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“You’ve never done it before, have you?” Seven’s grinning, but South doesn’t make excuses.

“You can talk to me about this or you can play kid-brother games,” he says. “Your pick.”

Seven nods. “You’re right. Okay, honestly? It’s going to be awkward the first time and she won’t want to talk about it. It’ll be over very quickly, and any joke you crack will make you look like a twelve-year-old. All you can do is relax and be… professional.”

The next day South and Rebecca make out for twenty-two takes. They’re all good takes, every single one.


Because I was in a dark place,
and I begged to be freed.

And you were answered?



We get a flicker of JONAH in a similar room, younger and clean-shaven, slightly to the right of where he’s sitting now.

I cut


my way out.

Rough on the whale.

Long beat.

Not as rough as remembering
this line.

“South!” says Rebecca.

“Bngah!” says South, gripping his head. “‘Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying–‘

“Blooper reel, hour six,” she mutters.

“South!” says Sejal. “Don’t muss your hair.”


That first night they close out the Gaslamp bars, then can’t find their hotel. They sleep in the van. It’s awful. They like it; they go nocturnal (makeup would kill them if they came back bronzed).

They find the hotel. It’s being picketed. They cancel.

“I don’t have health insurance either,” says South. False dawn rosies the beach. “How different are we, us and the maids and handymen?”

“You’ll get Guild insurance,” Rebecca says, “once they pick up the pilot.”


“When.” Six a.m. and she’s rubbing sunblock into her hands, which are thin and strong, raw knuckles and short nails.


South shows up on Sunday, but the set’s empty. He goes home. They’re leaning on a van. He catches a familiar duffel bag.

“This is mine,” he says stupidly.

“Shouldn’t keep your key in that fake rock,” Seven announces.

“We couldn’t find any clean underwear,” grins Rebecca, “so I bought you some–”

“You what,” says South.

“You needed underwear!” says Seven. “For the kidnapping!”

“The network–”

“Won’t tell us anything for a week,” says Rebecca. “We’re going to the beach.”

Seven hauls open the door.

Then it’s Dandy Warhols on a boombox, the stereo’s broken, and three hundred miles to Coronado.


They shuffle around, wiping their palms even in the icebox AC. South asks, “So this is a ‘meet and greet?'”

“Meat market, really,” says Moses.

“There’s a pun in there,” says Seven. “Please don’t find it.”

Bailey’s waiting behind the door. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, “our principals,” and then they’re in with the sharks.

Seven’s all teeth and sexy danger; South and Moses pair up and slay a whole tribe of execs, and Rebecca is God’s own golden girl. She looks invincible. They’re all invincible. South never knew he could do this. Before they went in, she squeezed his hand.


Seven appears on day five–just as everybody’s murmuring about when Bailey’s going to cast the part, he walks in after lunch with a minor cult hero. The crew goes fanboy; nobody gets anything done.

“Welcome to the weird names club,” says South when they shake hands. He’s trying to be casual in a tiny g-string. It’s not easy.

“Bailey says he’s doing a shower scene today,” says Seven drily, “then mentions I get to work with Rebecca Chiltern if I sign. Just mentions.”

“Your conclusions are your own!” calls Bailey.

“It’s cool,” says South, “my ass is better anyway.”


They split a cab. The cab smells like lemons.

“How do you think it went?”

“What? Oh–”

“How’d you–”

“Great,” he says quickly. “Great. Yeah. It’s such good text.”

“Can’t always tell on the read-through,” she says. “But I agree.”

The cabbie avoids the strip, for which South is grateful. They pass little hotels: neon legs and adobe.

“So,” he says. “Heh. I should be up front about this.” He looks at his hands. “You’re just incredibly professional, and I’ve developed this huge crush on you. And I absolutely–it won’t interfere with the work.”

She’s smiling. “It never does.”