"I don't see the problem," Vicki said, for at least the dozenth time that evening. Henry sternly told himself that grinding his teeth wouldn't accomplish anything, least of all an improvement of his chances at saving anything of this night.
He'd invited Vicki over for the traditional dinner-and-a-movie date. Granted, he'd actually just watched Vicki as she ate her dinner, and rather than going to the cinema, they'd stayed in his apartment to watch the movie on TV, but still, such insignificant details didn't change the fact that Henry had thought this would turn out to be an enjoyable, peaceful evening. Until he'd seen the start of the movie.
Well, of course his editor had told him that his publisher had struck a deal with some movie-agency, to turn some of their more successful novels into movies, and of course he'd received the letter that informed him that two of his novels had made it to the final list, but it had all seemed of little importance. It was nice to receive some extra income, but it wasn't as if he really needed the money.
Some weeks ago, he'd received another letter from his editor, letting him know that the movies would be broadcasted sixteen Thursday-evenings in a row, from seven to eight - which, according to Tony, was the time when there never was anything good on, since most people only tuned in for the eight o'clock news, so most stations didn't bother putting anything decent on.
Henry's feelings hadn't been particularly hurt by that, although Tony had hastened to add that, obviously, he wasn't saying that Henry's books weren't anything good (a sentiment that Henry appreciated, even if he wouldn't claim his writings to be masterpieces of literature either). If truth be told, the entire matter had more or less slipped his mind.
To be sure, he had hardly expected Vicki to want to see any of the results. She might have picked up one of his novels somewhere; he'd never asked and he wasn't sure if he'd actually want to know what she thought of them.
After a bit of pondering, he'd decided that, all things considered, he was flattered that she thought watching one of his novels would be more fun than watching an Alfred Hitchcock-remake or the hundredth adaptation of a Shakespeare-play to the silver screen. On top of that, he'd had to admit that he was a little curious himself and, well, if the movie wasn't that good after all, that'd just mean they'd get to the next part of their date that much quicker, right?
"That actor's just no good at all!" Henry snapped. A rational part of his mind suggested that maybe, he shouldn't get so worked up about this.
"It's a low-budget movie; what did you expect?" Vicki shrugged. "Besides, he's supposed to be the bad guy, right? No way he's going to end up with the girl after all that junk he spouted about how women should stay home and learn to be good mothers and proper wives."
Henry winced. Unlike some of the other parts of the dialogue he'd heard, that set of lines had actually been in the original version. He'd put it in to emphasize that Sir Arthur Blake was not used to the likes of the lovely Miss Sara Whitmore, which would make the eventual blooming of their love all the more romantic - or so he'd hoped. His editor had loved it.
"Not being paid a fortune is no excuse to do a sloppy job," he said stiffly.
"He's not doing a sloppy job; he's just not in the league of people who win Oscars," Vicki argued. "And his lines aren't exactly all that inspiring either, are they? I think he's doing a pretty good job keeping a straight face and not bursting out laughing at being made to read out stuff like that."
Abandoning this line of discussion as having too much potential to end in Vicki accusing him of being nothing more than a chauvinist, old-fashioned, stuck-up male (though she might phrase it a little less delicately), Henry instead opted for another angle of attack.
"His eyes aren't the right colour."
Vicki blinked. "Oh, for crying out loud! Why not? Do you have some prejudice against blue-eyed people that I'm not aware of?"
"I wrote that his character's eyes were green, like - " Henry managed to stop himself in time; he didn't really think mentioning that Sir Arthur's eyes had been green to remind Miss Sara of the pines that grew in her distant homeland. "They were green," he said instead. "Not blue."
"There's no need to repeat it three times." Vicki shook her head. "It's just a detail, anyway. Now, if this were a criminal investigation, then yes, I'd agree with you that there's no such thing as 'just a detail'. But this is a movie, and a bad one at that. People watch this for fun, to have something to do while they're finishing dinner, or cleaning the dishes. Nobody cares if everything isn't exactly the way it was described in the book; most people who are watching this won't even have read the book."
"I am aware of that." Henry sighed. He should just give up; he knew he could hardly even put into words his reasons for being so annoyed at the liberties taken with his script to himself, let alone explain them to Vicki in a way that would make her understand.
"And you're not going to do anything stupid?" Vicki inquired. Her tone of voice reminded him a bit of Tony's, whenever Henry was about to do something that clearly marked him as being not-human.
"Excuse me?" From what he'd read, people arguing about the merits of a movie or TV-series were perfectly normal. True, he might have let his temper get the better of him for a while, but that, too, was a human flaw.
"Televisions don't fly well, you know," Vicki explained dryly. The slight grin she offered him was as good a peace-offering as he was going to get, Henry knew. "Throwing yours out of the window simply because you don't like a movie probably isn't such a good idea."
"I know that." Henry made an effort to bring back the pleasant, light mood from before the movie.
Vicki nodded. "Just checking. In that case, how would you feel about skipping the movie-part of this date? For verily, I believe I shall not be able to suffer through any more of this."
Henry decided that now would be a truly bad time to admit to the fact that that line, too, had been in the book-version of the movie as well.