A Letter to Lyla

by Jenny Beeson

UNINVITED GUESTS: (July 2009)

LONDON: They arrived at 10:30pm. Gatecrashers; two girls; twins - not

indentical. I'm not lying when I say I didn't recognise them immediately. I was

leaning over my cake, ready to blow out the thirty six candles. "Happy Birthday

Lyles," they said in unison. I stared at the girls - only a few years older than me

and women now - and the penny dropped. "Oh my God; Diana; Charlene."

"Long time no see, Lyles."

"Or hear."

"Come in and have a drink."

"We need to speak with you, Lyles," said Charlene, always more serious than

her sister.

"Drink first," I insisted.

"Okay, why not?" Diana agreed; she was the one I was closer to.

"So, what brings you two here, all the way from Portugal?" I asked as I handed

them some wine. The twins looked at each other and then at Tony and I

realised they hadn't been introduced. "I'm sorry, where are my manners? This

is Tony, my fiance and my co-star."

"We know, Lyles."

"How do you know? Do you get Cops And Corruption in the Algarve?"

"It wouldn't matter if we didn't."

"What was that, Charlene?"

"She means we knew about you two anyway."

"How did you know?"

"That's what we need to talk to you about, Lyles, your fiance."

"Charlene, is there something wrong?"

"In private, Lyles."

She was acting quite ominous, but I saw little point in making a scene, so I

suggested we should go outside on one of the benches and chat; thankfully

it was Summer and still warm. I sat opposite them on one of the alfresco

tables.

"So, what's all this about then?"

"Are you going to tell her or shall I?" asked Diana.

"It might sound better coming from you and it was you he gave the letter to."

"Tell me what?"

"How much do you know about your fiance, Lyles?"

"I know everything about him; why?"

"No secrets? Nothing in the closet?"

"Absolutely nothing."

"But do you really know him that well, Lyles?"

"Yes, I've been working with him for nearly two years now and we've been a

couple for ten months."

"And you met on the television program?"

"That's right."

"No, that's wrong."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean you didn't meet each other on Cops And Corruption, you met Tony

when you were sixteen."

"You're not making any sense, Diana."

"There's something your fiance is keeping from you, Lyles."

"Keeping what?"

"A secret. A very exclusive secret, a dangerous one."

"What secret?" My voice was getting higher because panic was starting to build.

"Your co-star and fiance is a time traveller, Lyles."

Her revelation was so ridiculous I burst out laughing. "What is it, a birthday

wind-up?"

"Try to remember, Lyles; December 1989, your first year at college."

"And?"

"It was a Saturday, the weekend after Christmas, and some guy stumbled into

the diner you worked in claiming his fiance had been shot."

"I'm not entirely sure..."

"Think. Think hard about it; the guy was disorientated, shocked, near hysterical

and when he saw you he was convinced you were his fiance."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying the guy you're planning to marry is the very same guy you met on

that Saturday in 1989 and the fiance in question is you."

"That's impossible."

"Is it?"

DECEMBER 1989:

LONDON: It was the Saturday after Christmas (December 30th) and an

average shift at the American style diner I worked during the holidays, my first

year at college. On that morning I was in the kitchen when a man stumbled in

through the back door. I didn't speak to him initially, but Don asked him if he

was alright. "I need to call the police, my girlfriend, my fiance, she's been shot."

"My God, where did this happen?"

"Out there, through that alley leading to the main road." He was talking very

fast and obviously confused and disorientated. Don - the manager of the diner

- went out to investigate, but found nothing. The man tried to protest,

claiming he was a witness; he'd seen his fiance shot in front of him and

insisted on calling the police. When he passed out, Don and Reggie - the soux

chef - put him in a chair and let him sleep it off, assuming he would regain

consciousness and say it was either a prank or a mistake. Going through his

belongings, they found some identification: Detective Sargent Franco Mancini.

A few hours later I was out of the kitchen - I'd been on washing up duties - and

taking customer orders. The mysterious stranger was having a cup of coffee

and smiled at me; I smiled back politely. I walked away and he continued

looking in my direction; you know when you get that feeling you're being

watched; then he called me over. "Maggie?"

"Excuse me?"

"You're Maggie, my fiance."

"No, my name isn't Maggie ."

"You look so much like her."

"I'm afraid I'm not her; and I thought you said you're fiance had been shot?"

"I don't know what's happening."

"You're probably in shock or something."

"My fiance is an actress."

"And you're a police officer."

"Me? No I'm..."

"I'm sorry, I have to get back to work." On my way back to the kitchen he was

still looking.

Later on in the shift my room mates turned up at the diner; I filled them in on

my new admirer.

"Maybe we should have a word with him," suggested Charlene.

"I'll use my charm to try and ascertain whether he's legit or whatever."

"Be careful, Diana, we have no idea who this guy is."

"He's a cop, according to his ID."

"Identification can be forged, Diana."

"Just leave it to us, Lyles; we'll find out what we can."

I spent the remaining part of the day clearing up and washing dishes in the

kitchen, so I didn't hear the twins interrogating the man. However, I did

manage to have a ten minute break and a cup of coffee; he was a lot calmer

by then. "So, you believe we're engaged?"

"My fiance is an actress."

"You said that before."

"We are both actors and we play detectives on the same show; my character is

..."

"Franco Mancini," I interupted. He frowned.

"How do you know?"

"Don and Reggie, they checked out your identification while you were

unconscious."

"Who are Don and Reggie?"

"Don is the guy who owns this diner and Reggie is his second in command."

"And they went through my pockets?"

"Only to find out who you were?" He frowned again, a concerned look on his

face. He was quite good looking, dark hair, bright eyes, but way too old for

me.

"And when you found out who I was, what then?"

"Nothing. They probably assumed you would wake up, realise you'd made a

mistake and leave."

"I didn't make a mistake; my girlfriend - fiance - was shot and I witnessed the

whole thing, out your back door and through that alley."

The twins and I exchanged glances. "Don and Reggie went to check things out

but there was nothing there."

"What day is it?"

"Saturday," Charlene replied.

"So, it was Friday yesterday?"

"That's usually the way it works," answered Charlene, sarcastically.

"So, it's Saturday afternoon already?"

"When did your fiance get shot?" I asked.

"It must have been last night. Are you sure there was nothing out there?"

"I didn't actually go out there myself; the guys said there was nothing there, no

indication of anybody having been shot." I sipped my coffee. "What will you do

now?"

"I have to find Lyla."

Then it was my turn to frown. "I thought you said her name was Maggie."

"Maggie?"

"You told me your fiance's name was Maggie, when we spoke earlier."

"Maggie is the name of Lyla's character."

"You definitely said Maggie when you called me over."

"I was still confused; in shock."

"So, your fiance, her name is Lyla?"

"That's right."

"Same as mine?"

"Yes."

"And she's an actress?"

"Correct." He was leaning over towards me, slightly, on the opposite side of the

table; the twins were staring at us, their mouths agape.

"And I'm training to be an actress, my first year at drama school."

"And my fiance - my Lyla - her first job was a waitress at an American style

diner when she was sixteen."

"And I'm sixteen now."

"Yes."

"So, what are you implying Mr...?" I didn't get the opportunity to finish the

question.

"Lyla, I don't pay you to sit and chat; break's over, back to work."

"Sorry, duty calls."

"We'll see you tonight, Lyle's," said Diana.

"I'll be back about 6pm; what time does the film start?"

"There's an 8:45pm screening."

"I'll see you later." I walked away and turned back again. "It was nice meeting

you; good luck in finding your fiance."

"Thanks. Where you off to tonight?"

"My room mates and I are going to see Back To The Future Part 2 at the

Odeon."

That was the last I saw of him. Charlene and Diana stayed for another coffee

and continued their interrogation, but I didn't hear any more of it. When I

finished work I returned home, freshened up, had some food with the girls - we

shared a tiny apartment and I slept on the sofa bed in the living room while they

took the one bedroom - and went to the movies. They didn't say anything

about the mysterious stranger and the subject was never raised again. In all

honesty, I completely forgot about it. I was sixteen years old then, at the

threshold of my life, a drama student with a glittering career ahead of her. I

suppose with the promise of my name in lights and ambitions further afield than

the backstreets of Surburban London, a middle aged man claiming to be my

fiance wasn't something I was likely to think about too much.

THE EARLY 1990S:

Having graduated with a degree in Drama in 1992, I had visions of being

inundated with job offers and film roles; not for me the sitting at home waiting

for the phone to ring and wasting years in a dead end job while "resting".

Unfortunately reality can bite and apart from a few minor parts, some

advertisements and the odd stage play, I didn't have a great deal of luck for a

few years. By the end of 1995 I must have auditioned for everything from

Eastenders to Panto and feeling sorry for myself and close to giving up, I

headed for the Algarve, Portugal, where my former room mates were living.

That was a memorable year (1996); I treked for hours, swam, played tennis,

stayed up late chatting with the girls and watching movies; it was just like being

back in our old apartment - only with more space because they lived in a

luxurious three bedroom villa overlooking the sea. I was sad to leave and Diana

had to practically force me onto the plane.

"I'm not sure I've got anything to go back to."

"Have faith, Lyles, something will come up."

FAMILY MATTERS: (1997-2003)

I wondered if Diana knew something I didn't. A few days after touching down

at Heathrow, I received a call from a casting director working on a project

called Family Matters. He was so sweet and invited me to audition for the part

of Rachel Reed. Having won the role, I became a household name in what was

effectively a prime time soap opera. My character had her fair share of dramas

(rape; marriage break-up; abortion) and I enjoyed my time on the program

because I was given plenty of juicy plots to get my teeth into and the security

of a full time job. However, all things come to an end, and in 2003 Family

Matters was shelved in favour of some reality television show, so I found myself

out of a job. By that time I was thiry one and keen to see some of the world

before I got too old. After about six months travelling across Europe (doing

a bit of bar and waitress work along the way), I moved onto Asia, Australia and

finally America. Other soap actors had landed parts in Hollywood blockbusters

and seeing I had nothing to lose, headed for L.A. The good news: I appeared

in a few movies. The bad news: they were straight to video, low-budget

turkeys. The early part of 2007 saw me back in London living with mum and

dad and having to adhere to house rules and curfews.

LIFE IMITATING ART: (2007/2008)

A life jacket - for my career at least - came in the shape of a controversial

drama called Cops And Corruption. As soon as I read the synopsis and

character profile I wanted the part of Maggie Mason, a no-nonsense detective.

Everything about that program was ideal; the studio wasn't far from where I

was living with mum and dad, the salary was high and the plot was gritty.

There was just one blott on the landscape: my co-star. As warring police

officers we constantly rubbed each other up the wrong way and it seemed to

be a case of life imitating art because we clashed off-screen too. On our first

day - because we started together - I was walking to the canteen when this

man slammed straight into me, spilling his coffee all over my suit.

"Are you alright?"

"What do you think?" I replied angrily.

"I think you should look where you going."

"Me? You're the one who should have been looking, I could've been scalded."

"No need to get your knickers in a twist, it was cold anyway."

"You'll have to pay for the damage."

"Me? No way."

"You haven't even apologised."

He looked up at the ceiling and said something under his breath. Then he

mumbled a half-hearted sorry."

"Is that it? You could sound as if you mean it."

"I said I'm sorry; what do you want, blood?"

"I see you've met your co-star then, Jonesy."

Steve, one of the crew, was walking towards us, a satisfied grin on his face.

"Anthony Jones, this is Lyla Claire Marshall, your co-star and sparring partner."

Anthony had a bemused expression on his face and looked back at me.

"We hadn't been officially introduced, Steve."

"Call it a rehearsal."

"What?" asked Anthony.

"A rehearsal for the scenes we're shooting today. You see, your characters

clash when you meet for the first time so you could call this good practice."

"I'm sorry for the coffee; you should change before the cameras start rolling."

I walked off in a huff cursing him and wondering what it was I did to deserve

such bad luck. How many people worked at the studio and what were the odds

on the person bumping into me turning out to be a co-star who just happens

to portray a detective my character dislikes? To say things were tense between

us after that wouldn't be exaggerating. Our characters - forced to work

together to expose a police cover-up - argued incessently and my alter-ego -

D.C. Maggie Mason - was always on the receiving end of Detective Sargent

Franco Mancini's sharp tongue. And when he wasn't pulling rank, he was

subjecting her to sexist comments, wind-ups and improvised versions of that

well known Rod Stewart song (Maggie May). On the other side of the camera

we just didn't get along and the situation worsened when Anthony revealed

our turbulent working relationship to a tabloid newspaper reporter who had

visited the studio to interview us. According to the magazine Anthony was

reported to have said: "Lyla's an ok actress, but handling her ego is akin to

having a dog chewing at your face. To put it bluntly, Miss Marshall is a stuck-

up, cold fish who believes she's bigger than the program she appears in."

In retaliation I was quoted to have said: "Anthony Jones, a mediocre acting

talent who has too much of his charcter in him and relishes in making me look

bad." I didn't remember saying any of that and I didn't know whether Anthony

had said what was quoted, but the article didn't do either of us any favours and

a few days later, when the piece was published, we had a heated confrontation

in front of the cast and crew. I have to take some of the blame because I let

it get to me too much and all through that morning's filming what had been

written was going over and over in my mind; things came to a head when I

walked off set in the middle of a scene and the director was forced to shelve

twenty or thirty minutes footage, so he wasn't happy.

"What the hell has gotten into you, Lyla?"

"Why don't you ask my co-star?" I was angry and spat out the words co-star

like they were dog muck.

"Don't start with me, Marshall."

"Why can't I start with you, Jonesy?"

"What have I done?" he asked. Then the penny dropped. "You're wound up

about that thing in the papers."

"You told that reporter I was a stuck-up, cold fish and handling my ego was

akin to having a dog chewing at your face."

"Yeah? And?" He was standing in the corridor, his hands on his hips.

"You've been slagging me off."

"And you've been slagging me off, Marshall; don't play the holier than thou

routine with me."

"You told him I thought I was bigger than the show," I was getting more and

more wound up and pointing a finger at him.

"That's how you come across, love, smug and stuck up."

"And you know how you come across? Arrogant and chauvanistic; you have far

too much of Franco Mancini in you."

"Oh really! And I don't suppose you have any of Maggie Mason in you? Do you

know what your nickname is, Marshall?"

"I'm sure it's something primitive, the sort of thing you get in lad's mags

because you and your gang of mysoginists haven't got the intelligence to

invent anything creative or original."

"Well, we can't all be graduates at the university of middle class snobs and posh

bitches, can we?"

I was leaning against a wall, the director seperating us, and when he blurted

that out I stepped forward, determined to put my point across. "That's right

Jonesy, pull the working class card; typical. Is it my fault I went to college and

you didn't? Am I supposed to feel guilty for receiving a half decent education?"

"No, but you don't have to be so bloody full of yourself, with your posh accent

and smart suits."

"So now I have to apologise for dressing smartly and speaking properly, is that

it?"

"It's just ... your whole attitude." His voice was raised and I could see he was

becoming more pissed off. "You look down your nose at everybody and that's

why you're never invited out for a drink; maybe pubs aren't good enough for

you anyway."

"Grow up," I snapped back.

"Me? You're the one who needs to grow up, Marshall; getting wound up about

some article in a tabloid newspaper that means nothing."

"Nothing? I read what you said about me, remember?"

"And I read what you said about me; you can give as good as you get, so don't

play the victim with me, love."

"But I didn't say any of that stuff," I protested.

"And I didn't say any of the stuff they quoted, but am I getting upset? No,

because I'm a professional and I carry on regardless, but you wouldn't know

anything about that, would you?"

I'd had enough at that point so I just told him to go to hell. He wasn't shy in

telling me what he really thought of me. "You know your trouble, Marshall, you

can dish it out, but you can't take it." I walked away, in the direction of the

ladies, but he continued to shout after me. "You're not that special, Marshall;

you're a talented actress but you're too moody, too stand-offish. And that's

why your nickname is Everest - it's freezing and you wouldn't want to go

there."

I was shaking after that rather public humiliation and must have stayed in the

ladies for hours. The director decided to call it a day because the scene we were

in the middle of was ruined, I was in a state and my make up had run down my

face; what's more, I refused to speak to Anthony. Before I left, a crew

member took me to one side for a chat.

"What was all that about?" he asked in a friendly, caring manner.

"Graeme, I was wound up, the stuff he said in that interview."

"He didn't say half of that."

"How am I supposed to know?"

"You've worked on television before, you should know."

"Family Matters wasn't like this."

"That was a prime time drama, this is a completely different ball game; you two

are playing warring detectives in a controversial series, you're high profile, and

have to accept a certain amount of press attention."

"Was Anthony telling the truth when he said nobody invites me to the pub

because they think I'm stuck-up?"

"Graeme didn't answer, just looked at the ground and said nothing. "What

about my nickname, is that true?"

"There is a suggestion that you come across as distant, unapproachable and

cold."

"So, I'll take that as a yes then."

"My advice is to go home, put what happened today behind you and start

afresh tomorrow."

"Start afresh? No chance; Tony is going to be unbearable now and I'm willing to

bet he's going to make it his business to destroy what little credibility I have

left."

"Don't assume anything where Jonesy is concerned; he's not as bad as all that

and I think he actually does like you."

"Sounds like it."

"He does, it's just he's always thought you had it in for him since you two met

and he spilled his coffee over you."

"And I suppose I made it worse, by saying what I did?"

"Don't worry too much, Jonesy has a thick skin; water off a duck's back for

him."

"I hope so."

"See you tomorrow."

I went home and called it a day. The idea of working with Tony the following

day wasn't making it easy to relax and, despite what Graeme said, I was sure

Tony was going to stir up trouble for me. When I arrived at the studio the

next day, I tried to make an effort to appear nice. Tony was sitting with his

friends in the canteen and I said "Good Morning", but he ignored me. As I sat

down I heard somebody say "I thought us lot of mysoginists weren't good

enough for her" or something to that effect, but I didn't rise to it. The rest of

the day passed without incident, but unfortunately the same couldn't be said

of the weekend. I was filming a scene which involved Maggie chasing a suspect.

The man in question had taken a hostage and was driving at break-neck speed

to get away from the police. I must have been doing nearly 80mph and things

were aright - until a tyre blew out and I lost control of the car. The vehicle

crashed and overturned several times resulting in a head injury and

consequently a sense of giddyness and nausea. The last thing I remembered

was the director rushing towards the wreckage, the camera man in tow and

Tony close behind him, a look of panic on his face.

WHO'S THAT GUY?: (2008)

I opened my eyes and a nurse was leaning over me; young, with a warm, kind

face. "Welcome back, Lyla."

"My head hurts."

"Can't say I'm surprised, that was some crash."

"How long have I been here?"

"A couple of weeks."

"Have I any other injuries?"

"Cuts and bruises; you were lucky."

"Lucky? Feels like a truck has run over me. Hang on, what crash?" I tried to

get up, but dizzyness forced me back on the pillow.

"You shouldn't get up yet; do you not remember the car accident?"

"No, I don't know how I got here."

"Things might be a bit blurred for a while; the doctor is going to have a word

with you in a minute."

"Have my parents been informed?"

"Of course; they've been staying the odd night, keeping vigil."

"Will you call them, let them know I'm awake?"

"They're in the cafeteria, I'll go and break the good news."

My second attempt to get up was more successful and I made myself comfy

and read the cards from well-wishers, not that I recognised a lot of them

(except mum and dad).

"How are you feeling?"

I looked up to see a tall, dark, handsome stranger at the end of my bed. There

was something familiar about him, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

"My head really hurts, it's killing me."

"We've been very worried about you."

I had no idea who he was, but didn't want to admit it, so decided not to say.

"Did you send a card?"

"Yes. We all signed the large card and I gave you a small card signed by me."

"Thank you."

"Your parents are here."

"Hello mum; hi dad."

"Thank God you're awake, we've been beside ourselves."

"You know what I've always said about women drivers."

"I was driving?"

"Yes. Don't you remember?"

"The nurse told me things were going to seem blurred for a while."

"Everybody sends their regards and the people at the studio say there's no

rush to get back."

Studio? Everybody sending regards? It was getting too weird; I decided I'd do

a bit of fishing - for information.

"So you've been getting to know my parents?" I asked the tall, dark, handsome

stranger.

"These last few weeks we've been spending a lot of time together, waiting for

you to regain consciousness."

"Does anybody know exactly what happened?"

"It could have happened to anybody," mum reassured me.

"Well, they should have checked out the car properly," dad interjected.

"She should never have been driving that car and if the decision had been left

to me, she wouldn't have."

"So, it wasn't your decision?"

"No, the director was at fault and he never should have let you do that stunt."

So, I was filming something and I was driving and had an accident on set; the

mysterious stranger at the end of my bed works with me - but not as the

director. At least I had something to go on.

"So, what would you have done, had it been up to you?"

"Excuse me, I'm Doctor Tannen and I need to examine the patient."

"See you in a few minutes, Lyla, we're just going for a coffee."

Mum, dad and the mystery man left so Dr Tannen could get on with his job.

"So, how is everything?" he asked, checking my eyes.

"To be honest, Dr Tannen, I'm having trouble remembering things. One of my

colleagues is here, but I don't know his name; I was filming a stunt for a

television program I have no recollection appearing in; and I recognise none of

the names on the cards except my parents."

"You're evidently suffering from amnesia."

"I remember my full name, address, date of birth and occupation, but other

stuff like my place of work and my co-stars, I have no idea."

"Have you told your colleague you don't recognise him?"

"No, I've been trying to hide my embarrassment; pretending."

"My advice is to be honest; lying and covering up will solve nothing. When you

leave hospital you're going to need support; you've experienced quite a shock

and you're going to have to stay off set for a while; I'm sure the cast and crew

of Cops And Corruption will understand."

"The cast of what?" I asked, laughing at the ridiculous title.

"The television program you appear in."

"None of this is ringing any bells."

"My wife, she watches that program religiously; she would have a fit if she knew

Anthony Jones was here."

"Who is Anthony Jones?"

"Your co-star, he plays your on-screen nemesis; my wife has such a crush on

him."

"That guy out there? He's my co-star?"

"Yes. You don't recognise him?"

"Like I said, a few memory issues."

"No need to worry, it will return; you just need to give yourself some time."

He gave me a warm smile and said goodbye. I was kept in for a few more

nights - simply for observation - and when I was discharged I promised I'd

make an effort to rest and recuperate, but privately I couldn't wait to get back

to mum and dad's so I could go on-line. I googled both Cops And Corruption

and Anthony Jones to provide me with information on my co-stars. Though

most of the stuff I viewed on the internet was alien to me, I couldn't get away

from the fact I'd met Anthony before and the name Franco Mancini was

definitely familiar for some reason.

"Welcome back!"

"Thank you."

"Have you had a chance to rest, to recharge your batteries?"

"A few weeks, but I'm climbing the walls with boredom and want to get back to

work."

I was in conference with Anthony Jones, the director and the producer at the

studio; they'd called me in to discuss character development and how things

were going to progress between Franco and Maggie.

"The relationship between you and Tony was very volatile before the accident

and with you working together more closely over the coming months, you're

going to have to settle your differences and put whatever issues you have to

the back of your mind."

As if I had a choice, I thought to myself. I'd read the article which caused a lot

of tension between Tony and I, but still had no memory of it; or him. It was

time to admit the truth.

"I have to tell you something."

"What is it?" asked the producer, expecting me to say something negative

about Tony.

"I don't remember the article; in fact, I remember nothing about the program -

including my co-star here."

The room was quiet for a few minutes; Tony broke the silence.

"When you say you don't remember anything, can you be more specific?"

"I suffered a head injury, as you know, and I have amnesia; I had

to google Cops And Corruption; I had to learn as much as I could before I

came here."

"Don't be silly; I was talking to you at the hospital and you recognised me?"

"There is something familiar about you and I get the feeling we've met before.

But as far as everything else is concerned, I'm clueless; I had to download a

map of the studio because I didn't even remember where my place of work

was or the quickest way to get here."

"Have you read the article?" Tony asked, a scared look on his face.

"I read it in a vague attempt to see if it would bring anything back, but it didn't.

I understand you and I were at loggerheads on and off-screen and I thought

surfing the net would help to restore my memory, but it hasn't."

"So you don't remember our first meeting?"

"I don't."

"And you have no memory of a tabloid newspaper reporter interviewing us?"

"I don't."

"And you have no recollection of the arguement that occurred the day before

the crash?"

"Absolutely none."

"Well, if you don't remember our previous issues, can I assume that we're

okay?"

"You can."

"Really?" he smiled, a lovely, friendly, welcoming beam which lit up his whole

face; he really was a handsome looking guy.

"Yes, really; I'm prepared to let bygones be bygones. If you did say what you

were quoted, so what? You're entitled to your opinion. And if you didn't,

there's little point in dredging it all up again, anyway."

"So, this is a truce?"

"Yes. Friends." We shook hands, had a coffee and went over a few ideas for

the program, just like adults; no tantrums, no storming off in huffs and no

arguments. From that point we were a team and in the months that followed

we worked well together and I came to respect Anthony. And it seemed art

was starting to imitate life because our on-screen personas were getting closer

and acting more professionally. The icing on the cake, however, was the ratings;

the show was becoming more popular and winning awards for best drama, Tony

was shortlisted for sexiest male in a magazine poll and Franco and Maggie were

voted best on-screen partnership in TV Guide.

BRIGHTON ROCKS: (2008)

It had been a busy summer and by the end of August all of us needed a break,

so for the bank holiday weekend we headed off to Brighton, staying at the

Grand Hotel overlooking the sea. We got recognised quite a bit and asked for

autographs; poor Tony was actually mobbed at a mall. On the last night, the

crew were enjoying themselves at the karaoke bar on the pier and I fancied a

stroll along the prom; Tony offered to escort me.

"It's been an entertaining weekend," I said as I watched the sun set.

"Back to work on Wednesday."

"Pity we have to go back."

"I thought you liked work, Lyla?"

"I do, but I like getting away from London sometimes; and it's nice down here."

Tony stood very close to me, but neither of us spoke. He made the first move.

"There's something I need to say, something I've wanted to say for the past

few months."

"What?" I asked, looking up at him.

"These last few months we've been working very close together and I've sensed

a chemistry between us. Do you sense it, Lyla?"

"Yes I do."

"The simple truth is, I've fallen for you."

I smiled.

"What's funny?"

"You beat me to it; I was going to say exactly the same."

"No way."

"Yes way." He smiled at me and we shared a tender kiss; then we sat down on

a bench and our embracing became more passionate, more intense. We didn't

want to let each other go; and we didn't. We stayed on that bench all night

and the team had a job finding us the next morning. I was safe and snug,

Tony's arm around me, when I heard what sounded like a champagne cork

popping and then we were drenched.

"Good morning Jonesy. I was going to ask you what you got up to last night,

but I think I can guess."

"I'm soaked, you muppet."

"We're completely drenched; what time is it?"

"It's time you two got yourselves back to the hotel, we're leaving in a couple of

hours."

Steve studied the pair of us; both still sleepy, sporting dishevelled clothing and

bed hair; my make up hadn't been taken off so I must have looked a sight; but

I didn't really care because I'd just had the most incredible night and it was the

beginning of a beautiful courtship.

A LETTER TO LYLA: (July 2009)

"No, I don't believe it."

"Lyles, how do you think we knew where you were, on this night?"

I was stumped.

"We knew where you'd be and we had to give you this." Diana took a package

out of her bag.

"What's that?"

"This is what he gave us to give to you; a letter, a list and a photograph."

"When did he give this to you?"

"On that Saturday, in 1989."

"Where was I?"

"You went back to the kitchen after speaking with him for a few minutes."

"What happened after I'd gone?"

"He told us it was you; you got shot in the street and he saw the whole thing.

The gunman turned the weapon on him, but he managed to get away, down

the alley which led to the back of the diner."

"Diana, you're not making any sense; I was at the diner so how could I have

been shot?"

"Lyles, you were at the diner - in 1989; he came from 2010, January 1st 2010

to be precise."

"So, he's a time traveller, that's what all this is about?"

"He must have been caught up in some kind of time shift or time slip,"

suggested Diana.

"It's crazy, Lyles, but I read it on the internet; wormholes, time shifts and time

slips are like gateways into another dimension and one must have existed out-

side the diner," explained Charlene

"And I'm supposed to believe the man in that pub is the same guy you two

interrogated back in 1989?"

"It is the same guy, Lyles, and we can prove it."

"How?"

"This." She reached inside the package and took out a sheet of paper. "This

is what he wrote in the diner; a list of events in your life." She handed me the

list and I read through it.

1992: graduation from college with a degree in drama

1996: summer spent with former room-mates Diana and Charlene in Algarve

1997: lands the role of Rachel Reed in Family Matters

2004: leaves England to travel

2006: tries her luck in Hollywood and appears in a few straight-to-video flops

2007: wins the role of Maggie Mason in drama Cops And Corruption and clashes

with co-star on first day after he spills coffee on her

2008: suffers head injury and memory loss after car accident on setagrees

to settle differences with co-stargoes on first date to cinema with co-

star to see Pride And Glory

2009: gets engaged to co-star - who nearly chokes Lyla when he hides ring

in glass and two uninvited guests turn up at Lyla's birthday party at Red

Lion, Holloway Road

2010: Lyla is shot dead on New Year's Day

I put my head in my hands, letting the list drop. "So, there's no doubt; it's

him." The girls said nothing, just looked at me. "You know what; after my

accident I thought I recognised him from somewhere. I got that feeling we'd

met sometime before; but I never expected anything like this."

"Do you not remember the conversation you had with him, Lyles?"

"To be honest, I don't remember too much."

"Well, he gave us the list to give to you and this photograph." She gave me

the polaroid of the two of us on lying on the bench on Brighton prom, the same

photograph Steve took when he found us last year; it was faded and near

yellowing as was the letter Diana handed to me.

                                                        30th December 1989

Dear Lyla

I know you don't believe me, but I am your fiance - in the future. I saw you

shot and killed in front of my eyes and found myself in the past. You will die

on January 1st 2010 (a Friday) unless you take precautions. Whatever

happens, please remember I love you and will see you again. Tony.

p.s. Just in case you're not completely convinced, I've compiled a list of forth-

coming events in your life.

p.p.s You really looked very beautiful in that photograph.

"Five months!"

"What?" asked Diana.

"Five months before I get shot and killed."

"Unless you do something to stop it," suggested Charlene.

"Excuse me?"

"Why do you think he wrote that in the first place?" asked Charlene, looking at

her sister then at me. "So you can stop it happening."

"How?"

"I'd opt for a bullet proof vest," said Diana.

"Or just not go out that night."

"Wouldn't that cause a paradox?" I asked. Charlene looked blankly at me.

"She's right."

"Why?"

"Think about it sis; Tony and Lyles are supposed to be out on New Year's Day

2010 and Lyles is supposed to get shot, that's the natural order of things. If

Lyles decides not to go out on that night it could screw up events, wreck the

timeline and cause a major paradox."

"So Lyles has to die on January 1st?"

"No. Tony wrote that note to warn her to take precautions and she must at

least pretend to be dead so Tony can be sent back in time to write that letter."

"Why does time travel have to be so complicated?"

"So, what do I do in the meantime, between now and then?"

"Say nothing."

"Why?"

"Because you have to be careful not to interfere with the timeline. If you say

something, it might cause a ripple."

"You seem to know a lot about paradoxes and timelines, sis."

"Back To The Future Part 2 is one of my favourite movies, ever."

"So, I have to live on a knife edge for the next five months, knowing what I

know?"

"Lyles, there's little point in mentioning any of this to Tony because it won't

make any sense to him."

"Why is that, sis?"

"Because it hasn't actually happened - yet."

"Explain."

"Charlene, Tony knows nothing about time travel and will not have any clue until

Lyles gets shot in 2010. He will experience the fourth dimension immediately

after that event. If you tell him anything now, it will just freak him out and that

will effectively screw up the natural order of things."

"But will he return to the present?"

"Lyles you won't know that until January 1st, but you can't risk saying anything

and you must pretend to be shot and killed or Tony will not go back and warn

you. You're right, Charlene, it is complicated."

"I better get back or Tony will wonder where I've got to."

"Great to see you again, Lyles; sorry we spoilt the party."

"Spoilt it? You two have just saved my life."

"Anytime."

"Just as a matter of interest, how come you two didn't give me that letter

before?"

"He told us not to give it to you until July 2009, your thirty sixth birthday

party."

"So that means..." I had to think for a minute or so. "the uninvited guests he

was referring to were you guys."

"Like I said, Lyles, why does time travel have to be so complicated?"

SHOT IN THE DARK: (Friday 1st January 2010)

The phone woke us about 11am; we put it in speaker phone mode.

"Good morning campers, I trust you had a good night?"

"Morning Steve," we said in unison, "and happy new year."

"I was wondering what you two were doing this evening."

"Why?" asked Tony, sounding a bit groggy.

"Graeme's hired a DVD, thought you two might like to come along and watch

it with us?"

Tony looked at me; I nodded, but said nothing.

"Yeah, why not?"

"Do you have his address, Jonesy?"

"I'll get a pen." Tony glanced at me and I handed him a biro from the bedside

cabinet draw.

"Ok Steve, go ahead."

"He lives at 121 Station Road, Canning Town."

"Thanks. What time you want us there?"

"About 8pm."

"See you later."

When Tony ended the call he looked at me. "You're quiet?"

"Just tired." That was only half a lie because we were out late seeing in the new

year and in the back of my mind I feared it would be my last. According to the

letter I was due to get shot on January 1st 2010.

"Coffee?"

"Yes please."

Tony went to get up and then studied me closely. "Are you sure you're alright,

Lyla?"

"I will be once I've had some breakfast; you make the coffee and I'll fix us some

bacon and eggs."

On the way to Graeme's we stopped off at a convenience store for cigarettes

and treats. "You look miles away, Lyla."

"I'm feeling a bit nostalgic because I used to work around here."

"Whereabouts?"

I turned to our left as we were walking towards the store. "You see that alley?

At the other end was an American style diner and I used to work weekends and

school holidays; my first job and I was only sixteen."

"What did you do?"

"Wait on tables, take customer orders and wash up."

"I can't imagine you doing that."

"My college grant didn't stretch too far and I needed some pocket money."

"How are we doing for time?"

I checked my watch. "Fine, way too early."

"So, what do you want in the store?"

"Just a few treats; crisps, popcorn; chocolate."

We entered the store and Tony went straight to the counter and purchased

cigarettes while I perused the shelves. Two men entered the store and started

to act suspiciously. "I don't like the look of those two," I whispered to Tony as

I paid for my goods. "Shoplifters," he whispered back. We left the store, made

our way to the car and were putting on our seatbelts when I shot rang out. It

seemed to have come from the store and I thought to myself "this is it, this is

when and where it's going to happen." Tony opened his door and got out and I

followed suit. I walked around the car and was just at the kerb - directly in

front of the store - when the door burst open and a man with a shocked look

on his face ran at me; one of the men in the store I'd noticed earlier. His

acclomplice was in close pursuit and, on recognising me, the first man raised a

gun, aimed it at my chest and pulled the trigger. I was sent flying as the bullet

made contact and just as I hit the ground I heard Tony screaming "No. Lyla."

BACK IN TIME: (Saturday 30th December 1989 and Friday January 1st 2010)

I knew Lyla didn't believe me, but I had to warn her. I explained to her room

mates how I witnessed Lyla being shot dead and how, when the gun was turned

on me, I had no choice but to run. I hated leaving her, but what alternative did

I have?

"So, what am I supposed to do?" I asked the twins.

"The only thing that's going to convince her is evidence, proof that you travelled

in time."

"Diana is suggesting you write to Lyla and include some details."

"Like what?" I asked, looking to Diana for ideas, inspirations.

"A brief biography of her life; what she does for a living in your time; when you

met; your first date; that sort of thing."

I knew she was talking sense so, using the diner's stationery, I wrote Lyla a

letter warning her about New Year's Day 2010. I also compiled a list of events

chronicling Lyla's life and, together with the polaroid photograph taken at

Brighton in 2008, I sealed all three in an envelope and gave it to Diana.

"When do you want me to give this to her?"

"Her thirty sixth birthday party in 2009."

"Will do."

"Now I have to find a way out of here."

"Back to your time?"

"I don't even know how I wound up here."

"You came in through the back way, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Maybe that's how you get back."

I stood up and thanked the twins. Lyla - teenaged Lyla, that is - was still in the

kitchen and I never got a chance to see her again or say goodbye. "Don't

forget to give her that letter," I said as I headed for the back door.

"I won't forget," reassured Diana.

I stepped out into the alley, located at the back of the diner where I stumbled in

earlier; it was mid-afternoon in December and dusk was descending. As I made

my way down the narrow passageway an overwhelming sensation of nausea and

light-headiness hit me; I completely lost my bearings and it seemed to be

getting darker very quickly. By the time I got to the end of the passageway -

which led to the high street - it was night time and the street lights were on. I

saw Lyla; she was on the ground, just as she had been when I left; I ran to her

crying desperate tears, my first thought: she didn't get the letter, hadn't

heeded my warning. I bent down to cup her head in my hands and she opened

her eyes, smiled and said "that was quick." I was stunned.

"I was wondering how long you'd be gone for."

"How?" She sat up and opened her coat, pulled up her jumper and blouse and

showed me the bullet proof vest that saved her life.

"Where did you get it?"

"The prop dept; still hurt like hell, though."

"I wasn't sure you got the letter and I know you didn't believe me."

"I didn't believe you in 1989."

"It's weird, I just spoke to you back then."

"You must have just written the letter."

"I did and..."

"Come here." She stood up and pulled me close to give me a hug.

"Lyla, my head's all over the place; I saw you shot and I rushed off and ended

up in the diner and then it was morning. My body clock's out of sync."

"You're probably still in shock."

"Your sixteen year old self said that, I don't know when; a few minutes ago?

twenty years?"

"I want to inspect that alley, see if there are any clues."

"No, Lyla, don't; I've just got you back, I don't want to lose you again."

"You won't lose me, I only want a quick nose, see if there are any indications

time travel took place, any proof."

She was determined to check out that alley, but I hated the idea of her

disappearing from view; thankfully she was only down there for a minute or so.

"Well, there's nothing there."

"What now?"

"We were on our way to Graeme's."

"I'm not sure I can drive in this state."

"That's alright; I'll drive, you talk."

"Talk about what," I asked as we got in the car.

"Tell me what it's like to travel through time."

"Scary; nauseating; disorientating."

On the way to Graeme's we chatted about lots of stuff; our first meeting; the

initial tension between us; Lyla's accident; I chain smoked the whole journey.

"It was after the accident, something clicked into place and I got the feeling we'd

met before."

"We had - at work."

"No, I meant years before, and your character's name rang a bell."

"I have to ask you something; did you really lose your memory after the

accident?"

"Why? Do you not believe me?"

"I was never certain; it seemed very convenient you suffered amnesia after that

terrible argument we had."

"It wasn't convenient for me because I had no idea who anybody was; I had to

google you, the program and the studio; I was completely sincere during that

meeting we had with the director and producer."

"And at the hospital?"

"A hint of recognition; there was definitely something familiar about you, but I

didn't know where I knew you from."

"And when exactly did everything click into place?"

"At my thirty sixth birthday party, when the twins showed me the letter and the

list you compiled." We were nearly at Graeme's and Lyla was trying to find a

space to park.

"So, that's when you realised who I was and when you met me in the past."

"Even when I read what you wrote, I still found it hard to take it all in."

"It was Diana who suggested writing the letter; I told her you didn't believe me

and she knew that would be the only thing that would convince you."

"The twins never mentioned you after that Saturday; they never told me you

wrote any letter and the subject was never raised when I spent the Summer of

1996 with them."

"I gave the letter to Diana because I know you're closer to her and I told her to

give it to you on your thirty sixth birthday."

"It was Diana who advised me what to do and warned me not to say or do

anything that cause cause a paradox, a problem with the space time

continuum."

"It's difficult to get your head around it."

"Charlene was saying exactly the same thing; something about time travel being

so complicated."

"There's one thing I've not worked out yet."

"What's that?" We were walking to Graeme's house.

"When they went through my pockets they found some identification; not mine,

but Franco's."

"That's right. They searched your pockets and found your wallet; it told them

you were Detective Sargent Franco Mancini."

"But how did I come to have Franco Mancini's identification on me?"

"Have you checked your wallet?" Lyla asked as she knocked at the front door.

"No."

Graeme welcomed us and told us to fix ourselves something to drink in the

kitchen. I hung up my coat, checked my wallet and found Franco Mancini's ID.

I waited until we were alone in the kitchen before I told Lyla.

"I must have picked up his ID by mistake."

"Didn't you notice that when you gave Diana the photograph?"

"I don't keep the photograph in my wallet; I assume that's gone?"

"You gave it to Diana and she gave it to me back in July."

"So you have it now?"

"Yes, it's at home with the letter and that list you wrote." Lyla, having fixed us

some drinks, made for the door, but I held her back.

"What are we going to do now?"

"What do you mean?"

"Are we going to go public with this or should we just keep it to ourselves?"

"That's up to you; you're the one who had the experience."

"How many people know?"

"You and I and the twins and that's it."

"Should we agree to keep it a secret?"

"If you prefer."

"Do you think the twins will say anything?"

"They have managed to keep your time travelling and that letter a secret from

me for two decades, so I'd say they won't tell anybody else and they can be

trusted."

"So, it's just between us then?"

"I promise to take it to the grave."

"Cool." I headed for the door, but Lyla held me back.

"Before we completely draw a line under it, just tell me one thing."

"Sure. What?" There was a knock at the front door.

"Did you mean what you said in that letter, the bit about me looking beautiful

in that photograph?"

"I said you really looked very beautiful; and you do."

"I love you."

"I love you too."

We were about to kiss when Graeme interupted us.

"There's somebody here to see you two."

"Us?" Lyla frowned.

"He's a young man, early twenties, looks a bit like you, Jonesy."

We left the kitchen and walked through the hallway. He was leaning against the

wall; Graeme's claim that he looked like me was an understatement; he was my

double - when I was in my twenties. Lyla didn't say anything; she was probably

wondering if he had something to do with what happened at the store; but she

would have noted the uncanny resemblance between the stranger and myself.

"I need to talk to you." He even sounded like me. "It's about time travel."

Damn. Somebody else knew, saw what had happened and followed us here.

"Time travel? We don't know anything about time travel, do we Tony?"

The guy looked hard at Lyla, obviously not believing her pretence.

"I know all about it, so there's little point in playing the dumb card."

"You know all about what exactly?" I asked defensively; I didn't like this guy's

tone.

"I know what you experienced this evening; the time slip in the alley."

"How do you know about that?"

"Because I've been there; I know what it is, where it is and what it does."

"Who told you?"

"You did," he said, looking directly at me.

"I think you must be mistaken; I've never met you."

"Met me? You fathered me; or rather you will - in a few years time."

"So, that means..." Lyla was struggling to get the words out, trying to make

sense of it.

"That's right, I'm your son."

We were both rendered speechless.

TO BE CONTINUED - IN THE NOT TOO DISTANT FUTURE

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