81 A farcical audition for Rik

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81   A farcical audition for Rik

Afterwards I am walking on air. "So, will Big Bang give you as good a shag as Sound & Vision did?" I ask Evelyn and Rik.

"Yeah, baby," says Evelyn.

"Mmm, pretty good," says Rik. "A bit more predictable for me."

My phone vibrates. "Yay!" says Jason down the line. "That was the just the fiercest!"

"Was it fierce for you?" I ask. "For me it was more slinky than fierce."

"Sure, I can see slinky in there too. 'Cos this wasn't just fierce, this was fiiieeerce—and that means there's always gonna be some slinky there somewhere, right from the get-go. Anyway, I gotta run now. Congratulate Alaia and Rik from me. Marc says give him a call tomorrow as soon as you're both up."

"OK, will do."

Before long, the four of us are reclining on those deep-purple-leather-covered armchairs and sofa in Rik's and Evelyn's place, as Rik takes a drag from a joint and hands it on to Evelyn. "Reminds me," he is saying, "only once did I ever try out for a part in a play. Fuckin' disaster. I was about eighteen. It was at this theatre in Glasgow where they normally did variety acts, like Sweaty Albert and his Performing Dog, or whoever, but this time it was a new play with lots of parts. Someone had called me in, but I never got their name, so when I got there and nobody knew who the fuck I was, or what I was meant to be auditioning for, I couldn't say the name of anyone who actually wanted me to be there. It became a hilarious kind of non-event. Eventually some prissy thespian guy with a face like a cantankerous ferret took pity and said, 'Well, I suppose you may as well audition for something, since you do seem to be here,' about as enthusiastic as if he was going to get a tooth extracted. He had one of those half-assed moustaches, like he'd just sneezed in an ashtray. Sanctimonious little wanker, real nuttable material—I wanted to head-bang him, just on sight, but I thought maybe that wouldn't help me with the audition, so I didn't. He gave me some long pages of script and I sat on this scabby staircase and read them... Man, I know fuck-all about the well-made play, but even I could tell that this play was a sack of shit! Then the ferrety guy said, 'Oh yes, by the way, you'll have to do your part in a French accent.' Which is an accent I've used for a total of about ten seconds in my life, probably when I was six years old and drunk. Then he paired me up to read with some really mousy-looking girl that you could tell he just wanted to get rid of. One look at this girl and you knew she was gonna be terrible in the audition. So, she and I read it out loud once, on the staircase, and she was worse than terrible—even worse than my toolish French accent, which was painful in itself. Then it was our turn, so we go through a door, straight onto the stage under harsh spotlights. And this woman we're auditioning for, the director, is sitting way up at the back of the auditorium, high up on the bleachers, as far away as possible. 'Er—when you're ready,' she says in this hoity-toity voice, like she'd had a lemon enema at birth: 'When you're ready...' So the two of us start the script, and the mousy girl was so quiet that even I could barely hear her, and I was standing next to her. 'Er—could you speak up please?—could you speak up?' said the annoying lemon-up-the-ass woman, who was really starting to get on my tits. 'Er—I'm thirty per cent deaf, you know, so you'll have to speak up, you'll have to speak up!' I sounded like a bad parody of Inspector Clouseau to begin with, and now I had to shout too."

The joint has come back around the circle to Rik. "Cheers," he murmurs, inspects it and takes a long, cool drag. The candles flicker, the dubstep echoes and booms quietly onwards out of the speakers and the entire warm stoned attention of the room is upon him. "Anyway, sometimes I glanced up from the script, while the girl was whispering it and I was shouting it, and my eyes had now adjusted to the spotlights, so I could see that sourpuss up there on the bleachers was smoking this ridiculous big cigar the whole time." He hands the joint on to Evelyn. "The smoke was wreathing up all around her, like the mushroom cloud of a bomb. Also, bizarrely, her hair hung right down, across the front of her, so I couldn't see her face at all. That made me curious, so I kept sneaking peeks at her during this interminable dirge of a scene. And every time I looked, the more it seemed her hair hung thicker than ever and further down over her face—and boy, was that off-putting, so I started buggering up the script, so the mousy girl started giving me these distraught looks and sounded like she was about to burst into tears. But it was too late, I was hooked, I couldn't stop sneaking peeks at sourpuss up there, and with every peek I became more certain: no two ways about it, her hair was all the way down to her chin in a solid curtain, bushier than anybody's hair should be, even at the back of their head... And while I was reading I was thinking, what a silly cow! What kind of doofus requests a haircut like that at the barber's? 'Yeah, I'll have it right down over my entire face, please, extra-thick and extra-bushy, so I can't see anything, and long around at the back and maybe just casual at the sides, thank you.' So, being thirty per cent deaf, she'd chosen a nice seat about half a mile away from us, trying to hear me through her bushy hair-curtain, while I did a dire French accent that was regularly shading into Russian and Welsh and Indian and Norwegian, in a play that was a chunk of sludge to begin with. There were still several dense pages of the script left. Why was she letting us go on so long? Why were we going on? Why were we here, in every sense of the question? Then I thought, maybe I should sneak up the bleachers without her hearing me—she certainly wouldn't see me—and then I could reach forward and part those curtains of hair without her expecting it, just to see what was behind ... and I suddenly knew the awful truth: that if I did so, then I'd see the back of her head; and if I went round to the far side of her and parted the curtains there, then I'd also see the back of her head; and if I went to either side of her and parted the curtains, all I would ever see would be the back of her head, because she was all back-of-the-head... Well, that did it for me. I stopped in mid-dirge. I put the script down, and I just headed back to the door. And right before I disappeared, I called up at sourpuss, 'Keep in touch!...' and I was out of there."


For some nice reviews and interviews about The Imagination Thief, in The Guardian and elsewhere, see http://www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-imagination-thief-reviews-media/

For a quick synopsis of it, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/synopsis-and-characters-list-the-imagination-thief/

For the 12 Films in The Imagination Thief, see http://www.rohanquine.com/video-books-films/12-films/

For the Audio-book version and the Video-book version of each of its 120 mini-chapters, see http://www.rohanquine.com/home-the-imagination-thief-novel/audiobook-tumblr-wattpad/

For links to the retailers, see http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-ebook/ and http://www.rohanquine.com/buy/the-imagination-thief-novel-paperback/

And for its Amazon pages, see http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909 and http://www.amazon.com/The-Imagination-Thief/dp/0992754909

The Imagination Thief is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. It celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.

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