress enough, it’s not acceptable. The thing I really wanted to talk about today it’s one of the reasons that led to that event and it’s anger management issues. Again, I want to highlight that violence is never the answer but I also thought it is important to talk about this problem and how to deal with it”.
“If I have to be honest, James, I think it’s really brave of you to come forward with this...”
James took a sip of coffee.
“It’s not really about courage but responsibilities. I am a public figure, millions of people, many of them younger adults, look up to me for inspiration. When I saw that video I knew that apologising wasn’t enough, I had to talk about it”.
“So, how long have you had this issue?”
James combed his hair back with his hand and Lucy knew he was nervous now.
“It started when I was quite young and I’ve been dealing with it for the best part of my life”.
“Would you like to talk us through how they have affected you?”
James moistened his lips with his tongue.
“Sure. Most people think that stored anger manifests itself only through violence and irritability, which is certainly a big component of it, but there are many other symptoms that could mean a person is affected with this problem like social isolation, lack of sleep, or even paranoia and anxiety. In my personal experience, I would suffer from palpitations, fatigue and chest pain when I was at my most stressed before the attitude problems surfaced and I think these are all big signs to look out for.”
“What causes these issues?”
“There are many reasons that can lead up to anger and it’s usually an underlying problem like depression, drug abuse, trauma... Every person is different though so it’s important to talk to a professional for your specific case.”
“And have you spoken to a therapist?”
“Absolutely,” said James vehemently. “And this is one of the things I wanted to talk about; it’s paramount to seek help, it’s our responsibility to find a solution to the problem because unfortunately, this issue will impact the people around you both physically and psychologically. I’ve consistently seen a therapist for a good part of my childhood and adolescence and it helped me deal with the cause of my problem and be able to live a better life. Due to the nature of this problem, it’s very easy to find yourself isolated and lose friends or even your job, which causes a catch 22 of anger and distress. Keeping the issue under control can really help improve the quality of your life and of the ones around you”.
“Sometimes there seems to be a stigma around seeing a therapist or even asking for help...” pointed out Josh.
“This is why I needed to speak up. I wanted to encourage people who can see themselves in this description or anyone who’s struggling really, to reach out to family, friends, a professional. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or less manly, we owe this to ourselves because no one deserves to struggle. If I hadn’t allowed my family to help me by asking me to see a therapist, it’s very likely I wouldn’t be where I am today”.
Josh Monroe smiled.
“I always enjoy when celebrities open up about their struggles because to us mortals,” he chuckled, “you seem to live perfect lives. It’s great when people with such a big platform, like you, tell us Hey it’s ok not to be ok, I’m also not well but here’s how I’m coping with it.”
James nodded again.
“Absolutely, as I said before I have a responsibility towards my followers to talk about my experience, if we don’t take advantage of the number of people we can reach then it’s a missed opportunity. I’m only human and I have flaws like everyone, sometimes when you’re in the spotlight you tend to conceal your problems because it’s not easy to face your demons in front of the world, but we can’t only enjoy the positives of our fame”, he quoted with his fingers. “We need to rise to the occasion when things are not all good”. He briefly looked beyond the camera at Lucy, who smiled and showed him her thumbs.
The journalist took a sip of coffee then slowly placed the mug on the table.
“I really praise you for this, James. I respect you for putting your morals before your fame, this is not a common thing to see these days”. He looked at the camera. “I was supposed to show you the video we talked about before but at this point, I feel that if we did it would be only for views and it wouldn’t add anything of value to this conversation. I’m sure my producer will understand...”
James bit his lip.
“I appreciate that”.
Josh slowly nodded as a you’re welcome.
“How are you planning on dealing with this situation?”
“I need to go back to my therapist and face her look of disappointment,” he joked. “But seriously she’s great, she’s known me for years and I know she will help me brilliantly. I also plan on being more open with the people I love and really take care of myself”.
“Will you keep working or are you planning a break?”
James shook his head.
“Oh no, I will keep on working. Acting is what helped me through this in the first place and where I can express my feelings the best. You can’t keep me away from the set!” He gave his most charming smile.
“Well James, I wish you all the best in your career and in your private life”.
“Thank you, Josh. And thank you again for allowing me to speak about this, it was really important to me”.
The two men shook hands and then Josh looked at the camera.
“Our time is up today, but we will be back next week!”
Then the camera turned off.
“It was great, James,” said Josh.
“Scary as hell,” replied James letting out a breath. “Thanks for not showing the video, was unexpected but appreciated”.
The man nodded.
“You behave, son,” he said patting James on the shoulder then left.
James turned to Lucy and with a smile opened his arms and she quickly walked into them in a hug.
“I’m so proud of you! You did great!” She beamed and he squeezed her tighter in his arms.
That evening Lucy and James sat in the roof terrace in James’ apartment under an exceptional full moon that still managed to shine bright despite the city lights, Frank Sinatra playing on the Bluetooth loudspeaker system.
“To my wonderfully amazing man,” said Lucy raising her glass of wine.
“To my ride or die,” said James clicking his beer bottle to her glass.
Lucy looked into his impossibly green eyes, like a stormy ocean and her heart filled with all the emotions that were pouring through them. His smile had made her want him, his eyes had made her fall in love, she could have spent hours looking into them.
“When you look at me like that you bewilder me,” said James suddenly.
Lucy fluttered her long lashes.
“Sorry, sometimes I get lost in you...”
James chuckled, flattered by her words.
When Come fly with me came over the speaker Lucy stood up and took James by the hand, leading him away from the sofa and wrapped her arms around his neck.
She began to softly sing along the song and they both danced slowly moving their feet, smiled plastered on their faces.
“I’m so glad I came flying with you,” said James amused.
And they stayed like that, holding each other, slowly dancing under the moon, lost in one other.