A World Out There


	"Fuck!!!"

	Blake Estaire was six feet even.  It had been a big goal growing
up to be tall.  He remembered how a week after his fifteenth birthday he
went for a physical and the nurse measured him.
	"Six feet even." She said, noting the happy number down on the
record sheet.  Ten years later he looked pretty much the same.  You
couldnUt be sure if he had a high hairline or if he was slightly balding,
and he may have added 5 pounds of extra weight, but that was it.
	
	"Fuck!!!  That's such Bullshit!!!" 

	Blake Estaire swiveled around and cannoned the phone across the
room.  The chord ripped out of the wall and flailed behind the receiver
like a spastic tail.  There was a crash, a scraping sound, and an abrupt
thud.  Blake fell back on chair and put his head in his hands.  Vanessa
stood by him, resting her hands on the chair's arm.  Outside it was the
grey ambivalence of dusk.
	Blake sat there silent and motionless.  A few long minutes passed.
	"Feel better now?" Vanessa asked, seriously or mockingly it was
hard to tell.
	Blake remained silent, but he lifted his head and looked her in
the eyes; at least as close as he ever came to doing that.
	Vanessa looked away.  She walked over to the fridge and opened it.
Meanwhile Blake Estaire walked over to the door and flicked the light
switch.  The otherwise dark studio now lay in the fridge's eerie glow.
	Blake Estaire returned to slumping in his chair and looked at
Vanessa.  She was leaning forward, bending at the hips, left hand on the
door handle, right hand moving through old bottles of salad dressing,
fruit, and milk.  Her usually light brown skin was greenish-yellow.  Blake
Estaire was behind her, slightly to the right.  
	He could see much in the pale light.  The slow moving shadow her
dress cast on the smooth skin where her breasts began.  The softness of
wavy hair on a young slender neck.  The dark line that started at her bare
feet and moved up between the ankles and the defined calves, the hollow
behind her knees and the thighs, covered just inches below... below what?
	Blake Estaire rose and slowly walked towards Vanessa.  His eyes
roamed but kept their intense stare.
	Just then a high pitched laugh was heard from the neighboring
apartment.  It was followed by another and another, still louder.	
	Vanessa turned around.
	"I hate that.  You can hear everything from over there." Blake
reached over and grabbed the guitar which was leaning against the wall
near the fridge.	
	"Yah." he concurred unconvincingly, and returned to his chair.  He
strummed a few absentminded chords.
	"I feel like going for a walk." Blake announced, abruptly ending
the short-lived melody and resting the guitar next to his legs.  "You want
me to walk you home?"
	"You don't have to do that." Vanessa replied.
	"Listen, nessie.  I'm going for a walk anyway.  You want me to
walk you home?  Or do you... Ah never mind."
	"Say it."
	"Nothing."
	"Say it for chrissakes."
	"Nothing." He got up, knocking the guitar onto the hardwood floor,
causing a dissonant crash of notes.  "Am I walking you home or not?"
	She said nothing, but walked to the door and held it open for him.
They descended the dim staircase where only cracks decorated the walls.
	"There'll be other roles."
	"No." shot out like a bullet.  "This was mine.  It is my role.
It's exactly what I want.  An amazingly written one act.  'A World Out
There'." He paused.  "I could have made this character.  This was it."
	On the street they walked silently for a few minutes.  Blake
looked straight ahead the whole time, swinging his hands together
forcefully.
	"My ex-girlfriend makes necklaces, bracelets, even rings and
pendants out of silver." He began out of nowhere. "One day she asks me why
I don't wear any jewelry.  I say I never really see anything I want, and
that the human form is beautiful as it is." He looked at Vanessa with a
little smile.  "But." he continued, as if it was an old story, told again
and again, that everyone should know, "I tell her I have this idea for a
pinky ring and she says great show me and I'll make it for you.  So I draw
and explain how it'd look."
	"She makes the ring, and It turns out beautifully.  Much more so
than I thought it'd be.  So she brings it and shows it off to all our
friends and they all say how great it is.  She wears it for the whole
night, and at the end I try it on.  It turns out she made it to fit her
pinky, which of course is much smaller that any of my fingers, and it
would be such a pain so resize it and so she might as well just wear it."
He paused.  His head shook gently like the leaves on the trees.  Vanessa
took a step back and it seemed Blake's whole body seemed to sway like a
branch and his words rose from the wind.  "I felt like just jamming the
damn ring on my finger, no matter how fuckin small it was.  I should
have." He paused again, and the nighttime silence seemed to swell, and
edge a little closer. "I'm still going to."

	*			*			*

	"I know I wasn't going to talk about Blake anymore, but he's been
acting so strange lately." Vanessa took a long drag from her cigarette,
watching the tip glow red as if trying to absorb its energy.  She looked
up at Patrick, at his warm face.  She smiled ruefully and shook her head,
lowering her eyes back down to the cigarette.  
	"I'm sorry.  I'll stop."
	Patrick smiled gently, though Vanessa didn't see it.  He put one
hand on hers and the other nudged her chin up so she was looking at him.
	"It's ok." He said softly.  "I understand."
	Vanessa gazed around the coffee shop.  In the display case she saw
the display of muffins under a white glow that surely acted to keep
everything perpetually fresh.  She saw students desperately peering into
oversized textbooks, others loudly discussing philosophy, actors and
various trendy people.  She looked back at Patrick glad to be there, and
especially content with her company. 
	"It's just that he's been so weird lately, you know." It was
almost a question.  "I mean, I've barely seen him in the last month, ever
since he didn't get that one lousy role heUs been practically ignoring
me." She shook her head and blew smoke upwards, causing the loose hair
above her forehead to rise and fall.  She looked up.
	"And it's not just me.  Everyone I've talked to has been treated
the same way.  He's not talking to anyone, not going out for any auditions
or anything.  He's just holed up in his apartment doing who knows what."
She sighed and took a long drag from her cigarette.
	"Do you ever notice it?" She asked suddenly.
	"What?" Patrick asked, then, looking at Vanessa bob her head a
little in a 'you know' way, he continued, "the eye thing?  Yeah. Of course
I do." He paused, not sure if to go on. "I think everyone does.  I think
the problem is that it's not so much pronounced, like a lazy eye or cross
eyes.  It's also no physical deformity.  It's a little off somehow, weird,
and that's the hardest thing to forgive."

		*		    *			*

	The sun sets on West Hollywood just like it does everywhere else.
Perhaps the falling sun rays embrace some new hues as they mingle with the
smog, but it's nothing that hasn't been seen in Mexico City, Athens, and a
hundred other cities across the world.  The people are a little different
though, and they fall like ashes, flakes of a hopeful ember.
	Blake Estaire walked with his hands in his pockets.  He remembered
his first and last acting class, 101 at the university.  Mr. Truesdell had
taken a liking to Blake, noticing his "natural diversity yet constant
presence" but of course with the "rawness of the untrained that could be
ironed out" like an unwanted pleat.  A little make up over an unattractive
wrinkle.  He remembered that Mr. Truesdell made him go over his laugh
again and again.  "A good actor needs a good laugh."  
	He remembered his longtime girlfriend Carrie.  Her small shoulders
that would wrinkle light brown as her arms reached to give him one of her
close smooth hugs.  She was a hugger alright.  He could never figure out
why he loved those women like that: smooth and warm and natural and they
loved him but never in the way he loved them, or why he distanced himself,
even hated the only one who had ever understood and really loved him like
he wanted to be, needed to be.  Or why he couldn't tell the woman he loved
now just that, or why.... Oh so many things.  So many goddamn fucking
things.
	He remembered his audition for this play.  He had felt so good, so
full of the character he didn't want to stop auditioning.  And the
director himself had looked positively glowing, he was sure of it, until
right after when they were talking, and the weird looks started.
	He walked on the grey sidewalk under a sun precariously close to
setting, as if it was hanging on by some miraculous ray, but it kept
stretching and stretching and finally wouldn't matter.   But they would
see.  Oh they would see what they gave up, They all would see.
	Blake Estaire took a camel light out of his shirt pocket and put
it in his mouth.  He left it unlit and gazed absently ahead.  Suddenly,
his midriff and left side of his chest hit something.  
	And from seeming emptiness there stood Vanessa, looking a little
ruffled.
	"Hello." Her voice was incredibly calm and the one word brought
strange images of a clear mountain lake and a corpse in a coffin.
	Blake Estaire was visibly shaken, so much so that a woman walking
by gave him one of those concerned but nervous looks.  She hurried on.
	"H-how're you doing?" Blake Estaire finally managed, staring just
left of Vanessa's eye. "I, uh, didn't expect to run into you.  I mean, I
haven't seen you in a while."
	"I know." Vanessa said warmly.  "How've you been?"
	"Good, good.  So what are you up to?"
	"Well, I'm going to," she paused for just a split second, "meet
Patrick at the coffee shop below the theaters.  How about you?"
	"Actually I'm going to see 'A World Out There'."
	"Really, I thought it didn't start until tomorrow."
	"Yeah, well, they must have changed it or something."  A man
walked by in a blue sweat suit holding a leash that didn't have a dog on
the other side.  He gave Blake Estaire a quizzical look.
	"What the hell is that guy looking at me funny for?!" Blake
muttered and his eyes tracked the man down the street.
	"I miss you." He heard Vanessa's voice as if it came from a great
distance, and when he looked back she was gone.  He stopped and looked
around, but there was no sign of her.
	"Whatever." Blake muttered and shrugged, and continued walking.
	Blake Estaire finally made it to his destination.  The florescent
lights of the Image Theater illuminated three columns of brick separated
by thick black ridges.  A large rounded double door was closed in the
middle of the building, and on it was a sign advertising the play 'A World
Out There'.
	Blake went around to the side of the building and headed towards a
smaller side door.  He turned the knob and pulled.  It was locked.  Blake
Estaire closed his eyes.
	He slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out his Blockbuster
Movie card.  He slid it into the crack of the doorway and jimmied it
around.
	Click.  The door swung open.
	Blake quickly stepped in and shut the door behind him.  He walked
rapidly through the dim hallways, each creaky step a little more
confident. 
	Back in her apartment Vanessa spoke loudly and quickly into the
phone.  The frantic tome lent a sharpness to her usually sonorous voice.
	"I don't know Patrick.  I don't know." She paced around and around
the coffee table as she spoke.  "I haven't seen Blake in days.  When I saw
him walking on the street the other day he didn't even recognize me.  He
was muttering to himself.  And he looked awful, just awful you know?  He
had some beat up blue folder with 'A World Out There' written on it."  She
paused.  "The play.  that was the play that he wanted to get that role.  I
don't know what he was doing with it or where he got it or what it was.  I
don't know what the hell that, or anything else for that matter, is about.
I don't know what to do.  I just don't know."  She fell back on the couch
and put her head in her hands.  Her long hair fell in front of her face.
	Meanwhile, Blake had gone to the room in the back of the theater
where he knew the lead actor would be, and opened the door.  A nice
looking man with short brown hair sat looking at himself in a vanity
mirror.
	"Are you with make up?" He asked just before Blake brought a beer
bottle down on his head.  The man slumped to the floor.  
	Blake waited in silence for a while, he wasn't sure how long.  A
rap came at the door.
	"You're on in two" a woman's voice said.  He counted to one
hundred, took a deep breath, opened the door and walked quickly through
the halls, to backstage, and before anyone knew the difference was out on
the stage saying the character's first line.  The other actors looked
surprised, but having no choice, continued the play.  Backstage there was
much confusion, but again no one had much choice in the matter.
	And Blake Estaire was acting magnificently.  Such meaningful
acting hadn't been seen by anyone in the building for who knows how long.
Perfect timing,  subtle and real body language.  It all came together in a
believable and affecting brilliance, in a wash of starry emotion.
	Blake was unconscious.  His personal satisfaction evaporated in
the character he portrayed.  he forgot Vanessa, forgot all the unfair
treatment, forgot everything.  The lights, the charcoal grey stage,
everything melted into swirl of performance, into a tempest of beauty, and
a moment as perfect as Boethius' dot.  
	But he had one special trick.  After an hour and fifteen minutes
of bliss, as the play was nearing it's end, he remembered.  Oh, they were
all going to see.
	Abruptly, Blake diverged from the script.
	"So you see, Rebecca, life isn't always as it seems." The actress
looked startled.
	"You can't be sure," he continued, "of fairness, and justice; of
love and hate; of being sure; of others, and most of all of yourself."  
	He took a deep breath.
	"That is why it is time, my dear, that I say goodbye." Blake now
pulled a pistol out of his pocket.  The stage lights reflected off the
black metal, sending streaks of light into the audience.  'Rebecca'
screamed, and ran backstage.
	Blake took the pistol and released the safety, and pointed at his
heart.  He looked up at audience, and in every person in the theater felt
that he or she was being looked right in the eyes, not just by a person,
but by something more.  Blake pulled the trigger.
	Blake Estaire lay there, alone on stage, as a stream of soft red
poured calmly from his chest.  There was a moment of silence.  Then, as if
many limbs of the same body, the audience stood and gave a standing
ovation, drowning out the sound of sirens rising in the background.

	Blake opened his eyes, and saw an empty theater, full of vacant
seats.  Or was it an alleyway?

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