*Milkshakes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young actress and an actor wanting to leave the acting world.

Submitted: December 30, 2012

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Submitted: December 30, 2012

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MILKSHAKES

Four large scoops of strawberry ice cream were placed inside the blender. Milk was added to the height of the ice cream. The lid was closed and the machine beat the two ingredients together until it had become liquid. Blueberries were added and they were mixed with the pale pink liquid. Crushed biscuits were added with a long spoon, and grated chocolate was sprinkled on the top of the milkshake. Imogen stood back and contemplated her work. Satisfied, she turned to the presenter of the TV cookery programme and smiled.

Imogen was an out-of-work actress who had finished making a long-running TV soap and whenever she was out of work she accepted anything that came along. The money mattered, of course, but the most important thing was to stay in the public eye. Her companion on TV the day of the milkshakes was Jerome, her partner on the soap. He believed, as she did, that the public have short memories and that it’s necessary to stay visible. His milkshake was vanilla with cream and chocolate. The two actors would not of course taste their concoctions, these would be passed round the studio audience and the camera men..
“Well done, and thanks for coming in and helping out with the milkshakes. I know you’re both busy, so I’ll leave you to go home in peace.” The presenter, who was little and dark, smiled at them and went off to speak to the next participants on the programme.

“I’m going home, I’m tired. Last night I barely slept and kept waking up,” Imogen told Jerome, who was walking towards the dressing-room to remove his make-up before going home to his wife and children.
“I’m always telling you to eat correctly. You were probably hungry and that’s why you couldn’t sleep. See you tomorrow.”
“See you. By the way do you think we’ll get any more of this publicity work, I rather fancy getting into it,” Imogen said.
“You never know about these things. I must say it’s easy work and the pay’s not at all bad. At least there are no lines to learn. Well, I’ll be off now. Bye.”

Imogen never cooked, and the milkshakes were a novelty. It was a good job she hadn’t had to cook anything - that would have caused a TV disaster. On the other hand it might have been more interesting. The high rise block where she lived had a wonderful view of the mountains she had never even been near. Work was her prime objective, and so everything else was pushed to one side. Imogen could never understand how women with a husband and children were able to combine so many opposing activities. It had taken her a long time to get to where she was, and she wasn’t prepared to give it up for a family just yet. Also, Imogen never met any men that she was interested in. There was never enough time to go out in the evenings, all the people she went out with were related to TV and they were of no interest to her. She would have been enchanted to have fallen in love and got married, but for now that seemed like a long way away.

Jerome and Imogen had the same agent, Maura, who was always getting them some kind of work or other. She needed the money as she was in terrible debt. Maura had a ‘boyfriend’ who was much younger than her, Rex. Between them they had spent a lot of Jerome and Imogen’s money. The lovely pair had never told their clients just exactly how much they were paid for their roles in soaps and TV appearances. They told them the finer details were not for them to be worried about. Meanwhile, a new soap had turned up and Maura sent, via email, the details to her two favourite clients, at the same time crossing her fingers they wouldn’t turn it down.

Jerome was at home with his family when he saw he had an email. His children took up much of his time now that he was more at home and he wondered who could have sent him an email. He went into the kitchen and began making the dinner for his family, the email could wait. Dinner over and the children in bed and his wife, Nina, sitting in the living-room watching a drama on TV, Jerome went to check out the email. It was from Maura saying that she had a new soap for them. It didn’t matter whether or not they liked it as there was such a shortage of funding for TV, everyone in the entertainment business had to accept what they were offered without complaints. Maura, their agent, finished up, stating that she wished to see him the following day.
Imogen’s phone rang and rang. Jerome heard the metallic voice telling him to leave a message. Jerome didn’t waste time in ringing again as he assumed that Imogen would be asleep or in the shower. Whatever she was doing, he didn’t have the slightest inclination to annoy her.

Imogen was lying down on the sofa dressed in her pyjamas and dressing gown after a near scalding shower. The curtains in her living-room were drawn back so that she was able to see the mountains in the distance. The faint sound of traffic reached her ears from the street way down below. She was hungry, but the feeling had become so normal to her she was able to resist going into the kitchen and opening the fridge. Not that the contents would have relieved her hunger pangs as the fridge only had water, fruit juice, and lemons inside. There was coffee in a cupboard that she drank without any milk or cream. Imogen’s kitchen was as new looking as on the day she had moved in. The relaxing feeling the shower had given her was now beginning to make her sleepy. She got up and went into her bedroom and got into bed.

The next day Imogen switched on her phone and saw that she had lost Jerome’s call. “Hello, Jerome, it’s me, Imogen. Why did you call me?”
“Hello, Imogen. Maura sent us each an email last night. I rang to see if you had seen it. She wants us to make another soap, but hasn’t given any details. We are to go and see her sometime today. What about it? When shall I tell her we’ll go and see her?”
“Quite honestly, after the last soap, I’m not sure I want to make another one. They seem to be getting worse and worse. On the other hand, as she’s given us work, we’d better show willing and go and see her,” Imogen said, hoping that Jerome wouldn’t land her in a mess of a soap. The problem was that they made a perfect couple on TV, and many times members of the public had come up to Imogen and asked her where Jerome was, or asked Jerome where Imogen was. Some TV viewers confused reality with fiction and found it very difficult to separate them. Maura knew that Jerome and Imogen had this magic and charisma on the TV, and played it for all she could.
Many of Maura’s clients complained that she got those two much more work than anyone else. Maura always replied that they were suitable for a lot more parts. The fact was, that she treated both Jerome and Imogen as a private piggy bank. How she had managed this was not so hard, Imogen had come to her as a young girl and as she had had no knowledge of how agents and clients worked together, it was more than easy for Maura to get Imogen’s permission to manage her money.

Maura, who was over fifty, lived with Rex, who pandered to her every wish. He was at her beck and call twenty-four hours a day. In exchange for this devotion Maura had given him credit cards to use. He also had to be on bed duty as well. In that area Maura was not too demanding, and Rex was good at getting down to action. All in all, it was a perfect situation except for one thing, Rex had begun to show an interest in a young actress called Vanessa. So far, Maura hadn’t found out, but Rex lived in fear of that happening, as it would mean he’d have to go out and get a job.

Before midday, both Jerome and Imogen had arrived at Maura’s office. Rex, as usual, was lounging on the sofa in reception. He gave them both a ravishing smile when they entered. He was thinking that on the one hand the new soap was worse than bad, but that on the other hand, neither of the two was in a situation to reject it. He showed them into Maura’s office.
“Maura, here are your two favourite actors.” Turning to them, he added, “Like a drink? Tea, coffee?”
“Coffee, please, for me, and for Imogen fruit juice, thank you,” Jerome replied.
Rex went out and closed the door behind him. If there were to be words, he wasn’t in the mood to hear them. He believed in making life easy for himself and keeping Maura happy.

“The screenplay of the soap is here, and before you have a chance to read it I’m telling you that it’s nowhere as good as the last one you appeared in. You’re lucky to get this, and the producers have already agreed to the salaries you two will get.”
Imogen felt sick, she thought to herself that she’d rather make milkshakes on TV than appear in a bad soap. She said nothing but stared at Jerome, who was in a quandary about it. Maura was a viper but she always got them work. He decided to go with the flow.
“We’ll read it and let you know, if that’s OK?” Jerome said.
Maura felt satisfied with this answer. She knew they would accept. They had no choice. Rex came back with the drinks, and there was a lot of small talk. Their drinks finished, and Jerome and Imogen left.

“Do you want to come and read it at my place or shall we go to a bar?” Imogen suggested.
“Let’s go to a bar. Neutral territory,” Jerome said.
They went to a bar and sat down in a corner. During the time it took them to read just a few pages they realised it was utter balderdash.
“What’s going on with Maura? It’s the worst screenplay we’ve ever been offered.” Jerome declared.
Poor starving Imogen’s reaction was, “ I got out of bed and dressed myself up for this rubbish? Maura’s lost the plot. She must be going off her head offering this to us. I think I’ll say ‘no’.”
“Let’s wait and see what happens first,” Jerome suggested.
“Ah, well, whatever you say,” was Imogen’s answer. She wondered how she could turn down the soap without upsetting Jerome, who needed the money more than her, as he had a family to feed and clothe, and she had only herself to worry about.
“We’ll give it a try and see how it goes,” Imogen said, to help Jerome out and stop him from worrying about how to maintain his family.

The soap was under way and the only reason that any of the actors were in it, was because they needed the money. Maura and Rex were always hanging about to keep an eye on their money makers. Other agents were not so criminally minded. Eventually they had to remain behind in the agency and keep working for their other clients, instead of making the director’s life a misery. Rex was a bit put out, as he was still having an unhealthy interest in Vanessa, who kept pestering him for a more important role. Things were getting a bit too uncomfortable for Rex, and his main worry was Maura discovering his infidelity. He was fond of Maura, but he fancied Vanessa because she had a good body, in spite of having a few artificial bits and pieces. He knew the thing with Vanessa wouldn’t last long, but meanwhile he was playing a double game and it was wearing him out.

Two episodes were finished, but then the weather turned icy cold, and whereas everyone else made do with wearing thermal underwear, this was not enough for Imogen, who was in need of thicker and warmer clothes. It was all too much for her to bear, and one day she fainted while filming out in the street. An ambulance was called, and Imogen was duly taken to hospital. After a routine examination the doctor, Brice Thomson, told her that she had a severe case of pharyngitis. He ordered her to stay in bed for a week and not to talk, and to eat more. He also added that he was a fan of hers, which pleased her no end.

The news of Imogen’s being out of the soap for a while was badly received. Her phone rang constantly and as she was unable to answer she sent emails. Maura was furious, and said, “You can’t stay at home for as long as a week, think how that will affect the soap. Ask the doctor to give you something stronger for you to be able to speak. OK?” and she rang off.

Imogen went back to the hospital and saw Doctor Thomson, “I‘ve got a problem. I feel terrible and not up to going back to work yet. In fact I’m thinking of giving up making soaps. I’ve got enough money to do so. Maura’s been investing money for us since she became our agent. So money-wise I have nothing to worry about.”
The doctor said, “Imogen, you should try drinking milkshakes and other cold drinks for your throat, and also to give you some kind of nourishment. And get more rest. I’ll keep you on sick leave for a bit longer. The idea of changing from acting to publicity is not such a bad one. Come and see me again, won’t you.”
“Yes, Doctor, of course. Anyway, it’s you who has to give me the all clear. Goodbye.”
Imogen left the doctor, who was thinking about when he would be able to ask her out and where she would like to be taken. He rang her later the same day to find out whether she was feeling any better. As a way to finish off the conversation he asked, “What about us having lunch tomorrow?”
“Are you inviting me out as my doctor?” Imogen asked.
“Oh, yes, of course that’s why I’ve suggested lunch at midday instead of in the evening. I want your health to improve to enjoy more dates. Well, what do you say?”
Imogen laughed, it was the first date she had been offered for ages and the best thing was that he wasn’t an actor. “As I’m already in your capable hands, I am unable to refuse.”
“I’ll pick you up at one o’clock. I don’t want you hanging about in the cold. All right?”
“All right. I’ll be waiting for you.” With these words Imogen rang off, feeling happier than she had done in a very long time.

Meanwhile, back at the agency all was not as quiet and relaxed as it had been. Maura had caught Rex in fragranti with Vanessa in a studio dressing-room. In one swift act Rex’s credit cards were cancelled, and Maura, alone in her office, burst into tears. In spite of her sophisticated appearance, she had really liked Rex, but she couldn’t tolerate his being unfaithful to her when she had given him so much. Rex found himself without money or a place to live. Vanessa the young actress had nothing to offer him other than sex on the side. Rex felt an utter fool for letting himself be so easily seduced by her youth, and knew that she had only been using him to get in with Maura. Now neither of them had anything to offer each other. Rex knew that it would be nigh on impossible to get in with Maura again. He was also afraid that she would eventually find a new man, younger or older than him, and that really hurt his pride.

Jerome continued working on the soap and at times wished that he could collapse on the set or at home so that he could have time off too. Imogen sent him regular updates on her bourgeoning relationship with Brice. She told Jerome that she was seriously thinking of leaving soaps for good, and dedicating herself to publicity and sporadic TV appearances. Jerome sat down with Nina and asked her opinion. Nina knew Imogen fairly well, and at first she had been jealous of the stick thin girl her husband had to romance with on the screen. On hearing this piece of information, Nina asked Jerome if he’d like to do publicity, too.
“I wouldn’t mind, and I’d like to dedicate some time to writing as well. This soap is sticking in my throat, I find it badly written and full of topics. There’s nothing fresh or new in it. When it’s over, we’d better have a chat and see how we can manage without my having to make any more of these, indigestible shows.”

Imogen had had plenty of time to think, and had decided enough was enough and wanted out. Before going to visit Maura, she had consulted with her pillow, Brice, and Jerome.
She went to see Maura, “Good morning, Maura. I’ve decided that after this bad throat I’m not going back to work, and I want out. So if you give me the bank statements of my money I’ll say goodbye, and thanks for everything you’ve done. As the soaps are getting worse and worse, I’m worried about my career suffering, and it’ll be more and more difficult to get a part worth accepting if I continue taking part in such drivel.”
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit rash. Who’s going to replace you? After all, it’s only a bad sore throat you’ve got. Why the sudden interest in the money? You and Jerome have always left everything up to me. This is the first time you’ve ever shown interest in your account. If you need more I’ll make sure you get it.”
“That’s not what I mean. I want all of my money in my account and later what you have invested on my behalf. It’s about time I took charge of my financial affairs myself.”
Maura sat back in her chair and laughed, “And how do you hope to do that ? You haven’t a clue.” Maura was puzzled by Imogen’s new behaviour.
“I want to move on and I need that money to do so. It’s my money anyway, so you’d better not give me any trouble.”
This was an Imogen Maura had never seen before, she had always thought privately that Imogen was a walkover, now she was being proved wrong. “Er, I need some time. Is that OK ?” Maura said swallowing hard.
“I don’t understand why, but you’ve got a day to sort it out,” Imogen said, as she walked out the door.

Imogen went to the hospital and saw Brice. “What do you know about people who retain some of your money? Maura has retained some of her clients’ money over the years, including mine, and now I want my money so that I can move on, away from soaps.”
The doctor looked at Imogen long and hard and said, “That’s illegal. Don’t worry, I’ve got someone to sort it out for you. Had a milkshake today?”
“Yes, I have. Don’t worry, I’m following doctor’s orders!”
“OK, well, I’ve got another order for you, we’re having lunch today,” Brice told her.
“Again. So soon?”
“I’m making sure you’re eating enough. When I have more free time, like at the weekend, I’ll cook something appetising for you.”
“I can see you have only one thing on your mind and that’s to fatten me up like a Christmas turkey,” Imogen said laughing.
“You’d look a lot prettier with more flesh on your bones. Now please leave me to get on with my work. See you later.”

Brice’s law friend began to look into how Jerome and Imogen could get the avaricious pair into court. It would take time but he knew he could do it.

Imogen and Brice’s romance got underway by them seeing each other on his days off from the hospital. The first thing he did was to take her shopping for food. Imogen had never been a big eater but she had become almost skeletal. From being just a kitchen ornament, the fridge got fuller and fuller.

“When am I supposed to eat all this stuff?” Imogen asked Brice one morning after they had returned from the market.
“Every day, and it’s not just for you but for me too. I’m a man not an actress or a model and my timetable means that I may have to go for a long time without a proper meal. I have an idea, as you aren’t used to cooking I’ll teach you how to prepare my favourite meals. How’s that for an idea?” Brice looked at her tentatively.
Imogen stared at her new found friend and thought that he was a bit cheeky, but what else could she do. She really had not the slightest notion of how to prepare any food and it might serve her well if they broke up and she was on her own again. “Fine. It’s a good idea.” Thinking to herself that he might end up doing all the cooking.

As Imogen didn’t need to get up early for filming, she was at home and rested more. The happy couple went dancing if Brice was not on duty the following day. Imogen’s life was changing more and more, and she appreciated things that she hadn’t even noticed before. The people in the shops recognised her as a customer and not as a TV star. Even when she was chosen to be on a chat show, life was less harassing. The chat shows were recorded and then put out at another time to avoid over-running. These infrequent appearances helped her economy to tick along nicely.

The day came when Brice made the decision to take her to visit his mother. The elderly lady lived in a small village. Dorothy, Brice’s mother, opened the front door as soon as she heard the car stop. A tall, slim blonde agilely stepped out of the passenger seat. Dorothy couldn’t believe her eyes, for so many years she had been nagging Brice to find himself a woman, and here she was. Dorothy opened the door wide and Brice and Imogen stepped inside the beautifully appointed house. Over lunch Brice told his mother how they had met. Dorothy said to Imogen, “You are too thin my dear. I’m not at all surprised you feel the cold.”
Brice said, “You should have seen her before I started feeding her.”
“Your son has made it his mission to fatten me up.”

After they had left, Dorothy felt overjoyed at seeing Imogen. If she weren’t so thin she’d be perfect. The most important thing was to get them married off, and that was something Dorothy had been waiting for, for a very long time.

Some time later, after a scandalous court case in which Maura and Rex were shown up to be of the lowest riffraff, Imogen and Jerome got their money back from the sale of the luxury home Maura had bought with it. Imogen was happy for herself, and for Jerome, who would now be able to get on with his writing decent scripts for his fellow actors.

On Maura’s first day in prison she saw that the dessert was?

Milkshakes!


© Copyright 2017 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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