“I had this thought in the cab that Anne could come with us to Kenya, Graham. I need a stand-in for my leading lady. She could do the doubling for her,” said Jim.
Anne and Graham exchanged looks. “The money’s good. All expenses. What do you say?”
“Are you asking me or Graham?” said Anne.
“You, of course, Anne.”
“When do you have to have an answer?”
“In a few days.”
“Can you tell me about the film?” asked Anne.
“It has a “Moby Dick” theme. The protagonist hunts down an old large tusked elephant inKenya. The elephant charged as he was trying to shoot it. The hunter missed getting the animal in the heart so the elephant was able to continue the charge. It picked him up and threw him fifty feet. The fall crippled him. He recovered, but was maimed for life. He wanted revenge. He was obsessed about going back to even the score. Every day he thought about killing the elephant. His hate drove his family away. Only his wife faithfully stood by him, but he abuses her for it. He goes back toKenyato hunt down the elephant, but in the end the elephant triumphs by killing him.”
“It sounds like Hemingway could have written it,” said Anne.
“I wrote it. I stole it from Melville. It’s theHollywoodformula picture. After you’ve see a few, they seem the same. ButHollywoodgives the money. They’ve been proven box-office draws.”
Anne looked at Jim with new interest.
“I’d be a fool not to take you up on your invitation. I think I could get my affairs sorted out.”
“Great. Let’s have some champagne to celebrate,” said Jim as he looked around for a waiter.
Anne looked over to the far side of the room and saw someone she knew. She got up from the table. Jim and Graham stood up. “One of my Arab clients is sitting over there,” she continued. “He’s been ignoring my statements. I’m going to asked him if he liked the job. Would you excuse me,” she said as she left the table.
Jim and Graham sat back down. “Graham, what are you doing to me? She’s beautiful. What is your relationship with her?”
“I told you we grew up together. Her family was our landlord. It’s a sad story. Her father, the earl, lost all of the family money gambling. When the creditors took his property it killed him. It was in the family for hundreds of years. There were some rumors that he took his own life. Anne rebelled. She got into the sixties culture. Dope, Beatles, free love, flower child, you name it, she did it. She married an artist. She’s out of that now. She had to go to work. She took a job with one ofEngland’s most revered interior designers and now she’s on her own. I can’t believe she said she’d go with us toKenya. Something’s going on between you two, isn’t it?”
“You said she’s out of her marriage. What do you mean?”
“She’s still married, but her husband, Alex, is a nut. She doesn’t live with him. They have some kind of open marriage. She never talks about it or him.” answered Graham. They looked up.
Anne returned to the table and the waiter arrived with the champagne. She sat down and the waiter opened the bottle and poured their glasses full.
Anne picked up her glass and said. “First, I would like to drink to a very special new friend, to you Jim and to luck with your new film. And to our Kenyan adventure, a magical land of the born free.”
They lifted their glasses for a toast. “ToKenya.”
Anne thought, how am I going to get Alex to let me go?