The Assignment

“My life is not an original song. But the words are all my own.  I don’t know about this.”

Heather looked up from her notes. “No?”

Chase Chaplin. In her apartment, on editor’s orders. He turned back to her fourth story window. “I was hoping for more of a punch, you know?”

Heather set the pen in her mouth. “Right.”

“Because I’ve done some pretty amazing things.”

“Yeah, no. Like when you flat-lined onstage?” Heather checked the annoyance in her tone. The assignment was her dream come true. Writing about the boy who’d adorned her bedroom walls. That said, she wasn’t thrilled about taking writing advice from a guy with LIV WRECKLESS inked down his forearm. Chase sighed the sigh of the misunderstood.

“No, I just, it’s so hard to talk about.”

Not this again. He set his head in his hands and Heather rolled her eyes. If this guy cried one more time, she just might start writing up his obituary. Sure enough he wandered over, cocky and fat.

Reaching his late thirties, Chase had not gone the Timberlake route. Instead, he’d put on nearly fifty pounds since kicking heroin. From there came the VH1 show, when he’d announced his comeback tour, an ill fated venture that was cancelled a few dates in due to underwhelming ticket sales, something Chase had blamed on his publicity team instead of his voice that one reviewer compared to the screech of a barn owl. A string of DUI”s followed, the mugshots like a flip comic of a plane going down in flames.

Now, Heather’s former dream boy plopped down next to her, his gut like pizza dough, oozing over the waistline of his leather pants–a result of a tour bus rider that included, among other goodies, four sleeves of cream cheese covered Oreos. Chase snuggled up with her arm. Heather set her drink on her legal pad, thinking about the payday. “Okay, let’s start over. With the Disney show.”

Chase set his head in Heather’s lap. “Oh man, I don’t want to talk about that.”

She was about to lose her cool. Even after last night, when she’d given in to her school girl crush, hooking up with Chase—some form of him anyway—after several cocktails on the balcony.

In the dark, under a haze of Vodka, she’d allowed herself to see the hasbeen for what he was, not the double chinned, bowling pin he’d become. Mercifully, Chase succumbed to the first of several crying fits, where he curled into a ball in the bed before anything more regrettable had taken place. Now she needed him to give her something to work with, then she’d call his limo.

“You know,” he said, twisting his head upwards to meet her eyes. “I’m thinking about doing a gospel record. You know the dummies down south would snatch that up. We could call it Chasing God.”

Heather felt herself lunge forward, her body racing the rising bile in her throat. Chase’s head sprang from her lap. “Hey babe.”

“This isn’t going to work,”  she said, stomping to the door. She covered her mouth and swallowed it down. “Me doing this.”

“What?”

Heather knew she was throwing away her career. And that was fine. She’d write Craigslist ads before she’d sellout anymore for this loser. Chase looked around, smiling, scratching his belly. Finally, he picked up his well perfumed shirt. “Wow, you really blew it.”

Heather shook her head, smiling. “I guess I could say the same thing to you.”

 

 

–PeteFanning/2017

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