International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Dreamscapes
dying." He said, looking up to the young doctor. She was beautiful.
Her eyes were wide with pity.
"We can help you." she said, each word polished with conviction
and meaning. He looked at her for a moment, two. He opened his mouth.
"Cut!" the cameras rolled out of the action. The actress
pulled up from her mark, unhooked wires, and mikes. She nodded politely
to him, and then broke away, met with her helpers. He leaned forward,
moved out what aches he could.
one hour." Came a voice from overhead.
Reluctantly he edged out of the bed, his trousers and socks still on,
carefully pulled away the gown. He reached for his cane and left the
set, the workers descending on the bed, the floor space.
He sat outside eating his sandwich, taking slug from his flask. It was
a rarity; a sunny day in January. The cool mist lingered, his breath
still frosted before him, but all in all, it was fresh. A day
breaker as his late brother would say.
"Hey!" he looked up. The make-up assistant bounded over to
him, pulled up alongside him on the fountain kerb.
"Hey. Havent you got people of youre own age to hang
out with? Your only going to get colder sitting with an old man."
Another of his brothers. Must be close by today.
"Pph. Theyre all in the canteen jostling for ass kissing
space. Either that or been being in that bar over the street. Everyones
too cool to be seen by the fountain." She shook off her lemon face
and smiled back up. She pulled out a candy bar, peeled it.
The sound was a clear echo in the empty street. "Im cool.
Too cool for school. "He replied, raising an eyebrow. "That
all youre going to eat? Have half of this." He shook off
her no-nos, put it in her hand. "I dont want to put
on weight in front of the camera. Being cool and all."
"I bet." She laughed and he smiled along with her. He knew
all this didnt make any sense but everyone he knew was gone and
he didnt care anymore.
"Youre last day today?" she said. She looked down to
her sandwich, looked back up.
"Yeah. Bit part dies then its back to the stars I guess. But its
okay. I think Ive overshadowed the young bucks for long enough.
The guys been throwing me the evil eye last day or so." He dusted
the crumbs off his hands, poured a coffee for her.
Tapped left to tell her what side to drink form.
"Thats cause hes an asshole. He grabbed my ass
the other day and didn't even look back. Pig."
"Want me to kick his ass? If I have a heart attack doing it, hell
be up for manslaughter. "
He sat back against the cool concrete; let the coffee move through him.
He looked over, saw her with a thousand yard stare in her eyes. He sighed.
A seventy year old man and a twenty five year old girl. He wasnt
deluded or dumb, or famous enough to be a fool for the grace of cash.
"What?" he said. She looked up. She was more beautiful than
the actress because it wasnt everything to her.
"Can I ask you something?" she said. Her face tightened, eyes
"Yes you can go to the prom. Just be back by twelve and make sure
he buys you a corsage." He said, no longer having to play the part
of an old man.
"Whats a corsage? Kidding." She pointed a finger, he
pointed one back.
"When did you first fall in love?" she said, and immediately
looked down to her mug.
"Jesus." He said, waving down her already forming apologies.
"I guess. I guess I fell in love with my first real girlfriend,
because I didnt know any better. Didnt know what it was
supposed to feel like. Then
I think it was when I was with my girl
and I bought her some flowers and some were real and some were plastic.
She was so happy the white rose was still perfect and I guess I just
wanted to keep her happy, to maintain her smile." He looked over
to her and she nodded like it meant something. He shook his head.
"Its not the answer to some damn test. People think it comes
in grand gestures and actions, but thats for the cameras. Most
people, most of the time, its just about making someone happy. You can
manufacture actions, statements, but holding out her coat, opening the
door, thats mostly what, saw me through. That and the fact I was
cool, of course."
They smiled. They finished their drinks. They broke the crusts and rose
before the birds descended. The bell rang and they walked inside to
the dressing room. He sat in the barbers chair and she pulled the sheet
"Remember what the first thing was you said to me?" she said,
looking at him in the mirror.
"Jesus! It was only a week ago! Im not that old." He
held her eye in the mirror." I said I dont need much
make up for looking like a dying man."
"And I said?"
"Dont you want to die looking good?" You knew how vain
I was obviously." The runner jutted his head round the door, called
"These suckers dont even know all weve done is talk
while youve held a brush, do they?" he said, smiling.
"Not a clue." She replied, pulling away the sheet, the tools
all laying untouched on the table before them.
"I wont let you die." The doctor said, drawing in close,
staring at him, checking for signs, for vitals.
What a crock of shit, he thought. He tried to focus; he needed the cash
for his garden, after all. He blinked deeply, which the director encouraged.
Like that, like that. He thought of Elsie. He thought of
his brother, who had been with him all day. Who had pushed the phrases
to make the girl listen. Son of a bitch. Winning people over from the
other side, just an Ouija board with teeth instead of letters. He nearly
He opened his eyes. He repeated in his head what he knew. Everyone was
gone. He was alone. His eyes flickered away from the actress, her emoting
and her ten grand prop glasses. He looked away and saw the girl, snuck
in by the stage door, sneaking a peek, just like he used to when he
"Im alone. I dont want to be an old man alone. Thats
all. Okay about dying. Just dont want it to be by myself. Always
had people around
til now." The actress took his hand,
pulled him back to his eye line. But it was okay. His lids drooped a
little, (good, good) so she became a blur, and through the
blur, became the girl.
"Thank you." He whispered and choked a little."Thank
you for being here." He said, fading, until there was quiet, then
silence and the whip snap of the clap board.
Leanne copped a half day, walked out into the sun. Theyd cut her
a little slack after blondie grabbed another girls ass and a single
protest became a borderline lawsuit.
She walked the long path she nearly knew. She took the spiral steps
two at a time, listening for creaks and splinters, the rattle of the
iron railings. She didnt know what she wanted. She didnt
know what she was going to do next. Her weekend was empty, even as the
crew broke into semi-circular groups, the mobiles biting into the air,
people calling out names of places she didnt know or couldnt
find. She took the last flight, opening her eyes as wide as she could,
trying to get the sunlight to dry the tears before they fell. She vaulted
the last steps and turned the corner.The flower basket sat on the porch.
There were reds and green decorations, buried in- between. She walked
slowly up to the basket, hearing the familiar creek two steps form the
door. She leant down, took the card from the crook of the handle.
Some are real, some are plastic. Keep watering them all.
The writing was in small capitals, black ink. No other details. She
took the basket by the crook and lifted it, pushing the key in the door.
The room was bathed in the sun right then and she walked to the far
window and began to clear a space.
© Chris Castle August 2009
and the Waitress
Hmm. Thinking about lilies and funerals at seven am.
Not a good sign. But then shed been whoo-hooed already so
maybe it was the day for it.
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