"Like that would ever happen!" I exclaimed as I reached for the remote to turn off the television.
I'd been forced by my girlfriend to sit through the whole of 'My Fake Fiancé' staring Melissa Joan Hart and some guy. At last, it had ended. The story basically involved MJH and the guy faking a wedding so that they would get gifts and money so replace the stuff that she had stolen and to pay off his gambling debts. Obviously they hate each other at first but end up falling in love.
"What do you mean?" Rachel asked.
"Two big things, the first is that there is no way that it would not cross their minds that in doing this, they might actually develop feelings for each other. I don't see the point in these movies, you know that they are going to fall in love; you know it from the outset. Otherwise it would not be called a romantic comedy. Although given how it wasn't funny in the least, I can't work out how they get away with calling it a comedy."
"And the second thing is?"
"It's Melissa Joan Hart. You will not find any right thinking man in his late twenties and thirties who wouldn't not run off and marry her in a heartbeat. Yet her parents keep saying that they believed she would never get married. What kind of parents do that to their children?
"It's like all these Rom-coms, they take incredibly attractive women and then demand that you believe they are perpetually lonely and loveless. Then all it takes are some contrived circumstances and a good looking man. It's Hollywood's war on the ugly. They are saying that if even beautiful people can't find a partner, ever, what hope have the uglies got? And fair enough with J-Lo or Jennifer Whatsherface, you might thing twice because of the whole mystique around them, but Melissa Joan Hart, she is just so adorable, cute and bubbly."
"She's on one of your lists isn't she?"
"Yep, the second one."
Rachel groaned. I had two lists. The first list was my 'I would cheat with her behind your back' list. This contained all the women that if I could I would have a one-night stand with. The second, shorter, list was the 'I'd leave you and marry them' list. Rachel was amused when she heard about them, reasoning that I'd never meet any of the people on the list anyway, what's the harm in me having my fantasies? It even sparked up a little role-play. Although she had threatened to batter me if Keira Knightley ever appeared in the second list. I assured her that Keira was a list one person only, I'd probably break her after repeated uses, and anyway, I couldn't imagine meal times being that great with her.
"You know she's a Republican don't you?" Rachel enquired.
"Why do you know that?"
"And why were you looking that up?"
Research was Rachel's go to excuse, being a university lecturer in Media and Culture, there were few subjects where she couldn't use that as an excuse for covering up ulterior motives.
We retired to bed, with Rachel pretending that she was a teenage witch looking for an older wizard to mentor her in the ways of the world.
Work was shit on Monday. Then again, it has been shit everyday for the past four years. My only solace was that they paid me very well. I'd relapsed into that stage where I cared so little about the company that there was no stress at all.
I stopped into Tesco on the way home to pick up some food for later; and couple of bottles of wine for the week. Seeing the queues at the checkouts, I opted for one of the serve yourself tills. Just my luck, the blonde woman in front of me was having issues with it. The machine was playing up, and as is the situation every time that happens, there were no staff around to help.
"Let me see if I can help." I offered.
"Thanks." She responded, not looking back. I couldn't place her accent, it was English, but very obviously so, with no hint that it came from any region.
I moved to the touch screen and opened up the staff menu and tapped in a user number and pin then managed to clear the problem.
"I got so sick of waiting for help on these machines, I watched one of the girls type in her details, it saves me a lot of time." I explained.
"Are you allowed to do that?"
"I don't know, but it saves a lot of time."
She still hadn't looked at me. I noticed that she had a lot of heavy juice bottles in her bags, but no trolley. "Do you want a hand getting these to your car?"
"Err, no, it's okay, I only live around the corner." She finished paying and turned around. Fuck the crows, it was Melissa Joan Hart herself!
"Melissa." I gasped. "What on Earth are you doing in Basingstoke?"
A doomed look flashed over her face, it was then replaced by that smile that had made her famous.
"Tell you what, you help me with the bags, and I'll tell you the story." Now she spoke in her American accent. "Just promise you won't let on to anybody."
I put my shopping through the till, using the codes to let me buy the wine without having to wait an hour for some kid to check my age. I picked up both of my bags and the two heaviest of Melissa's and followed her out of the shop. I followed her down a few familiar back streets before we stopped at a nondescript two-up, two down. I laughed to myself.
"What's so funny?"
"I figured out where this house backs onto."
"The garden backs onto the garden of my house."
"No word of a lie."
"What are the chances?"
She opened up and let me in. Lucky that I didn't have anything that needed the freezer, so I left my shopping near the door and took hers into the kitchen. I looked around, knowing that she had a husband and kids, but could see no sign of anybody but her living here. She quickly packed the shopping. I noticed that she had few things in the cupboards and fridge.
"You know," she started, "this story would actually sound better with a bit of liquid refreshment. Can we open up one of your wines?"
I nodded and she produced to plastic cups. There is always something fun about drinking cheap plonk from disposable cups. She let me grab a bottle then led me to the lounge. There was just a sofa with a white throw over it. I sat down at one end and started to unscrew the bottle. I poured out two large glasses and took a sip. For Californian Chardonnay, it wasn't too bad.
"So..." I ventured.
"So." She slipped her wine. "How much do you know about me?"
"I know you are married and have two kids, although I can't see any evidence of them here."
"Okay, let's start there. My children are with my parents. I'm not sure where, they are taking them somewhere safe."
"Safe, as in away from Mark, my husband."
"Why, what has he done?"
"I don't know exactly. It's not him really. It's the people he knows. I still don't know the truth, if he was involved with them when we met, or did they recruit him later?"
"I don't know if you know this or not, but almost all Hollywood romantic comedies are backed, in some way, by Matthew McConaughey. Even those he doesn't star in, he still rakes in the profits. It was my husband who got me to do that fiancé film. It was for TV, but the real aim was to get me back doing those kind of films, so that I would be available for a big screen film with Matthew."
"Well, firstly, that fiancé script sucked." I nodded my agreement, "and the Hollywood film would have been no better. I don't want a pile of horseshit like that on my CV; I want to be taken seriously. But more importantly, I've heard what happens when you work with Matthew McConaughey."
"Girls who work with him are never the same again, never. There are rumours of rituals he carries out, trying to claim pieces of their souls. I didn't want any part of it, I tried to decline but there were threats, 'accidents' happened, Mark tried to make me sign the contract, and it was then I knew I had to get away. I asked my parents to guard my kids, and then I ran away, leaving the country and coming here."
"Isn't there anybody you can contact?"
"Who? Matthew McConaughey owns the police. No government agency will look at him, as thanks to affirmative action, there are women in many of the top roles, and high powered women get their kicks from watching his movies dreaming they were the ones who found love. There is no way you can get anybody to move against Matthew McConaughey.
"And worse than that, The Council of Four has declared me a wanted person: that means everybody in Hollywood is looking to turn me in. If anybody helps find me, they get a massive leg-up in the industry."
"The Council of Four?"
"The Council of Hollywood. They are behind everything that goes on over there, they not only run the film industry, but have influence across America."
"Who are they?"
"Matthew McConaughey is one, Adam Sandler, Michael Bay and Tom Cruise are the others."
"So you are saying that the film industry is run by three of the people responsible for the many of the worst films of the last two decades, and a guy who believes that we are all inhabited by the ghosts of dead aliens?"
"That explains so much!" I refilled our cups then leant back on the sofa. "So why Basingstoke?"
"I needed somewhere out of North America and where nobody would think of looking for me. You know, I never did ask your name."
"Bobby, Bobby Anthony."
"Well Bobby, now you've heard my story, I'm going to have to kill you. I can't have you repeating it."
"Gotcha!" Melissa burst out laughing.
.... There is more of this story ...