By Michael B. Tager
Welcome to Spec Script, where author Michae B. Tager delves into the unexplored from your (or his) favorite television shows.
Ryan Reynolds woke on a Tuesday morning in his hotel room with the taste of Toblerone on his tongue. Beside him, on the nightstand, a crumbled, empty box of the delicious Swiss chocolate. A present for the filming of the sure-to-be-successful reboot of his much-beloved, much ignored sitcom. Of course, he was beyond sitcoms. Or was he?
Even Kyra Sedgwick went back to television. And if she had gone, how far was he behind?
He sat and groaned, a symphony of percussion instruments playing sludge-core. And as soon as he touched his scalp, beneath his flawless hair, he felt the sinking battleship feeling in his tums. He reached for his aching stomach, to reassure the moneymaker that the birds still sang in the forgiving sky. He patted the area; his eyebrow raised. He jumped from bed and looked down.
Where his abs had been, there was but a void. His pecs were there, as was his penis. “For what those are worth.” But in between, the glorious area of his abdominal region with the dense, sculpted muscles: nothing at all. For a moment, he thought he’d pass out. “Keep that shit together. For the sake of your abs. They’re probably frightened.”
His breathing calmed Ryan. He rarely gorged on chocolate; he had his figure to maintain. But the enforced abstinence caused weird things in his aging, but still masculine, metabolism and too much sugar could cause a stupor, deadly to his delightful, rock-hard abs. He was getting older; his abs too. They were his livelihood. He was a good actor, but his abs were the money shot.
He only succumbed to the craving, even after a glorious wrap of his cherished sitcom, when blackout drunk. And he’d had but a single vodka and soda the night before, bought for him by a lovely fan Blade Trinity. Why wouldn’t she be? Everyone should love it.
Regardless. His memory ended at the bar, thus he’d start his search there.
He pulled on a plain black sweatshirt, baggy enough to not showcase his now-missing abs and the dirty clothes on the floor beside his bed, emanating the fumes of missed intentions and poor decisions. He left his hotel room to the marble-inlaid hallway outside. It was a swank hotel. Most hotels were when you were Ryan-Fucking-Reynolds.
At the elevator, an elderly couple waited. “Are you Ryan Reynolds?” the blue-haired woman asked. He said yes.
“Can we see your abs?”
He said no.
On the ground floor, he ignored the concierge with the under bite and the jaunty hats of the clerks and made for the bar. He hoped the bartender from last night was there. Jerome was his name. He always made it a point to get the bartenders’ names. They’d always comment, “Wow, you’re so nice, not like the other stars. I loved your work in Van Wilder.”
The bar was dark, all walnut and red cushions. Behind the counter was the light-skinned fellow from the night before. “Yo, Ryan,” Jerome called.
Ryan sidled up and sat on a round stool.
“Man, you were in some state.”
“About that,” Ryan said. “My memory is hazy. Did you recognize the woman next to me?”
Jerome polished glasses. “Jenny. She comes here sometimes for the celebrities. Bit of a groupie.” He winked. “You get up to something last night?”
Pieces began to click into place. He knew he’s been good; he loved his wife. Ryan Reynolds was a good boy, goddamnit. “Something like that. Where might I find Jenny?”
Jerome frowned and looked at the ceiling. There was nothing up there, just popcorn installation and despair. So much despair. Or water damage. “She runs a table down at the weekly farmer’s market. You might could find her there.” He scribbled directions on a napkin. Ryan puzzled at them, his brain underwater. He asked for some hair of the dog. The vodka went down smooth, the Andes mints smoother.
Outside, Ryan navigated the narrow streets of the adversarial city. Toronto was an angry place, especially the downtown facsimile of New York. New York was also an angry place, but he was Canadian and he understood the anger of Canada. Passersby gauged him from under baseball caps and through cigarette smoke. They knew who he was. He kept his head down. He made a right at Uncle Wiggle’s and crossed light rail tracks, dove into the depths of Little Afghanistan, passed the statue of the Mounty of Hope. At Humber Bay Arch Bridge, he trotted down stone stairs to the river walk and the farmer’s market.
He saw an apple stand and bought 4 apples. And then saw some dope jarred olives. $8, but what was eight bucks to the star of Waiting…?
Finally, when the sun beat heat nuggets, he came to a stall covered with a red checkered tablecloth. A thin girl with freckled cheeks and a Slayer t-shirt hawked junky wares. “Help you?” She didn’t look up.
Ryan didn’t answer. There, next to a disassembled VCR and half-a-dozen copies of Jumanji, were his abs, wrapped in a monogrammed hotel towel and sprinkled with glitter. He stroked them and they quivered. “Did you miss me?” he whispered.
“Fifty dollars,” Jenny said in a monotone. She sat in a beat-up folding chair, reading a dog-eared Clan of the Cave Bear.
“That seems steep,” he said. “Besides, those are mine.”
Jenny finally looked finally into Ryan’s piercing soul cavities. Did she see the inner Pikachu, detecting like a baller detective? If so, she betrayed nothing. “I got fifteen witnesses will swear they’re not.” She waved her hands at the surrounding salesmen.
Ryan pulled up his sweatshirt and showed the inky dark void where his abs had been.
She shrugged. “Proves nothing.”
Ryan suddenly had a migraine and he rubbed his Gothic temples of handsomeness and groaned. Why was everything so hard? Like getting Deadpool made or staying so goddamned beautiful. He opened his wallet. “You take credit card?” he asked, seeing only a handful of tattered bills.
“I’ll give you twelve.”
They shook on the price of thirty-seven fifty and a jar of olives. As she bagged his abs in a Chen’s white plastic delivery bag, Ryan said, “You should stop roofying movie stars.”
Jenny brushed bangs away from bullet-eyes. “Whatever. Blade Trinity sucks.”
Later, after he’d retraced his steps to the hotel, he found himself on the elevator with the old couple from before. The man cleared his throat. “How about those abs?” He opened the plastic Chinese food bag. The blue hairs oohed and aahed and then the elevator door rang and they said good bye.
In his hotel room, Ryan brushed glitter away and washed his abs off in the little kitchenette. Then he put them back on and sat down in front of the TV. There were no reruns of Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place but there never were. Maybe there would be soon.
After dinner, he called his wife and they talked about nothing at all and after that finally, Ryan Reynolds slept.
Michael B. Tager is a Baltimore-based writer and editor. More of his work can be found at michaelbtager.com. Likes include garden gnomes, cats, tacos and Prince.
Credit to King Missile
Credit to Chloe Elswick for story suggestion