The life of an actress isn’t all glamour and money. Often it’s about humiliation. 2,029 words. Part Two. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.
So one morning later in the month, I was again facing the relentless onslaught of overdue bills. And once again, I faced an unpayable mortgage. I managed to stretch a few paltry residuals and my unemployment benefits to cover my cell bill, utilities and the minimum payments on my credit card balances. It struck me that “balance” was an interesting word to call mounting debt. What would they call it once it came tumbling down all around me? Bankruptcy, I guessed. Foreclosure.
My chest began its now-too-familiar objection to thoughts of financial matters and squeezed in on itself while my heart sped to a dangerous pace. I tried some exercises to prevent the stroke that I was certain was coming, but I couldn’t even get air to fill my lungs let alone the deep breaths I’d been taught in yoga classes. I was becoming light-headed.
Then the phone rang. It was my agent, Kim.
“Hi, Ruby, good news! I have an audition for you. It’s a new show. Something about cops with ESP versus vampire teens. It’s actually called Sexy Dicks With ESP Vs. Gangster Vampire Teens.”
“You have to be kidding me.”
“It’s a Mentalist/Sopranos/Twilight hybrid with amazing buzz. You’re lucky I was able to get you in.”
She has barely worked in years, and a self-respecting actress needs to pay her bar tab. 2,383 words. Part One. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.
A few hours later, I stood inside the door of a dark bar and grill and waited for my eyes to adjust to the light. I assessed the impact the Xanax was having. I was disappointed to note that I didn’t feel any different but also relieved that I didn’t have the sudden urge to turn five-dollar tricks in alleyways or rob a pharmacy. Then I realized that the weight on my chest had lifted and I could actually get a deep breath of air into my lungs. Hmmm, maybe my fear of immediate drug dependency and subsequent prison time for forging benzodiazepine prescriptions was premature — melodramatic, even.
“Ruby!” my agent Kim called, but the room was still too dark for me to make out anything clearly. “Over here at the bar,” I heard her say, so I headed toward the backlit wall of alcohol. By the time I got there, I could clearly see Kim at the other end and an oversized martini glass in front of her. I walked over and sat next to her.
“So? How was the audition? Did you nail it?”
“Did you read the material, Kim?”
“No. But this series is very hot and getting a lot of buzz. They are going for an edgy no-boundaries True Blood meets an updated Police Woman but with a Sixth Sense vibe set in a post-apocalyptic Jersey Shore. They are shooting it in L.A. but it takes place in Detroit. Don’t tell anyone I told you, but they’re in negotiations to get Sean Young and Gary Busey to do a three webisode arc,” Kim said and sipped her drink as though she hadn’t said a single unbelievably insane thing. “So,” she repeated, setting her drink down, “how’d it go?”
“Pushing boundaries just means more nudity. And, again, you didn’t actually read the material, did you?”