The crew has set up a food table just off set, a crappy little area with a beaten-up toasting oven as its crown jewel. Alex is slumped there, kind of exhausted, watching one of the actors make some rice. The lighting director comes over and takes a donut, watches Alex.

“Mr. Very,” he says. “Mr. Very Needless Inflection, why does he do this? Why stay here? Enough money, I cannot pretend he does not have and he still he stays here. Why do this? I ask you. You are smarter than he is. I know. I have seen. Beat him always at chess. So I ask you: why? Why does he stay here? He could leave. I have seen.”

Alex shrugs, laughs a little uncomfortably. “You said it. He’s staying until he can beat me at chess.”

The actor hisses and sucks at his fingers. He’s trying to fry the rice and some cheese, some crappy green peppers out of a tin, in the toasting oven. “Jesus,” says Alex. “This is how you’re trying to do it? Why don’t you use a frying pan? I’ve got one, it’d fit in there.”

“What?” says the actor. “And waste the money?”

“Waste what money? I’ve got the frying pan! Already have it! No money! Zero capital outlay! You just have to wash it when you’re done with it!”

“Naaaaah,” drawls the actor. “This is fine. Hey, watch this.” He reaches into the oven and flips over the rice and cheese patty, almost carelessly. “The trick is to not care.”