Coming to America Ch.02byamsterdam©
If you read part 1, then I appreciate you returning to find out what happens next. If you didn't read Part 1, then it's not essential and there's definitely more bang for your buck in this chapter! Hope you enjoy the story and please remember to vote at the end.
For the second morning in a row, I woke with a thudding headache. I looked at the clock. It was just past seven. Rolling over, I tried to get back to sleep, but to no avail. I didn't think my stomach was capable of holding food and yesterday's swim, while temporarily refreshing, hadn't managed to clear the cobwebs, so I decided to go for a walk. Popping a couple of aspirin, I dressed quickly and headed out, the hotel a claustrophobic prison I needed to escape.
Moving quickly from the artificially lit hotel to bright early morning sunshine, I squinted, shielding my eyes from the stabbing light and headed down the long drive to the main road. Looking around, I realised that walking wasn't going to be easy. The infrastructure was clearly designed for vehicles and not pedestrians. My route was dictated by footpath availability.
I walked with purpose, coming across an open grassy area after ten minutes or so. There, I dropped onto a concrete bench, the seat left cold by the cloaking branches of a nearby tree. Resting my chin in my hands, I watched the early morning traffic rumble past, the volume slowly building as time drifted on.
Hazy recollections of the two previous nights were flicking in and out of my mind: Jenny's sparkling eyes, lots of laughter and fun, too much alcohol, goodnight kisses that lingered longer than they should have and the peep show to end all peep shows. The image of my scantily-clad 'associate guide' (as she'd been dubbed by the movie studio I was working for) pleasuring herself, knowing fully that I was watching, was a difficult image to shake.
Despite Jenny's assurances that what I'd done was no worse than jacking off to a porn film, I wasn't so sure. I couldn't get her out of my head, and for a married man whose wife was so far away, that wasn't a healthy thing.
Running both hands over my face in frustration, I couldn't help but laugh. How did I get myself into this? There was no need for my wife Susan to find out what had happened, because technically, nothing had happened. I'd just have to live with the guilty conscience for a few days and behave myself. Ideally, it would have helped to stay away from Jenny for a few days, but that wouldn't be possible. Tonight I was going to get my first real taste of Hollywood: an all-star party with Shannen Doherty, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise on the guest list, and Jenny had the invites.
I was only interested in Shannen, especially as she was on my "Wife-Approved-List-Of-Celebrities-I-Can-Fuck". Either way, it would be too much fun to miss. I thought about how I'd break the news to Susan if it actually happened. 'Hi Suzie, it's me. You're never gonna believe this but I've just given Shannen Doherty one from behind!'
A truck driver blasted his horn angrily, making me jump and bringing me back to the real world. I shook my head vigorously and sighed, wishing Susan were sitting beside me.
"Hey, you think you got problems sir? Well look at me!"
I glanced up to see a scruffy old man, his arms opened wide, smiling at me. He looked like he hadn't had a bath in a year. His white Santa-style beard was tatty and unkempt, his green jacket ripped and grubby, and his face heavily weathered and wrinkled.
"Spare me a couple of bucks for a drink and I'll happily sit and listen to your problems. See if I can come up with any solutions for you."
I didn't ask what kind of drink he was looking for but I guessed it wouldn't be a cup of tea. Pulling out a roll of notes from my trouser pocket, I peeled off a five-dollar bill. It was all Monopoly money to me. "I'll pass on the advice thanks," I grinned, handing over the money.
His smile grew wider. "God bless you young man. A true English gentleman; who'd have thought it!" He scratched his beard, examining the note with glee. "My great, great grandfather was born in Ireland. May you have the luck of the Irish!" Rubbing the top of my head as if to bestow some magical good fortune on me, he proceeded on his way, whistling some tuneful little ditty.
Slowly, I got to my feet thinking I'd already had all the luck of a lifetime in just the past five years, smiling to myself just thinking about it.
* * * * *
The day's meetings were a bit of a drag. I had to listen to more classical film scores and I was struggling with it. It was as alien to me as the British rock music I'd selected was to the film studio. At least they'd accepted one of the songs I'd chosen ('Signs' by Blameless) but they were 'continuing to assess' the rest of my original choices. It would have helped if the execs and producers weren't all dinosaurs. Some young ears to match those of the cinema-going audience would have made all the difference, but I kept my opinions to myself and quietly got on with my 'work'.
Jenny popped in about three in the afternoon to say 'hi', and let me know she'd be round for me at eight. We arranged to meet in my hotel bar. I got a whiff of her enticing perfume as she turned to go, immediately reminding me of our gentle goodnight kiss. Life was never simple.
At nine o'clock sharp, Jenny and I arrived at the Wallender Mansion, Beverly Hills. Linking her arm with my own, we scaled the steps together and were greeted at the top of our climb by two curt henchmen. As we joined the back of a small queue of couples, I busily searched the crowd for anyone famous, almost immediately feeling a tug on my arm as Jenny herded us towards a glamorous middle-aged woman.
"Good evening." Her voice was a strange mixture of aristocratic English and American drawl. "Do you have your invitations sir?"
Jenny opened her handbag, producing the not-too-subtle invites.
"Thank you Ma'am. Have a nice evening." She left us with a rehearsed smile before reeling off her stock greeting for the next guests.
The size of the entrance hall was overwhelming. A mock Greek Palace spread out beyond it, gold trimmed walls of ivory creating a backdrop for ancient naked statues and tall pillars encircled by ivy. The artwork was authentic and most of the paintings were huge. I half expected everyone to be wearing togas.
Taking two glasses of champagne, we made our way between a sentry of massive columns and into the main room. It had a balcony at the far end overlooking the gathering crowds. Several guests had already congregated up there, apparently enjoying their elevated position. To the right was an opening leading out to an Olympic sized swimming pool, complete with diving boards. There must have been five hundred people milling around, maybe more. A crowd of guests were outside chatting at the poolside, coolly drinking their champagne and nibbling at canapé's. Like me, the men were in tuxes, the women stuffed and sewn into expensive designer dresses, every shape, colour and possible configuration of silk, satin and velvet livened the ivory halls. The music was soft and low, the loudest sound the background white-noise of conversations overlaying one another.
"Fuck me," I whispered.
"Stay cool," Jenny said calmly. "Remember, no embarrassing me. You promised."
Grabbing my hand briefly, she squeezed gently, probably guessing that I felt out of my depth and awkward. The place just screamed 'glitz!' and I figured I was the only person there who didn't have a tan.
"Come on, there's Kyle Lovenz," said Jenny excitedly, tugging at my arm again.
"Mandalay Bay. You must get that in the UK surely?"
"If we do I've never seen it. What is it?"
"A soap opera. Kyle's plays a doctor. He was up for a part in Death Train six months or so ago but didn't get the part. I hung out with him for a few days."
The psuedo-doctor was all false smiles and hair gel as we approached, holding his arms open for Jenny as if she were a long lost relative. His date looked unimpressed as Jenny flung her arms round him, smiling profusely.
"Jenny darling, it's been too long."
Breaking from Dr Charm's grasp, Jenny turned to introduce me. "This is Russ Harrison. UIP are in the process of turning his first novel into a film."
Kyle gave me a quick glance but left my offered handshake hanging. I felt like pushing the ignorant sod back down the stairs but kept my cool for Jenny's sake. She didn't seem to notice his rudeness, instead cocking her head and listening to his ridiculous diatribe on the state of the movie industry.
I introduced myself to Kyle's date but her handshake was weak, her voice plummy and lifeless. She obviously wasn't interested in chatting and looked around, bored as she lit a cigarette stuck into the end of a gold holder. I'd had enough and whispered to Jenny that I was going over to get Arnie's autograph.
She looked sufficiently worried, excusing herself and kissing Kyle on the cheek quickly before chasing after me down the stairs.
"Russ, slow down," she panted. "You can't go round asking for autographs here."
"What a wanker!" I exclaimed as she caught up to me.
Laughing, she tried to make light of the situation. "It's so funny you English say that!"
"How can you be so nice to someone so false? If I hadn't been with you I'd have had a right go at the ignorant twat."
Arriving at the bottom of the stairs, she lowered her voice, looking around to make sure no one was listening.
"Calm down Russ. He's not the only one like that. I just get on with it because it's my job and it doesn't pay to make enemies. I don't like the guy any more than you, but I have to be professional."
"There's being professional Jenny and then there's ignoring the fact that someone has been rude to your friend. At least I thought we were friends. I can see I'm no different to you than any of the others." I was as angry at myself as I was at Jenny. I knew I was acting like a spoiled brat.
"Hey, that's not fair..."
I didn't hear the rest as I headed off toward the pool, Jenny's voice fading into the distance as I pushed my way through the throngs, wondering if I should just take myself back to the hotel. I reached the pool area only to turn and see Jenny marching after me, her face red, her eyes looking ready to explode from her skull. I looked around for a quiet spot in which to get this over with and spotted Arnold Schwarzenegger coming toward me.
He was smiling and nodding at people as he went on his way, getting underplayed looks in return from everyone trying to stay cool. Glancing back at Jen, I went straight for him, just catching the look of horror on her face. I thrust my hand up to give him a high five, equally relieved and surprised when he happily returned the greeting, smacking my hand with his own enormous palm.
"What's up man," he said in his distinctive voice as he carried on past me.
I suddenly felt a lot better. I waited for Jenny to catch up, her flushed face returning to a more normal shade as I grinned at her.
"I just gave Arnie a high five," I whispered to her.
"You big kid," she giggled, aiming a punch to my arm.
"Sorry," I offered.
"Me too. You're right. I shouldn't have ignored that. He was rude."
"Okay, let's forget it then."
The next hour we spent pleasantly drinking, eating and mingling with Jenny's peers, movie producers and more amiable and recognisable actors than Kyle bloody Lovenz. The hour passed too quickly, the only downer being that for all my furtive glancing around the crowds of people, I hadn't seen Shannen Doherty. I moaned audibly as Kyle appeared from nowhere and gave Jenny a playful slap across the bum.
"Fancy a dip Jen?" he asked, grinning toothily.
The pool had been empty all night and it was immensely tempting to ensure Kyle was the one doing the first swim – fully clothed.
"Not tonight Kyle," she smiled back politely, looking at me uncomfortably as I was shaking my head.
"Well, we never finished our conversation darling so I bought you some more champers over." His flushed face and slurred words made it obvious that he'd already had more than enough. "Why don't you get Rob here to go fetch us some nibbles?"
Jenny put her hand on my clenched fist before I had time to use it. "His name is Russ, Kyle, and I'm sure you're capable of getting your own food if you're hungry."
He wasn't even listening. His eyes were focused behind us, lighting up excitedly. Jenny and I turned round at the same time to see a beaming Shannen Doherty walking right towards us. I couldn't believe it. I was happy and sad all at the same time. Why did she have to know this idiot?
"Shannen baby!" he gushed as she got to within three feet of us.
Her reply sent a warm fuzzy feeling reverberating around my body. "Do I know you?" she said cuttingly.
"Err, you've probably seen me on TV?" he tried weakly. "Kyle Lovenz."
She shook her head at him and then turned to me. "You're Russ Harrison right?"
Trying not to appear too shocked, I managed a dry throated, "Yes. Shannen baby right?" I added quickly taking her hand and shaking it firmly.
She chuckled. It was a familiar laugh but a surreal experience hearing it first hand. I looked at Jenny thinking she must have had something to do with it, but she just shrugged her shoulders and gave me a puzzled look.
"I just wanted to come over and say how much I enjoyed your book. I hear UIP have picked it up. Best thing they'll have done in ages if they get it right."
"Thanks. Thanks a lot. Sorry, I didn't get your surname."
"Dohert..." she saw the grin on my face and laughed again. This was unbelievable. Shannen Doherty knew who I was and I'd made her laugh. Twice!
"I couldn't agree more," Kyle chipped in. "It'll be interesting to see the finished movie. It was a great book."
I couldn't believe the nerve of the guy.
"Who was your favourite character and which actor would you choose for the part?" asked Jenny looking at Kyle.
"Err, well, the leading lady, forget her name but I think Shannen here would do a great job."
"Sarah Sheridan? You think I'd make a good Sarah Sheridan?" asked Shannen.
Kyle looked worried now. "Well, err, maybe you'd be better as the other one."
"Which other one?" she asked.
"Well, no, I'll stick with my first assessment," he mumbled looking embarrassed.
I just stood back, chuckling to myself. Maybe there was a god after all.
Jenny either decided to take pity on him or just get him away from us. "Come on Kyle, let's go and look for those nibbles you were talking about."
He didn't argue, saying nothing as he followed Jenny back into the main room, still oblivious to the fact that Sarah Sheridan was the fifty six year old mother of the kidnapper in my story.
"What a jerk!" laughed Shannen. "Not a friend of yours is he?" she added.
"No. No way. He was a jerk!"
We both laughed and then nervously sipped at our champagne. My mind was racing. I didn't want to blow it. I needed to say something, anything and was relieved when we started speaking in unison, laughing again as Shannen twisted cutely on her heels.
"No go on, you first." She said coyly.
"Do you read much?" The question sounded lame and I thought I might as well have said 'Do you come here often?'
"Sure. Crime stuff and thrillers mainly," she answered kindly. "You know, James Patterson, Jeffery Deaver, James Lee Burke and another British writer I like is Ian Rankin."
"That's a quality ensemble, although I think Burke is over rated."
"Yeah, not my cup of tea." She looked surprised and I thought I better change the subject before she took offence at me questioning her taste. "So what were you going to say?"
She didn't have time to answer as two giggling blondes passed us wearing sleek cocktail dresses. "Hi Shando," they said in unison, not stopping to chat. She raised her eyes before focusing her attention back to me.
"I just wondered who you were with tonight. Is your wife here?"
It was my turn to look surprised. I actually wondered if I had 'I am Married!' tattooed across my forehead. "No, she had important meetings to take care of back home. She was hoping to come out and join me this week but the meetings didn't go so well and so she's stuck back in England I'm afraid."
"That's too bad. She's very beautiful."
"You mind if I ask how you know so much about me?" I laughed, attempting to keep it light.
"Your website," she replied before taking another sip of her champagne, looking up to gauge my reaction. "When I get into things, I really get into them. There wasn't much info in the book about you and I wanted to know more."
"Wow. I'm flattered." I was also sure that I was blushing. I wanted to give her some gushing praise back but didn't want to sound like every other fan she must run into on a daily basis. My brain seemingly stopped to function and I blurted, "You look stunning tonight."
"Only tonight?" she joked.
"Well I'm not sure how you shape up at seven in the morning after a rough nights sleep," I shot back.
"Looking to find out?" She was twisting on her toes again, her head tilted slightly.
I pinched myself and it hurt. I wasn't dreaming. Shannen Doherty was actually flirting with me. "Maybe," I said feeling stupid and sheepish.
Rescuing me from my blushing hell and another awkward silence was my ringing cell phone. I was tempted not to answer but only UIP, Jenny and Susan had my number. I excused myself from Shannen, half turning away. I was relieved when it didn't look like she was going anywhere and said a curt "Hello," into the mouthpiece.
"It's me!" screamed my wife's excited voice.
"Susan," I said turning my back further on Shannen and whispering loudly into the phone. "What's up?"
"We signed the deal yesterday Russ," she said, obviously thrilled. "Gordon's extremely happy. So much so in fact that he gave me a few days off."
"Not only that, but I'm here!"
"Here? Here where?" I looked round just in case she'd been watching my flirting performance from the other side of the pool.
"LA! I just got in! There's been a delay with the bags but I should be out of here in an hour! Where shall I tell the taxi to take me?"
"I'm staying at the Bel Air." I glanced at my watch. "I'm at a party but I could be there to meet you at eleven."
"Whenever honey. You enjoy yourself. Just remember what's going to be waiting for you when you get back." She whispered the next bit. "I got some new lingerie at the airport in Manchester."
I wanted to tell her I was talking with Shannen Doherty but didn't want to blow my cool. "Okay Susan. I love you. See you soon." I put the phone back in my pocket and turned back to face Shannen. She was still there, her smile radiating out from amongst the poolside clique.
"Yeah, sorry about that. Would you believe she's just landed at LAX? I'm not sure which I'm most surprised and happy about. Meeting you or hearing that my wife's in town!"
"That's nice. Most guys I meet wouldn't give a fuck about their wives. Not that I'm in the habit of meeting up with married men."
I laughed. "Thanks. You want some more champagne?"
"Thanks, but I can't. I'm driving and I was actually thinking of heading off soon."
"That's too bad. It was great meeting you. I mean really great. You're even more beautiful in real life." So much for my cool persona.
It was Shannen's turn to blush and she took a deep breath before speaking. "I don't suppose you fancy coming back with me do you? We could pick your wife up on the way and hang out at my place for the evening. I get quite lonely out there sometimes." I paused not quite sure what to say. "I have a nice room made up the two of you could use if that's what you're worried about," she added hopefully.