As the team walked down the dock I suddenly felt the mood change. This day was no different than any other but with one tremendous exception – the Discovery Channel TV crew was waiting for us at the lab entrance. I saw Dr. Jenkins conversing with the crew and could tell something had irritated him. Perfect.
“Good, you’re back. I need you four to get the boat packed with their gear and meet me in the conference room. This is Dustin Keller, he’s the one in charge of the show production,” Dr. Jenkins spat out before quickly turning and disappearing into the building.
“What jumped up his butt,” Chris muttered under his breath, and the rest of us smiled.
Dustin Keller was a short, stocky man that appeared to be in his fifties. He had a red bald head and a determined look on his face. I felt a little uncomfortable since I had to look down at him.
“We’ll drop our gear and be back for yours,” I said to him, and he hastily said thank you before following Dr. Jenkins into the building. I noticed two other crew members before going to store the equipment I was carrying.
Jet, Wade, Chris, and I went to load the TV crew’s gear onto the boat and one of the men came with us to help and to see where he would be working. We introduced ourselves and he said his name was Tom, or Tim, or Trent…
“So where’s the dude that’s gonna host the show, Troy?” Chris questioned, trying rather unsuccessfully to hide his disdain.
Ah, Troy. I smiled to myself and caught Chris’ eye. He winked at me and my cheeks felt a little warmer again. I quickly pulled my eyes away and continued to the boat.
“Last I heard he was gonna be late. Jenkins wasn’t too happy about it,” Troy replied matter-of-factly and we all immediately understood why Dr. Jenkins was so irritated.
“Of course he wasn’t happy. It takes twice as long to do anything when we have extra people around,” grumbled Jet, loud enough that the man could hear.
“Do you know why he’s late?” Wade asked, trying to gloss over the remark made by Jet. I was glad someone quickly tried to change the subject since we would be working with the crew for about two months.
“I dunno,” the man replied quietly with a shrug, and I almost felt sorry for him. It wasn’t his fault this guy was late. I had a sudden realization that I didn’t even know who we were waiting for.
“So, who is this guy?” My words were out before I had time to stop them. I didn’t want to bring up anything that might cause more crankiness from my crew but it was too late now.
“His name’s Nick Sark. He’s a thespian with a cause,” Chris answered, and I raised an eyebrow, immediately curious. “He was in some stupid chick movie that Jen made me see, all of teenage girl world is in love with him so he’s gotta crash our work so that the network can try to lure ‘em into raising their stupid ratings.”
“That sounds about right,” Troy agreed, and I was somewhat gaping at Chris’ rant, but one of the frat boys brought me out of my momentary stun.
“Nick Sark? That’s a dumb name,” Wade said, laughing. Once Wade realized Garrett wasn’t with us he stopped his laughter suddenly and I could almost see him making a mental note to mention it later.
“It may be a dumb name but he can bring some publicity to Dr. Jenkins,” Jet stated, and it all clicked for me. That’s why Alan agreed to this documentary with this host when he had turned down others.
My stomach knotted at the idea of “all teenage girl world” tuning in and me being on the television. Maybe I could arrange it so I wouldn’t have to be on camera other than when I was in the water. Jet could explain my role and we could use the satellite tags for everything. In fact, I bet I could stay in the lab…
“He better not get in the way,” I heard Jet mutter next, and then my sympathy went from Troy to this Nick guy. Maybe he would be fine and we’d still get a lot of work done. Or maybe he was going to be a giant pain in the neck.
I sighed quietly before continuing my thoughts. I could get so much done in the lab in two months, but I don’t think I could stay away from the sharks for that long, especially since my internship was winding down.
We finished our task of packing the boat and headed back to the conference room where Dr. Jenkins and Mr. Keller were waiting. I really really didn’t want to deal with Alan and the foul mood he was sure to still be in.
“He’s gonna be pissed,” Wade said to me quietly, and I nodded in agreement.
“He’ll get over it eventually, I bet he’s just about salivating at the idea of how many people will watch this show,” I whispered back and Wade let out one loud bark of a laugh.
“What?” Chris asked, and I shrugged innocently.
“I’ll tell ya later,” Wade promised with a chuckle. “Salivating? That’s classic, Ky.”
We entered the building and I could already hear Alan’s annoyed voice.
“You get him or his publicist on the phone now and find out exactly when he’ll finally get here!”
“The fun is about to begin,” Chris stated, which I took as a warning for Troy.
Wade opened the door to the conference room and I could see Garrett sitting with his feet on the table, looking pretty bored. Dr. Jenkins was standing at one end of the long rectangular table with Mr. Keller sitting with his back to the door. He appeared to be sweating and had his head in his hands. The other crew member sat with an uninterested look by Garrett. Another frat boy, I thought to myself before Alan spoke.
“Good, you’re here. Everyone sit down.”
“I’m sorry, I –“ Mr. Keller tried to speak which was an obvious mistake.
“Call him! Now!” Alan ordered and the poor man jumped up and left the room. “I’m sure you’ve been told this Nick character is going to be late. I’m trying to assess how much damage that will cause us in terms of shooting, our work, deadlines.”
“Parties,” Chris chimed in and for the second time this day I gaped at him, my eyes holding back no surprise.
“Excuse me?” Alan spat, but Chris’ face remained steady.
“I’m just assuming he’s going to be an asset for us when it comes to publicity and it would be nice to have him here on time so we can use his status,” Alan blinked a couple of times, not quite sure how to reply.
“I’m sure when the show is aired you’ll have plenty of funding offers, but until then it would be beneficial to use this man’s celebrity here,” I quickly agreed, sensing Chris’ motivation in his diversion. We needed to calm Alan down or our lives were going to be miserable.
Dr. Jenkins furrowed his eyebrows, crossed his arms, and contemplated our reasoning. If he was going to use Mr. Sark to his advantage he surely couldn’t have his first impression being one of anger and impatience.
“Good point,” he finally sighed, visibly calmer. Mr. Keller reappeared just then, sweating even more than before and I figured he had some unpleasant news to report.
“I just spoke to Mr. Sark’s publicist and he’s delayed for two days, apparently his press interviews for his latest project ran late which caused him to miss his flight. Since he’s cleared the next six weeks to be here he’s been doing all of his press,” Mr. Keller stammered, rushing through his explanation as quickly as possible but with evident fear which caused him to stumble over the words.
“Well, I suppose we should be accommodating as much as possible, but he’d better arrive in two days,” Alan replied, his anger subdued but still existing behind his words.
“I’ll do everything I can to make sure they are,” Mr. Keller promised immediately, confused but grateful for Alan’s change in mood.
“So, where do you want to start?” Garrett asked, obviously too bored to allow the nonsense to continue anymore. He and I were alike in few areas, but not dwelling on situations that were out of our control was definitely something we had in common.
“Stock footage? We could show them what the conditions are like and what I’ve done,” volunteered Wade, and Alan nodded.
“Good. You two do that. Jet, Kyla, Chris, decide on where to start tomorrow, maybe they can get some shots and get used to the cages tomorrow.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, happy to be passed the tense moment. I turned and saw Chris trying to catch my eye.
“What?” I said quietly, and he leaned closer to me, holding my attention with his hazel eyes.
“Thanks for the inspiration. When Wade said ‘salivating’ earlier I figured out what you guys were talking about. Worked like a charm,” he smiled, careful to speak softly so that Alan couldn’t hear.
“How do you do that?” I asked in amazement, wishing I could take it back immediately.
I had to think fast, and I was proud of my concluded direction I would take the conversation now.
“How do you read situations so well?” I lied. I was actually wondering how he could be so confident with his ability to manipulate people.
“I just tell people what they want to hear,” He leaned back again after that and turned to Jet. Was he answering my actual question or the one I had voiced?