INT. SOUNDSTAGE. DAY.
Peter tried to block out the noise of the bustling soundstage around him. He was supposed to be studying the scene they were filming that afternoon but he couldn’t keep his thoughts focused on the open script in his lap. He kept flicking through the pages, nearly every one cluttered with his scrawled notes and comments. But that too couldn’t keep his mind in the studio. His thoughts kept running back and forth over his conversation with Evelyn and farther back, trying to relive the last weeks with Layla, trying to remember. He had vague memories of phone calls, text messages which she hid from him and very dimly an impression of waking up in the middle of the night and hearing her leave the room and a few moments later the apartment door closing. But did he really remember that? And could he remember her coming back an hour later? And there’d been so many calls, so many times, so many men. He’d put so much effort into forgetting, remembering now was proving impossible.
He checked his watch impatiently, anxious for two o’clock. He’s spent all Sunday running over things. It was strange, but for the first time, he felt an overpowering need to know the truth. Five years ago, he’d been too busy trying to prove his innocence. And then maybe a part of him had started to believe his own guilt. Of course he’d known he hadn’t killed her. But after a while, he had started to believe he would have. Perhaps in his memory he’d also lost all idea of Layla as a person. She’d become some demonized version in his mind’s eye, and it was only Evelyn who had reminded him of the woman he had been in love with.
He heard his name and looked up. Matt was coming over, smiling broadly. Steeling himself, Peter got to his feet.
“So,” said Matt, grasping Peter’s hand and giving it a firm shake. “What can I do you for? Sorry I couldn’t make it earlier.”
“Let’s talk in private,” said Peter seriously. Matt’s smile faded, his expression concerned, but he followed Peter over to the far end of the soundstage and into a small break room that was currently empty. Peter locked the door and gestured for Matt to take a seat. He took a deep breath and mentally tried to prepare himself. “I need to ask you a favor Matt.”
“What is it?”
Peter nodded. “You’re not going to like this favor. And I’m not going to be able to explain this favor. And on top of all that I can’t afford this favor so I’m also going to need to borrow money from you as well.”
Matt couldn’t help but grin. “You’re not very good at favor asking are you?”
“Matt,” Peter sat down across from him. “You are my best friend in the world.”
“That’s a little better. Buttering me up. You should know by now Peter, of course I’ll help you. I always have.”
“I know. Which is why I’m not buttering you up. I’m stating the facts. You’re also my only friend in the world. And you have been there for me when literally no one else has. Which is why I have to ask you for this, and why you’re the only I can ask to trust me. Because you’re the only one who ever has.”
“Geesh, Peter please cut to the chase because whatever it is, it can’t be as scary as you’re making it out to be.”
“Do you know any private investigators?”
Matt’s eyebrows shot up but he said cautiously, “Yes, I’ve worked with a couple.”
“I need one who…” Peter hesitated as he searched for proper phrasing. “Would be willing to do whatever it takes to get a particular piece of information.”
Matt sat for a full minute, studying Peter’s face. He wavered and then shrugged. “I don’t work with guys like that. If an actor can’t get a job legally, I’m not going to put my career on the line to get them one illegally. And I’m not doing my job properly if I can’t get the inside line on films without wiretapping. But,” he conceded, “I know some people who don’t see things the same way. They’d probably know some names that could do what you need. This is Hollywood, money can buy you just about anything…” He blinked and then gave a humorless smile. “Which is why you need to borrow money from me to isn’t it?”
Matt nodded. “Okay. And what do you need the investigator to find out for you?”
Peter pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it over. “I need to find out who was living in this apartment building on the date I’ve listed. The manager should keep that information, but probably isn’t going to want to just share it.”
Matt looked down at the sheet and then blinked. Slowly, he dragged his eyes away from it and met Peter’s gaze. “This is your old apartment.”
“And this is date Layla-”
“And you’re not going to tell me why.” It was more of a statement then question.
Matt stared across at Peter, the page between them, the silence deafening. And then he let out a deep breath, folded and pocketed the paper. “Okay.”
“Okay?” asked Peter, surprised.
“Okay.” Matt got to his feet.
“If this is really what you need, I’ll do it. But please Peter, whatever you’re doing; be careful. Both personally and professionally, this could hurt you if it gets out.”
Peter nodded. “Thanks Matt.” The two men shook hands and Matt left. Alone, Peter sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. That hadn’t been fun. But it’d been easier than the next step he was looking forward to. Going through Layla’s things. He dreaded the prospect but there was something he needed to find.