He sat in his caravan and wondered what the next journalist would be like. He always wondered but never concluded. That might be why he is still successful.
Few years back, he was just another actor of yesterday. Nobody bothered him and this bothered him heavily. He stared at his manager sitting on the couch beside his lazyboy. She was texting someone with her beautiful, slender fingers. Her fingers…he suddenly refrained his mind from thinking about her.
Door to the caravan opened and his PR agent popped his ugly face inside. “Are you ready?”, he asked. She replied for him, “Yep”. The door opened wide and the journalist stepped in with her photographer. He instantly knew she is a rookie. Her steps and facial expression is shouting out. He has become an expert in learning body language over these years. It has helped him get many contracts in his career and like an icing to the cake, it also helped him lead many beautiful women to his bed at night.
His manager was speaking to the journalist and asked her to sit by the couch. Flash lights from the photographer lit up the dimly lit caravan like lightning strokes in a clouded evening. He raised his hand and motioned the photographer to leave. They are a distraction to his thoughts and clicked at anything and everything, but selects the worst few. In his case, even the worst picture portrays him as the most handsome actor in the tinsel town.
The journalist started asking questions, all usual ones and he mumbled the answers which he has been practising, rather been preaching all these years. He turned his head and stared at her on her next question. “You just regained your number one position after a long gap of 3 years; Do you fear that this will end fast?”. “He was always number one, its just that we have become a bit choosy these days”, his manager helped him out.
She is an average beauty with slender fingers and a long nose. He remembered how she was there during his ups and lows, managing not just his career but also his personal life which shattered with his downfall. She was always with him, day and night, supporting, advising and often succumbing to his carnal desires. He noticed how she used ‘We’ in her last sentence. This is the first time she ever claimed her part in his decisions, at least in front of him.
The journalist went on probing into his personal life and his previous short-term relationship with a very popular actress. He thanked God for the inventor of his most favourite phrase, “No Comments!”. “5 minutes”, his manager announced, looking into her watch. She is always been a time keeper. A perfect choice instead of an expensive limited edition Rolex, he thought. But she was perfect for him, she made love with him so perfectly that, he is addicted to it these days. Addiction is become a necessity, isn’t it?, he thought.
The journalist suddenly switched off her recorder and said, “I know you often hear this, but i am a fan of yours. Not just because of your acting but the way you brave against each downfall and topped the charts with your next movie. You inspired me and surely many more. What drives you? Fame?”. He looked outside through the tainted window between the curtains and so a small gathering waiting for him, outside. He knew the answer but has never confided it to anyone. Nobody would believe him.
The journalist was walking towards the door, not disappointed as his mood swings after escaping from drug addiction is so famous. “Wait”, he said, “I liked your honesty unlike your nasty brothers and sisters who feed on my past and present. Fear…its fear which drives me”. Both the girls looked at him, rather stared at him.
“When i was a young boy, like many famous people say, i was poor. But in my case, i hardly had anything to eat apart from the stale bread, leftover food and uncooked meat from the garbage bins.” Both the girls gave a nasty stare. “One day i fainted on the pavement, people came by and helped me with water and food. Nobody knew who i was? That day i realized that when i die, people wouldn’t recognise me and i will end up in some crematorium or cemetery – maybe next to a street dog or an old beggar”. He paused and looked at the girls. They were pale by his surprising past. He was surprised that the journalist wasn’t happy about the scoop she got. Maybe the best scoop in her career. His shielded past is now becoming a public information.
“I was 14 then and i understood that i have to be famous, by nook or crook” he continued, “Slowly i realised its not my hunger for fame but my fear of not being recognised that made me work harder to what i am today”. “And now?”, the journalist asked like a student asked to her teacher. “Now, i realise that fame is momentary; tomorrow, when i leave this industry i will be conveniently forgotten for a new hero. The show must go on, isn’t it?”. The journalist nodded. “Its not the fame that gives you identity, but relationships. Loved ones near you, the real identity. Something I learned lately”, he looked at his manager, “though a little late, i have decided. This is my last movie. I am retiring from this industry for good and settle down with the girl whom i slept last” he stared at her. He saw her face go pale, of course she wouldn’t have expected this. It wasn’t uncommon for young beautiful assistants to sleep with the actors apart from managing their career.
He slowly looked into the journalists eyes, it shouted surprise and disbelief or was it shock, he didn’t care. He said, “Now i should get ready, i have a set waiting”. The journalist thanked him and left instantly. She has a story to file and it cannot wait for the gossip page in the weekend supplement, she knew. He turned to his manager when they were alone, “Will you marry me?”. She stared at him for a while with tears in her eyes, tears are strange he thought, they make you cry when you are happy and sad.
“No, i cannot” she said, “I am already married”. He had many shocks in his life, like when he lost the Best Actor Award to his competitor for the role of a dying soldier because he made people laugh when the directors intention was to make them cry. He opened his mouth to say something, but he couldn’t remember what. She suddenly left the caravan. Closing the door behind, she thought, “What an idiot?” She stayed with him because nobody would hire the manager of a failing actor. She never enjoyed sleeping with him, but then she came to this city to act and was fairly good at it. All she meant to do was boost his confidence and bring him back on track, her career was too dependant on his, “but that damn fool…” she almost said that aloud. She hoped that the offer from the other actor is still on, for now she needs to find a new job. She knew him too well and there was a determination in his eyes, he is ending his career. “I never wanted to cheat my husband, ‘He’ was a compromise and now i will have to get laid by another”, she murmured, “what a pathetic life God blessed me with”.
He gulped half a bottle down, rage was eating him alive. “She, that bitch”…the only words that rang in his head. Now that his love is lost, he started fearing again, he will die alone – his alter ego shouted at him. He threw the bottle down, the glass shattered just like his dreams had, a few moments ago. “No, i won’t die alone” he shouted, “I will act again…I will get many more like her…I will teach her a lesson.”
“Sir, i am coming back to office. You won’t believe the scoop i got, leave a large column in the front page for me” – his answering machine chanted the recording. Mere voice of the reporter brought an erection to the editor of the most reputed gossip paper in the town.
He said to himself, “Whatever she brings, even if its the confession of that idiot actor, she will have to please me to get her name printed in the main paper. These rookies, they will do anything for fame; fuelled by fear that they will loose the race to someone else, he never had problems in getting one to fulfil his desires” – he laughed aloud.