Today’s prompt is to use one of two Shakespeare quotes in our story. Content warning for self-harm, kidnapping, celebrity stalking.
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” The D-list celebrity – actually probably like F-list – gestured cheesily with the knife. The photographer understood why her career was stalling. “Well, do we not?”
“Look, I am just trying make a living. I wasn’t even taking a picture of of of you. It was Jim Parsons behind you, I wanted. Okay? Just let me go. No harm, no foul.” Her face flushed red in equal parts embarrassment and anger. “I mean, I would take a picture of you, of course, but that wasn’t the assignment, you know? Not so much my fault.”
The point of the knife was in his face. He tried to raise his hands in front of his face, forgetting the ropes. He relaxed (that might be the wrong word) and looked down the knife and along the length of her arm. The blade was well-kept, it seemed. Catching the light from the single, naked bulb hanging in the corner of the garage. The shadows created on her skin revealed thin, unnatural ridges. It was the kind of picture he would have taken back in art school. The kind of picture that his profs would have loved. A picture that would help him fight the doubt he carried around.
“Is that the same knife you use to cut yourself?” She stepped back and gapped at him, marring her beautiful face that people probably claimed would “make it” all of her midwest life. “I can see the scars because of the light. S’okay. Secret is safe with me.”
“Yeah, right. You ‘make a living’ off of people’s private lives.” She sat and stared at him, thinking, playing too casually with the knife. He preferred the terrible Shakespeare.
“Not that kind. I don’t do the falling apart starlet assignments. Just the – you know – the ordinary routine things.”
“The look at how ugly this actor is when they go grocery shopping. The let’s make fun of their weight gain pictures. The never let them have a second of anonymity assignments. That’s you? That makes you better?” She was snarling.
“No no no. The show celebrities are real people thing.”
“We make our money on not being real people.”
He sat there for second. “Please let me go. I – I – I don’t know why you would, but just please let me go.”
“Going to give me the whole ‘I’ve got a family’ speech?” He dropped the thought that she had done this before; this was not the time to think about that.
“No. Wouldn’t be true. No kids, no spouse, no parents. Just me. And my cat. I do have a cat at home. But he’s an outside cat, so doesn’t even need me to feed ‘im. My job would probably notice.”
“You’re off script.”
“I know, but that whole ‘Please let me go because people love me’ thing is so overdone and so expected.” She had walked over and paused the camera.
“It’s overdone because it works. We need to have a finished product we can sell, Dan. We’re not in college anymore.”
“I know, I know, I know. But we’re workshopping the scene, so can we please play with it? See if we can come up with something more interesting? Hey – can you untie me? I can’t reach the release.”
“Maybe.” She smiled. “I kind of like having you tied up.”
“Kinky.” She walked over and let him out.
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s… Let’s look at the schedule and work in some play time.” She pulled out her massive project binder. Daily he felt lucky that she was his creative partner.
“It’s gonna be so good, Sarah. I can feel it in my bones.” She smiled warmly at his unrelenting optimism.