“Please state your name and the piece you are performing for us today.”
Tara was so much better at being diplomatic, Oliver couldn’t think why he hadn’t gotten her to do the mushy up-front stuff from the word go.
“California Legless,” drawled the tall beatnik American who had strolled onto the stage and taken up a position that made him look like he was hitching a lift to Mexico because things in LA were just getting far too intense, man. He flicked his scraggly hair out of his eyes, tilted his head to one side, then stood there absolutely motionless, eyes half closed. Luxuriating like a lizard on a sun-baked rock.
Oliver and Tara exchanged glances. Oliver hitched up one knee, pointed at it and mouthed -Legless? To which Tara shook her head, held up an imaginary whisky glass, and silently tinkled pretend ice cubes before knocking back the make-believe bourbon. Oliver’s eyes widened in recognition. He shot a longing look at his own thermos. Tara playfully swatted his hand away and waggled her finger at him. He put his foot down.
“Alright then, Mr Legless, you still need to tell us what piece you’re doing? If you’re actually planning on doing a piece today, and not just legging it?” He chuckled to himself. Tara clucked reproachfully.
California intoned, “King Lear. Act 4, Scene 3. At the British camp, near Dover.”
Oliver’s eyebrows shot up as his mouth dropped open. He glanced sideways at Tara: she was lounging in her chair, smiling broadly under her black-rimmed glasses, nodding ever so slightly. She crossed her legs.
“Feel free to start when the spirit moves you!” Oliver harrumphed. Tara pitched a friendly punch at his arm.
California put his finger to his lips, and said “Shhh… can’t you hear Cordelia speaking? If you distract me… I’ll miss..sss..ss… my cue” with his wild eyes all faraway, gazing up to the right.
Silence. Oliver couldn’t even hear Tara breathing.
Legless jerked his head abruptly forwards, becoming the image of focused intensity. His dark eyes fixed on Tara, he skipped half a beat, then declaimed stridently “No, no, no… NO!”
Tara gasped, sat back sharply and put a hand to her throat. Oliver tried to exchange a glance with her, but she seemed entranced by the performer’s powerfully resonant voice, his piercing stare.
“Come, let’s away to…” and holding Tara’s gaze, he sneered, licked his lower lip suggestively, and spat out “prison!” Swaying rhythmically, he stroked his chest and sides through his hippie-styled white shirt. Then he slid his hands to the concho belt at his hips. “We two… alone… will…” and he gyrated those black-leather-clad hips, violently thrust them forward, threw his head back and thundered, “SI-I-I-I-INGGG!!”
Tara moaned breathlessly and Oliver felt his face turning bright red. He wasn’t going to risk looking at her. “Yes, uh, th-thank you,” he coughed loudly. “Thank you, I think we’ve seen enough!”
Tara countered, “No, we haven’t! Please do continue.”
The lizard king was just hitting his stride, “Like birds in a cage-” he grabbed his crotch.
“NO! ENOUGH!! That is quite ENOUGH! Thank you!” Oliver felt dizzy, quite sick.
Tara gurgled gleefully, silent hysterics bubbling up. She waved a hand at her hot face "Whooooo!". She leaned forward, took off her glasses, wiped an eye and suggested, “So he’s going on the call-back list then?”
Oliver spluttered, speechless.
California seemed confused, it couldn’t possibly be that the audition was over before he had finished. Still projecting his voice, but a little uncertain now, he tried to explain, “I see Lear as, like, a huge fiery comet, a shooting star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps ‘Oh look at that!’ and then whoosh, he’s gone! And they’ll never see anything like him again, and they won’t be able to forget him. Uh, they won’t be able to forget ME. Like, EVER.”
Tara could barely compose herself, “Thank you, Mr Legless, you did a fine job here today. We’ll call you for the next round of auditions.”
“You’ll call me?”
“We’ll call you.”
“You can call me anytime. Call me. For anything, anytime. I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being. But people are strange. You are going to call me...?”
Oliver slumped over the desk, and butted heads with the casting clipboard. He groaned, "He is a million times worse than that Lois woman!"
Tara disagreed, "No, he's not. He has real... talent." Turning back to California, she smiled her most winsome smile.
Legless legged it off of the stage, punching the air and shouting, "Baby!!"