“Tony James, meet Tony James.” Nigel announced, waving a piece of paper freshly printed from his laptop. Nigel's house was surprisingly large for someone of his position, a large semi detached house in Kensington with a modern but warm interior.
Tony stared at the piece of paper for a moment, took a deep breath, and started to read.
Tony James. (No relation.) Is a nasty sarcastic son of a bitch.
A deeply flawed character who had a very difficult childhood. Managing to fight his way through several very complex family situations to become a star, he took to heavily to drink and drugs. Instead of being able to control his anger and sarcasm, he is controlled by it.
“It's good, but I'm still not sure I will be able to do it well.”
Tony James has a massive ego, and believes anyone who doesn't live up to his high standards is an idiot.
“I hope this isn't me.”
You cross Tony James at your peril.
Tony sat and thought to himself for a while. “I'll give it a go, but I can't make any promises.”
Nigel grinned and replied. “That's all I can ask.”
“Are you getting revenge or me?!” Tony exclaimed.
“Both of us.”
“Why are you getting revenge?” Tony questioned.
“It's a long story. Maybe I'll tell you another time.” Nigel replied.
“So, are you going to get in character ready for the show?” Nigel changed the subject.
“Maybe. Though I don't think this Tony James is the one that should be seen in public.”
Tony thanked Nigel, and headed off down the street for his catch up with Abbie.
As Tony got onto the tube, he noticed several people staring at him.
Oh shit. I forgot my hair. He thought to himself.
Whilst not at the crazy heights it was during the show, the array of colours still remained, and were pretty difficult to disguise without a hat.
One of the people staring was a teenage girl, maybe 18 or 19, and dressed from head to toe in black, in fact, she looked rather like she was a member of Zombie Grave Diggers. Tony felt a little unnerved by the constant gaze of people, especially one who had so much metal on her that it must have weighed more than she did, however the young girl deliberately caught his attention and smiled.
A few moments later she stepped over to his side of the carriage. “Thank you Mr James.”
“What for?” He replied with a confused look.
“For being brave, and going out on live TV with crazy clothes and hair. For putting an amazing band that get no coverage or exposure in front of millions of people.” She explained. “All we see on TV are the same stupid reality stars, bland corporate pop bands and idiots. It was so nice to see something better.”
“Well I'm glad you liked it.” Tony replied with uncharacteristic shyness. He hadn't realised that there was a real audience for such crazy acts.
“It was really inspiring. People like me, we get ridiculed for being different, for liking things beyond what most people see on their screens. To be reminded we aren't alone is amazing.”
“Wonderful. I'm afraid the station didn't like it though, I don't think I'll be able to get any more good acts on soon.”
“That's a shame.”
“I will try though, and if not, keep watching young lady, I think you'll like it anyway.” Tony smiled a cheeky smile.
“I will. Thank you again.” She smiled back and went back to her seat.
Tony reached his stop, followed the mildly disordered queue out from the underground station, and set off towards his destination.
The Grill on Fifth was a nice little restaurant, with aspersions of being fine dining, but not yet the price tag to distinguish it for those with more money than sense. Sporting a sleek black design, and lots of warm wooden fittings it felt extremely cosy, the jazzy sounds heading across from the piano giving it the slight air of a high class cocktail bar.
Tony sat at the bar, Abbie had not yet arrived. He ordered a Shiraz and sipped at it whilst pondering his future. After a few minutes he started to wonder whether The Grill on Fifth might have been a little over the top for a catch up with Abbie, just as he realised it probably was, she walked in.
To say she looked good would have been an understatement, Abbie was wearing a pretty black dress, and her bright maroon hair was held up in an unusual, but interesting way. Tony managed to just about catch his jaw as it dropped, and shuffled his brain into getting up and saying hello.
“Hi Abbie, you look wonderful.” Tony gushed.
“Hiiiii Tony!” Abbie replied, giving him a great big hug. “Thank you dear, you look very smart!”
Whilst Tony's shirt and jacket didn't quite reach the giddy heights of artistic licence that it had on his show, it was certainly a bolder selection than he had been used to making. It also colour coordinated with his hair, an important bit of advice he had recalled Alison reading in a magazine a while ago.
Tony ushered Abbie across to their seats, sat at the closest table to the piano, whose player was currently on a break. They sat down, ordered their food and started to catch up on the preceding week.
“The show was brilliant. I just wish I had been there to see the look on Gerald's face when you appeared.”
“Same here. Though I think he missed it, there was no mention of it at all in our last meeting.”
“He missed it?” exclaimed Abbie. “Oh that's terrible. I hope you have something good planned for this week then.”
“I do, if I can pull it off.” Tony explained. “I have been given a new acting role for the show, Tony James, no relation of course, the bastard.”
“I... er... see.”
“We'll see how it goes, but as I can't escape it any other way I am just going to have some fun.”
“I'll drink to that Tony.” Abbie raised her glass, as did he, and they both sipped in anticipation.
“So how have you been Abbie?” Tony inquired. “Things going well?”
“Well, no not really.” Abbie explained. “I had a falling out with John, and I'm not sure that he is going to forgive me.”
“Oh, I'm so sorry.”
“He just doesn't trust me.” Abbie continued. “He hears things and sees me with people and just presumes the worst.”
“That's terrible.” Replied Tony as he realised what she meant, but wasn't saying. “I've had the same thing before, people see things and can't help letting it run all over their mind.”
“It's sad isn't it?” Abbie replied, realising what Tony meant, but wasn't saying. In actual fact, he hadn't meant what she thought, though it was an equally relevant example.
“Press rumours broke up my first marriage. They just kept printing more and more lies until my wife couldn't take it any more.”
“Oh Tony, that's so sad.” Abbie showed a sympathetic smile, and caught Tony's eyes to let him know she empathised. “They just don't care at all about people or their lives, only about sales and the money.”
“That's right, sadly.” Tony agreed. “I daren't even look at what they said about the show.”
“You are a good man. Things will come around and you will get karmic justice for what has happened.”
“You believe in karma?”
“Not particularly, but it seemed relevant.” Abbie laughed.
“Well I hope so in this case!” Tony replied. “Oh and with Gerald too... jeez. I never thought I would be the kind of person to have a list of enemies.”
“Well if I helps, I don't think you come across as a psychotic maniac.”
“Er... thanks! That's probably the weirdest compliment I have ever received Abbie.”
The piano player had subtly returned and started to play the loudest jazz funk that had ever been heard in a restaurant.
“THWW MUWWW WW A BWW LWWW!!” Tony tried desperately to be heard.
“I CAWW HWWW YWW!!” Abbie screeched
The two of them laughed, looked at each other and decided to try again.
“WHWWW WHWW YWW SWWWWW?”
“I SWWW WHWW WHWWW YWW SWWWWW???!”
“I SAID IT'S MY PLEASURE TO SAY YOU AREN'T A PSYCHOTIC MANIAC YOU DEAF BA..ahem..bastard!!” Abbie screamed at the top of her previously dainty voice with cheeky sarcasm, just as that particular piece of jazz funk came to an abrupt end.
Tony promptly fell head-first into a gigantic pit of giggles as he realised the whole floor was staring at the two of them, which caused Abbie to burst into slightly embarrassed nervous giggles. The pair just about managed to regain their composure as the first course arrived and the music started again.
“Who ordered the wwwwwwww?” The waiter asked.
Tony laughed and pointed to Abbie in the 50% chance that it was the right dish.
After a few moments, he waited for Abbie to look down at her food, and performed the most over the top jazz hands seen in a restaurant since the Pineapple Dance Studio Christmas Party.
Abbie looked up just as put the hands away. She looked puzzled and pulled a questioning face, before looking to the side to pick up her wine glass. As she did, the jazz hands returned.
She looked back with a silly look that said Caught you. Except she hadn't, Tony had removed them just in time and now wore a face of extreme innocence.
Abbie mocked a scowl and wagged her finger at him, causing Tony to feign even more exagerrated innocence, and Abbie to burst into giggles.
A few moments later after she regained her composure and started to eat again, Tony pulled out even bigger jazz hands, except this time she was ready. She turned and caught him right in the middle of the jazzification.
Tony stopped his hands, looked around as if to admit defeat, before very very slowly lowering his hands whilst still in jazz mode.
Half an hour later and they had finished their meal, enjoyed a good bottle of Rose, and barely been able to say a single word to each other since the piano started again. In a way though, they hadn't really needed to communicate, they were comfortable enough in each others company that the odd look or gesture said an awful lot, as did the jazz hands. Although at the end of the meal words became slightly more important again.
Tony decided not to try shouting, and instead searched his jacket for a pen. Finding one, he took the unused napkin from the next table and started to write.
Where shall we go next?
Abbie smiled and gestured for the pen, writing her reply.
Anywhere you like dear :)
Tony pulled his most over the top thinking face, including a single raised eyebrow which caused Abbie to burst out laughing.
Anywhere that doesn't have a piano is good! There's a great wine bar near my house, good drinks, but not as pretentious as in the city. Tony suggested.
I'll ask for the bill then we'll head off.
“Huhh?” Tony woke up groggily.
“Whh... what is it?”
“I think we need to talk.”