Trashed / Page 49

Page 49


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I get an elbow on the top of the train car, and then the other one. Now I can move myself forward and get my feet under me. The pace car is bouncing along beside the train, and the AD is waving his arm in circles. We’re still rolling.

Ahead of me, Israel Price-Vickers runs across the top of the train, oblivious to what’s just happened. He’s got an AK-47 slung around his back, blanks loaded in the clip. He’s the villain, the one I’m supposed to catch. I’m supposed to be running behind him. I have to catch him. The fact that Presley hasn’t cut yet tells me he may just go with this take, if I can get moving. I suck in a breath and wince at the lance of pain in my chest, put a hand to my ribs, and force myself into a run. Each step hurts, but I’ve played with worse. I bury the pain, growl through it, push myself into a sprint. Israel glances back at me, and pours on the speed. I leap the space between train cars, and now there’s only one car-length between us. Israel doesn’t stand a fucking chance. Even with bruised ribs I can still run him down like a dog.

We pass the marker; a telephone pole with a red ‘X’ spray-painted across the wood, telling us the next phase of the scene is coming. When we see the next X-marked pole, I’m going to tackle Israel and we’re going to fly through the air and onto a huge stunt pad.

Except, if the train’s moving faster, we’re going to miss the landing. In the choreography, Israel spins at the last second and topples backward to absorb the impact of my tackle. That’s not going to work now. Israel doesn’t know the train is moving faster than it’s supposed to, or what that means for the scene.

So I push myself harder. I see the marked pole, and the pad, and it’s a lot closer than it’s supposed to be.

I dig deep, and force myself to the limits of my physical capability. Israel doesn’t see me coming, isn’t ready for the tackle.

Six feet.

Four.

And then I’m flying through the air, diving at Israel, slamming into him. The butt of the AK-47 bites into my ribs, but I can’t do anything except absorb the pain. Israel is in my arms, twisting, thrashing, and then as we hit the stunt pad the rifle jabs me again, further damaging my ribs.

“What the fuck, Adam?” Israel is rolling away from me, bouncing on the huge, inflated pad and onto the ground. He stumbles, tosses the rifle aside and grabs his side, leaning over and wincing like a pussy. “That’s not the fucking choreography, you asshole! What the hell were you doing?”

“Saving your ass, and the scene,” I growl, sliding gingerly to the ground.

Presley is here, hopping out of his golf cart and rushing for me. “Holy shit, holy shit! That was epic!”

“You need to fire that fucking train engineer,” I bark. “He had that piece of shit train going way faster than it’s supposed to be.”

“I know, I know,” Presley says, waving a hand dismissively. “But he’s union, nothing we can do except yell at him. You stuck it, though, and that scene works so much better this way! It makes your character seem that much more human and believable! I can’t believe it! That was absolutely wonderful! Take five, everyone!”

I lift up my shirt, and see that a massive bruise is already purpling across my torso. “How about I take the day, Pres? Or the week, how about that? I almost died just now, or did you fucking miss that little fact?”

Presley winces and looks away. “Don’t be so dramatic, Adam. But yes, yes, fine, take till Tuesday. We’ve got some work to do for Israel’s next few scenes anyway, so we don’t really need you.” He waves at me. “And get that looked at. Need you tip-top for your next scene.” He lowers himself heavily into the golf cart, which settles significantly under his bulk. Presley Miller is not a small man.

I watch him go, and then the on-scene medical team is cutting my shirt away and probing my ribs. Bruised tissue and muscle, they say, but no breakage. They also tell me the thick layer of muscle kept me from sustaining any major injuries.

Why couldn’t I be a romantic comedy actor? Crack jokes and kiss hot chicks all day. Sounds good to me right about now.

They help me into another golf cart and drive me across the industrial landscape we’re using as a set. We’re somewhere in the wasteland of the industrial urban blight outside Detroit, filming a big-budget action movie, an all-original storyline and characters for once, which is pretty exciting in this age of remakes, reboots, and adaptations. We wrapped on Fulcrum 2 three months ago, and I’ve been working on this movie ever since. We’re filming the whole thing in and around Detroit, both for the post-apocalyptic feel of the abandoned warehouse districts and inner-city ghetto areas, and because the newly elected state governor instituted significant tax breaks for the film industry as a tactic to rejuvenate the struggling city.

My driver and bodyguard Oliver is waiting for me beside a sleek black Range Rover, and he drives me downtown to my rented apartment. I shower, change, and toss back some Motrin for the aches and pains, and then have Oliver drop me off at a local bar. I settle into a booth with my script, a pint, and a burger. I spend a couple hours slowly sipping beer and refreshing my lines for the next few scenes, and ignoring the buzzing bar around me.

Patrons come and go, a few recognizing me, but Oliver keeps them at bay.

And then I happen to glance up as I’m reciting a particularly tongue-twisty line under my breath, and happen to see a girl at a table adjacent to mine. She’s sipping a martini and flipping through a catalogue of some sort while she chats on the phone. There’s a place set across from her, so I’m guessing she’s waiting for someone. The girl herself doesn’t interest me, though, but the catalogue does. It’s for a clothing line, and what catches my eye are the models. Like the girl looking through the catalogue, all the models are curvier. Plus size, I guess the term would be. Although after knowing Des, I’ve stopped using that term; women are women, and are beautiful regardless of their shape or size or weight.

My heart clenches as I think of Des. She never called. Six months and not a word from her.

The girl flips the page and there she is. Des. In the catalogue. Tall, ink-black hair, beautiful, so beautiful, wearing a long, flowing blue dress and simple white sandals.

Without thinking, I leave my booth and slip into the empty seat across from the girl. She stares at me in irritation, and then she recognizes me. “Beth? I’ll—I’ll call you back.” She ends the call and sets the phone down. “Hi. Um. Hi?”


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