B-Street Billiards, Thursday night, past my normal bedtime. Guy-guys swat about pool balls with cues and suck on expensive beers. Valerie sports a slinky dress and heels. Charles’s hair is growing long; it slides into his eyes and he flicks it out with a sidelong glance across the table.
“What?s the matter, John?” says Valerie.
“I’m down,” I say. “The SUTN show has delayed production yet again, and I haven’t acted for a long time. I don’t even know if I can turn it on. I feel like I’m not an actor anymore.”
“Here’s a story,” says Charles. “Marilyn Monroe is walking down the street with a friend, and she says, ‘You notice anyone looking at me, right now?’ Friend says, ‘No.’ Marilyn says, ‘That’s because I’m Norma Jean. Watch this.’ And she turns on the Marilyn, and suddenly all the men’s heads are craning to look at her, and all the men on the street are in love with her. She turns it on.'”
“Yeah,” says Valerie. “Some women can do that. Watch this.” She takes another swig of Beaulieu Vineyards and surveys the room. Then she does a slow burn, her eyes speaking something dark and wild.
“What –” I start.
“Sshh, wait,” says Charles.
Valerie’s cell phone rings. She answers it and listens, scanning the bar. When he saunters from the other side of the room, he’s wearing bluejean overalls and a red baseball cap cocked backwards on his blonde locks. He grins and hangs up his own cell phone.
“Hi, Justin,” purrs Valerie.
“Um, yeah, so I gave you a call last week, but you never got back to me,” says Justin, beaming. Twenty feet away, a round-hipped chick checks her watch and glares at us.
“You here with someone?” asks Valerie.
“Oh, she’ll wait,” says Justin. “I just wanted to know when I could see you again.”
“You haven’t seen me before,” says Valerie, tugging a button on his overalls. “And, by the way, I’m nearly twice your age. What would your mother say?”
“She wouldn’t have to be there,” says Justin.
“Oh, nowwww –” says Valerie, dangling the syllable like a silver spinner on a fishing line. “Go be with your little girlfriend.”
Justin returns to his chick, who tugs him from the bar, whispering something in his ear. Charles laughs and says, “You disappointed him, Valerie. You should at least give him a call.”
Valerie picks up her cell phone immediately and dials it. “What should I say?”
“Here, give me the phone,” I say.
I press my ear to the earpiece and listen. “Hello?” says a muffled voice.
“Ahhh… Uhhh…” I say, moaning.
“Hello?” says the voice.
“Oh! Oh oh oh yes! Yes!” I build, panting, groaning, heaving, and screaming in glorious dubious ecstasy. I pound the table. “Oh oh oh like that oh yes AH!” The five pool games stop. The karaoke pauses.
“Okay,” says the voice. I hang up and give Valerie back her phone.
“That actually turned me on a little bit,” says Charles. “I give him thirty seconds.”
Twenty-seven seconds later, Justin saunters back in the front door of the bar, girlfriend in tow. Justin walks to Valerie, his open cell phone still in his hand.
“Wow, that was awesome, Valerie,” says Justin.
“Actually, Justin.” says Valerie, swatting a fly from her glass of wine, “That was not me.”
“Really?” Justin blinks, utterly crestfallen. “Whoever that was, it was a really good actress. Who was it?”
At this moment, two things happen, in almost but not exactly the same instant:
– Comedy occurs;
– I am no longer depressed.