My 'late' ish submission for Freak-Of-Spades challenge. For details about the challenge requirements go to the Freaks bio!

Hope you guys like it!

His signatures become sloppier and sloppier, his hand conforming to robotic method: a scratchy, jagged 'G' followed by a sharp 'P', chased by a harsh lightning bolt line to represent the surname. G. Pryce. His compulsory smile charms the fans of the novel. His novel. They gush about their excitement for the impending movie adaptation and admit how much they relate to certain characters. Some even boldly question whether he is single, their eyes iridescent with the hope of a fairy-tale or with just plain cheekiness.

Once the line has been cut off and his hand threatens to freeze up and solidify itself into a claw, he jumps into the back of the building-sized car and throws his head back to grab a few precious moments of one-on-one time with his mind. His mandatory newspaper awaits him on the seat like a faithful dog and he thinks reading the newspaper is about the most outlandish thing I do in the back seat of a car. Is it 'un-hip' that my guilty pleasure is that I still never leave the loft not wearing a well-tailored three piece suit?

As he reads about all the bad news the world has to offer – the impending doom and gloom and the odd 'inspirational' story about some form of health miracle - his eyes surrender to the gossip page. And there he is, his eyes of ice watching, daring him to not read the article assisting the picture.


He snorts. Who writes this stuff? But his curiosity stifles his fingers from turning the page.

After five years with the popular television series 'Hidden Desires', heartthrob Vann Cooper has announced that he is quitting the show and has admitted himself to rehab. In a one-off interview, the 24 year old has finally come clean about his alcohol and drug addiction and endeavours to improve himself for his fans and future of his career.

"I have lost myself, and I'm not what I always wanted to be. If I were to speak to myself five years ago, the 19 year old version of me would punch me in the face for my weakness. I need to question myself, but believe me, acting is my true love and I will be back. I promise."

He stops reading, takes the page and folds it. He slips the page into his jacket pocket.

"It's about bloody time." Griffin mutters to nobody.

A Year Earlier…

My second phone rings. Yes. Two phones. One phone for Vann and the other for everyone else in my life to squeeze into.

For three years now, I have been a slave. Not a metaphorical slave, not a slave to society or a slave to convention or anything equally as glamorous, but a slave to a bratty tyrant. I, Griffin Pryce, for the past three years have been personal assistant to Vann Cooper, teen heartthrob. Well, he was a teenager when he first hit the scene. He's now in his twenties, and still playing a teenage role in the unintelligible 'Hidden Desires'. As I serve this little monster, my almost-completed novel collects dust in my office. This job was originally a source of income and research as I polish my own dream, I just didn't predict that the 'stepping stone' would extend for three years.

I click the Vann-phone shut. Today or never, Griffin.

The aromatic blend in the hotel room is a mixture of champagne, weed and the smell of desperate human craving. The stench of rapid decay.

"Griff?" He asks from the floor. He still is wearing his tuxedo pants from last night and his face is covered with a girls t-shirt of some sort – last night's encounter I assume.

"You called, sir?"

"What took you so long?"

"The other cars on the road, Sir."

The toilet flushes.

"I see she's still here."

"Who?" He asks. "Rachel?"

"Rachel and you are no longer an item."

"Get her out of here." He groans.

She slips out of the bathroom, her hair stringy with wetness. Vann's shirt hangs off her tiny shoulders. There is no plausible way this girl is over sixteen.

The dusky dimness in the room unsettles me. I take the liberty to draw the curtains and push open the balcony doors. The daylight explodes in as if it's been waiting all day in a queue to meet Vann.

Last night's meat steadies herself against the wall, rolling on skin-tight shiny pants.

I present her with the envelope.

"For your silence"

Her eyes widen as she takes it. I know what this type do. They perform the 'I'm not some kind of whore you can pay off!' comedy, then open the pay packet and are magically mute and satisfied.

She bends down and takes one of Vann's cigarettes out of the deck on the floor.

"You got a light?" She mumbles through the white stick.

"Have a light."


"Do I have a light. Have."

"Dude, what?"

"Go to school." I say, ripping the cigarette from her pouted lips.

She leans over and kisses Vann through the t-shirt where his mouth should be. He doesn't stir. "Call me, if you want. Ok Vann?"

"Bye Rachel. I love you."

"It's Bronwyn."


I cover Vann's trysts before the publicist can even get a whiff of them. I have paid underage girls and young men to keep their traps shut, I have held his head up from drowning in his own vomit, I have even given him CPR once. I do this all without saying a word. But from today onwards, this will not be the case.

"Sir, I have come here to tell you that I quit."

I deliver my announcement once I am certain that Vann has showered, eaten and is fully functional to allow the information to completely sink into his rock-thick skull.

"Oww don' go Griff, blah blah, pay-rise blah blah." He throws in with a blasé hand motion, poorly imitating a British accent.

My throat feels scratchy. "It's not about the money, I have my own pursuits, and saving you from public defamation is not one of them."

"Griff. You think you can make it in this world?" He snickers, "You're a walking delusion, man."

"Sir, I think that a twenty three year old still sticking to teenage television as opposed to trying to pursue more challenging roles is walking in delusion…'man'."

"My name isn't even Vann. You know what you are when you don't even have your own name?"


He is a porcelain doll with eyes of glass and a gentle hand-painted face of desolation.

"I was asking you." He practically whispers.

I leave him cross-legged on the floor of the hotel room, enthralled in the blank television. I finally switch the Vann-phone off, my smile irremovable.

Next? Celebration with the few friends I have left and the one friend that will never leave me: Johnnie Walker.




Vann slams the newspaper on my kitchen table. It is the first time he has ever stepped foot in my apartment, and it's only because I haven't switched on the Vann-phone. He slumps onto the chair I pulled out for him, the paper resting between us like a cursed artefact.

"You…pissed?" His inquiry shrouded in disbelief.

I grin.

"I did."

"On a poster."

"Yes, on a poster."

"On a poster of me?"

"On a poster of you."

His eyes squint as he tries to figure me out.


I shrug.

"It's disgusting."

"It's also in a lot of magazines."

He shakes his head.


I lean back in my chair, and I sense the urge to explain myself. "I never wanted to be Alfred."

He snaps out of his search for a thought. "Huh? Alfred?"

"The butler in Batman."

I despise his cackle.

"Oh yeah, you kind of are, aren't you? That's so weird."

My legs push me up, deciding to pace before the rest of my body has a chance to register what I'm doing.

"We were always taught to work from the bottom up, but I remained a dedicated, ridiculed butler to you for years. In two years I'll be thirty. I can't still be serving a child! I need growth."

"Find a filthy magazine if you need…growth. Is playboy or playgirl more your style?"

I inhale deeply, dreaming of a good glass of wine and great theatre seats. Beaches are too filthy to be my 'calm thought place'.

"You are fucking unbelievable." I breathe out.

"You said that because right now you are feeling very…", He cheekily addresses my crotch, "…small…inside. It must be hard being that little fellow of yours. All pets need daylight, Griff."

My hands bury themselves in my suit pockets to avoid holding them relentlessly over his mouth and nose.

"I can't beli…I admired you when I started. You were handsome, articulate, thoughtful. Now you're just a thesaurus of excuses for why you haven't improved yourself. I am not going to aide you into your coffin, you selfish little twat!"

He mouths the word 'twat', amused, while creating newspaper confetti that I will have to tidy once he's gone.

"Consider this our final meeting, Vann Cooper. You have no idea how incredible it feels to say that. Oh…and this too: Go. Fuck. Yourself."

I stalk to the door, tear it open and bow sarcastically, waiting for him to leave.

"Yeah, fine. You can leave me too." He gripes darkly through a wall of gritted teeth as he gets up.

Vann pauses in the entrance hallway, glaring into me. His childish sulkiness morphing gradually into…what? Agony? Rage?

I choke. "Are yo…"

…and that is the precise moment Vann grabs my shirt collar, slams into me and crashes his mouth onto mine. I try to heave him off, but the struggle sends us into the door, smashing it shut with an ear-pounding 'BANG'. My back burns as the doorknob digs firmly into it, but my hands are on his face, in his hair, clutching his t-shirt – gripping onto anything I can for a reasonable answer.

His lips deliver prickles of ice down my neck with each point of contact.

"You…bastard!" I grunt before pulling him in closer, closer, closer.

He can't work out how to undo my vest. I use the opportunity to push my body against his and take control. While he still struggles with my vest, my damn conscience sneaks itself in…and when his hands find my belt, I shove him off me with all the power I can, hurling him into the wall. I slide down the opposite wall and we take a suspended breather in the hallway, each of us avoiding any form of eye contact with the other for clarity's sake.

Vann eventually collects himself and silently leaves. My apartment empty once more.

He didn't even believe the It will be a short visit mantra that he had drummed into his brain. A year already?

They sit on one of the benches facing the beautiful grounds intended for relaxation but not really serving that purpose.

"I read your book, Griff." Vann admits before adding, "Will you visit me more in rehab?"

He rubs his eyes. "I'm, I'm pretty busy, Si…Vann. I have signings and they want to make a mov…what?" His teeth grind with frustrated familiarity at Vann's cheesy smile.

"You were about to call me sir."

"I…I...was." He gives up. "Damn it."

"Griff, I'm sor…"



"I don't want to like you."

Vann thinks about this for a moment.

"You're right."

They sit in silence. A girl cartwheels across the lawn and Griffin realises after a while that she isn't wearing knickers under her faded, frilly nightie. Vann doesn't belong in this place.

Vann lays his head down on Griffin's lap, twirling a kaleidoscope against his eye and focusing on it as if he could find the future in that two dollar tube. Griffin, not quite knowing where to place his hands, drapes one arm behind him and allows the other to comb through Vann's scruffy hair.

"Griff, what do we do now?"

"We keep doing our own media circles. We smile at each other if we cross paths, we do what we do. You have an image to protect m'dear." He jokes bitterly.


"You'll find some gorgeous actress that you'll fall in a crazy, whirlwind, rabbit-sex love with and you'll forget about me. We'll see each other every now and then: a handshake, a snide comment…and then we go our own ways, into our own lives. Remember: Deny, deny, deny. Ok?"

He nods as if he is trying to undo specialist arithmetic.

"I read your book."

"So you told me."

Vann gives a nod of recognition to the cartwheel girl. She waves.

"Why can't a person ever have everything they want?"

"Because, Sir, it's too easy that way."

They hear the snap of the camera before they see the flash.