Chapter 4

"Ms. Hynes, I'd like you to meet Kevin Rouse."

He held a laid back yet stern attitude on his face while we shook hands. With a quick look in his eyes you could tell he was the type of man you'd never be friends with, but the type you always had to compromise with. He was one of those people whose very presence could make the happiest of smiles turn into the saddest of frowns. His presidential scuff hair stood on edge with the coloring of graying Jay Leno. It took awhile to place him. He wasn't a nerd, nor fit for celebrity. He looked like he was a hard worker, yet followed his passion. He seemed like the man that had been married for 20 years with two kids. He was the type that seemed normal to all, but a second glace uncovered a certain evil. Only one word could describe him. Republican. It's amazing how much you can tell just by looking at someone.

"Hello Mr. Rouse," I turned my head back to Ron. "Sounds like we have a little business to take care of." I smiled my fake grin as we all took our seats around the mahogany desk. This was probably one of the biggest meetings of my career. To be given a second job is suppose to be beyond all else. It was nothing like that. I had to strain my mind to the furthest just to stop thinking about Nikki. I'd been thinking about her all day. Leaving things on such a low note always sucks because you never know what that person was truly thinking. You never know what things are going on in the other's mind. I just wanted to hold her...I could only wish that she wanted the same thing.

"Well," Ron started. "Lets just start off with the basics."

"Okay," Rouse took over, turning to me. "I love writing, it's been my passion for years." I smiled an odd little smile at this comment. It looked like he had just passed up his 50th year and he had only been writing for a few years. I never understood people like this. Writing is the thing that throws you curveballs through puberty and leaves you hoping you can make a living out of it. But he had just started, like he got tired of choice number one and moved onto this. The sad thing was that he had honed his skilled enough to be praised. I've read things by people like him and they are amazing, until you read between the lines. There's always a message that shouldn't be reached. It's much better when they stick to the horror and basic mystery where we can wrap our minds around the basics and have no need to dig deeper. You always get the odd feeling that something is missing when they stray into the romantic or comedic area.

"It's a romantic comedy," he went on in irony. "I really think you'll enjoy it."

"Okay," I closed my eyes as my mind started to wander by everything that I wished I were doing instead of this. "I'm heading down to South Carolina for a while. I can probably look at the script while I'm down there."

"You taking a production vacation?" Ron cut in. "You know, most people go to London or Italy, not near the edge of Hillbilly Country."

I just smiled, "I've got family down there. It'd be nice to see them again after all these years." I hated lying, but there are times when some people don't need to know the truth.

Ron pulled a softbound pile of papers from his drawer. He flopped it on his ever-so-clean desk and slid it over to me.

"127 pages. We're expecting about two and a half hours from it." I stared at it with a disconnected awe. The Darkened Alley was 90 pages and about 100 minutes. It took 2 months of preparation, 2 months of filming and another month of postproduction. This was 50 minutes longer, which would drive the total time up past 9 months. It was a stretch even if you didn't add in the fact that romantic comedies usually failed if more than two hours.

"I'll start on it as soon as I can." The stress had now submerged me. I was here talking about nearly impossible business when I knew I should be a thousand miles south with Nikki. It was now 6pm. She was probably driving a Rent-A-Car to the house about now. I probably wouldn't be there till noon tomorrow. I just wanted to hold her. I didn't want to be here.

"Ms. Hynes," I pulled myself back to reality. "Make sure no one lays eyes on the script. You know how secretive we are around here." I nodded, not really caring or taking in anything he was saying. Ron turned backed to Rouse as my eyes faded out of focus. "I think that's about it. We'll give you a call in about two weeks." Ron turned back towards me. "If you don't mind, I'd like to talk to you about all the Postproduction stuff right now."

I strained to keep my eyes open. The amount of time this project might take had just hit me, yet it seemed impossible to reject. The muscles started tensing throughout me. With a small sigh I decided to go on, "Sure, might as well get it over with before the trip."

Mr. Rouse got up and grabbed his suitcase. There probably wasn't anything in the suitcase, just an old man's wish to be important. With his 1950's lingo, "I best be going," he bid us goodbye. What an odd man he was.

Ron didn't continue on until the door had shut, "We got word from the editors that Postproduction should take 25 days." His face held a simple joy with this fact. I'm pretty sure my face remained emotionless at this. He went on rather hesitantly; probably unsure of why I wasn't joyful, "Um...That means that we'll be able to keep all the premiere dates plus one." He sensed something with what he said and looked up from the paper he was reading off of. My eyes were as lifeless as the bags I felt forming beneath them. They stared blankly at the paper he had been reading from.

I couldn't handle it

It was just too much

I just wanted her

I felt a tear. I don't know why I shed that tear. This job had taken me away from her and drained me to the core. It was a job I wanted ever since I could vision the words I wrote. I always wrote about love. I was something that came simple but allowed the emotion I needed to release. Showing myself and any others who cared to read that love was simple, it was everything around it that made it so complicated. I was always the young girl that got crushes. But they were forever crushes. Instead of talking about what I felt, I'd put it on paper and allow it to play itself out. It just seemed easier that way. I never thought I was so right when it came to love. It took something bigger than a crush for me to open my eyes completely.

"Look, you're tired," I moved myself away from my thoughts. "Just take the paper, go home and get some rest." My eyes drifted from the paper and into his eyes. His always-friendly style looked back at me. He had grown to know me over the past 5 months, and he knew that something was wrong.

"Thank you," I whispered.

I slowly grabbed the paper, got up and left.

Having to meet community before solitude. That was one of humanities bigger mistakes. When all you want is the dark and silent room to yourself, crowds of people seem to endlessly block your way. If only there could be the beauty of trees and endless grasslands mixed with the opportunity of the Big Apple. A perfect land with a perfect life. But there was never such a thing, and I made my choice between the two long ago. This was the first time that I had ever looked back at that choice. I was lost in the city of endless skyscrapers. I no longer felt like I belonged here. The cold mixed with the heat. The people mixed with the wind. The light mixed with the dark.

My mind was drifting away...

I didn't want to think...

I just wanted her...

With time of thoughtless walking, the glass tower approached. I could think of nothing without the urge for more. I wanted more than just a memory and a picture of her in my head. I wanted her. But there was nothing I could do. From Bing to Freedom, my thoughts were lost. The twist of my wrist was almost as shaky as hers was the night before. My world was speeding by, but I didn't care.

I was now alone. I had endless time to think, but I was already tired of that. I barely had the energy to take off my shoes. I moved slowly across the room, my eyes drooping and heading for my very own bed. I sat at the edge, looking at nothing in particular. I just held an endless image of her in my mind. A small glare from the dying sun showed its blood across me. My hair strayed around my face like ivy in a lifeless forest.

My mind cleared. My eyes closed. My tears passed. Time passed.

By the time I had reopened my eyes the sun had died. I was engulfed in utter darkness. There was nothing to think about, just nothings to ponder.

From the corner of my eye a red light flashed.

The small jolt of reality raised me from the bed. I moved slowly across the dark room, trying not to run myself into an invisible wall. As I neared, I began to hope. I hoped that it was her voice. I hoped it was her saying everything was okay. I hoped that the imaginary fight I held in my head was not the truth. I hoped.

But I had no idea...