“Fish, cheese, tomato sauce, bread crumbs . . . “ Lionel stopped his reading abruptly. His head snapped up, his gaze entered the camera.
“There’s nothing but food in there!” The single finger pointing to the box of frozen food also stabbed into and bolstered his visible astonishment.
Theo unfolded his lanky self from the director’s chair.
“That’s a take, Lionel. We can wrap up for today.”
Lionel stood for a moment, the box held between his two hands like a sandwich.
“Those were the only products for today?”
“Well, . . . yeah.”
The different technical workers began to work more rapidly and farther away. Theo laid a hand on Lionel's shoulder.
“And I hate to break it to you, but that’ll be the only products, period. The company has decided to let you go.”
The box swung lower in one hand.
“What’s the matter, sales going down?”
Lionel turned mechanically toward the dressing-room door. Theo walked with him, a hand still on his shoulder
“Sales are OK. But, ya godda admit, what you’re in now is not the deal we started with.”
“You were buying my fame to sell your stuff with,” Lionel said, voice low, a slur in it.
“That’s right.” They stopped in front of the door. “And now it’s the other way around. You’re counting on our ads to keep your face in front of people. The management just doesn’t feel it’s working the other way around.”
Lionel gave a nod and stepped into the dressing room. When he came back out, every one else had disappeared.
He walked to the Dakota in the sunlight of a beautiful May afternoon. He spotted a few held hands and some suit jackets slung over shoulders.
As he opened his door, he heard the familiar thump on the floor. Chicklets padded over and rubbed against his shins. As soon as he had hung his jacket up, he bent down and swept her into his arms.
“Chicky, it looks like we’ll have to pack soon,” he said as he scratched the cat’s increasingly vertical chin. “You’d better get used to store brand.” For that matter, I might too, he thought.
He slung the cat across the back of his neck. Chicklets stretched all four paws and settled in her usual position. Lionel took a beer out of the fridge, turned on the stereo, and sat on the couch.
“Wonder if there are any strikes planned,” he said aloud.
published 26 November 2012