Henry got into his car and drove down his dusty driveway. His neighbor, an elderly man was slowly walking to the communal mailbox near the end of the driveway. Henry slowed down and waived at him.
“How’s it going Mr. Kelly?” He asked with a smile
“I’m good Henry.” He replied, looking through his mail.
“Always nice to see you.” Henry said as he pulled out onto the road.
Henry arrived at the Uptown Park Diner, a small restaurant just outside of town. He entered through the front door. The hostess greeted him, but he looked into the dining room and saw Elaina waiving at him and walked over the table. They were in the middle of the set of booths and there was a low glass divider separating them from the other row of booths. Henry sat down across from her under the bright fluorescent spotlight hanging over the table.
“Hi Henry.” Elaina said.
“Hi Elaina. You look n… You look normal like-like you normally do.” Henry stammered
Elaina gave him an odd glance, then she said “So I’ve been reading the script and I’ve identified some parts that can be improved.”
“Alright, let me hear it.” Henry replied excitedly. Elaina opened the script to page 5.
“Ok, first off… I don’t get this line at all. Criminal 1 says ‘buzz off copper, I have a permit for this.’ Then Lawnmower cop says ‘Permit denied, punk.’ Then he… Stabs him in the eye with hedge trimmers?” Elaina said incredulously.
“Again, it’s an action movie.” Henry answered
“It’s dumb and it makes no sense.”
“What can I say, I’m a simple writer. I’m like Tolstoy.”
“Tolstoy was not simple. It took him 1200 pages to say war sucks. Also, did you just compare yourself to one of the greatest writers of the 19th century?” Elaina replied
“Obviously not, I wasn’t alive in the 19th century.” Henry yelled
The two sat in silence for a moment and then Henry said “I’m sorry. Elaina. How do suggest I change it?” he asked
“I’m going to go to the restroom before we order then we can talk.” Elaina stood up and walked out of the booth towards the back of the restaurant. Immediately, Namoira appeared from over the median.
“What the… When did you get here?” Henry said, surprised
“Oh, I’ve been here the whole time just observing those sparks positively flying.” She said sardonically.
“oh ha-ha. So, I’ve been wondering, can other people see you? Is this like Chaos at the Cabaret rules where only I can see you or is this like Toy Story rules…”
“Everyone can see me, but I’ve done my best to blend in with mortals.” Namoira answered.
“Well you’ve done an excellent job of that… You look like somebody who’s been through 3 copies of Welcome to the Black Parade.” Henry retorted, mocking her pale skin and black lipstick.
“Are we going to work on your relationship with this lovely young lady or what?”
“This isn’t going to happen Namoira. We’re too different and it seems like she’s moved on.” Henry said in resignation. The waitress stopped by to pour some water into Henry’s glass. He took a drink and looked at Namoira.
“Nonsense, we just have to ratchet up the romance a bit.” Namoira clapped twice and the lights were lowered. The quiet classical music suddenly changed to Enrique Iglesias’ Hero. Elaina emerged from the back of the restaurant just as the chorus started playing. She sat down at the table and started flipping through the script again.
“Look, the line isn’t that bad. We just need to change ‘buzz off copper’ to something else like “Get lost pig” something edgier. Nobody says get lost copper anymore, it’s not 1934.” She said
“Well, I’m sorry I don’t know how this generation of 20-year olds talks.” Henry replied
“Henry, you’re 26. You’re from the same generation.” Elaina said exasperated. The waitress came to take their order, and after they were done, the pair began talking again.
“So, how have you been?” Henry asked
“Henry, you said this would only be about business.” Elaina replied
“C’mon Elaina. I know you’re trying to be professional but we don’t have to act like we’ve never met each other.”
Elaina sighed and rearranged her utensils around her end of the table.
“I’ve been ok, I guess. My job is pretty stressful. I just feel like it’s not what I should be doing.” She continued
“Why don’t you go back to acting?” Henry suggested
“Why bother? I’ll never make a serious living doing it. It’s just a non-stop grind that isn’t worth it. Besides, the reason I’m even out here is because I moved to Hollywood to be an actress. Now that’s starting to seem like a dumber and dumber decision.”
“C’mon Elaina. You wanna talk about dumb decisions? I have a degree in English. That means I spent 80,000 dollars to have somebody tell me to read Charles Dickenson and then I didn’t do it.” Henry replied. Elaina chuckled and took a sip of her drink. “Besides, you’re a great actress Elaina. I’m not just saying that because you’re my friend either.”
Elaina smiled and said “Thanks Henry. You always seem to know what to say.”
She looked down at the table, unfolded her napkin and placed it on her lap. Out of the corner of his eye, Henry saw a rose being extended over the partition. He slapped it away before Elaina looked up. The rose wilted in Namoira’s hand as she made it disappear.
“Is that the faint scent of decaying roses I smell? Is that you Namoira, or is it just the depressing aroma this world always has?” A voice said from the other side of the table. Out of nowhere, a tall, stunning woman with deep green eyes and golden olive skin appeared and took a seat next to Namoira. Her flowing black hair dark as wine fell off her shoulders and down around her back.
“Look if you’re here to mock me Aara, then I can assure you nothing you say can be any more embarrassing than what they think constitutes a cake here.” Namoira replied holding up her plate with one pancake on it.
“Mock you, oh heavens no sweetheart. You seem to forget that I was against this punishment in the first place. What’s a god to do if we can’t intervene in the lives of mortals anyway?” Aara smirked. She talked in a very measured and slow, sultry voice. “I think you need a little help from the goddess of love baby. You’re about as romantic as your profession would suggest.” Aara had her arm around Namoira, much to Namoira’s discontent.
“How many people fornicate at funerals. I believe my profession is quite romantic thank you very much.” Namoira angrily as she shrugged Aara’s arm off of her.
“I’m sorry love, I just can’t see you as the romantic type. At least let me point you in the right direction. For starters, stop being so vindictive.”
“I’m the goddess of death, not all of our jobs can be cupcakes and rainbows like yours. And I am most certainly not vindictive.” A server walked by and Namoira stopped him with her staff.
“Servant, I demand another one of these… Mimosas. And you better make it quick or I will turn your entire pathetic bloodline into nothing but dust!” she yelled, pointing the staff at him.
“Y-yes. R-right away m’am.” The server said, his voice quivering. Aara gave Namoira a concerned glance.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that.” Namoira said insulted “You spend most of your time inciting orgies.”
“Just let me help. I’m sure I can at least get the ball rolling.”
“Fine. Just… Nothing too much. We want them to reconnect, not a Romeo and Juliet situation.”
Aara leaned over the dividing glass and waived her hand. Pink and gold sparkles fell out of them and landed on Henry and Elaina’s food.
“I think my job is done here. As much as I want to stay, I’ve got plenty of love to create elsewhere.” Aara said hopefully. “In India right now, two people in a loveless arranged marriage are about to find out they have so much in common and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” she added excitedly. She kissed Namoira on the cheek, leaving a dark red mark, then disappeared. The server came back with Namoira’s drink. He placed it on the table then turned around to leave. He stopped and reversed his course.
“Um… If you don’t mind, do you think you can give your friend my number for me?” He asked
“You call this a cake?” Namoira said, holding out the plate and ignoring the request. “Yeah, take it and piss off will ya’?” she threw the plate at his feet and whacked him over the head with her staff as he backed away.
Henry and Elaina continued to work on the script as they ate their food. The two stayed for another hour or so working on the screenplay. Finally, they got up and decided to part ways.
“Well, thank you so much for helping me with this. I’m excited to take your suggestions and make this the best damn movie about a cop who kills people with gardening trawls the world has ever seen.” Henry said with a slight grin. Elaina laughed and said “Thanks for taking the time to work on the script.”
“It was nice to see you.” She added.
“Yeah, it was nice to see you too.” Henry smiled. They turned away from each other and Henry called to her.
“Hey, I shouldn’t ask you this but… I’m going to a party this Friday night at Bergwynn Bruckner’s house. I think it would be a good chance to pitch the script. I’d love you to be my plus one.”
“Wait, Bergwynn Bruckner, like the Austrian avant garde filmmaker?” Elaina asked incredulously
“Yeah, he said he wants me to take a look at a script he’s been working on.” Henry replied
“What the hell. Sure, I’ll go.” Elaina answered “I don’t get to go to fancy Hollywood parties often.”
“Great. I’ll call you or-“ Henry paused to gain his composure “I’ll call you tomorrow and give you the details.”
“Alright sounds good. See you around.” Elaina said with a smile, turning to leave for her car.