Episode 3, Part 3
The Venue – Downtown
Janice pulled up to the curb and parked in front of…The Avalon? Apparently, Jerry had already been quite busy spending his unexpected windfall because she found her former hangoot transformed beyond recognition. A large marquee above the entrance flashed the words The Venue – Downtown in deep electric blue and a swath of crimson Eco-Fi fashioned into a faux red carpet led from the end of the sidewalk to the revolving door. A ticket-taker podium was installed to the right of the entrance.
Stepping gingerly over a thin layer of ice, Janice nearly lost her balance before reaching the red polyester strip and regaining her traction. Pushing her way inside, Janice was momentarily stunned at the complete metamorphosis the establishment had undergone in just a few short weeks. Signed band posters and sundry rock and roll memorabilia adorned the walls while the splintered light from a giant mirror ball suspended from the ceiling cast dancing illuminated diamonds upon every surface. The wall that had separated the dining area from the pinball room had been knocked down, the booths and arcade games were gone, and in their place rose a prominent stage.
Jerry was sitting at a small table near the bar waiting for her to arrive. Janice walked over, shook his hand in a pointedly businesslike manner and sat down. Jerry polished off his beer and belched under his breath before giving Janice an uncomfortably thorough once-over.
“Nope. Still don’t remember you.”
“I’m not surprised. Back when I used to come here, the most memorable thing aboot me was probably how unmemorable I was.”
“You were friends with Ashley and Dylan and all those guys?”
“Well…I don’t know if ‘friends’ is exactly accurate, but yeah, that was my class.”
“Hmm. I just don’t remember you.”
“Yeah, that’s been established. Anyway, Jerry, the reason I asked to meet with you is that I have a business proposition to discuss. I’m the programming director at Broadband TV. I’ve been thinking of airing more live entertainment just after the prime-time lineup to sort of set us apart from the other networks that exclusively air talk shows in that time slot. Then when I read your interview in the paper, I thought your new clubs might just be the perfect venue, no pun intended — but perhaps serendipity implied?”
“If you know how to speak English, please feel free to do so any time.”
Janice chuckled and looked warmly at Jerry.
“What I’m saying, Jerry, is that I run a television network and you are now the proud owner of three ultramodern rock and roll clubs all situated on prime Vancouver real estate. If we combine our resources, we can make more money than we’d ever know what to do with. So what do you say?”
Jerry paused and picked at the label on the neck of his beer bottle. Finally, he raised his head and looked Janice squarely in the eye while extending his hand across the table.
“I say hell yeah, Partner!”
“Hell yeah. Partner.”
South Bruce Grey Health Centre
“Mrs. Walker? Ashley?”
“Good. Do you know where you are?”
“Okay. You were in a car accident, do you remember that?”
“Good. Now you did suffer a moderate concussion, so we’re going to keep you here overnight for observation, but aside from that, I’d say you got pretty lucky. Are you feeling good enough to have a little talk with someone?”
“who? you didn’t call matt, did you?”
“No, Mrs. walker, we haven’t called anyone. But there’s a police officer oot in the hall who wants to ask you some questions. Do you feel up to it?”
The nurse rose from her chair next to the bed and before Ashley knew it, a stern-faced female officer from the Regional Police Service seemed to just materialize in her place.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Walker.”
“I’m Constable Jennings and I’m investigating the accident that you were involved in today. Mrs. Walker, were you driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medications at the time of the collision?”
“no, ma’am. well, maybe. i had taken an alprazolam just after lunch but that’s per my prescription and i take it at that time every day so…”
“Mrs. Walker, more than five times the prescribed amount of Xanax was found in your system. That’s another reason the doctor wants to keep you overnight, to monitor any withdrawal symptoms. We found one and a half bottles in your glove box, prescribed by two different physicians.”
“okay. there’s really nothing i can say, is there? so what happens now?”
“Since no one else was hurt, we’re going to let you go home after the doctor releases you. But you’ll be receiving a summons to appear before the Court to face a charge of impaired driving resulting in property damage within the next few days. You can retain an attorney, but they cannot be present for the initial hearing when the charges against you will be read to the Court. Do you understand, Mrs. Walker?”
“yes. thank you. if you don’t mind…i really need to rest now.”
Ashley watched the cop lumber oot the door and slowly moved her hand towards the small lamp table at the bedside where the nurse had placed her cell phone. She grabbed it and pulled up her contacts, then hesitated for a very long moment as her finger hovered unsteadily over the name Dylan Blackwell.
Matt sat nervously at the bar nursing a ginger ale. The producer he’d met last week had advised him to be here at noon to discuss creative ideas with a team of reps from the network, but it was already twenty after and Matt was on his third $8 glass of Canada Dry.
Finally, he saw Craig stroll in past the maître d with a party of four nearly identical business-hipsters.
“This is the man of the hour, Fellas! Matt, this is Peter, Alan, Joshua and Mitch, but you can just refer to them collectively as Those Assholes Who Make My Life Miserable. I’ve already given them the basics aboot what you and I had discussed for the show format and now they’re here to fuck it all up. Sound fun?”
“Great! What are you drinking?”
“Ah…just ginger ale.”
“Nonsense. You’re gonna need something a lot stronger than that to stomach these guys, trust me. Bartender, six Canadian Clubs, straight, and start a tab.”
“Listen, Craig, I, uh—”
“Matt, what do you think aboot a co-host?”
Craig and the team of producers pulled up to the bar on either side of Matt.
“Honestly, I thought a co-host was a given…but I don’t have any suggestions, if that’s what you mean. I mean, my little thing in Toronto was just a single camera DIY show with a very limited audience, so…”
The bartender returned and placed the drinks evenly down the row of well-dressed, unshaven execs until he reached Matt and seemed to take a measured pause before sliding the glassful of amber brown liquid onto the bar in front of him.
“Alright! Na Zdorovie, Gentlemen! To Matt and another shitty realty show that’ll make us assloads of money!”
Matt sat beneath the pyramid of raised glasses and stared into the whiskey, imagined himself drowning in it and found the image oddly soothing.
“Is everything alright, Matt?”
Matt raised the glass to his lips and emptied a burning stream of electrical current into his throat. He slammed the glass onto the bar and smiled a demented jagged crescent of unhealthy satisfaction.
“Yeah, Craig. Everything’s alright. Let’s talk co-hosts!”