Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Agent

Listen carefully, sweet girl. Because I am going to let you in on a secret.

When its time to replace your agent, its time to replace you!

You say you’ve been in this industry 3 years now? 3 years? And you’ve starred…… starred in 3 full-length movies. And you were the most prominent of a gaggle of waitresses in an unreleased…. unreleased 4th full-length movie?

And you call this prolific work?

I started in the movies, the cinema they called it then, when I was 16. A whole 3 years younger than you are now. And by 19, that’s how old you are my dear, in case you’ve forgotten to count because you’re in my presence…. It happens….

By 19, I had starred in 8 full length movies. And I had starred in them. The trailers said “starring Gwendoline”, and after that “starring name-him-what-you-will-lame-impotent-actor” . By age 19, I had attempted 4 full-length suicides. And they were all released, in every single newspaper and every last tabloid.

And I had a different alternate name to use in every single hotel in America. Freddie kept track of the names.

Freddie, my agent.

Did you memorize my secret, sweet girl?

You can stretch your face thin, and paint your face white, and your hair black, or purple, or fuschia. I’ve done all that, and its as marvelous and simple as they make it sound. Just got to keep the wine cellar well stocked.

You can even walk around in Loubotins and tango around with Versace and dazzle everyone with Harry Winston rocks.

But there’s one thing you never can do. Never replace your agent.

Freddie’s been dead for 4 years now. Dead! Gone! He was too old, they said. Wacky, they said. When he brought me that mother’s role, I realized that too. Play a stepmother he said. The young second wife of a millionaire, who has 2 sons. Only stepmother he said. It’s got character, he said. The Oscars, he teased.

Me? Play a mother’s role?

We fought all night. All night. Freddie died sometime then. It was the only thing we fought about.

He’s still my agent, of course. He taught me everything he knew. So he remains, my dedicated agent. I take all the calls in his name – he taught me ventriloquism. And I pretend I’m him. No! I am him!

2 movies I’ve done in the last two years. I played a man in one. Freddie would have wanted me to. Oscars, he would’ve teased. And I played a man, like any strong, handsome, self-respecting man like Freddie would’ve played a man.

Because… I always listen to Freddie. He’s my agent, after all.


Gwendoline looked at the machine. Someone had called, and Gwendoline had immediately routed them to the answering machine.

The man had introduced himself as Andrew.

“Freddie. This is Andrew. How have you been? Listen. I know I stood you up the other night. It’s been 4 years now, so you probably don’t remember. But I have a great deal for you old pal. For Gwendoline. I keep telling you to start working with other actors and actresses – well they all call themselves actors these days, but I keep telling you to work with someone else. Get a little color in your life. Variety. Anyway, I knew you wouldn’t listen.

I finally have something for Gwendoline. You may have heard the rumour that Gary has a new script he’s working on. Well, I’ve read it and it’s perfect for Gwendoline. You think you can have her audition? There’s just one catch though.I will have to be the one representing Gwendoline.

You know Gary? He’s a bit peculiar.He doesn’t like working with agents who are dead.

Well, anyway, I hope you call back old chap!”

Gwendoline was shivering now.

“He doesn’t like working with agents who are dead” She played the message over and over again. It didn’t change. It never changed. “He doesn’t like working with agents who are dead”

Gwendoline looked around, eyes dilated, heart thumping wildly, the walls around her seemed to resonate with her heart, the earth trembled.

There was no Freddie to go to now.There was also nothing, absolutely nothing to lose now. Freddie was gone. The movie offers never came. The fan mail had long since stopped. She could go out into the street, dark glasses or otherwise, and no one would recognize her.

The paparazzi had long since abandoned her for meatier, perkier, more scandalous people. Far more scandalous than what happened to Freddie. And it wasn’t her fault.

They had fought. They had fought all night. The last thing she had said to Freddie was “I don’t know why I still keep you as my agent except for one stupid rule that you taught me!. How selfless of you, Freddie”

And he’d walked out that minute and gone home, to greet death, to relieve Gwendoline of THE RULE.

Gwendoline had arranged for a quiet funeral for Freddie, her friend at the orphanage. There was no one to invite after all. And Gwendoline had simply told no one. There was no one to tell after all.

She looked at the answering machine. In one hasty moment, she called back,

“Andrew. I don’t know who you are or what you think of yourself. But if you think you can threaten to tell the world Freddie’s dead and make some money off me. You’re right. You can. I have nothing to lose now. But I’ll tell you this. It wasn’t my fault. I expect you to come to my house, because courtesy demands that you meet the one whose life you’re about to destroy, and hear me out. And its been so long since I saw my name in the papers. So I’ll consider what you’re doing for me as service. But you’ll represent me to every newspaper and to every tabloid. And you will answer all the press. And you will get me Gary’s role. As my new agent. Freddie would have wanted this.”

[This was this week's writing assignment.
The same can also be found here]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Flight

*quick short story*

By this time tomorrow, Kalika would be far, far away from Leoni and Kaajal. Wait. This time + 2.5 hours later? Or this time, but 2.5 hours earlier? Oh! She was going mad. A moment ago she had calculated. Now, she couldn't remember. "Ask passengers sitting next to you", mom had told her. "Be careful who you speak to", warned dad, concerned. Kalika wasn't sure who to listen.

Soon, she must decide.

But now, all she wanted to do was run away, or in this case, fly away. But the aluminum box holding her and 400 other friendly souls or cunning souls, depending on which parent you listened to, seemed to have been made with one clear specification. Don't let Kalika run out. Floating that high in the sky, where the arrow of time was changing direction, where houses seemed to small too be comfortable in, and clouds loomed ahead like menacing ghosts, the 400 guards that surrounded her too seemed to have one missive - don't let Kalika run out. If she listened closely, the monotonous, devilish chant of the pressurized cabin said - don't let Kalika run out.

400 stern guards, she thought. It dawned on her that it had long ago been decided, which parent she would listen to. Kalika was her father's daughter. It was on his wish that she was sent to a boarding school in another continent, at such a young age. And it was his wish that she was now returning to a stranger land, her homeland, at long last, to be with her parents forever.

Soon, in a span of this single flight, they would go from being family.... to being strangers.