“Hi, I’m looking for Pat.”
“Sorry, I mean I’m looking to talk to Mr. Murphy.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. He’s, um, busy right now. He, like, told me that he wouldn’t be able to see anyone until this afternoon. He’s working on, uh, a scene.”
I hissed through my smile, “Damn, I really need to talk to him. It’s kind of important. Is there any way you could page him? It won’t take more than a minute. I promise.”
“I don’t know…”
“Just tell him Isaac needs a word with him. I promise it’ll be okay.”
She bit her bottom lip, but in the end she relented. She picked up the phone and punched in a few numbers. She whispered, but I could still hear her. The call didn’t take long. When she was done she flashed a smile that was less bright than the earlier one.
“Mr. Murphy will be here in a second.”
Pat, The Pornographer, walked through one of the doors in short order. He bucked the stereotype of the sleazy filth-monger everyone thinks of porno directors. He was a tall, slender man in a very sharp and very expensive suit. He had his blonde hair styled in a way that made it look like he just stepped out of a fashion magazine. He looked more like a wall street broker than the king of a porn empire.
When he walked into the room he gave me the same onceover the receptionist did. If he was suspicious of anything he didn’t show it. He extended his hand to me.
“Hi. Pat Murphy. And you are?”
“Isaac. I need to talk to you about something. Is there somewhere we can have some privacy?”
After I spoke he took a little too long to release my hand. I’d said something to set him on edge. I could tell what he was thinking. He thought I was a blackmailer or one of the starlets’ boyfriends. I should’ve come more prepared.
I knew at that moment this wasn’t The Pornographer I knew. This was just ordinary Pat Murphy of this world. Still, I was already in this. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to him for a bit. There was still the chance that he had met his other world doppelganger.
He spun on his heels and walked through the door he’d entered. I followed him. The warehouse was split up into a series of large cubicles, each of them decorated to be a different set. There were bedrooms painted in bright pink, living rooms, locker rooms, a dungeon or two. Most of them were empty, one or two had a bored Mexican mopping the floor.
When we passed a cubicle where there was action happening Pat didn’t bat an eye at it. He walked briskly through it all. I eyed everyone. No one that I could see was a threat to me. None of them seemed to be aware of me as they were all watching people fucking. We went up a metal staircase to his office. Standing next to the door was a security guard. Possibly the only threat to me.
That was unlikely. He was tall, muscular. I could just tell he spent all his free time at the gym getting as big and intimidating as he could. Not too bright, otherwise he would be a real police officer instead of a guard. I figured he probably knew some sort of martial art. To the right person he could be dangerous.
The office had a huge window from which he could see into each of the cubicles. He sat behind a metal desk in a comfortable leather chair. By contrast the chairs he motioned to me to sit in were cheap, plastic and unpadded, like something he’d stolen from a grade school. I was thankful he hadn’t offered me the couch.
As I sat I glanced behind me to see that the guard followed us in. He stood silently watching me. Despite my unease at having him at my back I sat down.
“Want to tell me what this is about?” Pat Murphy asked.
I decided to be direct. He was either going to believe me or not. No use pussy-footing around.
“Have you ever met a man who looked just like you and claimed to be from an alternate universe? If so, do you have a way of contacting him?”
Pat was dumbstruck. Out of all the things he expected me to say that was obviously not one of them. He stared wide-eyed at me until his face broke into a grin and he started laughing. Not mirthful laughter, shocked laughter that stopped as fast as it started. His face immediately snapped back to serious.
“That’s really what you wanted to ask me? Are you fucking insane? I thought you were gonna’ be some stalker for one a’ the girls or something. Jordan, get this guy out of here.”
The guard, Jordan, put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed. I grabbed his forearm with both my hands and pulled forward. He wasn’t expecting my speed or strength. He lurched forward, bent over the chair next to me. I let go of his arm and grabbed his head and twisted sharply until I felt it snap. His lifeless body rolled off the back of the chair, thumping on the floor.