Disclaimer: I don't own any person or character that's affiliated with this movie. I own Izzy, Leon, Trish and anybody who's name you won't find on the IMDB page of cast and crew. Read, enjoy and please review.
Chapter 1: A Rocky Start
"Ok, everybody ready on set! Lights! Camera! ACTION!" Peter Berg, director of the upcoming movie 'Friday Night Lights' shouted.
I watched from the stands as the scene was shot, holding my breath until Peter shouted "CUT!" and everybody stopped what they'd been doing. "Ok guys, get ready, we're gonna do it one more time." he said loudly so everyone could hear.
I jogged up to him and pulled on his shirt sleeve. "Peter, can I talk to you?"
"Yeah, you have about five minutes for them to set up for the shoot. We're way behind schedule here…" he trailed off.
"Look… I got some… family problems I have to take care of. I'm afraid I won't be able to finish the shoot with you guys."
"What? No Izzy, you can't do that to me!"
"I'm sorry Pete. If there was a way to get out of it, I would, you know that."
He put his left arm around my shoulder, lowering his voice, "Is it your mom?"
"Yeah…" telling part of the truth isn't lying, is it?
"Ok, but you have to give me time to find you a suitable replacement, ok?"
"I can't give you more than a month, I'm warning you."
"Hey Pete, we're ready!" shouted one of the assistants.
"Gotta go. We'll talk some more later, ok?"
I nodded and walked away.
Three months earlier…
"You can't take this job!" my mom cried out in desperation.
"I can't not take it Mom!" I cried back, throwing my favorite shirt in the open suitcase that lay on my bed. "I need to get away from here, away from everything that reminds me of this!"
"How about going to your grandparents' then?"
"You know they'd love it! They loved it when you lived with them a few years ago."
"Mom, you know I can't. It's too hard to see grandpa's Alzheimer's getting worse."
She sat silently on my bed, watching me pack my suitcase. She was out of arguments; I knew it, she knew it. Finally, she sighed, hugged me in defeat and walked out of my bedroom. She had known from the beginning it was a lost cause but at least now she could tell herself she had tried. I hated leaving her alone but I couldn't stay. At last, I finished packing the last bit of clothes I'd bring with me and started closing my suitcase. But before I closed it all the way, I picked up a picture frame on my dresser and stowed it between two shirts so it would be protected. Finally, I heaved my heavy suitcase off the bed and went down the stairs. I put my winter coat on, looked out the window and waited for my cab to get here.
When the car pulled up the driveway, I stepped outside and handed my suitcase to the driver. I went back in for my tote bag and to hug my mom one last time.
"Don't forget to take your medicine." I said pulling back, feeling my eyes sting with tears. "I know chemo makes you sick but the doctor says it's your best bet."
"Ok sweetie. I love you."
"Me too. I'll call you as soon as I'm settled in."
I got in the cab and we pulled out of the driveway. I waved at my mom and then she turned and went back in the house. As the door closed behind her, a tear rolled down my face. I wiped it away, took in a deep breath and composed myself.
"Where to, miss?" the cabie asked.
"Ottawa International Airport please."
"Attention El Paso travelers. This is the final boarding call for flight TS-410…" I stopped listening after I was sure the announcement didn't concern me and instead concentrated on finding gate 18 where I was supposed to get on a chartered plane to Odessa, Texas.
I was utterly lost but didn't want to ask for directions just yet. I kept walking in the same general direction until a group of loud guys cut me off. I was swearing under my breath when their conversation caught my attention.
"…went down in Permian history as one of the best all-around players until an unfortunate knee injury kept him from the '88 state championship."
So I decided to follow the group and what do you know! ended up at gate 18. I pulled out my boarding pass and handed it to the airport employee as the guys clumped in front of the large window through which you could see the tarmac.
"… we supposed to get on that tiny airplane?" one of them asked worriedly.
"All I know is they better be serving Champaign or stuff on it…"
"Have a pleasant flight Miss…" the employee struggled as she tried pronouncing the French name. "Lego?"
"Legault. Thanks, I'll try…" I trailed on, looking at the rowdy group still looking out the window.
I boarded the plane and took my place, next to one of the windows. I was about to put my headphones on and hadn't noticed anyone else on the plane until I head him clear his throat. "Hi."
"Hi." I answered, barely acknowledging him.
"I'm Garrett." I nodded nonchalantly and made to put my headphones on, only to be interrupted by his voice again. "You with the cast or the crew?" he asked.
"Wasn't this plane chartered for the crew?" I asked, finally looking up at him. That's what I'd been told anyway.
"Uh… yeah but I couldn't make the cast plane." he gave me a charming smile.
Great, an actor…
"You didn't tell me your name..." he fished hopefully.
"No I didn't." and this time, I put on my headphones before he could say anything else.
I hate football players… was the thought that bounced in my mind throughout the entire flight from El Paso to Odessa. They were loud, not too bright and total Neanderthals. There were only a few girls on the flight and each one of them got very unsubtly hit on during the flight. Even me.
"Hey, hey guys, look at this one here." a big ox of a guy said, pointing in my direction. Even with my music blasted on, I could still hear him talk. "She's ignoring us!" he laughed loudly. "Come on babe, give me a smile." he tried cajoling.
But I kept staring outside at the dried out land, hoping we would land soon. Fortunately for me, we did. I waited for everyone to get off the plane and then exited myself. I followed the loud group from a good distance back. After picking up out luggage, I spotted a guy holding a sign that read "F.N.L. CREW" and headed toward him. When we were within earshot, he smiled and said "You must be Isabelle Legault." and extended a hand out for mine.
"And you are?" I asked, shaking his hand.
"Ouch." he laughed, feigning getting hit in the chest. I stayed stone faced. "I'm Peter Berg, director."
"Sorry." this guy was the reason I had a job in the first place and I didn't even know who he was.
"That's ok. My mom always said a little humility was good for the soul." and he gave me a genuine smile. "You came highly recommended for the job."
"Yeah, I was wondering why a physical therapist out of Canada was being asked to work on the set of a movie…"
"You treated my nephew last year… Noah?" I nodded. Pretty nice kid as I remembered. "He said if anyone could get a bunch of guys to do what a physio asked them, I would be you." he laughed, "He said it had something to do with your headlock."
The year I had treated Noah, there had been this really annoying client at the clinic where I worked. He kept complaining about his knee injury but wouldn't do anything my colleague told him to do. He was an ass to everyone at the clinic and kept hitting on our shy assistant, Nadine. She was only sixteen and from what the other physiotherapist had told me when I had joined the clinic, she'd been physically abused by her dad all her life.
So this one day, he came in the treatment room and lay on the table, waiting for his physio. I was treating Noah's bad sprain and was in the middle of a manipulation when it happened. Nadine was setting up one of the electroshock machines beside the Oaf's table. He was sweet-talking to her as usual and she was trying to ignore him. When she had finished setting up the machine, she had started to walk away, and he had grabbed her by the wrist, screaming at her how dare she walk away from him, that sort of thing. He even went as far at to put a hand on her ass and squeeze it! So I got up, walked calmly to his table and told him to let her go. He laughed in my face and slapped her ass. That's when I wrapped my right arm around him and held him in a headlock until he apologized. After that, every time he came to the clinic, he was very subdued and did all the exercises his physio set him up on. Within two weeks, he was well enough that he didn't need physiotherapy anymore and didn't come back to the clinic.
"Don't worry, I won't put any of your stars in physical harm." I pledged, holding up my right hand without cracking a smile.
"Hey, do whatever you have to so they get back on the field. Remember, bruises can be covered up with makeup." he laughed.
"Can I get that in writing?" I teased my voice the only indication of the jest.
By now, all the other crew members had joined us and we piled in a bus. It was only a twenty minutes drive until we got to the hotel. I had sat in the first seat behind the driver and that actor guy – what was his name again? Greg or something? – sat across the isle from me and invited Peter to sit with him. Before he let us off the bus, Peter stood up until he had everyone's attention.
"Ok, so this is your training camp so we're going to operate under strict rules and schedule. If you're on the football team, you will get up at zero six hundred and start your day with a five miles run. After a quick breakfast, you will meet with the coaches on the gridiron. They will instruct you as to how the rest of the day will be spent. As to you other members of the crew, you're to report to the staff assignments at zero eight hundred in the mess hall. Thank you."
Everybody got off the bus and grabbed their luggage. As I made to grab my suitcase, a huge shadow stopped in front of me and I couldn't help but to look up. It was the ox that had tried to hit on me.
"Need any help with that babe?" he asked in a low rumble, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"No." and I walked off with my luggage.
As I got to the glass doors of the hotel, Peter walked up to me and grabbed my suitcase. "Your schedule will be a bit different than everyone else's." I nodded, I had expected as much. "You'll meet the guys at the field after breakfast. I want you to meet the coaches and your team. Don't let yourself be impressed by the age of some of your colleagues. You'll be the one in charge."
"Can I do the run with the guys?" I asked.
"Uh… did you hear the part where I said it was a five miles run?" he laughed uneasily. "And that you had to get up at six?"
"Is that a no?"
"Uh… no it's not. Do whatever you want… But can I ask… why?"
"What are you going to do if one of the guys gets injured during the run?" he didn't answer. "Besides, my volleyball coach used to have us do a 10k run every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. If you calculate things right, it adds up to 6.2 miles three times a week."
Before he could reply, I ripped my suitcase out of his hand and hastened to catch the first elevator to my floor. I got to my room and inserted the keycard only to be met by loud music.
"Hello?" I asked, stepping in the room.
"Oh, hey!" a black girl smiled at me, extending her hand in welcome. "I'm Trish, your roommate. Hope you don't mind I chose a bed."
"Hey Trish, I'm Isabelle but you can call me Izzy. No, I don't mind at all. What department are you with?"
"Wardrobe. And I must admit I'm in heaven. Eighties' fashion? I just love it. Can't believe I'll get paid to force guys to wear trucker hats and tight acid washed jeans. What about you?"
"I'm head of the S.M. staff." she looked at me quizzically. "Sports medicine." I added.
"Oh cool! You're the head of the staff? How old are you?" she seemed worried for a while.
"Twenty one. I only got the job because I treated the director's nephew last year."
"Hey, don't ever apologize for it. This business is all about connections. One of my good girlfriends goes out with a PR guy for Universal. That's how I landed here." after a few seconds, she added, "And I'm twenty two."
"So why didn't I see you on the plane?"
"Oh I'm local. Only football players were brought out of state. A few cheerleaders too. I mean, it can't all be actors in the movie right? Someone has to show them how it's done. And how about you? Where are you from?"
"Gatineau, Quebec, Canada."
"Ok, I know what and where Canada is but the rest means nothing to me. At all."
"Gatineau's the city I live in and Quebec's my province. Provinces are the Canadian equivalent of states."
"Yeah and before you ask – and I say this just because ever since I got on the plane every American I met did – I don't live in an igloo, I don't go around town in a dog-pulled sleigh, I don't say aboot and I'm bilingual and French is my native tongue." I said quickly in one breath.
"Uh… ok. So um, a couple of the girls from the wardrobe department are going out in about…" she looked at her watch, "two hours. Wanna come with?"
"Not really. I had a long day."
After Trish left and I was done unpacking my things, I called my mom to tell her everything had gone fine. After a short conversation, we said goodbye and hung up. Making sure I had my keycard with me, I exited my room and walked to the fire escape. Making sure opening the door wouldn't start the emergency sirens I climbed the stairs two at a time and was happy to see the door to the roof wasn't locked. I found a led pipe and stuck it in the crack left by hinges to make sure the door wouldn't lock behind me and walked to the edge of the building. I crossed my arms and watched the sun setting.
"Whatever the problem is, you don't need to jump." came a nervous voice behind me. I turned around bewilderedly and stared at a beefy black man in a security guard uniform. "Please miss, step away from the ledge."
"Oh my god, you thought I was gonna jump?" I asked, laughing incredulously,
"I'm not here to judge miss. I would just really like it if you came closer to me." he talked softly and made no sudden movement as if not to scare me.
"Look, I just came out here to watch the sunset." he didn't seem to know whether or not to believe me. "Promise. I just wanted a quiet place that wasn't swarming with football players."
"I can't blame you for that." the guard laughed softly. "Even these actors… they might not be the real thing but they behave like real football players. It's like have one of the out-of-state teams in here."
"So is it ok if I come up here sometimes?"
"Yeah sure. If anyone asks, tell them Leon said it was ok."
"Thanks Leon. I'm Izzy by the way."
"Nice to meet you miss Izzy. So I take it you're not an actress? You got the looks to be, that's for sure."
"Thanks. No I'm the head physical therapist on the movie. Has the whole hotel been booked for us?"
"Pretty much. It takes a lot of people to make a movie. More than I ever thought. And even though some folks might live just an hour away, they were given a room since the shoots can go on late at night."
"Well Leon, I should get to bed. I have an early morning tomorrow."
"Pick up the pace you maggot!" the running coach screamed at one of the players. "You think you can run this fucking slowly on the field? Do you?"
I kept running, trying to ignore all the shouting that cut through the music being blaster through my headphones. I guess we were about three quarters of the way in the run and some of the guys – admittedly mostly the actors – were starting to trail behind. We were running in an empty quarry, the sand beneath our feet making the task even harder than it should have been. All the while running, I pulled my mini back pack off and unzipped the main pocket. Fumbling, I found my water bottle and took long draughts.
"Argh!" someone yelled in pain from the back.
"You get up this instant you maggot!" sheesh! you'd think this guy was in the army!
"My leg!" the fallen runner moaned in pain.
Immediately my instincts kicked in. I ran back to the two of them, the running coach hovering about the black boy who was holding his leg and squirming on the ground.
"Get out of the way." I pushed the coach out of my way and kneeled next to the injured.
"Don't mind this guy, he's just fakin' it." the coach didn't seem to have any patience for me.
"Oh and I bet you went to med school to make that assessment?" I replied bitterly while I put my bottle of water to the player's lips. "Drink up." I held him up half sitting, half lying down. "What's your name?"
"Ok Lee, tell me where you're hurting."
"My calves. They're seizing up."
I immediately knew what was wrong.
"You better get the other guys to stop running Coach or else you'll have to carry about 31 guys away from here." I was boiling mad at the idiot.
"Look here missy, you might be in charge in your clinic but out here-"
"No you look! Your guys are dehydrating fast because some idiot didn't think of bringing water out here and they're going to keel over in about fives minutes from the dehydration!"
A few minutes later, all the guys were sitting here and there, catching their breaths. I was presently massaging Lee's calves making sure he drained my bottle of water. I reached out for my back pack but it was out of reach. Before I could get up to get it, some brown haired guy picked it up for me and handed it to me.
"Is he gonna be ok?" he asked while I took out my second bottle of water out of my pack, along with a little pouch of oral rehydration salts and ripped it open, pouring the powder in the water and shaking it. "What's that?"
"Rehydration salts. He's dehydrated to the point where his muscles are drying up and it's really painful. Water alone won't cut it."
"Hey you hang on there Lee, I think this girl knows what she's talking about." the brunette kneeling next to me teased, grabbing the Lee's hand.
"Here, drink this." I ordered Lee.
"Again? I ain't thirsty anymore." I forced the bottle into his hands. Begrudgingly he took a sip and spit it out, spraying me in the process. "This tastes like shit."
"Then the quicker you chug it down, the faster you'll be done tasting it. I want you to drink the whole thing." I warned. "Coach, you gotta get us a 4x4 here or something. This guy ain't walking the rest of the way."
"I would but I ain't got a phone or nothing on me."
"Brilliant." I grumbled under my breath. "L'osti de con a même pas pensé d'emmener un osti de CB. " I always went back to French whenever I was really pist.
"What d'you say?" the running coach asked.
"I said you'd better get a couple of guys to carry him back then."
"I'll do it." the helpful brunette chimed in.
"Look at me." I grabbed him by both sides of the head. "Open your mouth." he did as I asked and I stared at the white paste that was all over his mouth. Then I pressed my forearm to his forehead, noting he was extremely hot and flushed. Finally, I proceeded to check his pulse. His heart was beating a lot faster than I liked it to be. "No you're too dehydrated. You might collapse on the way. Coach get me some of the real football players we have; big ones Two will do."
"Really, I'm fine, I can help carry him." the brunette protested as the coach walked away.
"What's your name?" I asked rising an impatient eyebrow.
"Lucas you're dehydrated. The only reason you didn't seize up like he did is you're a bit bigger hence you hold more water. You have to take it easy if you're to survive until the end of the shoot."
"Yeah Lucas, we wouldn't want the lead actor to die before we shoot the first scene." one of the guys walking by teased.
"Man shut up." Lucas replied with his thick accent. "Ok, you're professional here." he said to me.
"That I am. Now let's get back to the hotel."
When we got back to the hotel, I headed for the reception room the production team used for their meetings and barged in. There were four people sitting at a banquet table, two women, two men, one of which was Peter Berg.
"Can I talk to you?" I asked roughly.
"Did the run go ok?" he asked back, still sitting in his chair.
"Look, I don't know how things work on movie sets and shit like that but it seems to me it's be common sense to try not to kill the cast and crew before you begin filming."
"What are you talking about?" Peter asked.
"Your running coach took 31 players and 8 actors running a five mile run without water or a CB to radio in case of emergency. I just had to have one of your guys carried back here because he had seized up he was so dehydrated!" I was yelling but I didn't care. Those guys had been put in danger and that made me extremely mad. "If you don't fix this, I'm walking away because I'm not about to watch a bunch of guys get killed in order to get a little tougher!" and without waiting for an answer, I walked out.
"Wow you're loud when you're mad." an amused voice came from my left. Lucas was leaning against the wall and pushed himself off and followed me down the hall to the elevators.
"Yeah well that was a stupid and totally preventable thing that happened today. I don't like it when stupid hicks put others in danger." I answered as I pressed the 'up' button.
"Izzy!" Peter called out as he jogged out of the reception room. The elevator doors opened with a 'ding!' and I stepped in, followed by Lucas. "Look, this won't happen again but you have to keep that temper in check." Peter said as he stopped in front of the elevator doors.
"Just blame it on the dehydration." I said bitterly as the doors closed.
"So, finally I know your name Izzy." Lucas chuckled, nudging me in the ribs as he said my name.
"The name's Isabelle and that's how you're gonna call me until I tell you otherwise." The elevator doors opened on my floor. "I'm not your friend Lucas, I'm just here to make sure everyone walks away from this movie shoot in one piece." and I walked away.
So there's chapter one. Please review. I'll keep working on the story in the meantime.