I approach the large glass hotel doors with my head raised high and my posture straight. You can get away with anything as long as you look confident doing it, like you're exactly where you're supposed to be, so I'm not surprised when the doormen don't so much as bat an eye at my exit of the hotel unattended.
Of course, I'd left the hotel before going to the movie set. In fact, I'd been there earlier today, but it was always accompanied by Midge and Quinn and we only ever went one place. I have yet to go out on the town at all, much less all on my own. Regardless, I saunter out of the hotel with no particular destination in mind, only the tempting call of freedom guiding my steps. Midge doesn't know about my little adventure, of course. If she did she would have sent Quinn with me, but the last thing I want is my bodyguard looming over me, even if it's just Quinn.
My schedule today was particularly light with only some stunt training that I absolutely need and some voice training that I don't really need at all. I think I was just there to help Henry and Orla master their New Jersey accents. Henry's got a loose, drawling California dialect and Orla is Canadian so I enjoyed watching them struggle to master the sharp, deep New Jersey accent. Of course, Henry got his payback after watching me fail nearly every stunt I attempted this morning. We start filming in a week and I can hardly land a flip without falling flat on my ass.
I realized I've gotten lost in my thoughts once again when I nearly trip over a crack in the pavement. The momentum sends my large sunglasses flying off my face, which I scramble to pick up before anyone sees me. Fortunately, the walkable downtown suburbs aren't very crowded, although I supposed I'm used to New York sidewalk traffic. The little downtown village is quaint and inviting which I'm sure is why we're going to use this place as a filming location. I have no trouble finding some interesting shops to explore but one in particular catches my eye.
All record and music shops have the best vibe and the place I find is no exception. The walls are decorated with band posters, guitars and records while the shop itself is lit primarily by fairy lights. I excitedly scrounge through the records despite the fact I don't own a record player but I'm caught off guard when someone calls out to me.
"Excuse me," I freeze where I am. Please don't tell me someone's recognized me already, but the voice continues, "Can I help you find anything?" The tension in my body dissolves immediately.
I manage to chirp out a, "No thank you" without fully turning to face the store clerk and she promptly leaves, moving onto the next costumer. I resume my record scrounging but out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of something in the graphic t-shirt display and immediately scramble over to it.
The image of three girls with their backs turned greets my grinning face. They each have a croquet mallet slung over their backs in a different designated color which matches their 80's clothing and at the bottom of the shirt is scrawled "Heathers". The shirt is only available in women's sizes but despite my recent training I'm still rather lanky so it should fit me if I get a large. As I excitedly grab the shirt and head over to the checkout, I think of my conversation last night with Orla and Henry. I really am a theatre kid at heart.
My train of thought is interrupted by the cashier who calls out, "That will be $18.52" I nod and go to get out my wallet but I can feel her eyes on my face, "Have we met before? I feel like I recognize you."
I try to play off my panic calmly as I answer, "Oh no I don't believe we've met before, I've just got y'know, one of those faces." She takes my card skeptically and doesn't say anything else but here eyes are still trained on me,
"Weird how you're wearing sunglasses inside," she swipes the card but I'm silently praying for her to go faster so I can get the hell out of there. She hands me back my card but withholds the bag with my shirt in it, "Oh my god! You're Liam Malach!" I grab for my bag but It's too late, the people in the store clearly heard her proclamation.
"Uhm, I don't know what you're talki-"
"It's him! It's really him!" someone exclaims behind me and I turn in horror to face the store full of people who now know exactly who I am. Someone is already taking a picture or maybe it's a video, while at least two people approach me excitedly. I feel horrible for doing it, but I run.
Well, not exactly run because I don't want to make that much of a scene but I do speedily walk out of the store in a panic. However, It's too late. People follow me out of the store and one person shouts so the entire downtown village can hear, "It's Liam Malach!"
I hear the squeals, the exclamations of "where!?" and the footsteps of people behind me as I take off, desperate to get away from the pressure of all those expectant eyes looking at me.
"Hey wait up!" someone calls out.
"I'm your biggest fan!" another practically screeches.
Guilt plagues me as I do it, but I full on sprint down the sidewalk, dodging passersby who look at me with confusion and then shocked recognition. My sunglasses had long since fallen off but I don't bother putting them back on seeing as the worst has already happened.
The voices don't stop calling out, but they do get fainter. However, my panic does not subside as I slow down to look for a place to hide in. One building in particular catches my eye for the very fact that it isn't eye catching at all. The place looks like some sort of foreign food restaurant. Inside, all the tables I can see are empty, so without much hesitation, I turn quickly and throw the door open, launching myself inside and into a corner table away from the view of the windows, where I curl up in a rather pathetic ball and shove my sunglasses back onto my face. My eyes are glued to what I can see of the windows and the people outside, who are probably looking for me. I'm so focused on this task that I nearly jump out of my skin when someone speaks from next to me.
"Uh, you're supposed to wait to be seated." a cool monotone voice calls out. I Don't even turn to face to the guy, keeping my eyes focused on the window.
"Sorry, I won't be here long, I'm just..."
"Hiding?" My eyes snap now to the server. How did he- but my thoughts are cut off by the cold gaze that meets my own. The boy in front of me is... well... very objectively hot. With his smooth brown skin and thick black eyebrows that frame those disinterested black eyes, and his floppy black hair that falls over his eyebrows in a perfect tussle. Yes, even I, a straight dude, can admit to how hot this guy is. I have to literally shake my head to get my thoughts straight.
"How do you know I'm hiding?"
"Because I could hear the screaming fangirls from here," If he's at all shocked to be in my presence, he doesn't show it on his face.
"how do you know they're screaming for me"
"You're that dude who's in the Electric Phoenix movies right? That movie and you are all anyone can talk about lately. I'm pretty sure I could recognize you," Again, his face remains stoic and the way he talks about me feels almost insulting. It's like a slap to the face to meet someone who so clearly has no interest in me, "So are you going to order anything or what?"
"I don't know," I say as my eyes finally begin to wander around the restaurant. The place smells good, like spices and the walls are decorated with various trinkets. A flag that I recognize as the Indian flag is on one wall but another flag I don't recognize hangs right next to it. What kind of restaurant is this place?
"If you're not going to eat, you have to leave," he says without sympathy or hesitation.
"Okay, okay, I'll stay. Now, what exactly do you serve here?"