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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 37 page 04


“It’s just sometimes— fuck.” Hannah stares at a discoloured spot on the carpet. “Men have all the power in this world.”

“And women,” he says, moving to kiss the back of her neck, “have the power over men’s hearts.”

“Over their dicks, you mean,” says Hannah, evading him by stepping toward the dresser. She is rummaging for her cell phone when she suddenly slaps a hand on the dresser-top. A single tulip petal, dislodged by the blow, falls to the carpet. “God, sometimes I feel like I’m this thing that gets passed around. Like that’s all women are. This thing that gets passed around to facilitate the real relationships in the world — the ones between men.” She grabs her phone.

“Cookie,” he says, softly. “I thought we weren’t going to check messages.”

“I’m just seeing something.” Hannah presses a button and raises the phone to her ear. “There’s a message here from Errol.”

“What’s he say?”

“Wants to know if we’re going to the gala. Says he’ll call you. And — oh my God.” She turns to stare at the grey-haired man, but staring without any recognition, completely absorbed in what she is hearing. “Oh my God.”

“What are you oh-my-Godding about?”

She sighs. “Brendan, you have to hear this message. It’s repulsive.”

“Who is it?”

“Peter Svboda. Who else? God, he’s an idiot. This is the third crazy message in two days. He thinks everything’s a crisis. Always ‘It’s not too late to save the series.’”

Brendan watches her, waiting for what is coming next.

“Peter Svboda,” she says, “doesn’t like the cut of the pilot. He thinks the network’s going to hate it because we didn’t address their notes. He left a message for Becky and he’s already got the editor out of bed. He’s going to turn this into some political shit-storm, I can tell. He wants me to call him back.”

“Wait till Monday.”

“He wants me to call him now.”

“I wouldn’t.”

“I know what he’s doing.” She frowns. “This is some psychological ploy. This is his way of saving the series, you watch. He’s going to side with the network because he wants to sell them his other show. That’s what he’s doing. But he’s not getting final say on the pilot.”

“Final cut.”

“On my show? No fucking way. Fine for him to say everyone should work together. I’m the one doing eighteen-hour days in Bumfuck, Ontario. If just once — just once — he said he was happy with the series. The scripts. A promo. Anything.”

“Hannah?” Brendan sits on the bed and leans against the headboard, his bathrobe falling open. “These are good problems to have. In two years you’ve brought a series from concept to production. Even better, the network’s behind it. But the other night at dinner, the execs are hearing about episodes you guys are writing — but they haven’t even seen outlines for them — and they freak out. They can’t just give you a pile of money and hope you show up with twenty-two episodes. They want to feel like they’re involved. The writers to them are like — you guys were very cliquey the other night, laughing at jokes they didn’t get, so they’re feeling left out of their own production. So this is when you have to listen to them.”

“I’m listening.”

“So if they have an idea, put it in an episode and make them know it’s there. Make them think they saved the episode with that idea. You want the confidence of the network right now. That’s what Peter Svboda’s finessing. And after a while they’ll relax and stop paying so much attention and season two you won’t get any notes at all.”

“How will we even get a season two if Peter Svboda is sabotaging us at every turn? And the idea of him talking to the network? He says stuff just to have an idea and assert his authority and it makes everyone incredibly tense because no one wants to challenge him even though his ideas usually turn out to be wrong because he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing! And I can feel how much he wants it and how his insecurity is mixed up with all that jerk-off arrogance and it makes me crazy. There’s something about him that you just want to crush.” Hannah kicked at the fallen tulip petal. “I’m calling him to tell him what an asshole he is.”

Brendan holds up a hand. “You have to work with this guy for the rest of the season. Three more months. And don’t you have a feature in development with this guy? What do you think’s going to happen there if your relationship falls apart? Getting emotional doesn’t help. It just makes you look unstable. Hannah, ten minutes ago you were lying in bed eating a cinnamon bun and now you’re bouncing off the walls like a freak.”

“Because of Peter Fuckface! Brendan, you have to hear this message—” She offers him the phone.