Do you ever get to the point where you’ve held your wind in for so long your stomach feels like it harbours Mount Vesuvius? Yep, me too. At this very moment the inside farts are rife. As the Pope walks past me, a huge one bubbles and churns, and I’m sure he heard it. The Pontiff continues walking, however, still munching on a tuna roll.
It isn’t the real pope, of course. He’s an extra for the latest film I’m shooting. I say I’m shooting it, but not in the sense that it’s my film and I’m the director, or even the lead. I’m actually ‘Third girl in Vatican Square’. I’m the one with the map in my hand, waving it at two other girls who are both looking around faking confusion. Yep, I’m an extra in films, TV shows, even advertisements. You need someone to look suitably nonchalant in the background, then I’m your girl.
I’m Phoebe Drinkwater, age twenty-six and I live with my sister Beth and her two adorable twin boys, Callum and Mackenzie. It works for us; she needed help with the mortgage after her deadbeat husband, Steven, left her with twin boys of a year old. All because his nubile, twenty-one year old assistant ‘sucked dick magnificently’. I kid you not, that was one of the lines from the ‘Dear Beth’ note that he left on the bedside table. Beth, nor the boys, have seen him since that miserable, rainy Wednesday over five years ago. Personally, I think she’s better off without him. He was a big head who thought every woman wanted him and every man wanted to be him. Let me tell you, he wasn’t all that. He may have been okay looking, but his breath smelled like rancid meat – which is probably why Miss Cock Sucker, the assistant, chose to blow his cock rather than kiss his mouth. Anyway, I digress. Beth needed help with the mortgage and I can’t get a mortgage because, as I said, I’m an extra. Extras don’t have long-term contracts. We never know when we’re going to work next and the pay is shit, but we do it because we feel like we’re actors, only without the fame and fortune, which suits me just fine. Anyway, my beautiful sister cleared out her sewing room, squeezed a double bed and chest of drawers in there, and welcomed me with open arms. I was also grateful because after flat-sharing with two gay guys, Andy and Dermot, I didn’t want to go back to my childhood home when the boys decided to move to Andy’s homeland of Australia. I have a somewhat fractured relationship with my parents - basically they hate me because ‘I’m such a disappointment’ and will never be as wonderful as my younger sister, Melania. Melania is a blonde haired blue-eyed, perfect size ten; with a loving husband, who is a brain surgeon, and two perfect children who behave impeccably. She’s also a successful doctor with her own practice, but is sought out by hospitals all over the world to help them diagnose bizarre and unknown diseases. Perfect isn’t she? Yep, and she also doesn’t exist. She’s a figment of my parents’ imagination and musings when they’re letting me know exactly how disappointing I am. Being compared to a figment of their imagination doesn’t exactly bring family harmony, so seeing them as little as often works for all of us, me especially.
“We should have gone ahead and had Melania,” my mother said to my dad one day when I’d been thrown off a film set in Finland for belching loudly during a death scene. I have no idea what the fuss was about. They were able to reshoot it and the light just about held up – I didn’t know they only had around five hours of daylight that time of year. And okay, it was the last day of the massively over budget movie and time was tight, but I defy anyone not to belch after eating herrings on toast for lunch. “She would have been such a beautiful daughter,” Mum continued while Dad shook his head and rolled his eyes at me. “I know, Deborah,” he replied, sighing heavily. “She’d be working in third world countries by now, saving lives and making us proud.”
So, that was why I didn’t want to go home to 37 Grosvenor Drive, Rickeby. As for Beth, well she never hesitated offering when I cried out in pain after she asked me if I was going to go home. She immediately said, “Phoebes, you’re coming to live with me and the boys. We’ll work out your rent later, but you can help me with the boys when you’re not working, which means I can do some overtime. It’ll be great.”
I tried to argue that she wouldn’t want me around, cramping her style – surely there must be a man in her life, I asked? I knew there wasn’t. We told each other most things, and I knew the only sexual experience Beth had had in the years since Steven disappeared was when she accidently brushed her hand against her boss’s cock when she’d squeezed past him behind the counter of the bank that she worked in. Apparently Gerald, her boss, almost chocked on his own spittle and Beth almost peed herself from laughing with her friend and colleague, Angela, in the break room. Gerald, her fifty-eight year old, very married and very rotund boss, went home with a migraine and didn’t return until the following week.
Beth, the boys, and me had a lovely time living together. We were the Fantastic Four, according to Mack, and we fought crime in the dead of night. That boy had a vivid imagination. Callum, on the other hand, had told his friend’s mum that he had two mothers, and that Beth and I were in a lesbian relationship. The mere thought had me puking in my mouth on many occasions. I’m not homophobic, please don’t think that, it’s the thought of being a lesbian with my sister – wrong on so many fronts. She’s very beautiful, with her dark auburn hair and brown eyes, but she’s my sister and to be honest, I’m a cock girl through and through.
As the last scene had been shot – the lead man running through the streets of Rome with a seven foot tall man-mountain chasing him, we were all in the dressing trailer removing our costumes. Thankfully, the only things left to do were close ups on the lead actors for the final scene of the film, so it was my last day. That meant no standing around for continuity photographs, no hanging around to be fitted with another outfit, and no more shitty on-set food that totally disagreed with my bowels on a regular basis – hence the wind and subsequent inside farts.
“Where you go next?” Policeman number six asked me, pulling off his jacket.
“Back home,” I replied with a sigh. “I’ve got a job on the new Addison Yates movie. It’s being shot locally to where I live.”
Addison Yates was an action series that was now on its fourth movie and for some reason it was being shot in Manchester at the studios with some location shots in the city. Usually they were big, Hollywood blockbuster type of movies with huge money spinning effects and amazing car chases. I wasn’t sure how it was going to look without the gorgeous sunshine and California backdrop, but I didn’t care too much. It meant I got to work on a big budget movie and go home at night to see Beth and the boys. The fact it was big budget also meant I was paid better, which meant Beth could stick to her usual three days of working for a while. Plus I had two lines of dialogue, which meant I got a speaking part stipend – thank goodness I had a great agent, Barbara, who insisted on it. I would also be working in scenes with the leading man – Grantley James. I was playing a ‘studious looking tech girl who worked for Addison’s security company’. Grantley had played Addison Yates in the last movie, taking over from the previous lead, Ryan Rushton. Ryan had become a little too fond of the nose candy and when his septum practically dropped off during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the studio decided enough was enough and replaced him with Grantley. What had caused uproar was soon forgotten when Grantley brought a whole lot more sex appeal to the character of Addison. Ryan was hot, but Grantley was better looking and also ripped to perfection – he was another level, with his sexy stubble and taper fade haircut that was always styled to perfection. He also had a penchant for chunky rings and leather bracelets, giving him more of an edge than the immaculately put together Ryan. Rumour had it Ryan’s six-pack was spray painted on, but there was nothing fake about Grantley. Even the three-inch scar on his left forearm was real. The studio explained that away with Addison having a scuba diving accident on his vacation after his last job, i.e. the last film – no one knew the reason why Grantley had a scar in real-life, but I doubted it was from scuba diving.
All in all, I was looking forward to shooting the movie. The director, Alexi Rodrigo, was known for encouraging the whole cast to mix together and become a family. Extras weren’t hidden away, they were encouraged to mingle with the lead roles, so it was definitely going to be a different experience for me.
“I ‘ope you enjoy,” the policeman said about my next job, in his sexy Italian accent. “You wanna fuck tonight?”
He lifted his chin as he asked his question. His dark eyes hooded and sultry.
I looked him up and down, hands on my hips.
“Yeah, okay. Let me get changed and I’ll meet you by the food trailer.”
“Si,” he replied. “We can have dinner first.”
As he left the trailer, I shook my head and continued to undress. Who said romance was dead – not the Italians, that was for sure.