“A—l—i—c—e” Hugh’s low voice takes several beats to fully pronounce my name because with us, we don’t do formalities. I believe that I could call him up any day/any time and say, “What’s up freak?” and he would laugh, with that low, mature chuckle he has. I don’t though, really because it’s out of my character to say “freak” like that, but just knowing I could is enough.
“I know why you’re calling,” he says, and my heart stops automatically as though a timer has just gone off. I can almost hear it ring … ring … ring. Of course he does. It’s been obvious for some time, I know.
“You know you’re my favorite agent,” I say grimly, because the reality of what I’m doing is hitting me.
He thanks me, acting surprised of my compliments (although he’s just being modest; I’m pretty he’s heard this before).
A large man wearing a Santa hat walks slowly past my window. He’s walking a white miniature dog and smoking a cigar. He stops near my window and looks up at the sky as though he’s expecting something. Not wanting to miss out, I look too. When he sees what I’m doing, I quickly act like I’m cleaning the top of my driver’s side window — darn smudges drive me crazy! I’m leaving my commercial agent from my car, lovely.
“I just can’t audition for commercials anymore.”
No one says anything. I look over at the man in the Santa hat ashing his cigar onto the sidewalk. Then I continue….
“I can’t sit in rush hour traffic to be one in a hundred on a list and pretend like everyone in the room’s not desperate despite it being written so deeply into their eyes, so sadly all over their faces…. It’s just not for me anymore.” Plus a few weeks ago I told a foreign casting director (out of nowhere) that it’s customary in America to leave a twenty percent tip at a restaurant, of which she just stared at me like a deer in headlights.
He gets it. He says, “I could never do what you guys do — that’s why I’m an agent!” and he chuckles that low-toned chuckle again, and I listen intently, absolutely soaking up one of the last times I’m sure to hear this sound because when you leave an agent, chances are you also stop talking to them, even if you’ve become, well, friends.
I’ve started to make moves. The first is to become a brunette (done), the second is to only involve myself in creative pursuits that excite me (done), and third is to finish school (pending).
We hang up and I feel … at peace. Au revoir, Hugh. Au revoir, tap-dancing in cowboy boots and a bikini for Wendy’s.
The large man in the Santa hat looks up at the sky again; I think about looking but then decide to get out of my car and walk towards my apartment. No regrets. I’m leaving nothing behind me but a man in a Santa hat and the crisp sound of my heels clicking the pavement.
Alice can be reached at AliceActress@yahoo.com.