Week 3: People I need to know

Week 3: People I need to know

Author Topaz ?
Collection SUNSET STRIPPED

I went to a party at Wilson's house. 

“These are the people you need to know.” 

Some I knew from high school. They were wearing suits now. 

Even the women. They got liberal arts degrees like I did but then they added management training programs. They worked for studio bosses crunching box office numbers. Flawless skin and a toughness I didn’t recall. 

I smiled and tried to make animated small talk. The just arrived from Europe mystique got me a respectful “Hmm”, but they didn’t ask much more. No one had an interest in dance.

My nails were chipped. I hadn't even thought to check them. In this setting of polished people, I felt shabby.

I avoided Wilson’s stupid track lights because they lit up my clingy dress and showed how threadbare it was. In Amsterdam, no one cared about that kind of thing. Being plain, and wearing well-loved clothes was what everyone did.

When I tried to find out how all these people had gotten started 'in the biz', they all assured me it was just a matter of time before I secured an agent, and then the rest would come. 

They were treating me like I was one of them. I was Wilson’s friend. That’s all they needed to know.  

These successful young talents wouldn’t understand what happened on my last interview.  

In a rundown office on Olympic, a skeevy old agent groped me.  

I could still smell his dentures as he leaned close, criticizing the quality of my head shots and insisting I needed to lose 15 pounds. 

I’d never weighed that. Not since I was 11. 

He had bits of dried food on his tie and nose hair I could see.  

Then suddenly his hands were on my body.  

I left his office in such a rush I forgot my portfolio on the couch. I couldn’t go back there. Now I had nothing to show people.

I'd sobbed in the shower until the apartment grew dark. Climbed into bed with my damp towel. Woke up to the lowlife down the hall beating his girlfriend. Police helicopters overhead, lighting up the neighborhood.

I couldn’t share this story. 

I was on the wrong track. 

They were talking box office and beach houses. They weren’t getting molested or losing their portfolio or being told they were unemployable. 

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