When Pastina found Irene, who had been acting as assistant director on their student film, the high-strung young woman was crying. Not just a few tears of frustration. She was ready for a thick handful of tissues, a liberal dose of eyedrops, maybe even a touch of anti-inflammatory cream for the red puffiness around her eyes. Immediately, Pastina knew what the problem was.
“What is it?” she asked softly, touching Irene’s shoulder. “What did Pancakes say to you?”
Irene tried to get her mild hyperventilation under control. She spoke between sniffles. “She said I had … I had … all the organizational skill … of the Italian postal service.” Irene buried her face in her hands.
Pastina sighed and patted Irene on the arm. “She gets like that sometimes,” she said. “Look, I’m sure you were doing your best. Let’s just show her how good you are. Do you have those call sheets ready for tomorrow?”
“I’ve been too upset.”
Pastina drew back and shook her head. “Well, if you can get that done real quick, then Pancakes won’t have to know anything about it. What do you think?”
Irene smiled a little, then a lot. She nodded and stood. “You’re right. Thanks, Pastina. I’ll have those ready in a little while. Maybe I should come over and give them to you when Pancakes is there.”
“Good thinking!” Pastina said in her best motivational voice.
Irene dashed off to compose schedules for their next shoot. Pastina watched her go with relief. That had been the easiest one yet. Over the past few hours, Pancakes had made five different people cry or work themselves into hysterical states over her harsh criticism. Each time, Pastina had moved in her wake to pick up the pieces and set the person back on track. All in all, Pastina thought their system was all working beautifully.
“We should have done that weeks ago,” Pastina told Pancakes later that evening when they were driving back from location.
“Years,” Pancakes said, her eyes on the road, an sly grin on her face.
“Oh, yeah, years,” Pastina agreed. “It was so great. You broke ‘em down, and I built ‘em up!”
“The classic strategies are the best,” Pancakes said. “There’s a reason they use them even when everybody knows the game.”
“I wonder if anybody else knows about this 'good director/bad director' thing.”
Pancakes made a mock gun of her right hand and pretended to fire into the distance. “Works every time.”