The airplane landed an hour late. Matt stood and stretched, then waited while the passengers in front of him filed out before he stepped into the aisle and took his carry-on down from the overhead bin. He exchanged a few pleasantries with the steward and exited the plane.
The Dublin airport was relatively small for belonging to a capital city and Matt had made his way outside in less than fifteen minutes. He caught a cab and gave the driver the address he had jotted down.
They drove near the center of the city and then turned left, down what appeared to be an old road lined with fading brick buildings. They pulled up outside a large building with a red and gold sign declaring ‘Riley’s Hotel’. Matt paid the driver and got out. He slung his carry-on over his shoulder and entered the building.
The lobby was small, with mahogany tiling on the ground and a large round table in the center with a vase of flowers on top. The reception desk was near the back of the room next to the stairs.
“Welcome to Riley’s Hotel. How may I help you?” the receptionist asked. He was an old man, with a long grey beard, and his tone implied he had asked this question several thousand times in his life.
“I’m here to see Peter Glades. Is he in?”
The man looked at him suspiciously. “Name?”
“Matt Wilson. I’m his agent.”
The man picked up the phone and dialed. “There’s a visitor down here to see you. He says his name is Matt Wilson? Yes? Alright.” The receptionist hung up. “He says he’ll be right down.”
“Thank you.” Matt wandered over to the round table to smell the flowers, mostly to put some distance between him and the old man who was still eyeing him suspiciously. A few minutes later he heard footsteps on the stairs and he turned round. Peter reached the lobby floor, spotted him, and smiled.
“Matt! It’s good to see you.” Peter crossed over to him and gave him a hearty handshake. “How was the flight?”
“Long but not too bad.”
“Would you like some coffee? There’s a café up the street.”
“Yes, that would be good.”
The two men headed out. Peter led the way a few blocks to a small café on a corner. They took seats on the terrace outside and ordered.
“How have you been?” asked Matt, as the waitress left to fetch their drinks.
“I’ve been good.”
Matt took a closer look at Peter. He did look good. His skin had a healthy tan color, his manner seemed more relaxed and easy, and something about his eyes seemed clearer and brighter. Matt wondered if he had been drinking less. He shifted in his chair, feeling guilty about his reason for coming.
“I’ve been doing a lot of sightseeing,” continued Peter. “Traveling about the country. I was in County Cork last week. Been studying some of the Irish monastic and medieval history. It’s fascinating. Bloody. But fascinating.”
“The medieval part?”
“Both. You’d be surprised by what some of those monks got up to.” The conversation paused as the waitress brought their espressos. “Anyways. It’s been a good time. I’ve been clearing my head.”
“I’m glad. It’s good to see you like this. It’s been a long time.”
Peter shrugged and took a drink.
“Actually,” said Matt, staring down into his coffee but not touching it. “I didn’t come here just to see how you were doing.”
Peter laughed. “I didn’t think so. But I could have saved you a trip. Whatever it is the answer is no.”
“I knew you were going to say that but you don’t really understand.”
“There is nothing to understand. I am officially retired, and with no intention of returning. Look, I recorded the commentary for the Crocodiles in Space DVD and that was my last, albeit very inauspicious, job in the film industry.”
“The DVDs are selling very well.”
“I know. I got my first royalty check two weeks ago.”
“A little too well.”
Peter frowned. “What do you mean ‘too well’?”
Matt took a deep breath and winced slightly as he broke the news. “They want to make a sequel.”
There was a pause and then Peter started to laugh. “You’re serious? A sequel to Crocodiles in Space? The film in which a crocodile actually ate a space ship?”
“It was a small ship.”
“It was still a ship. I don’t have to work for NASA to know they’re probably not that easy to eat.”
“I’d think the question would be more zoologist related, as you’d need to know the strength of a crocodile’s jaws and teeth,” pointed out Matt.
“I’m sure they’d call bull on it too. And the network actually wants to make a sequel to this?”
“As I said the DVDs are really selling well.”
“Largely, as I understand it, because I mock the film on the official commentary.”
“Yes,” said Matt, “Which actually worked out really well for us when negotiating for the sequel.”
“You’ve actually been negotiating?” Peter shook his head in disbelief. “I could have saved you a lot of time and just told you there is no way on earth-”
“It was in your contract.”
“For the first film,” explained Matt. “There was clause for sequels.”
“No. Obviously given the quality of the film I think we both sort of overlooked it. But it’s there. You were contractually bound to appear in up to two sequels should the network choose to green light them.”
Peter stared. “Two sequels?”
Matt held up his hands quickly. “I’ve negotiated them down to one, in exchange for you agreeing to do another commentary for it.”
“No,” said Peter flatly. “I’m not going to do this. I’m not even going to discuss the idea because it’s ludicrous.”
“Then you’ll be taken to court. The network has made it very clear that they will sue you for breach of contract if you renege. Set aside the fact that you can’t afford to pay, do you really want to go through a lawsuit?”
Peter sighed and leaned back heavily in his chair. “There has to be a way out of this.”
“I’ve been spending the past month trying to find it,” said Matt. “I’m sorry but I couldn’t budge them.”
“Look it’s not even about the crocodiles. I just…”
“I understand how hard this is but I don’t know what else to do.”
Peter shook his head. “Crocodiles in Space 2. Unbelievable.”
“Actually,” said Matt reluctantly, “They’re calling it Crocodiles in Space: Alligators Too. T, double o. It’s supposed to look cool or something.”
“Fantastic. Let’s add alligators to the mix. Because it wasn’t absurd enough.” Peter took another drink of coffee and rubbed his eyes, appearing very tired. “Matt I don’t know that I can do this.”
“Look it’s the last job you’ll have to do. If you want to return to retirement afterwards you can. It’ll take a couple months and then you’ll be done. Besides, Peter you can’t stay here indefinitely.”
“You’re living in a hotel. You’re sightseeing. I mean sooner or later you have to find something you want to do. This is healthy for you now but not long term. If you don’t want to act anymore that’s fine but just hanging around Ireland being a tourist is eventually going to get dull.”
“There are an awful lot of countries in the world. I can work my way through.”
“Peter, I’m being serious.”
“And I don’t want to be. Not now.”
Matt nodded. “Okay. That’s fair.”
Peter looked out across the street. He suddenly appeared drained. “I really have to go back don’t I?”
“Yes. I’m afraid you do.”