Dag, Shirley and Jordan sat on one end of a conference table. Rudy sat on the other. The trio cried out a name in unison. “Chester Bloomfield?”
“The one and only,” Rudy said.
“He’s back?” Dag asked.
“That’s impossible,” Jordan said.
Dag looked at Shirley. “Was this in your memo?”
“It was not,” Shirley said.
“Happened yesterday,” Rudy said. “The press hasn’t gotten word of it yet.”
“When they do, it’s going to be an absolute shitstorm for Paradigm,” Shirley said.
“What she said,” Dag said as he pointed at his assistant. “Has Paradigm’s board of directors gone bananas? Are they howling at the moon? Have they lost all the bats in their collective belfry?”
“Photos,” Rudy said. “Of various board members…in compromising positions.”
Dag raised a hand. “Say no more.”
“A marmoset was introduced into a bodily cavity, then extracted and passed around…”
“Didn’t I just say, ‘Say no more?’”
Shirley brought up a page full of negative Lifebox posts about Bloomfield. “Nineteen actresses have accused him of demanding sexual favors in exchange for movie roles.”
“I know,” Rudy said. “And it’s disgusting.”
Dag pounded a fist down on the table. “You’re damn right it is! Why the hell are you working here at a company that would allow a pervert, a pederast, a lecherous lowlife to be their CEO?”
“Oh, like I have a choice,” Rudy said. “Chester has the goods on the board. The board voted to reinstate him. They’re going to do a press conference last week. Chester’s going to swear he had nothing to do with those assaults and it was all his twin brother.”
Dag raised an eyebrow. “Are you shitting on my leg and telling me it’s chocolate sauce?”
“Nope,” Rudy replied. “That was the story that tested best with the focus group, way above claiming it was the result of a Vicodin addiction and that he was sleepwalking and accidentally bumping into the actresses in question.”
“Does he even have a twin brother?” Dag said.
“No,” Rudy replied. “But documents have been forged to prove his existence and there will be an accompanying story that the twin brother has fled to Argentina to evade authorities.”
Dag cradled his head in his hands. “What is this business coming to?”
The agent stood up. “This! My beloved business of show! A factory where dreams are processed into reality, where the best and brightest stars can polish their craft, all turned into a sick, depraved bordello, a meat market where young women are preyed upon.”
“This isn’t exactly a new development, Dag,” Rudy said. “It’s just the first time that technology was available to allow victims to address the public directly.”
Dag sat down and pulled out a handkerchief. He dabbed some sweat off his brow. “True. At least back in the day, the broads were cool enough to shut their cake holes about it and…”
The agent gazed upon the disappointed eyes of his talent, then pointed a finger at Rudy. “Sir, if you think for one second that my star will lower herself to be used as an object of sexual gratification…”
Dag stopped mid-sentence and looked at Jordan. “You won’t, will you?”
“Absolutely not,” Jordan said.
“Right,” Dag said as he pointed his finger at Rudy once again. “If you think my star will lower herself to be used as an object of sexual gratification, you’ve got another thing coming.”
Rudy sat back in his chair. “Guys. Enough. This is out of my hands. I haven’t talked to Chester since his unceremonious return. I have no idea if he’s learned the error of his ways or if he’s as debauched as ever. If you want to walk away right now, be my guest. If you want to meet with him, go for it. I have no idea what will happen and I can offer no guarantees that something unsavory won’t happen.”
Dag drummed his fingers along the edge of the conference table. He looked to his assistant. “Thoughts?”
Shirley was, for the first time in her life, without a snappy response. “I’ve got nothing.”
The agent looked to his client. “Up to you.”
Jordan stared off into space as she pondered the conundrum.
“Couldn’t hurt to meet him,” Dag said. “If he drops his pants, hightail it out of there.”
Jordan went nearly catatonic.
“But if you want to walk right now, I’ve got your back,” Dag said.
Dag turned to his assistant. “I have to get her back, right?”
“You do,” Shirley said.
“I’ve got your back,” Dag said.
Finally, the actress spoke up. “I’ll do it.”