by Maude Larke
“So, there I was, tossing this stinking stuff into the trucks, singing at the top of my voice – something from Rent, I think it was – just to keep the rhythm going, you know? and not think so much about the smell, and this guy just comes up to me and says, ‘What’re you doing slinging shit with a voice like that?’ And that was it.” Lionel shrugged and threw out his arms.
“As simple as that,” Wayne said as he lifted his elbow from the bar and slung his towel over his shoulder.
“Well, that was. All the other stuff, of course – the roles, the TV shows, the Tony – that was bust-ass. But I’ve always loved it. Wayne, how about another pounder, and a short one with it?”
“Coming up, Roddo,” Wayne answered as he moved to the hanging bottles.
Lionel's smile was confused. He could never decide whether it was gratifying or belittling to be called by his most famous character’s name. Did he exist for other people, or did Roddo?
As if in answer, a voice cooed near his ear.
“So good to see you, Roddo.”
Lionel turned toward the voice, and saw lustrous waves of auburn hair, large mysterious triangular eyes, and an incredibly wide smile. Just the kind that Lionel could lose a part of himself in. Another part of himself evaporated.
“Wall, shet mah maouth,” he said in Roddo’s southern drawl through Roddo’s half-smile, always tucked up on the left side. Just then Wayne arrived with the beer and whisky. “Ah betcha’d jest luuve some a this,” Lionel said as he pushed the drinks toward the empty space next to him. The woman rose onto the barstool with one generous swivel of the hips , took a large swallow of the beer, and dropped the whisky glass into it.
“Shee-oot!” Lionel crowed. “Whur’s’'nuther one like that fur me?” he asked Wayne. Wayne nodded and returned to the bottles.
“Whut’s yer name?” Lionel asked the redhead.
Once she had told him (“Mandy”), Lionel settled back on his stool and into his Roddo. He listened to her talk about her publishing job, with nods and his goofy Roddo grin. He asked Roddo questions, seemingly dopey but deeper once you thought about them. He gave his Roddo compliments, awkward and shy but sincere.
Another boilermaker later, Lionel / Roddo escorted Mandy to the door in his Roddo strut, his arm around her waist. He opened the door and made a deep bow with a flourish of his free arm. As Mandy sashayed past him like a model on a catwalk, he made his biggest Roddo smile and rolled his eyes at Wayne. Wayne waved goodbye and began wiping the bar.
published 19 November 2012
Lionel's story continues with Bell Curve III - from 26 November 2012