The prompt from TRDC: “One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, ‘I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one.”
By AmyBeth Inverness
, via Wikimedia Commons”]I would have ignored the postcard if it hadn’t been for a conversation we had a few days before he died. We’d been running errands in a part of town we don’t usually frequent, and stopped for lunch at what looked like a nice, friendly neighborhood pizzeria called “Joe’s”. The food was pretty good, but while we ate several shady characters had gone in and out, not buying anything, just talking to the guy behind the counter before hurrying out again. One of them was even wearing a trench coat and fedora.
We started joking about the mafia, and Brad dubbed the place “Guido’s Pizzeria”. When we finished eating and he was leaving a tip on the table, he caught my eye and said earnestly “Remember. This is Guido’s Pizzeria.”
I didn’t think much of it at the time. Brad’s an actor. He does stuff like that all the time.
A few days later his agent Maury called and told me he’d been shot by a deranged fan.
The first thing I did was to turn on the TV, but of course, my cheap ass cable company picked that moment to have an outage. So much for internet, too.
Maury’s wife was more than generous. I hid out in their guest room, bawling my eyes out for three days while they planned the funeral. Brad had been more than a boss, and I’d been more than just his personal assistant. We were friends.
And I’d carried a secret torch for him the entire six years I’d worked for him.
He would never know.
Brad hadn’t been the biggest actor in town, but he’d been involved in a lot of different shows and he had a lot of friends. His body had been cremated, and his ashes scattered from a cliff overlooking the Pacific. I cried the whole time, leaning on Maury’s wife.
In the days following the funeral, I endured a three hour police interview where they questioned me in detail about our relationship and how I might benefit from his murder. I was shocked to learn that, in his will, he had left me everything. Maury insisted I stay with them, but after a week I went back to my apartment.
Mail had been accumulating, since I’d neglected to put a hold on it. I looked through the stack, and that’s when I saw the postcard.
“I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one.”
It was definitely his handwriting, and the postmark was that day. The only way for the postcard to arrive so quickly would have been for Brad to deliver the card directly to the post office where I had my box.
I arrived at the pizza place early, bringing my laptop with me so I could look busy for a long time if necessary.
I didn’t see him come in, he was just suddenly there beside me in the high backed booth. I can’t describe the feelings going through me… confusion, relief, elation… he looked into my eyes, and did something he’d never done before; he kissed me.
It was worthy of all the big screen kisses he’d ever rehearsed. “Why? How?” I stammered like an idiot.
“I can’t take it anymore. All this Hollywood nonsense. I faked my own death so they won’t follow me. I want to get away from it all, and I want you to come with me.” He got down on one knee, leaving me sitting awkwardly in the booth. He pulled a velvet box out of a pocket. Inside was either the most expensive or the most fake diamond ring I had ever seen.
That’s when I spotted the cameras.
The restaurant exploded with applause and laughter, and I looked around in bewilderment. Brad was grinning, jumping around in a little victory dance chanting “Gotcha!”
I hated him then.
But when the producer brought me the papers to sign, letting them use all the footage they’d collected of me over the past ten days, and a check for more money than I’d see in a year, I signed them.
It was neither the first time I sold my soul to Hollywood, nor the last.
Concrit would be even greater!
I especially would like to hear if there is a better way I could have handled tense while writing this.
It got a little lost with all the was/had been switches.
The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/s1rMYd-postcard