Authors: Zoe Wildau
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Fantasy, #Contemporary Fiction
Feast of Saints
by Zoe Wildau
Feast of Saints
Copyright © 2013 by Zoe Wildau
All Rights Reserved
Visit Zoe at
Feast of Saints
is a work of fiction. All incidents and dialogue are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. The situations, incidents and dialogue concerning public figures or entities mentioned in the novel are entirely fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or to change the entirely fictional nature of the work. Any resemblance to private persons or entities is entirely coincidental.
To my father who always asked me how it was going with bright eyes of encouragement.
“She’s like magic,” Tyler said to his uncle over the phone, picking up the argument they’d left off the previous evening. “You should hire her now, before she starts another movie.”
Tyler stood in the shadow of the ramshackle set of
in the Universal soundstage. The object of their debate, Lilly Rose, was just out of earshot hastily punching holes in the side of a cardboard box while Bryce, the film’s chief grip, held one angry cat by the scruff of its neck.
As he watched, Bryce lost his grip on the cat and Lilly grabbed it before it could take off again toward the faux junkyard set. The feral cat’s backpedaling claws raked red rivulets down the undersides of her forearms before she managed to stuff it into the box.
“Gotta go, Jake. My girlfriend needs me.” Then he said more seriously, “Ask Phillip. He’ll back me up about Lilly.”
Jogging over to stand next to Bryce, Tyler eyed Lilly’s arms and then the hissing box. “My mom and I could take her to the animal shelter,” he offered.
“I don’t see her being adopted, do you?” she asked. The trio shook their heads in unison as they listened to the scrabbling claws on cardboard. No family was going to want this pet.
The cat, dubbed “Madcap” by the cast and crew, had been running loose on the set for months, occasionally showing up as a furry blur during filming. Child actors including Tyler, transformed by Lilly’s special effects into alley cats, starred in the film. But before production began, hundreds of real cats had been brought to the set for a promo shoot. The animal trainer had lost track of this one. Worried that Madcap would be mangled when demolition of the set started next week, Lilly had enlisted Tyler and Bryce to run her down.
Resigning herself to the fact that Madcap was to be a dubious bonus from the project, Lilly picked up the box, saluted Ty and Bryce and headed out to the parking lot to terrorize the cat further by strapping the box to the back of her vintage, sherbet green Vespa for the ride home.
She was pouring peroxide straight from the brown bottle onto her cat-scratched forearms in the kitchen of her West Hollywood bungalow when her cell phone rang with a number she didn’t recognize. She let it go to voicemail. A chemical engineer by education and special effects artist by training, Lilly had been raised a Kansas farm girl. She had a healthy respect for the germs that lived under a cat’s claws.
When finished with the first aid, she scrolled through her missed calls. “I’m unusually popular today,” she mused. There was a voicemail from her friend Greg, another from her former boss, Gwen Bertrand, and the most recent message from the number she didn’t recognize.
Her phone was still in her hand when Gwen texted her. “Ck ur email and call me,” the text urged.
One of these days, she’d spring for a nice smartphone so that she could check her email anywhere. Her antiquated cell did little more than make and receive calls and texts, and it had the battery life span of a mayfly.
Picking up the cardboard box, she paced the short distance to her home studio to find her laptop. Gwen’s urgency could mean only one thing. Gwen had directed the children’s fantasy
, which opened in theaters earlier in the year.
was Lilly’s first job on a feature film. Months ago, she and Gwen had submitted her special effects to the Academy for a Best Makeup Oscar. Final nominations wouldn’t be announced until year’s end, but it was high time for the Academy to notify the competitors of the initial selections.
She immediately spied the message from the chair of the Makeup Artists’ Executive Committee, Frances Lisle. It wasn’t congratulatory but got right to the next steps and deadlines to be considered for the final three films.
they’d made the first cut!
A daydream of her headed to the awards ceremony wearing borrowed Bulgari gems and draped in taffeta Valentino began to play in her head. The daydream sputtered out as soon as she stepped out of the limo onto the red carpet, dateless. At five-foot-one, with a sporty rather than curvy physique, Lilly inspired more nicknames than dinner invitations. Shaking off the disappointing daydream, she clicked over to imdb.com to watch trailers of each of the films competing for the Best Makeup award.
“Looks like I’ve got some stiff competition, Madcap,” she said, hoping for consolation from the box. The sound of her voice inspired another round of spitting and hissing. Sighing, she tipped it sideways, opened the flaps and hopped back to avoid another mauling. Madcap shot out and disappeared under her desk.
Great, she thought, eyeing her cell still sitting on top of the desk. She stretched to roll the desk chair closer, sat and tucked her bare ankles under her bottom then rolled herself within reach of the phone.
Gwen had called to tell her to come into the editing office to select clips from
for the final Oscars submission. They needed to submit additional paperwork explaining the special effects materials and techniques, along with video clips that best showcased her work.
Greg had left her a message reminding her that she needed to decide what they were doing to celebrate her twenty-fifth birthday this weekend. He was not going to be happy with her choice – a Kills concert at the Mayan. With its super-cheesy décor and less than stellar reputation for cleanliness, it was Greg’s least favorite nightspot. She was counting on his girlfriend Becky, who’d need a bodyguard to keep off the Roxburies, to convince him.
The last message was cryptic but extremely intriguing. It sounded like it might be a potential job offer. A really good one.
“Phillip Greer here, Ms. Rose,” the rich-voiced caller intoned. “Please give me a ring at your earliest opportunity.”
No introduction was offered, or needed.
Phillip Greer, as he was known in the entertainment industry, was the president and public face of Mjicon, Hollywood’s most prestigious talent agency. Although not huge like its major competitor, Creative Artists Agency, what Mjicon lacked in size, it made up for in star power and service. Considered an elite, boutique agency, Mjicon handled virtually all of the top one-hundred entertainment superstars. Anyone who was anyone – actors, directors, writers, musicians, sports icons – wanted to be on Mjicon’s client roster.
Lilly looked at her watch. It was nearly seven in the evening. Surely Mjicon’s offices were closed. Still, right away was yesterday in this business. She listened to Sir Phillip’s message again and dialed the number he’d left for her. She was surprised by the personal greeting indicating he’d left her his cell phone number. She left a message, vowing to keep her own cell charged and nearby. She had just plugged it in when his number popped up. Bending awkwardly so she could leave the phone plugged in while she answered, lest it die in the middle of their conversation, she chimed, “Hello, this is Lilly Rose.”
“Ms. Rose, this is Phillip Greer. Thank you for returning my call. Congratulations on your excellent work and accolades for
. Well deserved, well deserved.”
Sir Phillip’s speech pattern was formal with a touch of blighty but friendly all the same. She warmed to him immediately.
“Thank you, Mr. Greer, although the credit goes to Tyler Durant and Gwen Bertrand.”
Both, she knew, were Mjicon talent. Gwen had only recently signed. She’d had mixed feelings when she’d heard, knowing that Gwen’s independent filmmaking days were at an end. With Mjicon to broadcast her talent, Gwen would be propelled into the majors. She hoped Gwen didn’t lose the edgy style that had transformed
screenplay from a simple heartwarming children’s story into an achingly deep, sometimes dark, morality tale that appealed to adults as well as children.
Tyler, on the other hand, had been with the agency since practically before his birth. He and Lilly had bonded during the many hours of intense makeup work required to transform him from a mere boy into Gustav, the Fox King. She had Tyler to thank for her current job on
. He’d insisted that Lilly be hired before accepting his role as Riff-Raff, the leader of the junkyard cats. She wondered if the eleven year old was responsible for Sir Phillip’s call, too.
“Ms. Rose, would you be able to find time to meet with me to discuss a project in the making?” It was funny how the whiff of a British accent could sound so ingratiating even while conveying an offer no sane person would refuse.
“Yes, I’d love to.” It took all of her restraint not to fish for more information.
“Let me take you to lunch, then. Do you have time this week?”
“I’ll be on set two more days for
, then we start post-production. After Thursday, my schedule is wide open.”
Sheesh, she was just no good at self-promotion.
“Wonderful. It sounds like my timing is opportune. Friday at the Campanile?”
“Yes, that would be lovely,” she said, inspired to match his regal tone.
“Can you make your way there, or shall I send a car?”
She knew the restaurant, approximately three miles from her neighborhood. “I can find my way.”
“I will look forward to seeing you then. Shall we say, one-thirty?”
Wow, big wigs ate late. Lilly would be starving by then.
“Lovely,” she said again, immediately feeling foolish for repeating the adjective. “See you then.” She hung up before she could say something else stupid.
Next, Lilly called Gwen. Gwen, who never bothered with pleasantries, started right in complaining about the email from the Academy.
“Could Frances be any drier? She knows how important this is, but it’s like she’s giving instructions on filing taxes.”
“I don’t care how dry she is, Gwen. She’s on the top of my favorite people list right now.”
“Well, don’t count your ducks there, Lil. Cameron and Jackson have set the bar so high, everyone is over the top in your category. Not to steal your moment, but the studio has its eye on a bigger prize.”
“What do you mean?”
“The studio thinks this is a harbinger – that
is going to be a serious contender for Best Direction and Best Film. Scorsese’s
put a crack in the glass ceiling for children’s films by doing an Oscars sweep, but
won only in the technical categories. But,
… with Tyler’s performance, we could go all the way.”
Lilly was shaking her head, although more in wonder than contradiction. Truth was, when she worked she focused so intently on the character she was creating, making sure it looked and felt right, that she rarely paid attention to what the actor was doing. She’d have to go back and watch the movie again with a broader eye.
Gwen continued matter-of-factly, “I’m afraid there might be too much competition in your category this year, but the rest of us know that your excellent work got us noticed.”
“It’s me who’s grateful, Gwen.” She would forever be indebted to Gwen for giving her free reign on the concept design, based solely on the strength of her work in children’s television. “Speaking of being grateful, did you maybe mention my name to someone at Mjicon?”
“No, but I’d be happy to if you’re interested,” Gwen offered.
“No. I mean, yes, I’m interested, but you don’t have to say anything. I’m having lunch with Sir Phillip on Friday.”
“Are you sure you don’t mean one of his subordinates? Sharon, maybe, or Ravi?”
“No, I’m pretty sure it’s with him. I just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago. I thought maybe you or Tyler had put in a word for me.” Gwen’s tone was making her nervous.
“It wasn’t me, but I don’t doubt that Phillip’s already aware of today’s announcement. I’m just surprised, no offense, that you’re getting the star treatment. You might have Tyler to thank. You know he’s the golden boy over there and he
you. He’s related to one of the owners. Distant cousin or something,” Gwen said.
“Well, I love him too. If he had ten more years on him, I’d probably propose to him.”
“He’d have to stay the same height, though,” joked Gwen.
Lilly gave a laugh that was more of a cough. She hated jokes about her size. Quickly changing the subject, she asked, “Could we get together and talk about the submission? I’ve got Friday morning free.”
“Hold on…yes, Friday from 9 to 11. I’ll meet you at Universal.”
“See you then,” she said into dead space. Gwen was gone.
The next few days flew by in a flurry of fur and catnip. Finally, it was a wrap. All of the scenes on
were filmed and “in the can,” so to speak, although nothing actually went into a can these days. It was all digital. All that was left was editing, not that editing was a small job.
On Thursday afternoon, in a kiddy version of the traditional wrap party, cast and crew gathered at MOCA, LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where an indoor skate park had been constructed in honor of Tyler’s favorite pastime. Lilly, buzzing on too much chocolate frosting and fruit punch, found herself bouncing in time to Superchunk, brought in to play a live set.
’ Art Director, Andy Hines, had chosen the venue and music. Despite his pretty spectacular creative talent, Andy was extremely self-effacing. It was a charming combination. Andy reminded her of the boys from her hometown, just outside of Lawrence, Kansas. He even wore plaid shirts paired with relaxed-fit blue jeans.
Lilly had liked him for weeks, but just couldn’t bring herself to start something up. As Art Director, Andy was essentially her boss. She had a strict rule about dating in the workplace, having seen too many broken hearts and lost jobs over such romantic mistakes.
“You don’t crap where you sleep,” her father, not one for flowery analogies, would have said.
But now that the job was done, there was nothing stopping her from asking Andy out on a date.
Why not this weekend?
She gave herself an internal pep talk. It would be great to have a date for her birthday and not be the third wheel with Greg and Becky.