March of Our Times (Opening night)

“Cut!” Cried the director. Mark Finch dropped his head into his hands and shook it in despair.

“Leave it. Just leave it. It’s fucking shit.”

Laurence dropped his hands from Scarlett’s shoulders. He had to agree. There was no chemistry between him and his co star. The simply stunk. No one would believe they were madly in love, enough to have killed Scarlett’s mother. It didn’t help that Scarlett was a grade A bitch and there was nothing lovable about her real life persona. She walked away from him as bells clanged. Not walking, storming would be more appropriate.

“Soulless bitch,” he growled to himself. She was the reason he was stinking up his scenes. She was a talentless whore who had been on her knees sucking cock so often everyone seemed to forget she couldn’t act. Laurence couldn’t claim to be much of a good actor these days either but he had been once upon a time. He had trod the boards of some of the best theatres in COLDFORD CITY. He even received a standing ovation at the North Coldford Regional Theatre and that was a really tough crowd. They called it the gremlin because of how unforgiving the BOURNTON lot could be. They loved him though. His performance as Coldo – a dashing young lover seeking vengeance for his woman who had been stolen away from him by her father to marry a wealthy merchant – was critically acclaimed. It was a horrific play by a talentless writer but because the writer rolled in the best literary circles and the music was provided by FREDRICK BAINES (head of the Coldford City Symphony) it was well received. He was probably too old to play the charming Coldo but they loved him. COLDFORD DAILY described his performance as ‘thrilling’. He was a serious actor then. When the work didn’t come in fast enough to pay fo his wife Leslie’s tastes he had to accept a role on a ridiculous serial drama called MARCH OF OUR TIMES. Normally he would have had time to wait for his agent – Harvey – to come up with a more suitable job but Leslie had just bought the new beach house in the beautiful coastal city of LUEN. They already had one. One of them would have to be sold but Leslie would hear none of it. He couldn’t explain to her he had accrued his own expenses of late so he took the recurring role in the lifeless soap opera. It wasn’t glamorous but the pay cheque could at least keep her from the truth a little longer. Money wasn’t an issue when she married him, not for the great Laurence star of stage and screen. Reduced to acting beside a caterwauling would be starlet was depressing but a job was a job.

“Poor Loo Loo,” Leslie would say consolingly when she saw how stressed he was when he came home from set and she massaged his shoulders. “That dreadful show is giving you such tension. Why don’t you just quit?”

She hadn’t looked at the bank statements in months. As long as they kept extending credit nothing was a miss but they were broke. Mistakes had to be paid for.

“We need the money,” he muttered.

Leslie just chuckled. She patted his head and scoffed. “Oh you are so silly. Don’t talk about money. It’s so dull.”

“I don’t know what’s going through your head Laurence but you need to do better,” growled Mark as the crew began to set up for the next scene, crawling around them like worker ants.

Laurence shrugged his shoulders. A make up girl came charging over to powder his face and matte his skin which the sweat was causing to shine under the lights. The warm climate of LUEN was giving him a honey coloured complexion.

“I’m trying my best,” the actor insisted to the director. “It’s not my fault. Scarlett brings all the personality of a wet paper towel.”

“I know but it’s all I got to work with,” Mark agreed. “You’re a seasoned professional so we’re looking for you to bring the goods. The producers were thinking of cancelling this show before you came on board. If you don’t bring the ratings up we are all out of a job.”

Laurence rolled his eyes. He couldn’t have that.

***

The tried again for the rest of the afternoon but Scarlett was awful. Even having her bouncing, silicon injected assets pushed up to her chin couldn’t hold the focus. Her character had resonated as so fake Laurence had all but given up and walked off set. Mark took her aside for some ‘special attention’. It must have worked because when she returned she was actually far more emotive. They may even be able to convince the audience they were something of an item.

“I’ll never forget you,” his character had claimed. He meant it. Laurence hadn’t. Scarlett was just one in a long line of talentless bimbos that were ruining the industry that true pioneering actresses like O’Warren had set alight. He had to pretend to care about her. He supposed he could pretend. He was an actor after all. He had been pretending with his own wife for long enough that everything was okay.

“Loo Loo!” She cried from the top of the large open stair case of their new home. She came floating down the steps dressed in a leaf print flowing gown. Her lips were painted red to match the pattern and her feet were clad in designer sandals of similar shade. When she reached him she clutched his shoulders and kissed the air beside both cheeks so as not to smudge her make up.

“You look tired. Another awful day?”

Leslie had dark brunette hair, delicate features and warm brown eyes. She was one of four sisters. The Doyle sisters all had the same gothic beauty but they were not alike. Laura, the youngest was bratty, rebellious, covered in tattoos and piercings. Ashley, older than Leslie was a mother of four children. The heaviest of the sisters and happily sailing into bitter old woman territory. KARYN, the eldest of them all was a HIGH COURT JUDGE. Leslie was the sweetest but also not the brightest.

“Oh a disastrous day,” Laurence admitted.

She smiled. She reached up and softly caressed his face.

“I honestly don’t know why you are doing that dreadful show. It makes you so miserable and no one is going to give you any serious work after it’s over.”

She was right of course but work was work. He had to take it. It was paying for his mistakes.

“Harvey has been calling all morning. I told him how unhappy you were. You should call him back and tell him to get you onto something else.”

“It’s not as simple as that,” mumbled Laurence.

“Sure it is,” Leslie chuckled. “Just you give him a ring and you tell him to get you something better suited to your talents.”

“I’ll be in the study,” Laurence told her.

“I’ll be on the patio. Cocktails in half an hour now precious. Don’t be late.”

Leslie didn’t know show business. She came from a high achieving family, had a great education behind her. When she first met Laurence he was a struggling actor. She believed in him and supported him.

On the phone was marked a message. Laurence’s fingers trembled as he pushed the button.

“You have a direct call from HARBOUR HOUSE CLINIC. Please return the call to 012 443 —“

Laurence sighed. Leslie had stood by him through everything. How could he tell her they were going broke because of his stupidity?

Enjoy this?

PART 2 will be available tomorrow from 6pm. Tune in to find out what our a list actor has done.

Check out some of Vivika Widow’s thrilling novels.

Click HERE to read MUSE and join David as he tries to salvage his reputation in the art community.

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