“Hello, Michael. What do I owe this call?”
A small speaker emitted the call, set between the two of us and away from two plates dirty with teriyaki sauce and salmon skin.
Madalynn’s hair was tied back in her “thinking” hairdo- a scrunchy keeping the fires at bay.
“Mark, it’s Madalynn. You’re on speaker phone. How are you?”
His answer clearly sounded surprised.
“Oh! Ms. O’Rourke! A pleasant surprise. I’m good. Where’s Michael?”
I leaned into the speaker, “I’m right here, Mark. We wanted to go over the numbers again. Madalynn, my counsel, wants to know if there are going to be any stunts on the project.”
There was a slight pause.
“Michael,” my agent replied, “You know that there aren’t any stunts-”
“I know,” I replied, feeling a burst of energy shaking my thighs, “I just want Madalynn to hear it from the horse’s mouth- not you, Mark, just an expression.”
“Right,” Mark paused again, “Madalynn, you there?”
She leaned back in her chair, an eyebrow raised in confusion at the way I leaned into the microphone- as if it didn’t pick up my voice.
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Madalynn, I swear on this contract that Michael will not have to perform any stunts. This is a speaking role, with barely any movement, save for the occasional walk around the office. The shooting schedule is rough for everyone involved, but that isn’t something he can’t handle.”
I felt her blue eyes staring through my new energy. She leaned forward in the chair, hands intertwined with each other in a nervous shake. Only after I gave a reassuring nod did she accept his answer.
“Okay. Madalynn, would you like to hear the numbers again?”
She turned to the speaker and pushed a loose strand of hair away from her face.
The agent began the spiel again.
“So, Madalynn, this is a standard SAG contract, as you are well aware. It's 900 a day, 3200 a week salary with 1000 dollar monthly carry-over stipend for off-set purchases, and pay for press tours and talk-shows."
"How much for the publicity?"
Madalynn was sticking on the details, again.
"Maddie, that's included in the contract."
"Mikey," she turned to me with heated eyes, "I want to see the contract."
"I understand," I replied, "but those numbers aren't set yet. If I'm getting paid by Paramount just to stand on their lot, surely they'll pay me for a couple of talk-shows, and meetings at WandaCon and press junkets in a few months."
She leaned back again in her chair.
"No numbers there," she retorted, "but you know what you're doing."
"What do you think?"
Mark asked the same thing I did. Except he got a strange answer.
She leaned into the speaker and turned on the mute button.
The agent's questions fell on her deaf ears as she turned her gaze towards me.
"Michael, if this is what you really want- to go back into the limelight again, to risk it all like you did before, then I-"
She rested her face in her hands before raising her eyes again towards me.
"I know you were afraid of what people thought, but I'm sure you know that the world is changing. It's going to leave the old people behind, but if you're not scared to change, then who am I to tell you what to do?"
She leaned back towards the speaker and clicked the button again.
"Michael? Madalynn? Are you there?"
I leaned back in my chair this time, my legs crossed like some kind of villain.
"Mark? Tell the greedy bastards I'll sign on the dotted line."
We could hear Mark pause before closing the call with a formal message.
Judd pulled up to the driveway as Madalynn led me to the foyer. We had spent the last fifteen minutes retreading through years of memories. Turns out we had gotten so drunk one night we crashed an Irish couples' wedding and sung some ballads with the guests? I completely forgot until she showed me an article showing us singing along to "Bog Down in the Valley", a song she taught me years before.