The door to the Blue Cat bar crashed open, a panting, skinny white kid silhouetted in the door frame. He wore hipster slacks, a button-up shirt with a too-big collar, and those thick-rimmed glasses that made nerds seem cool. In a glance, Hudson decided the guy was a complete waste of a life. He turned his back on the kid and returned to his Dos Equis.
A few seconds later, the kid was breathing heavily behind him. Hudson frowned.
“Mr. Hudson, sir?”
He sighed and looked at Sylvette, the bartender. She was a pretty thirty-something black girl with a halter top and a sweet afro. Hudson liked Sylvette, which is why he always came back to the Blue Cat whenever he was in LA. She saw his expression and winked, leaning back against the counter to watch the show.
Slowly. Dramatically. Hudson slid off the barstool. Stood up. Turned around.
The kid stepped back involuntarily, just like Hudson intended.
Hudson was about six-and-a-half feet tall. Right now he was wearing a white tank-top, fully displaying his physique. Oh, and his oily jet-black skin, patterned with yellow like a salamander. Seeing Hudson on TV and in person were different experiences, he’d found. He looked down on the kid with pupil-less, white eyes. The punk hipster swallowed audibly.
“Something I can do for you, man?” Hudson rumbled.
“Ah. It’s just, well…” he stammered.
“Yeah? I’m sort of busy here, as you can see. So get to it.”
“Mr. Hudson, sir…”
Hudson grunted. “Shit, man. That’s not my name.”
The kid faltered. “Um, what?”
“My name is Deshawn Andrews, so you can call me Mr. Andrews. Or you can call me Hudson. My fucking last name sure as fuck isn’t Hudson, though. That’s my Guardian name.”
“Oh. Right. Okay.” He was sweating and seemed to gather himself. “Mr. Andrews, sir. I’m from the studio.”
Hudson crossed his massive arms over his massive chest.
The kid almost wet himself. It took him a couple of tries to find his voice. “And you’re supposed to be on set now, sir.”
Hudson paused, frowning. He turned back to the bartender.
“Sylvette? What day is it?”
She smiled a bright white smile, framed by those luscious chocolate lips. She had a big gap between her two front teeth. Damn fine woman.
“It’s Monday, honey.”
Hudson grunted, “Damn.” He turned back to the kid, who took another step back.
“When were we supposed to start?”
“Um,” the kid checked his phone. “It’s eleven AM, so we don’t start shooting for a couple of hours yet. But you were due at nine for make-up, wardrobe, and prep.”
“Shit, man. A couple of hours?” Hudson eased his bulk back onto the barstool and turned back around. He took a long swallow of his beer.
It took the kid almost a full minute. Hudson didn’t move. Sylvette didn’t either, though her smile became bigger the longer the silence stretched on. Finally, the kid cleared his throat.
“Mr. Hud– Mr. Andrews, sir?”
Hudson took another swallow. Sylvette shook her head, still smiling.
“What, man?” He still didn’t move. The kid appeared in his peripheral vision.
“Um, we have to go, sir. I’ve got a car outside.”
“You deaf? I said no. I’m enjoying a beer with this fine woman in a mercifully empty bar. Go away, kid. I’ll be there before they start shooting.”
“But… The studio wants you there for…”
“I don’t need that other shit. They get me when I get there. Thanks for letting me know.”
More silence. Sylvette couldn’t help it and bust up laughing. She had a sexy laugh, that Sylvette. Hudson thought he would ask her out one of these days.
“I’m, um, I’m going to call the studio,” the kid said uncertainly. “I really think they want you there now.”
“Cool. Do that. Outside.”
Another few seconds of awkward silence, then footsteps and the Blue Cat’s door opened and closed.
“You really filming something today?” Sylvette asked, cocking her head to the side. Big hoop earrings flopped around when she did that, which Hudson thought was sexy.
“Nah. Television show called Alpha Squad.”
Sylvette’s whole face lit up like fireworks. “Oh! I heard about that! That’s the reality show for a new Guardians group! You going to be in it?”
Hudson shrugged. “I’m one of the judges. Then they want me to lead the group after the show, I guess.”
“That’s so sweet! That show’s going to be epic.”
“So why you giving that studio guy such a hard time, then?”
“Punk kid annoys me. I’m not taking orders from him. Besides,” he opened his arms out wide and smiled. “Like I said, I’m enjoying a drink with a fine woman. Nothing should interrupt that.”
Sylvette laughed and shook her head. Those hoop earrings jangled around.
“You ever going to ask me out, honey? I’d say yes.”
Hudson kept smiling. “Someday.”
The door opened again, letting in daylight for a second before shutting. The kid all but ran over to his side again. He was holding his phone out like passing an Olympic torch.
“They want you there now, sir. Mr. Moore wants to talk to you. He’s on the phone. Here,” the kid waved the phone around. He looked terrified and sweaty. Good.
Hudson sighed and took the phone in his enormous hand.
“Hey Peter,” Hudson said. “Yeah? Yeah.” Pause. “Okay. I know, I know. I lost track of time, man.” Pause. “No, it’s cool. I’ll come over now.” Pause. “Annoys the fuck out of me, actually. Where’d you get him from?” Hudson listened, then laughed. “Okay, yeah. I won’t kill him until after I get there. Thanks, man.”
Hudson tossed the phone back to the kid. He fumbled it and it clattered to the floor. Fucking useless.
“Sylvette, my dear, my chariot awaits. Thanks for opening up for me.”
He reached into his back pocket for his money clip, unrolled a Benjamin and laid it on the table.
“Don’t forget what I said,” Sylvette said, taking the bill and smiling her fine, gap-toothed smile.
“Someday,” he said.
“Well, you got my number.”
“I do. Alright,” Hudson turned to the kid, who had recovered his phone and was looking appropriately uncomfortable. Hudson was going to make this ride hell for the punk, just to fuck with him. “Let’s go then.”
“Okay, great. Great! My name is–”
He could still hear Sylvette’s sexy laugh as they left the Blue Cat behind.