"You're Mr. Luellen, aren't you?" asked the mysterious woman in a whisper, leaning over Henry's antique wooden bar, at his place of business known as Clancy's Saloon. She appeared to be trying to conceal her identity by hiding it behind a large pair of dark rimmed sunglasses, while donning a blue scarf wrapped around her head and tied under her chin. Other than that, she seemed to be a woman of the approximate age of 30 or so, at least to Henry she did. It was 8:05 in the AM, the saloon had just opened for business and Henry was just putting in the final touches for the daily set up behind his bar.
"Yes Miss", answered Henry, "what can I do you for?"
"Do you know who I am?" She whispered.
"Not with those big sunglasses on, no".
The woman then removed her sunglasses revealing her face.
"Do you know who I am now?"
Henry did not have a clue, "No, ma'am. I'm sorry I don't. Should I be knowing who you are?"
The woman looked almost hurt by that remark and then said, "Well, actually I'm considered to be quite famous in certain circles".
"My apologies ma'am" answered Henry with a shrug. "I don't get out much".
"You really don't know who I am".
"Not a clue".
"I have been nominated for three Academy Awards, two Emmy's and a People's Choice award".
"Sorry Miss, I don't usually watch awards shows. Would you like to have something to drink?"
"Well I'm just trying to establish my credentials so you won't think I'm some crazy person who just walked in here from off the street".
"Well Miss, I'm sure you are exactly who you say you are. What is your name, if I might ask?"
"My name is Cassandra Jones".
"That name does sound familiar", Henry lied, just trying to be polite. "How can I help you?"
"Is Shane McAdams around?" She said looking around the now empty saloon.
"No Miss, it's a little too early in the day for him. Are you a friend of his?"
"Not at the moment. I'm a former business associate. We were once friends. Well at least, we were on more friendly terms once. Is there some place we can talk in private?"
"At the moment Miss, you and I are the only persons in the saloon", Henry said in a very hushed tone. "So I think this qualifies pretty much as being 'some place private'".
"Well, I guess this will have to do". She noted somewhat disappointed.
"What's on your mind Miss?" asked Henry, now wanting her to come to some kind of a point.
"Mr. Luellen, let me put all my cards on the table", said Cassandra Jones, "when I came into your establishment, I asked if you were Henry Luellen, which was actually unnecessary, because I knew quite well who you were already. You see I have viewed that viral video of you and Shane McAdams, playing pool against each other; which I now find to be somewhat ironic".
"Why is that ironic Miss?"
"Well, not to toot my own horn, but seriously I am quite famous and you are not; at least, not to the degree that I am. Nevertheless, when I entered your saloon, I knew who you were, but somehow you did not know who I was and I find that to be very ironic; which is fine because irony appeals to me. But I'm getting very off topic here. Where was I?"
"You already knew who I was", reminded Henry.
"Yes and that brings me back to that video of you playing pool against Shane. You have a way of talking to Shane like no one else on this planet is allowed. Shane does not take guff from anyone, except from you apparently. Mr. Luellen can you be discreet?" said the self acclaimed, very famous woman, leaning over the bar, as if she were trying very hard not to be overheard; even though there was no one else in the bar, as Henry had already pointed out, to overhear her.
"I can do 'discreet' really good", said Henry.
"Grammatically that is very incorrect, but I will take that as a 'yes'". She corrected, then proceeded to be very indiscreet. "I am not sure if you are aware of this, but Shane can be a very difficult person to work with. He doesn't take direction well".
"I'm shocked and surprised", Henry said, being neither.
"No it's quite true". She assured Henry.
"I believe you Madam, I was being ironic".
"As in being sardonic, not paradoxical, yes, I see. That's not the kind of irony that appeals to me, but nevertheless. The point I'm trying to make is, you seem to possess a power over the actions of Shane McAdams that no one else has. You probably are aware that his employment with us has been terminated?"
"Who is exactly is 'us' Miss?"
"His former employers, I'm one of them".
"Just what exactly do you do ma'am?" Henry very much now wanted to know, "Because I still really don't know who you are. Who, or even better, what you are?"
"At present I am a film and television producer. In this particular vane I was an associate producer on the film that Shane was working on. The one he got fired from. It doesn't have a title yet, but it falls under the genre of a mystery detective thriller. In my younger days however, I used to be a very well known television actress. Ten years ago I had quite a big hit on my hands, called the 'Anderson Letters'. I played one of the lead characters on that show. Perhaps you remember it?"
"I assume this show ran on primetime?"
"Yes, it was number one in it's time slot six years running".
"Well, you see that explains why I don't know who you are. I've always been here, running the saloon during primetime hours, well even a lot more hours than that. Anyway, that being the case, I don't ever have a chance to watch much television".
"I see, getting back to the original reason for this discreet conversation that we are having, I and my colleagues are"
"Various business people connected with the film Shane was working on. Their names and titles are not relevant to this conversation right now. Let's see, where was I again?"
"'You and your colleagues are' something or another". Henry prompted.
"Yes. We are all now in a bit of a bind".
"Yes. To put it bluntly, due to Shane's dismissal we all now have our professional butts in a sling with one of our major investors".
"Yes. And this major investor, whose name I can not mention at the moment, is a very powerful individual in the film industry, and many other businesses beyond that as well, and he was not happy when he heard about Shane's termination. Evidently this gentleman also plays pool with Shane from time to time". While hearing her relate all of this, Henry couldn't help wondering if he knew who this very power guy was. "Unfortunately, I and my colleagues were unaware of this special relationship between Shane and this extremely powerful individual. Had we known, we most certainly would not have taken the drastic step of terminating Shane's employment".
"When you say 'powerful', do you also mean 'dangerous', as in bodies being dumped out into the middle of the dessert at nighttime, kind of dangerous?"
"I would really not like to take this conversation in that direction, Mr. Luellen. Let's just say, it's not a really good career move to make this man unhappy".
"Needless to say, this extremely powerful individual did not like hearing that his pool buddy had been canned. And he wants us, in no uncertain terms, to 'get Shane back onto the reservation'. His words not mine".
"Well", said Henry, now looking very dubious, "that's going to be a problem Miss".
"Why? Why is that going to be a problem?"
"Shane doesn't want to be an actor anymore".
"Oh, please no. Please don't tell me that. Many careers are at stake here".
"Sorry Miss. He was happy when you guys fired him. He wants to do something else with his life".
"What does he want to do?!!"
"He wants to become professional pool player".
"Oh please", she protested, "that's ridiculous".
"My thoughts exactly Miss. Like me, Shane is a pretty good amateur, but in no way is he pro material. He doesn't have the ice in his veins for that".
"In other words, you agree, he should come back to the studio. Correct?"
"You are correct Miss!"
"I am so glad we are seeing eye to eye on this matter Mr Luellen, then we can count on your support to help us convince Shane to come back to the studio?" She asked hopefully.
"Absolutely not", Henry responded, with a very large friendly smile on his face; which was almost breaking out into a laugh.