“I’m sending you to Alaska.”
The next morning, Roberta glares at me from behind her desk. The expression is one hundred percent do not fuck with me, and I resent it to the core of my being. If anyone’s been fucked with, it’s me.
“You’re lucky it’s not somewhere farther,” she says. “After your outburst last night, the studio is very unhappy. A bar fight with your director is not the kind of publicity they want right now.”
“It wasn’t a bar fight. He was being a drama queen. And I’m not exactly tap dancing for joy either.” In fact, I’m pacing on the rug. Sitting still is impossible. My whole body feels electric with anxiety.
“Yes, but you don’t stand to lose three hundred million dollars when this film flops. The premiere weekend box office numbers aren’t good.”
“That’s not my fault. If they hired someone who knew how to write dialogue better than a middle schooler, we’d be in much better shape.”
“That may be.” She knows as well as I do the script for Shadow League 4 was written and rewritten by no less than nine people over the last two years. Over the course of a bloated nearly-three-hour final cut, my character, supposedly a mafia son out for revenge, had done everything from drive a tank through the jungle to perform open-heart surgery on his assassin girlfriend while they were hiding out from the bad guys on a glacier. It was nonsensical. “But you calling your director a—” She glances down at a legal pad on her desk. “—talentless prick jockey in front of the entire world means it’s easy enough to pin the failure on you. And then you decide to pick a fight with him at a dive bar.”
“How many times do I have to tell you it wasn’t a fight? He made it—”
She cuts me off. “And that, in turn, will make it very difficult for you to work on any future franchises at this level again. How badly do you want to keep your job, Damian?”
She’s right. It’s already starting. The headlines this morning when I checked them still included recaps from the Cannes incident, but also featured new eye-catching questions like Damian Marshall in Barroom Brawl and Is it Time to Cancel Damian Marshall?
I sink into a chair. “Hawaii is farther. I could go to Hawaii.”
Unfortunately, though, Roberta is bulletproof. She’s been around the block too many times to be swayed by my appeal. Instead of melting and booking me a jet to Honolulu, she arches a perfectly plucked eyebrow—quite the feat considering Roberta’s face hasn’t moved in at least the last thirty years—and says, “Would you rather it be North Dakota?”
I cross my arms over my chest. “No need to say hurtful things like that. I thought we were friends.”
“I’m never friendly with the talent. Wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea about how this relationship works.”