Coffee, Tea? Or me?

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Part II

II

The ceremony was opened by a classic rock band performing some of their most famous hits, during which the audience stood up and danced to the songs.

Then the Academy Awards music played as the curtains lifted and an out of camera voice introduced the first host.

And now please welcome Olivia White.

The actress walked on stage in a pink flowery dress, the fabric flowing with her movements.

“Good afternoon and welcomed to the nine millionth Academy Awards ceremony,” she joked. “First of all, I’d like to thank the Academy for trusting me with the opening of this beautiful show tonight. After my fall on stage last year, I’m surprised they let me back, let alone trust me with this important job. But hey, fool them twice blame on them right?”

The audience laughed and clapped.

“Moving on, we have so much to go through tonight and so little time,” she looked at the camera. “I’m looking at your advertisement department.”

Another laughter from the audience.

“So let’s dive right in with our first category today. Let’s see the nominations for Best Actress in a Supporting role.”

On the screen, one nominee after the other were presented with a clip from their role in the film and the camera briefly stopped on their faces as they sat in the audience.

When all the nominees had been presented Olivia took the stage again.

“And the winner is...” she opened the red envelope. “Karen Mill!”

The camera moved on the actress, her hand went to cover her mouth in shock as she realised her hame had been called. She turned to her girlfriend sitting next to her and gave her a kiss on the lips, then stood up and made her way out of her row.

When she passed James she stopped briefly and gave him a quick hug.

This is the first victory and nomination for Karen Mill. Said the out of camera voice as the actress walked on stage.

When the statue and the red envelope were in her hands she spoke into the microphone.

“Wow, an Oscar...Ok, I’m gonna keep this nice and short mainly because I’m overwhelmingly unprepared for this speech.”

The audience laughed.

“I’d like to thank firstly my family and friends for the unconditional support they gave me not only fin my career but also in my personal life. Then my girlfriend Sarah, who tolerated me all these years through my ups and downs. I’d like to thank the Academy for their vote and for honouring me with this award. Finally, I want to say thank you, from the heart to the entire cast of The Silent Klimt. You all believed in my talent and allowed me to better myself every day so that I could be where I am this evening. You’re like a second family to me and I love you all so much. Thank you!”

After the speech, she followed the host off the stage and went back to her seat.

The rest of the ceremony went by between musical performances, short clips introducing one by one the film nominated for Best Picture and the announcements of the winners of the remaining categories.

James didn’t win Best Director but he felt a weird peace after that as if a weight had been lifted from his chest.

“And now ladies and gentlemen,” started a middle-age director, one of the Hollywood legends. “I have the great honour of awarding best Actor in a Leading Role. Let’s see the nominees.”

The screen showed again the clips of the five actors nominated and when the camera moved on James he simply clapped and nodded in gratitude.

When the camera focused on the host again, he put on his reading glasses and opened the red envelope.

“And the award goes to...”

James squeezed Lucy’s hand and held his breath.

“James Kent!”

The audience exploded in cheers.

James let out the breath he had been holding and his heart started to race uncontrollably. His usual charming smile curved his lips as he stood up still holding Lucy’s hand, he helped her to her feet and gave her a quick kiss before pulling her close in a hug.

“Good Luck,” she whispered in his hear before letting go.

This is the first Victory and second nomination for James Kent.

Said the out of camera voice as the actor stepped on stage, his heart in his throat.

He thanked the director who passed him the Oscar then positioned himself in front of the microphone.

He held the statue tightly, feeling its hefty consistency in his hands. The award shimmered in his 24k of gold under the stage lights as a daunting manifestation of his achievement. He looked at it for a moment longer, a wistful look in his eyes. This was the most unnerving thing he has ever had to do.

“Only a month ago I had pushed the idea of an Oscar far deep at the back of mind but to my surprise, I was given the chance to be here tonight and actually win this award. First of all, I want to thank the people that I hold dearly in my heart for the continuous support and unconditional love they give me day in and day out.” He tried to spot his girlfriend in the audience but the lights were too strong for him to see her face clearly. He continued. “Being on this stage tonight, being recognized for all the hard work and dedication I put into my passion is certainly a great honour...but it’s also a privilege”. He looked at the statue briefly then back at the audience. “Holding this award, I can’t help but wonder would I still be on this stage if another amazing artist with the same talent and passion had been given the same opportunity...”

A quiet murmur rose in the audience.

“I want to believe the Academy was not biased in taking this important and drastic decision; however, I feel like it’s unfair to condone one man’s mistakes while making an example out of another’s.”

He paused, briefly studying the reaction from the audience. He took a deep breath trying to calm his pounding heart, then he continued.

“For this reason, I can’t accept this award.”

At this the audience exploded in a mix of gasping, clapping and cheering.

Lucy just sat there clapping, a thin proud smile on her face.

James gave the statue back to the host, gently nodding his head as a thank you and confidently made his way off the stage, the camera glued on him as he walked back to his row where he took a seat and gave a grinning Lucy another, more passionate kiss.

“Erm, this was unexpected,” the host said, once he gained back the stage.

“Does this mean I get to keep this?” He joked, looking towards the side of the stage.

“They said I can’t cos it’s not even my category. That’s a bit rude but ok. Well, let’s move on while they decide what they want to do with this Goldman because indeed, the show must go on!”

The rest of the ceremony went by without any more twists, James’ film didn’t win Best Picture and, despite his recent stance, he still felt a twitch of disappointment, especially for the rest of the team as they had all worked very hard on it.

When the show was finally over the guests started to trail out fo the theatre into the big hall like shimmering grains of sand in an hourglass.

On his way to the door two actors, that were among the nominees for his same category, stopped James.

“I hope you don’t feel disrespected for my decision,” started James.

One of the two, a black man in his fifties with a strong Boston accent, shook his hand.

“Not at all son, I agree with what you said. It was very brave of you.”

James shrugged, not sure that the world brave was the adequate choice in this world of glitters and sequins.

“Yeah man,” pitched in the second actor, a ginger slightly younger than James. “That took balls. Good luck with the press!”

James scoffed, yet a callous smile was on his lips.

“Well done, son,” remarked the older man and patted James on the back.

With another handshake, the two were gone.

After a good five minutes, the couple managed to leave the theatre and exit into the hall where another big gathering occupied most of the space.

“Here you are!” Karen exclaimed as she appeared from behind a small group of people. She grabbed James by his elbow and dragged him to a quieter corner of the hall, followed by Lucy and Sarah who shared a bemused look.

“What the hell was that? Are you crazy?” Her thick Scottish accent now shining through.

James shrugged.

“I had to do it, Karen. I don’t care what people say, as long as it draws attention to the matter I’m happy!” He said with purpose.

“Did you know about this?” Karen asked, turning to face Lucy.

The girl nodded weakly.

“Yes, he told me this morning.”

Karen’s sharp gaze returned on James, her hands on her hips.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

James stroker her arm, gently.

“To be honest, I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure I was going to do it until I did...”

“You know I would have supported you?”

James sighed.

“I know.”

They held each other’s gaze, sharing silent words that were only meant for their friendship, then Karen’s face softened and she asked.

“Are you going to the after-party?”

James turned to Lucy.

“Do you want to go?”

Lucy’s eyes widened, jumping from James, Karen and Sarah.

“I..I..” she stuttered feeling put on the spot. “Can you go at this point? I don’t know James, it’s up to you.”

James thought for a moment: the guests at the party wouldn’t have cared much about what had happened but the after-party meant another red carpet, which meant dealing with the press.

“We’re going,” he said, adamant.

“Are you sure?” Asked Karen.

James nodded vehemently.

“Of course, I didn’t take a stance to then just hide. I stand by everything I said.”

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