The A to Z Challenge – O is for “Oh, Oliver!”

Amelia Benton, nee Fosdyke had worked very hard to get where she was.  Becoming a star didn’t happen overnight, as much as the fan magazines would have it, because one star performance had to be followed by another, and another.

It meant you had to be lucky enough to get that call, the one that ensures you get a role that was a plum, or it was written for you.

It also meant playing the game, trying to not rock the boat or push too hard, realizing that extra straw some demanded would break the proverbial camel’s back.

And with the successes came favors, cards she could play at the appropriate time. 

She used one of one of these to help her brother, Oliver, a budding scriptwriter, who, she was assured, had talent, and a reasonable script.

It was, for her, a leap of faith.

But there was only one problem. Oliver could be a pedantic pain in the neck, and after being given a miraculous first chance. He was burning bridges and causing grief.

It was why she called him, and, in the end, demanded his presence.  Or else.  And she still held enough sway over him to ensure his obedience.

She was reading her latest script when her personal assistant ushered him into the room, making him wait until she finished the scene.

Then putting the script to one side she glared at him.  Being older, she had often been left to mind him and had established a form of authority which earned until he was older, and some idiosyncrasies set in, making him harder to contend with.

Burning bridges and being haughty were two recent traits that ordinarily she would ignore, but it was impacting her reputation.

Time to fire the first salvo, “Just what the hell are you playing at?”

He stood before her, a truculent expression on his face.  He was still bristling from the rebuke served by his assistant, a wise-ass boy named David.

“I just got a call from the front office telling me Joachim is up there with chiefs discussing your role in the delays to production.  It might not be all your fault Oliver, but you could try to be less confrontational.”

“They keep asking for idiotic changes, I mean, seriously, how do you work with these people?”

“A few lines here and there, I’m told.  Seriously, Oliver?  I get you this opportunity and how do you repay me.  This is my neck on the line, not only yours and if Joachim can’t save you, I definitely won’t.  Do you understand what I’m saying here?”

He nodded.  “I am not ungrateful Amelia, believe me.  I just didn’t expect…”

“Nothing in this business makes sense Oliver, and yet, after a while, you find that it does.   You’re new and inexperienced in the industry.  Get some experience and a few years in, and maybe then you can complain.  Until then, I don’t expect any more issues.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize to me, Oliver.  Save them for the people who matter.  Now, you better get back back to your meeting.”

Job done, she went back to the script.

Oliver stomped back to his office, more annoyed than ever.

The meeting was not exactly a humiliation, the script changes were not exactly a surprise to him because, as David had said, they’d already been discussed.

But he had dismissed them.  What was wrong with the lines as originally written.  He knew that the two leads when rehearsing the lines had twisted the words hence the sniggering at the end of the scene.

The director should have exercised more control over his actors, more control in fact over the whole cast.  He understood why his sister would be concerned, given her connections.

But he wasn’t going to be told what to do.  And, as for that wise-ass David, changing his script without permission, or consultation, even of it appeased the director, well, he was going to get what he deserved.

The director took him aside at the end, though, that was unexpected.  Oliver had been sufficiently fired up that had he seen David right after the meeting, he might have said some very regrettable things.

Now, having time to simmer down, he was starting to have second thoughts.  His sister hadn’t said as much, but like other occasions where pride had got in the way, she hadn’t been there to save him from himself.

Just then, David poked his head in the door.  “You wanted to see me?”

Oliver could clearly see the boy wanted to be anywhere nut in his office.  “Come in and shut the door.”

David came in, reluctantly, shut the door, and moved the seat back away from him before he sat.

“You do realize,” Oliver said, “that you were not hired as a writer.  In fact, I’m not quite sure what you were hired for.”

“Yes.”  Wary.

“Then why would you make those changes.”

“It’s what you would have done.  You talked about it with the director and the actors involved.  I was there, and I saw the script annotations.  The director wasn’t happy, and I want to keep this job and learn.”

“Irritating superiors is not the way to go about that.”

“Not my intention.  You just temporarily lost sight of the end result.  It in no way changes anything.  You were about to get removed, by the way, and that would have been wrong.  Call it what you like Mr. Fosdyke, but you’ve been handed a reprieve.  You can yell at me if you like, but it won’t change anything.  I’ll still be here.  Better though, if we got along, and after all, I’m sure you could teach me a lot about writing a really good script.”

He could, though he could never see himself as a teacher.  And this fellow was a bit presumptuous.  But he hadn’t done anything he wouldn’t have done himself, so no harm done.  A small price for a few lessons.

“OK.  But don’t let it go to your head.”

David looked visibly relieved.  “Can I go now?”

“No.  We have a few additions to do.”

“Done.  They’re annotations in your master.  As I said, nothing you hadn’t already thought of.”

“I threw that script away.”

“I know.  It was a mistake, so I kept it.  It has a couple of other good ideas in it.  I suggest you consider them.  Now.  I gave to go.  See you early tomorrow.”

Oliver watched him leave, a little faster than he should, then laughed.  Impertinent.  He’ll probably go a long way in this business.


© Charles Heath 2022

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