Nigel never called him early in the morning unless he really wanted something. This particular call came midway through a lazy Saturday morning; Benedict had yet to even get out of bed before the phone rang. He and Nigel and been together--side by side, elbow to elbow--for nearly a decade as they slogged through what Nigel referred to as "the trenches"--and yet Benedict was none too thrilled to hear the sound of his voice as it crackled, dripping with oil over the receiver.
"Heyyyy, my main man! How's it going, mate?" he said, rushing through formalities as he hurried to unload his newest scheme. "Have I got big news for you."
"Yes?" Benedict hesitated. For over a decade's worth of friendship, Benedict had learned that Nigel's big news was never good news.
"I did it. You'll be front page news. You're a celebrity date! I worked it out with Cadbury--girls will send in applications and you'll take them out on a date--or we're calling it a date anyway--it's delicious PR for you regardless--"
Benedict sat up quickly, knocking the phone against his teeth. "A date? Like taking some strange girl out for dinner? Nigel--this is one of those schemes that we've talked about--I don't want them. I want to do something worthwhile! Something good--something--" Nigel cut him off.
"We've talked about this--you've got to pay your dues first. Even Brando had to do Candy before he did The Godfather! This is the way up--"
"Brando's second movie ever was A Streetcar Named Desire, for christsakes!--"
"--ok, not my best example, but…you need to trust me and my judgment...as your manager," Nigel's voice fizzled out, running out of both confidence and things to say. As Benedict's temper rose, his teeth gritted.
"I can't believe I'm paying you for this…when is it?"
"Three weeks--the advert is in The Sun today! Take a look!"
Nigel said it quickly--clearly his plan had not gone over nearly as well as he had anticipated. Benedict was torn between running out the door and tearing at every newsstand he could find, or finding Nigel and tearing at him instead.
"It's in The Sun…already…" he repeated, slightly in disbelief.
"Technically, second run…of seven"
For once, Benedict was speechless, gritting his teeth and trying to process this enormous amount of information.
"So, let me get this straight…every manic fangirl is sending an application in hopes of meeting...me…?"
Nigel cut him off, airily completing Benedict's sentence with a better version of his reality--"I will hand screen each contestant and select the most suited matches. You'll meet them at some posh restaurant, have a nice chat, sign some autographs, and be on your way. Excellent PR--you'll be the approachable everyman."
Benedict rubbed his middle finger and thumb on his eyes, applying pressure until it ached deep within his head. Nigel had done it again. And covertly this time.
"…And there's no way to get out of this?"
"No, no, bad PR…" he said automatically. "Cancellations or deferments aren't…good," he sputtered out.
"Fine. Fine. You win. It's fine. Just…tell me where I'm supposed to be and I'll do it. Fine," he stuttered, coming to the rambling realization that this was indeed unavoidable.
"You must trust me. I have your best interest at heart. I really do, Ben. Love you, bro," Nigel said, slapping on a horrible American accent, making it painfully apparent that he was trying to lighten the mood.
"Thanks, Nigel," he replied, clicking the phone off and flinging himself back onto the bed.