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The Old Ways; Open
Topic Started: Jan 18 2018, 07:32 PM (219 Views)
Catche Jagger
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((Thomas Buckley: Pregame Start))

“See, that’s what I’m saying. The old ways. The old ways… convert the motherfucker… sell him… sell him… make him sign the check.”

The words of Shelly Levene escaped from Thomas with a thin coat of slime smeared across them. Well, if one wanted to get technical, they were the words of David Mamet, but that’s getting into semantics…

He liked coming to the drama room when it was like this, when he could safely assume a degree of solitude. It was the perfect place for him to rehearse a monologue by a character that he struggled to connect with for an audition that, in all likelihood, he was not going to actually attend.

“... I tell them ‘This is now. This is that thing that you’ve been dreaming of, you’re going to find that suitcase on the train, the guy comes in the door, the bag that’s full of money. This is it…’”

Levine’s character was tied up in a sense of obsolescence, of a scumbag who desperately wants to prove that he can keep up with the younger, slicker scumbags. Thomas knew that he was probably was putting himself at a disadvantage by attempting to play a character so alien to himself, but he wanted to try. Thomas wanted to know that he was good at this.

“...Now I handed them the pen. I held it in my hand. I turned the contract, eight units eighty-two grand. ‘Now I want you to sign.’ I sat there. Five minutes. Then, I sat there, Ricky, twenty-two minutes by the kitchen clock…”

He looked square that his phone’s camera as it recorded every word, every overzealous gesticulation. It wasn’t like anyone but him would ever see it, anyway. What was he supposed to tell his parents? “Oh hey mom and dad! I know that you’re strapped for cash and my grades have been complete garbage, but I was really hoping to go to college for a Theater degree!”

Deep down, Thomas knew there was a that there was a decent chance they’d agree anyway. That was the worst part, that they’d agree despite their own misgivings. He could see their eyes now, filled with worry, with disappointment. Their son really was going to throw his life away, after all they’d done.

“...I locked on them. All on them, nothing on me. All my thoughts were focused… on...?”

Something was off. Thomas had lost his place, and he’d need to start over.

“Shit…” he groaned, snatching his phone and ending the recording. He’d been doing so well too. Oh well, same old, same old. Thomas gets too far up his own ass and forgets what the fuck he’s doing.

Thomas pulled up a chair from the wall, closing his hand into a tight fist and then opening it again. It was a soothing act, and far healthier than pulling at hairs. Still, he felt a dull aching in the joints of his fingers as they squeezed together. If he was eighteen, why did he feel eighty? Wasn’t he supposed to feel healthy as spry, living the best days of his life? Then again, it was likely that most of his peers were struggling just as much as he was, and were just better at coping with the crap in their lives.

Loosening his tightened fist one more time, a gentle sigh slipped between Thomas’ lips. The tension was gone for now, dissipated. Reaching into his nearby backpack, Thomas removed the small playbook titled Glengarry Glen Ross. He flipped to the pages he’d marked for the monologue, and when his eyes finally met with his mistake, he couldn’t help but smile slightly at the simplicity of his own mistake.

“All my thoughts are on them. I’m holding the last thought that I spoke: ‘Now is the time…’” He whispered the correction to himself.
Edited by Catche Jagger, Jan 25 2018, 04:36 PM.
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Dolores Upton: Pregame Start

The school library wasn't full right now, but Dolly had gotten some nasty looks from the librarian and her aides the last time she was there, when her headphones came disconnected from her phone and she inadvertently broadcast a retrospective on "Serial Killers of the American Frontier" all across the study space. She hadn't gotten kicked out, but it had certainly been embarrassing enough for her to decide to go in search of a more secluded space to spend her free period.

She had expected the drama room to be unoccupied, since most of the classes happened towards the beginning of the day, but she was disappointed to hear a voice as she approached. She continued approaching anyway, half for the hope that whoever was in there wouldn't mind her tucking away in a corner to listen to her podcast for an hour or so, and half because the tone of the words intrigued her. Dolly wasn't much of a theater buff, but acting did grab her attention every now and again.

Her parents enjoyed trips to the theater every now and again, and Petra seemed to be shaping up to share their love for it. Dolly herself would tag along if she had nothing better to do, but she generally wouldn't go out of her way. There was something about seeing people acting in places other than a stage, though, some liminal space which they occupied that was halfway between reality and make-believe. Dolly couldn't articulate even to herself just what about it intrigued her when it bubbled up every now and again, but she got some interest that went beyond mere entertainment at the haphazard, informal recitations of this sort of practice.

Thomas seemed preoccupied as Dolly slipped into the doorway, so she stood watching him, not wanting to distract while he went over his lines. She could wait to ask if he minded the intrusion when he was through.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Thomas continued to read through the monologue in his seat, letting out a contented sigh as he echoed the final phrase: “...And we toast. In silence.”

The thought crossed his mind that he should perhaps start over, to try again without the book. After all, he still had some time to kill and he didn’t much feel like joining the uncomfortably silent masses as they went about their business in the library. It was then that Thomas noticed a figure in the corner of his eye. He wasn’t alone after after all.

His head abruptly snapped up to attention, eyes fixed squarely on the newcomer, startled by the revelation had been watching him, possibly for quite some time. “What are you looking for?” the boy asked, his tone defensive and his posture rigid.

He closed his hand into a tight fist once again and relaxed slightly. Great now you look like a fucking spaz. It’s not her fault, you should have been more conscious of the space. “I’m sorry,” he corrected himself, his voice softer, more uncertain, “I just… just don’t see a lot of people around here at this time of day.” Thomas tried to give a reassuring smile, but doubted it was very convincing.

As he looked at the girl, he managed to recognize her as Dolly Upton. Not that he really knew the girl well, Thomas was not the sort to know many of his peers with a significant degree of depth, but she had a distinctive look that tended to stick in one’s mind. She dressed in an old-fashioned style, similar to some characters in JRPGs he’d played, but he couldn’t place the name of the fashion.
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Dolly had considered whether it might be appropriate to applaud at the end of Thomas's recitation, but his attention finally being drawn to her and his defensive reaction made it seem a bit less so.

"Sorry," she said out of polite habit. Though he too had apologized, and now they had both said sorry when no real trespass had occurred. "I was just looking for a quiet place to spend break. The library's a bit crowded right now. Do you mind?"

Dolly remained in the doorway, tilting her head to the side as she studied Thomas. He seemed on edge, but she supposed she had startled him. He wasn't particularly social that she knew of and probably hadn't expected an audience.

"...What play was that from?" Her curiosity got the better of her, despite the fact that she was already waiting on one answer. "Your speech was impressive," she added. Maybe that would set him at ease. She wasn't looking to make fun, but people had difficulty reading her intentions sometimes.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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At the moment, Thomas was more embarrassed than anything else, both of having had an audience he certainly wasn’t aware of, and of his rude reaction to the revelation. She was just looking for a quiet place to sit down, and he’d acted like a dickhead. Now you’re just perseverating on things again. Calm down.

“Yeah, it’s fine. It’s not like I own the place, or anything like that.” He replied, his tone becoming lighter, more welcoming. “Sorry, again. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.” He added, accompanied by a gentle chuckle at his own expense. Though he was visibly relaxing, his mind remained locked in ‘damage control’ mode, locked on trying to fix or make up for something that, at the same time, he knew should just move on from.

Then, she’d asked him about the play, and even complimented his rendition, despite the fact that it had been a bit of a rough practice run. He was glad that she seemed to me much more reasonably skilled at dealing with the simple mistake than he was.

“Oh! Thank you.” He replied, pleasantly surprised by the comment. However, he was more eager to go into an explanation of the play.

“It’s from Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s a play about a group of real-estate salesmen and how ruthless they are in the way they do business. They made a movie about it back in, um… the early nineties, I think. Alec Baldwin was in it. I haven’t seen it, though...” He wondered if he was giving more information than necessary. Perhaps it would be better to turn the conversation back to her.

“Are you interested in theater? I don’t think you’re in Drama Club.” He asked, gesturing his hands toward her. Now that he’d had his chance to calm down, Thomas began to feel much more comfortable around the girl, and thus, began became a bit more animated and expressive as he spoke.
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"I spectate sometimes," Dolly said. At Thomas's invitation, she stepped properly into the room and wove her way between chairs until she found a suitable corner spot. "Some of my friends are into it, but I don't have any talent for acting. I wouldn't mind helping out with costuming or makeup from time to time, I suppose."

She took a seat in her chosen chair, adjusting her skirt. Normally, she preferred to sit with her legs tucked underneath herself, but these classroom chairs didn't lend themselves to doing that comfortably.

"The play sounds interesting, though. Is the school going to be putting it on soon?" Small talk seemed to be helping Thomas relax, so Dolly was happy to continue with it for a bit until they both went back to their respective tasks. While waiting on a response, she rooted around in her purse for her phone and headphones. One of these days, she would add pockets to all of her dresses.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Oh, so she was just an observer.

The idea seemed somewhat odd to Thomas. After all, it had seemed to the boy that virtually all theater fans had some part of them that longed to be part of the show, just as avid readers longed to have their own words put to paper in some bound volume. However, it seemed somewhat appropriate that a person with such a classical style of dress might enjoy a classical style of entertainment.

Alternatively, it was possible that Thomas was putting far too much thought into the matter.

As she asked about the play, Thomas considered the bizarre sight of a high school performing Glengarry Glenn Ross. Probably wouldn’t go over well with a number of parents, in spite of Mrs. Hoffman’s propensity for unorthodox productions.

“No, we’re not. This is just… just for me, I guess.” He replied, taking a glance down at the playbook in his hands, before returning his gaze to Dolly, who he saw rooting around in her purse.

Well, of course she’s looking for something. Could be makeup, music, anything really. It’s not like she came down here to listen to you ramble.

Thomas quickly felt a twinge of guilt as he realized that he was possibly keeping the girl from whatever she came here to do. The concern was likely unfounded, but he’d rather not feel he was being a burden on a virtual stranger.

“You can do, you know, whatever it is you came here to do. I wouldn’t want to hold you up or anything.” The boy spoke with a sympathetic smile on his face. With those words, Thomas’ eyes turned back down towards the pages of his book. Dolly was nice, but it’d be rude to monopolize her time.

However, as he tried to focus once again on the words written on the pages of the playbook, he found himself suddenly restless. The new set of eyes in the room made him anxious, even if they were not trained directly upon him. He felt a rush of energy through his body, a need to stand up, move, do something.

What was likely only a moment felt like it had lasted an hour. It was always this way, dealing with people that he didn’t know well. Thomas couldn’t relax, no matter how hard he tried. Maybe she did want the conversation to continue and you just shut her down. Maybe she was hoping you’d leave all together. Maybe she can see through you, see just how anxious you are, and she thinks she’s hurt you in some way. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

The problem was that Thomas couldn’t know that these doubts and worries were wrong. He didn’t know what Dolly was like and there was no one else around to distract her. It was just the two of them, and that was like a kind torture for the boy.

As these thoughts buzzed about in his head, the boy’s body made no indication of its internal strife, sitting legs crossed with eyes fixed firmly on the page. Thomas was on guard now, and he was certain not to show how much Dolly’s presence had bothered him.

Finally, his body gave way, and Thomas slowly rose from his seat, scooping up his backpack from beside the chair.

“Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve been in here for a while and I should probably be getting back.” He spoke with a light, friendly tone as he shoved the playbook into his pack and slung it over one shoulder. He didn’t want her to think this was her fault in any respect.

“Good luck with your stuff.” He gave a curt nod before making his way over to the door, not waiting for a response. However, he stopped with one foot already passed the door frame, turned, and pointed a finger at the girl.

“Oh, nice talking with you by the way, and that’s a really cool dress. So… have a nice day.” He added the rambling statement before finally exiting the room.

That was incredibly lame.

((Thomas Buckley continued elsewhere...))
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And by the time Dolly located her phone and headphones and looked up from her purse, Thomas was gone.

"Oh," she said to the whisper of his presence retreating from the doorway. "Bye, then."

He seemed like he had a lot going on. Dolly felt a little bad for interrupting his solo practice, but maybe he really had been in a hurry and her arrival had reminded him. And he'd complimented her dress, which was pleasing; she had just broken this one out of its closet confinement for the first time in a while, feeling that the deep plum velvet would be a good match for the dreary late-winter weather. Dolly didn't often wear velvet, given its propensity for picking up all manner of lint and stray hair, but she'd had an urge that morning and was glad she had given into it.

She thought with idle amusement that she somewhat matched the drama room's decor as she put her earbuds in and scrolled through her podcasts to find where she had left off. She liked this room, with its matte black walls and the heavy, dark curtains that concealed the mirrored wall. It felt like a mystery tucked away in the middle of the brightness of the art building.

Maybe that was part of why Dolly didn't spend so much time here, aside from not being a part of the drama program herself. She liked to preserve the mystery, and getting too used to the room might ruin it.

Dolly pressed play, crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair to get more comfortable, and let herself get lost in history.

((Dolores Upton continued in Meditation and Premeditation))
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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