“Look at you.”
I stared at the reflection in the mirror. A cold pair of eyes staring back at me. I flicked the faucet water to life. I splashed the cold transparent water over my face.
“What happened to you? You used to show so much promise Dan. What happened?”
I looked around the small bathroom. Dirty, Disgusting, I pulled the cabinet door open. toothbrush, toothpaste…. Where the hell is my razor? I pulled open the faucet drawer. There it was. I pulled it out. Still had a couple hairs on it. I plucked the wet hair off. I unscrewed the can of shaving cream. I sprayed some out into my hands. I rubbed the cream on my face. I slowly began shaving.
“What’s happening to you Dan? You shouldn’t be living in this dump. You should be up on the big screens shining like a star. Go out there. Impress your father. Don’t be a failure Dan.
“I won’t be like my father,” I said quietly as I applied more cream to my face.
“Why not Dan? Everyone knows him. Everyone loves him. Don’t you wanna be the first choice for every action director’s movie. Don’t you wanna be the hero on the poster? The name that people go to when they are asked to define the word Action Star? You can be that Dan. You can do that.
“I can’t be like my father,” I said quietly.
“Why not? Why don’t you want to be like him Dan? Don’t you wanna be a star player? Don’t you wanna be like Stallone? Or Schwarzenegger? Why don’t you want this Dan? Why don’t you want this?
“Because I don’t want to be a talentless sellout who does nothing but shoot guns and coin catchphrases!” I yelled into the mirror. My reflection looked at me blankly before disappearing. I looked into the mirror. Nobody was there. I was nothing. I am nothing. I looked at the mirror. Then everything went black.
I awoke to a loud ringing in my ear. What was that? I slipped my hands into my pockets and pulled out my phone. Paul Chambers. I declined the call. I laid down on the cold tile floor. The phone rang again. I groaned. Paul Chambers. My agent. The guy who takes care of everything for me. I decided to answer the phone.
“Where the hell are you Dan?” Paul said angrily. I picked up my fallen razor and placed it into the drawer.
“Are you still there? You better not be drunk again.”
“What do you want Paul?”
“Your audition started nine minutes ago, where are you?”
Damnit. My reflection was back. Half of my beard wasn’t even cut off yet. I checked my watch. The auditions started at 8:00 and mine started at 8:35. It was 8:42. I couldn’t even remember which audition this was. I ran into the small apartment living room. I looked around for anything to make me look presentable. Nothing. I ran over to the door and threw on my jacket. I had no time. I flung the door open and dashed out. My phone rang again. I ignored it. I ran down to the lobby. I ran over to the receptionist.
“Can I help you?” she said with a bored tone in her voice.
“If anyone pages me tell them I’m sick or dead or something.”
I pushed the door open and I ran to the apartment parking lot. Where was my car? I dashed around looking for my damn Prius. There it was. I pulled the keys out of my pocket. I clicked the unlock button. Why wasn’t it turning on? I slammed my fist into the door. Why wasn’t it turning on? Suddenly a voice began screaming at me. I walked over to the trunk and checked the license plate. Clearly this wasn’t my car. Then I realized something. My car was in the shop getting the engine fixed. I opened up my phone and punched in the passcode. I opened up the email application. Contacts. I quickly opened it up and searched Paul Chambers. Sure enough there was about fourteen unopened emails to look through. I looked through most of them. They were all telling me not to forget about the audition. What irony. I finally clicked the last unread email. I found the location. I pressed on the traveling options. It would take me sixteen minutes to walk. I checked my watch. It was 8:54. My phone rang for the sixth time. I considered not answering again but I knew I was on the last straw with him.
“WHERE WERE YOU?” Paul’s voice roared from the phone. Ow, felt like me blew out my eardrums.
“My car’s in the repair shop alright!”
“What was the audition even for?” I asked out of breath.
“It was for a damn film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! You realize how much money that guy brings in at the box office? Millions.
I scowled. How many times do I have to tell him that I don’t wanna do some stupid action film?
“Paul I don’t want to do these films.”
“Dan why not? You realize that people are expecting you to be like your father right? Everyone wants a new bankable star and you are that guy!”
“Paul, I don’t wanna be some legacy star child who rides off the fame of his Dad!
“You realize that’s the only reason you got this audition right? They want you to become like your Dad. Everyone is expecting this and you aren’t giving it to people!
As much as I didn’t want to believe this I know it was true.
“Dan, did you ever actually read your reviews for that musical you tried to do? Paul snarled through the phone.
“Dan Miller definitely doesn’t have his father’s acting chops”. “Or maybe the review you got
from The Hollywood Reporter, Miller overacts it, barely emotes any emotion at all, and sings with the power of a constipated raccoon”. I heard a long sigh from the cell phone. “Look Dan it’s been a long few years with you and we really haven’t accomplished much together so I think it’s best if we just go our separate ways”.
My heart sank. I was losing everything.
“No, Paul come on you can just reschedule the audition.” I pleaded.
“I’m sorry Dan, I’m sorry but it’s time for both of us to move on.”
“Don’t give up on me, please.
“You can just mail me my paycheck for the month.”
And with that he was gone. Poof. My last friend had left me. I am lost. I slowly began walking back to the apartment building. How could I repay him? I didn’t have any money. I would have to…..No I couldn’t. I turned around. A light breeze ran across my face. The weather was nice. Wasn’t too cold, wasn’t too hot. It was just right. I decided to drown in my sorrows.
It’s 7:43 PM. I’ve been here for the whole goddamn day. Everything is sort of a blur now. I’ve had too many drinks to count. Of course I put it on my Dad’s tab. He has too much money. He doesn’t even know what to do with it. He’s selfish. He was never there for me. Never. Never there for my mother, Never there for anybody but himself. I had a pounding headache. It was rhythmatic. I could count the pounding. 1...2...3...4… Agh. The pain intensified. I took a sip of my bourbon. Maybe that would help. I scanned the room. The people there were young. Some looked as if they were in their teens. Magic of fake IDs. Suddenly I heard loud whooping sounds coming from my left. I spun my chair around. A girl. Maybe seventeen, maybe eighteen. Six guys maybe seven. One of them didn’t look like he was causing any trouble. They were harassing her. I looked around. Nobody was looking to help her. One of the boys grabbed her. I gripped my glass cup hard, I could probably crush it. He was holding on to her, running his hands down her sides. I looked at my hand. Blood and glass mixed together. Ow. I decided to confront them. In hindsight they probably wasn’t the best idea. I drunkenly stumbled over to them. I threw a punch. No impact. One of the guys caught my fist. “What the hell are you doing?” After that all I remember is getting a straight fist into my nose.
I’m in the hospital. On a bed. I look at the bedside cabinet. Nothing no roses, no press, knocking at my door. Wait no, a piece of paper on the table. I flipped it over. I scanned over it. Some sort of disease. Malignant Neoplasm? What the hell is that? A few knocks came from the door.
“Come on in.”
A short woman with dark hair. She looked like she was maybe 24. She had a clipboard in her hand. She looked uneasy. I was just about to ask what was on the paper. Was this my disease? What even was Malignant Neoplasm?
“This might not be too easy for you to take.”
“What is it? What?”
She gave a long sigh and ran her hands through her hair. She flipped to a page in her clipboard.
“Sir…. You were sent to the hospital from a bar am I correct?” I nodded slowly. A uncertain feeling of dread washed over me. What happened to me?
“Well, you have a broken nose and a black eye.” Well that was pretty damn obvious right about now. Relief. At least it wasn’t too bad.
“Why does that paper say Malignant Neoplasm?”
She looked straight at me in the eyes.
“You have Cancer.”
My whole body went numb. Cancer. The C Word. A disgusting word. A filthy word. A word that I hoped never to hear. Tears began coursing down my face. Why? Why is all this happening to me?
“I have some things to run down with you. Is that alright?” she asked quietly. I shook my head. I needed time to think. She nodded.
“I’ll be right around the corner if you need me.” With that she opened the door and walked out. I’m going to die. I felt nauseous. A dizziness ran over me. What would I do? I laid down on the bed. I am going to die. Cancer runs in our. We lost a lot of family to this disease. I was next. Next to die. I laid down on the bed. I cried. I cried for a long time.
I was in the hospital for a week or so before I was let out. I had to take different kinds of medicine. Pills, fluids, medical strips. Half of my day was practically medicine now. They were basically some of the worst days of my life. Nobody called. Nobody called to see if I was ok. Nobody cared. What was I to anyone?
The tropical ringtone blared from my phone. I reached for the bedside cabinet. I grabbed on to my phone. I pressed the answer key.
“Hello, is this Daniel Miller?
A call. It wasn’t a voice I recognized. It sounded a lot like a younger woman’s voice. I checked the phone number. I didn’t recognize the number.
“Who’s is this?”
“Just come over to that little Orish pub.”
The line went dead. What was that all about? I decided not to think anything of it. It was probably just some prank phone call. I checked my watch. It was 8:30 AM.
It was now 2:00 PM and I had done nothing. Just laid there in deep thought. I was tired but I couldn’t drift off. Suddenly my phone rang again. I checked the number. It was the same number that had called me before. I hit the decline button. I set the phone back into my pocket. More ringing. Decline. I closed my eyes. When can I just get some goddamn sleep? I felt myself doze off. Finally some sleep. Of course the phone rang loud one more. I snatched the phone from my pocket once more. I pressed the answer key furiously.
“Hey, where are you?” the enthusiastic voice blasting from my phone.
At this point I was the most pissed off I had probably ever been in my entire life. I was sure veins were growing on the back of my head. What was this woman’s problem? What could this person possibly want with me?
“When are you coming? I got some things to discuss with you.”
I rubbed my forehead in annoyance. The line went dead. Goddamnit. What things would I need to discuss? Probably some stupid mortgage. I sat up and got out of the bed. I walked over to the coat rack and threw on the raggedy old jacket my Dad had given to me for my last birthday. He probably got it at a pawn shop. I walked out the door.
I stared through the pub window for any sign of a woman. It was primarily full of male men except for the lady bartender. I opened the pub door and looked in. It didn’t look like she was there. Yep, prank phone call. I was just about to walk out the door when I heard a voice yelling. It sounded like the voice on the phone. I turned around. Oh. It wasn’t a woman, it was a man. It was Lucas Robertson. Lucas Robertson is one of the up and coming filmmakers. He graduated from the Tisch School of Arts in New York City. Then he indepently produced a film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It received critical acclaim and now he’s one of the most searched out directors in Hollywood. He also had an very feminine voice. He looked at me and uttered the four words that may have saved my life.
“Let’s make a movie”
I had a trailer. A trailer. I couldn’t remember the last time I was actually given a trailer. I laid down on the cushiony leather couch. Definitely a lot better than my apartment. Shooting was to begin in about an hour so I had time to kill. I walked over to the fridge. I opened it. An assortment of fruits and vegetables and….bourbon. I grabbed it out and stared at it. I pulled the cap out. What could a little bourbon do?
Apparently everything. I was kicked off set and sent to my trailer to “cool off.” I sat there in the trailer. This will never work. I can never work. I opened up the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of pills. I stared at them. My head was pounding again. I opened up the bottle and popped two pills. I realized something. I blinked. I’m sick. I’m going to die. This is my chance. My chance to do something. My chance to live. I walked over to the set.
They were all getting ready to shoot the next scene. Lucas looked at me. I nodded towards him. He gave me a small smile. I sat on the chair next to my fellow actor. He was 5o. His name was Benjamin Paul. The lights shone upon our faces. We looked at eachother. The cameras started up. 3..2..1.. The video started up right away.
“I have cancer, son.” Carl’s soft voice gave the words incredible emotion. I felt a lump in my throat.
“I know Dad, I saw the papers.” I said choking up. A single tear rolled down my cheek. My hands started shaking.
A silence ran over both of us. I struggled to get my line out.
“I-I love you,”
I looked at him and I hugged him. I laid my head on his shoulders. This was what I needed. Just something to get the pain out. I heard the director yell cut. I stopping hugging Carl and I looked around. Everyone was in tears. People crying. A few claps. Suddenly the whole room was cheering. I smiled. For the first time in years, I smiled.
“And the winner is… Daniel Miller!”
I walked up to the stage. People clapping and cheering. It was what I had wanted for so long. Now I had it. I was handed the statue. I held it up. Louder cheers. I was happy. I held onto the microphone. I won.
“This award is dedicated to all the people who have depression or any type of disease. I’ve gone through tough times in my life. I had a drinking problem and I was diagnosed with back cancer. I thought I had nothing else. As a lot of you know, I am the son of the late Robert Miller. He was a talented man and I take pride in being his son. We had problems along the road but I still loved him. I wanted to be different though. I wanted to do something exciting with my career instead of having to live up to my father's legacy. I think tonight I did something exciting. I changed the route of my career. So thank you and goodnight.”