'Fate always seems to pull the strings
I turned and you were gone.
While standing in the darkened wings
the music box played on.'
Sunsets Etc is a glimpse into the life of an actor as he settles into a new home and his retirement phase. A place to escape from everything. Rooms to walk around in. A garden to sit in. To think. To wait. But to wait for what? Of course none of this happens. Memories come alive, his ghosts cannot escape and so he revisits the past. A beautiful friendship. The disheartening banal conversations with his parents resulting in a sudden realization that probably not all was what it appeared to be. Snippets of a forgotten love spoken in hush tones here and there. The fading roar of a director. His two patchwork women. A table. A step back into his acting life. Death. Decline. A sunset. A sunrise.
I wandered around the empty rooms feeling like an intruder in my own domain. It hadn’t always been like this. There was laughter here sometimes. I peered in every room looking for something but the something I was looking for never revealed itself to me. I thought of my agent. More of a confidant and friend really. He had guided my career for over thirty years. He was always there. He had a few other clients on his books but I was his main income. Was I being selfish leaving him? Would he survive? There was always the possibility that I might work again. I hadn’t closed the door for good but the likelihood of a telephone ringing anytime soon was becoming a redundant memory. I kept him as my agent in case I needed him to look through any contract that needed signing. He had a legal head on him and knew every clause and statement. He also drove a fantastic old car and knew every old inn and restaurant for miles around. He was in all degrees essential at times.
Perhaps that imaginary conversation with mother did ring true. Was it really tragic? Was I really throwing everything away? I came back down the stairs and into the kitchen.
'Out of sight out my mind, I would be forgotten,' I said to myself.
That conversation in my head came back to me. It was quite true. There were no letters, the telephone had not rung.
Perhaps it would never ring again.
I could pick up the telephone and call someone.
They can call me.
I should really take time out, go and walk around the garden. It was after all one of the reasons why I bought the house. But if I did I may not hear the telephone ringing.
'So what?' I shouted to myself. 'If it did ring and I was in the garden I wouldn’t hear it and the answer machine would pick up a message.' I carried on talking to myself continuing well thought out conversations.
'Well, it could be important. It could be a studio. A comeback.'
'No, probably the bank manager to discuss the overdraft.'
'No, not the bank, just admit it, no one knows you are here.'
'It’s a new situation, a new feeling. You need to get used to it.'
In the last house there was always someone there. The cleaning, the ironing, the rubbing of the silver. Gardening, peeling potatoes, a life going on, a pulse beating.
'You always wanted solitude, well here it is.'
'You always hated the telephone.'
'And now you are sitting here talking to yourself willing the thing to ring.'
Talking aloud to myself.
I needed to do something normal. Play some music. Wash up the breakfast things. Prepare lunch. Pick lettuce. Start afresh. Away with self-pity.
But then the telephone rang. I sprinted across the hallway banging my shin against a bookcase, hobbling in agony hoping to reach it before it rang off. Joyful voices. Old friends. In town for a while. Would I be up for a visit? Could I give them a bed for a few nights? Wings to my heels and the pain of the shin forgotten, I flew upstairs to the spare bedrooms throwing on clean crisp new sheets, opening the windows to let in a cool breeze, a happy lunatic.
Of course I would not be forgotten.
The telephone would ring.
It already had.
I placed fresh towels in the bathroom and sprayed the rooms with a vanilla scent. I started to sing. Order had resumed.
I had returned.
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