50 EXCERPTS: #5
Twenty minutes later, the lights were turned back up. Hadley glanced at Romero and, sure enough, the actor was ashen. This was going to be easier than he had hoped.
"So you see the problem here," he said, and Romero nodded, not making eye contact with anything but the aquarium. "If this tape were to get out, well... like I said earlier, it would mean the destruction of your career. Romeo, everything you've worked forty years to build would be destroyed within days."
"What do you want, Ian?" His voice was weak.
Hadley laughed. "I assumed that was obvious."
Romero nodded his understanding of the unspoken blackmail demand. "And the tape? I will get possession of it, of course."
"Of course." The smile disappeared. "As soon as I'm adequately compensated for my silence and discretion, you will get the tape." He paused, then: "Can I ask you a question, Romeo? Why did you do it?"
Romero finally looked at him. His eyes were tired. "Because I am a human being, and I'm weak."
"Hmm." Hadley tented his fingers on the desk and stared at them. "That's interesting. You see, I've always been fascinated by the things people do to self-destruct. And you, well... you especially fascinate me. Thirty years out of a forty-year acting career spent pretending to be gay, just to keep your calling alive. And then to almost have it undone by an indiscreet romp in a hot tub, well... that's fascinating."
"That's one way to look at it."
"And you know what made it worse, Romeo? You know what made the whole thing so sordid?"
"That Speedo you were wearing. I mean, what were you thinking, man?"
from Straight Lies
Kensington Publishing Corp.
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