Lots of exciting news, which I’ll save until next week when hopefully the gremlins will have been brought under control. Meanwhile, the beautiful Spring-like weather in the UK, and a chance remark from a friend, were the inspiration for this feel-good story.
I didn’t notice her at first, why should I? With hundreds of leggy starlets to choose from, who would want to waste their time on a rather plump, nondescript menial with mousy brown hair?
‘Over here, Terry.’ ‘This way, Terry.’ ‘Is it true you’re dating Kyrie? Do we hear wedding bells?’ ‘When’s your next film being released, Terry?’
As usual the paparazzi couldn’t get enough of me. My agent had told me I had to play nice, but sometimes I could cheerfully stuff their questions and cameras where the sun don’t shine. The money and adulation were good, but there were only so many parties and opening nights you could attend before they became boring. Even if I picked up a girl, I had to be careful of paternity suits or ‘Tell all’ stories hitting the slimy news-sheets. Sometimes being the latest hot thing had its disadvantages, and long gone were the days of wearing jeans and popping down the local for a swift half with some mates.
I played a passable guitar, but had lost contact with the boys from the band when my acting career took off. From what I read in the local papers they seemed to be doing all right for themselves, but nothing like the fame and fortune I was currently experiencing. My feet were firmly on the ground and I knew it would be wise to put some money aside for the future, but the expenses for the ever-growing team of hangers-on seemed never ending.
‘Excuse me, Mr Zane. If you’re ready, make-up are waiting for you.’
My reverie was interrupted by the quiet voice of the girl I assumed was a junior production assistant. It felt good to be addressed as Mister, even if it was only my professional name.
‘Oh, sure. Sorry. I’ll come now.’
The smile lit up her face, and transformed her rather drab looks, as she led me along the winding corridors of the studio.
‘You know my name, but I don’t know yours,’ I said to make conversation.
‘Penny, but my stage name is Gloria.’
‘Are you an actress then, Penny? I assumed you were one of the crew.’
‘I help out a bit in between roles, but I’ve got an audition coming up next week. Wish me luck. OK, we’re here. I’ll leave you to it, although with a beautiful face like yours, there’s not much they can do to improve it.’
I noticed she went bright pink with embarrassment at what she had said, before she scuttled off to her next humble job.
‘Break a leg, Penny,’ I called after her. ‘Perhaps one day you’ll be my leading lady.’
My film broke box-office records, but the following one wasn’t so successful, and the one after that bombed. My agent started to panic and I found myself accepting low status roles, just to keep in the business and pay the bills. The flash cars had to go, although I managed to keep my home. It had been a good decision to buy a smaller place and pay for it outright, rather than go for a mansion and get into debt. When the cash stopped flowing like water most of the scroungers took off, leaving me with just my trusted housekeeper, and her husband to act as handyman and occasional chauffeur.
‘The problem is, Terry, you’re too good-looking,’ my agent told me after yet another unsuccessful meeting. ‘Your gleaming smile, and tall, dark and handsome look is outdated. These days it’s all moody, deprived upbringing and film noir. You were born about fifty years too late, but we’ll find something, as long as I get my 20%. For now, my priority must be my latest signing. He’s a skunk, but that’s what the paying public want. Stay in touch.’
At least I could go out without being mobbed, and I even sat in on guitar when I went to watch my old group doing a charity gig, and their bassist failed to turn up.
‘That was great, Terry. It felt like old times again. Thanks for helping us out,’ Jim said as we came off stage. ‘It’s not the first time Bonzo’s let us down. I know we’ve all enjoyed the odd puff, but he’s always stoned these days. If ever you feel like coming back, just give us a shout.’
It made me think, but my heart was still in my acting career. I started trawling MovieTalk again to see what was on offer. The name Gloria DuBois kept appearing as she made yet another successful film. Her face reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t remember who. Perhaps I’d worked with her in the early days? Her beautiful blue eyes, stunning figure and flowing blonde locks made her memorable, but she could also act. Rather than restrict herself to glamour roles, she took on everything from playing a crotchety old grandma in a comedy film, to a middle-aged woman going through a divorce in a romantic drama, but it was her portrayal of a teenage drug addict that finally won her an Oscar.
I managed to wangle a ticket to the celebration party afterwards, and as we were introduced, I remembered where we had met before.
‘Gloria, this is Terry. He was a very successful actor some years ago. Terry, this is Ms DuBois, but obviously you’d know that.’
‘Hello, Mr Zane. Nice to see you again,’ she said, giving me the beautiful smile I now remembered so well.
‘Hello, Penny. You look great. I’m so pleased it all worked out for you. Congratulations on your success.’
Sometimes a smile is not enough, but a year later, as I watched my radiant bride walk down the aisle towards me, it was all I needed.
© Voinks January 2019
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