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A Memory of Love

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“Acting isn’t something you do.  Instead of doing it, it occurs. If you’re going to start with logic, you might as well give up.  You can have conscious preparation, but you can have unconscious results.” - Lee Strasberg

 

It’s the end of an era, Richie thinks, watching silently as his castmates dance, drink, and party, floating around him like an impressionist painting.  

He’d started at The Friday Show, or TFS, a more risque LA-based SNL knockoff, when he was a baby—twenty-five, an age that, eight years later, it seems impossible for him to have ever been.  There isn’t a trace of melancholy or regret about his departure; it’s time, and he’s ready. As for what he’s going to do next, though? That’s a big fucking question mark.

Bev, his best friend going on six years now, materializes in front of him with a tumbler of really good bourbon, the kind reserved for a party like this.  He looks down at her with gratitude. She stands nearly two heads shorter than him but can still level him with her fiery green eyes at the drop of a hat. “Want it?”  She waves the glass in front of him. “Or would you rather sneak out?”

“As soon as this is empty,” he says, grabbing the glass from her.  He’s so glad she’s here; she’s one of very few people—or maybe the only person—he can be serious with.

“I’m ready,” she says, smiling.

He and Bev were actually childhood friends, but their middle school friendship had been short-lived, and neither of them remembered much of it.  In fact, Richie’s life from the ages of twelve to about fourteen is nothing but a big, gaping black hole. Bev had moved away, gone to FIT, and landed in LA after making quite the name for herself in New York.  She’d ended up outfitting him for a photo shoot when he first started picking up steam on TFS, they’d taken one look at each other, their jaws dropping, and the rest is history.

Everyone who meets Richie says he’s “so LA,” that he might as well have been born here for how much the city of angels suits him.  He’s not so sure about that, especially not now. In fact, lately he’s been thinking of picking up and disappearing completely for a couple of years, doing some humanitarian work, something that actually matters at the very least.

Bev presses a kiss to the shoulder of his jacket and fades back into the crowd, mingling dutifully as the reservoir of Richie’s bourbon gets lower and lower.  

A friendly-looking man in a suit approaches him.  Richie’s on his guard, already ready to go home, but the man asks more genuine questions than the usual “What’s next for you?” bullshit and he seems to actually be listening, so Richie listens, too.   

He cuts to the chase soon enough.  “I have to admit, I’ve been working up the courage to approach you all night.”

Richie’s eyes go wide.

“No, no,” the guy is quick to say, laying a comforting hand on Richie’s forearm.  “I’m a producer. I’m in early pre-production on an indie that’s basically like a gay Blue Valentine .  Have you ever thought about doing any dramatic work?”

Richie purses his lips.  “No, do you think I should?” he jokes, and instead of laughing, the man—Greg—nods enthusiastically.  

“Your transformative skills are incredible, and there’s something really accessible about you.”

Richie shakes his head like he’s been punched.  He pictures a mouthpiece flying out of his mouth.  He’s been approached by producers before, but none of them have ever talked to him like they know what the fuck they’re talking about.  Greg actually seems to know and give a shit about good performances, which is not common.

“The other lead is already cast.  He’s still sort of an unknown, but he’s this incredible character actor.  A total throwback to the great method actors of the 50s. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s on a serious award track.”

Ah, so Greg is a producer, after all.

“It may take a few years, but that’s how good he is.”

“What’s his name?” Richie asks, eyeing Bev, who’s pointing at his empty glass from the other side of the pool and giving him a thumbs up.

“Eddie Kaspbrak.”

*

Richie and Bev have been pulled up in front of his house huddled over his phone for the last ten minutes.  

“I can’t believe Eddie’s an actor now.  Who knew?”

One of Bev’s manicured fingers swipes through an endless string of photos of grown-up Eddie Kaspbrak, who they both remember as petite, asthmatic, and extremely high-strung.  Richie doesn’t remember much from their friendship as kids (about as much as he remembers of how he and Bev first met), but from what he does remember, Eddie’s the last kid he would have expected to become an actor.  

He’s attractive, sure, in an everyman, Anthony Perkins-ish way, but he was never the most outgoing or confident of his friends (that spot was reserved for Richie himself, thank you very much).  He would have remembered seeing a spark like that. Right?

It’s a bit of a battle wrestling his phone back from Bev, who’s horribly intrigued by this turn of events.  Richie’s exhausted, though, and eager to be alone after the last couple of weeks of high-octane schmoozing, so he gives her a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek and pushes the car door open, strolling quickly away from the cul-de-sac and up his front walkway.  His feet drag heavily to a stop as he spots the thick manila envelope leaned up against the bottom of his front door. Greg had mentioned having the script delivered by courier within twenty-four hours, but Richie hadn’t expected it quite so soon, and without his agent’s involvement.  It’s like it’s been dropped right down from the sky.

He bends down with a grunt, picking it up and confirming that that’s indeed what it is, tossing the package up gently in his big hands, testing its heft.  He smiles and slips his key into the door. It’s good to feel wanted.

Richie heaves a big sigh as he closes the door behind him, taking in the wonderful, welcome silence, only to feel unsettled by it less than a minute later.  He putters around for a moment, considers pouring himself a nightcap, then decides against it, setting the house alarm and heading straight for his bedroom.

As he slips off his suit, looking out the sliding doors at the back, at the expanse of land he’s had big plans for for years but still has yet to turn into a proper garden, he smiles out of the corner of his mouth.  “Eddie fucking Kaspbrak.”

He hasn’t agreed to anything yet, but he has a feeling he will.