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Lunatics Are My Specialty

 

Excerpt 1:

    I walk on stage at half past four and the guy in the darkness says, "Okay, Thomas C. Fields, where have I seen you before?"

    "Well, one commercial for the Purina Company. One for a delivery company called Swiftly Goes. Maybe youíve heard of them. And one foró"

    "Okay, give me crazy."

    "Crazy. Okay. Like murderous, or just kind ofÖ?"

    "Just give me crazy, donít complicate it. Whatever you feel."

    "Okay," I say to the guy in the dark auditorium. I take a breath, stare at my shoes for a second, and think about it real focused, sinking into it. Just as Iím about to start, the guy says, "Anytime youíre ready. Take your time."

    "Okay, here goes," I say, and begin to pace the stage with an angry look on my face, as if ready to take on the world with one flick of my terrible stare. Back and forth for a minute, getting into it. Suddenly I stop, and scream, "So what if I ainít been right! So what if I canít remember everything all the time? So what if I make you nervous!" I begin to tear my shirt off, seething now, teeth clenched. Abruptly, I fall to the floor and begin to scream, pulling at my clothes, pulling at my hair, trying hard to foam at the mouth. Beginning to convulse, I jump up in mid-spasm and bellow, "I know Iím crazy! I canít help it! So what if I canít rememberÖ"

    "Okay, Thomas, not bad," says the guy in the dark theater seats that stretch way back. "Not bad. Weíll let you know."

    I come out of my fit, nod, and walk off calmly. Knowing, again, that I fell far short of brilliant...

 

Excerpt 2:            

    ...Page five of Variety, halfway down. "Actorís Teacher. On-set or location training available with less than one hourís notice. Call:Ö"

    The phone is in my hand and I am dialing. All thoughts of the world, the past, the times, and life after death are gone.

    One ring: "Actorís Teacher. How may I direct your call?"

    "Yeah, hi. I need an actorís teacher, I have aó"

    The phone is ringing again. One ring: "Donovan here."

    "Uh, hi. My nameís Thomas Fields. Iím an actor and I saw your ad in the paper andó."

    "Do you already have the part?"

    "Um, no."

    "What is the part, sir?"

    "They want me to play somebody whoís crazyó"

    "No, problem, Mr. Fields. If you would please, meet me at the diner on the corner of Tenth and Fern Hill, one hour from now. Say, ten-thirty. Sound good?"

    "Sure, but about your rates?"

    "No worries, Mr. Fields. Youíve come to the right place."

    Dead phone.

    No one in the place but a black guy wearing shades, drinking something from a mug. An old woman who will spend tonight in the streets again.

    And a man in a business suit. He smiles as I enter, waves to me. "Ah, Mr. Fields. Itís a pleasure." He extends his hand. "My name is Donovan Fenn. Now, what seems to be your situation?"

    "They want me to play someone crazy, and Iím not feeling it. And I reallyó."

    "What kind of crazy, Mr. Fields?"

    "I donít know, I havenít seen the script yet. I donít know if I will until I go in for the next reading."

    "Okay, so you need to get through an audition."

    I nod.

    "No problem, Mr. Fields. Lunatics happen to be my specialty. When is your audition?"

    "End of next week at the Nightingale Agency."

    "Okay. Not long but maybe long enough. Letís go." He stands, gathering his camelís hair topcoat from the back of the chair.

    "Wait. Where are we going?"

    Donovan smiles, putting on his overcoat. "Weíre going crazy, Mr. Fields. Isnít that what you came for?"...

 

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