Chapter 40 - Armand Laker

Now He Realises...

The same David Wong Pine who had been almost impossible to find when I needed him, now wants to find me.

Now that Tamerlane is touted for Awards and a mega-hit, he wants to find me.

Hmmm, let him kick foot a few days, I think.

But the problem in making someone wait is if you can't dismiss him or her from your thoughts you should get it over with.

I meet Pine at the Parker. He comes through the crowd with the kind of swagger I'd of liked if it had been those months ago when I'd asked him to 'do' Ji Tewka .

Now, it made him seem stupider today than he'd been when I first met him.

As if that wasn't silly enough, he pulls out the chair, hoists a leg over the back to sit
down. I couldn't help it, I laughed.

"Don't waste your talent on me, Mr. Pine," I snake, "you had your chance."

"Tamerlane is me...."

"No. He is not you. You have absolutely no interest in the character or his image,"
I quote adequately.

"You tricked me."

"Please, don't be a bigger fool." I summon the waiter for another drink, fling a finger
at Pine who doesn't order the usual poison but cranberry juice.

He is trying to get himself balanced, get his words lined up.
But I don't have time to waste.

"Pine, I'm going to be gentle. Firstly, the movie was produced by Tiki Productions,
which is registered on Smudge where there is no law. You can sue until you're
begging on the corner, you won't get a cent."

I paused, hoping he knew where Smudge was or what it was.

"Secondly, I have your signed renunciation to Ji Tewka. That should hold up well in a
Court room."

He would remember that, I hope.

"Third, my legal department has gathered every single statement you ever made about
how much you hated playing Ji , how it was an offense to a serious actor, as yourself."

I did not laugh when I said 'serious actor'.

"Fourth, I have our interview on tape. As you may notice, there are cameras in this
restaurant, and I did record your remarks. When I asked you to walk back in as Ji ,
you refused. You claimed to know who I was, hence, even a brain as small as your's
would be provoked to assume I was casting a role, which my subsequent conversation
hinted at."

He was looking more and more like Tom Bean as I spoke.

"Fifth; the digre I used, well you would have to prove I used Ji Tewka , the character
you played some years ago as the template. And even if you did that, we go back to
Item Two, your renunciation."

I took a breath, and very exactly; "And Sixth, I own the rights to
Caravansary. It's mine to do with as I chose."

He was looking at the table. Armand Laker shouldn't be so cruel.
What did it harm me to take this nobody and make him somebody?

"Pine, look at me." I demand.

He raises his face. It's still striking. Not as perfect as it was, but perhaps it could get there.

Then I offer him the role.
The actual role.

"There's a part you could get...but it would take work. A lot of work. And as you don't
want to train..."

"I'll do it," he said quickly.

"This is serious, Pine. This training will make what you had to do for Ji seem calisthenics."

"I'm willing!" he cried.

Ah, Pine was hungry. Probably he realised he had no more than four more years of
being capable of playing a lead. Shortly he'd be 'the father' or 'older man'.

I leaned back.

His pathetic begging face did make my victory seem a bit unfair. No court on any planet
would agree, for it was clear he had turned down the part of Tamerlane.

"Some years ago", I begin softly, forcing him to lean in to hear my words, "a normal man passed as a Eugenic. I have gotten the tapes he made and the tapes made of him.
I want to do a big budget about Gennies. I want to do it as soon as I can. If you're
willing, I will put you on salary, pay you to bulk up and to follow the regime this man did."

Instantly; "I'll do it."

"Live Again was cancelled?" I ask.

"My character is being written out," he muttered.

"Are you surprised, Mr. Serious Actor? Soaps are not for serious actors. They're for
people who can't find work."

He looked around the room as if expecting his fairy godmother.

I didn't need to humble him, so as if we were equals I gave him details then sent him away.

I backpatted myself for being a great humanitarian. Of course, if he knew how visually
powerful he was...

if someone whose opinion he respected had told him not to lose his role in
Caravansary, then I wouldn't have gotten him free to do Tamerlane, and
wouldn't be able to pay him a quarter of what he'd be worth in
Passing Perfect, the flick which would be All That.

I had to move fast.
I'd been pinched that war was coming.
If the movie was out, it would be a megahit.
But if it came out after the war...?

I needed to get Pine in shape and find Doug Hooker.

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