Suitable Behavior

April 21, 2008
By
“All I'm saying,” Attis said, folding his newspaper and looking up at Olivia, “is that eighty percent of what's in the news is absolutely meaningless. You might as well not even have an entertainment section, I mean, what's the point?”

Olivia sat down in a folding chair next to Attis and gave him a quizzical look. “You know you're in the entertainment section, right?” She waved her arm at the set they were sitting outside of, “This is the entertainment business.”

Attis shrugged, “But why do they want to know so much about us?” He looked down at himself as if to make sure he wasn't extraordinarily different from anyone else. Olivia shrugged and unscrewed the cap off her water bottle. “Maybe most people just lead boring lives. I mean, think about it, what's exciting about being an accountant? Reading about beautiful actresses must be pretty interesting to them.”

“Are you calling yourself beautiful?” Attis said, giving Olivia a level stare.

“Oh, shut up,” said the young actress. She adjusted her shirt around her shoulders and wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. They had just finished shooting a chase scene and the hot Pacific sun beat down upon them. The two of them sat looking towards the beach where the crew was setting up for the next scene. They were placing a large, recently slain sea monster on the white shore.

Another member of the cast came up to the pair. He was barefoot and walked with his hands in the pockets of his shorts. He smiled at Attis and Olivia, “What's up?” he asked.

“Just talking,” Attis said, “Say, what do you think about the news, Ryder?”

“What news?”

“Just in general. Like, the quality of it, and it's relevance.”

Ryder gave a short laugh; he took one of his hands from its pocket and ran it through his black hair. “ I guess I really don't pay much attention.”

“Why not?” asked Attis.

“Probably because I don't really care much about it. But as to its relevance, well, I'd say it's all pretty germane.”

“Even the stuff about celebrities? You know what I mean: 'so and so leaves grocery store- eats dough nut.' that kind of crap.”

Ryder laughed, “Oh, believe me, that's the most relevant kind of news. You think people really care about the other stuff?” He laughed again and started walking away, “See you guys later.” He smiled broadly at Olivia and went on his way towards the large bus parked a few yards from the beach.

“I take it Ryder doesn't have much confidence in humanity,” Attis said, pushing up his sunglasses and leaning back in his chair. Olivia watched Ryder make his way to the bus and said, “He is a bit of cynic. But I like him.”

Attis made a noise in the back of his throat.

“What?” Olivia frowned at him.

“Nothing,” Attis said. “Are you coming to my party next Friday? It's going to be in the hotel, we rented out this big room they have.”

“Sure,” Olivia said, looking around at the scenery, “It's not like I exactly have friends that live around here...”

“I'm having some of mine fly down. It'll be fun.”

The two of them sat in silence for a while, letting a light breeze play over their exposed skin and listened to the distant sounds of the crew working on the set. Finally, Olivia turned her head towards Attis and said, “I don't know how much more of this I can handle.”

Attis raised his sunglasses, “What do you mean?”

Olivia sighed, and after another pause Attis began think she wasn't going to answer him, when she said, “I know I'm going to sound like some spoiled celebrity,” she pointed at the newspaper on the ground between them, “like the ones in the headlines.”

“The ones accountants like to read about so much?” Attis grinned.

“No, more like the ones soccer moms like to gossip about to their friends at the park.”

Attis frowned and turned so he was facing Olivia. “Talk to me,” he said.

“It's just...acting,” said Olivia, “I don't know how much longer I want to keep doing this... How much longer I could stand to keep doing this.” She wasn't looking at Attis, but at the wide horizon that stretched out before them. “I guess it kind of goes back to what you were saying before. When people, people I've never met before, think of me, they don't think of me, they think of Maddie O'Donnel, girl detective.”

Attis laughed, “Yeah, I always thought that was a stupid name. She's not even Irish. And how did she ever get that robot-” Olivia was glaring at him and he stopped, his grin faltering. “I'm sorry,” he said, “go on.”

Olivia glared at him for a moment more, then resumed, “I want to be in the papers for something else, for something I've done. Like...I don't know, winning a marathon, or something.”

Attis got up and stretched with his hands pressed against his lower back. He stood in front of Olivia and asked, “How old are you?”

“Eleven.”

Nodding, Attis laughed again, “I think you've got plenty of time for that,” he said. “But you should definitely come to my party on Friday. My mom's making a big cake, and I think my dad might break out some of his old magic stuff.” He shrugged, “it's kind of cheesy, but he's pretty good.”

“Yeah.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, well, I'll see you on set later.” Attis started to walk away, then turned and said, “And don't worry about all that stuff. Who cares what name boring old accountants think of you by anyway?” Then he plodded off through the sand, pulling at the back of his sweaty shirt, and humming a cereal jingle.





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