Fiction: Love, Brodie

By David Dumouriez

It happens. I know what it’s like. I worked with Paul N. when I was just a kid. For the first few days I couldn’t look at him. It got to the point where I think even he was embarrassed. It was only when he made a joke about my shoes that I was able to relax.
And it’s not just confined to the young. I remember, years later, when I had a scene with Jack N. I knew I was there on merit. I was cast opposite him. But on the morning of shooting, I puked. And then I puked on the puke. That’s the effect people can have on you when all you’ve ever done is stare at them. In the end, the scene was great and so was he. But, as I say, I know what that feeling’s like.
I suppose it’s about as artificial as it gets. That one-way relationship we have with the people we watch on screens. We see them close up. We think we’re privy to their most private emotions. We become familiar with the nuances of their voices. Hell, we even see them naked! And because we know them so intimately, we think they know us. That’s where the trouble starts.
I acknowledge my luck in being one of the few who can get to know their heroes, albeit it on the smallest scale. I had a barbecue at Paul’s place. I saw him for the man he was. I went out on the town with Jack. And I survived! But sadly most people can’t do that. If they did, they’d realise that those people aren’t so different from them. Or at least, they’re more similar than dissimilar.
That’s why, with a bit of distance between then and now, I mostly feel sorry for that girl rather than angry. But at the time it was disturbing, I won’t deny that.
At first, well, I don’t even know how many times I met her before I began to realise it was the same face coming back again and again. It’s not unusual to  recognise particular people asking for pictures or signatures several different times. It’s mostly girls. Women. In the end, you find out their names and little details about their lives. It’s often fun. One of the things I enjoy about the job. In theatre, you get to know if they like you or not. In the cinema or TV, well, there’s no one there!
So it’s good to see that people enjoyed what you do. And, honestly, I’ve hardly had any problems with ‘fans’, if you want to call them that. They’re usually polite, respectful. I’d like to think I generate that kind of atmosphere. But maybe I should have seen this one was different. I suppose that’s easy to say now.
It was fine. Not out of the ordinary. Then maybe a look in the eyes that was a little too - don’t know what you’d say exactly - intense? Presumptuous?Anyway, I didn’t think too much about it. Everyone’s different and all that. Maybe I should have confided in someone. But, right or wrong, that’s not my way. I just went with it, like I mostly go with everything else.
But there came a point when it became a bit irritating. She was always around. Then something more than irritating. Until finally it bordered on being dangerous for both of us.
Like every other adult male actor in Hollywood, I’m a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’m exaggerating. But I can look after myself. And thankfully in this instance at least, I don’t have a wife or kids. But even so, to find yourself face-to-face with someone in your own house - familiar stranger though she was by then - is not something I’d ever want to go through again. You don’t know what they came to do. Or what they could do if things don’t go as they expected.
Fortunately on my part, I’d say the damage was mostly physical. I got patched up. The wounds healed. And I guess I can always look at the scars if I ever need to check whether it was all real or not.
As for her, I don’t know. What little I’ve heard is that she’s doing ok. I wish her the best. But more than anything, I hope I’ll never lay eyes on her again.

I know now that Brodie could never be the man I expected him to be. I’ve had plenty of time to think about that, and I’ve been able to come to terms with it. He let me down in a big way and - if I’m being really honest - part of me will never forgive him for it. Having said that, I still love him. I always will. These things don’t just disappear. Love’s complicated, right?
They tell me it’s over. That I can’t see him again. Can’t even go near him. Or there’ll be consequences! Consequences. Isn’t there always some kind of consequence? Life’s just one consequence after another.
Hannah - she was my best friend - she always told me that Brodie wasn’t worth it. “I don’t know what you see in him,” she said. “He was just a pretty boy whose career went nowhere. Now he’s the guy they call when they want a ‘cool-looking’ father in a kids’ movie.” Well, of course I wouldn’t have it. For me, Brodie is - was - the one man in the world. The right face. The only face.
I don’t know if it makes any sense. But I really felt like I knew him from somewhere else. Somehow we had a connection that lasted through the ages. I’m not saying it was reincarnation or anything. Just something spiritual, you know. That we were meant to be together, whatever time or place we were in. That’s what I tried to explain to him, but he didn’t get it. He didn’t even try to understand.
Hannah used to laugh. “He’s old enough to be your father!” How many times did she tell me that? Yeah, he is. Just about. But so what? Love doesn’t care about that. Love’s not the background, it’s the center.
When we met him - me, Hannah and Lisa - I thought she’d change her mind. She just said she found him “creepy”. Actually, she called him “a creepy old dude”. But that says more about her than him. At least Lisa said he was “kinda handsome”. And when she said it, I knew that she didn’t just mean kinda.
But it was when Brodie signed our books that I knew it was different. I just knew. Hannah and Lisa got “Best Wishes, Brodie.” I got “Love, Brodie.”
Love, Brodie. That was enough. I was his fish after that.
Next time I saw him, without anyone else, I could tell that there was something. When he looked at me, there was a brightness in his eyes. He looked for longer than you would if you were just meeting a fan, or a stranger. The third time, he even remembered my name! “The only Lyra I’ve ever met!” I wasn’t shy with him. Not at all. “The only one you ever will meet,” I said. He smiled.
It was easy to find him. He doesn’t live behind gates. I read about him - he hates that kind of thing. “Just like to live like a regular dude,” he said in one interview. I liked that about him.
I thought he’d be pleased. At first, I was just going to ring the bell. Then I saw it was easy to get in. Well, I’m not stupid - I know you shouldn’t do that. Not normally. But I thought it’d be ok. He’d just think it was funny or charming, or something like that. And that would be the start of it.
I never thought he’d react like that. Cold. Aggressive. It made me see a different side of him. One I thought didn’t exist.
I shouldn’t have done what I did. I really didn’t want to, but I felt like he pushed me into it. Still, it was the worst thing I’ve ever done, and I deserved to be punished for it. If I’d done it to Mom or Dad, or even to Hannah or any of them, I wouldn’t feel so bad. But Brodie. That was wrong. Whatever he’s like, it was just wrong. I don’t need anyone here to tell me that.
The days are hard. I won’t pretend they’re not. But even when it’s at its worst, there’s always something gets you through.