“So then the clown said: Why so serious son?!”
The crowd were on the edge of their seats, tense with the anticipation of another punch line; success was near at hand, the clinching joke about to be told, Andy Kay’s future as a rising star on the stand-up circuit secured. He could sense the change in atmosphere, detect the difference in taste between ambition and success. And three, two, one…
“…so then I realised his wife was his husband!”
They couldn’t contain themselves. Three of them were crying, practically sobbing. Andy bowed and left the room promptly – always leave them wanting more. He’d already come up with the headline for the post-show interview outside (‘More than O-Kay!’), and grabbed the proffered plastic beaker of water from the young male before heading towards his fame-clinching interview. Fame was already hard; his head was pounding and his left hand was shaking slightly; adrenaline obviously coursing through his system. He was sweating, but the post show jitters after all that anticipation was clearly normal.
“Did you see Jane? I slaughtered them out their tonight!”
The woman labelled Jane’s face turned ashen, a small noise escaping her unbidden, eyes intently fixed upon the man’s face.
Jane, Sarah, Ellen – names were interchangeable right now. She could be either one or a mixture of the three, as long as she listened and acted accordingly. Just like a real publicist, that’s what Andy wanted.
“You remembered to make the call right? To tell them to meet me here instead of me going to them, right? I can’t be waiting too long.”
A slow nod, just one. The woman glanced at the male who had handed Andy the beaker of water; the male stood, not knowing what his function was now the beaker was empty. He didn’t look to the right to catch her eye, focusing intently on his lack of purpose and what that meant for his immediate future, his welfare.
Andy was pacing like a caged tiger, waiting to pounce on his interviewer, the one who held his notoriety in his hands. Or waiting to be tamed by newfound celebrity, it could go either way he supposed. He knew his moment was coming, and that his decisions had inevitably led to this, and he didn’t mind that: he accepted his fate. The only thing that mattered was that he embraced it fully, and didn’t apologise for following the course of destiny.
It was worth it.
A screech of tyres – clearly running late and attempting to make up for it, Jane/Sarah/whoever had called over fifteen minutes ago (his chance at fame might have ended in that time), and the twelve-year-old male, her son, had confirmed she’d said what he asked her to, yet still they lingered. Never mind, they’d make up the time. Although they didn’t need to knock so hard on the door, he’d get there in his own time.
Andy muttered to himself on the way to the door, drowning out the talking on the other side of the door. “More than O-Kay, or Beyond O-Kay…More than…Beyond…”.
Headlines, all headlines, that was all that mattered, regardless of the route taken there.
He undid the dead-bolt and the rest was done for him. Door thrown backwards, Andy gracelessly pinned to the ground, the second man practically walking over him to reach the bright lights beyond. He could hear the woman saying something to the man; Andy could only hope she’d remembered to say the right things. He heard the franctic footsteps – the boy probably running to his mother’s arms, clasping her and unwittingly dying her crisp white blouse with cherry spots.
“Mr Kay, you are under arrest for breaking and entering, false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand?”
© Book of Tomorrow