Tony walked into the office in better spirits than he had expected 18 hours earlier. No musical feet, but similarly there was no desire to punch the walls, shout at Steve, shout at the walls, or punch Steve. He decided that trying to enjoy the travesty as much as he could was the most sensible path to take.
As he walked in, he noticed that Steve was nowhere to be seen, and instead Nigel was sat in Steve's chair.
“Morning Nigel.” remarked Tony. “Where's Steve?”
“I'm afraid he couldn't make it in today, and he asked me to look after it.” replied Nigel.
“I see.” uttered a slightly puzzled Tony, noticing the increasingly steely look in Nigel's expressions. “What's the damage?”
“Well. It's not as bad as I had feared.”
Tony breathed a sceptical sigh of relief. “Go on.”
“Well, first the bad news.” Nigel forewarned carefully. “We have the teenage boyband 'To The Left'.”
“Hmm. Not as bad you say?”
“Following that we have celebrity gardener Alan Smith.”
“Then we have Robert Nordstrom.”
Tony fell silent.
“What do you think?”
“Robert Nordstrom agreed to come on this show?” Tony babbled. “Has he not seen out recent calibre of guest?”
“I told him that we had emergency cancellations, and that the aim is to have only the top level of guest on the show.” declared Nigel proudly.
“...and he bought it? Robert is incredibly difficult to please, I can't believe that he would agree to be on LTV let alone on a chat show.”
“His last play completely flopped.” detailed a well researched Nigel. “He might be a genius in the field of acting, but he has been choosing work badly and is in need of a profile boost.”
“I mean. His last work was a four hour, one man show about the self portraits of Andy Warhol. With none of Andy's work on display whatsoever. What was he thinking?”
“That sounds quite interesting actually. But either way brilliant work Nigel.”
“Thanks Tony, it was Steve as well, we worked together.”
“Well good work both of you. I trust this guest will actually turn up?”
“That's the best part. I've been trying to work out why the guests keep changing. I haven't figured it out yet, but I think Gerald may have been pressuring Steve.”
“Sounds about right.”
“However. Gerald secretly has a huge stake in the company that looks after Robert's career. So having Robert appear on the show will be of personal benefit to him.”
“Nigel. I think you may be my new best friend.”
“Thanks. So fingers crossed, we might be able to actually get some intelligent conversation out there yet!”
Tony left the meeting and headed home in a great frame of mind. He stepped in the door when a private number rang his mobile.
“Hello Tony.” replied the big booming voice.
“Hi Gerald. What's the matter?” replied a nervous Tony.
“I've just seen the line up for the next show, and I have to say I am impressed.”
Tony chuckled to himself. “I didn't know you were a fan of Robert Nordstrom.”
“Of course. Fine actor. One in need of bringing to a wider audience.”
“Well I am glad we agree on this.”
“Likewise. There is just one thing Tony.”
“The show has just found a sponsor. So we need to have all of the guests drinking Planet X sports drink from branded cups.” Gerald happily declared.
“Erm.. that's great.” Tony lied. “But Robert Nordstrom won't agree to that, he is notorious for getting pissed off at anyone who he feels sells him out.” That bit wasn't a lie.
“Unfortunately you don't have much choice. It's in your contract.” Gerald smiled, but not quite enough of a smile to translate in his tone of voice. “Besides, you are a professional, you'll be able to handle it.”
Tony was a professional, but apparently he was going to have to be a miracle worker as well. “I'll do my best.”
“See you do. Bye gentlemen.” With that, Gerald hung up.
Tony cursed his luck, walked solemnly into his kitchen and poured a glass of whiskey.
“Is that you dear?” Alison called.
“Sadly yes.” answered Tony.
Alison walked up to her husband of three years and cocked her head as she looked at him, puzzling to try and work out what was wrong with the man she loved. “More problems with the show?”
“'Fraid so.” said Tony. “Yet more.”
“Ah it will be okay.” responded a comforting Alison. “Let's go have dinner somewhere nice and a glass of wine or two.”
“No thank you sweetie, I just need to lie down and work out what to do.”
“Alright. If I can help just let me know dear.”
“I will.” Tony kissed Alison and went upstairs where he flopped onto his bed and buried his face in the soft foam pillow.