Chris sat down with Martin in the living room

on

“Yeah, well, I figured you knew the score. So,” Martin began in a way that
was more casual than Chris would have expected. He paused, looked at the
chair, and then asked, “What brings you here, anyway?”

“Well, I’ve been out West,” Chris said, trying to be casual himself and give
Martin some leeway.

“That’s where I’m headed.” Martin smiled, and Chris felt a little thrill
trying to pretend he was not shocked at the casual mention of his old
friend’s name.

“I’m going up to the mountains for a few days,” Chris continued.

“Oh? I thought you were going to the valley.” Martin looked at him
attentively.

“I’ve changed my plans.”

“Why?” Martin asked, with an obvious question in his tone.

“Well, I guess I’m a little bit tired of the city,” Chris admitted. “I never
really knew what it was like living there until just a couple of months ago.
But then I was out West and started thinking more about what I’m doing here.
It’s been a good place to live, a good experience to be,” he added. “I’ll be
back before the end of the summer.”

Chris looked carefully at Martin as he spoke, trying to determine if he
understood this new thought. Did it mean he was not going to do the new
film project he had been waiting for?

“What exactly are you doing in the West?” Martin asked.

“I’m with a production company making a TV show for Fox,” Chris said. “It’s a
medical show and I’m a doctor. It’s supposed to be in the middle of June,
but I’m still not sure if I’ll go.”

“You just got out of there,” Martin said, taking the bait. “If you’re not
going to have time to go to the valley, there’s the mountains.”

“Well, that’s true,” Chris admitted. “I suppose I’ll go up into the mountains
and write until I get tired of it.”

Chris looked down at his hands, where red-brown blood had pooled under his
beard. It would be a mistake to let Martin know how tired he was of being
the sole provider. Martin was the main support for him and had been for five
years. Chris needed to think of him as a lover, a friend, a brother, and
someone he trusted.

“Well, good luck with the TV show,” Martin said. He paused, then added quietly,
“I hope you get a good break and good ratings.”

Chris nodded, letting himself sink into his chair. When that brief warmth of
conversation had passed, he continued, “I have to talk to you about something,
Martin. It’s something that I really need to talk to you about,” he added,
realizing he had not planned it this way, but it seemed the best way to get
Martin’s full attention.

“What is it?” Martin asked.

“This last week, it’s been really hard for me, because I’m so busy and then
I’m alone and then I’m stuck in a hotel room all night and then I’m up to
the mountains,” Chris said, knowing he sounded like he had been there, done
that and needed to get out.

“Yes, that’s it, Chris. I understand. In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot
about that,” Martin said. “And in the past you’ve always been a very practical
person. I’ve been having some ideas on how to get you back in the city.”

“So I hear you’re getting involved in the movie project again,” Chris said.
“This time I think it’s a good idea,” he said, feeling more comfortable now
that he had started to talk to Martin.

“Yes, Chris,” Martin said, smiling his wide, easy smile and sitting back as
if nothing had happened. He held up his hands, palms turned away from Chris.
“No, nothing like that. Well, I know my brother, and even though he’s still
the boss, he’s not stupid. In fact, I think he might see the light. He’s
done some thinking about this, and he would probably talk to you about it
before he goes up there in the mountains. The problem is, he’s got a lot of
commitments there.”

“What about your commitments?”

Martin laughed. “What did you always say about me when you were planning on
putting out a contract with me?”

“You were the smart cookie,” Chris said, but smiled. “I guess it’s time to do
some serious thinking on the movie,” Chris added. “At least, I need to think,
and then probably talk to you.”

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