“And coming up on this week’s Brunch Bunch we have…” Tom slapped his hands on the countertop, hoping to simulate a drum roll, “Showbiz legend Sir Rodney Fitch, talking about his memoirs! Dolly Dane will be here to tell us about her role in the smash hit musical, Feelers, and hot new band The Merkin will be playing us out at the end of the show. Damon?”
“I’ll be demonstrating what you can do with a leftover cucumber,” Damon smiled thinly.
The floor manager signalled. The opening titles were playing.
“You OK, mate?” Tom gave Damon a nudge. “You seem a bit off.”
“I’m fine,” Damon said through clenched teeth.
“Come on, mate. Give us a smile. We’re on in sixty.”
Damon shrugged his co-host away. Tom paled.
“Have I done something? Have I said something?”
Damon pinned him with an icy glare. “You know what you’ve done.”
“What?” Tom laughed nervously. He held up his hands as a show of innocence.
“And five, four, three…” the floor manager counted them back in. The theme music crashed to an insipid climax.
“Good morning!” Tom grinned from the sofa. The seat beside him was noticeably vacant.
In the galley, the director scrambled for coverage. “Where’s Damon? He’s supposed to be on the sofa.”
“Got him,” said Camera Three. “He’s in the kitchen.”
“Go,” said the director.
Camera Three’s red light came on.
“Good morning!” Damon smiled professionally. He brandished a large knife.
“What are you doing over there, Damon?” Tom’s words felt thick in his throat.
“I’m preparing my ingredients,” Damon called back. He chopped a sausage in two.
“Are you coming over here to talk to our first guest?” Tom ventured.
“I am rather busy,” said Damon, snapping a carrot with his bare hands.
“Well, I’m sure I can manage.” Tom didn’t sound sure. “Good morning, Sir Rodney.”
The ancient actor, all tweed and charm, remarked how gracious it was for them to invite him. On his quivering lap was a copy of the latest volume of his salacious showbiz memoirs.
“It’s lovely to have you,” Tom fawned. “You’re looking remarkably well for a ninety-genarian.”
“Nonagenarian!” Damon corrected from across the studio. The camera panned to get him in shot, just in time to see him make an obscene gesture with an aubergine.
“I’m eighty-seven,” Sir Rodney muttered, his dentures shifting.
“Ha! Brilliant!” Tom enthused for no particular reason. “So, you’ve been writing again, haven’t you, Sir Rodney?”
He reached for the book, but the old thespian’s gnarled hands maintained a claw-like grip.
“Let’s have a look, then. Hold it up for the viewers.”
A brief tug-o’-war ensued, resulting in Tom gaining possession of the book and poor Sir Rodney landing on the hard studio floor.
“My hip!” he cried in agony. “My hip!”
“My kingdom for a hip!” Tom quipped.
The floor manager ducked into shot to assist the fallen actor. The director cut away to Damon in the kitchen area.
“Oh?” Damon blinked in surprise. “Is it me?” He cleared his throat. “Coming up after the break, I’ll be knocking up a Catalan omelette with Dolly Dane, and there’ll be live music from The Merkin. See you in two!”
He let his smile drop. He looked on in alarm as Sir Rodney Fitch was stretchered out of the studio.
“So, it’s not enough you breaking up my marriage, you now start on that poor old man.”
“What?” Tom looked up from the memoir. “What are you talking about?”
“I found it, Tom. I found it.”
“The spoon. In the sugar. In my kitchen. You’re the only person I know who leaves a wet spoon in the sugar.”
Tom affected a frown. “I –”
“When was it? While I was doing that dancing show?”
“Well, Gareth said he was lonely.”
“And you stepped into the breach! Thanks, mate.”
The floor manager interceded. “We’re back in thirty. Damon, take that knife back to the kitchen.”
The theme tune dribbled out like a wet fart.
The director cut to the kitchen, where Dolly Dane was behind the counter, looking lost. The floor manager made frantic gestures.
“Oh!” Dolly Dane straightened up. She squinted at the autocue. “Wel-come back to Bunch Brunch and now I am go-ing to be mak-ing a Catalan omelette with Dolly Dane – oh, that’s me!” She waved at the camera.
The floor manager’s hand circled, encouragingly.
“Well, first I am go-ing to get some eggs…” Dolly looked around. A hand shoved a box of eggs into shot. “Thank you!” Dolly giggled.
There was an almighty crash as part of the set fell over. Tom was backing over the sofa, shielding himself from Damon’s knife with the memoirs of Sir Rodney Fitch.
“And I’m going to toss in some tarragon and some chives…” Dolly was trying her best. “And while I’m stirring those in, why don’t I tell you about my lovely new show, Feelers? In it I play the grasshopper. We’re all dressed up as insects, but really it’s about emotions. Real human emotions, because we feel things? It’s a play on words, do you get it?”
Tom and Damon encroached upon the kitchen area. Tom snatched up a frying pan to ward off Damon’s blows.
“I was going to use that!” Dolly cried. She got in the way. The frying pan hit her squarely in the face. Down she went like a sack of potatoes, dropping off the bottom of the shot.
“Cue the band!” the director screamed from the galley. “Cue the fucking band!”
But the brawling presenters were rolling across the floor, knocking over the drum kit.
Damon was on top. He raised the knife high while Tom squirmed underneath him.
The feed was cut. A card read NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED and cheesy elevator music played.
At home, Gareth was trying to phone the studio. Perhaps there would still be time to explain. Tom had only called around to discuss arrangements for Damon’s surprise 40th birthday party. It was all a misunderstanding.
But then again, he pressed the slab of raw steak against the black eye Damon had given him, perhaps I should let this play out. Let the world see Damon for who he really is. And if he survives, perhaps Tom will have me on the show to talk about my experiences… This could be my big break…