Excerpt for A Scritped Life by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

A Scripted Life

Published by Tam Sturgeon at Smashwords

Copyright Tam Sturgeon 2018

This novel is entirely a work of fiction.

The names, characters and incidents portrayed within it are

the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to

actual persons, living or deceased, or any events

mentioned is entirely coincidental.

Tam Sturgeon asserts the moral right to

be identified as the author of this work.

Cover imagery courtesy of the author.

Cover design by Tam Sturgeon.

Copyright Tam Sturgeon 2018


A Scripted Life

Part 1

Out of the Blue

The young, handsome, American had already seen her standing on her own, away from everyone else, disconnected somehow. The older woman seemed a little lost, looking through the window into the beautifully manicured garden beyond. The evening was coming to call. It swept in without warning, its fingers dragging a dark line across the land.

Charlie looked at his friend stood beside him, same age and just as charming.

‘Dev, that woman over there, who is she? I saw her with Martine earlier, why does she look so familiar?’ he asked, his eyes not leaving the lonesome soul still nursing her empty glass.

‘Arh, the English Rose, a Novelist or something, don’t know her name ... She’s over here working with old what’s his face over there ...’

Dev pointed at the very well dressed gentlemen, Clive Duvall, stood talking to a couple of models, some high profile actress, and their hostess, Carmen.

‘Doing a film together, he’s directing ... I heard she’s very good too, helping with the script, so Carla said ... Go over and talk to her, she looks bored out of her clever little skull, take her a drink and introduce yourself ... If nothing else, her accent is kinda cute,’ he grinned at Charlie.

‘European, ya say?’ Charlie questioned.

Dev shook his head, a smile slowly appearing on his face, as he swallowed hard, then coughed, ‘No, no, no, not European, English, dude,’ he half laughed, ‘there’s a big difference ... Remember the English Empire, well, that wasn’t dictated to by Europe until recently ... They kicked Europe’s ass, man, like they nearly kicked ours ... But we kicked back instead right, and we won ... Independence Day, baby.’

As Dev waffled on, Charlie caught a glass of Champagne from a passing tray and smiled at his friend.

‘Well, I won’t bring up any of that, but, I will say hello, like you said ... I’ll catch you later, Dev ... Behave ...’

As Charlie headed towards the figure by the window he had to sidestep two pretty blondes, a Producer, and three of the lovely ladies from the afternoon chat show Live Time USA. He smiled and greeted as he moved, not wanting to miss his chance to speak to the solitary single.

Tilly was still bored, as bored as she had been for the last twenty minutes, so she counted all the large flower pots in the vast garden beyond the glass, there were forty-two. The urge to have a smoke crept in on her, but she’d not seen one of those perfect people sneak off into the garden. Another glass of Champagne had slid into her, but she wasn’t counting, she’d told herself she wouldn’t, it was meant to be a party.

Stood before that window, looking into that fabulous garden in Beverley Hills, that was very real, that was as real as it got, and it was beyond unbelievable. There was almost a wall between them and her. She felt it, the new kid on the block. They looked and smiled, they nodded as she spoke, but they didn’t care about what she was saying or care about her, not really. In Hollywood it was all pretend, that’s what they all did, they pretended at stuff.

She was just another face to stay or go, one day there, next day gone. They didn’t care about that either. Tilly wasn’t stunningly beautiful, she didn’t have a look or a style, she wasn’t sexy and she wasn’t some young starlet. Even though her face was made-up, with her hair in a cascade of dark ringlets, and she wore a flattering long frock, it still didn’t mean she knew how to walk in the heels she was stuck in. They hurt, everywhere.

Tilly was tired, her feet where tired, her art of conversation was tired. Was it too early to leave? Could she run out the front door, when no one was looking, and grab a taxi back to her hotel in the city? Would anyone notice if she just slithered into the dark, an inky snake into the grass with freedom beyond? Could she do it? Could she?

‘Hi, you look as bored as I am ... May I offer you a drink?’ asked the male voice, politely.

Tilly slowly turned to find the handsome, younger, man stood behind her, a drink extended in one hand and a nice smile on his face. Oh, Lord, it was him, in the flesh.

‘My name’s Charlie, Charlie Kerman ... And it looks like you could do with getting out of here for a few minutes ... Are you a dreaded smoker?’ he asked with a lowered voice, his eyes seeming shifty in a funny way.

Tilly could have hugged and kissed him, her face blooming into the first smile she actually meant.

‘Wow, Charlie Kerman, yes, you are ... And, sorry, how rude ... I’m Tilly, Tilly Stiller ... Nice to meet you ... And, yes, I am a smoker, and, boy, could I do with one right now ... Please, lead the way, before I jump through this window ...’

So he did lead the way, out through the vast hallway, across into another room just as stunning as the last, where people milled and chatted as they caught up, then through the double doors and into the garden.

Before them stood a long covered walkway with deep couches and comfy cushions, the smoking porch just right for a quick escape. More guests hovered and bantered, the bouts of laughter a nice thing to hear. That end of the house looked out over the huge pool and tennis courts, the garden still as pretty as on the other side of the mansion.

‘This is where all the rebels hang out ... We’re a dying breed, you and I ... Not many of us left now ... Hey, Jo, yeah, good ... You?’

Charlie talked, walked and greeted as they moved further up the line. Tilly was introduced to more beautiful people, but she still didn’t feel part of the crowd. She smiled and followed Charlie, nodding the same as him. She was slowly catching on.

Tilly Stiller spent the rest of her evening talking to Charlie Kerman. For a younger guy he was very well mannered. She liked that he was a little cheeky and he was rather funny too. More drinks were consumed as the night wore on, their banter and chuckles helping Tilly rest into her new role in life. All those famous people, some she knew by name, others she knew by face, they all said hello to her. They actually saw here when she was with Charlie. She liked that too, the way he made her be seen. Yeah, she liked that, she liked that very much.

‘Tilly, darling, your car’s here ... You did ask that it collect you at midnight ... Your driver is waiting outside,’ Carmen smiled as she walked through the doors to their left. She was wearing a gorgeous teal suit, the colour suiting her beautiful cascade of red hair.

Tilly rose from her seat.

‘Well, it’s been really nice sitting out here, talking ... I’m sorry I have to leave ... Sadly, I have a day of it tomorrow ...’

Charlie stood and extended his hand to shake her’s. When their fingers touched a small shock jumped from her hand to his. It made him smile inside.

‘Tilly, it was lovely talking to you too, really ... Some of these people can’t talk about anything other than hair and make-up, and that includes most of the guys,’ he smiled. ‘So, you saved me a slow death in Fake Town, honest ... It was my pleasure ...’

Tilly blushed, she felt it, but due to the low lighting she prayed it wasn’t seen as she turned to leave. She stopped at the door.

‘Charlie, thank you,’ she grinned, ‘the pleasure was all mine ... See you soon, maybe ... Bye.’

She turned and was gone, her evening over, her warm face cooling as she crossed the hall. It had been a lovely evening, considering how awful it had been at the start. Leaving had been nice too, all the new faces in her life speaking as she passed them saying yeah, see you soon, it all helped.

Having some time with one of her musical heroes had been amazing in a big way, but she had to not think about that, as she climbed into her waiting car to be driven back to her lonely hotel room.

Charlie stood to watch her leave, the sinking feeling making his insides feel cold. He’d never felt that before. He was suddenly standing in a pool of silence, an ache forming where an ache shouldn’t form.

‘Well, you little love bunny, is she the one?’ Dev smiled, joining his abandoned friend.

‘Dev, that accent is kinda cute, you’re so right there,’ Charlie chuckled in reply, finishing his drink as he faced the man beside him. ‘She wrote that book, the one all the ladies are going crazy over ... Even my sister read it and said it was amazing, made her laugh and cry, the best love story ever, and you know her, if she likes it, she loves it ... And that book, well, that book is about to become a movie ... And there’s something else Tilly said,’ he smiled, looking out over the pool area.

‘What,’ asked Dev, ‘did she confess to being a Cougar and offered you a thousand bucks for a night in the sack?’ he chuckled.

‘No, you dirty hound dog, that is not what she said,’ Charlie replied, whilst laughing and looking at his sexually driven pal. ‘Actually, she asked me if I’d be interested in writing some of the music for her project, as she called it ... Seems only right I offer her a helping hand, so I said yes ... Might make a change, and the rest of the boys in the band were looking for a reason to take a break ... This might give me something else to think about for a while, huh!’

Stood in that garden, up in Beverley Hills, with that balmy night and the sound of partying in the background, Charlie smiled to himself. He’d made a new friend, and she was very English.

‘You’re not going to get involved, are you? Not after the last one ... Look how badly that all ended ... You’ve only just got back on your feet again, dude, I don’t want to see you getting hurt again,’ Dev said, knowing Charlie probably wasn’t listening anyway.

‘Come on, Dev, please, I’m a big boy now, it’ll be okay ... It’s just a project, right?’ he grinned.

Dev chuckled, ‘Yeah, and, as I recall ... Didn’t you also say that last time?’


The noise in the room was phenomenal, the argument in full swing, the language cringe worthy on more than several occasions. Patsy, one of the Producers, was going into one as Clive, the Director, tried to justify the climbing production costs. When wardrobe was thrown into the mix two more people stood up and it really fuelled the fire.

It was an argument that Tilly didn’t really understand, and didn’t really want to understand. Making a Blockbuster, as Clive called it, was big business that came with a big bill. There were some huge figures being bandied about, and they had far too many zeros attached, Tilly noticed. She also realised that everyone had completely forgotten her, sat there watching. Once again she grew bored, plus her arse was slowly going numb.

After draining the dregs of her lukewarm coffee, Tilly made an exit from the room. No one noticed as the door opened and closed, they were far too busy doing business, and quite loudly as it happens. She walked down the air-conditioned corridor, with its stark white walls that reminded her of a Dentist’s in England, and through the door she pushed, out into the lovely sunshine.

Dropping her sunglasses down from the top of her head, she walked as she rolled herself a quick smoke. Around the corner of the huge hanger she ambled, into the parking area that was quiet at that time of the afternoon. The heat of the day had finally settled a little, the hot streets cooling as the evening stumbled towards her.

There was a space reserved for her, her name attached to the post that stood on the path. That made her chuckle. She had a space but no car. A driver took her everywhere she needed to go, so there was no need for her to have a car. She walked over and stood in her empty spot. Looking around, to see if anyone was about, she dropped down, to lay lengthways, her back to the floor, the sun on her face.

Her smoke was slowly consumed as a hundred thoughts idled through a mind that never switched off. There would be an idea develop and a chain jumped in a matter of minutes, then she’d try to run back to her very first thought she had, seeing if she could find it amongst the others that jumbled around in there.

‘Of all the parking lots, in all the world, you had to lay down in mine,’ came the Bogart impersonation from the path above and behind her, and it was rather good.

Rolling over, she looked up at the face she was hoping she might see again soon. She smiled her best smile, knowing it was just to say hello. When she spoke she tried to keep it light, as if it were a regular thing she did in her parking space.

‘Oh, hi, Charlie, nice to see you again, how’s it going?’ As she stood, to pat herself down, she kept talking, her smile still there. ‘Mmm, and I like your film reference too ... Very Casablanca ...’

Charlie watched the English woman stand and sort herself out. He liked the way she fitted into her clothes. His arms crossed as he watched and waited for her to look at him. It was when the light caught in her eyes, it made them sparkle like stars, the flash there then gone.

‘Hi, Till, I’m good, nice to see you again too ... I’m here to see Clive, is he about? He asked me to drop by about the score for the movie, rang this morning, first thing ... I said if I had time I’d show my face, and here it is,’ he smiled, as she walked over to join him.

Her’s held a funny little look when she said, ‘Yeah, he’s about, but I wouldn’t go in there right now ... My advice, leave it another five minutes and then open the door ... If you can’t hear them shouting you should be safe.’

‘Arh, that bad, huh,’ Charlie replied as they turned towards the back entrance. ‘If a Producer kicked off it’ll be to do with money ... But they’ll get over it, and find more money along the way, somehow they always do ... The bigger the budget the better the Blockbuster, that’s how Clive thinks, and he’s probably right, to a certain extent ...’

Tilly listened and smiled, she walked and talked. Somehow she found it easy to be around Charlie, but then he made it easy, because he was really nice like that. Their conversation carried them through several topics, one being Tilly’s most recent L.A. accommodation.

‘So, anyway, I’ve been waiting for weeks to get another rented house. After the ceiling came down in the master bedroom of the last one, I didn’t want to go back there ... But then, I don’t know what’s worse ... A big, lonely, rented house or a big, lonely, rented room ... They amount to the same in my books ... I’d do the local Hostel but after the interview with those ladies last month, more and more people are recognising me ... That seemed to happen overnight, I think it’s why they keep me tucked away ... But I hate it, it’s so depressing, and I never see anything because there’s no one to show it to me ... How sad it that?’ she lamented, her smile still there, if only for her companies sake.

Well, Charlie’s brain was whirring and his old grey matter was kicking up a right storm in that big, handsome, head of his. He listened, and sympathised, he knew that feeling, weeks on the road, the crappy motels, their old knackered truck, four smelly band members and a hundred miles to go, just for one gig.

By the time they reached the door, and passed into the quiet hallway, Charlie liked Tilly even more. He found her funny, in a sad way, but her smile was always there to greet him, and he like that too.

‘Hey, a few of us are going to a club this Friday night, it’s a good one, we have a VIP area so you don’t get hassled by any assholes ... If you want to tag along, drop a text to your driver, Silvio, get him to bring you to Cage E, it’s in the city, he’ll know whereabouts, they all do. Dress is casual clubbing and I’ll be there from about 9 p.m. onwards ... I’ll get your name on the list... At least it’ll get you out meeting new people, right?’ he sweetly smiled, actually meaning the words he said.

‘Mmm, yeah,’ Tilly smiled, ‘I’ll see how alive I am on Friday night, it depends what time we finish here of course ... Clive keeps piling the work on and I’ve never done anything like this before, not scripts, I’m just a novelist ... I try to tell him but he doesn’t hear me, he keeps banging on about a hidden talent or something ... I can’t work him out ...’

Down the passageway they headed, the meeting room mere steps away. They both stopped and looked at each other. Pulling funny faces they glanced into the room beside them. It was empty. There was no Clive, there was no Patsy, and there was no group of production staff sat hammering things out. They had all left, day done.

Charlie turned to Tilly and laughed, his hands coming up to push into the front pockets of his black jeans.

‘So, that big, lonely, rented room you said you have ... Does it have a big bar to go with it?’

Tilly looked up at the young man, her eyes studying the face she adored for a few seconds before answering. Regardless of how she really felt about him, she didn’t quite know how to take it at first, being an older woman, she knew certain things, it was another useless talent. Charlie had always been a Playboy party-animal, ever more so since his public breakup. There was a massive possibility she meant nothing to the Rock Star stood before her. Really, in the grand scheme of things, she didn’t stand a chance anyway, and she was well aware of that fact too.

‘As it happens, they restocked me this morning ... The sun’s over the yard-arm, so ... G and Ts, on the terrace, back at mine then,’ she smiled in return.

‘The sun’s over the what?’ he questioned as they made for the exit.

Tilly chuckled when the sunshine hit her face once more, heading towards his black cruise mobile.

‘Never mind,’ she smiled, ‘it doesn’t matter ... It’s just another way to say it’s time for a drink in old English ...’

When they ambled into her hotel lobby, still chatting and laughing, there was a crush of people waiting in the front foyer. Charlie, being the Rock Star, thought they were there in hope of seeing a famous face such as his. Sadly he was hugely mistaken. As they neared the doors, the group of ladies turned and almost rushed at Tilly, their books and pens already deployed for use.

It scared the hell out of the poor woman, so she ducked behind Charlie and used him as a shield to reach the Reception. He was very good as he calmed them all down and got them into some sort of order.

‘Ladies ... Ladies ... One at a time ... Please ...’

So, one at a time the ladies wishes were granted, as Tilly scrawled her signature across one cover after another. As the last was completed they reached the Receptionist, and tried to carry on as if it had never happened, but it did happen, and that was when Charlie had his bright idea.

Now, for Charlie to have one of those, and for it not to about music, well, it’s a seldom seen event. He also thought it was rather bright one, and, seeing as he didn’t have them that often, he thought he’d best act on it. He came up with a plan, after spending a great afternoon with Little Miss English, drinking her mini-bar dry, before they moved to the bar in the lobby, where they spent the rest of the evening, and some of the night, talking and laughing as if old friends. Tilly was a nice lady, she put him at ease, and she was very bright, brighter than most women he’d known, and far brighter than his bright idea.

They walked the garden in the evening, chatting about life and things they wanted to achieve. Charlie said he’d always wanted to write a novel, but had never found the words or time. It made Tilly laugh, a novelist is a lyricist without a tune, they both tell a story, whatever length they are.

When he then asked her, her reply was to be able to paint in the style of the Old Masters. To describe a landscape in oil and to have it flow from her brush, as if words from her pen, was but another dream to have come true.

There was one main connection that tied Charlie straight to Tilly. It was Clive Duvall, the Director, who just happened to be an old friend of Charlie’s. So, one quiet evening, Charlie dropped Clive a call, not only to catch up over the music stuff, but to also mention the incident in the hotel lobby.

‘Oh, shit,’ Clive mumbled down the line, ‘they found her, have they? ... That didn’t take them long, knew they would, even told Patsy it was coming ... It was either them or the damn Press ... Guess we got off lightly ... Trouble is, I’ll have to move her again, and I’m running out of places to stash her ... She ain’t coming here ... Cath would blow a bulb with her in the house being all English and wanting breakfast tea instead of coffee,’ he moaned, half to himself, half to the dog by his slippered feet. He was sat in his office at home, with the TV on mute in the background.

Charlie butted in with, ‘Clive ... She doesn’t drink tea, only decaff coffee and water ... Plus beer and spirits ... But she hates tea, always has ...’

He was hoping all he’d done so far was enough. Charlie sowed the seeds for his plan in the proper spot, and prayed Clive would catch on like a house on fire. Then, the sentence he was waiting on was dropped into his awaiting ear as if a drop of water into a parched throat.

‘Well, kid, if you love her so God damn much she can stay with you ... I’ll ring her and let her know the deal, she’ll have to like it or lump it, and, as you two are working together, it should make your lives easier too,’ came rolling out of Clive, as if a welcome mat, right on cue.

Charlie laughed a silent laugh as he punched his fist into the air above him. He sort of grunted as he did it, the shout of joy nearly exploding from him.

‘Charlie! ... Are you okay, kid? ... Charlie!’ Clive’s voice anxiously asked.

‘Yeah, I’m good, Clive, just having a stretch, it’s been a long day ... I’m fine, really,’ he smiled in reply, his friend not knowing the full truth of it all.

‘So, I’ll leave Tilly to you ... My contract only caters for the music,’ Charlie then smiled.

‘Yeah,’ Clive sighed, ‘I’ll ring her in the morning, give her the lowdown before she goes over to the studio, I should catch her before Silvio picks her up ... Maybe I should rent that place on the beach for her, Tom gave me a good price for a few months ... If you find you can’t stand it, let me know, I’ll move her down there, out of your hair ...’

Charlie chuckled, ‘Clive, it’ll be fine, we’ll be fine ... Don’t stress, just explain it and she’ll understand ... I know she will, the look on her face when they rushed us, Clive ... Man, that was enough to make me wanna run ...’

‘Yeah,’ replied Clive, feeding a biscuit to the dog, ‘I can see how a horde of crazy women would make you wanna run for it ... It happens to you all the time, so it must be a real kick in the nuts,’ he chuckled, taking another biscuit from the drawer.

‘Clive, if they’re this crazy about the book, imagine how the movie will do ... Sometimes women are a blessing, and sometimes they are the devil himself ... What hit us was a herd of she-devils, they would have eaten me, and you, alive, my friend ... I like the ladies, not wrestling wildebeest,’ Charlie smiled, his day nearly done, and his plan almost complete.

‘Well, you’ll be babysitting one soon enough, kid, hope you can cope with her strange European ways, that’s all I’m saying ... And good luck, cuz I think you might be needing it,’ Clive laughed, as another crunchy treat vanished into the ball of fur, sat by his ankles.

‘Thanks, and she’s English, not European, there’s a difference,’ Charlie, chuckled back, ‘and don’t over feed that dog, Clive ... You know Cath will only bawl at you in the morning after it’s dumped all over your, overly expensive, real wood floor.’

There was a pause and then a soft chuckle in return. Clive knew what Charlie was saying, but he wasn’t listening, not really.

‘Yeah, stop me,’ Clive laughed, ‘and don’t break the hired hand, she ain’t finished those rewrites yet, ya cheeky little ...’

‘Yeah, night, Clive ... Catch up soon, buddy,’ Charlie grinned.

‘Yeah, we’ll catch up soon ... And behave yourself ... If I lose her we’re all screwed, okay, Charlie,’ he said, sounding serious once more, the treat drawer slowly closing.

‘Okay, okay, I get it, no breaking the English Rose, I promise ... Anyway, she ain’t my type, where’s the nice rack and the blonde locks? ... She’s a brunette, dude, and that just ain’t my flavour,’ Charlie bounced back.

‘Good, keep it that way ... If anything changes in that department she is out of there ... Got it!’

Clive slapped it on him, making Charlie realise the man was a Director before being a friend.

‘Got ya ... No fucking up, keep my hands to myself, and don’t touch the merchandise ... Anything else, Boss?’ Charlie sarcastically grinned to the mobile in his hand.

‘Yeah, no getting her hitched on drugs or drink ... I know you Charlie Kerman, and I know why the band is called KerKaine ... Please don’t do it, keep her clean and capable, I need her for this movie, and I need her to keep on top of it ... Be her friend, Charlie, not a fuck-up ...’

After their call had ended, Charlie sat in silence and ran the promise to not tamper through his head. She wasn’t his type, but he liked her. She wasn’t a blonde, but had nice dark hair. She wasn’t built, she wasn’t a beauty, and she was nothing special at all, so why did he like her so much? It was because she was the only real thing left in L.A. What you saw was what you got, the girl next door, easy to be around, no vanity, no pretentious behaviour, no demands and no distasteful looks. Tilly was just Tilly.


Her moving in party guests consisted of the guys from KerKaine, their latest squeezes, a bunch of other random musicians, along with a stream of stunning models, who, in turn, appeared with a host of other people Tilly either knew well or not at all. It was nice that Charlie had gone to all that trouble, she wasn’t expecting that, but it was nice anyway, and a great way to meet new people, as Charlie had quite rightly said.

Jade, the model, smiled as she asked Tilly, ‘Have you managed to see much of L.A. yet ... Charlie said you experienced your first crush the other day ... Frightening, isn’t it?’ the pretty girl said.

‘Oh, my, God, yes,’ Tilly replied, ‘I really wasn’t expecting anything like that ... And no, I’ve not been able to see anything because of it ... I hate the thought of going everywhere with Security on my heels, but it might be my only choice, unless I go when everyone’s in bed,’ she replied to her little group of listeners.

‘Darling,’ smiled a newcomer, ‘L.A. never sleeps ... You’ll be waiting forever for that one to happen ... Do a quick tour in a limo, that’s what we did, you see it all but don’t have to stop ... Take your photos out of the windows or standing through the roof, it’s easy, job done ...’

Charlie and her crossed paths on numerous occasions and usually in the bar area. The banter would pick up on a new subject and the conversation would start afresh. Tilly liked being dragged into a group to chat about something in the news or on the TV, it made her feel included, part of the crowd. Being asked her opinion was the best, any subject, any time, to hear other’s too and to carry it on into a bout of laughter, tears in eyes included.

‘No ... I’m a writer, I’m notorious for being a hermit and overly sarcastic because my art of conversation died in my last book,’ Tilly chuckled at the group around her.

The titter followed a tide, coming to rest on Charlie’s face, his smile always a lovely thing to see.

‘And I’m a musician,’ he grinned over at her, ‘notorious for kick-ass parties and having the time of my life whilst I play the songs I love ... One day, Tilly, I’ll write a song about you ...’

‘Will you, now, Mister Kerman?’ she smiled in return, ‘... And I can’t wait to hear that ... Will it be a heavy rock tune, or will it be a ballsy ballad?’

Suddenly no one else was there. It was just them stood there, all on their own. The group around them receded into a mist on the edges of their vision. All sound died away, only their two voices were heard.

‘I think it would be a ballad, actually ... Like nothing I’ve never written before ... Something unique, like you,’ he grinned.

Tilly blushed. ‘Charlie, don’t ... You’re too kind, I’m no one special ... I just write books like you write music ... If anything, that makes you just as unique as me ... Am I right?’ she questioned with a beautiful smile hanging on her lips.

‘Well, okay, yeah, it does ... So that just shows we’re on the same page then ... And this movie music will be as unique as us ... A project only we could achieve ... Something we created, together.’

‘What ... Like ... A child?’ Tilly chuckled.

‘Yes, Tilly, laugh you may ... But just like a child,’ Charlie grinned in reply.

He nearly floored her from where he stood. Charlie’s face and radiating smile lit up the whole space between them, and he was all she saw. At first it was scary, then after a second or so she was almost floating, feet off the ground, and it looked like Charlie was too.

There was a soft cough next to Tilly. It broke the spell she was under. It was Jade come to say goodnight. Tilly walked her to the door, a friend in the making, and hugged her as her car appeared to collect her. They parted promising to catch a coffee at some point before Jade left for Tokyo. They never did.

All the bathrooms were in use and Tilly really needed to pee. She had considered trying out by the pool but all the guys were out there doing the same thing. Turning towards her bedroom, her en suite seemed to be the only answer to the problem. She walked into her room only to see the door closed and hear hysterical laugher coming from within.

Crossing her arms, whilst tapping her left foot, was not making the wee go away, so she had to, she just had to knock.

‘Excuse me, guys, but I need that bathroom, like now ... Can you please vacate and shag someplace else? ... Thank you ...’

Tilly didn’t shout, she sort of loudly said it against the hinges, hoping she got her message through the gap. That’s when it was ripped open and a face she recognised appeared before her.

‘Is Chazzer there?’ the voice asked.

‘No,’ Tilly replied in one sharp word.

‘Good ...’

A hand whipped out to grab her sleeve, yanking her into the bathroom, the door slamming shut behind her.

‘We came up here cuz we know if he gets a whiff we’ll be dead before you can say safe sex ... Here, ya want a line ... It’s good shit ... I’ll cut you half of one, seeing as it’s probably your first time ...’

As Dev stood chopping a line, Tilly took her pee, whilst the others in the room left quickly. He didn’t care, neither did she by then. They were friends, drunken friends, and if he wanted to do caine off her porcelain he had to put up with her peeing.

‘Dev, if Chazzer finds that he’ll slap you ... Hard ... He hates that stuff, he told me,’ Tilly fluffed, trying to keep her voice down.

‘Yeah, well,’ Dev spat, ‘there’s a lot about our Chaz-man you don’t know, chick ... His habit was out of control ... Man, it nearly killed him at one stage ... Why the hell do ya think the band is called KerKaine? Did you think he worshipped Nirvana or something? Honey, the man was a beast with the white stuff, had to have his nose rebuilt after it collapsed on him ... He’s been in rehab eight times ... All clean now though, but he’d go back in a second if he could,’ Dev grinned, taking the line on the surface before him. ‘Want some? Ya don’t know ya like it till ya try it, Till ... Till ya try it, yeah, funny,’ he chuckled, mainly as his own stupid joke.

‘It’s a party night,’ was her grinned reply. ‘Why the hell not ...?'

She watched as Dev lined her up a short snort. It was a curious process, chopped, re-chopped, lined up, and then chopped again.

The tap up the nose was a mere burst of nothing, then it tickled, then she coughed, then it was fine. What was everyone going on about? It wasn’t until she went back and started drinking again did she find out what the caine was really all about.

After her second vodka and cola she felt the tingle in her bum start. It ran a line up her spine and set a funny little smile on her face. She walked with it, out into the garden, just to see who was lingering there.

The first person that turned her way smiled and passed it to her.

‘There ya go, Till,’ said, Pins, handing over a packed joint. ‘Take it ... That shit should wake you up some ... It’s very good, just arrived this morning ... If you want some, give me a ring, I’ll bring you some over ...’

So she took it, walked off around the garden, smiling and chatting, smoking the joint that had been offered up by the nice man stood by the garden doors.

Charlie was almost at the point of shagging Melinda Sempra when an almighty crash brought his face up from down below. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and it certainly took the blood from the most important part of his body, and not his head, well, it is, sort of.

A huge happy cry was raised as another loud crash followed the first. What the hell was going on out there?

Charlie looked up at Mel as she craned down to see him almost at the end of the bed, moving away to grab his discarded jeans. He pulled them on, his trainers to follow.

‘You stay right there ... I’ll be back when I’ve kicked some asses and punched a few lights out ... Trash my pad, the fuckers, hope they got some personal insurance ... They’re gonna need it ...’

Mel, in her nakedness, watched as Charlie stormed from the room and out to the rowdy crowd. She knew he wouldn’t be back, someone else would catch his eye and he’d be gone on another pussy prowl. There was always room for more where Charlie was concerned.

‘Great titties in hell and all the saints kill me now,’ were the only words to fall from Charlie’s lips, as his hand lifted to slap his forehead in horror. It ran down his face to cover his mouth, just in case something nasty rolled out and started some really big trouble.

The place was trashed in true English style. Loo roll hung from every painting, door and shelf. The 52 inch TV had been ripped off the wall, then thrown through the large plate-glass window, and was a travesty on the patio. Broken vases, plates and other trinket debris scattered the floor, and his platinum disk had a big red lipstick face drawn on it.

The room was almost empty, except for Tilly, in her underwear, spinning like a top to the music, arms stretched out, laughing loudly, and Dev, smashed out of his face, slouched watching her, with a loo roll sat on his head and a scarf of it around his neck.

‘... RIGHT ... THAT’S IT ...’

Charlie erupted in the low lit space, for only a soft glow could be seen through so much draping paper.

‘... What the hell? ... I’m gonna ... I wanna ... This is ... Where are...? And how that hell did they get up there?’

Charlie was stood looking at the frilly panties on the head of his moose, hanging from the wall. The more he looked, the more he saw.

Melinda walked from the bedroom, dressed and ready to leave. It was as though she didn’t see the devastation before her, or the mess, or the two nutters still doing their thing, smoking their joints and drinking their drinks. Kissing Charlie on passing, she stepped over the abandoned clothes and broken glass.

‘Catch ya soon, Charlie ... It was a hoot, let’s do it again sometime,’ was said over her shoulder, along with her waved hand as she let herself out.

Her Lamborghini Gallardo, that was sat awaiting her attention, was a sweet journey home at 4:30 in the morning. Climbing in, it purred into life and, as the side window slid down, her face appeared, her shades pulled down against the low early morning sunlight.

‘And good luck with that,’ she nodded, meaning what was behind him, as he followed her to the door. ‘That one’s all yours, honey ... And your Marigolds are under the sink ...’

As he went to speak, she kissed her fingers and threw them into the warm air beside her. His mouth opened and closed, but there was little time to start a sentence, let alone actually construct one. There was a loud roar and she was gone, through the gates, onto the main road, heading for Malibu before he even had a chance to turn and slam his front door shut.

Charlie stood, looking down as his old friend trashed on the couch, shirt missing, his forehead holding the slogan cool in red lipstick, to match the shade on the walls, and other places around the room, the Jackson print included.

He then looked over at Tilly, singing at the top of her voice, totally beyond this planet, up there with all the stars and a thinner atmosphere. She turned to him as he drew closer, singing his own lyrics at him. He noticed her vest top was on the ceramic greyhound by the hearth, whilst her jeans daggled from the ceiling fan in the kitchen. They were going around and around slowly, the legs almost dancing without her in them.

‘... Oh, well, love’s this game you’re playing ... Standing dead still while your world keeps changing ... You won’t get any nearer, so you really couldn’t say it any clearer ... That dream, you killed, leaves a gaping space that I once filled ...’

Her eyes came up to meet his and Charlie knew. From the size of those pupils, he just knew.

‘It’s the place you’d rather be ... Is it cold there without me?’ she continued, her face completely different to the one that had spun round to stand before him, his world igniting in the smile she held aloft.

Anger grew, but he silenced it, his ears ringing because he knew where it had come from. Dev had done it again, as Charlie somehow knew he would. Why did he always do that? Did he think it was funny, was it a joke with the coke? Couldn’t Dev just not do it, for one time, and why with that woman?

Then he saw it, he saw it in the way Dev was watching her, propped up slightly, he saw it in the way Dev protected Tilly when rushing to a waiting car, and why Dev made out he didn’t really like her that much. One of Dev’s comments suddenly slipped into mind, ‘You only ever look for a sexy cover, Charlie, and never wanna read the true story within.’

Charlie was seeing the true story unravel before his very eyes, as Tilly smiled and kept on singing.

She turned away, loving the beat pumping from the speakers, her near naked form not caring about its lack of coverings, in her head she was probably at a beach- party anyway.

Jeez, she could dance, and was really good at it too, the moves, the poses. She was so fluid, so sure of herself. She could tempt and taunt, as she was, drawing Charlie into the sound, the song.

‘We’re watching it fall but we don’t seem to care at all ... Now it’s right in your face, the disgrace ... So you’re out there alone, they said you’re out there alone ...’

She wasn’t that shy woman anymore. She had built herself up in a nice way, staying grounded, keeping it together. Even off her face she was together. Tilly wasn’t spaced out on the floor, whining and crying about being as high as a kite, no, she’d embraced it, was even having fun on it, and she was feeling everything.

The more Charlie watched, the more he wanted her, but he knew he couldn’t and wouldn’t. He’d made a promise, which he was trying to keep, but the drugs part had already been broken by Dev. A part of him wanted to drag her into his room and throw her onto his bed, as she was, to do all the things his Momma didn’t want him to do to a lady. He smiled, still watching, his arms crossed, with a fresh bottle of beer in his hand.

‘I thought I could wait but now I fear it’s way too late ... Then your voice, down the line, one last time ... Says you’re out there alone, but you’re never alone,’ she sang, twisting away from him, smiling as she did.

Her voice wasn’t bad either, she could hold a note.

It was as Charlie stepped towards her he saw Dev make a move. His friend’s eyes had popped open, upon her singing, and were watching Tilly with a dirty look in them. Charlie knew what was brewing behind that frozen gaze of Dev’s, and he didn’t want Tilly being dragged into any more bad news than she’d already snorted. He could see she was coked up to the eyeballs, and it only ever came from one place, Dev.

As Dev lifted from the couch, Charlie stepped before him with a raised palm to Dev’s chest. One light push put the drunkard back down into his seat. His friend landed heavy and was about to protest. Charlie stared down in a way Dev wouldn’t dare open his stupidly stoned mouth. Dev decided to stay where he was and smile up as his tall, well-built friend.

He also smiled on the inside to himself. It was exactly what he wanted to happen. He was just waiting to play his part. Knowing he’d get them together eventually, it seemed fated, that’s why she’d ended up at Charlie’s gaff in the first place. It was meant to be. The Lord moved in mysterious ways sometimes, and who was Dev to question that. He saw his tinkering as a way to get the ball rolling, which it certainly had, so with his job done he decided to make a move home.

Silence in the house, the lights low, soft talking in the background, everyone gone. Two shadows sat, propped against a couch on the floor, the sun becoming a watery filter through the glass walls.

Charlie was trying to sober Tilly up, but it’s not a sudden process when the caine is involved, it takes time, and lots of orange juice. Sadly, unbeknown to Charlie, whenever Tilly filled her glass with juice, a huge dash of vodka was to join it, so as one high exited her system another one took its place.

Soon enough, he saw her need for sleep crawling slowly into her features. They had talked themselves roar throated, and he had learnt a lot about the English Rose. Whenever anyone starts the comedown process they travel through all their emotions in the slide back to earth. Tilly was no exception.

There are stages you have to work through, some better than others. The laughter stage is the funniest, for everyone. Then there are the quick one word comebacks that can have you giggling with tears down your face. Then they, in turn, are replaced with tears of sadness, and so another layer is explored. Up and down, up and down, that’s how it went, one minute guffawing like an old maid, the next, almost ripping her hair out from the sadness of it all.

Charlie kept up the best he could, whilst trying to clear up the mess around them. As Tilly poured out her life story, lost loves included, Charlie wiped surfaces and bagged up broken junk and yards of loo roll. The twisted TV and missing window would have to wait. He tried to remember hearing the weather forecast. Were they expecting rain?

Finally, when all her words had been said, and all her tears had been shed, she looked up at Charlie and asked him for assistance.

‘Charlie, darling ... Help me ... Please ... My legs don’t work,’ she chuckled from the floor.

He returned to scoop her up and, yes, she was beyond help.

‘... Thank you for my party, it was so lovely, and I had such a lovely time with all those lovely people ... I like your friends, Charlie, they’re funny, and they drink a lot ... Did you see how much they drank tonight? ... That was like an ocean of beer, no, a whole world of beer ... And they love music, oh, yeah, they all love music ... Especially your music ... They love your music more than any other music in the whole, wide world ... That’s so lovely ...’

Charlie carried Tilly down to her room. She talked the whole way, didn’t take a breath. He gently dropped her onto her bedspread, pulling it up and over, making sure she would be warm enough when she finally drifted off and touched down again.

‘... But I don’t care what they say, I know ya wouldn’t treat a girl like that ... Not if ya really, truly, loved her ya wouldn’t ... I don’t know you at all really, but it’s like I’ve known ya forever ... I find that strange ... Do you find that strange, Chazzy?’ Tilly smiled as she lay back onto her pillows.

‘Yeah ... I find that strange too, Tills,’ he smiled in reply.

‘... Hey, come here,’ she whispered, ‘I know a secret.’

An index finger curled slowly to draw him in. He did as was beckoned. Man, she was so wasted.

Sitting up again, her arms lifted as he landed beside her. They came to rest around his neck, with her still smiling, before she whispered her words in his ear.

‘Charlie, you big silly, I do love you ... I hope we’re buddies forever ...’

Pulling away she looked at him, her eyes nearly shut.

‘... Now, I have to sleep ... Night ...’

With that, she fell away, side-down and curled up, ready to dream her day away.

‘You can join me, if you like,’ she softly mumbled, a hand patting the space on the mattress behind her. ‘Just to cosy up and crash ... Nothing meant by it ... I’m not your type, anyway?’ she quietly giggled to herself.

The woman had trashed his house and just confessed her love for him. What could he do?

He swung round behind her and lifted his feet from the floor, coming to rest, spoon-style, alongside the petite frame, her soft scent inhaled into him. She smelt warm and of fading perfume. He smiled as he closed his eyes. He was finally sleeping with the only woman he wanted beside him, cocooned in a patterned throw and half naked, but that didn’t matter, he was happy.

As he floated away into a sweet dream of music and dark haired beauties, his hand slid around Tilly’s waist. She didn’t turn it away. She gently held it to her, with a smile on her face as big as his.


‘Hey, look, I gotta go do this thing whether I want to or not ... It’s in my damn contract that I show my face now and then ... You sure you don’t want to join us, it looks like you could do with a night out.’

Tilly looked over at Charlie, her features as weary as they were the day before.

‘That’s really nice of you, but I really have to get these rewrites done for tomorrow ... There’s like a hundred of them so I better get started ... At this rate I’ll still be typing as the sun comes up,’ she half smiled.

‘Okay, if you’re sure,’ he grinned in return. ‘Hey, you know where everything is, help yourself to the bar, beers are in the cooler, shots are on the back shelf ... If ya get hungry the fridge is packed, Miguel stocked us up yesterday, so if you get the munchies, dig in, the fruit’s on the side in the big dish.’

Charlie spoke as he pulled his leather jacket on. Tilly watched him in the soft glow of the hallway light. Everything about him she loved, but she wasn’t his type, she wasn’t a busty blonde.

‘Thanks,’ she replied, ‘if I get the time I’ll do something later, otherwise it’s Cheerios straight from the box again ... I’m getting used to them and quite like them as a dry snack.’

Charlie turned towards her and smiled, ‘You English are a strange breed, dry cereals and banana sandwiches ... Lord, your insides must be a mess, do you live like this in England?’ he asked as he reached the door.

Tilly turned to him to make her reply. ‘Nah, not like this ... In England I don’t live at all .... I’m a writer, we’re known to be solitary creatures that are usually nocturnal ... I don’t get out much because of it ... Not that I mind, I don’t ... Writing is my life, like music is yours ... That’s why I wanted you in on this ... Your sound is exactly what the film needs, and so far you’re proving me right ... Keep up the good work,’ she grinned in the sweetest way she could.

He laughed, ‘Ha,’ stood in the opening, about to make his way to the waiting stretched limo, ‘I know what you mean about the solitary life thing, but I still get out there and live it ... Maybe you need to do that too sometimes, Tilly ... Life’s for the taking, grab it, before it’s all taken up with words and shit ...’

He went to say something else but a girl shouted his name from the waiting car.

‘Look, I gotta go, the guys are waiting ... Maybe I’ll see you later, if you’re not comatose after an evening of bashing a keyboard to death,’ he chuckled. ‘See ya later, Till ... And enjoy your dry snacks and fruit ... Don’t forget the beers ...’

Charlie’s voice died away as he walked off towards the waiting car, leaving the door wide open.

Tilly walked over to push it shut and shout her farewell. ‘Yeah, thanks ... I will,’ she called, as Charlie was greeted by a beautifully tall blonde with a rack that would put most women to shame.

Tilly closed the door, the sight of the stunning blonde enough to make her want that beer sooner rather than later.

There was a time when Tilly felt nothing. Her parent’s divorce, when she was nine years old, had started the process and from there it had escalated into a lifetime achievement. Boys were never interested in her. She was nerdy, wore glasses, was on the plump side, and had mad hair all over the place. She hadn’t been the same as the other little girls, no, she’d always been different. She’d always been a rebel.

A lonely child, but never spoilt, her first job was found at thirteen, working in a roadside burger van. Tilly was offered it when she lied about her age, and it made her some money for a while, but she soon got bored and moved on. When she left school she found she did one thing okay, putting words together into sentences that were poetic. Before she knew it she was helping write lyrics, the likes of which would never hit the charts, but she was out there doing it and that’s all that really mattered at the time.

When the Dad that had brought her up suddenly died, her world stopped turning. She found him sat in his car on the drive. Tilly was leaving for work. He’d been there all night, dead, and she hadn’t even felt that. It was the first thing she wrote about that really meant anything. The not feeling him suffer when she was mere feet away, that amazed her as much as his passing. Tilly found she was lost again.

Living with her Mother was the biggest nightmare, though it was kind of them to let her move into the converted shed at the bottom of the garden. At least she had her own space, and that was cool. The Step-Father, Will, was a tolerable sort of chap, he never got in the way and would take Tilly’s side if he felt the need, and she liked him for that. Things could have been worse. At least she had a small income, friends around her and her writing. What more could she want?

Well, there were a million answers to that question, but it’s finding the right one that works. Tilly found it, and it was passing her manuscript to a friend to read. The first Novella to be typed by her fair fingers was to be the opening act to a most profitable career. In a matter of months her efforts had gained numerous five star reviews, and once it went global its path was forged. Within three years the booked had been snatched up, published, had hit Number One on most Reading Lists, and was in the throes of becoming a motion picture. That’s why Tilly was in L.A., she was helping write the script.

A hollow silence graced the large empty space. Charlie sure did fill it with his presence. The remote control for the stereo was located and the play button was pushed. From the numerous speakers pumped the track she loved the most, Charlie’s rock balled, Going Nowhere Quickly. A beer was retrieved from the stacked cooler and popped open. An amble was taken around the vast room, the artwork studied, the bookends partly read. One wall was a huge collection of catalogued records, the vinyl stood along sturdy shelves, each section containing an album thought long gone with time.

The track ended as she moved to the large black and white photo hung above the fireplace. It was an art shot of Charlie, a close up and very good. Tilly lingered there, studying his features, looking up at the guy with the lovely smile. She laughed to herself, as she blushed at her own thinking, and then returned to the room where the dreaded rewrites awaited her.

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