by Balls Malone
Hedda was sitting down to another of her lunch dates with Rupert Cornelius, acclaimed glamour and fashion photographer. They were seated in the patio of Maurice’s Grill, under the pleasant shade of palm fronds swaying overhead in the warm breeze.
Hedda was very pleased. Maurice’s Grill was just about the best place to eat these days. Since Rupert was sure to pick up the check, she always insisted meeting him somewhere worthwhile being seen.
“How are you, Rupert? You look so tired.”
“Yes, no shit I look tired, Hedda. IBS is no joke!” Rupert snapped.
The quartet of actresses seated at the next table glanced over with shocked and disgusted looks at this. The two nearest ones slid their chairs further away from Rupert and Hedda’s table.
“Do not be so not nice to me, Rupert. If you are the one who makes chocolate shame in his pants, it is only you to blame.”
Rupert stared at Hedda in rage for a long time at this. He actual began to speak several times, but bit his words off again and again as he thought better of them. Hedda met his eye calmly the whole time. Finally, she gave him a cold smile and continued.
“I do say thank you now, for making contact to me at agency. I am booking many good shoots now. Is very good for me. You are good friend.” Hedda reached out to pat Rupert’s hand in a marginally friendly way. Then she picked up the menu to peruse.
“Yes, I told you Sandrice would take good care of you. She’s the best agent in the biz. Her taking you on was a huge favor to me. A fucking huge favor. She won’t be picking up another of my calls until I answer ten of hers.”
“I know. You are so nice. Is lobster keto?” Hedda asked without looking up from the menu.
“What? The fucking lobster now? How should I know? Probably. Don’t you have a fucking ap to tell you that?”
“Again, you are not being so nice to me now. I don’t like your tone,” Hedda said, looking up from her menu to lock eyes with Rupert.
Rupert took a few deep breaths to calm himself. “I’m sorry, Hedda. I’m just under a lot of pressure with everything right now. And I thought that, maybe, since I hooked you up with Sandrice, that… maybe…”
“Well, I thought maybe that would be the end of all this now,” Rupert said. He stared down in his lap and looked like he was about to cry.
“I know. You tell me this. You tell me that you want Lance to finish it with you.”
“No! That’s not what I fucking said! Is that what you told him? Does he think that’s what I said?”
“I don’t know. I forgetting so many things what I say these days. And English is so hard! Lance, he is sweet, yes. But he does not listen good. So he come soon and we talk. You can tell him what do you mean yourself.”
Hedda flagged down the waiter and ordered the lobster for herself, the sirloin steak for Lance, and more mineral water for the table, while Rupert Cornelius, acclaimed glamour and fashion photographer, dealt with his panic attack. Hedda then sent Lance a quick message on her phone. It did not take him more than a couple of minutes to join them.
That day, Lance Johnson was wearing a mint condition, Adidas track suit: red with white piping, circa 1992. His red Adidas running shoes were a perfect match. As was his habit on sunny days, Lance had on his Ray-Ban mirrored aviator sunglasses, and a fuzzy white Adidas headband. He was also sporting a gold Rolex.
Lance gave a friendly nod to the four actresses who paused in their banter to look him over quickly. Only one of them lingered over his muscular form as he kissed Hedda on the cheek and sat down next to her. With his track suit zipped up and hiding his full sleeves and torso of prison gang tattoos, Hedda knew from experience that everyone would not think him anything other than a model himself.
They sat in silence until the food showed up. Rupert fiddled on his phone and Lance felt Hedda up under the table as he ogled the actresses. The one that had scoped him as he sat down continued to give him attention. Seeing the potential for a very lovely three-way, Hedda began beaming the actress with come hither lamps of her own.
The food arrived and Lance tucked in. Hedda played around with hers suggestively at the actress; taking a little bite here and there just to show everyone what she was all about orally. Rupert ordered a double scotch and soda.
“So what’s this Hedda tells me about you getting bitchy about helping her out,” Lance finally said through a big mouthful of steak.
“I’m not. Seriously, man! I’m not! I just think there’s only so much more I can do for her now. I mean, this has to end somewhere, right?”
“Well, what next, man? What else am I supposed to do for her over here?” whined Rupert Cornelius, acclaimed glamour and fashion photographer.
“You know what, Rupert? Yer talkin to me like it’s been all take and no give with us. I think yer forgetting all that I’ve done for you. Didn’t I get those bangers off your back? Didn’t I take you to the orgy?”
“The orgy? You’re going to bring that up like it was a favor to me? Like I even wanted to be there? Like I’m not Rupert Fucking Cornelius! Like I can’t have my own fucking orgy any fucking time I fucking want to! With fucking models!”
As Rupert started yelling all this, the actresses looked over; two appalled and two delightedly amused. (“Did he just say orgy? Like, oh my God! I can’t even right now!”)
Noticing the attention, Rupert dropped his voice low into an intense hiss: “Fuck you! You know what happened to me there!”
“Oh quit being such a fuckin baby about that. It was fuck all. Deuce gets like that sometimes. He just finished doing eight on a tier four yard. His intensity can be a little much for people sometimes.”
“His intensity? Is that what you assholes call that? Yeah, it was a bit much.”
“Well, yer shitty attitude aside, I think it’s time to talk about the next phase of your collaboration with Hedda. Is that the right word, baby? Collaboration?” Lance asked Hedda.
Hedda was stroking Lance’s cock through his pants in plain view of the actress she was making eye contact with. “Yes, baby,” she said. “Collaboration.”
“Okay, then, what the fuck now?” Rupert asked.
“The swimsuit edition. Shoot’s in two weeks, right?”
“Yes. What about it?”
“Hedda wants to book it. I think that’s a good idea,” Lance said. He licked his steak knife clean and smiled at Rupert as he scraped the knife’s edge over his own neck.
“The swimsuit edition? I can’t fucking get her that! It shoots in two weeks!”
“Oh, I think ya can get her that. You’re Rupert Cornelius, bitch! Tell em that she’s yer new muse. That’s something you artiste types play all the time, aint it? That’s it, right? Hedda is your new muse!”
“My muse? What the fuck! If that’s the case, it has to be reflected in my work! Which fucking sucks these days, by the way. I’m an artist, not some kind of fucking technician. How the fuck am I going to produce anything worth a shit shooting someone I’m fucking afraid of!”
“In my experience, fear is one of the best motivators. So what I’m hearing here is that ya can get her on the shoot as yer muse. Ye just don’t want to. That’s unfortunate. You know the cops fucked with me this week about yer two banger friends in the club.”
“What? They did? How?”
“They made me from the front door camera. With my affiliations, it was a matter of routine to track me down and grind me on it. Don’t worry, though. I didn’t tell em what you did. But they’ll be back.”
“What I did? No, fuck you! What about Ariana? She knows—”
“What she knows,” Lance interrupted, “is that those two bangers had beef with you. That they confronted you in the bathroom over that beef, and she left you alone with them in there. That’s what she knows. If I were you, I really wouldn’t want her talking to anyone about what she fuckin knows.”
“But she saw—”
“Shit. She saw shit. And, to be honest, if she remembers anything about that night, it’ll be what Hedda’s spit tastes like in my asshole.”
“Oh that’s really nice.”
“It is. I’m sure you know; you’re Rupert Fucking Cornelius,” Lance said with a big grin.
“Listen, I probably could get her on the shoot if I insist. I’m not going to lie. But if I do that, that’s the last fucking time I’m ever going to book a job like that ever again. That whole scene is really corporate. They don’t tolerate the whole temperamental artist schtick. Do you understand?”
“I do. Listen, Rupert, the real question you gotta ask yourself is: how many jobs you gonna book from a tier three or four yard with two murder beefs on ya. Ya already know what the yard’s gonna be like. You met Deuce. That’s your fuckin choice now. Book the swimsuit edition for Hedda, or get fuckin lawyered up like yesterday. Do ya feel me? We’re done playin now.”
“I said, do ya under-fucking-stand what I’m motherfucking saying, bitch?”
“Yes. Fine. I’ll do it. But I’m telling you, that’s the end of my fucking career.”
“That’s okay. Also, I want to be PA for the shoot. The first location is way up the coast there right? It wouldn’t be a bad idea for all of us to get out of town like that for a bit.” Lance said.
“You want me to take you where as my what?”
“Not PA, baby. It’s assistant. Just assistant.” Hedda interjected.
“Wait… what? You want to be my assistant for the swimsuit edition? After forcing Hedda in there as a model? Why the fuck don’t you just chop my fucking hands off while you’re at it!”
Hedda sighed. She was sure that Lance was going to convince Rupert to see things their way, but she could tell the whole process of convincing him was going to be tiresome.
Thankfully, just then, the actress she had been making eyes with gave her a very direct look and left her table to go to the bathroom. Happy to have a chance to focus on a person not drowning in negativity like Rupert was, Hedda excused herself from the table and followed her. She was pretty sure she had figured out what movie she had seen the actress in, and was excited to start the process of getting to know her better.
An up-in-coming starlet really would be a marvelous way to celebrate her booking the swimsuit edition.