“I like her reaction here. Keep that, but cut the pause before his speech. He gets a little self-indulgent building up to his angry outburst.”
Stan was in Doug Meyer’s editing room looking at the day’s shoot. Doug was his best and most trusted editor. Stan had made sure he would have him on the feature.
“Don’s going to shit when he sees it.”
“Let me worry about that half-baked ham. The network forced him on me and now the rest of us have to live with him. If they only knew what we go through every week to make him look like he’s not doing a poor man’s Brando. He fights me on the set but there’s nothing he can do about what happens in this room.”
Stan knew that Doug was right, but he could always handle actors, even Don Lazlo, who was the worst actor he had ever been forced to deal with. What he couldn’t handle was remembering last night and what he had done to Lila. It was unforgivable. He was relieved that Howard was meeting with investors today. He was alone with Doug, so he didn’t have to put up with any superfluous comments, objections, or casual bantering that only extended editing time and rarely improved the show. Doug had little or no ego and just made the cuts as he was told, which was why Stan hired him whenever he was available.
Last night had been a nightmare. Stan had hoped that that was all it had been, but one look at Lila’s battered face this morning shattered that illusion. He stood silently by her bed in one of the spare bedrooms where she had chosen to spend the night and could not fathom how he could have lost control so completely. He had always thought of himself as not having a violent bone in his body—good old Stan, full of jokes, the life of the party, and always able to inspire a fierce loyalty in his crew. So what the hell was he doing pounding his fists into a helpless, hundred and ten-pound woman? Thinking back on it sickened him, and he felt the bile rising from his stomach into his throat.
“What did you think of the cut just before the pan down the beach?” Doug was asking him. “I wasn’t sure if the hair matched the close-up.”
“No, it was fine…just fine.” He was barely aware of what he was seeing on the monitor.
He had heard that cocaine could lower your boiling point a little, but he didn’t see how the small amount he had snorted last night could change the entire makeup of his personality. And when he really thought about it, if Lila hadn’t started screaming at him, he wouldn’t have become aggravated enough to hit her. Any man would have had a hard time restraining himself.
Yesterday, after a great deal of thought and soul-searching, he had come to the conclusion that as much as he loved Lila, as much as her beauty still fascinated and excited him, there wasn’t much left of their marriage. They hadn’t had sex in months and any warmth that she had sparingly shared with him in the beginning had slowly died down into barely tolerant indifference. He didn’t want to live like that anymore. Coming home and looking at that face used to be a joy. Now he looked for any excuse to avoid it. He admitted to himself now that he may have been too blunt with her last night, but he was sick of the playacting that went on between them. He was up to his eyeballs in that at work and he didn’t need it from his own wife. But hitting her after she started screaming at him, that wasn’t who he was. After he finished the feature, the booze, cocaine, and Lila would all have to go. Meanwhile, he would placate her and keep her off his back so he could work with a clear head.
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