Fangirl: Chapter Twelve

Henry sat next to Ben at the bar of the steakhouse, laughing at how quickly Allie and Emmy got rip-roarin’ drunk.
“I can’t believe the uproar, just because you said ‘bitch’ in front of children.” Emmy grumbled after knocking back a shot of tequila. “Our kids hear that word at least 80 times a day.”
“It keeps the magic alive, doesn’t it bitch?” Allie put her head on Emmy’s shoulder and grinned up at her. Emmy looked down at her, rolled her eyes and smiled.
“Eh, I didn’t write it.” Henry shrugged. He felt full and tipsy from dinner, slaking the sting of bewilderment over losing track of his mystery girl yet again.
“I think it’s one of those ‘they can say it, we can’t’ kind of things.” Ben interjected, spilling some of his scotch on Henry’s sleeve.
“That’s right, Bitch!” bellowed Allie before knocking back a shot and singing “Bitch, bitch bitch, bitch, bitch, we got a babysitter, bitch!”
“That’s the mother of my children, folks.” Emmy said, gesturing to Allie, who was standing on the bar stool, bowing to a non-existent Broadway crowd.
“Who’s the best mommy in the world?” Allie cooed, taking Emmy’s face in her hands.
“You are, sweetheart.” Emmy said, then they started making out all sloppy, tongues flailing. Ben watched in mild interest.
“Okay, you guys have fun, I’m gonna hit the head.” Henry patted Ben’s shoulder and walked toward the bathroom. Ben continued to watch and sip his scotch.
“Is this seriously turning you on?” Emmy asked Ben.
“Eh, two women…” Ben shrugged. Emmy and Allie shrugged and went back to making out.
***
The only awkwardness that beats a forced elevator conversation is the dreaded urinal chat. Standing next to Eric Barron in the bathroom of the steakhouse was Henry’s living nightmare.
“How ya been, Henry?” Eric asked, towering over him.
“Okay, where the hell are you from, that accent is not from Chicago!” Henry just couldn’t take it anymore and he was drunk enough to speak his mind.
“My dad is from Australia.”
“Oh, you’re like Mel Gibson?”
“Who?”
“Or are you just autistic?”
“Probably…” Eric nodded.
“You know, I don’t think you’re as evil as you are just opportunistic with no social graces.” Henry admitted.
“Astute.”
“I have no idea what Patrice sees in you.”
“Me neither, but I would do anything for that girl. She’s going to take over the world.” Eric had a dreamy, far-off look in his eyes. Henry was finished, so he tried to take his leave… “She asks about you, ya know… She worries about you.” Eric said, still looking dreamy.
“Yeah?” Henry stopped with his hand on the door handle.
“Come join our private party, Henry. Patrice would like to see you…” Eric’s giant hand landed on Henry’s shoulder.
***
Henry was led to the heavy oak door of the private room in the steakhouse. His face melted to a smile when he saw his dream girl standing outside the door, hand on her hip as if he were late. She had long, thick brown hair tied back in a braid that ended at her ass. A 1920’s style art deco dress accentuated her curves with geometric sequin shapes in blues and greens. The same apple cheeks, Kewpie doll lips and glimmering wintergreen eyes grinned in expectation.
Eric’s baseball mitt of a hand guided Henry’s shoulder through the door. Henry’s dream girl took a seat next to him at the long white-cloth covered table, flanked by a dozen members of Eric’s entourage. Eric took the empty chair next to Patty. She was looking dazed, Xanax-glazed eyes, still put-together in an elegant dove-gray shift dress, graceful as ever.
“Hi Henry, glad to see you out…” Patty said, not meeting his gaze. Her tone implied he was skipping out on something like work. Henry’s dream girl nibbled at a salad with one hand while her other hand massaged his knee under the table.
“Oh, you know… been busy.” Henry tried to contain himself as her hand slid up his thigh.
“Come on, Henry. You know there’s no such thing! It’s about priorities…” Eric blathered, drinking rum and diet coke from a beer stein. “Patty makes your show a priority. She know’s it’s good for her image, lowering herself, playing such a loser when she’s anything but…”
“I don’t think Hannah’s a loser.” Patty defended. “I think she’s a survivor. I think she puts up with a lot of shit that would kill a lot of people. I love playing Hannah because she can be as imperfect as she wants to be!” Patty’s voice carried over the room, which went silent to watch her rant. Henry was smiling for two reasons now.
“Thanks… Patty.” Henry sighed.
“This right here… This is why she’s running for office.” Eric held Patrice’s chin in his hand, she looked at him with a hungry, snake-like smolder. “Patrice Barron will be the next vice president of the United States…”
“Isn’t that a little… ahhh… extreme?” Henry asked, trying to ignore the nimble hand going to town under the table.
“Oh, and I’m buying the Coyote Network. I’m your new boss, Henry!” Eric said, cheerfully enjoying himself.
“What?!” Henry blurted out.
“So, who’s your friend, Henry. Aren’t you going to introduce us?” Patrice asked, gesturing to the woman who’s hand was massaging his member through his pants.
“Leia Corana, I’m Henry’s new girlfriend, nice to meet you!” Leia held out the hand that was just in Henry’s crotch. Eric took her hand and kissed the back of her fingers. Leia looked back over her shoulder at Henry and winked.
“Wait, you can see her?” Henry looked from Eric to Leia, confused.
“Of course I can see her, she’s gorgeous!” Eric evaluated Leia’s figure with his eyes. She sat next to Henry again, squeezing his knee to reassure him.
“Yes, Henry. She’s beautiful…” Patrice’s eyes held a mixture of many emotions as she assessed the protective closeness between Leia and Henry.
“Can you do this?” Henry whispered to Leia.
“Henry, you should know by now. I can do anything I want.” Leia responded, a half-smile and eyebrow wiggle confusing the hell out of him.
“Can we leave?” Henry asked, as if he wasn’t free to do so at any time.
“Absolutely.” Leia grabbed his hand and they left without an explanation.
***
The valet pulled up outside the steakhouse in a sleek black convertible Porsche. Leia vaulted over the driver’s side door and slipped in the driver’s seat like a gymnast. She beckoned to Henry with one finger, the hem of her dress riding up her thigh to reveal nude stockings attached to garters.
“Come on, Henry. I have something to show you…” Leia smiled and bounced, teeming with excitement. Henry got into the passenger seat and immediately fastened his seat belt.
“Is this yours?” Henry indicated the car.
“Nah, I stole it.”
“Really?”
“Meh, who cares?”
“Alright then, let’s go…”
***
Leia drove through the night lit up by a bright full moon, Henry’s hand on her knee. They arrived at a remote private beach. She parked the car and kissed him hard on the mouth.
“Come with me, Henry…” Her eyes glowed in the moonlight, full of adventure. She hopped out of the car and started running towards the crashing waves, shedding her shoes and clothes as she ran. Henry followed, removing his suit. They swam in the tepid tidal pool, surrounded by a swarm of glowing bio-luminescent microorganisms. Henry looked at her, floating surrounded by shimmering green lights with her hair flowing in a cloud around her naked body…
“Wow… You are so beautiful.” Henry whispered, drawing her in close. They kissed while treading water.
“Follow me.” Leia commanded, swimming for the shore. “I don’t want to fuck in the middle of all these shrimp.” Henry swam after her. It started to rain as she ran up the beach, towards a shabby gray tent. “There’s probably towels in here!” She ducked in the tent, followed by Henry, dripping and carrying all of their clothes.
A small gas lamp hung from a hook on the center pole of the tent. Leia turned up the light only enough to show her soaking wet, smiling and holding a soft, fluffy beach towel out for Henry. He dropped their clothes and took the towel, shaking himself like a dog. She giggled and wrapped a towel around her glistening naked body, her hair trailing in long wet curls around the curve of her breast. Henry was so mesmerized by her beauty, it took a while to register that the inside of the tent appeared vastly larger than the outside.
“Where are we?” Henry asked, wrapping the towel around himself and folding her in his arms. She reached up and caressed his face with her soft fingertips.
“I call this ‘The Imagination Tent’. It can be whatever we want it to be…” Leia planted a soft kiss on his lips as she turned up the gas lamp next to them. The circle of light grew to a soft amber glow, illuminating the opulent surroundings.
There was a queen sized bed with a rout-iron headboard and fluffy down linens, draped in a white net canopy. An antique camel-back couch stood next to a bar stocked with anything they could want to eat or drink and a bong. An easel holding a blank sketchpad stood next to a guitar on a stand and a ukulele on a smaller stand, a bookshelf loaded with classics, blank notebooks for writing, a claw-foot bathtub, a pot-bellied wood stove, and a chess set on a low coffee table surrounded by satin cushions. There was even a flat-screen tv with every game console and the ability to play any tv show or movie ever made. A large, fluffy bean-bag chair for two sat in front of it. Henry was astonished.
“Did I miss anything?” Leia asked, grinning at his surprised face. He looked around the tent, which appeared to be a mash up of Jennie’s Bottle and every art nerd’s fantasy.
“A piano?” He shrugged. She smiled up at him indulgently, put her fingertips to her forehead and closed her eyes. The wind blew a panel of fabric near the bed inward. They stuck their heads out of the flap to see the cathedral-sized room next to them. In the center of a black and white checkered floor was a grand piano. The walls were flowing white curtains that billowed in the turbulent storm around them.
“Don’t worry, this one is waterproof!” She said, proudly presenting her work.
“I love it! Looks like the set of an 80’s music video.” Henry said, impressed.
“Which one?” Leia asked, looking up at him.
“I don’t know, but this is awesome…” He scooped her up and laid her down on the bed.
“The storm won’t let up till morning, I think we’re stuck here…” She smiled up at him, her eyes glittering green in the flickering lamp light. Henry unfolded the towel from her body. He stood next to the bed and traced his fingertips down the side of her breast, the dip of her hip and around the curve of her ass. Goosebumps raised in the wake of his touch.
“How is any of this real?” Henry whispered, his lips tickling her stomach as he lowered toward her now hairless mound.
“It can be… But, that’s not up to us. It’s up to… them.” Leia looked up to the ceiling of the tent as if she was breaking a 4th wall he didn’t see. Henry looked up, perplexed.
“So, you’re telling me there’s a version of me somewhere, in some reality…” Henry spread her legs and blew a soft stream of warm air between her pussy lips. “And that guy could have all this?” He breathed in her scent, almost touching her with the tip of his nose and his lips, making her shiver in delight.
“Yup!” She grinned down at him, hands behind her head, propped up on a fluffy pillow. Her perky tits were veiled in the soft, drying tendrils of her hair.
“Well, he should go for it.” Henry kissed her inner thighs.
“Oh, I quite agree!” She nodded eagerly. Henry grinned up at her and dove face-first in her pussy. He sucked on her clitoris like it had a cherry Jolly Rancher stuck to it. Her moans of ecstasy were accompanied by the slurping sound of his lips relishing her wet labia. He drank the come that rushed forth from her moist, pulsating hole. His hands gently brushed her hair back off her shoulders so he could suck on her hard nipples as her orgasm subsided. Henry inserted his swollen cock into Leia’s quivering cunt, releasing a roar of pleasure from her. It was like a battle cry.
Henry fucked her slow and deliberate at first, brushing the hair back from her face, he studied her emerald eyes, so enraptured in love. He lifted her knees up by her shoulders so he could plunge his hard cock as deep within her as it would go.
“I can’t get enough of you!” He groaned while fucking her hard and deep. Her screams of pleasure rose to a crescendo.
“Gimme all you got Captain!” She shouted in a Scottish accent, not a trace of irony to her tone. Henry paused for a second, burst out laughing and continued to fuck her, intensifying his rhythm.
“I’m… Going… To… Make… You… Come!” Henry punctuated his thrusts in a Shatner-esqe voice. Leia’s burst of laughter mingled with her orgasmic exclamations. Her laugh radiated overwhelming pleasure throughout his entire being. He fought against the urge to relinquish the seed her pussy muscles were so fervently squeezing out of his cock. In the wake of her orgasm, Henry pulled out and turned her around, Leia obliged in a daze of satisfaction. He tied a silk scarf from the lampshade around her eyes and fucked her from behind.
“Say my name…” Henry growled into her ear while holding onto the knot in the scarf at the back of her head.
“Henry! Henry! Henry!” Leia cried out through exhilarated moans. Feeling the crescendo of her next orgasm arise, Henry increased his vigorous pace.
“That’s right, who loves ya, baby?!” Henry groaned, joy saturating his authentic voice.
“Henry O’Conner loves me! Ah! I love you too, Henryyyy!” The last syllable of his name was stretched out along her second orgasm. He pulled out to lick her from behind, pulling her ass up to sit on his face so she could lie on top of him and suck her come off of his dick. Her muscles squeezed his tongue inside her moist chasm as he sucked the wetness from her depths. As much as he wanted to release his pent-up load into her supple mouth, Henry maneuvered her around again so she was on top, facing him. Bouncy ringlets of her hair flowed around her shoulders as she rode his cock like a pony. The expression of ecstatic adoration on her face held him entranced.
“Me… too!” Henry roared as it felt like every drop of come within him rocketed up inside her clenching wet pussy. Leia collapsed on top of him, her third and strongest orgasm subsiding, pulsing the remaining drops of semen out of his still-hard cock. He wrapped his arms around her and enjoyed the squeezing sensation and the feeling of her tits pressed against his chest. They snuggled under the down comforter, enjoying the warmth and closeness of their naked bodies while the rain made a pitter-patter sound on the cloth roof of the tent. The net canopy cocooned the bed in a pod of comforting pleasure.
“So! What should we do now?” Leia grinned at Henry, inexplicably full of energy.
“Stay in this position forever?” Henry suggested, tracing his fingertips down the side of her cheek. She let out a cute nose giggle and leaned her cheek against his hand.
“I don’t know about you, but that bathtub is calling my name! I still need to wash all those glow-shrimp out of my hair!” Leia hopped out of the bed and skipped over to the claw-foot bathtub, which was now full of sudsy bubbles next to the glowing potbelly wood stove. Henry sat up in bed and watched her long, graceful legs ease into the bath, an enticing sigh escaping her pretty lips. He got up to help her massage shampoo in her long, luxurious brown hair.
“You look beautiful even with a head full of shrimp!” Henry said, his fingertips making circles in her wet, soapy curls. “But I did like you as a blonde…” He paused after that, afraid he said something stupid. Leia looked up at him and winked, ducking her soap-saturated head under the water. Henry couldn’t resist touching her voluptuous floating breasts, pink nipples sticking straight up. She arose from the water grinning, her long brown curls turned golden blonde, flowing down her back, slick and shimmering.
“Wow! You are astounding…” Henry ran his hand over her wet blonde hair and kissed her smiling lips.

“This is just the start, Henry…” Leia said, his lips tickling her neck. Still kissing, she pulled him into the bath with her. The storm rumbled through the night as they bathed, made love again, had drinks and snacks from the bar, and giggled while taking hits from the magically refilling bong. He sketched a voluptuous cartoon version of her lounging on the antique couch wearing only his blue necktie. She beat him in a game of chess. They made up a silly guitar/ukulele song about the Imagination Tent. He beat her at Mario Kart. They were curled up on the giant bean bag under the down comforter watching an old episode of The Twilight Zone when Henry sat bolt upright.

“My God! How long have we been here? It’s gotta be close to morning, I have to get to work…” Henry got up and started getting dressed. Leia muted the TV. In black and white silence, Jack Warden played checkers with his robot wife Jean Marsh. “What time is it? There’s no clock in here!” He made a laugh similar to Jack the Dog, a nervous edge slicing through the air.

“There isn’t.” Leia said. He wasn’t sure if she was talking about a clock. The storm had subsided outside the tent, a soft trickle of dawn creeped through the gap in the entrance flap. Henry stopped, wearing pants and one sock, went over to caress her cheek and kiss her pouty red lips.

“This has been one of the most incredible nights of my life. I don’t know if you’re magic or if this has all been some crazy dream…” Henry stroked her silky blonde hair as her big, wistful eyes looked up at him. “I want to see you again. I’d ask for your phone number, but you always just kinda seem to show up at the right time!” He hoped that would get a smile out of her, but she remained enigmatic in silence. The astronauts were telling Jack Warden that he had to leave his robot wife behind.

“Look, I’m sorry, I have to go to work…” Henry started putting the rest of his clothes on, feeling like a heel.

“No, you don’t…” She whispered. He pretended not to hear her as he lifted the flap of the tent, he could see her black convertible parked in the distance.

“Could you give me a ride back into town, my writers are probably…”

“No, I can’t…” Her whispered words couldn’t possibly have been a trigger for the explosion that occurred next. Henry screamed in surprise, Leia sat perfectly still on the bean bag as the Porsche was consumed in a ball of fire.

“HOLY FUCK! MY PHONE WAS IN THERE!” Henry ran across the beach, about halfway towards the burning car before he realized it was futile. Leia’s soft hand on his shoulder startled his deep state of shock. She stood behind him barefoot, wearing only a long white cotton dress with spaghetti straps. Her long blonde hair flowed in the slight morning beach breeze. The apologetic expression on her face was exacerbating his confusion.

“You wouldn’t have been able to get a signal here anyway.” She said, shaking her head.

“Okay! This is officially creeping me out. I’m gonna go…” Henry started walking away from her, a deep ache settling over the confusion and panic in his heart.

“Henry… Haven’t you realized we can’t leave?” She was starting to sound annoyed. Henry stopped and looked back at her.

“Oh yeah? Watch me.” Henry ran down the beach towards a rock outcropping. He ran until his lungs felt full of broken glass, around the bend, stopping and falling to his knees when he saw what was there. Leia wore the same white dress and pitying expression in front of the same shabby gray tent on the same mystifying beach. Henry realized it didn’t matter which way he ran, they were trapped in a loop. His fists pounded the sand in powerless despair. Her gentle fingertips caressed the back of his head as he kneeled on the beach, a shaking ball of rage.

“I’m sorry, Henry…” Leia’s tone was that of a Kindergarten teacher putting a disgruntled kid down for a nap.

“What… ARE YOU!?” Henry shouted, standing up and backing away from her.

“You mean what are WE!?” Leia spat back, offended by his mistrust. The question left Henry dumbfounded, slack-jawed in existential confusion. “Sigh. Follow me, Henry. I’ll make us some tea.” She walked towards the magic tent, followed by Henry, trudging in reluctant automation.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to say ‘sigh’, it’s more of a noise like (sigh).” Henry said, walking into the tent as she held the flap open.

“What are you, the sigh police?” She rolled her eyes and smiled at him. The kettle on the wood stove was already boiling. Leia placed a cup of green tea on the end table next to the armchair where Henry sat in a disheveled heap. She sat cross-legged on the antique couch, sipping tea from a china cup with her pinky out. “So… You want to know if we’re real or not?”

“Is that what I’m asking?” Henry asked, still hopeless in confusion.

“The truth is… it depends on who you ask. I’m not sure why we were put here or who created us, there’s probably a reason, but I don’t have that information either. All I know is we can’t leave. We have to be written out.” She sipped her tea and placed the delicate cup down on the saucer as if that explained everything. Henry leaned forward and gave her an intense stare.

“How?” He searched her face for any signs of deception. She remained impassive.

“I don’t know. I guess we just have to keep doing things until we’re allowed to leave. We have everything we need here, we can’t get hurt or sick and we won’t age. When we return to the ‘real’ world, no time will have passed. In the mean time, you are free to create any work of art your heart desires. I have a theory that the ticket to your freedom is your masterpiece…” Leia’s emerald eyes glittered with the same adoration that drew him in the first night they met.

“Why did you bring me here? You knew we were going to be trapped in this fucked up Groundhog Day alternate reality! Why should I trust you?” His dark eyes narrowed at her as thunder rumbled in the distance, the storm reviving.

“You wanted to come.” Her face was stony silent for a moment. “Now that you’re here, you have a chance to create the most magnificent work of art within you. Think about it Henry. No distractions, no phones, no executives, no TV shows, no social media, no politics, an endless amount of time, anything your heart desires…  and me.” A hopeful tone seeped into her voice. Henry’s anger and confusion broke for the first time since the explosion. He took her hand.

“If I have to be trapped with anyone, I’m glad it’s you… But don’t you think we’ll eventually drive each other crazy, being the only two people here?” Henry asked, hoping he wasn’t hurting her feelings. She smiled and shook her head.

“Who do you want to see, Henry? Who’s the one person you want to see more than anyone right now? Just close your eyes and think of them.” Leia gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. Henry closed his eyes.

“Hi Henry.” Said a voice he hadn’t heard in over a year. When Henry opened his eyes, his heart melted.

“Mom?” Henry’s deep brown eyes filled with tears, meeting their carbon copy. She looked like she did before the cancer, before he moved away to become a Hollywood big shot, before he went off to college even. Mom was young and beautiful, her rich brown hair free of aged grays, the lines around her smile were gone, she wore the purple dress with shoulder pads from his high school graduation. Henry fell into his mother’s arms, sobbing.

“It’s okay baby, Mommy’s here.” Mom pet the back of Henry’s head and held him tight. She even smelled the same. His sobs abated and he stepped back, sniffling.

“You’re not real.” Henry resigned.

“She’s as real as you remember her, Henry.” Leia said from behind him. He turned to see genuine concern on her face. When he turned back to Mom, he had to choke back a scream. She had hollow cheeks, weary eyes, sparse, wispy hair, a tube in her nose and a faded purple bathrobe hung on a skeletal form.

“Henry… Do I look ugly?” Mom asked, deep hurt in her sunken eyes.

“No… No… No…” Henry curled to the floor with his hands over his ears. His hyperventilation was interrupted by Leia’s hand rubbing his back.

“Henry… Breathe. Look at me.” Leia soothed. When he looked up, they were the only two people in the tent again.

“What if I don’t want to do this?” Henry asked.

“I think you’d get pretty bored just sitting here.” Leia shrugged. Henry looked around at their opulent surroundings and the beautiful woman rubbing his back.

“What do I have to do?”

“Whatever you want.”

“What if I can’t think of anything?”

“That’s all you have to do is think… Look…” Leia turned his tear-streaked baby face by the chin towards the TV. The scene that materialized on the screen seemed carefully peeled from his subconscious. It was a wedding on a beach. Henry stood in front of a flower-covered arch next to Ben, who was grinning and bouncing on the balls of his feet. Morgan Freedman was under the arch holding a copy of “The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan. All of Henry’s friends and family were observing from white folding chairs, interspersed with some rather envious A-list celebrities. Leia walked up the aisle wearing a gorgeous long-sleeved white lace gown, her blonde hair pinned up in sumptuous curls under a simple veil of a single piece of tulle. Wild daises made up her bouquet and her expression was composed of serene joy. Henry lifted her veil and had to be caught under the armpits by Ben when he almost fainted.

“Are you sure this isn’t what you’re thinking?” Henry asked Leia, watching the TV in the tent, a skeptical eyebrow raised with a half-smile.

“It could be both.” Leia gave him a curious nod. They watched as “In My Life” by the Beatles started to play and a montage flowed before them. Leia was giving birth in a hospital bed while Henry gripped her hand and kissed her sweaty forehead.

In the next scene, they were in bed, a sleeping toddler in footie pajamas between them. A calico cat was curled up on the pillow on top of Henry’s head. A beagle puppy wriggled up next to the toddler and snuggled with them.

Cut to their family on a road trip, a brown-haired little boy and a blonde little girl in the back seat, Henry driving and Leia playing ukulele in the passenger seat. They appeared to be singing the four-part harmony to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

Next, Henry was in heavy makeup and period costume, playing piano as Ludwig Van Beethoven. Leia yelled “Cut!” from behind the camera, the entire set burst into applause. She had to rouse Henry from the character because he didn’t hear her as Beethoven. In a quick cut-away, while accepting the award for best picture, Leia and Henry made out until everyone was uncomfortable.

Three quick shots ended the montage. Henry had steely gray hair, sat next to Leia, a few age lines in no way diminishing her beautiful face as teary-eyed, they watched their son perform the lead in Swan Lake. In another audience, they watched their daughter in a presidential debate, laughing out loud at her retort to a flustered white man. The last shot showed them as an elderly couple sitting on a porch swing, holding hands and watching the rain, Leia’s head on Henry’s shoulder. Their grandson hopped up between them and started reading “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. The montage ended and the screen went dark.

“Wow…” Henry whispered, sitting next to Leia on the antique couch in the Imagination Tent. They both had happy tears welling up in their eyes.

“It seems your masterpiece is our life together.” Leia said, resting her head on Henry’s shoulder as the future version of herself had done. Henry put his arm around her and held her tight.

“How do we make that happen for real?” Henry asked, kissing her head and smelling her hair.

“I suppose the real versions of us have to meet in real life.” Leia shrugged.

“When is that going to happen?”

“Soon, I hope…”

***

“There are two stage doors at NBC, on opposite sides of the block. I had a 50/50 chance to meet him. He must have gone out the other door.” Jess slurred to the bartender at O’Shea’s, a seedy dive bar in Midtown. He put a shot of some green liquid down in front of her and Jess knocked it back in robotic automation.

“Careful, now. Those mind erasers taste like candy but they literally have a fuckton of booze. I don’t want you falling on that pretty face…” He put a glass of ice water with a bendy straw in front of Jess. She put her chin on her folded arms and stared at the glass.

“I guess I’m just not that lucky.” Jess grumbled. The bartender folded his arms in front of her and looked through the glass, into her tear-swollen eyes.

“You’re lucky to have those gorgeous green eyes, doll face.” He said, smiling and tilting his head around the side of the glass. “Nobody likes brown eyes. These things make ya think of poop, right?” Jess laughed too loud out of her drunken misery stupor. She pinched his cheek.

“Actually, I like brown eyes. Henry has beautiful brown eyes…” Jess ended in a wistful tone.

“I can see why you like the guy, I love that show! Hey, look I can do Bruce!” The bartender stood up, cleared his throat and puffed out his belly under his Ramones t-shirt. “Angela! Where’s my underwear with the ducks riding sausages?” He sounded like Tony Danza doing an impression of Bruce.

“Pretty good.” Jess said after a giggle snort. She looked the bartender up and down from his curly brown hair to his tattered Vans sneakers. In her state of deep inebriation, he almost looked like a New York version of Henry. “What’s your name again?”

“Danny Brillo, nice to meet ya!” Danny held out a friendly hand to Jess and she shook it while smiling. “How about you, beautiful? Gotta name?”

“Jess Bundy.” Jess started to get annoyed at the look of recognition on Danny’s face.

“Oh, like from Love and Marriage?”

“Yeah…”

“You’re way hotter than her.”

***

One year later…

The real Henry O’Connor sat in his office scrolling through Jess’s social media feed with a worried look on his face. Ben came in without knocking, holding a script.

“Henry, I gotta talk to you about this week’s episode.” Ben said, barely getting a reaction from Henry.

“Talk to Emmy, she’s the boss.” Henry waved him away.

“But my character’s just getting gayer and gayer! Like uber-gay. Like ultra-gay. Like Elton John would say ‘What a fag!’ gay. Like I’m never gonna get a woman in bed again gay…” Ben pleaded for Henry’s attention.

“Only a closeted homosexual would care about that.” Henry grumbled, not looking up from the screen.

“Okay, what the hell are you looking at?” Ben turned the screen towards him. “Ugh. Stalker much? Why are you still checking up on this chick?”

“I just can’t believe she’s still with him.” Henry turned the screen back towards himself and kept scrolling.

“They look like they’re having fun…” Ben suggested, based on the pictures of Jess sitting at a bar, watching Danny’s band.

“Because she’s wasted.” Henry noticed the drink in her hand, the dark circles under her eyes and the strained smile drawn across her face. “It’s like she doesn’t know how awesome she is…”

“Henry, what can you do about it?” Ben asked.

“I don’t know… But, I have to do something.” Henry said, lingering on a picture of Jess, rolling her eyes at Danny kissing her cheek.

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