Episode 5, Part 2
THE VENUE – DOWNTOWN
Aviation Gin & Broadband TV Present
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
With special guest Black Well
April 23, 2022, 8:00 p.m.
Jerry and Janice sat at the bar poring over a stack of paperwork.
“I feel like I’m signing my damn life away. Maybe I should get a lawyer to look this over.”
Janice mustered all her remaining patience to explain the deal to Jerry for the fourth time this morning.
“Jerry, listen – I’ve already examined all the legalese in the contract ad nauseum. Here’s what it boils down to: once a month, you will book a big-name Canadian act at one of your clubs and Broadband will telecast it live. Our marketing department will assist you in contacting agents, negotiating fees and all that kind of stuff. The Venue – that is to say, you – is guaranteed 25% of all ad revenue generated from each of the broadcasts. That’s it.”
“What’s the catch?”
“There’s no catch, Jerry. This has the potential to really boost Broadband’s profile – that’s what’s in it for them and for me. Plain and simple.”
“Can I ask why it was so important that I offer Dylan the opening slot for next month’s show? That didn’t make a lot of sense.”
“Well, Jerry…if my reasons for wanting Dylan to play on the first broadcast constituted the entirety of this contract’s indecipherable fine print, would you consider that a deal breaker?”
Jerry stared hard at Janice for a long moment.
“No, I guess not. But it still doesn’t sound like a very good idea.”
“Let’s just say that every now and then, a business opportunity unexpectedly leads to a personal one.”
“Still hot for Dylan, huh?”
“If that solves the mystery for you, Jerry, then sure. Let’s go with that. Now crack those knuckles and get signing – I need to have this back to our legal department by 3:00.”
Dylan sat on his bed playing guitar when Ashley appeared at the door.
“got a second, dylan?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“i talked to matt this morning.”
“Oh yeah? How’d that go?”
“okay, i guess. he’s been so great aboot everything, but it feels so weird when we talk now. we’re still married, technically, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. he’s here in vancouver filming his new show.”
“Maybe it would be easier if you talked face to face, then?”
“no. we’ll always be friends, dylan, but right now, we both just need to move on with our lives. but that’s not why i brought it up. matt told me something pretty disturbing.”
“chris is dead. he was murdered in prison.”
Dylan put down his guitar and got up from the bed.
“I can’t believe she went through with it!”
“When I went to see Roxane in the hospital, she told me she wanted to hire someone to take Chris oot…Ashley, I thought she was joking – I really did! You remember how Roxane talks – she hasn’t changed much since high school and we were both laughing when she said it. Holy shit.”
“it’s scary. why does life have to turn oot this way, dylan? what did we all do to deserve this?”
“You can’t think like that, Ashley, you’ll drive yourself crazy. It’s all chaos and all we can do is navigate the chaos until we can’t anymore.”
Dylan walked over to the closet and grabbed his jacket.
“Fuck today. I’m gonna go down to BC and get us a bottle of wine.”
“sounds good, baby.”
Ashley watched as Dylan pulled oot of the driveway, then walked into the master bathroom. She slid the door to the medicine cabinet open and scanned the labels on Dylan’s prescription bottles until she found the one for which she was searching.
Diazepam, 10 mg., 50 ct. Take as needed for withdrawal symptoms.
With shaking hands, she clumsily screwed the child-proof cap off the bottle.
Osteria Savio Volpe
“Okay, Courtney, I’ve gotta ask – what made you decide to become a nun?”
Courtney took a sip of water and cleared her throat as her leg tapped nervously beneath the table.
“You know, Matt…that’s something I ask myself a lot. There wasn’t some great epiphany or anything like that. I started having panic attacks the summer after graduation. Bad ones, the kind that make you think you’re going to die of anxiety. So I started to pray and…I don’t know…I guess when all was said and done, I didn’t know where else to turn but to God and I didn’t know what else to do but dedicate my life to the one thing that made me feel safe.”
“That sounds reasonable enough. It also sounds a lot like what motivated me to propose to Ashley.”
“I don’t think I follow.”
“Familiarity. Safety. But that’s just an illusion, isn’t it? We don’t get those kinds of guarantees.”
“I guess not.”
A waiter approached their table.
“May I get some drinks to get you started?”
“I’ll have a vodka martini, hold the lemon.”
Courtney poked her eyes above the drink menu and looked at Matt with surprise.
“For you, Ma’am?”
The waiter collected their menus and disappeared behind the bar.
“Before you ask, Courtney, it’s fine. I spent a long time on the wagon, but I’ve reached a point where I can have a drink now and then withoot any trouble.”
“What aboot A.A.?”
“What aboot it?”
“I mean, just last month you were at a meeting—”
“Just last night, I was at a meeting, Courtney. If it weren’t for the support those guys have given me over the years, I don’t think I could have reached this point on my own.”
“Do they know you drink?”
“I try to keep that under wraps, mostly because they’ve been so indoctrinated into believing that moderation is impossible.”
“Isn’t it? I mean…for an alcoholic?”
“Courtney, next week the first episode of a prime-time TV show starring Matt Walker, realtor extraordinaire, premieres on the W Network. Do you think that I could have pulled off something like that if I didn’t know how to moderate? Not to mention…if I didn’t have things under control, you’re the last person I’d be subjecting to it.”
The waiter returned with the drinks and took their dinner orders. When he left the table, Courtney met Matt’s gaze and smiled.
“I guess I’m a little naïve aboot this sort of thing…living in a convent will do that to a person, you know? Thanks for explaining it to me, Matt. I feel a lot better now.”
Courtney ceremoniously lifted her glass.
“To TV stardom!”
“I’ll drink to that! To TV stardom!”
Staring at Matt across the table, Courtney realized for the first time in over 20 years that she had never fallen oot of love with him. She polished off her wine and promptly ordered another glass.
Roxane was roused from a fitful sleep by a persistent rapping on the front door. She threw on her bathrobe and trudged oot to the living room.
“Oh, hey, Dylan!”
“Hi, Roxane. Can I come in? I kinda wanted to talk to you aboot something.”
“Sure, come on in.”
Dylan stood in the foyer scratching his head.
“Sit down, Dylan. Want something to drink?”
“No, thanks, I can’t stay long. I told Ashley I was going to the store.”
“Oh, right. I forgot aboot Ashley. How is everyone’s favorite little mental patient, anyway?”
“Cut the shit, Roxane. I guess you know aboot Chris.”
“Of course. Forgive me if I have a hard time grieving for a guy that fucking shot me three times.”
“Yeah. I guess that’s a pretty tough thing to forgive…unless, of course, you find a way to settle the score.”
“What are you getting at, Dylan?”
“Did you have anything to do with it, Roxane?”
Roxane smiled and slowly approached Dylan as she untied her bathrobe belt and let it slip to the floor.
“Roxane, what the fuck are you—”
She grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him lustfully. Dylan tensed up and started to back away, but Roxane held tight. After a few moments, he stopped resisting.