“I watched 10 Things I Hate About You last night,” Aaron threw out there as a conversation starter before he took a long sip of his Snapple.
“Oh,” Holly remarked. “Were you craving a little Shakespeare, but didn’t feel like cracking open a book?”
It was the Sunday after Election Day and democracy had survived. The best friends saw this as a very positive sign as they sat on their favorite bench next to the river.
That comment earned her a sideways glance and a shake of the head. “More like I wanted to torture myself with what could have been.”
“That comment definitely needs some clarification,” she insisted.
Aaron nodded that she was correct. “I’ve told you that the screenplay that got me ‘discovered’ in Hollywood was a horror/thriller, right?”
“Yes,” she quickly recalled the information from her memory. “You got the idea from a song by The Police and it was about a popular high school teacher who might have murdered his favorite student. I’ve said it before and will say it again: I would definitely watch that movie!”
“If only you ran a Hollywood studio,” he replied with a heavy sigh and took another drink of iced tea. “I receive a substantial check for the option on the script, and the production company was motivated to make the film. My managers at the time had just produced American Pie, so they were hot and eager for the next big teen film. A director was attached and we got to the point where there were serious conversations about the casting.”
“So why didn’t the movie get made?” Holly asked.
Aaron shrugged. “Because Hollywood sucks? Anyway, I was dead set on Julia Stiles playing the lead. The director liked the idea as did the producer and my managers. She was a big deal at the time because of 10 Things I Hate About You, so having her attached would have really pushed the project towards getting the green light.”
Holly simply nodded. She had heard the story about how close he’d come to selling his bank robbery script to Dr Dre, but this tale of his close encounter with success with an earlier screenplay was news to her.
“Being a writer must be so hard,” was all she could think to say to comfort him.
“For some reason, I thought it would be motivational to watch that movie last night and think about what could have been if Julia Stiles had agreed to be in my movie,” he confessed. “I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged about trying to get my novel published, so I figured a little reminder of how close I’d come previously might give me that little push I needed.”
“That makes sense,” she replied. “Did it work?”
“Yes and no,” he answered after a bit of hesitation. “It did remind me that people were once foolish enough to pay me large amounts of money for my writing, but at the same time, it re-opened that old wound about how writers never really control their fate. If some agent won’t answer my query and agree to read my manuscript, it will just rot on the shelf next to the Julia Stiles screenplay.”
Holly really had to fight the urge to lunge across the bench and give him a huge hug of support. She knew it would make Aaron feel uncomfortable, and it might keep him from opening up like this to her in the future.
“It seems pretty obvious to me that you need to focus on the fact that you not only almost got that screenplay made, but also had two of your scripts made into movies,” she told him. “And before you rush to tell me that one movie was only released in the Europe and the second one never actually made it to the big screen, relish the fact that two production companies thought enough of your writing to make movies out of it. Someone will feel the same way about your novels.”
Aaron stared at her for what seemed like an eternity, and then finally smiled.
“You’re right,” he conceded. “This is why I keep you around. Your pep talks are priceless.”
“Plus, I ply you will fun size Mounds bars when I know you need a pick me up.”
She pulled a mini Mounds bar from her pocket and tossed it to him. His eyes lit up like those of a child on Christmas morning.
“It is kind of cool, though, to think about how different my life would be if Julia Stiles had starred in a movie based on that screenplay,” he stated as he popped the chocolate into his mouth.
“You’d probably be hanging out with her on a bench in Southern California every Sunday,” Holly quipped and then chuckled.
“Ha! Considering how difficult I am, she probably would have come up with a list of 100 Things I Hate About You by now.”
“You think it would only be a hundred?” Holly countered.
They laughed loudly and Aaron quickly forgot how down he was about the fate of his novel.