What happens when Hollywood’s newest heartthrob is poisoned on the set, and his Harley-riding (older) director takes him in? (find out here!)
Zac Davies peered at his co-star through a haze of dancing spots that reminded him of times as a kid when his parents’ old TV went to static. He still managed his lines, but they were flat, even to his own ears. He took a step toward Lydia and stumbled.
“Cut!” The director called.
Zac ducked his head, raking his hand through his hair. The Vicodin had held the headache at bay—so far—but these dizzy spells were another matter…
He looked up in time to see Gina reach his side. “Zac, I want to see you in my trailer,” she said in her usual no-nonsense demeanor. “Everyone else, take five.”
Being summoned to the director’s trailer was like being sent to the principal’s office. Yet in the three-plus weeks they’d been shooting, Gina Devereaux had shown herself true to her reputation: tough but fair. Not to mention damn good at what she did; with her guidance, he’d done some of his best work yet.
This is what it’s like in the big leagues.
At twenty-nine, the golden window of opportunity was closing fast. This was his big break. He couldn’t afford to blow it. He owed it to his parents.
He felt sweat trickle down his back.
“Take a seat, Zac.” Gina pointed to a cot set up to the side of the trailer. She went straight to a cooler at the back and pulled out two water bottles. She handed one to Zac and he opened it gratefully.
She pulled a chair and sat so that she faced him.
“Are you okay?”
It was not what he’d expected to hear, and he hesitated. Should he tell her? “Um…the heat has been getting to me,” he said. “Maybe I’m just dehydrated.”
Her eyes narrowed and he braced himself for anger or frustration.
“You’ve been really solid up until the last couple days,” she said. “Have you been partying with the crew at night? Drinking a lot of alcohol?”
“Of course not!” Zac said. “I don’t do drugs.”
“Well, then, what’s your explanation?” Irritation was creeping into her voice. She was under as much pressure as he was. Maybe more. “Because you don’t go from giving above-the-cut performance to what I’m getting from you now.”
“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry. Maybe I’m just coming down with something. A flu bug. I’ll take some cold medicine. I’ve got some in my bag.”
She leaned back in her chair, studying him doubtfully.
“Gina!” The voice outside the trailer was unmistakeable.
“Shit,” she muttered. “Sylvester.” The film’s producer was a crotchety industry veteran who had a penchant for hanging around the set and scowling at everything they did.
“I’ll be out in a moment,” she called.
“I’ll be fine,” Zac said, even as the beginning of what promised to become another ferocious headache snaked across his temples.
I have to get to the Vicodin before this turns into stomach cramps.
“I think you need to rest,” she said, still watching him in an unnerving way.
“Just let me get my bag…”
She stood. “You stay here. Lay down and close your eyes for a few minutes. I’ll send someone with your bag.”
It was only a matter of minutes before a production assistant showed up with his bag. Zac rummaged at the bottom, found the Vicodin and popped two of them.
Does Vicodin count as a drug? Nah. Not the kind of drugs she was asking about…
He tried to relax but he was overly warm even here with the rudimentary air conditioning. He ran a hand across his forehead; it was sweaty too.
When Gina came back, she looked none too happy. “I’ve been overruled,” she said. “I need you back on the set in five.”
“I’ll send Suzie in here to touch up your makeup.”
Gina stood behind Camera Two, squinting at the actors. She had serious doubts they’d get any usable footage this day, and it was becoming harder to keep her frustration in check. She needed this film to be successful. But if they didn’t get it this time, she was calling it a day regardless of Sylvester’s opinion. “Action!” she called for the fifth time.
Had she been wrong about Zac’s ability? Wrong in thinking that she’d be able to bring out the best in him? Maybe those first weeks were just too good to be true?
She watched him closely. She may have been the only one to notice the slight slur on his first lines. Then he sharpened. He took his co-star, Lydia Grant, by the hand as he spun off his lines.
Damn, we just might get this.
Lydia took over with her lines as they moved between the trees as scripted. The cameras followed, and so did Gina.
The script called for Lydia to stumble and Zac to catch her, but it didn’t go as planned.
Instead, Zac got dragged down with Lydia.
Gina didn’t call a stop to the action; rather, she waited to see what they would do. She knew her camera people would follow her lead, and so would the actors. If it wasn’t good, they wouldn’t use it; that’s what post-production was for. But experience had taught her that every now and then, while deep in character, the camera could catch something in the actors’ performance that just…worked. Better than the script.
Zac stayed down as Lydia got to her knees. She produced a demure chuckle and offered him her hand. Gina was focused on the small movements of the hand, the face, the eye as Zac got to his feet. So she was probably the first to notice Zac’s face go pale.
Then, as if in slow motion, his eyes rolled back into his head and his body crumpled to the ground.
For a moment there was silence, as if everyone was waiting to see what the actors would do. But Zac didn’t move, and Lydia’s face held a stunned look.
“Cut!” Gina rushed forward and dropped to her knees. “Zac!”
Lydia was beside her on her knees now too. “Did he hit his head?”
Gina placed one hand behind Zac’s neck. “Zac, can you hear me?” She heard Dale, her assistant director and close friend, on the radio requesting the set medic.
She placed her other hand flat against Zac’s chest. To her relief, his breathing was regular and his heartbeat strong. She brought her hand up to his forehead; she couldn’t tell if he was running a fever or just overly warm from the sun and exertion. “Zac, if you can hear me, I need you to open your eyes.”
“Oh man…” Lydia sounded freaked out. She took one of Zac’s hands in her own.
Now Dale was asking the camera operators to review the footage they’d just shot. It was a good idea; perhaps one of the camera angles would show if he’d hit his head.
The medic knelt next to Gina. “What happened?” she said.
“I think he fainted,” Gina said. “But he may have also hit his head.”
The medic performed an assessment, taking extra time to feel around on Zac’s head. She flashed a small light in his eyes. “Pupils look good,” she said. “No head trauma.”
“He was obviously out last night partying too hard.” Sylvester’s voice cut over the murmurs of the crew. When Gina looked up she was surprised to find that the producer stood less than ten feet away.
“I don’t know about that,” Gina said. Of course, Sylvester didn’t know what Zac had told her. “I think we should have him checked out.”
“Gina, he fainted.” Sylvester glared at her. “A hospital visit would bring the tabloids on us like flies on shit.”
“Then bring a doctor in to look at him,” she said.
“The medic can keep an eye on him, and you can work on a scene that doesn’t require him,” Sylvester said.
Gina looked at the medic; she just shrugged.
Sylvester narrowed his eyes at the cast and crew. “And not a word of this to anyone outside the set.”
“No.” Gina stood, hands on her hips. “I let you push me into pushing him. If you want him looked after here, I’m going to personally make sure he’s all right.” She addressed the crew and cast in a firm voice: “That’s a wrap for today, folks.”
She turned to Dale and the medic. “Can you help get him to my trailer?”
Dale nodded and motioned to one of the production assistants.
“Gina—” Sylvester started.
“Damn it, Syl,” She cut him off with a murderous glare. “Get off my set.”