this time i blame c_regalis. because she asked for it!
you know the score - shameless rps crack based upon my obsessions of the moment. 1800 words, pg unless you have an allergy, and beta'd by the lovely llassah.
untitled - but in my head, homer simpson is singing 'under the sea'
Some time around 10pm Callum looked around the dingy motel room and decided that he had had enough. Only one of the bulbs in the 70s style ceiling light fitting worked; it was cold; the window was cracked and the dirty plastic roller-blind refused to stay up; and the whole place stank of chemical perfume, a smell Callum had finally tracked down to the diarrhoea coloured shagpile carpet while he was looking for some way to turn up the heat and, in desperation, had gotten down on his hands and knees to check under the beds. Diagnosis: a serious Shake N Vac overdose.
The room was still cold and Callum was running out of patience. He flicked through the channels on the cheap TV set once last time – all seven of them. Wrestling. Weather (the forecast was for fog and sleet). A sincere man with a cheap suit and an expensive smile selling God. Sports. More Sports. No hockey and even less golf. Another sincere man with a cheap jogging suit and an orange tan selling juicing machines. (He lingered longer on the infomercial. Carrot juice doesn't make itself, after all.) Up last was a documentary about lemmings and what they didn’t do. (Which was commit suicide, mainly. He didn't care much for rodents – or whatever it was lemmings were, but he was pretty clear that Disney were definitely bastards.) He glanced across the room, going for casual but hitting shifty instead. Not that it mattered, as Hugh was steadfastly ignoring both Callum and the lemmings and concentrating furiously on some kind of stupid fucking game that had come on his new cell phone. Callum turned the TV off.
(Once upon a time Callum had assumed Hugh lost phones all the time because he was wasted. Sobriety had demonstrated that Hugh lost phones because of some kind of mental abnormality. At least, that was how Callum had phrased it after spending two days trying to call him and getting someone's Quebecois grandmother every time.
Hugh liked getting new phones, even if he never learned what half the functions did.
Callum was thinking about getting an iPhone just to piss him off, but he didn't really want to explain to Liz that he was having a cellular dick measuring contest with his best friend.)
"Hey," Callum offered in a conciliatory tone. "You beat your high score yet?"
Hugh shrugged without looking up and kept mashing the little button with his thumbs.
Callum gritted his teeth, picked up his book, put it down again, changed his mind and picked it back up, swung his legs off the bed and marched across the room. He halted in front of the lumpy armchair and smacked Hugh upside the head with his paperback (Catch 22. Shut up. He'd never read it before. Hugh had wanted to know if he'd suffered some kind of deprived adolescence and offered to buy him a copy of Catcher in the Rye next).
“The fuck is wrong with you Dillon? Are you twelve? Stop sulking and talk to me.”
Hugh shook his head, blinking, and turned an annoyed gaze on him. “What makes you think I'm sulking? I could be thinking here, you know.”
“If you were thinking your mouth would be moving,” said Callum sceptically.
“Hey, I don't have to talk all the time.” Callum raised an eyebrow, and Hugh went on, “I just choose to. Asshole.”
Callum decided not to engage him on this point and settled for a slight inclination of his head and an intense stare.
Hugh stared back for a while then broke. “Fine. Fine! Jeez. Callum? It's a film about fish.”
“Crustaceans,” said Callum with a placatory gesture. “Crabs are crustaceans.”
“Then why do they call them crab fishermen?”
“Because--” Callum stopped, nonplussed. Dan hadn't actually talked about that. He'd talked about how this was a fantastic opportunity to tell the story of a man inexorably destroyed by socio-economic forces far larger than himself. He'd talked about the parallels between the psychological destruction of one individual and the fishing – crabbing - community he belonged to. He had talked about bleak visual metaphors, decaying ropes strung along a desolate wintry shoreline littered with wreckage and ice, the powerful impact of the minimalist dialogue, long silences between the human characters contrasted with an all-pervasive scrinch-scrinch-scrinch - the snapping claws of the remaining crabs. He rubbed at the back of his neck to buy some time. Nothing they'd discussed explained the fishermen thing.
Hugh's expansive sigh brought him back to the present. He blinked, and tried to focus, and to ignore the yellow oilskin overtrousers he had refused to take off when they came inside on the grounds that it was ‘A fucking icy hole in the middle of a bigger fucking icy hole.’ That had been three hours ago and the conversation had gone downhill from there. (The waterproofs were starting to smell strongly of the sea. Not the good parts of the sea, either.)
“You talked me into a role. A role that turns out to be basically 'Catch crabs, angst, catch less crabs, suffer personal tragedy, catch no crabs, die. I don't even get to shoot anyone. Not even myself!”
Callum kept his voice low and reasonable. “It's a great role. Really. It has depth and subtlety and it will – it will - it'll give your résumé range.”
“I catch crabs and then I fuckin' die. At least if I was actually playing a hooker I'd get some on-screen action.”
“It's got the potential to be a Canadian maritime classic,” Callum tried desperately.
Callum blinked at the sudden change of direction. His tongue automatically snuck out and moistened his bottom lip. Hugh rolled his eyes.
“Jesus. I meant that in the bad way. You know, the straight guy way”
“Oh,” said Callum, trying to focus. “Right. I should have – hey, remember how you always used to tell me you were 100% straight?”
Hugh made a frustrated gesture. “Can we not change the subject to ‘Hugh Dillon: The Asshole Years’ today? I’m feeling kind of vulnerable on account of the fact that my next big break is as a depressed divorced alcoholic nihilist crabman with repressed homosexual urges. Who dies of food poisoning. Food poisoning from crab sticks. Fuck.” Hugh buried his face in his hands and went on in muffled but despairing tones, “Maybe if I give Dan my car he’ll let me get eaten by a shark or a really fucking big lobster instead? Maybe that way I’ll still have some dignity when we’re done.”
"Maybe you could stop whining," snapped Callum.
Hugh shot out of his chair, pulling his right arm back. Shit, though Callum, he's not really going to hit me? Then Hugh's phone arced through the air and ricocheted off the cheap print over the bed. (It showed a stubby, phallic lighthouse and a sinking trawler full of prostrate seamen. Callum was glad he preferred modern art.) He made a fist, dropped it, then slumped back into the chair breathing hard. "Cal." he said hoarsely. "I ever tell you I have this, this phobia thing about crabs?"
Callum stared. "You do? Why didn’t you say something? What happened? You didn’t grow up anywhere near the sea."
Hugh shrugged unhappily. "'S not the sort of thing you want to share. And it started with a – a crayfish. Fresh fucking water. Little shit grabbed little Hugh, wouldn’t let go. Just thinking about it now, I—" His shoulders quivered.
“We kiss on page 23,” Callum blurted out. There was no reply. “In the script. It’s a rewrite. I, uh, I talked to Dan.”
Hugh looked up suspiciously.
“I can show you. I have the new scenes in the truck,“ Callum went on, talking fast. “I didn’t want to tell you because you’ve been such a bitch about everything but I was going to tell you. Tonight, I was going to tell you, and there’s, um, a place in the town does okay pizza, you don’t even have to have the anchovies or tuna. It was going to be, you know. My treat.” Callum swallowed. Maybe he could fix this.
“Oh.” said Hugh. “Well then.”
Callum felt the tension start to seep out of his shoulders. But there was still one more thing. “You, uh. Okay with doing some research then?”
Hugh smirked. “Into kissing? Because you should know, I like to think I'm already kind of an expert in that area.”
“Into the role. We can -” Callum cleared his throat “- we can do the kissing thing afterwards.”
“Are you bribing me?”
“Is it working?”
Hugh grinned, and Callum smiled back. Things were looking up. There was just this one last little thing.
"I've got the portable DVD player in the truck too. I might, you know. Bring it in."
Hugh stood back up, and he turned slowly to look at Callum, squaring up and folding his arms. "What's the DVD player for, Cal? You going to make me watch some kind of silent classic about guys with beards and below-decks buggery?"
Callum's eyes flicked to his holdall before he could stop them. Hugh got there a second before he did and shouldered him aside, emptying the contents onto the bed. Braced on one arm on the bed he slowly flipped the DVD box over to show the title. He nodded to himself and then turned to Callum, his face unreadable. Callum braced himself for the storm. But Hugh just curled strong fingers into Callum's belt and jerked him forwards until they were almost nose to nose. "The Deadliest Catch boxed set? Really, Callum?"
Callum felt his face getting hot. "Okay," Hugh continued. "I'll do it. But two conditions. One, we're watching in bed."
Callum was nodding before Hugh had finished. "Fine, that's fine, I can order in from the pizza place, I'll go get the menu now. Your phone might not even be that broken, if we can get it out from under the bed I'll-"
"Shut up," Hugh ordered with a cocky tilt to his head. "I'm not done. I didn’t get to two."
Callum decided it might be best to listen. "Two. Right."
"Two. I get to make all the seamen jokes I want."
Callum twitched involuntarily. This was going to be a long night he thought, throwing Hugh his truck keys and starting to strip.
fic! er. apologies in advance.
this time i blame c_regalis. because she asked for it!