Crash and Burn


Usual Words. This story is a work of fiction, no inference with real people or events is intended. You must be 18 to read this story. If your not, just read it anyway. You might learn something.

Feedback and constructive criticism would be nice. I can’t get better at this unless you guys give me some input. The address is



Within a second the body was pushed off the ledge, the wooden decking shattered and the person landed on the blue crash mats below, blonde hair splaying everywhere.

The fury in the director’s voice was evident as he shouted cut, and I knew what was coming next.

“We’re going again tomorrow morning, this shot has to be perfect, rig it up again.”

He said with a sideways stare at me, daring me to contradict him.

Matching his expression I turned back towards the exit and the workshops, not looking forward to the lads’ expressions when I told them it would be overtime tonight.

As I exited the sound stage, Kirsten Dunst climbed off the support rig and looked apologetically at the director.

“Sorry, I’ll get it right next time”

“No problem Kirsten” replied Jeremy.


Contemplating a late night at the office I marched across the car park, my mood not improved after being asked for ID by the security guards. I couldn’t really blame them; I must have looked a right tramp in a donkey jacket and trousers covered in oil and grease.

At 6:05 I entered the machine shop and went to the staff room to find my crew. Only 6 men, but we produce the work of 60. I put on my best apologetic face.

“Sorry guys, they want to go again first thing, we need to have another unit ready by then.” I braced myself for the backlash.

Pissed off faces greeted me.

“Boss, that’s a 3 hour job, its already gone 6:00, and the match is on later.”

I tried to put a positive spin on the crap situation

“Yeah and if we hurry we might get back for the second half. So lets get a move on guys.”

You might think creating a wooden deck for someone to fall through is easy. Think again. In film world we have to defy the laws of physics, so instead of debris falling inwards towards the point of impact, it has to fall in a nice circle around the actress, in this case Kirsten Dunst, who had just caused me major problems after failing 3 times to get the take the director wanted. I mildly considered adapting the next platform to withstand the impact and at least hurt her back, maybe repaying for some of the wasted time she’d caused me.

In this scene she was being pushed off the top of a building, crashing through a support structure and plummeting to her death. However, the crash mats would stop her after 5 feet, and a stuntwomen would do the rest somewhere in London.

We finished the new unit at 8:45, and I told the rest of the lads to get off home while I locked up for the night. Surveying the deserted workshop I couldn’t help but feel that my first time in charge of the Manufacturing and Special Effects unit was jinxed. I’d already encountered failed engines, more repair bills that you could shake a stick at, and a particularly annoying director by the name of Jeremy Stanton. One of the up and coming British directors on the scene, out of the Sam Mendes mould this guy was something else. This was his first big action picture, the backers were pinning several millions on him and he knew success was vital. That pressure on him made him particularly hard to work with though.

This film slightly differed from the usual studio backed picture. A private British consortium had backed the film, the budget was estimated at around 40million. Snaring Kirsten Dunst was no mean feat and the publicity meant that the film was expected to big, hopefully the opposite of its title, “Crash and Burn”.

Noting the darkness outside I moved around the halls, switching the lights off, the final few casting a perfect silhouette of my frame onto the walls. I’m only 5’ 11’’ but physically stocky I was sure I could take Jeremy down if he ever pushed me to it, something he seemed determined to do. Running both hands across my face and through my short dark hair I tried to refocus on the task in hand.

As I backed out of the double door and fumbled with the latches I heard footsteps behind me, perfectly in time with the church bells just audible in the distance. Turning to greet my visitor I was somewhat surprised to see Ms Dunst, assuming that she would already be at her hotel for the night, comfortably watching TV while the rest of us were slaving away.

Before I could get any sort of question in she offered me her hand.

“Hi I’m Kirsten”

“Kevin”, I responded, giving the soft hand a light shake.

“You’re the guy I wanted to see”, she said.

“I understand that I’ve been causing the special effects department some extra work recently.”

With a small chuckle I added, “You could say that”.

She responded with a light laugh of her own. “Anyway, I just wanted to come over and apologise to your guys for making you work all this overtime”

I was quite stunned at this statement, in my few years on films I’d never known such an empathetic actress, mostly it’s a “them and us” scenario, with us being the brawn behind their brains. Totally untrue, but a believed fallacy anyway.

“Well, all the lads have gone home, but I’ll certainly pass on your words to them, I’m sure it will mean something to them, makes them feel appreciated. How come you’re still here, anyway, are they still shooting over there?

“No, they finished at 6, but I stayed behind to practise this stunt, I really don’t want to screw it up again. The crew are annoyed enough with me as it is.”

“Is this you’re first time on an action film?” I pressed

She looked at me with a quizzical expression before replying. “I did Spiderman last year, quite a big action film you know.

Ironically, even though I worked on films I wasn’t interested in them at all, hence I knew nothing of Kirsten’s career to date. Nothing of her even. I spoke.

“I’m not really into films, I’ll take you’re word for it though.”

Pausing, I asked. “Are you on your way out?

“Yeah, I’m just walking back to the car bay. My driver should be waiting.”

“My car’s out there too, may I walk you?”


Reaching the car park Kirsten looked around, a cross expression on her face.

“My driver’s gone,” she stated.

I wasn’t really interested in her plight, its not like she couldn’t wait a few minutes for a car. Typical actress, I thought, everything has to be perfect for her, if its not the toys come out of the pram.

“Why not just go back and call another one? I wanted to get home, and a whining actress was not included in my plans.

“I was the last person out, all the staff and crew have gone home.”

Out of Kirsten’s sight I turned my eyes to the sky, before making the required offer.

“Can I give you a ride to your hotel?”

“I suppose you’ll have to, I can’t exactly walk, can I? She snapped.

“Fine. What hotel are you staying at?

“Royal Dorchester, you know it?

“Yeah, its in the city isn’t it. Don’t expect any fancy transport though.” I tried to prepare her for seeing my car.


I suppose going 10 miles out of my way was worth it. Kirsten was a very beautiful woman, and while I wasn’t going to be all over her like a lovesick teenager, it would certainly make the journey more passable.

Leading her to the staff lot I tried to make light conversation.

“Some of the guys told me you’re nickname was Kiki. How did that come about?”

“In the press maybe. None of my friends call me that, for some reasons the media just invented it. I’m sick of hearing it”

Concluding that my efforts at small talk had failed miserably, I silently led her to the 4 x 4 in the corner of the lot.

I showed Kirsten to the passenger door of the Land Rover, interpreting her expression to mean that she was less than impressed with my transport.

I climbed into the drivers seat and explained.

“Its an old army surplus model, it ain’t pretty but it does the job. I suppose you’re used to travelling in limos and the like?”

“Something like that. Hey, its your car, just as long as its reliable.”

“Don’t worry, these things are bomb proof. That’s about all they are though, don’t expect a radio or anything”

Judging by her smile she didn’t believe me. A glance at the dashboard told her otherwise, and the expression swiftly faded.

As one might imagine, famous last words. Travelling down the local lanes back to the city the engine baulked, misfired and finally cut out going down the hill into the valley. Gently shaking my head, and avoiding Kirsten’s withering glance I got out, surveyed the smoking engine before me and silently resigned myself to another repair bill. I turned to Kirsten.

“This looks terminal, its getting dark and I don’t want to try and repair it tonight. My flat is only about a mile from here in the next village, we can go there and then you can call your hotel to send a car for you.” I tried my best to sound assertive.

“Yeah whatever. Lead the way” the clipped tone of her voice demonstrated her displeasure.

With that I retrieved my coat from the back of the car and began trudging into the darkness with Kirsten.


Reaching the flat just as the first spots of rain in a typical English day began to fall, I ushered Kirsten through the foyer and on into the main room. Having my hands busy hanging up my coat I gestured to the phone with a nod of my head.

“You know the number?”

Kirsten’s momentary pause and sheepish look were enough to answer me.

“Ring Directory Enquires. 192. Just ask for the Dorchester Hotel in Marlborough.”

Kirsten set about the simple task as I walked past her into the main room, switching the lights on as I went. Pausing to glace out of the window I noticed the thunderstorm brewing in the quiet countryside, and then heard the rain come down a little heavier on the glass. I pulled the blind down, cursing the broken sash that made the job harder.

I moved into the bedroom, quickly pulling off my work jacket and tossing it on the bed, releasing an oath as all the loose tools spilled out of the unfastened pockets. My mood steadily worsening, I pulled a clean sweater from the drawer and put it on, aware of the cold, damp air in the flat.

Exiting the bedroom I found Kirsten had completed her call and was perusing the volumes scattered on the coffee table, waiting to question me about them.

“Bit of a poetry fan are you?”

“Some of its quite good, there are a few nice ones in those books.”

I’m no connoisseur, but I thought I had good taste in reading material.

Kirsten selected a book at random and began to quote.

“Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay”

She paused, so I completed

“And early though the laurel grows,

It withers quicker than the rose.”

She laughed half heartedly, a depressing sound for such a young woman.

“Kind of like the acting business eh? You can be everyone’s darling, but if they turn on you overnight you become a villain. It’ll happen to me soon.”

“You’re very wise for someone of your experience. A bit cynical even.” I was impressed by her grasp of human politics.

“As soon as you find out how this business works, you have to play by its rules, otherwise you’re going no - where fast.” Kirsten stated with a slightly wistful look on her face.

“I hate to ruin your theory about the poem, but Houseman was talking about what its like to grow up in the English countryside.”

Kirsten gave me a quizzical look. “Poetry talks about whatever metaphor you want it to be.”

Silently placing the poetry book on the table she picked up the photo frame that lay next to it. She examined it closely and then asked the obvious question.

“Who is it?”

I paused, considering whether to tell the truth.

“That was my wife Claire.”

Kirsten glanced at me, willing further explanation. “Was?” I turned away from her.

“She died in a car crash last year.” I didn’t want the pity, the sympathy. I tried to joke it off.

“You’re the first women I’ve had in here since.”

Kirsten didn’t appreciate the humour. Neither did I really, it was lame.

“You still suffer”

“What do you think?” a slight bit sharper than I intended, which immediately caused her to respond in kind.

“Your not the only one you know. I’ve lost people I’ve loved before”

“Then you’ll know I don’t want to talk about it.”

I continued before she had the chance to respond, making clear that the subject was closed.

“Did you call the hotel OK?”

“The switchboard was engaged, I’ll try again in a few minutes.”

I turned towards the table, holding aloft the two glasses that sat proudly on it. I offered Kirsten a drink, which she declined. I poured a bourbon for myself, and sat down in the sofa, motioning Kirsten to do the same.

Declining the sofa she sat in the easy chair, her eyes fixing on the damp patch in the ceiling, the trickle of water seeping in through the window pain. She followed it down the sill and watched it collect in the emesis basin.

“Not got the cash to fix that?” she asked, with eyebrows raised.

“Not exactly, no.” I looked at the floor.

“Come on, you must earn a fair bit for the film.” He disbelieving tones grated at me slightly.

“Not really, I’m on a temporary contract, I have to save the cash for the times I’m not working.”

“It can’t take much to fix a slight damp problem,” she persisted.

“300 quid. Might not seem like much to a rich American but to us regular folk it’s near a week’s wages.”

Kirsten gave me a strange look. I interpreted it as “what did I do to deserve that”. The truth was, nothing. But, having issued my gauntlet I could hardly blame her for responding.

“Don’t bring my money into this. I suffered too once you know.”

I didn’t resent Kirsten for what she had, I was just taking my mood out on her. I rose from the sofa, Kirsten did likewise, silently prodding me to challenge her.. The aggression in the room heightened, the effects of a long day were catching up with me, and I was about to take it out on Kirsten. I didn’t try to hide the sarcasm in my voice.

“Yeah, must have been hard growing up in Hollywood, all those opportunities, nice house, nice family.”

“I never had a father, I lived with my mother and 3 older brothers till I was 10. She ran off, abandoned us and we had to live with our grandparents, hand to mouth, the old fashioned way.”

Kirsten’s voice indicated her mood, I had crossed her line. Her jaw hardened as she paused and then continued.

”I’ve had to work fucking hard for what I’ve got. I won’t apologise for what I am, I’ve earned it. Maybe you should try doing the same instead of feeling sorry for yourself.

The insult ripped in to me like a knife, I was furious now, trying to push Kirsten’s buttons and get her to fight as low as I was. The rain reached its crescendo, matching the tempo of the argument.

“Yeah, we all know how easy it is to get into film, a blow job here, a quick flash there. I bet Jeremy was well satisfied after meeting with you.”

Her right hand moved with such speed that I had no chance to block the stinging slap to my left cheek. Ignoring the pain I instantly made a grab for her shoulder, simultaneously drawing my right hand back, aiming to punch her jaw. The thunder rolled outside, providing the perfect accompaniment to the scene in the room.

The sudden reaction caused her to try and shrink away, and the fear was evident in her eyes.

“For fucks sake Kevin, no”. she screamed

Time moved slowly until I realised what I was about to do. Fucking hell, I was about to hit a woman, never mind that it was Kirsten Dunst.

I released her from my grip and stepped back slowly, in a daze. Reaching the table I quickly poured another bourbon and drank it in one reflex action, before turning around.

Kirsten had not moved from the spot, the same wide eyed look of fear on her face, captured perfectly in the dull light of the room. I could do nothing but stare at her for several seconds before tentatively reaching for the sofa with one hand. Sinking slowly into it I was overcome with shame at what I had done. The only noise was the constant attack by the rain on the window panes. The calm after the storm.

“I’m sorry”, I managed to whisper. The bourbon was still burning my throat.

“I don’t know what I was doing, I mean, I’m not like that.”

Kirsten finally withdrew from her stupor and strode towards the window. Flinging up the shabby blinds she opened the window, as if trying to let the rooms’ tension out of the gap that she created.

I examined the empty glass in my hand, trying to show I was a non threatening presence in the room. I contemplated, my wife would be so ashamed of me, I had raised my hand to a woman, something a good man never does.

“You wouldn’t have done it. You couldn’t have hit me.”

Resisting the challenge to prove her wrong I settled for trying to gain a little knowledge.

“How do you know?”

“You’re not like that, you just lost it for a moment.”

I smiled grimly. “You think you know me?”

“No, but I’m a good judge of men”

I tried again to apologise, the words caught in my throat. I saw Claire in front of me. What must she think? Her husband was an animal.

Kirsten sensed my emotional weak point.

“Look, I know you must have had a pretty crap day. I have as well. Lets not take it out on each other.”

I shrugged. “Look, we don’t know each other. I just happened to try and help you out, so lets just forget about this argument and you can get back to your hotel. When we meet at work in the morning none of this will have happened.

I didn’t see Kirsten’s playful expression with my back turned. The next sensation I felt was her arms wrapping around my back.

“Maybe I don’t want to go back to the hotel. You see Kevin, when I get angry, I get horny. As if to emphasise her statement she ran her hands over my chest.

“I can’t do anything about that at the hotel, but here. Well, that’s a different matter.” She continued, the trace of sexual aggression evident in her voice.

I pulled away from her. “I’m not interested, really. Look, go and ring the hotel again.

Kirsten’s surprised and somewhat angry face would have been funny in any other circumstances. It was obvious she was not used to rejection. In a way I was surprised at myself. 10 years ago if a hot actress had presented herself to me I would have been on top of her in an instant, but at the age of 27 and a wife still very much on my conscience I just wasn’t interested.

I took another drink, aware of the alcohol beginning to cloud my vision and judgement. I began to look at the situation again. Maybe fucking Kirsten wasn’t a bad idea, why shouldn’t I inject a few cheap thrills into my dull routine of life?

I hadn’t seen Kirsten plotting her next move, but she seemed to sense my lapse in concentration.

Kirsten pushed me backwards against the wall, forcing herself onto my lips, trying desperately to deepen the kiss. I couldn’t think, the alcohol had clouded my brain. I saw her in my mind. My wife. Beautiful Claire, I shouldn’t do this to her, our memory must be kept special.

Kirsten carried on regardless, oblivious to my turmoil, and was trying to pull my shirt from my trousers. I pushed her away from me, just trying to catch my breath in the spinning room.

“I can’t do this, I mean, you’re a nice girl. But it’s not right, I’m married”

Her face took on a hard line. “You were married. If you don’t let go now when will you? You’ll continue like this forever, living in self pity.”

She was good, she knew exactly what buttons to press. The trouble was though, they worked. Her prophetic words somehow got through to me. Maybe this was the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I could start to rebuild if I did this.

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