Curtain Up (Part 3)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Part 3 of Comedy story chronologically following on from Part 1. This part of the story was created by my dad and I.

Submitted: July 26, 2013

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Submitted: July 26, 2013

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Part 3: Head or tails  

The ashen-faced wreck of a fired actor turned around and stared blankly across the street. Harold Goldbrusttaube, clearly puzzled by what the world had done to him and wallowing with characteristic relish in the dramatic profundities of denial, pondered what voyage to embark on next and how best to commit his very precious time.

‘I can always throw myself into the river.If I act promptly, it might be just in time to hit the Evening News.’

He shivered at both prospects, gritted what remained of his teeth and made the firm decision to cast his fortune into the lap of Fate.

‘Tails- I head for that alley over there and look into that “job vacancy”.’

‘Heads – The indignity of begging… for my stinking job... back again.’

The coin spun in the air like a pirouetting ballerina and landed deftly in Harold’s cupped hand.

‘Tails. Fair play, fair Queeny, fair play.’

The ex-Malvolio entered an alley where quite a few others, similarly down on their fortune, who had evidently made this their meagre home over recent weeks. Harold’s denial knew no bounds and so he even saw solace in his new environment. To anyone else gifted with sight or smell it was a disgusting and ugly place where no respectable gentleman or lady would be caught urinating. To Harold’s eyes and nose it was Prospero’s island, a magical pixie-dust place, welcoming a once glorious victim of a cruel world. He found the remains of a junkie’s paper bag with the trickery of vomit slops in store for any new visitor who dared to sip into the unknown. Harold sipped and smiled.

He sat down on the cold ground, took out a fatal cigarette and starting talking to himself. He was Hamlet or the more age-appropriate King Lear enjoying a bad day.

‘I need to unravel that son of a bitch that took my job. Who could it be? One of those Cambridge larks probably.  They always cahoot with my directors. My job, my job.  It’s all mine...’

He stayed there for a good hour taking in the squalor and smells, oblivious to the realities of both the place and his own state of mind. Then, as if the curtain had come down on that particular act, Harold Goldbrusttaube came to his senses and screamed.

‘A tramp’s hideout! A verminous den! A pox ! A …Toss the coin again.’

‘At least I didn’t sleep with a tramp. Could have been bloody worse.Now to get outta here.’

After ten attempts with a reluctant ‘Queeny,’ he was finally given royal leave to head out of the alley into the main street. The Castle was nearby and he paused, reflecting that a shrewd man would plot his retaking of the castle before crossing the drawbridge.

He was deep in thought for a few minutes and found himself overhearing someone talking to a friend after the matinee performance at the Castle.

‘That Malvolio! I heard they picked him off the street, from a nearby alley. A tramp or something. Wouldn’t believe it, would you?  One minute selling the Big Issue; next he’s in it!’

‘So you’re telling me I was in bitter truth replaced by... an actual tramp? What the...?’

The director exited the castle grounds and started walking down the street. The fired actor followed, a twisted, gruesome hawk pursuing a shrew, plump and ripe for a good taming.

‘Wait, you traitorous dog! You hired a bum, a putrid boil, a ... him over me...? I am a professional actor, a golden star of the Shropshire hills… How could ye-?’

A crumbling Harold then changed his tune to excesses of momma’s boy: ‘Mummy, oh mummy. Do something! Oh Mummy...’

(Even the narrator at this point is in accordance with the reader’s cringing and says, ‘Oh good grief Harold! Put a large sock in it.’ Fortunately his unmanly blubbering is soon interrupted by the bluntness of a busy director.)

‘Leave me alone, you snob. We gave the job to someone of genuine talent and humour. Qualities which an over-egoed lummox like you would know nothing about.’

‘I’ve studied acting for 20 years. Who has more humour than me? As for talent, wait till my family hears about this. You’ll be ruined.’

The director walked towards the train station leaving Harold gibbering to the heavens where cloudy critics spat down on him in unsympathetic response.

‘But, dear Lord, I’ve been such a good boy. And to lose my career to a tramp? Give an actor a bloody break!’

Just then an immaculately groomed specimen walked out on to the street, newly made, flicking a 50p coin in his hand. He was the success, he was the actor.

His nemesis seized the opportunity to gloat, ‘Eh, Harold my main man, to B-movie or not to B-movie – now that is the question. So how was Hollywood, old boy? Hast thou become a star or fallen from one?  No need to answer. I can smell something of the alley about you.’

Harold’s face grew solemn, then melancholy. He began to cry deep blue-green tears. A tortured soul, betrayed by the world and himself, he wept until even his gloating nemesis felt a splash of pathos.

‘Now now, Harold. Hey, come on, man. Be no Moor Othello ! Stop I say!…Jeez… don’t be so pathetic!’

 


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