A film crew is large. It appeared overnight as I lay on my bed, Oliver on the floor, staring aimlessly at the ceiling and resisting the urge to read. As the sun tinted the houses outside with a warm golden light, a veritable circus of vans, people and machines began to line the streets of the village.
I woke before Oliver, rolling out of my bed with a moan that was partly due to my having fallen asleep with a book over my face. I padded to the window with cracking steps, and opened it with a flourish. The sun had barely risen, meaning I was the first to see quite how many vehicles and things there were. I breathed an Oliver-esque swearword and turned to see said Oliver still sleeping on my floor.
So, he really was famous.
I approached him cautiously. How he managed to fall asleep on boards as hard as mine I have no idea, but he lay on his side as peacefully as if he were on a feather bed. I knelt next to his head, resisting the urge to poke him forcibly.
Since Oliver had stepped through the door to my shop, nothing had been the same. The previous day had been a swirl of strangeness, and I had a bizarre feeling today was going to be no better. I tilted my head to the side, examining Oliver’s face.
He did, I must admit, appear like a movie star. His face looked like someone reasonably artistic had taken a chisel to it in a fit of high spirits, and created this surprisingly pleasing result. I wasn’t entirely sure the blond of his hair was natural though. I ran a strand through my fingers—just to satisfy my curiosity, you understand.
Oliver woke with a shout and hit me in the face.
“Oh man, oh dude, I’m sorry, you okay? Sorry, I thought you were—”
“Rapist? Serial killer? An Devonshire lady intent on ravishing you?”
Oliver ran a hand through his hair and sat up. “Dude, I’m sorry. Seriously, you okay?”
I threw his shirt and trousers at him. “I’m fine, but there was absolutely no reason to sleep on my floor in your underwear. Put your clothes on and go.”
Oliver Smith stood up, towering above me. I knelt on the floor like a sack of potatoes, trying not to look up, but not quite able to help it. Oliver Smith certainly was fit.
“You could come watch the filming.”
“Or I could stay in my cosy bookstore and deny all link with this strange turn of events.”
“Or…you could come watch the filming.”
“Can I at least get some breakfast?”
I buttoned up my shirt. “I’m not a hotel, but yes. Then you can go.”
Oliver Smith grinned. “And can I practise my lines on you during it?”
I groaned inwardly. “Fine.”
He left, still grinning. I watched him go, waiting for the door to fully close before selecting a pair of trousers. Oliver Smith’s perfect physique left one feeling rather inadequate.
He was already rummaging in my cupboards when I joined him. I ignored his obvious attempts to initiate conversation and poured myself a cup of tea.
“Lines. Go.” I perched on a chair, leaning forwards onto my minuscule kitchen table. He rummaged in his pocket, eventually producing a dirty pile of paper, folded up together like some intricate origami square. I took it between a thumb and forefinger.
“Can you be Aahil Jafari in act five, scene one?”
I rifled the pages. Oliver Smith started without waiting for me.
“Aahil! I know you can hear me! Just think about your wife and children—would they want you to do this?”
I snorted into my cup of tea and inhaled some accidentally. Oliver Smith glanced at me as I coughed wildly. “What’s wrong?”
I spluttered through my coughs. “I seriously cannot believe how cheesy that is. That’s terrible. That’s awful.”
Oliver Smith gestured to himself. “I didn’t write it. Look, just read your damn part and stop being a book snob.”
“I’m not a book snob, I’m just literate.”
I sighed and read in as bored a tone as I could muster, “You bastard, with your family—you think everyone has one. You are wrong—oh really? Well, thank you for making that blatantly obvious-”
“Read the part.”
I rolled my eyes. “You are wrong—my family is dead, and I must be with them.”
Oliver Smith leant against the fridge. “They wouldn’t want you to die…”
“They wouldn’t want you to die, Aahil. They want you to be happy. Come with me, and I can make that happen.”
The thought of Oliver making someone happy distracted me for a moment, but I recovered enough to skim read down the page. “Excuse me while I throw up in my mug.”
Oliver Smith snatched the sheet from me, visibly annoyed. “If you’re not going to do it properly, don’t do it at all.”
“Bye.” Oliver Smith marched past me, out of the kitchen, through the shop, and out the front door. I crossed to my desk and waited, deadpan. He came back a few seconds later, snatched his motorcycle kit from me, glared, and left for good.
The shop felt strangely empty without him.
I settled down comfortably, book in one hand, tea in the other, safe in the knowledge that even if everyone did hate the filming, no one would link it to me.
A shout from the street jerked me from my thoughts. “Oliver Smith? Ollie! Knew you’d pick a great place, my boy! Now, where’s that bookshop you were hiding in yesterday?”
I let my head fall to my desk with a thump. It sounded similar to how I’d always imagined the thump of a head falling from a guillotine would.
The shop door opened so fast my bell didn’t have time to ting. “This him?”
Oh, American accents. I hate them.
A man stood silhouetted in my doorway who was so fat that light seemed to bend around him. It was like he had his own gravitational field—a little planet, right in my shop. Oliver stood behind him, panic evident on his face. He was mouthing sorry over and over again, but gave him the glare. The bookworm glare. The glare.
The Planet was looking me up and down. “Say, this guy looks like Hugh Dancy.” Who? “He’s kinda got Tom Welling’s eyes though.” What? “And he’s taller, too. Hey, he could be an extra! MARY!” He bellowed out onto the street. A woman appeared at Oliver’s elbow. Her hair was so bright it could have been used as a military weapon.
“Get this guy into makeup. He can be our placid bookshop owner who provides Detective Jones’ gun.”
The woman approached me like a speeding bullet and grabbed my arm in a vice-like grip.
“No—no, I’m not—I don’t want—Oliver!”
The Planet patted my arm. “Don’t worry, you only have a few lines to learn. We’ll credit you, too.”
I was dragged onto the street, and into a world of caravans, machines, and people. I just had time to glance back at Oliver before I was sucked into the crush.
He made an apologetic face.
I made a different one back at him.