S3, Ep 13, Sc 5: The Cracks

“What?” Holly blinked confused. “I don’t understand.”

“I thought we agreed to be honest. And while we are, I need hardly add that you don’t have proof. You can say you saw our argument, you can say Lionel approached you about contacting me, you can even say you saw the proof that I’d paid him five years ago. But you have no proof of any of that anymore. But I like to make friends. Not enemies. So what do you want to be friends?”

Holly stared at him and then made a small noise, halfway between a laugh and gasp. “You killed a man.”

“Lionel Atwood was hardly worthy of being called any kind of a man. He was a paparazzo, who blackmailed people, didn’t pay his child support and was in every way a troublemaker. Nor did I kill him.”

“You just said we were being honest. You wouldn’t be here, offering me a ‘deal’ if you didn’t kill him. You wouldn’t have paid Linda off if you didn’t kill him.”

Grant waved a hand, batting away her arguments. “Circumstances compel it, that’s all. Unfortunate circumstances. I paid Lionel five years ago. At the time he assured me that he had destroyed the evidence. He lied. But then he ran out of money and he wanted to be paid again and admitted he lied. I know you’re aware that there is a very important merger happening in what is now the very near future. I have worked for years to bring this about. I have dreamed of this merger and I will do whatever it takes to see it through.”

“What does a merger have to do with paying Lionel?”

“The amount he wanted, I was not able to procure for him at such short notice. I would have had to dip into Montell Studios funds. Funds which are at the moment under very close scrutiny. I made it clear to him that if he waited, I could make a payment but at the notice he gave me, it was quite impossible. He wasn’t interested in waiting. His ex-wife has been far more understanding.”

“So you killed him to protect the merger?”

“I’ve already explained, that I didn’t kill him,” Grant snapped.

“Then what did you do?”

“I told him I’d pay if he gave me all the evidence. I wasn’t going to trust him again on that front.”

“But you said you didn’t have the money.”

“I didn’t. I can lie too. I gathered together what funds I could and had two…‘associates’ meet him near his apartment. They took the evidence, gave him the money and then….well.”

“They killed him.”

“I’m getting tired of having to explain to you Miss Woods that I did not kill or have Atwood killed. They were supposed to teach him a small lesson. Rough up him a little so that he knew never to go after Montell Studios, or me, again. His heart condition was completely unexpected. It was an accident.”

“Which you caused.”

“Or he caused himself with his own greed and avarice. If this were a film, it might be considered poetic justice.”

“But what about what you did five years ago. How can you excuse that?”

“I did nothing five years ago. It’s Lionel who committed the crime of blackmail.”

“You covered up a murder!”

“I did nothing of kind. I had no reason to believe that Alan had killed Layla Glades. But if Lionel had released his information it would have muddied the waters and White Crusader would most certainly have lost money, exactly like Peter’s film did. The studio couldn’t afford that.”

“The studio? You can see the way Peter was treated and consider the effect being on trial for murder must have on someone and you can sit there and talk about the studio?”

“Yes! The studio,” said Grant, angrily. “You’re next line is probably going to be some self-righteous comment about how all I care for is money and the bottom dollar. But think about this just a little Miss Woods. My studio employs fifteen hundred people, and that is not including the thousands of cast and crew we employ on sets around the world. People who depend on us. Who depend on me. And you have no idea what it’s like to have thousands of people looking at you for a living. If Montell Studios folds, they’re all out of luck. You think they can find new jobs? Some of them maybe, but what about the rest? The film industry is struggling. The cracks are beginning to show. Between online streaming and content, illegal pirating and raising ticket prices, we have to fight tooth and nail to get audiences into movie theaters. And what do we hear? Complaint after complaint that we never make anything original: it’s always sequels and remakes and adaptations. Why can’t Hollywood ever make anything original? Why don’t we ever try anything new?” Grant laughed humorlessly.

“I’ll tell you why, it’s because for all their self-righteous moaning that’s not really what the audience wants. The cold hard truth is that we make what they do want. If they wanted different, if they wanted experimental or new stories, we’d make those. But those theaters are all empty; it’s the ones playing Superhero number 18 that packs them in. But every now and then, some indie film makes it big and people feel all morally justified, but the truth is that those are the exceptions that prove the rule. We get no appreciation and no loyalty from the people we work and sweat to entertain. So the only loyalty that’s worth a dime is the loyalty from the people who depend on you. So you can sit there, preach at me that I should have sacrificed my studio for the sake of one stupid actor that didn’t have the sense to leave his wife when he had the chance, but I protected jobs and livelihoods. I took care of my people. The people God put in my hands to look after and I’ll rot in the grave before I’m convinced that I should sacrifice them for one foolish romantic entanglement.”

Holly shrunk back. He wasn’t shouting but his tone was hard and brittle. He stared her down. The tension was thick enough that she could have sworn a barrier had slammed down between them and despite every nerve in her body screaming that they wanted to run away, she couldn’t move a muscle. They sat like that for a good five, agonizing minutes before Grant shifted back a little, smiled and asked,

“So now Holly. It’s your turn. What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to do what’s right.”

“And what is that?”

“I’m not sure. But there’s nothing I want from you.”

He studied her for a long moment as if considering and then nodded to himself, as if confirming something. “A pity.” He stood up and nodded to her. “Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

He turned and walked away.

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2 Responses to S3, Ep 13, Sc 5: The Cracks

  1. schn00dles says:

    WEll done. I enjoyed his rant. And you’ve painted a tough situation. I’ll have to think about what I’d do, then see if it matches what Holly does.

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