Friday, February 27, 2009

Penelope’s Business (Or, Loose Threads)


“That is the way this damned business works,” Penelope explained.

Her ex-boyfriend just listened as Penelope continued.

“Sara plays a tough girl on TV. So, when the two of you
get mugged, the media reports it with you getting knocked down
and Sara beating up the muggers, not what really happened.
This will be hours and hours of free publicity for Sara.
Her show will get millions of new viewers. Everyone profits.
Therefore that’s the way it goes in the press, columns and gossip.
You’re not a celebrity so nobody cares what you did
or didn’t do, what did or didn’t happen to you. Business
is business. Especially in this business. And the one thing
nobody in this business cares about is truth-for-truth’s-sake.
The patron saint of this business is Pontius Pilate. What’s truth?
Truth is what moves the project forward. Black ink, not red, is truth.
Hell, I’ve got a show around me like Sara. I’m part of this.”

“So what is all this to you?” Penelope’s ex-boyfriend asked.

Penelope said, “My interests are—let’s see—Byzantine.
If the real truth came out then Sara would look like a loser.
And that would suit me fine. Her little show’s on opposite mine.
If people turn off her there’s always a chance they’d turn me on.
But if the real truth did come out then you would be a hero.
And that would piss me off. After all, you dumped me for Sara.
After, I might add, I was nice enough to bring you out here.
And get you your first job. I love when business gets personal.”

“So where does all this leave you?” Penelope’s ex-boyfriend asked.

“Screwed,” Penelope said. “That’s nothing new. That’s this business, too.
Everyone adapts. Learns to deal with it. Learns to handle it.”

“So how will you handle it?” Penelope’s ex-boyfriend asked.

“Last night,” Penelope said, “I spent hours with a producer
from that tabloid TV show the hicks like. Tomorrow they’ll run
a segment re-creating Sara’s version of what happened.”

“So why did you arrange that?” Penelope’s ex-boyfriend asked.

Penelope made a spitting sound. She tugged at a loose thread
on her sweater. The thread got longer. She said, “That’s my business.”















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