Episode #474

- Trevor received a call from Cliff Burkett, who wanted him to return to the world of adult films.
- The late Camille Lemieux’s will named Molly as the creative head of Objection Designs, to the surprise and displeasure of many of the other executives.
- Samantha convinced Travis to view therapy as a positive thing for him, not his parents.
- Paula followed Ryan to a seedy bar on Thanksgiving, where she found him struggling to keep up in a poker game.


The heavy metal door slams closed behind Trevor Brooks. It is a harsh, final noise, and the December evening air has a razor-sharp chill to it, but he is nevertheless grateful to be out here. Or, rather, out of there.

The latest casting call that his agent sent him on was even worse than the few others he has gone to in recent months. Two or three years ago, he would have been one of the top contenders for a regional department store campaign. He doesn’t know what has changed; Wes has done an admirable job keeping his porn videos quiet, and these people certainly didn’t seem aware of them.

It’s his confidence. That is the only explanation. He used to shine in situations like that--getting up in front of people, showing them what he could do. But in there, minutes ago, he felt like crap. It was uncomfortable. It never used to feel that way.

He strides toward his car with more purpose than he has applied to anything lately. Getting out of here and back to the house, where he can curl up in his pajamas and not have to deal with anyone else, is his only objective right now.

He swears that he hears a set of footsteps behind him. Out of curiosity and nothing more, he glances behind himself… and finds no one there. The dark prevents him from seeing far, but from what he can tell, the lot is empty. He swore he heard someone walking behind him.

He has had that feeling a lot lately. Maybe it’s his mind playing tricks on him, wishing for something new and different to happen. That’s a weird fantasy, he thinks, but nothing really surprises him these days.

He arrives beside his car and reaches into his messenger bag for his keys. Even this short time outside has chilled his fingers into near-numbness, so even the simple act takes moments longer than it should.

Finally he pulls his keys from the mess of the bag, but before he can get them into the car’s lock, a hand grabs his arm.

He whips around but sees only parts of a body behind him, a form hovering in dark clothes. One gloved hand grabs his forearm, and the other flies up to his mouth.


The evening cold stings Claire Fisher’s fingers as she pulls her credit card from her wallet. What should be a simple move is made difficult by the weather and the growing numbness in her hands. At moments like this, she always resolves to find a pair of gloves that she will keep with her during the winter months, but the resolution is as far as she ever gets.

She pays for her gas and slides the pump into her tank. As it begins to fill, a familiar car, a luxury sedan, pulls up to the adjacent pump. The car is filthier than she has ever seen it--caked in dried rain and mud, clearly not cared for. Usually Ryan takes meticulous, even obsessive, care of it.

She thinks of scrambling back into her car to avoid being seen, but she is sure that he will recognize her car anyway. There is no escaping this, so she might as well keep it short and uncomplicated.

When Ryan emerges from the car, he is already focused upon her. However, his stare is not intense as she expected, but rather timid, uncertain. There is something wild about him; his hair a little out of place, his skin a little rougher than she recalls, his clothes certainly more rumpled than ever.

“Hi,” she says, feeling the need to break the awkwardness. It doesn’t help much.

“Hi.” He swipes his credit card, begins pumping his gas, and puts his wallet back in the car, all without looking at her again.

Claire waits for her own tank to fill. She does not want to talk to Ryan, exactly, but she is unsettled by the fact that this man, with whom she shares so much history, a man she was ready to marry only a few months ago, now seems like more of an enemy.

This time, when he glances over, he catches her watching him.

“What?” he asks, his tone aggressive.

She averts her eyes. “Nothing. Sorry.”

“Do you want me to apologize again? Is there even anything I could say that would make the slightest difference?”

Probably not, but she thinks it best to keep that to herself.

“I am sorry,” Ryan says. “I’m sorry I lost you, I’m sorry I lost my family. You know I’ll… I’m always going to love you. But I know there’s no fixing this, so what’s the point in making even more of a fool out of myself?”

“I don’t want you to make a fool out of yourself,” she says. It is the truth. She was worried that seeing him, now that some time has passed, would cause her to feel bad for him or to ignore her better judgment. That is not the case. She feels bad for him, and she wishes that it had all never happened, but that is it. Nothing more.

“Your box of books from med school,” he says abruptly. “It’s in the closet in my hallway. You should come get those soon.”

The sudden shift throws her, but she tries her best not to appear rattled.

“I don’t know if I’m really up for that.”

“I’ll leave them at Paula’s, then. I have to get everything out of there by the end of the month.”

“You’re moving?”

“I had kind of a big mortgage on the place,” he says, ashamed and yet fully resigned to his sorry lot in life. “And I don’t exactly have a ton of cash coming in these days.”

“Oh.” The gas pump clicks to signal that it is finished filling. Claire hesitates, then breaks for it. She hurries to replace the cap on her tank and get her receipt.

“I’ll drop the box off at Paula’s, on the front step or something,” he says.

“Okay.” She hesitates, then adds, “Thanks.”

She feels that she should offer him some sympathy for having to move out of a place that he loves so much, for having no one in his life, but she knows that he brought this upon himself. He chose to shoot Nick and frame Tim. As much as part of her will always care for him, or the man that she thought he was, she remains so furious with him that even sympathy seems like much more than she can offer.

Wordlessly, she gets into her car and drives off, leaving him there in the dark.


“You are going to do fine. Better than fine. Amazing.”

Molly Taylor momentarily stops her stalking around the bedroom to cast an exasperated look at her husband. He reclines on the bed, elbows behind him and propping him up.

“You don’t know that,” she says.

“I know that Camille was a very smart woman,” Brent says. “She believed in you. She made you a designer in the first place. Why should you not trust her judgment now?”

Flustered by the question, Molly stomps back into the walk-in closet, where she continues rearranging her shoeboxes. This is all garbage, she thinks, her mind in overdrive. I don’t have enough, everything’s too old, they’re all going to see right through me and Objection will be ruined…

“Come here,” Brent calls from the bedroom. He waits a long moment and then repeats, “Come here. Molly.”

She returns to the side of the bed. Brent pats the spot next to him. Reluctantly she sits.

Brent takes her hand. “Don’t do this to yourself. If this new position--which, I’m going to remind you, is what you’ve been working toward your entire life--makes you that miserable, bow out.”

Molly does not want to do that. However, she also does not want to disappoint Camille or tarnish her memory.

“But I don’t think it really makes you miserable,” he says. “I think you’re nervous. And you know what happens when you’re nervous? You do your best work.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“Really? Like how you were terrified the first time Camille let you design pieces that made it onto the runway, and they were some of the best pieces there?”

She fondly remembers Objection’s debut fashion show. Some of that work was excellent, especially considering how green she was at the time. Not that it seemed great to her as it was paraded on the runway in front of so many judging eyes…

“Mol. Please don’t do this to yourself. Camille believed in you. I believe in you. You can do this.”

With his hand sitting warm and strong over hers, she nods. She does not quite believe what he says, but she will try. Being here with Brent, like this, makes the events of the past several months seem irrelevant. Even with all the discomfort and lack of communication about his leg, they are still together, able to talk each other back to sanity and support each other. This is why she married him--why she fell in love with him.

“You’re amazing,” she says, leaning over to kiss him. Brent accepts happily, almost greedily, and their recent frustrations seem like nothing at all.

The kiss grows longer and deeper, breaking only so that Brent can slip Molly’s flowing silk top over her head. Her fingers crawl beneath his shirt, touching the soft, warm skin. His torso seems even stronger than she remembers, maybe because of how hard he has been pushing himself in physical therapy.

Then her hand drifts down, eager to explore his body. Before she realizes it, her hand is on his thigh, and then--

Brent yanks away from her, jerks upright.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

“Nothing. I, uh…” He breathes hard, though whether it is from excitement or from sudden discomfort, she cannot tell.

“It’s okay,” she says, reaching out again to touch the spot where his prosthetic meets his natural leg. She has barely seen the spot, let alone had the opportunity to touch it. Brent always keeps it covered up, seems to make an effort lately not to dress in front of her.

His hand diverts hers.

“We don’t need to pretend like it’s not there,” she says, hoping to reassure him. “I love you, differences and all. Just like how you love me even when I act nuts.”

That coaxes a tiny, little laugh out of him, but it lasts only a split-second.

“Just don’t touch it,” he says. “Ignore it. Please.”

She does not know how to respond to that. She wants him to know that she accepts him, all of him.

“There’s plenty of other stuff to keep you busy. I promise.” A sly grin overtakes his face as he slips out of the sweatpants that have been his constant companion of late.

With a deep breath, Molly decides not to push the issue. Tonight she is grateful just to have her husband here, offering her support and comfort. That is enough for her. It has to be.

She presses her lips to his, keeping her hands well north of his knee this time.


Trevor strains against the hands that have grabbed him. He shakes free of them with surprising ease, and when he whips around, he knows why: the hands belong to none other than Cliff Burkett.

“Hi, Trev,” Cliff says through a thick sneer.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Trevor looks around, making sure that there is no one else around, even while realizing that there is nothing incriminating or suspicious about him being in Cliff’s presence. It just feels that way.

“Came to see you.”

“You’ve been following me.”

Cliff nods, a casual confirmation. Trevor replays the events of recent days in his mind. Those moments when he felt like someone was watching him--when he had what he thought was a completely ridiculous sensation of being followed, observed--he was right.

“You never got back to me,” Cliff says.

“I never said I would.”

“I beg to differ. You said you’d consider another movie.”

“So you flew across the country?”

Another shrug. Cliff never appears intense, even when he should, even when it would be warranted. Trevor used to admire that about him, but then he realized that there is one place he has seen Cliff’s intensity: in the bedroom (or wherever) during a shoot. There is something not only intense, but predatory, obsessive, about the man then. He becomes a complete animal, is one underneath. This cool front is just that--a front. An act. It is calculated and manipulative.

“I’ve got money for you,” Cliff says. “Ten grand up front and a share of the profits.”

Trevor’s initial instinct is to scoff at the sum. It is not much compared to what he could make from a good national print campaign, but then again, this is not a national print campaign. And he doesn’t have any of those lined up, so ten thousand is still ten thousand more than he has coming in at the moment.

“Your videos are the biggest sellers on my site. By far.” Cliff’s eyes track up and down Trevor’s body. “Your big comeback could blow the roof off the site. It’d be huge. Downloads, DVD sales… you’re a star waiting to happen, Trev.”

Trevor doesn’t know if he should be flattered by that. As it is, he leans against the car, uneasy.

“You’re not the lanky kid you were back then, either,” Cliff notes, clearly enjoying the view. “You’re a bonafide man now. The viewers’d love to see you all grown up--and, to tell the truth, I wouldn’t mind making a little cameo myself.”

“I don’t know.”

“What happened to the guy who used to be able to make a decision?” Cliff asks. “You never were a nervous little puppy. What happened?”

Trevor shakes his head and hurries to unlock the car.

“The money’s here, ready to go. Give me a call.” Cliff slips him his card. “Or I’ll call you.”

Not wanting to consider the possibility, especially not the money or the fact that he might actually be in demand, Trevor gets into the car.

“Remember what I said,” Cliff says, lingering at the open door. “Not everyone gets to do the thing they always dreamed of doing, but if you can use your talents to make a living, you’re not in such bad shape.”

He surprises Trevor by closing the car door for him. Trevor watches in his side mirror as Cliff retreats across the parking lot and around the side of the building, where he apparently parked or materialized or something. Even after starting the car, he can’t bring himself to stop thinking about Cliff’s offer. On one hand, it makes his stomach rock all over the place, but on the other… maybe life is all about adjusting expectations. Making things work for you.


Tim Fisher leans through the doorway into his son’s bedroom. “The sooner that homework gets done, the sooner you can watch TV, so get to it.”

Travis groans, but it is more a groan of obligation--no fifteen-year-old will go willingly toward homework--than a genuine protest. Tim shuts the door, leaving Travis to focus on his work.

In the living room, Claire sits on the chocolate brown sofa. Tim crosses from the bedroom toward her.

“Thanks for picking him up and dropping him off,” she says. “I wasn’t sure when I’d actually be able to get away from the hospital.”

“No big deal. I’m just glad he went to see Dr. Arcaro and actually stayed this time.”

“That’s a big step, isn’t it?” Sitting here, like this, with Travis in his room doing his homework and Tim in the living room with her, it all feels so… normal. Like perhaps their lives haven’t been run through a blender time and time again over the past few years. She knows better, of course, but it is a nice fantasy into which she can escape for a moment here and there.

Tim nods in agreement. “He’s even in a pretty good mood. Maybe things are turning around.”

“I hope so.” She gestures toward the beige armchair that sits at a right angle to the couch. “Sit. Relax.”

Tim does so carefully, a bit tentatively, as though he is not sure that he wants to get comfortable here.

“I can’t believe it was that simple,” she says. “All that arguing, and then he just… decides to go on his own?”

“He had to feel like it was his own decision, I guess.”

She sighs. “I guess. You were right about that. If I’d had my way, he wouldn’t have left that bedroom until he agreed to go, and even then…”

“He agreed to go. That’s all that matters.” He levels a warning stare at her--a look of caution, urging her not to second-guess this bit of progress.

She cannot help it. “It’s like I don’t even know my own son. When we’re alone, I have nothing to talk about with him… when I try, he gets mad and starts blaming me for things all over again.”

“That’s why he’s seeing the doctor.”

“Does this ever get any easier?” she wonders aloud.

“Talk to my parents,” Tim says with a wry grin. “I’m willing to bet the answer is no.”

The thought fills her with dread. Being a parent has always been the greatest pleasure in her life, and at times, the only one. Now it is a daily obstacle course through which she tiptoes with fear, waiting for something to explode under her feet.

“Thanks for all your help,” she says.

“He’s my son, too.”

“I know. But you could’ve blamed me for a lot of things and made this a lot more difficult. As it is, it almost feels normal.”

Tim lifts an eyebrow, as if to ask, What the hell is this “normal” of which you speak? Then they lapse into silence, a deceptively comfortable silence: the two of them, sitting in the living room and chatting while their son does his homework. Like it could have been if the Morianis had not barged into their lives. If she had not allowed them to.

Their eyes meet, an acknowledgement of how pleasant this is--but as quickly as it happens, it is over. Tim bolts from the chair and is already on his way to the door.

“I need to get home,” he says while on the move. “I have to organize some stuff for work tomorrow.”

“Okay.” Claire rises from the sofa, but he already has the door open. “Thanks again.”

“My pleasure.”

Then he is gone. The door closes behind him, and it is just Claire and Travis in this apartment, a closed bedroom door separating them. Reality settles in. Going to therapy is a big step for Travis, but they still have a long way to go. Claire braces against the wall, wondering how she is going to get through this.


Could Claire and Tim give things another go?
Is the worst behind Molly and Brent?
Will Trevor give in to Cliff’s manipulation?
Talk about this episode in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode