I stood among the other actors, waiting to be picked.
I was auditioning for the part of Middle-aged Doctor,
a watery-eyed stoic who had seen it all.
One honey blonde had been picked for Girl at the Bar,
One twenty-year-old for Bartender.
Two girlfriends had to pretend to just meet.
Two guys were placed at a table and told to talk.
The director gave me little more than a glance.
I was too old for the film in his mind, not the right look.
Sensing an opening, the blonde asked about the doctor’s part.
The man did not seem surprised. Interesting, he said.
This material is kind of dark, kind of noir.
I left to take a bathroom break, entering a makeshift area
without partition between the men’s and women’s sections.
When I returned, the rehearsal was in full swing.
What do you think? The director asked absently,
obviously having forgotten who I was.
I looked around. The dudes in the booth were chattering.
The set was too bright. Past a crowded line of extras,
the bartender poured drinks to a loud techno beat.
More drink orders were shouted. It felt like a fiesta.
I thought this material was supposed to be dark, I said.
I walked over to the table and told one man to be quiet.
You have just lost your job, I coached. Say nothing.
This man is your acquaintance, just meeting you for a
drink. He doesn’t know you well enough to care.
The blonde was busy trying to comb out her hair.
I walked over to her, removing a pair of wire–rim glasses
much too wide for her face. Then I returned to the director.
Tell your new girlfriend to go back to her original mark
and to try not to look so perky!
I handed the astonished man the spectacles.
Here, I say. Put these on and stand over there.
Whoever said that you could direct?
Can we have some quiet in here?
Previously published in Strange Conveyances.
M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta and the author of two books of poetry, Joshu Holds a Press Conference and Strange Conveyances.
Object(s) to bring back to life: “I think I will go with footbridges and sidewalks for things missed. I’m pretty pedestrian.”