“My name’s Tom,” the driver smiled.
Like you need to tell me that, Doc thought as his thighs went warm remembering that light baritone voice that carried his heart through high school. “François.”
“Paul.” Uh huh, Doc grinned, you remember it too, dont you, Paul…
“You guys new here? Get in, lemme show you around.”
“You take shotgun,” Doc whispered. Paul beamed like he was six and just found a pony under the tree. The Ferrari whipped back into the lane and sped towards the ocean….
… except it seemed like the ocean wasnt getting any closer. We should have reached the shore by now, right? Tom glanced back at him and grinned — that same stunning grin — “It kinda fools ya, this place. The Island gets bigger and smaller, depending on how many properties need to be shelved here for refab. Where you guys from? Wait, dont tell me. Melrose Place? I heard they were sending that one back. Yeah, I could see you two walking off that set.”
“No, I’m… I’m actually movie, not TV,” Paul stammered, clearly doing his best not to act like a fourteen year old who’s just discovered what to do with his hands and failing miserably. “Airport 79.”
Tom’s eyes went huge as coconuts. “Movie? Really? Wow. So how’d you wind up — ”
“I was subbing for a friend. Oceanic 815.”
“No crap?!? You got mixed up with that bunch? Man… They’re having real trouble getting that one in syndication, but that’s what happens, I guess, when you’re too linear, right? Me, I was episodic, so I can go for decades if I want. Rumour has it they want to try the PI concept again. Eh, if they do, they do. I’m cool. Until then, I’m fine with just cruising the island… What about your buddy back there?”
“… He’s audience.”
The car slammed to a stop, and suddenly Tom’s deep brown eyes were trained like a laser on Doc. “Audience? What’re you doing here?”
Dont look at me that way, or I’m gonna melt right into this seat. “Got on the wrong plane, I guess.” Or the right one, depending on how you look at it.
“So you’re not staying, are you. I mean, I dont think they let audience stay here for more than an episode or two. The only audience I knew to stay all that long was laugh track. That’s not you, is it?”
“No, Paul and I, we’re supposed to leave tomorrow.”
“We? Oh.” Was Doc imagining it, or was that a hint of disappointment in Magnum’s voice? “So… you’re going back too?” Yep, that’s the sound of disappointment.
Paul shrugged. “I’m supposed to, but I’m not so sure I want to deal with widescreen anymore. Maybe it’d be better to try out the small-screen life for a change. I’m kinda hoping they’ll let me stay for a while.”
“Oh!” Tom’s smile flashed teeth like a snowstorm. “That’d be… pretty cool.” The car lurched into motion again, and Paul gave Doc a questioning look: Huh?
Doc just grinned. Roll with it, bud. ‘Cause if you dont, I will.
They streamed past Wild West towns and Denver mansions and a block of sterile, concrete bunkers (“PSAs,” Tom grinned.). “Hey, I gotta show you this!” The car braked to a halt, and Tom almost leaped out of the car. “You’re gonna love this! C’mon!”
“You guys go on,” Doc smiled. “I’m gonna just stand and stretch my legs. That back seat’s not the most comfortable.” He watched, almost envious, as his high school fantasy disappeared into the bushes with Paul in tow. You’re a married man, remember! he chided himself.
But the air, the sun — even if it was all TV fantasy, it still felt good. Warm, embracing, just as addictive as sitting in the chair at home and watching endless reruns of Route 66 or Simon and Simon. No matter what, things got resolved in half an hour, an hour tops. Pity life cant be like that, Doc mused as his eyes closed for a break. Then (How long had it been? He had no idea.) the brush parted, and Tom and Paul, both looking slightly disheveled, came into view. Paul noticed Doc’s eyes go slightly wide and sheepishly whispered. “FEMA rewrite… for a more contemporary audience. I sure hope it sticks.”
“You’re not the only one. So… uhm… where’d you guys go? Should I ask what he showed you?”
“… Sex and the City,” Paul grinned.
“Hey!” Tom laughed, as he casually ruffled Paul’s already substantially ruffled hair. “You guys up for a party?”