‘Journalist,’ I say, jutting my chin high. ‘Can I get through please?’
The crowd has swelled from the city building into the street. Minutes earlier, I had pushed my way to the front, only to bump into the chest of this mountain man. The badge weaved into his shirt reads KEEP SAFE SECURITY.
He looks at my face, scans the crowd. He steps aside, and my cameraman and I glide pass towards the revolving front door of the building.
‘Geez, he’s a big bloke,’ Brenton says, carrying the camera on his shoulder.
‘You getting any of this?’ I ask, impatiently.
‘Of what? An empty foyer of a building?’
‘Could be useful.’
He ignores me. I silently fume. I’ve asked previously not to be assigned jobs with Brenton. Yet, here we are, together, at possibly the biggest interview of my career thus far.
We approach the reception area, where a pretty young girl sits filing her nails. Alongside her is another security guard.
‘Morning,’ I chime.
The girls lifts her gaze to meet my eyes. She’s full of the disdain of youth. She checks me out, decides I’m too old to be a threat to her. She smiles; it doesn’t reach the blue of her irises, though.
‘Can I help you?’ she asks, stifling a yawn.
‘We’re here for—‘
She interrupts. ‘Floor 25. Here’s your lift pass.’ She hands over a plastic card, like a hotel key card, nudges a clipboard in our direction. ‘Make sure you sign in, and sign back out when you return the lift pass.’
At the lift, Brenton mutters, ‘You ever met a celebrity before?’
I shake my head. I’m nervous. I did my research; I have been diving down rabbit holes on the internet about him for days. He’s been in the news for more than twenty years, but not a lot of negative press has ever written about him. I searched for an angle, something that no one else had ever covered, but kept coming up blank. I fear I will dissolve into ordinariness.
‘Got your questions ready?’ Brenton asks. God I wish he’d shut up. My head is spinning and my gut churns. I need the toilet.
‘Yeah,’ I respond, tapping my pocket with my note book inside. ‘Hey, I need to the loo.’
We’re on the 25th floor. Toilets are conveniently to the left of the lift area, so I pop quickly inside. I splash my face with water from the basin after washing my hands, careful not to smudge my makeup.
Brenton is already recording when I return to him. ‘Ready?’
I smile broadly at the camera and chant my rehearsed speech. We walk inside and the smell of coffee, fresh pastries and bread fills the air. I look to my left; a trestle table is covered with condiments, fruit, teas and the delicious smelling pastries.
‘Help yourself,’ a voice says from behind. ‘Solandra and Brenton, right? From Channel Six?’
We both nod in sync.
‘Mr Bryant will be ready for you in about half an hour. We’re running behind, sorry. Please, make yourself comfortable, and help yourself to breakfast and coffee.’ She motions like a game show hostess to the seating area and smiles vacuously before moving away.
Almost an hour later, she returns. ‘For transparency purposes, we’d like you to know we’ve performed reference checks on you both. You’re clear. And Mr Bryant is ready for you now.’
We rise from our seats. My heart pumps so hard I wonder if anyone else can hear it. I touch my pocket again; the notebook is there, hard against my rib cage. Brenton is behind me, recording as I open the door and walk inside.
Phil Bryant, movie star, celebrity, all-round genuine good guy, stands. ‘Solandra, it’s so nice to meet you. Please come in.’